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!


12719532_1670012753259091_5109020961471458216_oIt’s been a long time….but here I am at last. Lunar Pages locked me out of this site for quite a while, and I just got involved with a lot of other things.  Book deadlines, a lot of travel, and best of all, young grandkiddies–including a sweet little guy who is brand new!

BUT…I wanted to make sure I started off by telling you about the Facebook party today at the Sweet Romance Reads Facebook page!  if you want to join in and try for the giveaways, just go to


A lot of authors will be onboard  throughout the various time slots and would love to meet you!

Happy Valentine’s Day in advance!



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A Writer’s Life…with Budgies! by Patricia Johns

By guest blogger Patricia Johns


I’ve always been a bird person. Not the bird watching type, but the bird petting and snuggling type. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a bird for a pet.

A writer’s life is a solitary one, and having my two birds sharing the room with me makes everything a lot more cheerful. They are budgies–on the small side, too!–and they are quite tame and will sit on my finger. Together. They like to be side by side, no matter what they’re doing, and when I get one onto my finger, the other one will hop up, too, and they’ll consent to be told how very pretty they are.

They know their names, and they’ll obey commands like, “Coco, get down!” when she flies up to the curtain rod where she isn’t allowed to sit. Little Blue has learned the word “bath” in the same way a dog learns the word “vet.” For the longest time, Little Blue wouldn’t properly preen his tail, and so I’d have to give it a rinse under the tap, and he just hated it. So even now, months after he’s started properly caring for his own tail, he still flies away from me at the mention of the dreaded B-word.

I like the companionship. I write better with some company in the room with me, and it’s a pleasant break when one of them starts to chatter at me from across the room, their way of getting my attention for something they want. They might want the door open, or their treat picked up from the bottom of the cage, but they’ll snark way at me until I get it right, and then I get a chirp of thanks and they settle onto whatever they’d been hankering for. I’m well-trained. ;)

I’m married with a school-aged child, but my birds fill a very special part of my heart. Any pet person knows what I mean when I say this. When I write, they are right there, keeping me company, demanding I pick up their treats, and just making me happy. It’s an honor to be their friend.

Here is a link to Patricia’s new book!    A Firefighter’s Promise (Love Inspired)

firefighter's promise coverA FIREFIGHTER’S PROMISE
Love Inspired
By Patricia Johns

When the baby he rescued seven years ago returns—with his widowed adoptive mom—Deputy Fire Chief Matt Bailey can’t turn them away. Desperate to escape the reminders of his failure in the line of duty, Matt is close to leaving town. But one look at Rachel Carter and her son, Christopher, has him second-guessing his plans. Rachel is a mom in need of a hero for her son. But as much as she wants the two to bond, she’s determined to keep her distance from Matt. After losing her husband on the job, she promised never to love another fireman. Yet somehow she finds herself drawn to the one man she should avoid.




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Author Dana R. Lynn….and Unusual Pets!


dana lynI have always loved animals. Growing up, my family always had several cats and a dog. So when I moved out on my own, it was only natural that I would have a pet. A cat. And after I got married, we added a dog.

What I never expected was how my pet population would explode once the kids came. Cats. Dogs. Chickens. Rabbits. A horse named Misty. For the most part, I was fine with this. We have land, so why not. What I never expected, however, were the rats.

Yes, you read that right. Rats.

Here’s how it happened. When my daughter was nearing the end of her sixth grade year, her teacher decided to hold a drawing for the rats kept in the science class. Any child who wanted to be included in the drawing needed their parents to sign a permission slip. So my daughter came to me with her best pleading expression on her face.

20150301_210909I said what any self-respecting mother would say.

“Ask your father.”

Now, I knew my husband would say no. He had said numerous times we had too many animals. Therefore, I wasn’t concerned when my daughter immediately picked up the phone to call him at work.

Until he said yes.


My satisfied daughter handed me the phone. “Did you really just tell her she could put her name in for a rat?”

“Relax, honey. She’ll put her name in the drawing, but there’ll be so many kids who want the rats, her name won’t be picked.”

Her name was the first name picked.

And so we became the proud owner of a cute little albino rat named Nevaeh. I actually liked her. She was a sweet little rat. Unfortunately, as is the case with lab rats, she didn’t live long. This time, when my daughter came to me and asked if she could get a new rat, I drove her to the pet store myself. We are now on rats five and six.

I’m holding off on the goats, though.

What about you? What are some of your unexpected experiences with pets? Comment on this post to win a copy of Presumed Guilty, my new release from Love Inspired Suspense.

 Here is  link so you can find Dana’s book on Amazon: Presumed Guilty (Love Inspired Suspense)

9780373446643Presumed Guilty
Dana R. Lynn
Love Inspired

The April, 2015 edition of RT Bookreviews Magazine, Leslie L. McFee gave Presumed Guilty a 4 star rating.   “This is an exciting debut from a promising storyteller. The pace and plotting are ideal for reader engagement, and those readers will anxiously await a sequel.”

 “I’m innocent.”
After four years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit, Melanie Swanson’s finally free. Yet starting over brings a heavy load of challenges.

Nearly everyone believes she’s guilty- including police lieutenant Jace Tucker. Jace’s certainty cracks only when Melanie is repeatedly attacked, and when the people around her are picked off one by one. Melanie’s clearly innocent, and terrified. Someone wants her dead to keep her shattered memories from recalling the crime she witnessed rather than caused. She lost her friends, her fiancé and her freedom when she was found guilty- but proving her innocence could cost Melanie her life.

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A new cookbook by romance authors– just 99 cents!

Just in time for Valentine’s Day:  ”Recipes of Love–Romantic Recipes by Sweet Romance Reads”  by sixteen sweet romance and inspirational romance authors, for only 99 cents!

It was so much fun to contribute to this project.  Lots of great recipes (four or five from each author), plus tidbits about every author, and each included a short excerpt of her current release.

Here is an Amazon link:     Recipes of Love: Romantic Recipes by Sweet Romance Reads


Best wishes to all–and Happy Valentine’s Day!


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Selling My Way…..to RWA!

Selling my way to RWA!

IMG_0888 There are several very large organizations for writers. One of the biggest is Romance Writers of America, which holds its conferences in July at various large cities from coast to coast.  It’s educational, it provides wonderful opportunities for networking with other writers, and for meeting with one’s literary agent and editors. It’s also a chance to “give back” to writing community by offering to give workshops or by volunteering in other ways.

It’s also a way to visit other parts of the country…and this summer it’s back in New York. Be still my heart!  Wonderful restaurants.  Broadway shows. Incredible museums. And an exciting vibe this country girl loves in…well, smaller doses before slipping back into her office in a quiet, rural state. :)  Especially exciting is that my daughter, who is also a writer, will be there.  We’ll stay with two of my writer friends at the conference hotel, and enjoy every minute of the conference and the big city.

But, it’s an expensive affair what with airfare, a big city hotel, restaurant meals and the conference fee.

I love consignment stores and eBay…it’s always such a treasure hunt,  as you just never know what you’ll find!  On the flip side of that coin, I enjoy donning my alter ego now and then, as Christiana 116, and providing that sort of experience by listing items on eBay.  All of us have things we don’t really need, and apparently this form of buying and selling is very popular, as there are now many “cash from your closet” type auction sites online.

Ebay selling-blogYears ago, a dear friend set a goal of going RWA based in what she saved via couponing, and she succeeded!  This year, I decided to do the same, only via what I could make selling on eBay.  I’d been quite inactive there for sometime.  Was it even possible?  Well, I’m part way to my goal, and thinning out my closets and shelves makes me feel good, too.  I have had a passion for Coach, Dooney & Bourke, Fossil and Kooba for way too long!  As hard as it is to let them go, sending them off to new homes so that I can go to RWA with our daughter this year is worth it!

So…do you have travel plans this year?  What is your dream trip for the future?

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Dachshund or cat…who’s the boss? Guest blogger Tammy Johnson

PuppiesGuest blogger Tammy Johnson

My first book cover became official just a few weeks ago and I’m anxious to share it and a little about the book with you. Royal Rescue is a story of so many things, but a huge part of the story is a woman who longs for home. Along the journey we learn a lot about what she thinks a home is. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but there are puppies involved.

I started a Pinterest board for the story when I first began getting ideas and the puppies I imagined where furry little balls of black and white. I didn’t really want them to be purebred anything. I settled on some sort of spaniel mix. I probably picked that breed because of childhood memories of a dog my sister had. It was a Brittany spaniel named Beaner. He wandered down a country road one day and found us and was probably one of the best dogs we ever had growing up. A close second was the dachshund terrier mix we had for a while too. Strangely enough, he found us as well. I don’t remember every detail, but I remember him hiding under our house until we finally adopted him.

weenie and mr bIn my home now I have one dog, a dachshund. His very unique name is Weenie. In hindsight, we probably could have come up with something a little more original. It does sound a little funny when I’m standing on the back step hollering for him to come in. He started out as just a visitor though and somehow ended up staying for going on eight years now. I wouldn’t trade him for anything now though. He is a fixture in our family.

We have a cat as well. Believe it or not, the cat is bigger than the dog and is definitely the boss of the house.  I enjoy watching them fight for furnace space on cold mornings.  It’s not much of a fight though. Weenie tries to move close and the cat just gives him a look and he backs away. On rare mornings though, they do get along and actually lay together. It’s a winter morning ritual as soon as the house starts to stir they both get to their spot where they can get some heat. Together, they do make our house a home.

I’ve often thought of someday adding a friend for Weenie (other than the cat), but I can’t decide on the breed I’d want to go with. Another dachshund would be fun, but then I’ve always loved the flat faced breeds as well. Having a pug, Boston terrier, or bulldog of some sort has always been a dream of mine. I keep telling myself maybe someday.

What about you? Do you feel a pet makes a house a home and do you have a favorite breed of dog you’ve had or would love to have? What sort of dog do you think would make the best new friend for Weenie?

Here is a pre-order link for Tammy’s new book: Royal Rescue (Love Inspired Suspense)

Royal Rescue Front coverRoyal Rescue is now available for preorder on Amazon and other online retailers and will be available in early April.


Find out more about Tammy and her writing journey at www.tammyjohnson.net


Verdun, 1964: Snowflake the Military cat, by guest blogger Donn Taylor

Snowflake: Playing Cats As Cats Can By Donn Taylor

Snowflake StandingWe’d been stationed in Verdun, France, for about four months when we inherited a white tomcat named Snowflake. I say “inherited” because he’d belonged to my boss’s family (or vice versa), and they were rotating back to the States. They’d inherited him from a family that rotated a year or so before them. In their turn, they took their furniture with them, but not their cat.

So Mildred and I, with our three and soon-to-be-four children, inherited the duty. Snowflake knew exactly what he wanted and when he wanted it. When he wanted to go out, he’d go to the door and stand. If we didn’t respond, he’d give a discreet “Meow” to remind us. His vocabulary was not large, but his infinite variations in tone expressed his infinite variety of moods.

One night he’d been asleep and we forgot to put him out for the night. We were just dozing off when this ball of Snowflake on Warren's Bedwhite fur landed in the middle of our bed with a horrendous yowl. Needless to say, we arose and obeyed his command. Each morning when he was ready to come back in, he’d be perched in the kitchen window waiting for one of his servants to show up. When we went on leave, he politely showed up in our next-door neighbor’s kitchen window.

He also had a habit of disappearing for two or three days. Then he’d return, looking like he’d been run through a blender. Once when we’d been gone for several days, we returned to find all in good order except that Snowflake was nowhere to be found. We asked our French maid where he was, and she replied with a single word: “l’amour.” Next day he reappeared in the kitchen window and all was normal again.

We’d read about and enjoyed the cat in Robert Heinlein’s sci-fi novel The Door into Summer. On the first snow of the year, Heinlein’s cat would not go outside until he’d seen that snow lay outside every door of the house and that no door opened into summer. When snow came to us in Verdun that year, Snowflake followed that example. We don’t know if he’d read Heinlein’s book, but he did refuse to go out until he’d proved that every door opened onto snow. So we resurrected that book and enjoyed it again.

1964 Mildred & Donn TaylorWhen our furniture was shipped for our return to the States, we handed Snowflake over to a neighbor and moved into temporary quarters. On our final day, the neighbor reported that Snowflake had left and taken up residence in a nearby French village. We never doubted what had happened: that intelligent cat had quit wasting his time on short-lived American servants who disappeared every two years.

So he’d employed new servants among the French, who apparently had longer life spans than the Americans. We never saw Snowflake again, but fifty years later he still holds a special place in our family memories.



Here’s an Amazon link for Donn’s new book: Lightning on a Quiet Night


Lightning CoverLightning on a Quiet Night
by Donn Taylor
released November 3, 2014,
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

 Publishers Weekly’s review comment on the novel: “Taylor’s powerful historical romance is filled with passion and heart, spiced with mystery and a keen understanding of the human condition.”

In the years following World War II, a town too proud of its own virtues has to deal with its first murder. Despite the implications of this crime, the town of Beneficent, MS, population 479, tries desperately to hold onto its vain self-image. The young veteran Jack Davis holds that idyllic vision of the town and tries to share it with Lisa Kemper, newly arrived from Indiana. But she is repelled by everything in town. While the sheriff tries to find the murderer, Jack and Lisa’s contentious courtship reveals the town’s strange combination of astute perceptions and surprising blind spots. Then they stumble onto shocking discoveries about the true nature of the town. But where will these discoveries lead? To repentance? Or to denial and continuation in vanity?


Donn Taylor portraits 12/7/07About the author: Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he completed a PhD degree at The University of Texas and taught English literature at two liberal arts colleges. His published works include three suspense novels and a book of poetry. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences. He lives near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics.”


A Turkey Encounter

A Turkey Encounter, by guest blogger Tammy Johnson

Tweety BirdFor nearly as long as I can remember, I’ve had a pet of some sort or another. Most days I prefer to think of them as friends versus pets. They’re always there for a hug or cuddle and know just how to listen. I think our furry and feathered friends sometimes know a lot more about unconditional love than a lot of people.

One of the first pets I remember was a green parakeet who I called Tweetie Bird. He would and talk and sing and always greeted me with a happy chirp. That was several years and pets ago, but I’ve never outgrown my soft spot for birds.

I had an interesting bird encounter just the other day. It’s just one of the many things I love about my small hometown. As inconvenient as it can be some days, I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. I was at my day job and my coworkers and I noticed three turkeys walking down the road.

Rumor has it, they’ve grown comfortable with people around town and meander from backyard to backyard being fed just like other wild birds. I’d think this would be a dangerous life with Thanksgiving coming up quickly.

turkeyThis turkey spotting reminded me of a hobby I once had but haven’t done in several years. I’m not exactly sure you can call it a hobby, but I used to really enjoy feeding and watching wild birds. Someday I hope to have a special area dedicated to bird houses and feeders.

If I had a spot for it, I’d love to try to make a homemade bird feeder that I found on Pinterest the other day. It’s made from a pumpkin. I’ve been trying to think of something to do with pumpkins so I could roast the seeds.



IMG_70771Making a pumpkin bird feeder looks easy enough.
All it takes is hollowing out the pumpkin and filling it with your choice of seed. It is the perfect season for pumpkins right now and I’m sure the birds would love it.

It is another thing I’ve added to my someday list. For now though, I have to settle for watching the birds from my windows while I’m working on writing my next book.




f7e9929e7a85a3f52edfa250a6fe9a53Does anyone else have any quick and easy bird feeding or watching tips? Or what is your favorite bird to watch this time of year? I’d love to hear.




Tammy JBio:  Faith has always held an important place in Tammy Johnson’s life. Two of her biggest dreams were being a mother and becoming a Harlequin author. After raising and homeschooling four children, her writing dream came true when she sold her first novel through the Love Inspired Suspense “Killer Voices” pitch event.

Now Tammy enjoys sharing her faith by writing stories of strong heroes and heroines who find strength in their beliefs to overcome danger and fear. She is a country girl at heart and lives in a small Kansas town with her teenage son and dachshund. Her first book, Royal Rescue will be an April, 2015 release with Love Inspired Suspense. She enjoys cloud watching and summer storms. A glass of sweet tea and a new story are never far away.


Lawn mowers, Highland Cattle and the Pied Piper

Cow in SnowAt the beginning of our third lifetime, my husband and I sold our house in Denver, Colorado, and purchased a small ranch in the far NE corner of Washington State.

The area is sparsely populated, except by trees, rivers, lakes, mountains and wildlife. Having a ranch and raising livestock was on our dream list. We knew nothing about ranching, but we knew we would have to raise a special animal that wouldn’t require large rangeland. We researched and discovered Highland Cattle.



Tabatha & Calf 2001 copy

Highland cattle, also called Heilan Coos or Hairy Coos are a Scottish breed of cattle with long horns and long wavy coats of
various colors. We started our herd with two cows and their spring calves, plus one bull. They were all registered, pure bred, and we intended to raise them as breeding stock and also for beef. They are hardy and can withstand cold winters, and their meat is lean.

Our herd grew to 21 head. These are gentle cows, but they get up to 1000 pounds and (I believe) are smarter than most breeds. They have definite, unique personalities. Their eyes would get big when we caught them doing something mischievous. They loved to get out and explore the neighborhood of small ranchettes. Our electric and barbed-wire fences couldn’t hold them if they wanted out. We often got calls when we were in town, letting us know our cows were out.

We had 20 acres in hay fields, but the cows loved fresh mown grass. We had over an acre of lawn around the house. When Jim mowed on his riding lawn tractor, he dumped the grass into the pasture, so when he started the mower, they all came running to the fence.

Cows at FenceOne afternoon, there was a breakout. They were spotted in the backwoods by a neighbor. Jim tried to herd them back home on foot, but they scattered. He came home, got on his lawn tractor, and took off. About a half hour later, I spotted him coming out of the woods. As he slowly crossed our cut hay field, singing at the top of his lungs, a line of cows came single file out of the woods behind him. He looked like the Pied Piper. I don’t know about his singing, but the tractor engine was music to their ears. I ran out and opened the pasture gate, and he drove through. They followed him in without a sign of rebellion.

He rewarded them with cow candy pellets. After that, they behaved for a while. But he had discovered the magic key to bringing them back home. They never could resist following that lawn tractor.

Please leave a comment and your email or a way to contact you. I will be giving away a print copy of Heaven’s Strain to someone who leaves a comment to this blog post. Shipping only to North America.

Question: If you could raise any animal you wanted, for breeding, for pets, or for livestock, what would it be, and why?

Here is an Amazon link for Sunni’s new book!   Heaven’s Strain

SunniJeffers_HeavensStrain_500 copyHeaven’s Strain
by Sunni Jeffers

Spiritual forces are at work to destroy mankind
Dr. Ellen Larson has heard myths of fallen angels, but she has no idea they exist—or that they’re after her. She has enough on her mind–her research and her own strange DNA, which she’s kept secret since she discovered a mutation in medical school that’s never been seen before. Then the impossible happens. Two patients admitted to the University Medical Center—Rafe Zacharias and Homer Wilton–have the same genetic mutation! Without transfusions, the men will die. Ellen can’t withhold what may be their only hope: her blood. She has no choice… Her secret must come out. Unseen, a battle rages around them. A battle to bring an ancient curse to life. Ellen, Rafe and Homer are pawns in a war mankind can’t afford to lose…

“Heaven’s Strain is one amazing ride! Deception, danger, romance, a race against time, unseen forces at war…Sunni’s masterful book has it all.”  Karen Ball, best-selling author of The Breaking Point

Sunni Author Photo for BlogSunni Jeffers is the award-winning author of 15 books. Her life has taken many turns, from Navy wife and mother, to business owner and office manager, to rancher—all of this in partnership with her wonderful husband of 48 years.

Now she writes as she andher husband travel the country most of the year, living in a motorhome. Visit her at www.sunnijeffers.com.


Rabbit Rescue…. and author Amanda Cabot

by guest blogger Amanda Cabot

 One of the best things about where I live is the presence of rabbits.  Admittedly, I spend too much of what should be writing time looking out the window at the cottontails and jackrabbits who visit the backyard, but they’re so cute that I can’t help myself.  Who could resist the sight of a bunny hopping onto the deck and peering inside or a jackrabbit carefully folding its front legs so that it can fit under a shrub and shelter from the snow?  Not I.

As cute as the bunnies are, they have one very bad habit.  And, no, I’m not talking about the fact that they nibble the fresh shoots of most of my plants, forcing me to put wire cages around them.  Their nasty habit is falling into window wells.  The good news is that, even though my basement is deep, meaning that the bunnies are plummeting quite a distance, they never seem to be harmed by their falls.  The bad news is that they can’t get out without human assistance.  And you can imagine how reluctant they are to accept that help.

bunny-in-window-wellThis happened often enough that my husband and I developed a routine for what we refer to as the rabbit rescues.  I stay inside, talking to the bunny through the window.  See what I mean about cute?  My job is to encourage the bunny to hop into the rescue wagon … er, the rescue bucket.  We’ve decked out one of those black plastic planters that nurseries use for shrubs with string so that it can be lowered into the window well, then hoisted out as soon as the rabbit hops inside.  Of course, rabbits don’t naturally climb into strange objects, so it takes a little encouragement and a lot of patience.  But eventually each one finds its way into the bucket.

bunny-in-bucket Then comes the fun, a quick ride to safety for the rabbit and a sigh of relief for the humans.  But sometimes the rabbit doesn’t understand what’s happening.  As you can see from this picture, one was so confused that even though it was out of the window well, it thought the exit route was through the drainage holes.  That gave new meaning to the term “dumb bunny.”

We have three window wells on one side of the house, and for three consecutive days last summer, we had a rabbit in one of them.  Was it a dumb bunny, or did it enjoy the ride so much that it came back for more?  We’ll never know.  What we did know was that it was time for a new plan.  Rabbit repellant to the rescue.  The stench is horrible when the granules are first applied, but they seem to work, and this year only one bunny needed a ride in the bucket.  Success!

What’s your opinion?  If you have rabbits in your yard, do you consider them a nuisance or a delight?  And have you ever had the pleasure/ challenge of conducting a rabbit rescue?  If you did, I hope yours all had happy endings.

Click this Amazon link to buy Amanda’s latest book! At Bluebonnet Lake: A Novel (Texas Crossroads)

by Amanda Cabot
Revell Publishing

At-Bluebonnet-LakeHer life is set to warp speed. His is slowing to a crawl. But love has its own timing.

Marketing maven Kate Sherwood’s world is fast-paced, challenging, and always changing. The last thing she wants to do is grind to a halt at Rainbow’s End, a dilapidated resort in the Texas Hill Country. Still, she cannot deny her ailing grandmother’s request to visit the place where she and her deceased husband spent one glorious week fifty years ago. There, Kate meets Greg, who appears to be the resort’s unassuming handyman. But there’s more to Greg than meets the eye—billions more, in fact.

Kate isn’t looking for romance, but she can’t deny the sparks of attraction that fly every time she and Greg are together. Could there be a future there? Or will Kate’s long-sought promotion take her back to the big city?

Amanda Cabot invites you to step into a place away from the pressures of the day. You might be surprised by what you find at Rainbow’s End.

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



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Author Miralee Ferrell and her chihuahuas

guest blogger Miralee Ferrell

All my adult life I’ve said I’d NEVER have a little dog. They yap. They’re hard to house train, and for some reason, they always seemed annoying to me. Until I visited extended family a few years ago who had a darling little dog who fell in love with me. They were looking for a new home for her and I was seriously considering it, until I researched online and found some poor qualities that typically went with the breed—and heard from the owners that the dog constantly runs away and was impossible to house train.

Yep. Exactly what I’d thought in the beginning. Scrap that idea.

Bella&LaceyPupsBut I couldn’t get away from the memory of how fun it was to cuddle and play with that little dog, and I started entertaining the idea of puppy shopping. My daughter helped, and before long we found an ad for two Chihuahua sisters, both long haired, being sold by a breeder. They were already 12 weeks old and hadn’t been placed.

We looked, and both of us fell in love with one (later to be named Bella) who was high energy and wanted attention. The other poor little thing was smaller, timid and only wanted to cower or be held and shiver. I felt sorry for her, and decided to take her if my daughter would take her sister. She agreed.

So began my journey into owning a 5 lb dog when all we’d had in the past was Shepherds, Labs, etc. I told my daughter I was worried I’d never really love little Lacey, as I didn’t think she was cute and Bella was SO much cuter.

Little did I realize how Lacey would worm her way into my heart.




She’s been with me and my husband for 4 ½ years now, and she’s my best friend. She often sits on my lap while I’m writing or is curled in her bed not far from my feet.

When my husband gets up early and I’m still in bed, he brings her back and she burrows under the covers with me for the final hour or so before I get up.




Back Camera


She’s brought untold joy and love to my life, and guess what…now I think she’s cuter than Bella! I included pics of when we first got them (with the stick in their mouth) and some later ones when full grown, so you can decide for yourself.








Author photo

Miralee Ferrell is the author of 11 books, with her most recent that released today, Dreaming on Daisies, book four in the Love Blossoms in Oregon series, a historical romance.

Miralee lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest on 11 acres, where she loves to ride with her daughter on trails near her home, play with her dogs, and garden with her husband of 42 years.






Here is an Amazon link for Miralee’s new book! Dreaming on Daisies: A Novel (Love Blossoms in Oregon Series)

Dreaming on Daisies ReducedDreaming on Daisies
David C Cook, publisher
Release date: October 1, 2014

When her father’s debts, brought on by heavy drinking, threaten Leah Carlson’s family ranch, she fights to save it. When handsome banker Steven Harding must decline her loan request, he determines to do what he can to help. Just as he arrives to serve as a much-needed ranch hand, Leah’s family secrets—and the pain of her past—come to a head. They could destroy everything she’s fought for. And they could keep her from ever opening her heart again.

This is western historical romance that offers hope and healing to the deepest wounds in a woman’s past.

Miralee wants you to know that book one, Blowing on Dandelions is on sale right now on all ebook

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Sweet Christmas Kisses anthology –only 99 cents!

SWEET CHRISTMAS KISSES BOXED SET COVERI infrequently post about myself and my books, but I am so excited about this new release that I just have to share the news!

Fourteen award-winning authors, some who are New York Times and USA Today best-sellers have contributed full length novels to this anthology. A total of 1600 pages in all e-formats–Amazon, Nook, etc.  What fun this was, getting to know these gracious and talented authors while we pulled this project together!  The title came about because all of the stories are sweet romance (no racy, graphic aspects) or inspirational.

As I write this, the anthology has climbed to #27 on the  overall Kindle Top 100 Paid book list, and is #1 in inspirational romance,  #1 in Romantic Comedy,  #1 in Anthologies, and is climbing the Contemporary Romance list.

A Scottish Christmas FinalIt’s a huge bargain, and a great opportunity to read a number of authors you may not have tried before.  My own story in the anthology is “A Scottish Christmas”, and I had such fun writing it.  It was a chance to “revisit” our two weeks in the Scottish Highlands  this past spring.  Here is the cover for my book within the anthology, complete with an adorable Westie who is a character in the story.

I so love Scotland–and now I’m totally hooked on the the Outlander series on Starz.  :)   Did you see any of the episodes?  It’s historical romance, and my  book in the anthology is contemporary romance, but ahhhhhh, those wonderful Scottish accents and kilts, no matter what era we’re talking about!  :)

Here’s an Amazon link, if you’d like to read the reviews for the anthology, would like to read more about the authors and their stories, or…..if you’d like to order it while it’s still on sale!    Sweet Christmas Kisses: Fourteen Sweet Christmas Romances


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Horse People…and the Amish Horses, by Marta Perry

By Guest blogger Marta Perry

Greta riding 2We used to be horse people. I say ‘used to be’ since the barn is empty now, except for a few old straw bales, stacks of firewood, and a tractor cart. But when our three children were growing up, the stalls were filled—with two horses and a pony most of the time, although for a time we also had a foal my oldest daughter was raising.
When I was a child, my every wish, whether on birthday candles, sighting the first star at night, breaking the wishbone, or throwing a penny in a wishing well, was always for a horse of my own. Since we always lived in town, that was a fairly unrealistic wish, but that didn’t stop me from dreaming!

Greta horseThen I married, moved to a small farm,  had three children of my own, and that long-forgotten dream became a reality. As often happens, the reality was much more work than I anticipated, but it was also a delight. Our children learned so much from the years spent with horses—not just physical skills but patience, empathy, persistence, and a love for all God’s creatures. To say nothing of all the joy I found in my relationship with the horses!

One of the reasons I so enjoy the Amish fiction I’m writing now is the opportunity it gives me to use all those memories in my stories, like the naughty pony who’d always be the first to find a way through the fence, or the horse that had a genius for finding a loose board and leaning on it until it broke, or the one who was irrationally afraid of men but loved the girls, or… Well, I could go on, but you get the picture.

Amish7For the Amish, the horse and buggy is a powerful symbol of Amish identity. It’s a very visual representation of typical Amish values: tradition, time, nature, separation from the world. Because car ownership is forbidden, even non-farm Amish usually have a buggy horse.

The horse shows the slower pace of Amish society—as one Amishman commented, if you’re late starting to church, you’re not going to make up time on the road! Because the use of a horse and buggy restricts travel, it encourages families and neighbors to spend time with each other.

Depending on a horse means taking the time and patience to care for the animal and staying in touch with nature through its needs. It serves as a daily reminder of the cost of living Plain in a world which seems to have forgotten those simple values.

In my October release from Berkley Books, THE FORGOTTEN, Book 1 of the Keepers of the Promise series, the traditional horse and buggy plays a role, showing how little that aspect of Amish life has changed between the world of the contemporary story of a young Amish widow struggling to begin anew and the story of her ancestor, a young woman coming of age in the troubling years during World War II.
Any other horse-mad girls out there?

Here is an Amazon link for Marta’s new book! The Forgiven: Keepers of the Promise: Book One

TheForgiven_hiresThe Forgiven, Book One, Keepers of the Promise
October, 2014, Berkley Books
First in a New Series!

When three women, all cousins, are given the task of sorting through the treasures of several generations of their Amish family, they each discover a story from the past that provides insights and inspiration for their own lives.? ?Central Pennsylvania, current day. Rebecca Fisher gladly accepted her husband Paul’s dreams as her own, but now that he has passed away, she’s struggling to raise two children and keep her home. Renting her stable to carpenter Matthew Byler offers a partial solution—even though Matthew has a troubled history, having sometimes failed to embrace Amish beliefs. As Matthew seeks to prove himself, Rebecca realizes how dependent she has become on others. Where can she find the courage to grow and change?? ?Lancaster County, 1941. As war threatens, Anna Esch pours her experiences into her diary. Her world seems to crumble as neighbors turn against the Amish and her love, Jacob, is sent to a camp far away for refusing to fight. She can’t know, as she grows from a girl into a woman during a time of trouble and grief, that one day another Amish woman will gain strength from the words she writes and will learn that she, too, can become a keeper of the promise.

publicity photoMarta Perry Bio:

A lifetime spent in rural Pennsylvania, where she still lives, and her own Pennsylvania Dutch roots led Marta Perry to write about the Plain People in her current novels. The author of more than fifty novels, Marta is active in her church and community. When she’s not writing, she and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening, and visiting their six grandchildren.

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Dogs and Character Development

guest blogger Judy Christie

Some people go to weddings and come home with party favors or photos.  But I’m looking for dog names.

When my college roomie’s daughter married last summer, for example, I met Howie, the bride’s strong-willed pup, who wound up as a catalyst in “Magnolia Market,” my newest novel. The fictional Howie steals the show in one of my favorite scenes—all because the real Howie’s personality was enticing.

photo 2In my fiction with a Louisiana flavor, dogs always play a role—and naming them is a huge treat. Each dog and its moniker is chosen with great care: Sometimes I pull a name from those I’ve saved for years. My collection of dog names joins my collection of inexpensive, antique dogs, mostly chipped and full of personality. At other times, I offer a small salute to a friend by using her pet’s name.

Dogs inspire character development

While I confess that I don’t own a pet (unless one bonsai plant counts), I’ve found the dogs of friends and family to be creative sparks. In particular, I like the way animals draw people out and show the true core of a person.

Have you noticed how you can tell a lot about a character in a novel by how they treat animals? That detail helps me develop characters—many of whom first connect because of a dog.

It started with Mannix in “Gone to Green,” my debut novel. (I didn’t write my first novel until I turned 50, and I’d held onto the name Mannix, a TV detective, for decades.) Mannix helps the main character meet the love of her life, and he stars in a subplot in the third Green novel, “The Glory of Green.”

Somehow the names and animals come together and become a thread in stories, the same way they are woven into the lives of the people I love.

How about you? What’s your pet’s name? How’d you come up with it?  Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of “Magnolia Market,” where you’ll meet Howie, Willie and Fearless.

Here is an Amazon link to Judy’s book!     Magnolia Market (Trumpet & Vine)

photo 1Magnolia Market
Harper Collins Christian Publishing
released September 23, 2014

“The second installment in the Trumpet and Vine series stands alone well; however, fans of the series will enjoy catching up with familiar characters.  The story moves at an even pace, but readers will keep the pages turning wanting to know what’s going to happen next.  The message that helping others is therapeutic shines through.” – RT Book Reviews, 4 stars

“A delightful tale that entices readers with the aroma of biscuits, romance and new starts.” – Publishers Weekly

About the book: “There’s been a change in plans.” With that proclamation from her former mother-in-law, Avery Broussard watches her hopes for a new start collapse. Avery goes from running a ritzy boutique to filling in at a forlorn corner market–where the help of carpenter T.J. Aillet makes her believe in second chances at love.

 About the author: Judy Christie’s first pet was a cat with the oh-so-original name of Boots; her fiercest pet was a Chihuahua named Taco, named by her brother. Library Journal has compared Judy’s novels to those of Jan Karon and Debbie Macomber. Visit with Judy on her green kitchen couch at www.judychristie.com.


Drifter, the Australian Cattle Dog

Guest blogger Misty Beller

Growing up on a farm filled with a menagerie of animals, they were always among my best friends. Cows, horses, Misty Bellerchickens, goats, cats, dogs, and whatever else we happened to be raising at the time, each was special in its own way.

But we also understood the value of animals. And I’m not just talking monetary value. Sure, many of the cows and horses were worth several thousands of dollars apiece, and part of our income (and the food on our table) was derived from raising and selling them. But some of the animals had specific jobs, and without them, life would have been much harder (or at least not as fun!).

So as I write novels, it seems I can’t help but include animals in some of the leading roles. My new release, The Lady and the Mountain Man, is primarily set on a ranch in the Montana mountains, and one of my favorite co-stars is Drifter, an Australian Cattle Dog.

Blue heeler Now, I have a big confession to make. I took a fair amount of creative liberty with the timeline for Drifter. My story is set in 1874, and while the Australian Cattle Dog breed had already been “created” by George Hall in New South Wales, the dog wasn’t known to be in America until later in the 1900s. In my book, I don’t actually label Drifter as an Australian Cattle Dog, but his descriptions and mannerisms exactly reflect those amazing animals!

Have you ever had the opportunity to see these dogs in action? They are high energy, with amazing endurance, which makes them a cattleman’s best friend. The breed was first created by crossing Old English Sheepdog types with tamed dingoes.  The result was an animal that combined the loyal friendliness and herding savvy of the sheepdog, with the endurance and hard-working abilities of the dingo.

Even the typical coat colors are the best of both breeds. The base color for each dog is a mottled blue or red from the dingo. And many Cattle Dogs have solid patches of black brown or white, with a stripe down the top of the head—all coat patterns of the English Sheepdogs.

In my novel, the hero Gideon Bryant is left to handle the ranch’s seventy cattle and ten horses on his own, because of the death of his parents and brother. There’s no way he could do this by himself, but with Drifter provides the extra help he needs. Together, they move the cattle to healthier pastures, round-up strays, protect them from wild animals, and anything else that needs doing.

But when a beautiful city girl shows up at the ranch to marry Gideon’s dead brother, Gideon is annoyed to find that Drifter seems to like this woman better than he likes Gideon. Traitor dog.

I had so much fun getting to know Drifter in this novel, and developed an even greater respect for Australian Cattle Dog breed.

Have you ever owned one of these amazing dogs? Or perhaps you’ve seen them in action herding cattle or sheep? I’d love to hear your stories!

Here is an Amazon link for buying Misty’s book!   The Lady and the Mountain Man (Mountain Dreams Series Book 1)

Mountain Man cover

Leah Townsend, a recently orphaned heiress, flees Richmond after discovering her fiancé’s plot to kill her after their wedding. She needs a safe place to hide, and finds herself accepting a newspaper marriage proposal from a God-fearing young rancher in the Montana Territory. But when Leah arrives at the mountain ranch, she learns her intended husband was killed by a grizzly, leaving behind a bitter older brother and a spunky younger sister.

When Gideon Bryant finds a city girl standing in his log cabin, his first thought is to send her back where she came from. He’s lost too many people to the wild elements of these mountains––his parents, his wife, and now his brother. His love for this untamed land lives on, but he’s determined not to open his heart to another person.But when an accident forces Leah to stay at the ranch for seven more months, can Gideon protect his heart from a love he doesn’t want? Has Leah really escaped the men who seek her life?


Misty Beller was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and two daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.You can find Misty on her website, blog, Goodreads, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.


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What’s a Farm without a Dog?

guest blogger author Valerie Comer

Whats a Farm without a DogI’ve lived on a farm for well over half my life. Dogs have been a steadfast part of my memories during those years. It hasn’t hurt that my husband is a dog person! I class myself as more of a cat person, and both species have a solid place on most farms.

Zebedee was part of our family when our kids were young. He was an ever-patient companion for toddlers, even ones who stuck their fists down his throat, peered in his ears, or sat on his back and bounced.

He was a blue-heeler-based mutt with boundless energy. He’d chase anything anyone threw for him, though he was none too happy when that included a swim. With a long suffering sigh, he’d head into the water to get the stick, but he let you know it wasn’t his favorite environment.

Snowballs were a source of both enjoyment and frustration for Zeb. He loved to catch them in mid-air, though the remains were impossible to bring back to the thrower, try as he might. But what was a self-respecting dog to do when the snowball smashed into smithereens upon impact against a snow bank or tree? He’d try to round the bits up, but to no avail. Yes, we did it often, because it was hilarious to watch.

Haying season was Zeb’s favorite time of year. We farm 40 acres, 25 of which are reserved for crops. Imagine the fun for an energetic dog, following the tractor around in circles day after day! When Jim would come in at the end of a workday, Zeb would lap his dish dry then collapse in the shade, but he was always ready to head straight back out. He delighted in catching and eating the mice that hid in the swaths of drying hay. When he’d eaten his fill, he’d keep killing and rolling on the bodies.

That sounds disgusting, I realize, but farmers know that mice can cause a great deal of damage. They can ruin the hay stacked for the cows’ winter feed. Having a dog that loved to keep the rodent population down made our lives much easier.

Besides that, though, dogs generally love to play. Zeb certainly did, and the kids adored him. It only seemed natural to include a dog on Hiller Farm, where the heroine of More Than a Tiara, my contemporary novella in Snowflake Tiara, lives. Baxter doesn’t play an active part in the story, but appears in all the scenes on the farm, romping with the children, chasing snowballs, and being a loyal companion.

Here is an Amazon link for her new book!   Snowflake Tiara

ST-200x300Snowflake Tiara is a new release containing a duo of Christmas and pageant-themed romance novellas.

The Debutante Queen by Angela Breidenbach ~ 1889 (Helena, MT): Calista Blythe enters the first Miss Snowflake Pageant celebrating Montana statehood to expose the plight of street urchins. But if her hidden indentured orphan is discovered, Calista’s reputation and her budding romance with pageant organizer, Albert Shanahan, could both unravel. Will love or law prevail?

More Than a Tiara by Valerie Comer ~ 2014 (Helena, MT): Marisa Hiller’s interest in competing in Miss Snowflake Pageant for the city of Helena’s 150th anniversary is at zip zero zilch when she discovers the official photographer is Jase Mackie. Can Jase make amends for past mistakes and offer her, not only a tiara, but a partner in her crusade to help needy children and families?


Valerie-Comer-150x150Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her award-winning Farm Fresh Romance stories.



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Border collies & the Old West

Guest blogger Louise Gouge

Border Collie in actionHave you ever come across an interesting piece of information that didn’t serve any particular use at the moment, but you enjoyed it? Maybe it was something you saw on television or in a magazine or maybe while you were on vacation. Then later, you found that bit of information was the perfect piece to fit into a puzzle in your life.

In my case, I can’t remember where I first heard that border collies have been used not only for herding sheep, but also for herding cattle. Imagine those cute little dogs telling those big old cows and steers what to do! But I seem to recall seeing the dogs in action, so it must have been a television documentary.

Anyway, when I started writing novels set in the Old West, I was excited to Border Collie puppieshave cowboys for my main characters. And if you have cowboys, you must have…drumroll, please…cows! As we know, in addition to cattle, ranches have all sorts of other animals, including chickens for eggs and frying, barn cats to keep down the mice population, and dogs to keep the coyotes away. For my fictional Four Stones Ranch in my fictional Esperanza, Colorado, I wanted to do something a little different, so I scoured my memory for that tidbit of information about dogs that herd cattle.


Thank goodness for the Internet. Although I didn’t discover that border collies were actually used to herd cattle in the Old West, I did learn that they’re used by American cattlemen today. (See them in action at www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbLE72rMgcU .)

Border Collie relaxingBecause my book is fiction (Merriam-Webster definition of “fiction”: written stories about people and events that are not real: literature that tells stories which are imagined by the writer), I decided to make these little critters an important part of my story, as you can see from the cover of my new September release. I hope you’ll take time to read about all the trouble these cute puppies cause my hero and heroine in Cowboy to the Rescue, in which Love finds a Home out West.

Here’s the story:Though Georgia belle Susanna Anders agrees to accompany her father on a silver prospecting trip to Colorado, her heart belongs to the South. Then charming cowboy Nate Northam saves her father’s life and gives them shelter at his ranch. Feeling gratitude is only natural, but falling for a Yankee? Both of their families would be outraged. While Susanna’s father recovers at the Northams’ home, Nate can’t help being drawn to the sweet Southern beauty…and wishing he were free to think of courtship. That is until shocking revelations compel both Nate and Susanna to choose where their loyalties lie—fettered to the past or to the promise of a bold new love….

Do you have a pet? Do you have a service dog? Tell us about your favorite critter who lives in your house. I’d love to give away a cope of Cowboy to the Rescue to a resident of the U. S. Please leave your pet comment below to be entered in the drawing.

Here is an Amazon link for her new book!    Cowboy to the Rescue (Love Inspired Historical\Four Stones Ran)

Cowboy to the Rescue Cover

Cowboy to the Rescue
Louise Goudge
Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical,
September 2014.

Praise for Cowboy to the Rescue:   Gouge’s characters are so relatable, I feel like I’m walking right beside them as they go through trials, joys, and fall in love. There are also important topics addressed, prejudices against the South after the Civil War, how easily we can misread a situation and judge others, the tenuous relationship with fathers and sons… I could go on. In the end, as you turn the last page, I guarantee you’ll smile and feel completely satisfied. MaryLu Tyndall, author of the Legacy of the Pirate Kings series.



Louise M. Gouge PortraitAward-winning Florida author Louise M. Gouge writes historical fiction for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical imprint. In addition to numerous other awards, Louise is the recipient of the prestigious Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award for her 2005 novel, Hannah Rose (first place), and her 2011 Regency novella, The Gentleman Takes a Bride (second place). In 2012 she placed third in the Laurel Wreath contest with her novel A Proper Companion. Louise has e-published five of her out of print novels, one original novel, Escape from Kikwitand one original novella, Daughter of Destiny. With her great love of history and research, Louise has traveled to several of her locations to ensure the accuracy of her stories’ settings. When she isn’t writing, she and her husband love to visit historical sites and museums. Please visit her Web site at http://blog.Louisemgouge.com


A Dog Wanting To Go Home

by guest blogger Gail Gaymer Martin

Jinx - terrier photoJinx came to us as a puppy and looked very much like the terrier, I grew up with named Spike. He was a small beige and white terrier and was a faithful friend always staying in the yard. But as he aged, he became more addled and hard of hearing and one day, he followed our Samoyed down the street, and though Teddy returned, Jinx didn’t. We drove around the neighborhood, posted photos, called the dog pound, and received calls from people who said they spotted him, but after two weeks, I looked at his doggy dish and his toys with tears running down my cheeks and knew it was time to put them away.

Before I did, my phone rang. our veterinarian called, whose office was many miles away from us. He asked if we still owned Jinx. I told him our story, and he said, “I think he’s here. The receptionist saw him hanging around outside the building this morning and he’s still here. Do you have his dog license number handy?” My heart pounded as I read him the numbers, then held my breath. “We have him. He’s dirty, but he’s fine. You can come and get him.”

Gail_5We were amazed that he had wandered that far away and found the one place he would know besides home…the veterinarian’s office, and I could hear him think in his doggie mind all he wanted was to go home.

We jumped in the car and drove the ten miles to the vet’s office and I cried as I held Jinx in my arms. He was filthy and smelled like garbage, and the pads of his feet were raw, but I didn’t care. All I cared was my Jinx had been found. We kept a closer eye on him after that, and he lived with us until age 20 (the same as our cat Waifer). Jinx too died at home and was buried in our backyard.

Wanting to go home reminds me of my older novella, Yuletide Treasures, available again as part of An Old-Fashioned Christmas Collection published by Barbour.  The story came to me when I recalled an incident my mom experienced as a child. Mom was the youngest of ten children, and when her mother had a stroke just before Christmas, she was sent to a city many hours away to spend the holidays with affluent relatives. Mom recalled how sad and frightened she was being that far from family, but later in years, she remembered  a few events that she enjoyed. One was on Christmas Eve when the formal parlor was opened to display a huge decorated Christmas tree lighted with real candles. She was awed and noticed the pails of water nearby in case a limb caught on fire.

This event triggered a story idea and rather than a girl, I created young Davy who was sent to visited well-to-do relatives at Christmas and he experienced some of the same things my mom did. Yuletide Treasures is a romance with a thread of mystery involving a package Livy, the heroine and the woman who accompanied Davy, is asked to deliver in secret. I loved writing this book in honor of my mom who is now in heaven.

If you would like to read Yuletide Treasures, it is included in An Old-Fashioned Christmas Collection from Barbour Publishing along with nine other Christmas novellas by various novelists.

An Old-Fashioned Christmas CollectionRead the Back Cover Blurb:
Many of us have a secret picture of Christmases past—a time when windows shimmered with lacy frost and candlelight, fireplaces kept a home warm and snug, ladies’ skirts swirled and gracefully skimmed the floor, and gentlemen were gallant and true. Experience Christmases spanning over one hundred years through nine inspiring historical romances, beautifully and economically packaged for you and all your gift-giving needs.

Look for An Old-Fashioned Christmas Collection at Wal-Mart, Kmart, in bookstores and wherever books are sold, or you can find it online: Click here for more details of authors and purchase price.

And here’s an Amazon link where you can read more about the book, and buy it! Old-Fashioned Christmas Romance Collection: 9 Stories Celebrate Christmas Traditions and Love from Bygone Years

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Peppermint Patties, A White Christmas, & Laura Hilton

Nanookguest blogger  Laura Hilton

This is a new recipe we discovered. If you like York Peppermint Patties, you’ll love these.  While not featured in my book, this is a recipe Mercy would’ve made.

The stacked peppermint patty tree is shown here–and this is Nanook, who was eyeing this treat and wishing it was his!



Christmas Peppermint Patties 252302_452655531448225_1266935394_n (1)
3 ¾ cups powdered sugar
3 T butter (not oleo) softened
2 or 3 t. peppermint extract
½ t vanilla
¼ c. evaporated milk
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
2 T. shortening

Combine first four ingredients, add milk and mix well. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on waxed paper-lined cookie sheet.  Chill for about 20 minutes. Flatten with a glass to 1/4 –inch thick; chill for 30 minutes. Melt chocolate chips and shortening. Dip patties; place on waxed paper to harden. Yield: About 5 dozen.

Here is a link to Laura Hilton’s book!     White Christmas in Webster County

WhiteChristmasA White Christmas in Webster County
(September 2014, Whitaker House)

Wanting to relocate from Shipshewana to somewhere new, Mercy Lapp answered an ad in The Budget to work as a mother’s helper for Matthew and Shanna Yoder in Seymour, Missouri. Mercy relocated from Shipshewana to give herself space and time to heal after the death of her beau in a fishing trip on Lake Michigan. Abner Hilty fled Shipshewana to Montana to work on a ranch after he and his twin brother witnessed a murder.

Now that the killer is safely behind bars, Abner decides to visit his brother Abram in Missouri where he’d settled with his bride of one month. Mercy is surprised to see Abner there, and equally surprised by how much he’d changed physically since she’d last seen him. Even though the two live in different districts they occasionally see each other in town and form a fledging friendship.

As Christmas approaches, an unexpected heavy snow lets Abner and Mercy spend a lot of time together in wintertime fun. Abner hopes to interest Mercy in a more permanent relationship. But then Mercy has a potentially life changing discovery. Will she return to Shipshewana to answer the summons of the past? Or settle in a new place?

A Christmas Romance.  A chance for a new beginning. Then her past is resurrected.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools three of her children. Her two oldest children are homeschool graduates and are in college. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor. 

Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts (winner of the 2012 Clash of the Titles Award in two categories), and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love (finalist for the 2013 Christian Retail Awards). Surrendered Love and Awakened Love. A nonAmish book Swept Away will release November 2014 from Abingdon Press. She is contracted for another three book Amish series with Whitaker House, The Amish of Jamesport series, begins in November 2014 with The Snow Globe, The Postcard in June 2015, and The Bird House in September 2015, and A White Christmas in Webster County (Amish) releasing in September 2014. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with over a thousand book reviews published at various online review sites.

visit my blogs: http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/  & http://lauravhilton.blogspot.com/
twitter: @Laura_V_Hilton

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Dogs, and Obeying the Master’s Voice

by guest blogger  Cindy Thomson

22732_1345208757070_1608963_nI actually used to think I wasn’t a dog person. That seems so silly to me now. I grew up with dogs, although they were kept outside. When my boys were young I didn’t want a dog, and that’s probably because I felt so overwhelmed raising three boys and working. (No matter what the kids say, the mom takes care of the dog, right?)

We did get a dog when the boys were older, our sweet Sheltie named Cody.

He was so loving and never meant to be any trouble at all. If you know Shelties, you know how they follow you everywhere just so they can plop down on the floor beside your feet. He’s been gone a few years now, but we have “granddogs” who visit, and that’s a lot of fun. So it didn’t surprise me when a dog entered the novel I’m currently working on.

203px-His_Master's_VoiceIn my story everyone thinks this dog looks just like the Victor dog, the one on the record labels. He’s going to have an important part in the story, teaching my characters about faithfulness and obedience and unconditional love. I can’t think of a more fitting example. This fictional dog—his name is Luigi—charms children, is obedient to his master, is a constant and comforting companion, but also is smart and intuitive, making up for what is sometimes lacking in his owner.

My inspiration is the story about the real Victor dog, Nipper. Nipper was a terrier mix that lived in the late 1800s in England. He belonged to Mark Henry Barraud and upon Barraud’s death became the companion of his brother Frances. Sometime after Nipper died Frances created the famous painting of Nipper listening to his departed owner’s voice on a gramophone. Eventually this painting was purchased by The Gramophone Company and some years later became the Victor advertising image His Master’s Voice. The U.S. trademark was registered in 1900.

Anyone who has seen a dog twist his head at an odd angle while trying to understand something you’ve said to him instantly understands the image Barraud painted. I know Cody used to do this a lot. But I was also intrigued by the fact that the dog in the painting was hearing a voice that he had long listened to and obeyed, and although the voice was gone from this earth, he still listened.

Obeying the Master’s voice is not easy, but we can be trained to listen. Listening is almost a lost art these days. Those are the themes I hope to explore in this novel I’m currently working on. If you’d like to follow me on my journey, sign up for my email newsletter on my website: www.cindyswriting.com or follow my Facebook page www.facebook.com/cindyswriting for updates.

What’s the greatest lesson you learned from your pet?


Here is an Amazon link for Cindy’s newest release!   Annie’s Stories (Ellis Island)

AnnieRTreviewpictureAnnie’s Stories, Book Two in The Ellis Island Series
Cindy Thomson
Tyndale House Publishers
July 1, 2014

The year is 1901, the literary sensation The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is taking New York City by storm, and everyone wonders where the next great book will come from. But to Annie Gallagher, stories are more than entertainment—they’re a sweet reminder of her storyteller father. After his death, Annie fled Ireland for the land of dreams, finding work at Hawkins House.

But when a fellow boarder with something to hide is accused of misconduct and authorities threaten to shut down the boardinghouse, Annie fears she may lose her new friends, her housekeeping job . . . and her means of funding her dream: a memorial library to honor her father. Furthermore, the friendly postman shows a little too much interest in Annie—and in her father’s unpublished stories. In fact, he suspects these tales may hold a grand secret.

Though the postman’s intentions seem pure, Annie wants to share her father’s stories on her own terms. Determined to prove herself, Annie must forge her own path to aid her friend and create the future she’s always envisioned . . . where dreams really do come true.

About the author…
Cindy Thomson’s love of history and her Scots-Irish heritage inspired much of her writing, including her new Ellis Island series. Cindy is also the author of Brigid of Ireland and Celtic Wisdom: Treasures from Ireland, and is co-author of Three Finger: The Mordecai Brown Story. Cindy has written on a regular basis for numerous online and print publications and is a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild.


Why I write about service dogs by Margaret Daley

Guest blog  by Margaret Daley

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-guide-dog-helping-blind-man-image29191144When I taught students with special needs, I occasionally had the chance to also work with a service dog. They are amazing animals. Dogs are used to help people with various problems, not only with different disabili

ties (like blindness, epilepsy, diabetes, physical, post traumatic syndrome disorder) but also with helping law enforcement with bomb detecting, drug detecting, suspect apprehension, tracking and cadaver retrieval.




© Zhukovsky | Dreamstime.com - NYPD Counter Terrorism Officer With Belgian Shepherd Providing Security During Fleet Week 2014 PhotoTheir scent of smell is keen compare to ours. For example, they can smell a dead person buried in the ground or deep under the water. They can sense things in us that we aren’t even aware of.

My vet told me about a service dog that was with his owner who is diabetic at the airport. The service dog indicated a passenger who was forty feet away had plummeting blood sugar, which was the case. Many animals can sense when someone is in need of emotional support, whether in grief, depression or pain.

Have you known a service (or therapy) dog or seen one in action? What kind of dog was it?

About author Margaret Daley
Margaret Daley, an award-winning author of ninety books (five million sold worldwide), has been married for over forty years and is a firm believer in romance and love. When she isn’t traveling, she’s writing love stories, often with a suspense thread and corralling her three cats that think they rule her household. To find out more about Margaret visit her website at http://www.margaretdaley.com.

Here’s a link to Margaret Daley’s new book!   Her Hometown Hero (Love Inspired\Caring Canines)

Her Hometown HeroHer Hometown Hero
Book 3 in Caring Canines Series
by Margaret Daley
Love Inspired

Home to a Cowboy
In a split second, a tragic accident ends Kathleen Somers’s ballet career. Her dreams shattered, she returns home to the Soaring S ranch…and her first love. Suddenly the local veterinarian, Dr. Nate Sterling, goes from her ex to her champion. With the help of a lively poodle therapy dog, the cowboy vet sets out to challenge Kathleen’s strength and heal her heart. He’ll show her there’s life beyond dance, even if it means she leaves town again. But maybe, just maybe, he’ll convince her there’s only one thing in life worth having…and he’s standing right in front of her.

Caring Canines: Loving and loyal, these dogs mend hearts.


Lessons from Muggs…the Himalayan Cat

How My Himalayan Cat Enriched My Life, by guest blogger Nicola Furlong

mug screenshot2This is a painful post to compose. I am facing every pet owner’s worst fear: zero day is looming for Muggs, my adored Himalayan. He arrived over ten years ago, found abandoned and catnapped by friends.

Age unknown, emaciated, and near death, he was hobbled by a concrete Mohawk running up his bony back, suffering from damaged kidneys, but blessed with a sweet and forgiving personality.

After a massive shot of anti-biotics, a buzz cut and a couple of days sucking tuna juice from a syringe, Muggs darted up and down the carpeted hallway completely unafraid of my astonished Australian terrier. His hilarious saucer face, spectacular daily gymnastic cleaning routine, and startling empathetic manner became a decade of life treasures.

nic mugs Now, my sweet little guy is eating less, rickety in action, and I have to inject him with subcutaneous fluids every second day to support his faulty kidneys. The dreaded decision will have to be made, way too soon.

While I ponder this terrible responsibility, I’d like to share six essential Muggisms gleaned from living with and loving my six pound feline:

1) Regal Rules: Ask gently, accompanied by a soft pad to the face, and you shall receive.

2) Face Failure: When you are defeated, yowl once, and then stalk right back into the game.

3) Be Bold: Walk softly and always hold a haughty attitude.

4) Manage Emotions: Surrender to claw-ripping anger only as a last swift resort, and then pose triumphantly.

5) Don’t Dwell: A hairball is not the end of the world, and anyway, somebody else will clean it up.

6) Daily Musts: Purr, wash, play, knead and gaze, not necessarily in that order.

I know my heart soon will be broken, but as a writer, I have the ability to bestow the gift of immortality.

In HOMEFIRES, Book 2 of my new series called the SISTERHOOD OF SHEPHERDS, I’ve introduced an abandoned Himalayan who is found and immediately cherished by the Shepherd family.Though he has a different name, little Phoenix’s rise to life guarantees longevity to the singular spirit of my beloved cat.  Thank you for letting me momentarily ease my anguish by sharing the joy of living with Muggs.

Here is an Amazon link  to buy Nicola’s book!  Heartsong: Sisterhood of Shepherds


published in trade paperback and ebook by Mantle Rock, May 2014. 

Award-winning author Sandi Rog says HEARTSONG will “reach right in and take hold of your heart, seizing it until the very last page.”

Heartsong cover mediumHave You Ever Thought — There Must be More to Life?

Thirty-something Oregon plant nursery owner and single mom, Charly Shepherd has. She knows the joys and sorrows of digging in the dirt, but discovers she yearns for more in HEARTSONG, a charming cozy novel of family, forgiveness and forgotten promises.

Everyone has regrets. Sometimes we wish we had the chance and the courage to make amends. These Cold Cases of the Heart are at the center of the bestselling family saga series, the SISTERHOOD OF SHEPHERDS. When Faith, Hope and Charly, three quirky Oregon sisters, reluctantly delve into family secrets to help their ailing father fulfill a promise, their lives change forever as they pursue a new path of discovery, heartache and humor.

If you like Debbie Macomber, Jan Karon or Fern Michaels, you’ll love Nicola Furlong.


nic blue poppyNicola pens mystery & inspirational novels, creates interactive iPad books, podcasts about genre writing (The Novel Experience), & teaches e-publishing, when not playing Old-Timer’s hockey, growing blossoms & bamboo or eating chocolate fudge. Her first contemporary women’s series, the Sisterhood of Shepherds, debuted with HEARTSONG, in June 2014 (MantleRockPublishing).

Nicola’s swinging whodunit, TEED OFF! (republished in February 2014 by OakTreePress), features professional golfer and coroner Riley Quinn.

Her other novels include a psychological thriller (A HEMORRHAGING OF SOULS), six novels in The Church Choir Mysteries series and a multimedia online thriller, UNNATURALSTATES.

In addition, Nicola has published three how to ebook primers, TOP TEN GARDENING TIPS, YOUDUNIT WHODUNIT! HOW TO WRITE MYSTERIES & SELF-PUBLISH YOUR E-BOOK IN MINUTES! She’s recently released her first musical interactive children’s book for the iPad, Saving Grape-Jelly Cheeks.

Nicola gardens in a small seaside town on southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. For more information, visit  http://www.nicolafurlong.com   or    http://www.quillr.com.




Author Gail Gaymer Martin asks: Did you lose a kitten?!

by guest blogger Gail Martin

gray_tabby_catMy latest novel includes a cat named Whimsey, and she’s one of the most memorable characters in the novel along with her owner, Aunt Winnie. Neither is a main character, although they are unique and special people, but I love animals and enjoy them in my novels. I’ve always had pets, and one, like Whimsey, is still in my heart.

Many years ago while camping, my husband and I heard a rustling noise outside. Assuming it was a critter in our camping gear, my husband opened the camper door and let out our dog. But instead of a critter, we spotted a tiny little tabby kitten staring at us.

Who could resist? We brought her in, gave her something to eat and drink and kept her until morning when we could try to find the owner. We headed for nearby homes, and after being laughed at by the first two families who told us people always brought unwanted pets into the woods, we gave up. Since the humane society was sixty miles away, we called people we knew, trying to find a good home for the kitten. No one was interested. So along with two dogs, we returned home with a kitten. And you can probably guess who ended up taking her in. We did. We named the poor little stray Waif but added an e and r at the end, so she became Waifer.

Waifer was one of those characters whose favorite trick was to bat at my knitting needles and knock the ball of yarn across the floor. She loved to climb on my desk when I was working and lay across the top of the papers. She gave us laughter and love. As she aged, she became ill, and though we took her the vet and gave her medication, she lost weight and looked bad. Selfishly, I didn’t have the heart to put her to sleep.

When we had a month long trip planned for Europe and had no family who could care for her, reality finally sank in. It was time to say goodbye and do the unthinkable. With one week to go, we made plans to take her to the vet’s office on the Saturday before our trip. The Wednesday before as I passed the rocking chair where Waifer loved to lie, I saw her there but something looked strange. My heart skipped, and a sob left my throat. I called my husband. When he looked, he agreed, She was gone. Though I cried, I also knew the little sweetheart gave us an amazing gift. We didn’t have to take her to the vet. She left on her own terms. What a blessing.

When I added Whimsey to my romance mystery, Treasures of Her Heart, I couldn’t help but think of Waifer. Whimsey is also a tabby and one who loves many of the same antics as Waifer.

Saying goodbye to a pet is as hard as saying goodbye to family? Have you had to say goodbye and  make that difficult decision, or were you blessed as we were?

Here’s an Amazon link to buy  Gail’s latest book!   Treasures of Her Heart

TreasuresofherHeart VLD

Treasures of Her Heart
A Forget Me Not Romance
June, 2014

Nikki Townley a fashion-buyer, looking for a life with deeper meaning, leaves her career and moves to a small, tourist town in northern Michigan to assist her ailing great-aunt Winnie in running her floundering antique business. There she finds herself caught in a mystery searching for her aunt’s missing fortune, facing an investment company in pursuit of her aunt’s property, and hoping to save long-distance romance with her faithful male friend Rob Moore, while struggling to escape her attraction to an exciting, smooth-talking womanizer. Can she overcome temptation, locate the missing fortune and find the truth to the treasures of her heart? Will Rob wait for Nikki to make up her mind?

What are people saying?
Romance, and mystery come together in perfect harmony. You will delve into Nikki’s heartfelt journey from beginning to end. I highly recommend this wonderful author and this wonderful novel. Naomi Anderson, Amazon Review

I have to say that this book (by Gail Gaymer Martin) is now one of my favorites. I highly recommend this book. If you want a very sweet romance with a good mystery included, you will love this book. I know I really did. M. A. Young, Amazon Review

I quickly fell in love with this engaging story of romance and mystery. I found it hard to put the book down from chapter one to the final word in the last chapter. Gail Gaymer Martin has written another winning story that will warm your heart.  J Pobst, Amazon Review

Treasures of Her Heart, a Mystery Romance available as a paperback and eBook. Click here to read an excerpt on Amazon.


Wall photo of Gail - ldMulti-award-winning novelist, Gail Gaymer Martin is the author of contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction with 55 published novels and nearly 4 million books in print. Her novels have received numerous national awards, including: the ACFW Carol Award, Booksellers Best and RT Reviewer’s Choice Award. CBS local news listed Gail as one of the four best writers in the Detroit area. She is the author of Writer Digest’s Writing the Christian Romance and is a cofounder of American Christian Fiction Writers where she serves on their Executive Board. Gail is a member of Advanced Speakers and Writers (ASWA) as well as Christian Authors Network (CAN) and is a keynote speaker at women’s events at churches, civic and business organizations as well as a workshop presenter at conferences across the U.S. Gail lives in Michigan with her husband. Visit her at: Website: www.gailgaymermartin.com








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Of Cletuses, Herbies and Golden Retrievers

by guest blogger Fay Lamb

I’m not one to read a story that has an animal in it. I’m always afraid that it will die and rip out my heart along theway. When I have to read such a story in edits, I usually recommend that the animal survive unless I can see clearly why the author has chosen to write the story in such a way. After all, every character, even a pet, must have a purpose for being in a story, and that purpose might be fulfilled in the death of that “character.”

Tennager boy in the park with a dog

Because I don’t like to read books with animals in them, when Cletus came bounding into my first novel in the Ties that Bind series, Charisse I couldn’t believe that the overgrown Golden Retriever would dare invade my written page.

Cletus did more than that. He showed himself necessary to the story. Instead of breaking a heart, Cletus was there to heal the hearts of a mother and son deeply entrenched in grief. From the start when Cletus literally helps the hero and his owner, Gideon Tabor, run into Charisse, he had me giggling along with VJ, Charisse’s son.

And that laughter captivated me.

Throughout the story, Cletus appears, and each time, he seems to have the soul of an angel, knowing when Charisse or her little boy needed him.

a cute chihuahua napping in a blanketI’ve thought long and hard about where Cletus came from, and I think my imagination had to make him as large as the heart that my Chihuaha, Herbie, had within him.

Herbie was given to me by my father. The dog chose his name because he wouldn’t answer to any name my dad called him. As a joke, I called him “Herbert,” and he perked up and looked at me. You see, Herbert was my father’s given name, and he was a precious gift from my dad.

In 2002, I became very ill. I couldn’t get out of bed for four months. Beside me, the entire time, Herbie snuggled against me or on top of my pillow, always letting me know he was there to comfort me.

Like Cletus, he just knew he was needed. He had a reason for being in my life story.

Herbie lived to an ancient old age of twenty-one. He left us last year, and he is missed, but he lives on every time I think of Cletus, his big heart, and the way he helped a hero heal the hearts of a heroine and her little boy just by being there when they needed him.

Here is an Amazon  link to Fay’s book!   Charisse (Ties that Bind Series Book 1)

Charisse Cover Design FINAL FRONTCharisse
By Fay Lamb

He wants a family. She wants retribution.

Charisse Wellman’s husband has been gone a year, and she’s about to lose the only home her son, V.J., has ever known. She’s quit law school but the money just isn’t there. Her only option is to work as a law clerk for her ex-friend, Gideon Tabor. The only problem: Gideon is the judge who let her husband’s killer go free, and Gideon doesn’t know the connection.

Gideon Tabor can’t believe that the woman interviewing for the job is the girl he loved in high school. Charisse is hesitant about accepting his job offer, and when she does, Gideon makes every attempt to apologize for his relationship-ending blunder in high school. Charisse accepts his apology, but she keeps him at a distance. When Gideon learns that Charisse’s anger actually stems from his release of the man who ran down her husband, he tries to explain, but Charisse doesn’t want Gideon’s excuses or the love he has to offer. She wants her husband’s killer to pay.

About the author… 
Fay Lamb’s emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on three romance novellas: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, A Ruby Christmas, and the newest A Dozen Apologies. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Future releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind. Also, look for Book 1 in Fay’s Serenity Key series entitled Storms in Serenity.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads.

Come back to The All Creatures Great & Small blog on December 15, when Fay will be visiting again and  featuring LIBBY, another wonderful book!

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Author Mary Ellis: Horses during the Civil War

The Role of Horses during the Civil War   by  guest blogger Mary Ellis

Many have said that the horse was the backbone of the Civil War. It wasn’t until I began researching my current book, The Lady and Officer, that I realized how true that statement was.


When you think about horses during nineteenth-century warfare, you think of the cavalry—those soldiers who fought while mounted with rifles, pistols, and swords.

But horses also moved artillery and ambulances filled with wounded, carried couriers and generals where they needed to go, and pulled wagons that brought food, munitions, and clothing to our boys in blue and grey.

 It is estimated that more horses lost their lives during the war than men, in excess of one million. It didn’t take long before horses were in short supply on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line.

In my historical romance, my heroine breeds and raises horses outside of Cashtown, Pennsylvania. Many of you will remember that town is just a stone’s throw away from Gettysburg. When the war arrived on Madeline Howard’s doorstep, it brought along two armies desperate for replacement mounts. It was common for unscrupulous soldiers to steal horseflesh for their own use or to sell to quartermasters at a profit.

My character’s pride-and-joys were soon stripped away, leaving her without a livelihood or a means to flee the carnage of battle. Of course, my resourceful equestrienne was able to rise above her circumstances and thrive in a world gone mad. But I hope you’ll never underestimate the invaluable role that the noblest of beasts has played in our nation’s history.

Here’s a link to buy Mary’s new book!  The Lady and the Officer (Civil War Heroines Series)

The Lady and the Officer
Lady and the Officer, Theby Mary Ellis
August 1,  2014
ISBN 978-0-7369-5054-1
Category: Fiction—Romance

Love, Loyalty, and Espionage…How Does a Lady Live with All Three?

 As a nurse after the devastating battle of Gettysburg, Madeline Howard saves the life of Elliot Haywood, a colonel in the Confederacy. But even though she must soon make her home in the South, her heart and political sympathies belong to General James Downing, a Union Army corps commander.

 Colonel Haywood has not forgotten the beautiful nurse who did so much for him, and when he unexpectedly meets her again in Richmond, he is determined to win her. While spending time with army officers and war department officials in her aunt and uncle’s palatial home, Madeline overhears plans for Confederate attacks against the Union soldiers. She knows passing along this information may save the life of her beloved James, but at what cost? Can she really betray the trust of her family and friends? Is it right to allow Elliott to dream of a future with her?

Two men are in love with Madeline. Will her faith in God show her the way to a bright future, or will her choices bring devastation on those she loves?


Mary Ellis is the bestselling author of many books, including A Widow’s Hope and The Quaker and the Rebel. She GEis an active member of the local historical society and Civil War Roundtable, where she served as secretary for several years. She has enjoyed a lifelong passion for American history.   Shes has written twelve bestselling novels set in the Amish community. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. Living in Harmony, book one of her last series won the 2012 Lime Award for Excellence in Amish Fiction. Love Comes to Paradise won the 2013 Lime Award.

She is currently working on a three-book series of historical romances set during the Civil War for Harvest House Publishers. The Quaker and the Rebel released in January and The Lady and the Officer releases in July.

She can be found on the web at:
www.maryellis.net or www.maryeellis.wordpress.com or


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Author Eleanor Gustafson

Guest blogger Eleanor Gustafson

I was pet starved as a child, so I sort of adopted a friend’s dog. Nancy housed and fed Pokey; I took him for walks—or runs. He didn’t do well with walk. Worked fine until he started having seizures. Sadly, the day came when Nancy and I said a tearful goodbye to our friend as he was driven off to dog heaven. HOWEVER, 15 minutes later Pokey came tearing into the yard, delighted to see us! But the truck came back, and Pokey was recaptured and marched to the gallows.

The only other dog I had was a German shepherd named Beowulf. A beautiful dog, but fearful and less than welcoming to visitors at the parsonage. The only non-family person he greeted warmly was the breeder who had given him to us. “How ARE you, my friend?” Beowulf would say with excited doggy smiles, knowing this man had lady dogs at his house. Let the party begin! Everything that could go wrong with Beowulf, did, from porcupine quills and skunk encounters to broken bones. The first bone was a nuisance, but he no sooner got out of the cast when a second leg broke—prompting an immediate trip to the undertaker.


No more dogs, but we acquired a pair of anole lizards, Speedy and Spooky, that required live flies, spiders, and home-grown mealworms. I got to know where flies hung out—church windows were the mother lode—and our cellar was full of spiders. We gave the lizards away after a while. Enough, already, of flies and spiders!



JenneauThen there was Jenneau, a baby raccoon I found at the base of a tree—its mother dead on the road. Took it home, learned how to feed it, then built a wire cage behind our house and covered it with plastic. One afternoon, a storm came up and rattled that plastic—a  tornado to that poor raccoon! I ran out, and as I opened the cage door, the baby leaped onto me, clinging for dear life. Never had I felt more like a mother!


HorseHorses, though, became the passion of my life in my teens, when people down the street bought a pony for their granddaughter.






horse jumping Once I learned to manage that contrary beast, not only had I learned to ride, but to do life, as well. I dedicated Dynamo to Lydie, the woman who shaped my life during those years. She shared not only horses, but flowers and birds and time, freely given.

Which leads directly to my novel–Dynamo!





Here is a link for Eleanor’s new book !   Dynamo

by Eleanor Gustafson

5-Gaited horseDynamo is a five-gaited stallion with a nasty disposition. His trainer Jeth has his work cut out for him before this gorgeous creature can possibly be shown, but that work must be done in his spare time. Jeth’s real job is training show jumpers for competition in horse events.

Jeth’s boss is a Christian; Jeth is not. But when his girlfriend, Janni, slaps him really hard after he refuses to go to bed with her, the door of the Kingdom suddenly opens to Jeth.

Jeth finds God to be totally inscrutable and unpredictable. Only his new friend Maybelle can interpret this strange, new venue. For instance, he wins classes where he deserves to come in last. He does amazing things and ends up in the hospital.

Maybelle, a bit of old lace, is something else. Mentor, yes; spiritual goad, yes; but tower of strength when Jeth desperately needs one. And he does—on two devastating occasions of life and death.

This novel walks you through the high-stakes horse world, but more importantly, it draws you into the world of a sovereign God who pulls and shapes and lifts Jeth into the unfathomably rich fellowship of suffering servanthood.

“Packed with the fascinating world of show horses, Dynamo is a rich tale of redemption, renewal, and hope. Readers will appreciate the fast-moving plot, and root for the life-like characters. May God “hug your soul” as you read this story.”   Alice J. Wisler, author of Rain Song (Christy Finalist 2009), How Sweet It Is (Christy Finalist 2010) and Hatteras Girl

 Recent review:

D.M. Webb rated it 5 of 5 stars:   “….Powerful, gripping, and gritty…these are only a few words to try to describe the wonderful story brought to life by Eleanor Gustafson.”Jeth Cavanaugh may be raw and rough, but he knows horses. One decision to travel down a road led him on a journey for which he wasn’t prepared.Little by little, Jeth comes to know Jesus and His sacrifice for us all. Little by little, his soul is revealed, mirrored by the beautiful stallion, Dynamo. The dialogue in Dynamo is real and at times gritty (never overstepping the boundary of Christian morality). The emotions are straightforward and yet complex. The characters’ involvement with each other contributes to their growth….

I cried when a beloved character died. I cheered when a character was saved. I moaned when trouble came.All in all, Dynamo is great Christian literary fiction. The growth and journey of the character made a strong impact upon this reader. It stayed with me long after I turned that last page and closed the book.I encourage all readers of general and literary fiction to immerse themselves in this story and to take the ride of their lives.Superb, Eleanor Gustafson, superb!


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World War II Military Dogs in London

World War II Military Dogs in London, by guest blogger  Gail Kittleson

german-shepherdResearch for my WWII novels led me to some pretty amazing canines this morning, among them a dog named Rip. This hero of the London bombings saved many victims buried in the rubble during the Blitz, when the German Luftwaffe determined to destroy Great Britain.

Rip, one of the “Magnificent Seven” animals receiving the Dickin Medal for Valor (the equivalent of the Victoria Cross), was a mongrel terrier. That fact, plus the high number of victims who owe their lives to him, stood out in this online article.


Adopted by an air raid warden unit after he was bombed out of his home, Rip created his own notoriety. He received no particular training, as did some of the dogs, but “They couldn’t stop him becoming a search and rescue dog – it seemed he did it for the enjoyment.”

Between 1940 and 1941 alone, Rip rescued more than 100 people from the air-raid ruins, and went on to rescue even more people for another four years. Impressive, eh? And all this from a mongrel stray—goes to show that greatness can rise from unexpected quarters.

May that prove true for all of us.

Gail is the author of Catching up with Daylight.  Doesn’t it have a beautiful cover?!

Here is an Amazon link for her book: Catching Up with Daylight: A Journey to Wholeness

And here is a special price:
Catching Up with Daylight on Kindle Boards for Thursday 7/24. It will be on sale for $.99 this whole    weekend (Thurs – Sun).  It’ll be here: http://www.kboards.com/
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Scotland to New Orleans, but we still love Iowa!

How has your summer been?  I just don’t know where spring and summer have gone.  In the blink of an eye, we’re nearly at the end of July!  Travel and lots of family events have certainly filled my days.  I’ve been a bit lax here at the blog because of all these things, but I’ll now be better!

IMG_2860We were in the Highlands of Scotland for two weeks in mid-May and I loved every moment.  i want to go back right now!

I’m such an animal lover, and everywhere one looks there are people and their dogs out on “walkies”–and not so coincidentally, lots of West Highland Terriers.







IMG_2923I loved seeing dogs on leashes in bookstores, coffeeshops and pubs, but it made me long to have our own dogs with us to enjoy that freedom.








IMG_2847And I love this sign–for visitors who don’t know English, the message is quite clear!  :)








IMG_2342The love for dogs in Britian is clearly shown by the dog cemetery at Edinburgh Castle, which was placed on a beautiful promontory overlooking the city and goes back hundreds of years.

This year’s trip to Scotland, and last year’s trip to Ireland and England, have me thinking.  I’m going to start working on an anthology of light romantic stories set in each of these countries.

The first one will be set in Scotland.  I can’t wait to start writing it!  :)





me holding alligator baby  P1080709 - Version 2

In May, daughter Emily and I were in the Gulf area just before the Romantic In Times Convention in New Orleans. We ran into creatures of a different kind on a swamp boat tour!

She and her husband have just closed on their first house in Pass Christian (yesterday!) but I think they were almost more excited about finally being able to adopt a dog, which they will be getting today.  :)   After a long time in student housing and then two months in an apartment in Long Beach, it has been a long wait.  :)

I hope Emily will guest blog here sometime soon about their new doberman:  Zane was in training as a Seeing Eye dog, but flunked as he was a bit too clumsy.  He knows twenty-five commands and sounds like an amazing dog.  It’s  all I can do to just to get our crazy-pants rescue Golden to heel—but we’ve started obedience classes, and I have high hopes!

photo (11)And now…we are home.  I love summer in the beautiful Iowa countryside.  I enjoy traveling, but there’s nothing like being home in this lush, peaceful place–enjoying the horses, dogs, family and good friends…and the satisfaction of simple things, like getting our second cutting hay stored in the barn last weekend.

We went to a neighborhood potluck up at the neighbor’s farm afterward, and it was such a wonderful evening.

I’d love to hear about the highlights of your summer!

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Amanda Cabot’s Unexpected Encounter–Big Horns in the Rockies!

by guest blogger Amanda Cabot 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The first time I heard of Rocky Mountain National Park was when a co-worker in Philadelphia described it as the crown jewel of the national park system.  A couple years later my husband and I visited it and discovered that, other than the reality of altitude sickness which affected both us and our car, it was indeed a jewel of a park.  Now, many years later, I’m fortunate enough to live only two hours away, which means that I can – and do – visit it a couple times a year.

There’s so much to love about the park.  The lakes, waterfalls, glaciers, tundra flowers, and of course those magnificent snow-capped mountains.  But what attracts me just as much as the spectacular scenery is the wildlife.

On our first visit we were hiking when a marmot decided to follow us down the path.  I’d never seen anything like him, and I have to admit that those large yellow teeth were more than a little intimidating.  You see, I wasn’t certain he was a vegetarian.  In retrospect, I suspect he was attracted by the chocolate chip cookies we were nibbling and that he thought if he came close enough, we might relent and feed him one.  Sorry, big fella, but we knew better than to do that.

Although we saw a number of small mammals on that first visit, we had no sightings of elk or the park’s iconic Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep.  Fortunately, that changed after we moved to Cheyenne and were able to visit more often.  We discovered that elk were common and that, in fact, herds of them wandered through the streets of nearby Estes Park, causing traffic jams that probably annoyed the residents but delighted visitors, including us.

Still, there were no big horn sheep.  And then, one afternoon when we were leaving the park, we saw a number of cars parked along the side of the highway with everyone staring at the nearby cliff.  It was a sure sign of a wildlife sighting and, yes, on top of one outcropping was a female big horn sheep.  Success!

lone-sheepAfter that, each time we drove that highway, we’d look for the sheep.  But they proved to be elusive, and I was beginning to think it would be a one-time sighting.  Then, one January morning when we were heading for the park to do some snowshoeing, we had what could only be described as a big horn sheep bonanza.  We’d just come out of the visitor’s center and there they were – a whole herd crossing the road.

Apparently unfazed by our car, they strolled down the middle of the road, barely glancing at us.

All except for this one, who gave us a look that practically said, “I’m king of the road.”

I agreed.

Here is a link for ordering Amanda’s new novella!   Sincerely Yours: A Novella Collection

Sincerely YoursPrint
A Novella Collection
Amanda Cabot
Available now!

Four unexpected letters. Four intrepid women. Four lives changed forever.

Spanning a century and a continent, these romantic novellas will lead you on a journey through the landscape of love. Four young women find their lives altered after each receives a letter that sets her on a new path. From a Hudson River steamboat to a lush drawing room, from a carousel carver’s workshop to a remote hospital, you’ll be swept into the lives of women who are making their way in the world and finding love where they least expect it.

Moonlight Promise by Laurie Alice Eakes
Camilla Renfrew is a highborn English lady fleeing false accusations when she runs smack into love on a steamboat bound for the new Erie Canal. But can this unexpected attraction survive the treacherous journey?

Lessons in Love by Ann Shorey
Marigold Montgomery Bentley writes marriage advice for Kipler’s Home Weekly even though she is single. Everyone assumes from the initials that “M. M.” is a man. When the editor asks to meet Mr. Bentley, can Merrie come up with a ruse to keep her writing job?

One Little Word by Amanda Cabot
Lorraine Caldwell will lose her family fortune to a reckless cousin if she doesn’t marry quickly. When she learns her long lost brother is alive, she hopes she’s found the answer to her problems. What she finds instead is a mysterious carousel carver who turns her life upside down.

A Saving Grace by Jane Kirkpatrick
Grace Hathaway must rescue a dear friend from a remote and notorious clinic that promises healing but delivers only heartache. In a place laced with deceit, where lives hang in the balance, whom can she trust to help her?

Amanda CabotAbout Amanda Cabot:
From the age of seven, Amanda Cabot dreamed of becoming a published author, but it was only when she set herself the goal of selling a book by her thirtieth birthday that the dream came true.  A former director of Information Technology, Amanda has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages.  She’s delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian historical romances.  Her Texas Dreams trilogy received critical acclaim; Christmas Roses was a CBA bestseller; and a number of her books have been finalists for national awards, including ACFW’s Carol award.


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DiAnn Mills, German Shepherds and Buddy the Wonderdog!

by guest blogger DiAnn Mills

german-shepherd-free-for-your-computer-73461Taryn Young, my heroine in Firewall, finds a friend in a German shepherd. I’m not an detailed plotter, and when Taryn spotted the dog, so did I. He appears on a dark night in a precarious situation when she needs a friend. Her world is shattering around her, and she’s frightened. The dog became a dear friend, and she quickly named him Buddy. Throughout the story he exhibits loyalty and unconditional love. Often he lays his head on her lap when she’s discouraged and stays by her side when she’s in danger.

I fell in love with Buddy too. So I did more research on German shepherds. I learned they are listed in the top five most intelligent breeds of dog. They are fast learners, eager to develop new skills, and used extensively in K-9 units as bomb sniffers, drug sniffers, search and rescue, and various branches of the military. German Shepherds are suited as guard dogs. Although they can be aggressive, they can be trained to obey their owner. No wonder Taryn fell in love with this beautiful animal!

I posted the question to my Facebook friends about their experiences with German Shepherds. Some of their responses were the dog’s sweetness, protective nature, devotion to family, and loyalty. Others mentioned unconditional love and alertness.

One man told me how his German shepherd walked between his toddler and the street, never allowing the child to step into danger—The dog was not used as a babysitter, but the father observed this. The same gentleman told me about his dog playing hide and seek with his children. I loved his stories!

A woman confessed to loving her German shepherd to the point of attributing her fondness to that of a child. Another woman valued her dog’s keen sense of smell. She was involved in K-9 Nose Work.

I wanted to own German Shepherd until I realized I don’t have the yard size needed for the dog to exercise. This breed has tons of energy and must have a way to work it out. If I’m to have a dog of this caliber, I don’t want to be selfish and not provide for its needs. Maybe a home in the country is in my future. :)  But I can admire from a distance and envy all you who have these wonderful animals.


Click here to buy DiAnn’s new release on Amazon!    Firewall (FBI: Houston)

DiAnn Mills
Release date:  June 2014

Firewall  smaller

After a whirlwind romance, Taryn Young is preparing to board a plane at Houston International Airport, bound for a dream honeymoon, when a bomb decimates the terminal. Injured but still alive, she awakens to discover her husband is missing and they’re both considered prime suspects in the attack. Further, the FBI is convinced her husband isn’t who he appears to be.

Agent Grayson Hall’s number-one priority is to catch those responsible for the day’s act of terror. All evidence is pointing to Taryn and her new husband. But his instinct tells him her pleas of innocence are genuine. Is her naiveté just for show, or could she truly be another victim of a master scheme, possibly linked to the software she recently developed for her company?

With both their lives and reputations on the line, and the media outcry for justice increasing with each passing minute, Taryn and Grayson have no choice but to trust one another . . . and pray they can uncover the truth before they become two more casualties.


DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than sixty books published. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2014 president  of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, dvanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers.

She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.
Visit her website at www.diannmills.com
and connect with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/DiAnnMills),
Twitter (@DiAnnMills),
Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/DiAnnMills),
and Goodreads  (www.goodreads.com/DiAnnMills).

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Winnie Griggs’ Louisiana Ranch & its Wild Animals!

Hi everyone.  Winnie Griggs here.  Though our family has owned many pets over the years – dogs, cats, turtles, fish, hamsters – we are, alas, currently pet-less.  So instead of talking to you about animals of the domesticated variety, I thought I’d share something else with you today.

calf01 calf02







First, let me explain that my husband is a cattle rancher.  Occasionally he ends up with an orphaned calf that must be bottle fed.  Here are a couple of pictures of one such baby – one where my husband is bottle-feeding him by hand, and another where he is using a ‘hands-free’ approach.


In addition to the cattle, one of my daughters has a horse named Prancer that is now living out his later years peacefully grazing in those same pastures.   We have even somehow acquired some donkeys.

Of course, not all the animals that use the pastures were invited in.  Over the years we’ve seen quite a bit of wildlife make appearances there.  And occasionally we have the presence of mind to photograph them.  So I thought I’d share some of those pictures with you today.



eaglefawnHere is an eagle who found a momentary perch in a tree there, and the baby fawn whose mother hid him among the tall grasses (my favorite picture).




Of course there are much less welcome ‘guests’ like this snake (shudder).  Needless to say, that is NOT me holding that stick!











And other critters show up that are just plain pests.  Possums and raccoons have learned how to get into the feed bins so hubby started setting out live traps.

He’s caught umpteen dozens of them that he carts off miles away and sets free. He even once caught an armadillo.









And there are other animals as well, such as coyotes, foxes, wild hogs, snapping turtles etc. that we’ve seen but not photographed.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little peek into our own little wildlife preserve.  And I’d love to hear about any of your own encounters of a similar nature.




Here’s a link for Winnie’s wonderful new book! Lone Star Heiress (Love Inspired Historical\Texas Grooms (Love Inspired Historical))


W.Griggs - square2








Romantic Times Book Review (4.5 stars)  “…The final Texas Grooms story is a delight to read, and readers will be sad that it is the last book. Yet there’s promise that the author’s trips to Turnabout are not over.”

16 LSH medium2

Rescuer Turned Husband? 

Plucky Ivy Feagan is headed to Turnabout, Texas, to claim an inheritance, not a widower’s heart. That all changes when strapping schoolteacher Mitch Parker rescues her in the wilderness. Straightlaced Mitch has never met a woman like Ivy—beautiful, adventurous and good-hearted—but he already lost love once and doesn’t dare try again.

When Turnabout’s gossips target Mitch and Ivy’s friendship, he proposes to save her reputation. But Ivy doesn’t want to marry for honor, and she doesn’t need to marry for money. Ivy will only agree to a proposal made for love’s sake—but will Mitch make his heart part of the marriage offer?

Texas Grooms: In search of their bride

My website:  www.winniegriggs.com
My facebook page:  www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author


Writing Old Friends into a New Story by Lisa Belcastro

I can’t imagine a life without pets. I’ve loved animals since I was old enough to understand the difference between a toy cat and the real deal.  I’ve lived with cats, dogs, hamsters, rabbits, fish, gerbils, guinea pigs, birds, and horses, though the horses lived in the barn – thank goodness. My life is better for sharing it with a variety of creatures, and since I can’t fathom a day without animals in it, my characters also share the pages with lovable critters.

SpikeIn my upcoming release, Shenandoah Dreams, I couldn’t resist the chance to bring to back life, if only for the length of the story, a few of my former companions. Spike, the twenty-two pound cat with the sixth-sense and an appetite for grilled salmon, showed up on Melissa Smith’s doorstep six years earlier. In real life, Spike was a cat I adopted nearly thirty years ago. I was fresh out of college, working my first journalist job, and in need of a companion. I drove to the nearest animal shelter two towns over, and fell head over heels for a large white kitty.

My Spike was declawed, but he could hunt, climb trees and jump up on my horse’s back as well as any other farm feline. Both Spikes, mine and Melissa’s, were affectionate and voracious eaters, though I’ve never grilled salmon for any of my cats.

BanditOne of Spike’s best friends on our small farm in Virginia was my first dog, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Bandit. Those two would run and play together until they were both exhausted. Some nights I would be laughing so hard my stomach hurt as I watched them chase each other around the coffee table running what I called the “Corgi Circle.”

Bandit was my most special dog ever, maybe because he was my first, but most likely because he was a great dog. Though short in stature, Bandit was big in heart, spirit, and sense of adventure. I showed him in obedience, agility, and conformation classes. He won ribbons in them all, but what he really succeeded at was loving me. He was by my side day in and day out, and when my daughter was born, Bandit decided that guarding Kayla, playing with her, and always keeping her in his sight was his new job. Neither his joy, nor pride, ever faltered when Kayla dressed him up in pink skirts and baby doll clothes. Bandit was the dog of lifetime, and though we’ve had other dogs since, I doubt there will ever be another quite as special as Bandit.

When I began writing Shenandoah Dreams, I knew I was going to call Melissa’s cat Spike. Remembering what good friends Spike and Bandit had been, I wanted to somehow bring Bandit into the story too. The captain of my Cassiefictionalized Shenandoah has always sailed with his dogs, just as his real-life counterpart, Captain Robert Douglas, does aboard the modern-day Shenandoah that sails from Martha’s Vineyard. Captain Douglas has two Jack Russells that he brings onboard. (You can see pictures of them on my website.) In my story I changed the Jack Russells to Corgis. I ran a contest on my author Facebook page asking readers to help me name the dogs. Noah, is a red and white male, who is Bandit incarnate. Cassie, the black-headed tri, is based on my sweet Willow who delivered two litters from Bandit.

Visualizing the dogs and the children in the book interacting brought back wonderful memories of Bandit and Willow. Writing them into scenes they never lived during their lifetimes allowed me to experience my beloved puppies in a new setting, with new people, and gave me new impressions to remember them by. I’m so glad I could include three of my special friends in the final book in my Winds of Change trilogy.

What pets have you owned? Has one touched your heart more than others?

Here’s an Amazon link to buy:  SHENANDOAH DREAMS:  Shenandoah Dreams

by Lisa Belcastro

What if she met the man of her dreams…in another century? Tisbury, Massachusetts, Martha s Vineyard. It s just a dream, Melissa Smith whispers as she stares into the intense eyes of a man dressed in Colonial clothes, as though stepping out of an American Revolution movie set. A school chaperone with Holmes Hole Elementary, she d boarded the old schooner Shenandoah for a weeklong educational sail. But they are not visiting Plimoth Plantation, the Boston Tea Party Museum, or the Concord Bridge reenactment. They re sailing the waters around the island of Martha s Vineyard.

Yet, when she awakes in Cabin 8, the captain claims to be Isaiah Reed, who sailed the original Shenandoah in the eighteenth century. He cannot possibly be real, Melissa thinks. And traveling back in time is impossible. But days pass, and she s still in 1770. What if Isaiah, who is simply too handsome to be real, is real? What if the fire he ignites in her from barely a touch isn t in her imagination? Can a dream last for weeks on end? If so, how will she find her way home…to the twenty-first century? And can she bear to leave the one man who has captured her heart, when everything in her longs to stay? A Vineyard Romance Romance, history, adventure. Get swept into the exciting Winds of Change series.


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,


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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!
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:

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
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


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

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{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!



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.



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?


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.


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.



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).


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