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!

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.

http://valeriecomer.com

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N70PXZW

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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

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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.

http://www.amazon.com/Laura-V.-Hilton/e/B004IRSM5Q
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.

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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.

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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

HEARTSONG
BOOK 1   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.

 

 

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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.

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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?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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
https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236


 

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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.

Anolis_carolinensis_(male&female)_by_Robert_Michniewicz

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.

Dynamo
Which leads directly to my novel–Dynamo!

 

 

 

 

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

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

Dynamo
 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!

www.eleanorgustafson.com
http://www.eleanorgustafson.com/blog/
https://www.facebook.com/ellie.gustafson.7
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1969775.Eleanor_Gustafson

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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.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1278928/Hero-dogs-saved-hundreds-Blitz-honoured.html#ixzz381g66y5Z

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

CUwD 3D
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.

www.amandacabot.com
http://amandajoycabot.blogspot.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amanda-Cabot/110238182354449?v=wall

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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)

FIREWALL
DiAnn Mills
Tyndale
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.

DiAnnMillssmaller-1

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.

Prancer

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!

Armadillo

snake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

raccoon

possum

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

LONE STAR HEIRESS

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

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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

Shenandoah_Dreams_FRONTSHENANDOAH 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.

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Howdy…and a happy springtime to you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy trails,

Roxanne

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Lucy the Lab…..and author Valerie Hansen

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

NikePixby guest author Nike Chillemi

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter  https://twitter.com/NikeChillemi

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Horse Therapy, by author Connie Almony

Horse Therapy, by guest blogger Connie Almony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**********

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Canine Critters …by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Guest blogger Stephanie Grace Whitson

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

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

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

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

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

“A reward for saving me,” Laura said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stephanie Grace Whitson

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

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

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

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

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Dogs, kids and a life in Texas by Caryl McAdoo

Guest blogger Caryl McAdoo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you again, and bless you!

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

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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My Best Friend …by author Mary L. Ball

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

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

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

 

Lou

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STONE OF DESTINYStoneofDestiny_bigger
Mary L. Ball

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

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

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

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And They Called it Puppy Love…by author Valerie Comer

Guest blogger Valerie Comer

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

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

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

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

Moxie-Coonie

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

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

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

RV-200x300

 

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

 

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

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Author Veronica Heley and Midge the Cat

Guest blogger  Veronica Heley

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

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

‘No, we don’t.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Grizzle the Boston Terrier…and author Leann Harris

Guest blogger  Leann Harris

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

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

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

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

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

RanchHomeA Ranch Called Home
Love Inspired
Leann Harris

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blessings,
Roxanne

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A Christened Tree…by author Davalynn Spencer

By guest blogger Davalynn Spencer

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

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

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

Cake, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DCS 2014_2

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

 

 

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A Puppy Named General Lee …by author Diane Dean White

Guest blogger Diane Dean White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Not General again,” responded our daughter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A forever home for Bruno by author Carol Post

 Guest blogger Carol Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MOTIVE FOR MURDERcover-mm
LOVE INSPIRED SUSPENSE
Carol Post

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

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

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

Guest blogger  Angela D. Meyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Where Hope Starts Cover resized

Where Hope Starts
Cross River Media

Angela D. Meyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Winter jammies….

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy trails,

Roxanne

 

 

 

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Faithfulness, and a border collie named Lady

Headshot for books Guest blogger Teresa Pollard

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

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

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

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

Tokens of Promise    TokensMock6x9[1]
HopeSprings Books
Teresa Pollard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rudy and the Golden Beginnings Golden Retriever Rescue

guest blogger Mary Hamilton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Melinda Curtis…and her new writing partner, with paws

Guest blogger Melinda Curtis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer KissesSummerKissesFront
A Harmony Valley Novel
by Melinda Curtis

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

EXCERPT

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

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

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Once upon a time there was a dog….

Guest blogger Shirley Raye Redmond

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

www.shirleyrayeredmond.com

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The Real Puddles ….by Amanda Cabot

Guest blogger   Amanda Cabot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Taffy to the rescue! Guest blogger Carole Browne

by guest blogger  Carole Brown

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

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

God sent Taffy.

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

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

From that day on, Shyenne was over her mourning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I like to think so.

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

 

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

And here is Carole’s new book:

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

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

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

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