Thursday, April 27, 2017

Birthday Fun

Gabrielle Here:

Tuesday was my birthday and I turned thirty-seven, which means I was born in 1980. I always liked being born that year, because it made doing the age-math easier. In 1987, I was seven-years-old. In 1989, I was nine. In 1990, I was ten. And in the year 2000, I was twenty.

But I digress...to celebrate my birthday, I'd love to give something away! I was blessed with a wonderful birthday, filled with many of my favorite people and things, so I wanted to pass along the blessing to one of my friends here.


I'll send the winner a signed copy of one of my books, winner's choice. Just enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win. *US Residents Only.

I love birthdays--mine and others. I've even been known to tell random strangers it's my birthday... :)

Your Turn: When is your birthday? Do you enjoy birthdays, or do you prefer to ignore them?

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Getting your DNA test

Erica here:

So, have you seen the commercials for ancestry.com's DNA tests? You can purchase a kit, and when it arrives, you provide a DNA sample (in this case saliva,) return the test to ancestry.com, and in a few weeks, they will send you your results.



These results include a breakdown of your ethnicity, which seems to be one of the biggest draws of getting your DNA analyzed. Ancestry.com uses 26 different ethnic groups ranging from Native American to Eastern European to West African. From what I gather, this look into a person's ethnicity is often one of the biggest surprises. What you thought you heard Great Aunt Gussie say about you being French might actually not have been true.

But, though I have been tempted to try out this DNA analysis service, some questions arise that have prevented me from taking the leap.

1) Ancestry.com is not owned by the LDS church, but it does have close ties to the Mormon church. What does this tie to the Mormon church mean when ancestry.com is compiling statistics and data?

2) What does the laboratory and Ancestry.com do with your data, sample, and report? Do they archive those? Though they have a privacy policy in place, do they have control of the sample and data, or does the laboratory? What might be the future implications of having your DNA on file somewhere?

3) What will change for me if I have a DNA test? I am who I am. I have quite a bit of info already as to my ethnicity. Is curiosity enough of a reason to spend the money and enter into the spheres of influence of questions #1 & #2?


I know some folks who have used the DNA test on ancestry.com to help with family research. More than one woman I know who was adopted as a child has found a sibling later in life through this test. Some people have been surprised by the results, learning that what they thought was true about their heritage was actually not, and as a consequence, they were able to trace relatives hitherto unknown.

What about you? Have you thought about having a DNA test done? Have you used Ancestry.com?

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A bit of Inspiration . . .

No better way than to start the day than with an inspiring story of making a difference with the little things. How will you impact those in your week?

Check out this man's tale and be inspired to make a change, to tell the ones you love how much you love them!



Monday, April 24, 2017

Guest Post with Becky Wade: Adoption + Genealogy = Inspiration

Anne here. I am so excited to  in introduce Becky Wade to our coffee shop this week!

I've been a genealogy geek since I was thirteen, and in search of deeper ancestral connections my husband tested his DNA in 2010 and I followed in 2011. So the idea that Becky is not only an amazing person, but that her new release is inspired by the mysteries of genealogy research--rocks my genealogy geek-ness and my ancestry.com-nerd-ness. I can't wait to read her new story!

So, take it away, Becky....

Becky here.
Are you adopted? Do you have friends or family members who are?

My Aunt Carole and Uncle Bill adopted their two children, Chris and Aimee.

Chris and Aimee are very close in age to my two sisters and me. We grew up together. I knew that they'd been adopted, but it didn't really factor into my thinking or feelings. They were our first cousins, just like the rest of our first cousins. We all hunted for Easter eggs on Easter and wore construction paper pilgrim bonnets and Indian feathers on Thanksgiving. We had tea parties with grandma. We went on trips together. And we all took part in the annual Christmas Eve nativity play.
Here we are at one such homemade nativity play. Chris is the brown-haired boy. 
Aimee is in the yellow blanket on the far right. I'm standing. 
The girl in the middle and the baby are my two younger sisters.


Fast forward to 2010 and the debut of a new TV show called Who Do You Think You Are. Have you seen it? It ran on NBC from 2010-2012 and has since aired on TLC.

On the show, celebrities research their genealogy. Inevitably, they uncover all sorts of delicious surprises and scandals along the way. The show is a lovely blend of history and sleuthing and family and I find it fascinating!

Who Do You Think You Are gave me the idea to write a genealogist heroine. Which, in turn, made me wonder, Who can I pair her with? And what "project" can she and the hero work on together?

When he was in his twenties, my cousin Chris searched for and found his birth mother. Which made me think, My hero can be adopted. And because of an... hm?... inherited medical condition... he can be searching for his birth mother. But he's had no success finding her. So who does he call for help? Why, his friendly, smart, and single neighborhood genealogist.

That seed of a story idea became True to You, my new release.

While researching True to You, I read the below book, which speaks with sensitivity and depth about each member of the adoption triad: adoptees, adoptive parents,
and birth parents. It also provided numerous case studies of adoptees who'd been reunited with their birth parents, which was extremely helpful to me as a writer.


I spent quite a bit of time on sites that provided information on birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage certificates. I researched city directories. I viewed plenty of pictures of old census records, like the one below. Doesn't this make you wonder about the lives of the people listed?


All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed researching the subjects of adoption, birth mother search/reunion, and genealogy. In part, because of my own family connection through Chris and Aimee. In part, because — very simply — I find these topics intriguing.

True to You is a love story. But I also hope it's a story that will honor the members of the adoption triad and the genealogists whose work connects us to our ancestors.

Many thanks to the ladies of Coffee Cups & Camisoles for inviting me to visit! Because Nora Bradford, the heroine of True to You, loves books and tea, I've put together a giveaway with that theme just for you. Best of luck!


~~~~~~~~
Well readers, that's it!! Leave a comment for a chance to win. 
(Limited to U.S.)
Are you adopted?
Have you ever researched, or wanted to research your family ancestry?
Favorite tea?
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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, April 21, 2017

interview & Giveaway: Cara Luecht

We're pleased to have Cara Luecht back on our blog with her latest release!! 

Award winning author, Cara Luecht, lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin with her husband, David, and their children. In addition to freelance writing and marketing, Cara works as an English Instructor for a local college. Cara graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Currently, Cara is studying for a Masters of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Cara has four published novels: Soul Painter, Soul’s Prisoner, and Gathered Waters, and Devil in the Dust. Soul Painter and Soul’s Prisoner will be joined by a third novel in the series, Soul’s Cry, in 2017.

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Thank you so much for visiting us today here at the CCC blog! Can you tell us about your latest release and what inspired you to write the story?

Christian Fiction is called Inspirational Fiction for a reason: it should inspire the reader. Duh. But after going through a tough time in my own life, I noticed that the characters in the Christian Fiction books that I picked up usually experienced a happy ending. I don’t know about you, but not everything in my life always ends perfectly, and what I had been dealing with was the opposite of short term. So I began playing with the idea of why we seem to need a happy ending in order for something to be inspirational. Eventually, I decided that if I wanted to write something truly inspirational, it should look like real life.

The dust bowl was a natural setting. The people in the center of the country suffered the drought for a decade! That’s long term suffering! But they also kept their faith. I began asking what faith in times of that kind of hardship would have to look like, and Devil in the Dust was born!

Of all your characters in this story, which one did you enjoy writing the most and why?

I loved writing Emma. Because she is a mother and just trying her best to keep her family together, and struggling with how to encourage and guide her oldest daughter, Jessie, I found I had a lot in common with her. Emma is real and she is tender, but there is a resilience about her that creates a solid foundation for her family.

If you could cast your characters in a Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play them?

I should warn you that sports and entertainment fight for the lowest score on my trivia crack profile, but I’ll give it a go.

For Lillian, the pastor’s wife (the first voice in the book), I envision a Nicole Kidman inspired character (in her 20s).

For Jessie, I see someone who looks like young Emma Stone.

For Emma (Jessie’s mother), I think the actress should be Kirsten Dunst.

How did you decide on the setting/location for this novel?

For this one, I chose the location because of the severity of the drought.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it and why?

I don’t think there is. There may be genres I don’t see myself writing, but not subject matter. I probably will never write a YA novel because I always tend to complicate things beyond what the YA genre requires.

Moving on from your story, tell us a little about yourself. We’ll help! What literary character is most like you and why?

I have to admit that I just googled “literary charter quiz,” because I’m an idiot with these kinds of questions. The answer? Mr. Darcy. Which, strangely enough, rings pretty true.

I tend to be a bit of a loner. I like to spend time thinking. Most people might consider me a little standoffish when they first meet me, but if I let them in (something I am working on!), they see that I actually am quite sensitive and empathetic.

What strange writing habits do you have? Like standing on your head while you write with a pen between your teeth?

No to the head standing and teeth writing. Yes to temporarily uninstalling Facebook so that I can concentrate. Yes to chocolate. Yes to needing a clean desk.

Do you have a writing mentor, or another author who has inspired/encouraged you in some way?

The authors who have inspired me would have no idea, because I’m an introvert, and introverts just don’t do that kind of thing. LOL. In my mind I have a lot of mentors…they just don’t know it!

We talk a lot about faith and how it weaves throughout our fiction, here at the blog. How has your faith affected/or not affected your writing?

My faith has affected every aspect of my writing because I am a Christian, and what I create can’t help but be a reflection of who I am. I do not write Christian Fiction out of what I feel to be a calling, and I do not write it because I think I have some sort of special message the world needs to hear. Rather, each novel becomes an echo of my experiences as a wife, mother, teacher, student, musician, professional, friend, and follower of Christ. I write it because I have stories in my mind, and I have a desire to put them on paper.

I believe that we are all created in the image of God—which means we all have the ability to create different things. We can choose to use that ability or not to use it. I simply choose to use that ability.

Because Jaime has some darker elements to her split-time historical and contemporary romantic suspense coming out this year, she likes to ask weird questions. So, if you were responsible to write your own epitaph for your tombstone, what would it say?

I told you I was sick.

Anne is an insatiable romantic with a serious vintage aura in all she writes. Do you have fabulous love story in your family history that you could share with us in a few words? If not, what about your own?

My own <3 I met my husband the weekend I turned sixteen. We’ve been together ever since…married for 23 years. He is amazing.

Erica and Gabrielle both write sweet historical romances. How does romance influence your own writing?

Romance influences every part of my writing because there is a push-pull rhythm that I feel is essential to compelling writing. Every scene for me, even if not romance, is a love scene. If my characters are dealing with loss, it’s a love scene. If they are fighting, it’s a love scene. If they are afraid, it’s a love scene. If you think about it, everything we do is based on love. We go to work or stay home because we love our families and want to give them the best life possible. We do their laundry, or teach them to do their own laundry, because we love them. I try to write every scene with that same kind of tension.

We’d love you have you share a snippet from your novel to entice us and hook us! Please share something below:

June 1933
The wind stopped. The house grew quiet. Lillian kicked the oil rag out of the way and eased the kitchen door open to listen, to see if it was safe.
A single drop of rain splashed down on the rickety porch, and for a brief second Lillian could remember what the wood once looked like. But too soon the drop remembered where it was, that it had no place in the Oklahoma Panhandle, and it rolled, following a parched crack in the ever-present layer of dirt. And then it disappeared into the ground.
Lillian took a step out of the house and stretched her bare toes against the hot, soft dust. The screen door no longer hung in the way, and with a diminished need for the protective layer, no one
felt the urge to retrieve it. The frail door had made it through the first summer. But the second summer, when the drought refused to loosen its hold, the winds had ripped it from its hinges, stretched the frail metal spring to the breaking point, and set the door down against the fence. There it rested, with one board broken and a ripped screen, leaning on a fence post that once marked the entrance to the garden.
Now the fence marked nothing. An entrance to nowhere.
When the dust settled, she could see for miles from her kitchen door. Miles that once cradled golden fields of wheat, dew-covered footpaths, acres of grasses, and the occasional neighbor walking through to visit. Lillian took another hesitant step, careful not to stir the persistent cloud of soot that coated everything. In years past, the dirt—the rich topsoil of the Oklahoma territories—had been the source of life. Now that hope, the black wealth the old settlers had risked their lives for, smothered the city. It seeped into every crevice, into every building, into their lungs and ears. Their most valuable asset, once under their feet, now smothered their tiny town.
Lillian reached up to shade her eyes from the sun, looking for the stray cloud that had mistakenly dropped its burden.
Another drop fell. And then, another.
Lillian shuffled out of the shadow of the small farmhouse and up the side to what had been their front yard. Now dominated by rippling drifts of fine dirt, there wasn’t much left of the grass that used to dampen the toes of her shoes or her flowers with their heavy velvet petals.
But a neighbor still lived across the street.
Her listless children, long since worn free of the desire to run and carry on with sticks and games, stood in the yard looking up.
They’d seen it too.
The sun burned against Lillian’s blonde hair. At least, it used to be blonde. The layer of dust covered everything, including people, and where there had once been defining characteristics, now there was likeness. The Negro man on the old shanty claim just outside of town was the same color as the horde of white children across the street. The dirt made sure of that. It was, if nothing else, an
equalizer.
Lillian watched the shoeless children. There were five, and no one left in town thought it strange that they traipsed down the street without shoes. Shoes filled up with the soot. Add to it the summer heat, and the ensuing paste meant the freedom of bare feet outweighed the humiliation of it. At least for the children.
Lillian looked up at the lumbering brown cloud overhead.
“Here, over here!” A young boy jumped up at the sky, waving his arms and stamping around as if performing some kind of rain dance. The others joined in, hooting and calling to the meandering cloud.
Another drop fell, and then another, and for a brief second they watched each other from across the street while the rain crashed against the dirt in impossibly huge drops and a cloud of dust rose and fell from the miniature impacts.
Rivulets of water ran down Lillian’s arms, streaking through the dust. She glanced across the street where the mother of the children stood in the middle of their undignified splashing dance.
Lillian lifted up to her tiptoes and waved to the woman.
And then, her arm still in the air, the rain stopped.
The cloud moved on, almost as if it had been a mistake. Where it had blocked the sun, suddenly it didn’t, and it took only a matter of seconds for the hot rays to undo the rain’s damage. Lillian looked
down at the unchanged earth and then back up to Mrs. Owen and her children, but she had already retreated into the house.


 __________________________________________

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

An update

Erica Here:

Back in February, I posted about a project I had undertaken. In short, the largest cross-stitch I have ever attempted. You can read about the post HERE.

Although I haven't been able to devote as much time to stitching as I would like, I have made some progress. A tight deadline, March Madness, and a speaking trip to Milwaukee kept me from my floss and needle.

However, the deadline has been met, the Jayhawks exited the tournament in the Elite Eight, and the Milwaukee trip was taken and thoroughly enjoyed, so now I can stitch more. :)

Here is the project I'm working on:




It's Aimee Stewart's Heroes and Heroines. The finished piece will measure about 40" x 29" and be comprised of 713,286 stitches in 240 different colors of floss. I'm using 25 ct. fabric, which means there are 25 stitches per lineal inch. There are 625 stitches per square inch.

In February,  I had completed 2 pages of 170. Yeah. This is going to take me FOREVER!

As of April 15th, I had completed 6 pages.


I'm exited because the page I'm working on now finally has some people in it! I get to stitch Romeo and Juliet's kiss.

Because I know myself, and that I am bound to get tired working on the same piece for y...e...a...r...s... I have another one kitted up to start when I need a break from Heroes and Heroines. I can rotate between the two pieces and keep things fresh.

Here's my second project:




:) Isn't this one fun? I can't wait to start on it.

Both designs come from the amazing people at Heaven and Earth Designs. You can find their website here: http://heavenandearthdesigns.com/

So, which of the two do you like better? Which one would you want to hang in your house?

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Behind the Scenes: The Life of a Writer-Mom

Jaime here. I'm in the dark vortex of writing a novel, so my pal Teresa is filling in for me today with a fabulous behind-the-scenes look into life as a writer AND as a Mom. T? Thanks for being here!

____________________________________________

“How do you find time to write as a mom?”
If I had a dollar for every time I hear that question…well, you know. I wouldn’t have to wait for bestseller stardom to quit my day job. The only consolation is watching regret slowly creep across the glazed eyes of the person asking when I launch into an explanation. It’s pretty amusing. (Listen, I laugh so I won’t cry. Well, who I am kidding? I cry, too.)

All writers encounter road blocks, obstacles that keep them from maximum efficiency. I’m sharing today about being a writer-mom because it’s my perspective. Here are some antidotes about what the life of a writer-mom is like. If you’re a mom-writer too, then go change into your yoga pants, fill your mug with the now cold coffee left over in the pot….and laugh/cry with me.

The Time I Kicked My Kid

We currently reside in an apartment. The luxury of not having yard or repair responsibilities is not lost on me. But this means we’re limited on space. And so, I most often write at the kitchen table. My eight-year old daughter is in a phase of wanting to be near me all…the…time. It’s sweet, really. One evening, to be close by while writing she camped out under the kitchen table. With a blanket, pillow, iPad, snack, and the dog. When she finally went an entire five minutes without squirming, I became immersed in a scene and inadvertently kicked her in the head. Pretty hard. I waited to laugh until she got settled on the couch.*

The Time I Was Kicked Out of an Establishment

My husband, who is wonderfully supportive of my writing endeavors, works very long hours. Usually including evenings, leaving me on solo-parent duty during the week. But on the weekends, he often sends me too to write somewhere for several hours. My favorite place is a café/bakery near our apartment. They know me now—know what I’m working on, my usual order, that I prefer half and half for my coffee, and that I write there to escape the distractions of home. So, imagine my horror when the cute boy-man waiter approaches one late afternoon and tells me they’re closing in fifteen minutes for some insane corporate meeting or training or some insanity. “I promise I’ll be quiet. I can’t go home yet. They’ll be watching Frozen and the laundry won’t be done yet and I’ll have to talk to them.” No doubt I looked desperate, but he just shrugged his shoulders and smiled sheepishly. On my slow walk toward the front door, he handed me a bag with a blueberry scone and coupon for free coffee on my next visit. Poor boy-man….he tried.

The Time I Told a Little White Lie

I love the weekend days I get to write for several hours in one sitting. But most often, my writing time happens between the time my daughter goes to bed and my husband gets home from work—usually about 8:30 to 11:30pm. One school night I was feeling the pressure of an editing deadline. So, I might have taken advantage of my daughter watching her show on the TV and not the iPad (where she can check time easily) and told her that it was bedtime a whole 45 minutes earlier than it really was. “Wow, Mom, tonight went by fast.” *Side eye.* I know, I know! But those edits were hopping like little monkeys on my back, folks. I needed the house dark and quiet and primed for super stealthy word-ninja’ing. Thankfully it didn’t backfire and everybody won. I stayed on deadline and my daughter was extra rested the next morning. Win-win. Right?

The Time It All Paid Off

Just a few days ago, I finished content edits and was ready to send my book back to my editor for a final edit. To my surprise, my daughter excitedly asked if she could be the one to hit “send” on the email. She did, then we danced around the dining room together. She graced me with “Mom, I’m so proud of you. You’ve worked so hard.” And just like that, the late nights, wishing I could be a full time author, and writing in undisclosed locations suddenly didn’t feel so burdensome. She was watching my hard work and determination despite the inconveniences. Maybe one day she’ll have her own stories to tell about how she did something hard (and worth it) despite the obstacles.
Just maybe this writer-mom thing is the perfect predicament for me.


*Disclaimer: No children, animals, or husbands were injured in the making of this author’s writing career. I obviously love them very much – but we’ve got to laugh about this thing called life, yeah?
Are you a mom- or dad-writer? Or maybe a full-time day jobber…multitasking word ninja? How do you find time to write despite your obstacles?

About Teresa Tysinger

Check out Teresa’s debut novel, Someplace Familiar, coming out late this May! Download a free sample chapter here (http://teresatysingerfreebies.com). Find Someplace Familiar on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34496657-someplace-familiar) today. Available on Amazon soon!


Artist Livy Johnson needs a fresh start. That's what a broken heart and forgotten dreams can do to a person. On little more than a whim, she reclaims her grandmother’s old mountain cottage in quaint Laurel Cove, North Carolina and vows to restore its original charm. When she literally collides with childhood friend, Jack Bowdon, Livy wonders if she’s back for an entirely different reason.

Jack can’t believe his childhood crush is back. As the owner of Bowdon's Supplies, and once again the town's most eligible bachelor, he offers to help Livy with repairs. Together they embark on the project—and an undeniable whirlwind romance. 

But it’s not all smooth sailing. Can they survive the destructive pain of their pasts to discover God’s grace waiting to renovate their hearts?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Happy Easter!


May this Easter Season bring you hope and assurance. 
Have a blessed week!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Giveaway with 45+ Inspirational Historical Romances

Do you enjoy reading Inspirational Historical Romances? Here at Coffee Cups & Camisoles, that's what we're all about. Erica Vetsch and I are part of an amazing giveaway with over forty different authors. If you enter, you have a chance to win dozens of great books and a Kindle Fire!

Just click on the graphic and it will take you to the website to enter.


Here's a closer look at the books Erica and I have in the giveaway.



I hope you get a chance to enter. There are some wonderful authors represented in this group.

Your Turn: Have you ever won a prize? If so, what was it?

Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

German Proverbs from Frederick Pabst

Erica here.

Last week Gabrielle posted about our trip to Milwaukee to teach at a writer's conference. What a blast! There wasn't much quiet going on as we talked our way through the state of Wisconsin, a writer's conference, and several museums. :)



As I was cleaning out my suitcase and tote bag, I found a piece of paper from The Pabst Mansion that we had toured and that Gabe blogged about last week. The museum gave those who wanted one a transcription of a letter Captain Frederick Pabst had written to his children to be included in his will for them to read posthumously. In it he encourages them to be generous and unselfish toward one another, to be honest and noble, and to know that their greatest happiness would come, not from having great riches, but in knowing that they did right. He urges them to care for their mother when he is gone, and to always put each other first.

It's a lovely letter, written in 1899, five years before his death.


Also on the page is a bit more about one of my favorite rooms in the mansion, Captain Pabst's study. The room is full of beautiful wood paneling, bookshelves, and one of the most beautiful coffered ceilings I have ever seen.


Each of those carved wooden panels conceals a bookcase, and the window has bottle glass panes. The ceiling was polychromed with many wood stains and finishes to give the appearance of inlay. In four of the coffers are inscribed in German four of Pabst's favorite proverbs.

They say:

LEARN: A feeling heart suffers pain.

STRIVE: Bread eaten with thankfulness inspires a joyful heart.

HONOR: Never have I found anything more priceless than a quiet and true heart.

WAIT: Never soft, never loud what a friend has told you in confidence.

According to the handout: "Once can imagine Captain Pabst lighting a cigar in this room and thinking to himself his oft-quoted favorite phrase, "All's well and the goose hangs high!"

Do you have a favorite proverb or saying?

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What Do You Do When Someone Rises From The Dead?

I'm reading Francis Chan's "Forgotten God". Holy goodness ... literally ... it's about the Holy Spirit. The mysterious Person of the Trinity.  But, what struck me was something Chan said about the disciples. I'm paraphrasing. When Jesus told the disciples to stay and wait for the Holy Spirit -- they did. Because that's what you do when someone who died and then comes back to life gives you direction

I laughed. Out loud. Literally. It was such a small one-liner but made such big sense. It was a "no duh" moment. Think about it. Man dies. Man rises again. Man stands in front of you -- has defeated death -- is breathing. You can even touch him and your hand will stop, because He's flesh and bone, Not a ghost. Like, yeah. I think if He tells me to do something, I'm going to listen. Obey. Take it into consideration, at least.

Wow. BUT DO WE? Every day this Man who rose again, conquered the most evil of sin's consequences, and done what no one before or after had done of their own power -- every day He gives me directions. Good ones. Solid ones. It's not like following my GPS in downtown inner city and I lose connection to the satellites. No. Jesus' directions are GOOD ones. It's no duh. Follow them, you idiot. (I'm speaking to myself here)

But I don't. I argue. I ignore. I cast away. I absolve myself of any responsibility.

I asked my daughter the other night to stop pushing her ring bologna around her plate. A reasonable request as a mother. With big baby blues she replied matter-of-factly, "It's okay, Mommy, I'm just moving them over here." And she continued on her merry way. It wasn't a life changing moment. It didn't have earth shattering consequences. She just uncovered what it was like to have to clean off  a diningroom table after leaving multiple greasy handprints all over it. Pure logic. No. I'm not arguing. I'm just explaining why I'm not going to do it your way.

Sometimes Jesus doesn't ask us to do anything earth shaking. Just "stay here", "wait" ... "It's okay, Jesus, I'm just going to run ahead a bit. I can still see You, so it's fine. Don't worry."
He's not worried. But we should be.

Really. If you were face to face with a dead man and he was breathing, would you really question his authority?

Just a thought for the day. Maybe instant obedience should be something I consider more quickly ...

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday's Devo: Anxiety is Real!

But God is bigger!
Anne here.

Carribean Sea

Have you ever seen Nim's Island? I love that scene where Alex Rover, fiction author, is literally conquering her severe OCD and social anxiety to save a little girl who worships her fictional hero. It's the moment she leaves her apartment that I love. Seriously, if you haven't seen this, click on short trailer: (if it won't load, here's the link: Nim's Island Trailer, or just google it).

                                          

I have some anxiety. Not severe. Just enough to struggle with, as anyone would, but apparently more than my husband has. So this week on our cruise, I had to face my issues, and I took a different approach. I mean, when you're on a huge cruise ship and your morning devotion turns out to be Isaiah 43:2, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you,"---you tend to wonder what you might face for the day!
<Anne sighs>

Confession: I can be a control freak at times, <Anne winks at her husband> when I don't keep anxiety checked. Because everyone with anxiety will tell you if you can control things, then you can avoid calamity right?! Hahaha! <Anne smacks her forehead>

As a fiction writers we are constantly asking the question as we plot: what's the worst thing that could happen in this scene for the heroine or the hero? Then we make it happen, or at least we up the stakes. This works great in fiction writing. But in real life, when the author can't stop thinking, what's the worst thing that could happen--that's an issue! Especially when you're on a cruise, separated from your spouse and only travel partner while he's diving ninety feet below ocean surface and you are with 150% complete strangers petting sting rays, the boat takes you to a reef to snorkel, you reach the boat relieved to find your hubby made it back only to have him leave boat for shore to get a T-shirt one hour prior to departure, and you suddenly wonder if he took his passport with him so he can get back on the boat! <Yes, I know that was a run-on sentence, but anxiety in the brain is like a massive run-on sentence!>

I mean, what is the worst thing that can happen?

My mind started to race. My heart started to pound. What if? <Anne's crazy mind overthinks>
From getting the bends, to lost at sea, to "I'm an introvert on a boat of three thousand people alone flying back home without her spouse, carrying the luggage of two" <stupid,stupid,stupid, Anne shakes head>

The thing is, that if I let anxiety rule--I'm suddenly highly annoyed at the risks we've just taken. After all I wouldn't be having a heart-banging-crazy-thought moment right now if we'd just never gotten on the boat. The annoyance can then grow to snapping at each other, intense verbal slamming, to anger, or blame---when in reality, nothing even happened!

So, I gripped my silly stupid self and shook off that craaaazy. I said (yes, out loud like a crazy person), "anxiety, stop it! I'm on vacation and you aren't welcome here!" <Anne laughs in face of that silly old giant> Suddenly, by taking control of it, it began losing it's control on me, and I let go of my need to control my situation and my poor unsuspecting husband who was jauntily having a great adventure, not worried one whit about any of my silly imaginations.


I put on my iTunes and set it to "Battles" by the Afters. 
I replayed it three whole times. 
Next, there was the question--if I can't apparate a passport into Ted's pocket....and really God likely isn't going to apparate me either. So I ask what should I do God, if Ted seriously is held back in Grand Turk forever without his photo ID? <Anne worries her beach-ocean-loving husband just might be okay with that option> "Tell me what to do Father."  Search the cabin, if you find all his ID's, then he'll need you to take one and meet him at the port. <Anne breathes, tries to have peace, states out loud that she will have peace> "But what if the boat leaves while I'm doing this idiotic anxiety ridden stupidness?" But still, I reasoned that the Father's plan was quite logical, so I pocketed his passport even though I hadn't located his driver's license or wallet, meaning he likely had it on him, but by now my anxiety had eliminated that logic and deemed it untrustable. <Anne is by now quite aware that the Father is only going along with this for her sake, and has really zero worry about her spouse getting on the boat>

I glance at my watch. 4:55pm. On board time is 5pm sharp. Still no Ted at the cabin. So I leave to see if I can see him boarding, but from deck nine, the long line of cruisers waiting to embark is just a bunch of bobble-heads I can't identify. Part of me relaxes, he's got to be in that line. But part of me wonders if he's not. What if? So I trek down six more flights of stairs, work my way forward searching for a deck that overlooks the gangplank. I finally find it and an worker is scraping the outside of the door and I can't get it open. In broken English, he's telling me push harder on the door. <Anne's mind is now seeing a Viking strength shoulder ram into the blasted door> It finally opens, I rush to the railing, look over the edge. Just below me is a long long line, but alas, Ted is immediately in front of me. One out of a million in that moment. He looks up at me all relaxed-like: "hey, honey!"

"Hey, hun".  Sigh of relief. "I was just letting you know I'll be on deck nine drinking coffee, relaxing." He smiles big. He found his dive T-shirt to remember his fun adventure on Grand Turk. <Anne's mind races, wondering what her T-shirt for the day would look like--probably cra-cra girl!>

But later, at dinner, as we shared our story. I felt a secret triumph. Father cared enough to meet me where I was. On my excursion with total strangers, He put me beside a sweet couple who'd been married over fifty years. She was from Canada, he was from Scotland. The man had wanted to go diving that day too, but he's given it up due to health. They were entirely sympathetic and sweet to me. And really, I don't think God is a puppet, but I totally believe He ordered my steps to walk onto that deck just at the right moment when Ted was right there.  Because He is able.


Because God is bigger than all my "what-ifs" and all yours too. God is not my puppet, He's simply very real to me, even in all my imaginations.
I pray that my battle, and all my fiction "what-ifs", bring you a little closer to peace beyond all you can imagine.

I wish I was fearless. But I'm not. I wish I was more Anne-of-Green-Gables-walking-the-ridge-pole, but I'm more Alex-Rover-stuck-in-her-apartment. But I'm not sure being brave is being fearless. I think it's more about breathing in, and breathing out. It's more about stepping out anyway.
It's more about holding the Father's hand as you step out of the boat and onto the waters.

Readers: Anyone out there need a prayer for anxiety this week?
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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, April 7, 2017

Interview & #Giveaway with Author Davalynn Spencer

I, Jaime, am super happy to have Davalynn Spencer here at the CCC blog! She is a co-author and a fun storyteller for The Cowboy's Bride Romance Collection! And you can't go wrong with a good historical romantic western, can you?

Join me in welcoming Davalynn!

_________________________________

Thank you so much for visiting us today here at the CCC blog! Can you tell us about your latest release and what inspired you to write the story?
            Thank you for inviting me to share with you and your readers today. I love the camisole-coffee connection, because most of my writing involves both. My most recent collection release is “The Wrangler’s Woman” in Barbour’s The Cowboy’s Bride. And honestly, I love this story. There’s something about Corra Jameson and her “paper beaus” that just tugs at my heart.

Tell us about the setting of the story and why you chose that particular spot/area/region:
            This novella is set just up the road from where I live, along US Highway 50. Today the spot is known as Texas Creek, Colorado, but in 1881, it was Ford Junction – the place where train passengers could board the stage for a wild ride from the Arkansas River, up Texas Creek, and into the Wet Mountain Valley and the town of Westcliffe. The trek is as beautiful today as I imagine it was in the 1880s, and several ranches lie along the route. I placed Hanacker Land and Cattle Company right there along Texas Creek.

What is the primary spiritual theme of your book, and if that’s not applicable, what do you hope readers take away from reading your novel?
            I want readers to consider the fact that God is full of wonderful surprises that He wants to share if they’ll just follow His lead.

How did you determine what names to give your characters?
            Names tend to just pop into my head, often with a little help from my heritage. I love the sound of the name Corra, and always relate it to Cora in Last of the Mohicans. Jameson is my mother’s maiden name. It’s fun to pepper my family members’ names throughout my stories. Josiah Hanacker? Well, he just walked up and told me his name. And the horse, Rena? That was my mare’s name when I was in high school.

Which sub-character is your favorite and why?
            I adore secondary characters because they add such flavor to a story and draw out unexpected characteristics in the main hero and heroine. In this story, my favorite is Pop, Josiah’s ailing father.

Moving on from your story, tell us a little about yourself. 

What hobby do you enjoy in your “free” time (‘cause we know you have tons of free time!)
            When I’m not writing, I’m reading or teaching or walking my Queensland heeler, Blue the Cowdog. I teach Creative Writing at our community college.

Tell us about your pets (if you have some)!

            Well, you just met Blue, so that leaves his feline sidekicks, Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley. (Annie is an opportunist, and I frequently find her sitting beneath the bird feeder waiting for lunch to fly in.)

We talk a lot about faith and how it weaves throughout our fiction, here at the blog. How has your faith affected/or not affected your writing?
            Everyone has faith, but in what? The focus of our faith is what counts. My faith is in Jesus, and His presence permeates my life and thoughts, therefore it permeates my writing. It may not be overt, and I hope it is never preachy. But it’s there, in the lives of the characters, in a passing thought or conversation. I can’t leave it out.

Because Jaime has some darker elements to her split-time historical and contemporary romantic suspense coming out this year, she likes to ask weird questions. So, if you were to find yourself stranded in a creepy old house at night, who would you want with you to keep you company?
            A big, snarly dog. But seriously, I wouldn’t stay in the house! I’ll take my chances outside where I can see what’s comin’.

Anne, Erica, and Gabrielle all write sweet historical romances. How does romance influence your own writing?
            Romance is in everything I write, whether contemporary or historical. The challenge is coming up with a plot to go along with the romance raging in my head!

And for some extra fun . . .

If you could pick one superhero to save you from impending doom, who would it be and why?
            Well, if my son reads this (um, probably not) he’ll expect me to say Batman. So I’ll be a good Mom and say, “Batman.” But honestly, I’d much rather have Pecos Bill or Paul Bunyan. I know – not exactly superheroes.

If you could guest star in one TV show, what would be and what would your ideal role be?
            I’d love to be on NCIS, the original series, and I’d be a super sly and smart Mossad agent.

Name one significant heirloom or keepsake you have and why it’s important to you:
            My husband’s aunt recently gave me a silver fox evening jacket that was given to her by her aunt. It is from the 1930s and is absolutely beautiful and in pristine condition. I was surprised and honored to be the recipient since I am not a “blood” relative, so to speak. It will someday go to my daughter who is really into vintage clothing from the 40s-50s.

We’d love you have you share a snippet from your novel to entice us and hook us! J Please share something below:

            A hard ride up the canyon would sweat the woman out of his system. Lord knew, he was grateful she had what Jess needed. And he was confident that his daughter would be ready for Beatrice’s visit by summer’s end.
            He just hadn’t figured on Corra Jameson having what he needed, too.


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Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Writers Conference

This past weekend, Erica and I had the privilege of speaking at the Write Escape Conference near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was hosted by the Wisconsin chapter of ACFW. We left Erica's house Friday morning and drove the four and a half hours to Milwaukee. Along the way, we saw a lot of signs for historic sites, and if we didn't have a dinner engagement that evening, we would have veered off our route and never made it to Milwaukee. It was kind of like a driving tour. As we passed a sign, I'd Google it, and we'd learn all about something we didn't know existed.

Immediately upon arrival in Milwaukee, we toured the Pabst Mansion on what used to be Grand Avenue. At one time, there were about sixty mansions on Grand Avenue--now there are only five. The Pabst Mansion was gorgeous. 20,019 square feet of house, lovingly restored by a group of individuals who saved it from demolition in the 1970's.

The carriage entrance. People could enter at carriage height
and not have so many stairs to climb.


After our tour of the Pabst Mansion, we went to our hotel and dressed for the 1920's inspired dinner party the WI SE ACFW group hosted in our honor. It was held in the Castle, which is a 1920's mansion one of the members lives in. It was fun touring the mansion and meeting many of the group members. We enjoyed a lovely meal and spent a good part of the evening just visiting.




Saturday morning, Erica and I were up bright and early to attend the conference. We both taught two workshops and had a lot of fun getting to know the group a little better.

One of my workshops entitled: Ten Ways to Hook a Reader
Sunday, Erica and I spent six hours at the Milwaukee Public Library, had a great dinner at a Chinese Restaurant, and then spent the evening gabbing away in our hotel room.




Monday, we headed back toward Minnesota and stopped in Baraboo, Wisconsin to visit Jaime! We had lunch at a fun cafe and then spent several hours at the Circus Museum in her hometown. Baraboo, if you didn't know, was the winter headquarters of the Ringling Brothers Circus for almost thirty years. After leaving Baraboo, we stopped at a Culver's for lunch and left a couple of our books in their Little Free Library.

Jaime and Erica at the Circus Museum

Our books are on the bottom left
We made it to Erica's on Monday evening and then I had another three hour drive north to my house. It was an awesome weekend, filled with awesome people, and we made some great memories.

Your Turn: When was the last time you took a road trip? Where did you go? What was your highlight? 

Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Research Begins

Erica Here:

I am currently winding up a novel for a deadline, but...I'm already in the plotting stages for the next story.

Any guesses what my hero's occupation will be?



The research phase of writing historical romance is one of my favorite parts of the process. A part I could easily get lost in. History fascinates me. All history, but especially history of the American West.

Over the next couple of weeks, as I finish up my current project and get it turned in, I will be delving into history books, learning the terminology, getting a feel for the type of men who did this important, hard work, and beginning to form an heroic character in mind.

Who is one of your favorite historic characters, and what was your favorite subject in school? Extra sprinkles if your favorite subject was history, like mine was!

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

#CBA #ACFW April New #Book Releases

Heads up! It's time for April's new release list! Any of these books interest you? As usual, I (Jaime) will be plopping the book cover pic next to the ones going on my TBR! :)

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April 2017 New Releases from ACFW 

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon -- When a police chief and an ex-con join forces to keep a young man from falling into a life of crime, sparks fly. Given their backgrounds, it's not a promising match—but in Hope Harbor, anything is possible. (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker])

  Oh Baby by Delia Latham -- Dawni Manors seeks peace in Angel Falls, Texas. What she finds is a cowboy, an abandoned infant, and emotional chaos. If the Heart's Haven angels really are there, what in the world are they thinking? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])


General:

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti -- Where does a relationship expert turn when his wife leaves him and carries a tiny heartbeat with her? (General from Abingdon Press)

  Waiting for Butterflies by Karen Sargent -- When tragedy strikes, Maggie discovers a mother's love never ends--not even when her life does. Longing for her family after her sudden death, she becomes a lingering spirit and returns home where she helplessly witnesses her family's downward spiral in the aftermath of her passing. Her husband is haunted by past mistakes and struggles to redeem himself. Her teenage daughter silently drowns in her own guilt, secretly believing she caused her mother's death. Only her five-year-old, full of innocence, can sense her presence. Although limited by her family's grief and lack of faith, Maggie is determined to keep a sacred promise and save her family before her second chance runs out. (General from Walrus Publishing [Amphorae Publishing Group])

Mystery:

Sunset in Old Savannah by Mary Ellis -- When a philandering husband turns up dead, two crack detectives find more suspects than moss-draped oaks in charming old Savannah, including a scheming business partner, a resentful mistress, and a ne'er-do-well brother. (Mystery from Harvest House Publishers)

Historical:

Above Rubies by Keely Brooke Keith -- In 1863, young teacher Olivia Owens establishes the first school in the remote settlement of Good Springs while finding love. (Historical, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

A Rose So Fair by Myra Johnson -- Caleb Wieland would give anything to win farm girl Rose Linwood's heart, but Rose's stubborn independence is proving as thorny as the flower for which she's named. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

  Under the Same Sky by Cynthia Roemer -- In 1854 Illinois, Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents' farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she's ever known and the man she's begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis. Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)

  the-pony-express-collection The Pony Express Romance Collection by Barbara Tifft Blakey, Mary Davis, Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Maureen Lang, Debby Lee, Donna Schlachter, Connie Stevens and Pegg Thomas -- Nine historical romances revive the brief era of the Pony Express. Join the race from Missouri, across the plains and mountains to California and back again as brave Pony Express riders and their supporters along the route work to get mail across country in just ten days. It is an outstanding task in the years 1860 to 1861, and only a few are up to the job. Faced with challenges of terrain, weather, hostile natives, sickness, and more, can these adventurous pioneers hold fast, and can they also find lasting love in the midst of daily trials? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Romantic Suspense:

Plain Target by Dana R. Lynn -- Horse trainer Jess McGrath only wants to clear her disgraced brother's name, but enemies keep coming out of the woodwork and danger only gets closer. Jess soon learns that no place is safe—and no one can be trusted…except for the last white knight she'd ever expect to ride to her rescue. Paramedic Seth Travis was the boy behind her high school humiliation, but he's also the man keeping her alive. When they find sanctuary in the Amish community, can they uncover answers in time to stop a killer—and resolve their past in time to build a future together? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

  Dangerous Testimony by Dana Mentink -- Four weeks before she's set to testify at a gang murder trial, someone is determined to make sure that Candace Gallagher Andrews never takes the stand. When nowhere is safe for the private investigator or her little girl, Candace turns to the only person she can trust—longtime friend and former navy SEAL Marco Quidel. For Marco, protecting Candace is not just another duty. As the trial date nears and the killer stalks ever closer, Marco knows fear for the first time—the fear of losing Candace and her daughter. But while Marco begins seeing Candace as more than just a friend, her late husband's memory is never far from her mind. So he must keep Candace alive—and not get emotionally involved—long enough to put away a killer. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Deep Extraction by DiAnn Mills -- Special Agent Tori Templeton is determined to find who killed her best friend's husband. Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan's personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer?and to each other?the more intent someone is on silencing them for good.
(Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)

  final-verdict Final Verdict by Jessica R. Patch -- When Aurora Daniels becomes the target of someone seeking their own twisted justice, Sheriff Beckett Marsh is the only one who can rescue her. As a public defender, Aurora has angered plenty of people in town—and in her past. And while Beckett constantly clashes with the feisty lawyer professionally, it's his duty to protect and serve. Guarding her 24/7 is now his sole assignment. He may not have been able to save his fiancée from a dangerous felon, but he'll do whatever it takes to keep Aurora alive. Even if working with her to catch and convict this ruthless killer puts his heart in the crosshairs. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Guardian by Terri Reed -- When a fellow FBI agent is kidnapped and a protected witness vanishes, Leo Gallagher will stop at nothing to find them both. So when he discovers a link between the case and a single mother in Wyoming, Leo and his trusty K-9 partner rush to question Alicia Duncan. Could she be the key to locating the missing persons? Not if a killer has anything to say about it. Someone is determined to keep Alicia from talking, so Leo and his chocolate Lab must keep her and her little boy safe on their family ranch. With danger lurking around every corner, Leo must work overtime to not lose another person who's important to him. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

witch Witch by Denise Weimer -- Having restored Michael Johnson's ancestors' house and apothecary shop and begun applying the lessons of family and forgiveness unearthed from the past, Jennifer Rushmore expects to complete her first preservation job with the simple relocation of a log home. But as her crew reconstructs the 1787 cabin, home to the first Dunham doctor, attacks on those involved throw suspicion on neighbors and friends alike. And while Jennifer has trusted God and Michael with the pain of her past, it appears Michael's been keeping his own secrets. Will she use a dream job offer from Savannah as an escape, or will a haunting tale from a Colonial diary convince her to rely on the faithfulness of his love? (Romantic Suspense from Canterbury House Publishing)
Speculative Romance/Fantasy:

The Fairetellings Series (Books 1 through 3) by Kristen Reed -- Discover a trio of enchanting novellas inspired by three beloved fairy tales: Cinderella, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast. (Speculative Romance/Fantasy, Independently Published)

Which novels are going on your TBR list??