Chirp and Chatter Pages

SUMMER DREAMS PROMO -- A RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY!

Welcome to the official Summer Dreams Promo, celebrating the release of Summer Dreams (Paradise Pines, Book 2). Promotion starts today (May 24) and ends on Wednesday, June 21. Each week of the promotion, one winner will receive a decorative, purse-sized mirror and comb set and an electronic copy of Spring Raine (Paradise Pines, Book 1). The grand prize winner (to be announced June 21st, along with that week's winner) receives one of each item listed in the promotion. Come join the fun! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 29, 2016

Welcome to COTT's February Clash!


With four great contenders and a week of voting, we welcome you to the February clash!! Step up and browse the covers, voting for the one you'd love to add to your reading pile. Scroll to the bottom for voting, and support your favorite title! Be sure to leave words of encouragement for your author, including his or her name!

**For those viewing on smart phones and devices that don't display the survey monkey below, follow this link to cast your vote: January Release Survey **

Happy voting!!!




Finding Love in Sun Valley Idaho

by Angela Ruth Strong




Emily Van Arsdale returns to her home state of Idaho to film her latest movie, but will finding love with rafting consultant Tracen Lake be enough to make her stay?

Find it here




Salsa and Speed Bumps

by Susan M. Baganz


Sometimes God allows speed bumps on the road to redemption. 

Find it here



A Worthy Heart

by Susan Anne Mason



Adam O'Leary, newly released from prison, wishes to make amends to his family and start a new life, only a certain Irish lass gets in the way!

Find it here



Just Kin

by Caryl McAdoo



Torn apart by war, rejection, and a letter with news she never wanted, Lacey Rose takes her shredded heart and runs. Charley figures something isn’t right, but is duty-bound to the Confederacy until a deathbed order sets in motion a series of events that test his love, honor, and commitment to the breaking point.


The Healer's Rune

by Lauricia Matuska


To save Humanity from extinction, Sabine Rhyonselle must overcome centuries of lies and prejudice to forge an alliance between warring races and learn how to manage a dangerous secret that could get her killed.Find it here


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Friday, February 26, 2016

Talking Love with Nancy Shew Bolton



Ah, love! Such a topic!

For me, I had a close, loving family growing up, but we hit some rough times when my siblings and I were all teenagers in the 1960’s, and the closeness often became strained and rocky, especially with our Dad who felt pretty overwhelmed with his outspoken, stubborn children. How I longed for the uncomplicated days when we were smaller!

I’d always gotten along well with boys, and often preferred their company. But due to a childhood trauma, as I grew older, I was wary of any romantic relationships, and figured I’d never marry since the whole dating process appeared pretty scary to me. Though I perceived interest from various boys during high school, I kept a friendly distance, protecting myself from the titanic hurts I watched my siblings suffer as they navigated through their dating years.

Then, in my junior year, when I was seventeen, I became re-acquainted with a boy who’d once lived next door to us years back, and who I’d hardly seen in recent years. He had soulful, dark blue eyes, and a marvelous, quirky sense of humor which captivated me. He didn’t show any of the annoying romantic attention that always made me wary, and I delighted in humorous bantering with him, and sharing comic observations about everything. He was such fun to talk to.

Somehow, he snuck through my giant defenses, and I found myself fascinated at the thought of getting to know him as more than a friend. Though I resisted it once I realized he was becoming romantic toward me, it grew more difficult to push away the strong feelings I had for him. To his credit, he waited and maintained our friendship while the attraction deepened. When I finally opened the door to my heart, he rushed in and though we’ve had our rough times, now five sons and 40 plus years later, he still makes me laugh and is my other half.

We also shared our spiritual journey toward new birth in Christ in our twenties, and God has been a huge part of our ongoing relationship. I am well and truly blessed with love, and children and we even have two grandchildren now. We’ve never had a regular sort of life, but I’m comfortable being rather an oddball, and so is my husband, who first taught me to embrace my eccentricities, and enjoy them, just as he’s always enjoyed his and mine. God makes all kinds of quirky folks, and I’m so happy to share my life with my husband John, though honestly sometimes he drives me nuts!!! I wouldn’t have it any other way!


Check out Nancy’s contribution to Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series…


A Work in Progress
“Love is kind…” 1 Corinthians: 13:4


There’s something cooking outside the kitchen….

They’ve worked together for two years, but that’s all they have in common. Like oil and water, they just don’t mix. Julie thinks he’s a shallow flirt, Mark thinks she’s a cold fish. Despite their mutual dislike, they’ve carved out a civil work relationship at the restaurant. But after each of their inner worlds suffer a jolt; the careful, polite kitchen routine becomes a stew of conflicting emotions. Things are about to get interesting.



Friday, February 19, 2016

FREE Historical Romance

The first three books in April W Gardner's Creek Country Saga have just hit the Amazon shelves! They are now available for purchase, but every subscriber to her newsletter gets the first in the series for
FREE!

Scroll to nab your copy!

Beneath the Blackberry Moon will sweep you away to another time, then make you sigh and wish you could stay just a little longer.


I cannot put this book down! April Gardner crafts the scenes and character interactions so well, you are there! What a powerful story. 
~Amazon reviewer


This newsletter goes out only a handful of times each year to announce new releases, so no worries--your inbox won't be bombarded. April is generous to her email subscribers. Next month, each will receive another novel, absolutely free! See below to learn more about Better Than Fiction.


About the book:
War, captivity, hunger that will not be denied. And a blackberry moon with enough pull to endure the test of time.

Frontierswoman Adela McGirth has never feared her neighbors, the Creek Indians, but a suspicious encounter with a steely-eyed warrior shakes her confidence. As dreaded, a skirmish with the natives sends her family fleeing into a hastily constructed fort. But no picket is strong enough to hold off a party of warriors who fear nothing but the loss of their ancient ways.

Totka Lawe, a Red Stick bound by honor to preserve his heritage, will do what he must to expel the whites from Muscogee soil. But in the midst of battle, he is assigned to protect those he’s expected to hate and kill. One of whom is the copper-haired woman who has haunted his thoughts since that strange night under the blackberry moon. The war was simpler before his enemy became a beautiful face with a gentle warrior’s spirit he cannot resist.

But what woman would have a warrior whose blood-soaked hands destroyed her life?

Then again...does she have a choice?

PREVIEW BOOK BY CLICKING IMAGE


Learn more about this saga at 
and Like her on 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Coming soon...

To get your FREE copy of Better Than Fiction
(releases April 2016)

Better than Fiction
by 
April W Gardner and Michelle Massaro

Romance novelist Meghan Townsend’s marriage is slipping, and no amount of prayer seems to help. She aims to recapture her husband’s waning attention by getting in shape and finds escape by crafting her own fictional love story. Taking inspiration for the hero from a new friend—the attractive, spiritual, and attentive Curtis Jameson—she pours her yearnings onto the page, and craves the kind of pulse-pounding romance found in her book, Racing Hearts

In 1916 Corona, California, motorcars are all the rage, and racing them is what Meghan’s hero, Russell Keegan, does best. But when his competition vandalizes his car, the only mechanic available is a greasy woman in a man’s overalls.

After a racing accident claimed her father’s life, Winifred became the sole breadwinner for her family. She is disdained as a female mechanic, but her daddy's trade is all she has left. Can she swallow her hatred of the races and take up Russell's offer of big bucks to fix his car, or will she lose everything to mounting debt?

Under Meghan's skillful pen, these two embark on a thrilling, adventurous romance. But she finds that writing those love scenes with Curtis’s face in mind takes her heart places it shouldn’t go. Will she realize in time that real life can be better than fiction?

Sibling Love


  
I guess most sisters bicker as they grow up. We have a tendency to be a tad jealous of each other. “How come she gets to…” and later, “Why do all my boyfriends notice her?” Even later, “Why doesn’t my husband treat me like hers treats her?” or “”Why are her kids so well-behaved?”
My sister and I are six years apart so by the time I entered my teens she was married. I felt a deep loss and for a long time I felt the odd person out. She and my brother’s wife were closer in age, so they bonded. They always huddled at family events. I felt the pangs of exclusion like the wimpy little kid slumped on the sideline bench whose muscles would never fill out his uniform.
Until my husband died suddenly in the shower getting ready for work. Though five hours away, my sister dropped her life and rushed to my aid. She boarded her animals at the vets, packed a bag and drove to my door. I honestly cannot tell you how long she stayed with me. Certainly until after the funeral five days later. Having lost her husband a year previously, she guided my numbed mind and aching heart through the planning, the visitations and the arrangements as I sniveled for days on in overwhelmed by it all.
When I sold the house and moved to a one bedroom apartment, all I could afford at the time, she returned. We spent hours rubbing masking tape onto the floors mapping out where furniture would go and plotting what I could bring and what I should leave behind for the estate sale. She then monitored the estate sale like an award winning  car salesman, raking in the bucks so I could afford the moving company.
My brother, an attorney, drove in to handle all the legal affairs pro bono without blinking an eye. All I had to do was show up at the courthouse and swear my husband to be deceased—by far my highest hurdle. Declaring him legally dead before a magistrate made it real, too real. My brother stood by my side as my knees quaked. His even-toned professionalism became my boulder. I watched, wide-eyed and tear-blinked as he handed off paper after paper to the court clerk. Documents all identified by letters and numbers which I never understood.
Growing up, my brother seemed a phantom. Eleven years older than me, he was a teenager locked in his world by the time I could toddle. Then came the college years away. When I was in third grade, he walked down the aisle. After that, he moved away, had a child of his own and built a life. Eventually I did the same. For decades we acknowledged each other like shadows at family gatherings. But that day at the courthouse, he became flesh and bone to me.
God purposes good from tragedy. My husband’s passing brought me closer to my siblings and showed me what family-bound love is all about. Five years later, we are able to communicate at a deeper level, share our feelings openly, and be there for each other through this rollercoaster called life. Now, that’s true love — a love akin to no other on earth.

Check out Julie’s contribution to Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series…


 Greener Grasses
“Love does not envy…” 1 Corinthians: 13:4

Twin sisters, Erin and Ellen, covet each other’s lives and husbands. Their festered envy has not only kept them at arm’s length for almost two decades, it has placed both on a precipice of divorce — something they’d never admit to each other.
Yet after two weeks together with their spouses, as they sort through their mother’s belongings following her funeral, they discover the flaws in their sibling’s “grass-greener” lives. But will that revelation help each sister appreciate her own husband and lifestyle as truly according to God’s plan? Or is it too late for a change of heart?


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The 2016 Laurel is here!




A NOTE TO PUBLISHED AUTHORS:



If you had a novel release any time in 2015, you're invited to submit to Clash of the Titles' Laurel Award!!

The Laurel is a contest available to any genre of Christian fiction published in 2015. The novels are judged by their audience—readers well-versed in Christian fiction yet not associated with the CBA industry.

Authors write for readers, so why not have readers be the judges?
With a submission fee of only $15, easy electronic submission, a bevy of prizes, and judges devoted to Christian fiction and author encouragement, the Laurel is a contest like no other.

But act quick! Slots are limitedTo avoid overburdening our volunteer judges, we are limited in the number of submissions we can accept.

* All previous COTT champs whose winning novel was published in 2015 have an assured spot (fee waived) in the 2016 Laurel.


The Skinny:

ELIGIBILITY: Christian novels (30,000+ words) of any genre published between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015.

PRIZES: One first place winner will be chosen. The winner will receive a special feature on Clash of the Titles' blog, a tour through COTT’s Blog Alliance, a dedicated page on COTT’s site for a full year, an on-line radio interview with author and CAG board member, Cynthia L. Simmons, a digital winner’s badge, and a beautiful plaque to display at home.

COST: $15 USD

Novels participating in the Laurel are judged by their audience—readers who are well-versed in Christian fiction yet not a part of the CBA industry. This contest judges the first two chapters (or 3,500 words) of published novels. Any genre of Christian novel (30,000 words or more) is eligible, including indie.

SUBMISSION DATES: February 4, 2016-February 26, 2016

Learn more about the Laurel Awards HERE.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Requesting your vote for Shalom, My Love





Chirpin' out a blatant request for your votes...this is campaign time, right? :)

My dear friend and mentor Sally Laity's book, SHALOM, MY LOVE, (co-written with Dianna Crawford) is part of a Kindle Scout campaign, wherein readers vote for books to be published by Kindle Press. Having read this one, I can tell you it is well deserving of your votes. Please...would you take a moment to visit the link below and read the excerpt? If you like what you read, place your vote for Shalom, My Love. I appreciate, it and I know Sally does too.

(And, hey, if you want to share this post, you'll get no arguments from me.) :)

Thank you all!

Vote here



Sally Laity
Sally Laity has written both contemporary and historical novels, many of which have appeared on ECPA bestseller lists. She is a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist, a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and has placed in the Inspirational Readers’ Choice contest. Along with numerous romances and novellas for Barbour Publishing, she also coauthored with Dianna Crawford a three-book historical series for Barbour and this six-book series on the Revolutionary War for Tyndale House. She considers it a joy that the Lord can touch hearts through her stories. Her favorite pastimes include oil painting, quilting for her church’s Prayer Quilt Ministry, and scrapbooking. She makes her home in beautiful central California with her husband of over fifty years, and loves that their four married children have made her a grandma and great-grandma. Sally can be contacted at sallymlaity@gmail.com. You can also write to Sally and Dianna at P.O. Box 1855, Tehachapi, CA 93581.


Dianna Crawford
Widowed a few years ago, RWA RITA finalist, Dianna Crawford lives in California’s Central Valley where she is active in her local church. Although she loves writing historical fiction, her most gratifying blessings are her four daughters and their families. In her spare time she enjoys painting and traveling. Dianna’s first novel was published in the general market under the pen name Elaine Crawford and was nominated in 1992 by Romance Writers of America as Best First Book. After publishing several works under her pen name, she felt very blessed to be given the opportunity to write a number of novels for the Christian market. Some of her titles have also appeared on ECPA bestseller lists.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Whirlwind Relationship



At the age of seventeen, my boyfriend presented me with an engagement ring. I said yes and then wondered what I’d done.

My fiancé was good-looking, charming, and he cared for me, but our goals were different. The man I’d promised to marry planned life as a farmer. Can you imagine me as a farmer’s wife? I grew up in the city, had never even planted a pot of ivy, and possessed no idea about country life.

And to top that off, at the age of eight, I’d surrendered for God’s service. I presumed I’d teach children Bible stories in a distant country in South America. After all, I was studying Spanish.

To say I had second thoughts about marriage to this nice guy is an understatement. Our ideas were totally incompatible. I guess when I said yes I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

I finally decided it would be kinder to undo this tragedy in the early stages rather than continue in a relationship destined for failure. Three months later, on a Saturday night, I gave him the ring back. He reluctantly accepted it and said to me, “You’re gonna get your feet wet.”

As I tried to sleep the night of our heartbreaking parting, I thought about his odd remark. I’d never heard the expression before, but I had an idea what he meant. The thought came to me that my feet had been in hot water when I’d accepted his proposal. I’d just dried them off when I returned the ring.

The next morning dawned warm for early March in Texas. After church, I spent the afternoon washing cars for a high school fundraiser. The project kept my mind off the sadness dwelling in my spirit. During a lull between vehicles, I inspected my appearance and gave a rueful smile. My feet were literally wet, and so was the rest of me. I was a dirty mess, but I don’t think that was the kind of prognostication my former fiancé had meant.

As I finished hosing down the last car, a friend and her mom came by. I declined their invitation to attend a new church, but they talked me into it and waited for me to change clothes. The three of us strode late into the service. The small, crowded sanctuary left no room for us to sit together, so we split up.

A handsome young man with black, wavy hair and sparkling brown eyes led the music.

At the end of the service, he slipped out the back door and managed to be the first one to greet me as I left the sanctuary. The guy must have sprinted—he appeared faster than a Texas tornado. We exchanged names and spoke a few minutes, and then I left.

Intuition told me he’d call on Wednesday night. And he did. We made a date to go bowling the coming Saturday night. The evening was fun, and in between my falling down once or twice and throwing my ball into the gutter rather than down the alley, I discovered he planned to enter the ministry.

He walked me to the door as our date ended. He kissed me goodnight and then said, “I’m in love with you, and I’m going to marry you.”

Whaaat? Was he kidding? Seriously?

I’d just ended a relationship and had no intention of jumping into another one. This guy didn’t know me, and he loves me? What kind of nut could he be?

Before long, I learned. This man is a fast mover, makes speedy decisions, and is seldom wrong with his discernment.

Our relationship moved along at a rapid pace, and I discovered we shared the same goals.

He was in college, worked full time, gave twenty hours a week to the church, and somehow managed to find time for me.

Before long, a church in Oklahoma invited him to become their pastor. He accepted the invitation, and then drove back to Texas. We met for lunch the day he returned. He proposed marriage—presented me with a ring. I felt comfortable accepting this one, but I wanted to wait before we said the vows. I’d just graduated high school and wanted to attend college for at least one semester. During those few months, I could plan a wedding.

“Oh no, you can’t do that—no time. I told the church I was bringing a wife in three weeks. We have to marry now.”

Whaaat? Was he kidding again? Seriously?

After I gulped back my shock, I responded. “I can’t marry you right now. My mom is in the hospital.”

His reply? “We can have the ceremony there.”

My fiancé drove to the hospital to visit with mom. She was extremely ill, and we weren’t supposed to upset her. She surprised me by accepting the news well, but she asked the young preacher how much money he would be making.

“Fifteen dollars a week.” Came the reply.

Mom almost fell from the bed. “Fifty dollars a week? You can’t live on that.”

Uh oh. She’d misunderstood the amount. My sweetheart merely nodded and said, “The Lord will provide for us.”

Six months after we met, we had a small ceremony in the chapel at the Methodist Hospital in Dallas, Texas. We said vows on a Thursday night and packed our few belongings on Friday. We drove to Oklahoma on Saturday, and Paul preached his first sermon on Sunday morning.

Our meeting and wedding sounds fictional, doesn’t it? But it is a true story. I tell it often when I speak to groups. Maybe I’ll include it in a book in the near future.

My sweetheart isn’t the most romantic guy in the world, but he is kind, caring, thoughtful, and funny. The first time I saw the Dallas skyline lighted up against the black sky as we drove in from rural Oklahoma, I cried.

My new husband said, “If I’d known lights would make you this happy, I would have fastened a string of them in the back yard.”

Three daughters, and four grandchildren later, we find we think alike—even finish each other’s thoughts.

The Lord, Paul Lewis, family and friends are the loves of my life. I’m thankful that God graciously prevented me from making a mistake with a nice guy—but he was the wrong one for me. God was kind to me, and I didn’t get my feet wet. God gave me the husband He’d intended for me all along. I just had no idea a whirlwind came with him.

And here’s the thing, this man of mine still moves faster than I do. Somewhere over the years, I’ve adapted to his swifter pace. On the other hand, he’s slowed down a bit so I can keep up.




Check out Gay’s contribution to
Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series…


CLUE INTO KINDNESS
“Love is kind…”—1 Corinthians: 13:4

Georgia loves her husband, Alan. She shows him kindness with actions and words, but Alan responds in a heartless, selfish way. In order to be respected by people, he believes he must have a perfect wife—so he criticizes Georgia at every opportunity—even tells her she’s fat! Alan’s best friend, Ken, and his wife, Jana, reassure Georgia that she is still the gorgeous beauty queen she was during her college days. Who will Georgia believe—her friends or the mysterious stranger who comes into her life?

Circumstances bring a change to Alan’s attitudes. But is it too late to save this marriage?



Available on Amazon

Thursday, February 11, 2016

So Happy to Feel Like an Idiot!

I experienced one of the most heart-stopping, frightening moments of my life this week. It wasn't fun, and it still isn't funny, although I'm sure it will be when I look back on it from a greater distance.

I was having trouble with my wireless mouse. Hubby messed with the thing forever, and finally decided the switch was bad. We threw it away and he bought me another one. Knowing it was going the route of the circular file, I removed the little drive from my laptop in preparation for throwing it out. For some reason, I didn't immediately toss it.

Sometime later, I went to pull up my current work-in-progress -- a manuscript in which I'd already written close to 20,000 words. Nothing. It was gone. Could not be found anywhere.

I was dumbfounded. I've never had any problem out of that drive, and I've been using it for close to five years. That's incredible quality. So I went through the process of making sure it was safe to remove the device from my system and pulled it out...only to have the thing literally fall apart in my hands. I was left with nothing but itsy bitsy pieces.

Needless to say, I nearly had a heart attack. Not only was my current, unfinished manuscript on that device, but also all my other manuscripts; all of my design projects, including bookmarks, book covers, postcards - all the things I design for other people; all my photos. Everything was gone. Everything. As a general rule, I don't save anything to my laptop, and boy was I wishing I had in that moment.

I was devastated, and absolutely certain I was up a creek without a paddle. WHY hadn't I backed up that drive? I know better than to have all of that stuff solely in one location. I'd been telling myself to back it up, but kept putting it off. (I'm the world's most skilled procrastinator.) This is where that dubious talent for putting things off had gotten me.

I searched online and discovered that sometimes the data from a thumb drive can be recovered...but it was likely to cost about $200 - which I didn't have. So I started looking locally, and finally found a tech guy who said many times he could recover the data from a broken thumb drive. I'm not sure an hour way is really considered local, but I was willing to make the drive and give it a try. Half of my life was wrapped up in those little broken pieces of technology. I could barely take my eyes off of them, dumbfounded to find all my work destroyed along with them.

So hubby and I went to Longview and found LiamTek. Liam greeted us as we walked in, and then stood across the counter while I unwrapped the paper towel in which I'd wrapped all those pieces for the trip. I'd also brought along the now-defunct wireless drive, thinking he might be able to use some of the parts from it to help him put the other one together long enough to perform a miracle.

Liam took one quick glance at the guts of my broken thumb drive and said, "First of all, this isn't a thumb drive."

Huh?  I'd been using that thing for nigh onto five years. It was  a thumb drive. "What is it then?"

He grinned. "It's a wireless."


That's my thumb drive on the left,
and my NEW mouse drive on the
right, just to provide a similar
visual to what I had on my hands.
OK, so they're not really identical.
But I didn't exactly take them out
every day and play with them...they
stayed in my USB ports all the time. And,
in my defense, my eyes are NOT getting
any sharper with age.  The two devices
looked pretty much the same to me!
I still didn't get it. "What do you mean, a wireless?"

"Like maybe for a wireless mouse. See..." He pointed at a tiny sliver on the miniature board. "That's an antenna."

I was dumbfounded...for about half a second. Then the light shone in my dead brain, and hope swelled like an incoming ocean wave.

I picked up the other drive - the one I'd been going to throw away because it drove the mouse that no longer worked. "Then this..."

He nodded. "Yeah. That's a thumb drive."

At my request, he inserted the drive into his computer, and sure enough...all my files popped right up.

"Oh, my gosh - I feel so stupid!" I could barely stand up. Relief had drained my legs of strength.

Liam grinned. "It's a good way to feel stupid."

He was right. I'd prayed every time I awakened during the night, and all the way to Longview. I'm sure God was wiping tears of laughter.

As I turned to go, the young man gave me some good advice. "Get that thing backed up. They're here one minute and gone the next."

I did - the moment I got home.

I will not forget LiamTek next time I have a computer problem.

And I don't think I have ever been, or ever will be again, so utterly HAPPY to feel like an idiot!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Spotlight on "Anything for a Story" by Cynthia Hickey

Stormi is delightful as the accident prone and bumbling wanna be detective. What she lacks in skill she makes up for in nosiness. Add in the sexy detective and a slightly nutty family and our lead character has her hands full.
~Amazon reviewer



About the book:
Stormi Nelson, best-selling romance author, moved into her huge Victorian house in the private community of Oak Meadows Estates. When her agent tells her that her characters are becoming too cardboard and that she needs to get out and mingle with people, she comes up with the idea of a Neighborhood Watch Program. The only problem is … she’s the only member. On her first night of patrol, she stumbles over a dead body, meets a hunky detective, who happens to be her neighbor and clearly frustrated with her, and her mother, sister, niece and nephew arrive to shake up Stormi’s peaceful life. As she is immersed ever deeper into the mystery surrounding a neighbor’s murder, she decides to change writing tactics and write a romantic mystery based on her experiences. What follows is a frolicking good time as Stormi finds herself the nosiest neighbor of them all. Can she find the killer before she becomes the next victim?

PURCHASE

A note from the author, Cynthia Hickey:

"Why I Became a Writer"

Funny how this roller-coaster business can tug on someone until it’s either write or die. A bit dramatic, yes, but that’s how most writers feel.

I started reading at the young age of five and became hooked on words and stories. Being a shy child, I would make up stories to act out, but it wasn’t until Junior High when an English teacher assigned a
writing project that I realized how much I loved putting the story to paper. I began writing short stories in which my younger brother was featured as the hero, or I’d write a romance featuring me and whatever boy I had a crush on at the time.

When I turned fifteen, I wrote my first “real story” about terrorists taking over a high school. Funny how I have now seen that very plot made into a movie. I couldn’t be stopped after that first “book.” I kept writing, keeping my stories in a notebook, which I unfortunately lost when I married and moved out of state. Then, life happened and I didn’t take up writing again until the age of forty when my children were older and I had time to devote to it.

In 2007, I published my first cozy mystery, Fudge-Laced Felonies, with Barbour Publishing and haven’t slowed down since. Forty books later, and several genres added to the mix, I have no intentions of stopping this crazy career any time soon. It’s as much a part of me as breathing.

About the author:
Multi-published and Amazon Best-Selling author Cynthia Hickey had three cozy mysteries and two novellas published through Barbour Publishing. She had several historical romances release in 2013, 2014, 2015 through Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents, and has sold half a million copies of her works. She is active on FB, twitter, and Goodreads, and is a contributor to Cozy Mystery Magazine blog and Suspense Sisters blog. She and her husband run the small press, Forget Me Not Romances, which includes some of the CBA’s well-known authors. She lives in Arizona with her husband, one of their seven children, two dogs, two cats, three box turtles, and two Sulcata tortoises. She has seven grandchildren who keep her busy and tell everyone they know that “Nana is a writer”. Visit her website at www.cynthiahickey.com

Saturday, February 6, 2016

I Thirst: A 40-Day Journey Through the Psalms

I'm so excited to announce a FREE read from Pelican Book Group! I THIRST is a 40-day devotional featuring favorite psalms from PBG authors and staff members. You will be blessed!


The authors and staff at Pelican Book Group come together to offer this free devotional for Lent. Travel through favorite psalms and discover Christ in a special way during each day of Lent...or any time of year. 

Download your FREE PDF.
Click here to order a paperback copy (U.S. addresses only. There is a small charge to cover shipping, but purchase of the print book entitles you to immediate access to a PDF, so you can start reading immediately, even before you receive the print copy.)

Contributors include:
Brenda Baker                                Marianne Evans
Candice Sue Patterson                    Marilyn Leach
Christine Lindsay                           Mary Manners
Claire Sanders                               MaryAnn Diorio
Clare Revell                                  Megan Lee
Delia Latham                                Merry Stahel
Dianne J Wilson                             Natasha Deen
EA West                                       Nicola Martinez
Heidi Glick                                   Niki Turner
Jamie West                                  Pamela Thibodeaux
Jan Elder                                     Robin Bayne
Janalyn Voigt                               Sandy Nadeau
Karen Cogan                                Susan Lyttek
Kathleen Friesen                           Terri Weldon
Kristen Joy Wilks                          Valerie Goree                          
Lisa McCaskill                              Wendy Davy
LoRee Peery                                Zoe McCarthy


Friday, February 5, 2016

Old Maid, Do-Si-Do, and the Bottomless Cup of Love



By the time I was twenty-five my mother had given up on the hope that I would marry. She bought me pots and pans and Pfaltzgraf and flatware because, she reasoned, even single women need to live. And, Lord willing, I wouldn’t live with her and Daddy forever.

Dad wasn’t too concerned. After all, he hadn’t married Mom till he was in his early 40’s. And if God didn’t want me to wed, then I could follow in Cousin Angie’s footsteps and be a missionary in Africa.

The idea of a single life filled me with dread. Please, please, PLEASE God, don’t be equipping me to remain unmarried. I developed crushes. Friends tried setting me up with their relatives. I went out dancing with friends. To bars. After all, I was a nice Christian lady at a bar. Why couldn’t there be nice Christian guys there too? Maybe there were. I never met one.

A few months shy of my 27th birthday I decided I was tired of looking for potential mates. Although not at the point of picking up books on how to enjoy the gift of singleness, I figured it might be time to focus on my relationship with God. So, along with several wonderful single girlfriends I went to a spiritual winter retreat for young adults from a dozen churches across our state. Did I mention I’d determined not to check out every eligible young man also in attendance?

I meant it. So when I took note of a devastatingly handsome man with dark eyes and a dimpled chin sitting across the room, it wasn’t his good looks that got my attention. Arms crossed, looking bored, he was the only one sitting out the square dance mixer. In gracious and generous Christian-girl fashion I thought ‘Jerk,’ and went back to dancing my little size 9’s off and trying to remember my allemande left from my do-si-do right.

Later that night, after devotions, a group of us played cards. A game I didn’t know, called euchre. I’m a dab hand at Old Maid but this one had me flummoxed, and a group of generous friends tag-teamed trying to teach me to play. It was hilarious. Really hilarious.

Later that night a group of us went into town for coffee. The dark-eyed square-dance-boycotter came too. He sat across from me and told me he got a kick out of watching me laugh over euchre. He flirted just enough to make me feel interesting but not so much as to make himself look insincere or lecherous.

We went our separate ways after that weekend and didn’t meet up till early summer. It took him till late summer to ask me out and in the meantime one of my major crushes from the previous few years, a Christian marathon runner and photographer I’d met at work, finally returned my interest and began asking me out. After I lectured God about his timing I realized maybe He knew what He was doing. I had to make a decision between two attractive men (my daydream back in the days before I realized it would be painful) and I chose the right one.

Wouldn’t my story make a fine romance movie? Sort of an ‘At Long Last Love’ type of life? But now, three sons, four grandsons and countless prayers and tears and rejoicings later, I realize that my entire life has been filled with love.

From birth, before my birth, my parents loved me, and continued until their last breath on earth. Aunts and uncles and cousins by the dozens meant extended love and the kind of safety net children long for but don’t always enjoy. Then there is my family in Christ. Brothers and sisters more than the sands on the shore, and wherever there are God’s children there is my family, and we love each other. We don’t always play well together, but the love is there.

My friends—oh, my friends! When I bemoan my limited practical skills and meager dose of common sense I remember my glorious friendships with some of the most godly, delightful, gracious, fault-overlooking women as can be found. I would rather have my friends than an artist’s eye, a singer’s silver tongue, or an athlete’s supple limbs.

On all this abundance of love God set a gem of a husband. He is as attractive, open, and affirming as when I first met him, and he still refuses to dance. Those three sons love me in spite of a plethora of faults and mistakes and my little grandsons still give me smooches in public.

Do I know I have been gifted far and above anything I could think or ask, much less deserve? You bet. But what if God had not seen fit to give me a husband, children, grandbabies? What if my parents had been cold, negligent, absent, and I didn’t have some sort of strange ability to find wonderful friends? Would I be any less blessed? No. Not a bit.

God loves me. God has loved me before I knew what love was. If I had never known human love, God’s love would be beyond the heights and depths and breadths of what I think I need. Jesus prayed for me the night before His death and prays for me today and the Spirit intercedes for me with sighs too deep for words and the Father’s love is vast beyond all measure. What wondrous love is this?!

Family, friends, husband and children have all hemmed me in love, and the love that comes from God is greater than these. 


Check out Anita’s contribution to
Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series…


HOUNDED
“Love is patient…” 1 Corinthians: 13:4

Elise Amberson’s husbands always die before she can get the marriage momentum going. At least this last one left her with lots of money. Now she can hang out with her dogs, avoid men, and try to keep off God’s radar.

But her dogs are behaving oddly, a pesky pastor can’t keep his hands off her soul, and God is backing her into a corner.

It’s all more than a rich, beautiful young woman should have to bear. But when someone begins targeting Elise, she’ll have to figure out why before she becomes the late Widow Amberson.


Read an excerpt.

Available on Amazon.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Let's Share: Favorite Quotes from Books We've Read

Because of a scene in my current work-in-progress, I've been thinking today about some of my favorite quotes from books I've read.

Most of us have quotes that come to mind when certain movies are mentioned. Come on, admit it...if I say, "I'll have what she's having," you're gonna yell, "When Harry Met Sally!" Right? 

And then there's, "I see dead people." Come on, tell me you don't recognize that one!

Point is, sometimes a book or a movie reaches out and touches us with something unforgettable. Those are special moments, don't you think?

Let's have some fun. I'll share a few of my favorites, and then you can share yours. They do not have to be from the classics. They do not have to be from "famous" authors. They don't have to be breathtaking or profound. Just something that stood out to you when you read it, something you'll remember from that book. Books - not movies - that's the only parameter in this funfest. Although, some books have been made into movies. That's OK. But we want to hear about your reaction to things you read in a book.

Here we go. These are just a drop in the bucket. I could have gone on...and on...and on. But I want to hear your favorites too, so I limited myself to these few. If you all enjoy this, we can do it again another day.


"You want to be good for the ones you love, because you know that your time with them will end up being too short, no matter how long it is."  — From Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story
“I would rather die than stay away from you.”  — From Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight


“I envy the one who kissed you first.” From Marianne Evans’ Kassidy’s Crescendo






 "A man would be a fool to try to take care of you. But he’d still want to.” - From Tanya Stowe's Tender Touch






I could go on...and on...but I want to hear some of your favorites too. What are they?