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The Great War & Multi-Author Giveaway

I have joined forces with five of my fellow authors who write fiction set during World War I.

To honor the Centennial of the END of The Great War, we six authors have joined forces to offer you one fabulous giveaway of our WWI-based novels.

For information on all the books and giveaway, visit Carrie Turansky’s page HERE.

For a super-fun joint interview, check out the post Michelle Ule put together HERE.

But you can also enter via the form below!

Giveaway

Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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Small Towns…Big Love

What is it about small towns?

I mean, seriously, Hallmark has basically made an entire network out of small-town stories. And then there are the zillions of books plots that involve either fictional or real-life towns from all over the country…and even the world.

I grew up in a small-town and LOVE writing about them, but I’ve always been interested why there’s this large appeal. Before we talk about some of the reasons I think small-towns are a BIG hit, let’s name a few ‘classic’ small towns:

The set for Bedford Falls (It’s a Wonderful Life), 1946  via life
Bedford Falls – Pinterest

Jan Karon’s Mitford.

Bedford Falls.

Mayberry (one of my favorites because I was raised just outside of it)

Hallmark’s Evergreen

Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford

Meryton in Pride and Prejudice or Highbury in Emma

Middlemarch by George Elliot

And, of course, there’s Agatha Christie, Sarah Addison Allen, LM Montgomery, Robyn Carr, Debbie Macomber, and so many MORE!!!!

So…why are small towns so appealing? (My opinions here)

  1. To steal from the Cheers theme – we wanna go where everybody knows our names- small towns bring a sense of community to them and along with that…a sense of belonging. There’s just something sweet about them, like a perfectly wrapped package for a delightful romance 😊
  2. Quaint – small towns have a charm. There are unique traditions, special buildings, friendly smiles, and welcome folks. (at least, that’s what we see in most of our fictional places 😉…but I’ve found it to be true in a lot of the real-life ones too)
  3. The sun will go on rising and setting whether I fail (in geometry) or not. Rachel Lynde - Anne of Green Gables
    Rachel Lynde – Anne of Green Gables Pinterest

     

    Quirky/unique characters – it’s true, unique characters happen EVERYWHERE, but they seem to be particularly highlighted in small towns. Oh my! There’s the resident sage. Or the local busybody. Or the quirky neighbor.

  4. Scenery – most of our small town (whether in the grand west, on the coast, or in the mountains) bring a view with them. White picket fences, cobblestone streets, lantern-lit walkways, a village nestled at the base of snow-crested mountains
  5. Memorable places to come back and visit again. For some reason, most of these small town settings create an environment of ‘home’ just by the atmosphere. As readers or viewers we step into a world we feel like we ‘know’. There’s a great deal of sweet predictability that appeals to our love that goes back to #1…belonging and home.

Okay, so tell me what you love about small towns? Can you name some books and authors who celebrate the coziness of small towns?

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Let’s Celebrate It’s Release Day!

When You Look at Me is NOW AVAILABLE!!! YAY!!!! Are you ready for a little bit of Release Day FUN???

Amazon | Goodreads

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Head over to Just Read Tours for more giveaways and fun! Make sure you enter the GIVEAWAY but first….a word from Yours Truly:

I can’t believe I have 10….TEN….Books out in the world now. You know, I wouldn’t be here without my READERS! So THANK YOU, my dear readers, for all of the love!

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A little look at the books that brought us to where we are today! You can find out more about each of my stories HERE.

Book TImeline

Don’t forget to grab the Just the Way You Are eBook for FREE! Today is the last day.44052931_10217486303330180_6425239850403758080_o

And…I am kicking off the new year right…with yet ANOTHER book release!!! That’s right…My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge Mountains is coming out January 1st.

My Heart Belongs

Amazon | Goodreads

Giveaway

One winner will receive a print copy of When You Look at Me. Open internationally. If the winner has a mailing address outside the USA, they will receive a digital copy of the book. Giveaway open 10/25/18 – 10/31/18. Void where prohibited.

Don’t forget to enter the Just Read giveaway as well!

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 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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When You Look at Me – Sneak Peek!

It’s almost here! YAY! One week…The Countdown is officially on! I am so excited to give you a little peek at this story. Read on and there is a special surprise for you all!

About the Book

When You Look at MeAn unexpected mother-to-be
A romance-leery composer
And a forgotten melody from the past that holds the keys to their futures

When Julia Jenkins’ great-aunt dies and leaves her a Victorian mansion with decades of secrets, Julia never expects to unearth a World War 2 espionage mystery. Struggling with her own past since an assault left her pregnant, her future as a solo parent leaves her dreams uncertain. The inheritance from her great aunt gives Julia the ability to take a step back into her future, but also sends her into the discovery of a love story she’d never anticipated. As she goes through her aunt’s treasured possessions, Julia uncovers some oddly written piano music with a musical code she can’t decipher on her own. Not to worry, introverted Englishman and composer, Henry Wright, is thrust on the scene by a pair of homespun matchmakers who know the ‘right’ man for Julia’s wounded heart.

Henry arrives in Pleasant Gap with the task of composing the soundtrack for his best mate’s newest film. The Jenkins’ family’s southern welcome and gregarious personalities set his reticent nature on edge, but he’s inexplicably drawn to his gentle and music-loving hostess, Julia. Uncertain how to build a friendship with the wounded woman, and rather hopeless in communicating well through words, the bond of music becomes a bridge between her uncertainty and his awkwardness.

But her broken past and his families’ expectations build a wall much greater than the cultures that separate them. As they work together to solve a musical mystery from the grave, will an unlikely romance from the past inspire their hearts to trust in a God who’s written the perfect melody for their lives?

Sneak Peek

A cacophony of noise greeted Henry before he’d stepped onto the front stoop of Nate and Kay Jenkins’s charming colonial home. The scurry of sounds crashed in contrast to the late spring symphony of birdsong and the hushed brush of the wind through the newly budding trees. He almost asked to linger outside in the spring-chilled air to enjoy the unfamiliar music of nature in the Blue Ridge Mountains instead of spending the next few hours navigating the unpredictable world of social interactions.

His mother berated him for his introversion, labeling him a people-hater, but it wasn’t so. He enjoyed people, especially familiar people—watching them, learning from them, sometimes having a mental chuckle at their antics—but finding words to say, participating in small talk, attempting to appear smart and engaging… He swallowed through his tightening throat. He’d never managed those experiences well, especially in a new place.

Perhaps, Wes would ease the way with his natural friendliness and deflect a large portion of the attention, as he usually did. It proved beneficial during times like these to have an actor as one’s best mate.

He squinted to clear the vision in his swollen eye as Eisley opened the front door of the house. A sudden burst of welcome pushed the volume in the room to a forte, and Henry’s tension took an upsurge. His feet froze in place while he observed. Chaos of people and noise rushed forward, engulfing him. He even took a step back in retreat, but Eisley grabbed his arm and pulled him through the doorway into the massive foray of people. Wes had told him of Eisley’s large close-knit family, even shown him photos on Eisley’s social media page, but words, and even those snaps, failed to give an adequate depiction.

Laughter surged forward in a rush of welcome, bringing with it an immediate sense of hospitality, boisterous hospitality. So many people spoke at once, all in this new Appalachian dialect, he barely knew where to affix his attention.

Oh no, he’d never experienced anything like this.

“Wes, we’re glad to have you back for another visit.” A petite woman with blond and white shoulder-length hair emerged from the throng scattered throughout the vast living area and equally impressive kitchen. Her blue eyes held a striking resemblance to Julia’s. Dark, rich—an unforgettable hue.

He gave the room a brief scan for the younger Jenkins. Julia. The name suited her. The blend of consonants and vowels a gentle melody of sound fitting for the ethereal-like beauty. What was it about her? Some balance of everything right merged in their interactions, even the awkward ones, leaving a strange pang in his chest. Like a battle of nerves, only less nauseating.

“This is my best friend, Henry, whom I’ve told you about. He’s writing the musical score for the movie I’m here to film, and”—Wes shot Henry a grin, which provided a boost of reassurance— “I think he’s hoping for a much-needed holiday from his busy schedule. Henry, this is Kay Jenkins.”

The matriarch of the Jenkins family offered her hand, her smile as inviting as the salty aroma wafting from the kitchen. She certainly didn’t look old enough to be the mother of children his age, let alone seven of them.

“It’s real good to have you, Henry.” Her words soaked in her accent with a calming effect. “Welcome to Pleasant Gap.”

Henry swallowed through his dry throat and attempted to hone his focus on the woman. “A pleasure, Mrs. Jenkins. Thank you.”

“Please, call me Kay.” She offered a quiet smile, almost in apology. “And things are bound to get a little rowdy ‘round here. We can’t have a whole crew of people in one place like this without some noise.”

As if in response to Kay’s words, a squeal split through the conversations. “Oh my goodness!” A young woman with soft honey-colored hair and wide eyes bounded toward him. “Another handsome Englishman!”

“That’s Sophie. Brace yourself. She hugs,” Wes warned right before the young woman took Wes into a hug, complete with another ear-piercing squeal.

“You smell just as a good as the first time we met.” She sighed, lingering at Wes’s shoulder before she turned her sparkling hazel eyes in his direction. “And you must be Henry.”

The embrace transferred from Wes, and Henry steadied himself for the impact. “Mmm, you smell like vanilla.” She closed her eyes, smile wide, and nose sniffing the air near his neck. He stiffened like the Venus de Milo. “That’s such a delightful scent.” Her eyes fairly twinkled. “Like a cupcake.

“Thank you?” Henry wasn’t quite certain whether the unsettled twist in his stomach meant he needed a laugh or an escape plan.

“She’s harmless, really,” Eisley whispered on Henry’s other side. “Every family needs a resident Disney princess, you know?”

And then other people came forward, each adding a new face and name. Henry turned from Eisley to Wes, attempting to interpret the scene but failing to find clarity before the conversation bled into another one. Or more than one. It was difficult to tell when there were four people speaking at the same time…on differing topics.

“I’m Rachel.” A dark-haired woman offered her hand then gestured with her chin. “Looks like Dad already got a hold of you. What happened to your eye?”

Comprehension stuttered. “Pardon?”

“Julia accidentally hit him with the door at the bakery.” Eisley offered an apologetic shrug and lopsided grin. “Henry’s had quite the introduction to our family.”

“And it’s only just begun,” Wes added, his smile giving Henry no comfort.

A burly man, his brown hair and matching moustache framing his stern face, walked forward while wiping his thick palms on his hips. Henry needed no introduction. Wes’s description had been perfect, right down to the intimidating stare.

“Daddy, be nice to Henry, okay?” Sophie linked her arm through her father’s and shot Henry a bedazzled grin. “Julia’s already hit him once.”

“Julia had to hit hi—” Nate Jenkins’s dark brows shot into a furious V, and he targeted his narrowing gaze on Henry. “What did you do to my girl? You good for nothin’ foreigner.” He barreled forward, fists at his sides, and Henry stumbled a step back into the wall. “If you so much as—”

“Whoa, whoa, Dad.” Julia stepped between them, seemingly out of nowhere, her palms on her father’s chest. “You know the stairway door at the bakery? I opened it and Henry was coming up the stairs. The same thing happened to George Pinkerton last month when he stayed at the apartment, remember? The door hit him in the face…and you never came by to fix it.”

“The— What?” His furious gaze darted from Julia’s face to Henry’s. “Door?”

The wall prevented Henry from fleeing the premises altogether. Perhaps accompanying Wes to Appalachia was a bad— possibly life-ending—idea.

“Really, Dad?” Eisley slapped her father on the shoulder. “Did you think we’d let a jerk hang out in the place Julia runs?”

“He’s the best of men, I assure you. True as an arrow.”

Wes placed his hand on Henry’s shoulder, his lips upturned in good-humor, though Henry had difficulty understanding how anything good could come from seeing his life flash before his eyes.

“You…you didn’t have to hit him?” Nate kept his focus on Henry, though his tone slightly softened.

“No, Dad, but maybe now you’ll fix that door?” Julia glanced at Henry and mouthed ‘I’m sorry,’. If he hadn’t understood anything else from the twelve conversations occurring at once around him, those words would’ve been enough. “Like Wes said, Henry is the good sort.”

Her comment pushed through the growing anxiety in his chest and dispersed a sliver of calm. Belonging. Like when they’d discussed music together.

The man’s moustache twitched while he drew in a deep breath, measuring Henry from head to toe. As if he’d made up his mind, he sighed. “Well, I reckon we got more important things to do than to stand around and ogle over another sissy boy visitin’ the family. We got supper and some serious basketball goin’ on.” He shot an eyeroll to the ceiling and murmured as he turned to walk away. “Smells like vanilla. Crazy women.”

© Pepper D. Basham 2018

Surprise!!!

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During release week ONLY…You can get the Kindle book of Just the Way You Are for FREE on Amazon HERE! Enjoy and Happy Reading!!!

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Just the Way You Are – Sneak Peek

With the release of my next book just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to give you a little sneak peek at book 1 of the Pleasant Gap Romance series!

About the Book

Just the Way You AreSingle mom, Eisley Barrett, prefers to keep romance safely between the pages of a book, on the silver screen, or locked within a 400-year-old mystery. But when she leaves her safe Blue Ridge Mountain home to research a family secret in England, an actor with a sordid past tempts her to step outside her fictional world and trust her heart to this reformed British baddy.

Wes Harrison has a past he’s ashamed to confess. Suspicious and cynical, the last thing he needs is an American guest staying with his parents in their quiet cottage, but Eisley Barrett isn’t like anyone he’s ever met. Her authenticity and country charm set his embittered presumptions on their heads and offer him a second chance at love.

When his past threatens the present, will the truth drive her away? Can this unexpected romance have a happily ever after? With some match-making parents, a quirky Appalachian heritage, and love letters from the grave – anything is possible.

From the beautiful Peak District in England to the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the Jenkins family discovers that God dreams big for his kids – and second chances are His specialty.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book-A-Million | Add to Goodreads

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Sneak Peek

“Per chance, would you be Eisley Barrett?”

His question clinked into place. She leaned back and really looked at him. She should have known him from his picture, but the whole squishing scene had been way too distracting for little things like recognition. He had one of those distinguished-grandfather appearances: dressed in a suit, salt-and-pepper hair neatly trimmed, with a sliver of moustache to add a sense of renown. Just like she’d expected, except the hair was a bit erratic after his near-concussion.

“Mr. Harrison?”

“Yes, Daniel Harrison. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Eisley.” Her name rolled off his tongue as if James Bond said it himself. Something inside of her melted.

“A pleasure to survive me might be more like it.” She shook her head and groaned. “I’m so sorry about the fall. I knew I shouldn’t have worn heels.”

“Don’t worry yourself, Luv. Accidents do happen. My wife has a habit of stepping on my feet.”

Eisley winced at the memory of her coma-inducing footwork. “I bet she never tackled you in an airport.”

He chuckled. “That wasn’t a typical Appalachian greeting?”

She really shouldn’t smile. After all, she’d nearly suffocated, possibly flattened, a senior citizen, but he was so downright charming it was difficult to maintain a guilty expression.

“Tackling is one of my family’s traditions, but we usually call it hugging. It takes all the fun out if you clue strangers in on the attack.” Eisley sighed. “Come on, Mr. Harrison, let’s get you off the floor and into a chair. At least then, we won’t add trampled to your list of possible injuries.” She helped him to his feet. “And maybe we should pray for your wrist. That’s what I do with my kids, anyway.”

“Have you traveled without your children before?”

“Never more than a night or two, so this is definitely an adjustment.” She placed her hand against her quivering stomach. Every inch of those four thousand miles pressed in on her heart like eating way too much of Aunt Tilley’s Mastermind Meatloaf. She tossed a glance to the outgoing flights display. A fleeting thought to return home inched to mind.

No. She’d made a promise. Uncle Joe. She swallowed down the worry bubble in her throat and guided Mr. Harrison to a chair.

“But the kids are in great hands.” She babbled on as if words would assuage mommy-guilt. “Christmas break’s a week away and my parents are as excited as the kids. With my dad in charge, I’ll be lucky if my seven-year-old isn’t toting a rifle and my daughter isn’t biting off bottle tops with her baby teeth within a week.”

Mr. Harrison’s sudden laugh pricked at Eisley’s smile and curbed the mommy-ache.

“Yeah, it sounds pretty crazy, doesn’t it? But my parents wouldn’t let me turn down Cousin Lizzie’s offer to come do research for Uncle Joe.” She gave her eyebrows a playful wiggle. “And get a good dose of England in the process. The trip was their Christmas gift to me. Single moms need big holidays, they said.”

His kind gaze held hers a moment. “No doubt.”

She settled Mr. Harrison in a chair and detoured her high-octane emotions by gathering her various paraphernalia scattered across the floor. Her kids would be okay. They would still remember her name, and surely her Dad wouldn’t have them chewing tobacco by the time she got home.

She stuffed her items back into her bag and sat down next to Mr. Harrison. “I can’t thank you and Eleanor enough for letting me stay with you while I’m here.”

“It’s the very least we could do for one of our oldest and dearest friends. We were happy to offer our home. With Lizzie’s father’s ill health, it wouldn’t have been suitable for you to stay at Lornegrave.”

“Right.” Lizzie’s emails hinted about her father’s dementia and psychosis, but everything else seemed as much a secret as Eisley’s mysterious ancestor. Oh, this story kept getting better and better, nibbling at Eisley’s lifelong obsession with great romance. Fictional, of course. The less painful kind.

Maybe hidden behind five hundred years of unsolved stories, she could discover what happened to Julia Ramsden, find the name of the man she married, and make her uncle’s dying wish come true in the process. She drew in a deep breath of renewed determination. “It was very sweet of you to come to London for me.”

“We were happy to collect you. We were already in town for our annual Charity Christmas gala. It is Eleanor’s favorite charity and we never miss.” He gave her hand a comforting pat. “Not one wit of trouble.”

She peered around him in search of some elegant British counterpart. “Where is your wife?”

“Ah, yes. Eleanor felt peaked this morning.”

Peaked? “Is she okay?”

His smile crinkled at the corners of his eyes. “I’m certain she’ll be fit as a fiddle for the gala tonight. Social events always encourage her health. She’s not fond of London morning traffic, I’m afraid, but she’s quick to raise money for her cause at any given moment.”

“Sounds like I’m going to really like her.” Eisley shrugged. “As if there was any doubt about that. Do you feel ready to walk after I mauled you? I guess we’re taking the Tube or maybe we can catch a taxi?

“Actually, my son is to drive us. Wes is quite capable. He lives on the West End.” Mr. Harrison nodded toward the doorway. “And here he comes now.”

Eisley followed Mr. Harrison’s gaze across the expanse of the meeting area, past the red bucket chairs and rows of people, and right into the eyes of a Greek god. Her vision zoomed in like a camera, blocking out everything else – sounds, noises, her phobia of Prince Charming look-alikes.

A taller, younger version of Mr. Harrison walked toward them, as if directly from a Google search for swoon-worthy. His gray-blue gaze blazed through her, igniting fireworks in her chest and heat in her cheeks. Unfamiliar sparks burned through years of avoidance and splintered directly into her pulse. The emotion flashed into recognition with a harsh light. She held in a whimper. Attraction?

Lord, really? Are you joking?

She tried to adjust her expression. The last thing she needed was to look like a three-year-old in a candy store. Too much eye candy is bad for a wounded heart. Very bad. It might lead to thoughts of hope—or worse, possibilities.

She stumbled to a stand and bent to help Mr. Harrison from his chair.

“Eisley,” he whispered. “It would be wise not to mention the falling incident to Wes.”

She jerked her gaze to his. “What?”

“Wes.” Mr. Harrison stepped forward and greeted his son. “This is Eisley Barrett. Our guest for the next few weeks.”

Wes’ gaze trailed over her, leaving a splash of warmth on her face and a knot in the pit of her stomach. Calm. Distant. Glacial. The perfect coolant for her overactive imagination.

The dutiful son offered his hand, somewhat reluctantly. “A pleasure, Ms. Barrett.”

His hot-fudge smooth voice swept all words right out of her head and melted any images of icecaps. The perfect combination – fascinating eyes, a British accent, and chocolate. Yep, he was Ghirardelli in human form. She gave her wayward thoughts a mental slap.

Pull yourself together, woman. No man is worth a Marshall-sequel.

She peeled her tongue off the roof of her mouth, took his hand, and pushed all the giddy, junior-high feelings down to her pinkie toe. “It’s nice to meet you.”

A fake smile showed off his perfectly straight teeth. His taciturn expression proved he remained completely unimpressed with what he saw. Ah, the story of her life. Add a mile-high stack of comparisons to her twin brother and it was an instant flashback to high school.

She pulled her pink rolling bag to her side and shrugged off the sting of the disappointment she refused to embrace.

His smoky gaze skimmed down to her luggage. “Your baggage?”

“Pink is easier to find in the baggage check.”

“No doubt.”

Sarcasm? Daggone it, that just made him more attractive. Oh, what a pickle. Why here and now? The hopeless romantic she’d crammed underneath her busy-working-mother mask and three years of hardened resentment scrambled to the surface in full agonizing volume, hands opened wide to the daydream. The timing was horrible. There was nowhere to hide. No family excuses. Thankfully, Mr. Frosty-and-Fabulous curbed her lack of self-control with a solid dose of reality. He looked annoyed, maybe a bit bored, and definitely not carrying on an internal monologue to rival Bridget Jones.

Wes lifted her bags and started toward the doors. “Well, Ms. Barrett, Father’s told me very little about you.” A look passed between the two men, and Eisley stepped back from the glare. “You are from Virginia, yes?”

“Yes, a teeny tiny place in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Not too far from North Carolina and the Smokies. A great place to call home.”

Wes remained stiff as a hardbound bookbinding, but – Hark! Was that a faint light of interest flickering behind his dull expression?

“The Blue Ridge Mountains? North Carolina?” His intense stare flipped to Mr. H.

What about either of those topics could possibly interest a handsome and aloof British guy?

She liked him better as rude and unavailable. Married would be even better. She took a quick glance at his left hand. Bare as the Jenkinses’ table after a meal.

Hope plummeted to the heels of her unsteady shoes and self-control teetered in a frightening direction. No, no, no – she couldn’t afford daydreams with real possibilities. Attraction held empty promises. All hormones – no heart. She’d learned the hard way how different those two were. She would not screw up her life again.

And now a teaser for When You Look at Me….

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Pre-Order Now!

 

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ACFW 2018 – A Recap

“God has put the love of story in your heart.”

43072077_248199665869736_7143427819031232512_nThe American Christian Fiction Writers Conference has come and gone for another year, and life has resumed into its usual busy-ness. But I’m still basking in the memories of a time with friends, teachers, and new friends.

I’ve attended for almost ten years, experienced lots of ups and downs, but I think this year was one of the best.

Why?

Well, first of all for the reasons I love it EVERY year.

MY PEOPLE.

Attending ACFW is like a giant family reunion. There are wonderful opportunities to connect with friends I only see during this time each year. There’s mutual encouragement. Laughter. And lots of hugs! We can talk about our imaginary friends and everyone ‘gets it’ 😊

A few highlights:

43229066_320868791825456_3096693891684892672_nBeing a part of the praise team really makes the weekend richer. Rachel Hauck, Amanda Wen, Javi, Tom, Jason, Jeremy, and Eddie!!! I just love worshipping with them and having those little moments of BIG blessing through conversations and music. #meltedchocolatevoice #musictomyheart

CARRIE AND BETH!!! I love you! #sisters

And THIS year I got to meet #littleBeth, Beth’s daughter, Alia. I think I scared her a little bit because I was fangirling over her, but by the end she…didn’t run away 😊

ANGIE, KRISTA, ASHLEY, CARA – my ALLEYCATS. We were smaller in number this year, but these girls have been with me for a looooong time now. Each one of them is indelibly written through the pages of my writing journey. I love you all. (Krista and Carrie…thank you for your time and thoughts)

LIZ CURTIS HIGGS – She’s AMAZING. That is all.

Meeting IN PERSON wonderful people like Rachel McDaniel, Kathleen Denly, Bethany Turner (hilarious), Carolyn Miller (BEAUTIFUL person… BEAUTIFUL), and so many more.

43135840_656915714692403_4069741749323431936_nKRISTI ANN HUNTER – I love you and your hair is fabulous.

DINEEN MILLER and HEATHER TIPTON – prayer warriors and hearts of purpose.

ROBIN MILLER (CAROLL) – THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THE AUSSIE MEN – (Isn’t that a fabulous opening? 😉) I had the delight and privilege of hanging out with Ian Acheson and David Rawlings – particularly during the gala – and it was a blast. Gentlemen. Classy. And a whole lot of fun. Ian – #timtamsforever. David – #inamedthekoala

NEW FRIENDS & OLD – Lindsey Brackett, Kim Duffy, Leslie DeVoogt, Janyre Tromp, Ali Herring, Carol Moncado, Rebekah Millet (she’s adorable, ya’ll…#tshirtlady), Natasha Kern (thank you for your encouragement), Sarah Varland (#roomie), Betsy Haddox, Savanna Kaiser, Mary Connealy, Jen Turano, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Amy Clipston, Nicole Jones…and MORE.

I KNOW I’ve missed people! There are too many to name all!

Next for some rockin’ classes. The classes were excellent this year. The one Susan May Warren did on Marketing really opened my eyes to how to make some changes in my publishing ‘plan’. Liz Curtis Higgs class on Hope was so encouraging (and I was in tears within the first five minutes). My friend, Krista, said that Angie Hunt’s class on building your story was SUPER. There’s so much to learn!!

43119647_935868213274139_1373809267458441216_nThird, the keynote was hilarious.

Best-selling author, Debbie Macomber, was funny, insightful, incredibly approachable, and a definite encourager. This photo is when she told me “God has put the love of story in your heart.”

She reminded all of us that God holds our dreams – and his dreams for us are usually LOTS bigger than ours.

But the last reason is the BEST.

God loves BIG. Lots of times we live as if we must draw God’s love through a sieve to our hearts, but it’s not so. He lathers us with love.

We have REAL hope.  

Check out Romans 5:5 (but make sure to read 1-5 to get a great understanding of the depth of our hope)

“hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Copy of UntitledNo matter the circumstances. No matter the view. No matter the brokenness or loss or heartache or betrayal. No matter….we have HOPE because the love of God is not trickling out on us – but POURED out on us. We are loved lavishly – almost ‘recklessly’ in human eyes.

So out of the knowledge of this love, what can I, as a writer, understand?

God not only gives me these stories, but he holds their future in his hands too. He has a plan and a people waiting for my stories…and yours. Whether those are written, spoken, or lived, they are stories to tell for His glory.

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Autumn Reads!

Autumn

Autumn is officially here! It’s time to curl up with a good book, a cup of steaming tea, a cozy blanket, and a roaring fireplace (if it’s not already too warm where you live). Here are a couple of books to read this season!

The Thorn Healer

1If you are a historical romance reader, you’ll want to check out this final book in the Penned in Time series. While this is part of a series, it can stand alone.

Jessica Ross’ scars run much deeper than the wounds of a world at war. Determined to escape the ghosts of her past and the German influence on her nightmares, she returns home to the sleepy Appalachian town of Hot Springs, NC, only to find the renowned Mountain Park Hotel has been converted into a ‘prison’ for displaced Germans and, much to Jessica’s dismay, her grandparents have befriended one of them.

Amazon

A Twist of Faith

Fall.pngIf the contemporary genre is more your speed, maybe Reese and Adelina’s story is for you!

Dr. Adelina Roseland has worked ten years in research as an accent reduction specialist to attain her dream job. But a secret wager to transform Appalachian cattle farmer Reese Mitchell into corporate material challenges Adelina in ways she never expected, threatening her new position.

Amazon

 

Happy reading my fellow bibliophiles!

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Faith is…Putting Your Boots On

My family and I are big fans of The Chronicles of Narnia. The book series is a powerful set of stories with one bigger theme from the first book to the last, but there’s something extra-magical about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. We are introduced to the Pevensies and Tumnus, the story of Narnia, The White Witch, and, of course, Aslan.

tom-skarbek-wazynski-226342-unsplash (1).jpgWhen the movie adaptation of this book came out, my family was excited and a wee bit skeptical. Would the movie-makers be able to capture the magic in C.S. Lewis’s classic? So many times, movies just don’t match the novels as clear representations.

Well, I feel this first installment of the beloved series was well-done, even capturing a few things the books didn’t show, such as Peter’s protective nature toward his sisters, particularly Lucy. That was so SWEET!!

Tilda Swinson was BOSS as the White Witch and I think all four of the Pevensie kids were fabulous. AND how can you go wrong with using Lian Neeson’s voice for Aslan? Really? 😊

While watching it again last night with my kids, there is a teeny tiny moment in the movie that always hits me with such power. Don’t get me wrong, there are sooooo many amazing moments that I love in that movie, but this specific one stood out to me last night.

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After Lucy has already gone to Narnia once, and no one believes her, she wakes up in the middle of the night. She swings her legs around the side of the bed and there are two pairs of shoes there, her slippers and some wellies/boots.

She doesn’t even hesitate in her choice. She chooses the boots.

What does that say about Lucy? She’s certain that Narnia is so real and it’s going to be there for her again, that she doesn’t even think about slippers. She needs her boots for the snow of Narnia. Even when they checked the wardrobe earlier and only saw the back of a wooden container filled with coats, Lucy believes in something she hasn’t seen – that Narnia will be there THIS time.

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Faith.

Certain of what we cannot see.

There are lots of things we ‘see’ in this world which could really shatter our hope, but faith sees through the spiritual lens of God’s Word.

We haven’t seen God’s plans for our future.

We haven’t glimpsed Heaven.

Faith isn’t wishful thinking – it’s a spiritual change of perspective based on a real act of God..pngWe haven’t fully experienced the complete redemption of our souls.

But…we put on our boots because we believe God’s promises.

Faith isn’t wishful thinking – it’s a spiritual change of perspective based on a real act of God.

We once were blind but now we SEE what hope really looks like.

Life is hard.

Don’t forget to put your boots on 😊

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Your Days Are Numbered

Your days are numbered.

Did you know that?

As in:

1

45

16,782

Numbered.

And not ONE of them is worthless or unimportant.

Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to number our days so we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Whoa. So, how do we number our days? Well, the first few verses in that chapter give us some clues. It’s basically this:

Realizing who WE are and what We’ve done in the light of realizing who GOD is and what HE’S done.

Moses starts the Psalm by talking about the greatness and eternality of God.

v. 2 – “Before the mountains were born
   or you brought forth the whole world,
   from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

So, basically – we must try to see our lives from God’s perspective, since He’s been around a bit longer than we have, and knows a whole lot more than we ever could.

To make sure we get the point, Moses goes on to describe our humanness and mortality.

v. 5 – Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
   they are like the new grass of the morning:
6 In the morning it springs up new,
   but by evening it is dry and withered.

Or

v. 9-10 – All our days pass away under your wrath;
   we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years,
   or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
   for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

Pretty gloomy sounding, isn’t it?

Almost in one breath – life is here, then it’s gone.

Does it matter to us?

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with being my own god.

By living my life as if it is going to go on forever, and forgetting why I was created.

I forget that by original design, this world is not my home and the things of it are as frail as a snowflake.

I live my life as if I am the author of my future, the keeper of my past, and the conqueror of my present, but I deceive myself.

The eternal Time Keeper sees the big picture of my life – the good, the bad, and the ugly- and weaves them all together to make me into a child fit for Heaven.

The troubles, the trials, the heartache, and pain, serve a grander purpose. Moses’ words help us put grief and trials in their proper place:

See verses 14-17, particularly verse 15:

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.

17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
   establish the work of our hands for us—
   yes, establish the work of our hands.

It’s really all about seeing things from the right perspective. Who we are and who He is.

If his ‘unfailing love’ truly satisfies us, then whatever the ‘affliction’ or ‘trouble’, we can ‘sing for joy’ and ‘be glad all our days’, because we recognize the extravagance of the Father’s love.

When we are satisfied with His ‘unfailing love’ – then everything else falls into its proper place. Our deeds and our ‘works’ no longer control us but are controlled by the Holy Spirit in us.

The number of our days no longer matter – it’s how we fill each one of those days that begins to shape our points of view.

I don’t know about you, but I really need to get my mind off of me – and onto Jesus!

Blessings,

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