Chirp and Chatter Pages

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

New Release: Life in Chapel Springs (Ane Mulligan)

The Story Behind
Life in Chapel Springs

by Ane Mulligan

The most asked question I get is what prompted this story. Why Lacey? Why the accident and reconstruction? I’m a visual writer, so I need photos. When I start out with a new book (in this case the series), I find photos of people who look like the character I’m imagining. I use magazines and keep files of faces I’ve torn out of them. While looking for Lacey, I came across two photos appearing almost like a before and after of the same woman.
The resemblance was striking and sparked the “what if” that became Lacey’s story. Many women have life-altering surgery, whether elective, emergency, or life-saving. My research included interviewing a plastic surgeon and a psychologist, so I could be sure I had the psyche right and the surgery results correct. You see, often—more often than not—women have a difficult time with the results of these life-altering surgeries. A high percentage dislike the “new” self. It doesn’t match the image we women tend to carry inside us.
I still had one problem. The character Lacey was a shy, quiet young woman—so shy and quiet, she wasn’t even talking to me! I had to sit on her story for three years. Finally, after two more Chapel Springs books, Lacey “talked” to me. I understood her and could write her story. Maybe she was ready to tell it.

What both Lacey and I both hope women will take away from her story in Life in Chapel Springs is that each of us is uniquely made by God, and as Great Aunt Lola used to say, “God don’t make no junk.”

About Life in Chapel Springs:

Life in Chapel Springs has turned upside down and inside out.
Shy Lacey Dawson was happily writing murder mysteries for the community theater with her eye on Broadway. Then, a freak accident results in traumatic injuries requiring facial reconstruction. When the bandages come off, Lacey’s world is tuned inside out. Will Chapel Springs rally behind its own … or will life unravel?
Is it a midlife pregnancy or … cancer? Claire will keep her secret until she’s sure—but it isn’t easy. Neither is trying to buy a home pregnancy test without anyone finding out. Between her twins’ double wedding, the caterer cancelling, a looming nationwide art tour and her health, Claire’s life is upside down.
Gold has been discovered in Chapel Springs and the ensuing fever is rising. Then Mayor Riley discovers someone has bought the mineral rights to his land. A stranger and his nefarious investors set out to buy all the homes in Chapel Springs and mine the gold. Will life in Chapel Springs become the tailings of a gold mine?

About Ane Mulligan:

While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, award-winning author Ane Mulligan has worn many: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that's a fancy name for a lobbyist), CEO of a Community Theatre group, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. Ane resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband. You can find her on her website, Amazon Author page, Novel Rocket, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

New Release: Autumn Falls (Paradise Pines, #3)

I can't believe I forgot!

I had a book release on the 1st...and I've been so busy I didn't even think to raise a noise about it. My very bad! lol 

Anyway, AUTUMN FALLS is now available on Amazon. Yay! So excited. This is Book 3 in the 4-book Paradise Pines series. Just one more remaining...Winter Wonders, which will release November 10th, and is available for pre-order now.

I'll be giving a FREE electronic copy of Autumn Falls to someone who leaves a comment below. The winner will be chosen at random through Winner will be announced on Wednesday, Sept. 10. Be sure to leave your email address in your comment, so I can send your book if you're the winner.

Autumn Warren and her friend Cecily determine to have one last hurrah before the crazy whirl of planning Ceci’s wedding. Autumn reluctantly agrees to lay off the barbed comments about her friend’s imminent move to Italy—for no better reason than that she fell in love!—and the girls rent an apartment at Cambria’s Paradise Pines Lodge for the entire fall season.

Autumn’s agreement to silence her outraged protests in no way indicates a change of heart about letting a man into her own life. She’s watched enough friends get married and divorced to sour her forever on the subject of love and the sanctity of marriage. If she ever does fall in love, it’ll be forever…and she's seen absolutely zero evidence of that kind of devotion even existing. Autumn doesn’t believe in divorce, and given the current statistics, why even risk it?

Then she meets Russ Amundsen and his adorable daughter, DeLyn, and finds herself in danger of losing her carefully guarded heart. And what is it about the mysterious Miss Angelina Love—who may or may not own Paradise Pines—that makes Autumn believe her heart never stood a chance once she set foot inside the lodge?

Purchase links:

Pelican Book Group

Here's a peek inside:


AUTUMN WARREN COVERED BOTH EARS with her hands and gave her head a vehement shake. Bright auburn hair went wild, wrapping long tendrils around her neck and over her face. She swept it out of her eyes with an impatient flick of one wrist.

“Take it back, Ceci!” She stomped one booted foot and crossed her arms like a pouty child.
Cecily Adams rolled a pair of stunning violet eyes. “Honey, you can be so dramatic sometimes.”
Autumn dropped backward into the cushy softness of her sofa. Her rear hit the cushion and sank in. She wished for an old-fashioned couch with springs. In moments like this, she needed to bounce when she landed.
With characteristic grace, Cecily sat down on a wingback chair.
Autumn’s best friend since kindergarten, partner in all manner of crime, her soul sister, with whom she’d made a solemn pact to never be suckered into the whole love-and-marriage fiasco. “You can’t be serious, Ceci! ’Fess up. You’re kidding, right?”
“Autumn. Why would I kid about this? I love Gabe. I’m going to marry him, and move to his family’s estate in Italy. I’m ecstatic, and I refuse to apologize for having found my soul mate. Honey, won’t you just try to be happy for us? Please?”
“But—" Autumn pounded the cushion with one fist. “Ceci, you and I, we’re…we’re not getting married. Ever. Love is a crock, remember? It isn’t real.”
Her friend got up, kicked off her expensive heels and joined Autumn on the sofa, where she pulled both bare feet up under her. Wrapping one arm around Autumn’s stiff shoulders, she tugged her closer and nestled their heads together, mixing shiny, coal-black strands with vibrant auburn ones.
“Life hasn’t been easy on us, has it, Autie? I don’t know what would have become of me if you hadn’t been there.”
Autumn relaxed against her friend and blinked back tears. She couldn’t decide whether those would-be tears were more angry or scared-to-bits, but whichever they were; she refused to let them fall.
Ceci’s two-hundred-dollar perfume tickled her senses, and Autumn breathed it in, relishing the soft hints of jasmine and lotus, completely forgetting to pull her usual gagging pretense. Gabe-The-Italian-Hunk was stealing Ceci away, taking her halfway around the world, where she’d become part of a whole new culture. Autumn might not enjoy teasing Ceci about her perfume for years and years…and years.
She choked back a giggle at her own over-the-top exaggeration. This was not a time for laughter. This was a time to make Ceci feel guilty. Maybe even guilty enough to change her mind and stay here in the good old USA, where she belonged.
Autumn enacted an elaborate mental eye roll.
What’s so great about living in stupid Italy, anyway? Italian food, Italian this and that and the other thing. And what’s the big deal about catching the attention of a disgustingly perfect man who treats the woman he loooooves like some kind of royalty? Hmph!
She and Ceci had been each other’s lifelines. How could her friend forget that?
Both sets of parents had gone through ugly divorces while the girls were in elementary school. Cecily’s dad married again the next year and left his new, younger wife just before their second anniversary—this time for a woman-child, barely out of high school. Autumn’s mother followed pretty much the same pattern through two more husbands. Thank goodness her dad kept his sanity. She’d have gone bonkers if both parents went over the edge.
Through it all, Cecily and Autumn, crushed and confused, leaned on each other. They processed their parents’ shenanigans through bright, active, developing little brains. And they learned.
Other than a brief attachment here and there, both girls made it through high school without a major broken heart. Few of the immature young males who tried and failed to gain their attention could compete with the bond that had developed by then—a bond of shared sorrows, joys, heartaches and happiness. An unwavering attachment created in the proverbial “school of hard knocks.”
During college, they were bridesmaids at the weddings of several mutual friends. Beautiful, showcase nuptials that cost thousands of dollars each. Despite the exorbitant monetary investment, not one of those unions lasted much longer than the elaborate ceremonies that never should have happened. Another friend’s marriage dissolved, leaving their college pal expecting a baby and drowning in tears and heartache.
Autumn and Cecily had met at a favorite restaurant, clinked their glasses together and vowed to never let themselves believe in love and never to allow that fickle emotion to break their hearts and ruin their futures. There’d be no little rug rats playing around their feet with no one to call “daddy.” They’d be smarter than their friends, wiser than their parents. Men, love, marriage, and heartbreak—they’d be fine without any of those things.
That was six years ago, and up until now they’d both stuck to their anti-matrimonial guns and kept themselves clear of the fallout that always followed emotional commitments.
But Autumn saw the writing on the wall the first time she laid eyes on Gabriel Brett—or rather, the first time he and Ceci laid eyes on each other.
On a weekend getaway to Napa Valley, Autumn and Ceci had stopped in at a wine-tasting room. Autumn wasn’t a wine lover, but Ceci had a genuine taste for “the good stuff.” In Ceci-speak, “good stuff” meant expensive.
The facility was hosting a celebrity vigneron—a man whose family owned the most lucrative vineyards and wineries in Italy. The Vineyard Room put on an impressive public shindig for their guest of honor.
Ceci sampled a couple of chardonnays, while Autumn enjoyed a nice white grape sparkling cider. They’d wandered through the gift shop and then carried their glasses to a small table in a back corner, where they could people-watch.
When Gabriel Brett entered the room, he made no attempt to showcase himself. The man possessed the kind of presence that demanded attention. He’d smiled and nodded to one wine-lover and then another as he strolled across the floor. And then his gaze locked on Ceci’s.
For Autumn, as an unwilling and decidedly antagonistic observer, it was like something out of those sappy old movies she hated—the ones where the hero and heroine gravitate toward one another, their hearts in their eyes and hopelessly lost in each other before a single word is spoken.
Unbelievable. Unrealistic. Unadvised and unwanted.
That Napa getaway was the beginning of the end for Autumn and Cecily’s pact to never marry. Ceci might be the princess of propriety and the goddess of grace, but she was also the sultana of stubborn. Once she decided to give Gabe a chance, nothing short of a tornado could’ve stopped her.
“We said we wouldn’t do this,” Autumn whined against her friend’s shoulder. “Love never lasts, remember? Ceci! He’s a man. He’ll break your heart.”
“Oh, Autie. He won’t. I know he will never hurt me. As much as I doubted it before, I believe it now. This is real, honey. I love Gabe with all my heart. I’m not even me when I’m not with him. And he loves me in that same crazy, makes-no-sense, unbelievable manner.” She gave Autumn’s hand a warm squeeze. “You’re my best friend in the whole world, sweetie. My sister—the best one I never had. Can’t you…please…try to be happy for us?”
Be happy for them? No. She couldn’t. She wouldn’t.
Gabe’s perfect good looks were lethal to any woman within a country mile, but Cecily was supposed to be smart enough to see through all that, and to withstand his all-too-potent Italian charisma.
“I can try,” she muttered. “But seriously, Ceci…Italy?”
Cecily laughed that soft, musical trill that always brought a smile to Autumn’s face.
“Come on, you had to know that if I ever fell, it would be for someone utterly sensational…and exotic…and perfect, right? Now where, around here, would I find someone like that?”
“You wouldn’t, and I wish you hadn’t.”
“Autumn! That’s just…mean.”
“I know. I’m sorry.” She hugged her friend, but couldn’t quite dredge up a real smile.
“Does that mean you’ll be my maid of honor?”
“Maybe.” Autumn pinned the other woman under a narrow-eyed gaze. “But you have to do something for me first.”
Ceci’s eyes widened, and Autumn grinned. Ahh, sweet revenge! “You just went a shade paler than usual.”
“Yeah, well, I know you. I’m almost afraid to ask, but I will. What’s your condition?”
“One last hurrah.”
“What does that mean?”
“Spend the summer with me, while Gabe is in Florence ‘tying up loose ends.’” She rolled her eyes, she couldn’t help it. “I’ve been checking out this place on the Central Coast, in Cambria—Paradise Pines. From what I’ve gathered, it used to be an old fishing lodge. Now it’s kind of a quasi-inn, I guess. Someone turned the upper floor into a large rental apartment. The owner or manager or—I don’t know, whoever runs the place, lives on the ground floor. They only have one guest or set of guests at a time, and they rent that upstairs apartment for the entire season or not at all.” She bit at her bottom lip and gave Cecily the puppy-dog look that always worked. “Let’s see if we can get it for the fall season. It’s our last chance before you run off to be Italian.”
Ceci shrugged. “Sounds like the place might be hard to get, especially last-minute like this. But sure, go ahead and try. If you can make it happen, we’ll go—but I have a condition too.”
“What’s that?” Autumn couldn’t stop bouncing up and down, grinning like a fool. She really had to incorporate a couch with springs somewhere in her place.
“If we go, you’ll leave all the snarky barbs—about Gabe, about love, about marriage—right here at home. I’m not going off on a season-long trip where I have to listen to your negativity all the time.”
“Oh, come on, Ceci, you’re being—“
Cecily raised one hand and both dark, wing-shaped eyebrows. “That’s the agreement. Take it or leave it.”
“Fine. I’ll play nice—if I can get that reservation.”

Friday, August 25, 2017

Picnics & Promises: Moosed Opportunities (Jan Elder)

It's my pleasure to welcome Jan Elder back to Chirp 'N Chatter. Jan was here last week...but not with her Picnics & Promises novella. This author's been busy!  Today you'll get a glimpse into Moosed Opportunities. Enjoy!

Picnics & Promises: 

Six Delicious Summer Romances

Moosed Opportunities

About Moosed Opportunities:

Rev. Samantha Evans loves living in Moose Creek, Maine, the land of moose and men … or namely one man, her fiancĂ©, Eric Palmer. The problem? Trouble looms large in the form of his meddling ex-wife. She lives right around the corner.
Forest ranger, Eric Palmer, wants nothing more than to plan his wedding and marry the woman he loves. Not that life makes it very easy. Samantha’s busy schedule, interfering ex-wife, missing college students, and a misplaced pregnant moose, all conspire against him.
Will the two ever find the time to clear the air and concentrate on their relationship? Or will their lives continue to be a series of Moosed Opportunities?


Apollo yipped one last time and back-peddled toward Eric’s waiting fingers. At last.
And then the deer at the crest of the hill pawed at the crunchy snow. Her mate joined her, a splendid twelve-point buck with an impressive rack, shaking his head, twin plumes of steam streaming from his nostrils. The canine couldn’t help himself. He launched onto the frozen expanse, tiny legs propelling him like a windmill in a gale. A few feet out, the dog lost his footing on the slippery snow-covered ice. Landing on his stomach, legs all akimbo, the brownish-red missile rocketed straight for a thin spot in the ice on the other side of the stream.
With only a split second of indecision, Eric flung himself off the bank, half-skating on the ice, the breeze stinging his ears as he zipped forward. If he had any hope of catching that bundle of fur, he was going to have to slide. If a full-grown deer could make it across…
The ice creaked, but it held fast. Thankfully, he was gaining on the dog. Halfway across the river, he caught up to Apollo and grabbed his collar with his right hand. They kept sliding. They were going to make it.
Crack! The ice on the other side of the stream gave way and he plunged into the frigid water, his breath whooshing from his lungs. The animal slithered from his grasp as Eric fought to keep his head above water.
Apollo’s soft brown eyes grew impossibly large as he bobbed to the surface a few feet away. Before Eric’s frightened dog could be carried away by the loosed current, he managed to grab onto the leather collar, hauling the animal to his upper body.
Water swirled around them. He kicked his legs to bring them to shore, grateful he only had to push against the current a few more feet before he was able to stand. His sodden cold-weather clothes weighed him down, but he stumbled through the cripplingly cold water, laboring each step of the way, his boots as heavy as if he had a brick strapped to each foot.
The poor dog whimpered and Eric clutched him closer as he stumbled onto land. “It’s okay, boy. We’re safe now.”
His gaze traveled up the hill. An entire herd of deer gaped at him. “Lotta help you guys were.”
He crashed down on a log and surveyed his soaking body, chest heaving. No doubt about it, he was in a pickle.

About Jan Elder:

JAN ELDER is an inspirational romance writer with a passion for telling stories other women can relate to on a deep level. She strives to write the kind of book that will strengthen the reader’s faith, introducing the reader to a loving and forgiving Lord who walks beside us in our daily lives, while also providing an entertaining and engrossing love story.
Happily married for fourteen years to loving (and supportive) husband, Steve, the two live in central Maryland along with Jamie (a chubby black and white tuxedo cat), and Shu-Shu (a willowy tortoiseshell cat). On the weekends, Jan and Steve comb the nearby countryside in search of the perfect ice cream flavor.  

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Picnics & Promises: Marion Ueckermann

Picking up on the Picnics & Promises highlight segment, today's guest is Marion Ueckerman, with her novella, A Courtship for Clover.  Welcome to Chirp 'N Chatter, Marion!



Top London chef Clover Blume has one chance to become better acquainted with Jonathan Spalding away from the mayhem of her busy restaurant where he frequently dines—usually with a gorgeous woman at his side. When the groomsman who is supposed to escort her at her sister’s New Year’s Eve wedding is delayed because of business, Clover begins to wonder whether she really wants to waste time with a player whose main focus in life is making money rather than keeping promises.
Jonathan lives the good life. There’s one thing, however, the London Investment Banker’s money hasn’t managed to buy: a woman to love—one worthy of his mother’s approval. Is it possible though, that the auburn-haired beauty who is to partner with him at his best friend’s wedding—a wedding he stands to miss thanks to a glitch in a deal worth millions—is finding a way into his heart?
But what will it cost Jonathan to realize it profits him nothing to gain the world, yet lose his soul?
And the girl.


No croquembouche had ever made Clover’s toes tingle as they did right now, dressed in the gorgeous green Rose Blume masterpiece. Not that she looked anything like the French dessert with its triangulated choux pastry balls bound with caramel threads. She smoothed a hand over the soft skirt. These colored chiffon creations must make Rose’s heart swell with the same sense of pride as hers always did whenever a perfect profiterole stack was carried out of her kitchen on a silver platter.
Clover could only imagine what Maggie’s dress was like, for she felt simply…beautiful. Perfection and detail from head to toe, thanks to the hair stylist, makeup artist, and manicurist who had all been anxiously waiting for her to make it back to her room. And then had to wait some more while she took a bath. Thankfully Heather had already dressed and was over in Maggie’s room helping. As were all her sisters, no doubt. She wished she could have been part of the clamor that would be going on in the bride’s suite, but she’d had her own duties to perform today.
Clover was grateful for the undivided attention of the three ladies who went to work the minute she stepped out of the bathroom.
With only an hour to spare, they’d moved speedily—Brooke standing behind Clover blow-drying her washed hair then sweeping it into a perfect messy side-bun, if one could call a messy bun perfect; Zoe sitting in front of her applying her make-up; and Jemma on the side painting works of art on her nails. She would’ve needed a month of Sundays to look this good if she had to groom herself.
But sixty minutes later, looking like a Vogue centerspread according to Zoe, all Clover had to do was to slip into her bridesmaid’s outfit. Even in that, she had help. Finally, a few sprays of perfume—the last touch before stepping out of the room. Thankfully Maggie hadn’t insisted she wear a clover scent. She was rather partial to her favorite Calvin Klein fragrance, Reveal.
Speaking of revealing, what will tonight divulge about the handsome Jonathan Spalding? Was he as gorgeous as he looked with a personality to match and she’d fall madly in love with him? Or was he a total jerk and she’d count the hours until the wedding reception ended?
Clover set the perfume bottle down on the dresser.
“You look amazing.” Brooke grabbed the hairspray can. A few spritzes ensured any stray hairs would remain in place. “Green really is your color.”
“Thank you.” Clover smiled at the hairstylist. Brooke certainly had the right name for she’d babbled like one the entire time she’d worked on Clover’s hair. But one probably needed that kind of personality to enjoy the job. Not that Clover had minded her chatter. Her stories of styling high-profile clients’ hair at occasions such as this were interesting to say the least. And they kept her mind from wandering too often to a certain groomsman that was guaranteed to blend in perfectly at her side.
Clover glanced at her feet as she navigated the white high-heeled ankle boots with their lace overlay. The emerald chiffon skirt swirled as she walked. At her bosom, tiny ribbon-embroidered clovers peeked over the top of the white faux fur stole covering her bare shoulders and arms. She couldn’t wait to discard this particular item of clothing and show off that strapless sweetheart bodice with its satin trefoil decorating the top left of the bodice.
Brooke hurried in front of Clover and opened the bedroom door. Her sisters’ laughter spilled from the passageway connecting all the rooms.
Clover hastened over the threshold, anxious to see how the other bridesmaids looked.
One word… Stunning. Each of them “Spring in Winter.”
Holly hobbled toward her.
“Lift that dress a bit higher so I can see.” Clover couldn’t wait to get a peek at what Rose had created to disguise the CAM boot Holly’s foot was wrapped in. If she’d only torn those ligaments two weeks earlier, she could’ve been out of that orthopedic boot for the wedding. But accidents weren’t scheduled according to one’s calendars. At least Holly wasn’t still on crutches, and this wasn’t her wedding.
Holly hitched up the dark Christmas-green chiffon skirt and extended her booted foot. “Ta-da.” Lace matching the bridesmaids’ boots covered the entire CAM boot, from the tips of her toes to where it ended close to her knee.
“Nice.” A grin spread across Clover’s face. “Good thing our heels are almost the same height as that boot.” She pointed toward Holly’s injured foot.
Holly’s mouth curved down on one side. “Almost, but not quite. I don’t limp too badly, do I?”
Clover shook her head and gave Holly a reassuring smile.
“Good.” She leaned closer and whispered in Clover’s ear. “Because Myles has offered to carry me if it’s too difficult to walk, and I really don’t want him to think I’m struggling in any way. I mean…what would Christopher think?” She released a sigh. “I wish he could’ve been here tonight.”
“So do I. I want to meet this priest of yours.”
“Reverend,” Holly corrected. “I’m anxious for you to meet him, too. He’s gorgeous—inside and out.”
Clover started as Jonathan stepped beside her and extended his left arm, linking it in hers. Where had he been hiding?
“Sorry to interrupt, but I believe this vision from heaven is with me.”
Holly giggled. “Speaking of gorgeous… Who. Is. This?”
Holly! Couldn’t the ground open up and swallow her whole?
Jonathan held out his free hand. He pressed Holly’s fingers in his then, raising her wrist, planted a soft kiss on the back of her hand. “Jonathan Spalding.”
Holly’s eyes brightened. “Ah, the MIA best friend. You made it.”
A low chuckle rumbled from his chest. “Only just.”
“Well, looking at you, one would never know,” Holly said.
“He cleaned up well.” Clover was at a complete loss for anything more intelligent to say whilst trying her best not to stare.
Stupid. He didn’t have anything to clean up. He’d looked perfect in his casual clothes, too. But, wow, no denying he was even dreamier in that tux.
“So did you, Clover. Way beyond what I had dreamed or imagined.” Jonathan offered her a bold smile that released the butterflies in her stomach.
He’d been thinking about her?
Like a teenager, heat rose to her cheeks at his words. Or was it because of the appreciative glint in his eyes?
She breathed in a long, slow breath, closing her eyes for a moment to savor the woodsy fragrance assailing her senses, every inch of her body set on high alert. Oh man, I shouldn’t have done that.
“You must be Holly. What happened to your foot?”
Jonathan’s voice drew Clover from her heady experience, and her eyes flew open.
Holly laughed. “I am. And the foot…it’s a long story.”
“Short version?” he asked.
“You could say I fell for my man. Literally.”
“Myles is one lucky feller.”
Holly burst into laughter. She shook her head. “Heavens, no. Not Myles. I’m talking about Christopher Stewart.”
Jonathan’s eyes narrowed. “I’m confused. Why are you partnered with Myles, then?”
“Because Reverend Stewart has only recently started working at St. Stephens,” Clover explained. “And he has to do the watchnight service in Robin Hood’s Bay tonight. Plus, his elderly father only had hip surgery a week ago, so he’s still on the mend.”
“Hip surgery, huh?” Jonathan’s gaze flicked to Holly’s feet. “Are the two incidences related?
Holly chuckled. “No.”
“Too bad he couldn’t make it.” He turned to look at Clover, his gaze lasering hers. “I’m glad my partner is here tonight.”
Oh, sizzle. I think I might enjoy getting to know you after all, Mr. Best-Friend-Come-Lately.

Ready to start reading? Get your copy of this collection.

About Marion Ueckermann:

USA Today bestselling author, MARION UECKERMANN’s passion for writing was sparked when she moved to Ireland with her family. Her love of travel has influenced her contemporary inspirational romances set in novel places. Marion and her husband again live in South Africa, but with two gorgeous grandsons hanging their hats at the house next door, their empty nest’s no longer so empty.
Please visit Marion’s website for more of her books:

Friday, August 18, 2017

Guest Author: Jan Elder

A huge welcome to fellow Pelican Book Group author Jan Elder! You'll be happy to know Jan will be giving away not one, but two electronic copies of her new release, A Semi-Sweet Summer. Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win one of them!

When I first started writing a “New Adult” novella for the Pure Amore line of Pelican Book Group, I was waxing nostalgic about my teenage years. Memories flooded through me and a myriad of feelings, some quite strong, rose up to assault me. There were a great many pleasant remembrances, but what I recall the most about being in those “stuck in the middle” years was that there was a great deal of anxiety, the sensation of being so very different—certainly not part of the “in” crowd.
My thoughts swung to a boy I had the biggest crush on in high school. He was three and a half years older and he was definitely part of the “elite” segment of our church youth group—the cool kids I so longed to be a part of. Sorry to say, I followed him around like a puppy, learned all of his favorite foods, chosen hobbies, etc. I try not to think I actually stalked him, but I was very aware of his presence, and searched for ways to be near him.
In A Semi-Sweet Summer, I tried to transfer some of that raging angst into fodder for Cassidy’s discomfort in finding her unrequited love living right next door. Cassidy never really fit in, hardly that enviable cheerleader, not a person that anyone would notice. Rather, she sees herself as sort of an ugly duckling. Now she’s back ten years later and it’s a tough situation. The pain of those past years rises up to haunt her, and the boy who is now a man was the cause of much of her pain. If she had been prettier, smarter, more engaging, would he have loved her? And what about now? Can she learn to see herself as God sees her and find her value in His eyes?
One of my favorite passages of the Bible talks about how we are wonderfully made. Why would we want to be anyone but the person God created us to be? I like to think that God can use our experiences to help others through similar situations. God makes each of us so different, so unique, so special, and trying to be a copy of someone else makes the world less colorful.

Psalm 139:14-16 - The Message (MSG)
 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.

A Mini-interview with Jan:

Which character in your new release did you most enjoy writing? Why?
I had a fine time creating Hunter Gray, the hero in the novella. He’s a great deal like my husband—smart, savvy, droll, witty…just a fun guy to be around. He’s had some ups and downs in his life and he has come through with shining colors, mostly because he has learned to rely on God for his strength.
What I like best about him is that he has a heart to help other, and that includes our heroine, Cassidy. She is quite the handful sometimes, and he always responds with grace and tries to balance her seriousness with a touch of lightness—something she sorely needs in her life. When he finds out that in the past he has hurt her deeply, his immediate response is to ask for forgiveness.
Sure, we all mess up sometimes, but when we ask the Lord for forgiveness, He is quick to respond, welcoming us back with open arms. I like to think that we could all learn something from Hunter, a good-hearted man who longs for reconciliation.
What makes you laugh out loud?
My cats make me laugh on a daily basis. My husband and I have two (he wanted none, I wanted four so we compromised). When I write, I am usually sitting in a lounge chair with my laptop on my lap, and my gorgeous black and white tuxedo cat, Jamie, enjoys sitting on the arm of the chair. Her front paw dangles and she is often patting me in some way, obviously offering encouragement. As she is quite a vocal creature, occasionally, she’ll comment, helping me with word choice (she has an amazing vocabulary for a feline).
When 15-year-old tortoiseshell, Shu-Shu, awakens from her frequent naps, she has a fine time dancing on my keyboard to get attention. She has been known to type actual words, but the meaning is often cryptic. I am sure she has a secret language and have wondered if I should offer her services to the CIA or some such organization who would use her expertise. 
 Please share your conversion experience, if you’re comfortable doing so.
I was immensely blessed to grow up in a Christian family and Mom always made sure we were in church at every opportunity. From the day I was born, I knew that God loved me and wanted the very best for my life.
At the tender age of five, our pastor at church invited those who didn’t know the Lord to come down to the altar for prayer. I remember pulling on my mother’s sleeve asking her if she would go down that long aisle with me. I asked Jesus into my heart that day. Is life always wonderful? No, because we live in this fallen world. But there’s a joy deep down in my soul that can never fade or falter. What a glorious gift!   

About A Semi-Sweet Summer

Cassidy Cooper never wanted to set foot in Crystal Falls again. Ten years earlier, she’d given her heart to a boy who’d, in turn, humiliated her deeply. Now, back in town as the sole beneficiary of her sister's estate, she’s determined to make her sister's dream of an upscale chocolate truffle shop, come true.

Hunter Gray is very intrigued by his new neighbor. His escape artist cow, Marigold, engineers an introduction…but it's not quite the first impression he was hoping for. Baffled by the nagging suspicion he’s seen this woman before, he plots to win Cassidy’s heart at every opportunity.

With the object of her unrequited love living within shouting distance, Cassidy prays for strength to forgive and forget. And Hunter? He just wants to get back to his own dream to grow his farm and get to know the pretty girl next door. If she'll let him.

About Jan Elder:

JAN ELDER is an inspirational romance writer with a passion for telling stories other women can relate to on a deep level. She strives to write the kind of book that will strengthen the reader’s faith, introducing the reader to a loving and forgiving Lord who walks beside us in our daily lives, while also providing an entertaining and engrossing love story.
Happily married for fourteen years to loving (and supportive) husband, Steve, the two live in central Maryland along with Jamie (a chubby black and white tuxedo cat), and Shu-Shu (a willowy tortoiseshell cat). On the weekends, Jan and Steve comb the nearby countryside in search of the perfect ice cream flavor.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Guest Author: Zoe McCarthy

Please help me welcome one of my fellow Pelican Book Group authors, Zoe McCarthy. I love her post on filthy rags of our "righteousness," and I think you will too. Be sure to say hello in the comments (below), and help make Zoe feel at home here on Chirp 'N Chatter!

Scrubbing Our Filthy Rags

Sometimes when a woman has been badly hurt, she raises her jerk-detecting antennae, a daily routine that becomes as common as brushing her teeth. Over time and on a smaller scale, her distrust bleeds over to strangers, her family members, and her friends—to people other than the person who initially wounded her heart. If questioned why she’s so touchy, the story of how someone blindsided her readily comes to her mind and possibly to her tongue. She has grown to consider her distrust a righteous act.
What if God decides it’s time such a woman return to becoming the lovely woman He designed her to be? Only God can orchestrate the right people, circumstances, and perhaps a bit of humor to help her realize what He teaches in Isaiah 64:6. All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
In writing Amanda’s story in Gift of the Magpie, I’ve come to understand from a woman’s perspective what Isaiah was saying. Many times from whatever catalyst, we women have matured into females who nag loved ones, believe people should see us as good examples, or distrust others as Amanda does. Thankfully, God can reveal to us that we aren’t so different than our family members and neighbors, and possibly, that we’re worse!
God loves us as we are, but He’s known as a God who doesn’t leave us wearing filthy rags. He offers Jesus’ work on the cross to clean our rags to be as white as snow, but He also expects us to change and become better people. If need be, God is happy to arrange that to happen.
For me, God has orchestrated my salvation, some callings I resisted, and recently, to devote my Sabbath to worshiping him, spending time with Him and His Word, and loving on others.

What has God orchestrated in your life that you’re now thankful for?

Gift of the Magpie Blurb

Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, her heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high school Valentine’s Day date. He may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong.

Zoe M. McCarthy Bio

A full-time writer and speaker, Zoe M. McCarthy, author of Gift of the Magpie and Calculated Risk, writes contemporary Christian romances involving tenderness and humor. Believing that opposites distract, Zoe creates heroes and heroines who learn to embrace their differences. When she’s not writing, Zoe enjoys her five grandchildren, teaching Bible studies, leading workshops on writing, knitting and crocheting shawls for a prayer shawl ministry, gardening, and canoeing. She lives with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Zoe blogs regularly at

Gift of the Magpie Buy Link