Wednesday, July 1, 2015

RELEASE DAY! ~ The Cactus Creek Challenge

Yesterday Jaime and I met up at about the halfway point between our houses for a coffee shop writer's day. It was a productive day, and we netted almost 10,000 words between us. (Plus the consumption of some delicious coffee/chocolate drinks.)


It put me in mind of a similar day about 18 months ago when we met at that same coffee shop and I shared a story idea with Jaime that I was working on. A western 'fish out of water' story called The Cactus Creek Challenge.

A couple of weeks later, Jaime messaged me to say she'd been looking all over her house, every book bag, every bookshelf for that story where the sheriff and the schoolteacher swap places...then she remembered that it wasn't written yet! I have treasured that compliment for a long time. :)

Well, today, is the official release day of that story, and I'm so excited and proud to hold this book in my hands.

On this day of celebration, I'd like to give a shout out to a few folks. To Annie Tipton, Becky Germany, and JoAnn Simmons who are the best editors ever. To Shalyn Sattler, my marketing liaison at Barbour/Shiloh Run, who has celebrated every review and endorsement of The Cactus Creek Challenge with me. To my newly-formed Posse, who are even now spreading the word about this new release through reviews and tweets and facebook posts and pinterest pins. And to my family, who are always encouraging. I couldn't do any of this without you.

So here it is, finally. Release Day for The Cactus Creek Challenge. My book baby is launched out into the world for readers to enjoy.






In a bit of a bonus, today is also release day for The Convenient Bride Collection, a set of novellas all about marriages of convenience. My story is titled A Bride for Bear, and I love crusty old Bear and the three little darling girls who turn his world upside-down. I'm thrilled to be able to share this release day with our own Gabrielle Meyer, whose story A Groom for Josette is also in this collection.

We've got some fun giveaways planned for later in this month to celebrate the release of these books, so I hope you'll return here to find out about what we've got in store.



Here is a bit about The Cactus Creek Challenge:

Anything he can do, I can do better. At least that was what Cassie Bucknell thought before she pinned on Ben Wilder’s badge and took to patrolling the streets of Cactus Creek, Texas. Cassie has been in love with Ben since primer school, but Ben treats her like a little sister. When they are picked to swap jobs for a month as part of the annual Cactus Creek Challenge in their Texas hometown, the schoolhouse is thrown into an uproar, the jail becomes a temporary bank vault, and Cassie and Ben square off in a battle of wills that becomes a battle for their hearts.

If you're interested in learning more, reading an excerpt, and seeing the back cover, here is the amazon.com link:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1630589276/ref=s9_psimh_gw_p14_d0_i3?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=desktop-1&pf_rd_r=1YH36BXJE0A02HYDHJA6&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=2118394622&pf_rd_i=desktop

And the link to The Convenient Bride Collection is here:

http://www.amazon.com/Convenient-Bride-Collection-Partnerships-Necessity/dp/1634090977/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Erica Vetsch:
Executive Assistant
Earl Grey Aficionado 
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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mom Fail

It was a mom-fail sort of night last night. That moment you look back and wonder who that horrid woman is who calls herself a mother? That moment you make your 3 yr old little boy cry and your 5 yr old little girl run from the room in tears.

My day started fine and quickly spiraled into a day of demands. Jaime this. Jaime that. Jaime. Jaime. Jaime!!! And then by the time I left work and headed to a charitable dinner my head was spinning. A few more Jaimes and it was time to get my kids. Daddy was away for the evening so I was going solo. And my cell phone was going off for work. I normally ignore it , but there were some critical problems and I am out of office today. 

Insert a million "Mommy, Momma, and MOMMYs" and I lost it. I did. I had no more energy to give. My brain reached the dry zone of no life left and yet the demands were still there and very real. 

Then Peter Pans bedtime snack bar broke in half and he started to cry. "It's just a bar!" I yelled. Yes. I yelled. Sigh. And my sensitive Peter Pan cried so hard he did the whole forget to breathe thing. Meanwhile, my daughter is crying on the couch and I realized the day had robbed me of energy and emotion for my own precious children. 

I don't even have a great profound ending to this post. It was just a mom fail of a night finished by composing this post on my phone cause my computer battery is dead. 

Ever feel like the worst sort of human? Yeah. Me too. Sigh.


_______________________________________

Jaime Wright -
"The Cowgirl's Lasso", Coming 2016, Barbour Publishing


Spirited and gritty turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional Coffee Drinker. Director of Development & Associate Relations and specializes in sarcasm :)
- Represented by: Books & Such Literary Agency

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Doubly Blessed

When we chose the name Emily for our newborn daughter more than twenty-one years ago, no one was named Emily.

Zilch.

Well, okay, we knew of one or two. So we conspired to keep the lovely name to ourselves until the appointed day. Well, we must have lived in a bubble where only Ashley's, Jessica's, Sarah's, and Brittany's existed. For when we proudly announced our uniquely chosen name: Emily Elizabeth (and no, we didn't know about the Big Red Dog)...that's when we discovered Emily had shot to the top of the name charts!

No matter how many Emily's are in the world, there's only one who is ours and we love her very much!!!


So, when it was time to name child #2, we just chucked the idea of being unique and went with our hearts. And along came Calvin Benjamin.

From the start, we've prayed for their future spouses.
Over the years, there've been moments when I wondered what those prayers were accomplishing.
How many days and nights of puking, stinking diapers, screaming toddler wars, skinned knees, and after- school broken hearts had our prayers effected?
Will Emily's heart be pursued by a man of God some day?
Will Ben know her when he's found her?
What tragedy or illness have we prayed through unwitting?
What seeds of faith were born on the wings of our hopes and prayers?
Will the ones the Lord brings to each of them honor the heart of our daughter, our son--as we have, as the Father does?

We've emptied our nest last year.
I was focused on me and how I was navigating it all.
Silly me.

Because then this happened....


Our son got engaged on Saturday!! And suddenly, we've gained another Emily! Ben's Emily!
Yay! Our nest is fuller, not emptier!

When Emily's mother sent me a great little note, reminding me that they'd prayed for Ben since Emily was born--I got weepy. Suddenly I realized, I was the recipient, Ben was the recipient, of two decades of prayers. How comforting to know we were not alone in our child-rearing, and that God watches over the plans of those who turn their hearts to Him.

And we pray for Ben and his Emily, and our Emily and her "Mr. X" (identity yet unknown, though we are sure he's not been thrown under a bus somewhere!): 
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Readers: 
Do you pray for your children's future spouses?
Do you have favorite verses to pray over your children?
Did you ever imagine while in the thick of parenting trenches, that another mother somewhere was praying over you and your child?
-------------
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Friday, June 26, 2015

Interview & #Giveaway with Christine Johnson - Love's Rescue

This novel has been on my radar for awhile as a definite TBR! I'm super-dee-duper excited (as my daughter would holler) to have Christine Johnson join us today with a beautiful historical romance that has such a to-die-for cover!!

____________________________________

1. What inspired your story idea for Love's Rescue?


The location (Florida Keys) and their history. My husband and I have been spending time there for decades, and I loved the stories of wrecking and wreckers. I had to create a story with a wrecker hero!

2. What is your favorite characteristic about your story’s hero and heroine?

Their adherence to honor, even when it could cost them their heart’s desire. What a choice!

3. Please tell us about the spiritual theme of your story you hope every reader is challenged by:

Forgiveness and how a person can extend forgiveness to someone who profoundly hurt them.

4. Jaime & Anne are coffee addicts. Erica & Gabrielle are tea lovers. What about you? Coffee or Tea?
Tea. Black, green, white. I love them all, though Earl Grey is still my favorite. When I set foot in a tea shop, I’m in heaven. The aromas! Ahhh…

5. Favorite historical movie? Or mini-series?

This is so difficult! I love the BBC/A&E version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. It was true to the book while adding depth through Darcy’s perspective. With my husband, we love the Horatio Hornblower movies put out by BBC/A&E. I can’t get him to watch any of the Jane Austen movies or
miniseries, LOL. And then…I could go on and on. My shelves are stocked with DVDs of historical movies and miniseries.

6. While Jaime loves to take selfies, and Erica & Gabe love museums, Anne loves Pinterest and food pics. Share a food pic, a favorite family recipe, or link us to your latest pin on Pinterest.

Here’s a twist. This is a photo of my grandmother’s old (1920s) cookbook open to the recipe for English Plum Duff. Think “plum pudding.” She traditionally made this for Christmas dinner. It was so rich yet so memorable that I can taste it now, many years after my grandma’s passing.



7. Always wanted to be an author? Or surprised your path led you to publish?

Some part of me always loved writing, but I never considered it a profession until many, many years later. After numerous jobs, I settled into librarianship. All those beautiful books spurred me to press forward with writing.

8. Favorite century to read? To write? To watch on TV or in a movie?

This is tough to pin down. I love to read and watch movies set in late medieval, renaissance, and Regency through the Roaring Twenties time periods. My writing reflects that. Before publication, I wrote medieval and 19th c. My published books range from 1850 to the mid-1920s.


9. Favorite heroine of all time, and why?

Another toughie! I love Elizabeth Bennett, of course, because she acts decisively even when wrong. She’s smart yet doesn’t quite see herself clearly, something we all struggle with. Then there’s Jo March in Little Women, filled with spunk and enthusiasm.

__________________________________

Connect up with Christine here:

Website: http://christineelizabethjohnson.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ChristineJohnsonAuthor
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ChristineJWrite
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/ChristineJWrite

Here's a little about Love's Rescue: 

When her mother dies, Elizabeth Benjamin heads home to Key West, determined to transform herself into the perfect Southern belle her parents always wished her to be. But nothing goes according to plan. Her crippled brother resents her, the servants do not obey her, and Rourke O'Malley, the dashing man she vowed to forget, refuses to relinquish his hold on her heart. Worst of all, it becomes painfully obvious that her father is not the upright man he appears to be.

As family secrets come to light, Elizabeth is faced with a difficult choice: to do her duty and abandon her dreams, or to leave her life of privilege behind to chase the man her father sees as little better than a pirate.

From the first emotional page, author Christine Johnson throws readers into a world of impossible choices, hidden desires, and heart-melting romance in the steamy south. Readers will cheer for Elizabeth and Rourke as they battle the odds and the elements to secure their future.

Enter to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Love's Rescue and a closet sachet!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner of Karen Witemeyer's A Worthy Pursuit: Trixi!! Watch for an email!
_________________________________


Jaime Wright -
"The Cowgirl's Lasso", Coming 2016, Barbour Publishing


Spirited and gritty turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional Coffee Drinker. Director of Development & Associate Relations and specializes in sarcasm :)


- Represented by: Books & Such Literary Agency

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Practice Hospitality: Love in Action

Hospitality:
1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.
2. the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.
 
I've always loved gathering a crowd together. It started when I was a young girl and my parents hosted family holidays. My mom is from a family of ten and my dad is from a family of nine, that means dozens of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Every weekend there was someone at our house visiting.

I loved being with people and creating good memories. One day, I wanted to host my own guests, and I imagined how wonderful it would be.
 
But then I grew up and I quickly realized hosting is a lot of work! Not to mention it's intimidating. Suddenly, I felt insecure about my home, my cooking, my ability to converse. Frankly, it stressed me out and I shied away from the idea.
 
But then God reminded me of the Bible verses my husband and I chose for our wedding day.
 
Romans 12:9-13, 15
Love in Action
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality... Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."  (Italics mine)
 
Share...Practice hospitality...Rejoice and mourn with others...
 
Share. It doesn't matter how much or how little God has given us, He still tells us to share what we have. The boy in Matthew 14 only had five loaves of bread and two fish, yet he offered them to Christ and Christ multiplied the little he had to feed five thousand people. Can't God do the same with the little I have? Even if all we can offer is our love, sometimes that's all someone needs. Sharing doesn't have to mean we share our home, our food, or our resources. Sharing can simply mean a listening ear or an understanding heart. We can do this anywhere, at any time.
 
Practice Hospitality. The key word here is practice. I was afraid to entertain, because I wanted everything to be perfect, and it rarely was. God reminded me of this verse in the Book of Romans and I realized all He asked me to do was keep practicing.

Eventually, I learned to relax and let the event flow naturally. I've found that my guests can relax if I'm relaxed. My guests are always good-willed and kind. Even if something doesn't turn out how I had planned, they don't mind a bit and I chalk it up as practice. :)

Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn. This is maybe the most important reason for being hospitable. I love celebrating with friends who are reaching milestones or achieving accomplishments in their lives. It's fun to be there for all the high points. New babies. New jobs. New homes. Completing marathons. Children's successes. But I also want to be there for friends when life isn't going as planned, when they're mourning the loss of a pregnancy, when they don't get the job they had hoped for, when they lose a home, when they can't race because of an injury, or when they're struggling with their children.

True friendship is made up of all the highs and lows of life.


This past weekend we had over forty friends and family at our house for a summer get together. We swam in the river, played games, ate a delicious potluck meal, made s'mores, watched fireworks over the water, and laughed for hours.

Did everything go as planned? No. A tree fell down in our yard two days before the party. A big project we had hoped to finish in the backyard was still torn up. It rained the night before and part of the lawn was a mud pit. But we made the best of it and created wonderful memories. I've had enough practice at this hospitality thing to be relaxed and have fun.
 

 


 
Your Turn: Do you enjoy entertaining guests? What is your favorite memory from hosting a party? What do you enjoy about going to a friend's house? Do you have a fun tip for hosting? 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Do Book Reviews Matter?


This past week, I finalized the list for The Vetsch Posse, a group of my readers who have agreed to become "Influencers" for my books. (Influencers use their social media platforms, book clubs, library contacts, etc. to get the word out about an author and his/her books.)

I wound up with about 25 super-awesome folks who have saddled up with me to scour the prairie for new readers.

As posse members, these fine folks have many important jobs, but one of the most important is leaving reviews of the books they read. Amazon, B&N, FictionFinder, Goodreads, ChristianBook, and anywhere else they shop or talk about books.

When putting together the posse, and what expectations would be on both sides, I knew I wanted my posse to review books, but part of me wondered if those reviews mattered to anyone but the author of the book.

So I considered my own habits. When looking for a new book to read, I browse amazon or Christianbook, and if I am not familiar with an author, I scroll through the reviews to see what other readers are saying.

I also did a little online research looking for information on the effectiveness of product reviews. Did you know that a whopping 88% of shoppers check reviews before they make a purchase? According to econsultancy.com, almost 90% of shoppers sometimes or always check reviews, and 60% of shoppers are likely to purchase from a site that has reviews. Yowza!

Word-of-mouth has always been the best way to sell books, and WOM used to be just a friend's recommendation, but now word-of-mouth also encompasses online reviews. Your book can suddenly have a lot of 'friends' talking about it. (Hopefully in a positive way!)

I have been blessed to have some lovely reviews on my work, and I am grateful for them. I also try to review books I read, sort of paying it forward. (In a future post, we can talk about how to write a review and what makes for a good, helpful review. :) )

So, a few questions for you:

Do you review books online?

Do you read reviews before making a purchase?

How influential are reviews in your online buying experience?

Erica Vetsch:
Executive Assistant
Earl Grey Aficionado 
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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How to Be A Hater


I have learned to hate.

Hate is a driving force that spurs me to action, opinion, and determination. Weirded out yet? Yeah. I guess that’s not your typical opening statement for an inspirational blog. .But hate — in the correct context — can make a lot of sense.

Paul the Apostle stated it best when he said: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15 ESV)

I do the very thing that I hate. There is so much of my sinful self that I have come to despise. My impatience is one of them. When I have projects to complete, I become driven — focused — and my kids suffer. The other night Kokomo Jo was following me close on my heels, like a needy little puppy dog. I turned and snapped “go watch Strawberry Shortcake!”

Like really — what kid doesn’t want their mother to tell them to watch TV? The look in her big baby blues just about killed me. Sadness. Mommy didn’t want her help, or her prancing on tiptoes singing. Mommy was too busy. She hung her head and without question returned to her banishment on the couch and the cheerful cartoons went over her head as she buried her face in her Blanky.

I have come to hate the darkness inside of me.

“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” (Romans 7:18 ESV)

As humanity, we have formed a culture that fights for the right to act on our fleshly impulses. It is an attitude of entitlement. But as Paul defines, those impulses are “nothing good”. Strangely enough, in our fight for human rights, we have also fought for the right to damage, wound, impale, break, and scar those around us. For sin does not only affect ourselves. It does not only affect our relationship to God. It touches others in a rippling effect of pain.

“I have the desire to do what is right…” — I do. I really do. “…but not the ability to carry it out.” 

Failure. Morbid utter condemnation.

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25a ESV)

I stared at my daughter while I was consumed with hatred for the sin inside of me that caused me to selfishly snap at my child, wounding her spirit of joy and creating even a smidgeon of doubt that I wanted her presence in my life.

“Are you mad at me, honey?”

She nodded.

“I’m sorry.” I whispered it. She turned and her cheeks stretched into a smile. Sitting up, she patted my knee with all the motherly love she could muster.

“It’s okay, Momma.”

She understood. Why? Because she’s already been there too. In her own tiny sinful self, she knows what it’s like to wound. She knows what it’s like to ask forgiveness.

Thanks be to God … to Jesus Christ our Lord … for in and of myself, I will continue to wound, to scar, to walk in darkness. But in Jesus, I find life, healing, strength, and the ability to claim His victory over my sinful self.

I have learned to love. I have learned to love life — and the righteousness found therein.

What have you learned to hate about your old nature and/or what new character has God recently taught you?

______________________________________________

Jaime Wright -
"The Cowgirl's Lasso", Coming 2016, Barbour Publishing

Spirited and gritty turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Youth leader.Professional Coffee Drinker. Works in HR and specializes in sarcasm :)

- Represented by: Books & Such Literary Agency

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