Friday, June 23, 2017

Interview & Giveaway with Tricia Goyer



Tricia, 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?

My novel A Secret Courage is inspired by female photo investigators during World War II. Women from the United Kingdom and the United States joined together to closely examine the reconnaissance photos taken behind enemy lines.
            At first I wanted to write about the American and British codebreakers in Bletchley Park during World War II. Even though this has been written about a number of times I still thought I could come up with an interesting story. Yet as I researched more about female roles in World War II I came upon a group of women who were just as interesting but had very little written about them. These photo investigators worked at Danesfield House in Medmenham during World War II, about an hour away from London. They greatly impacted the war efforts. They studied millions of photos and helped to discover secret weapons that Hitler had tried to hide. Without their efforts the war could have taken a different turn.

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

Oh, do I have to pick between Emma and Will? I loved them both but Emma was special because as an American she traveled to England with the intention of volunteering for the war effort, even before the United States was involved. It was exciting to realize what these women experienced. I can’t imagine the excitement when figuring out that a shoe factory in Germany was actually producing arms, all due to clues from photos and investigative work. At the same time, these women also were the first to witness the destruction brought on by American bombs to targeted areas that were also close to civilizations. Emma became real to me as she struggled through the highs and lows of her emotions brought on by her service.

If you could cast your characters in a Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play them?
I’d pick Natalie Portman to play Emma and Nicholas Hoult to be Will, complete with British accent.

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

That’s easy! The main location of the photo recon unit was at a grand estate called Danesfield House in the village of Medmenham, on the Thames River. It was a beautiful location to write about.

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

I’m sort of scared to say “never” but I don’t think I could write a novel about children being abused. As a mom of ten children—seven adopted—that hits too close to home.

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

Does the old woman in the shoe count as a literary figure? Other than that maybe Ma Ingalls. We have a houseful of children that I homeschool. Maybe that’s why those characters came to mind!

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

Well, nothing like standing on my head … but I’ve gotten into the habit of waking up at 3:00-4:00 a.m. and writing for an hour or two and then going back to sleep for another hour or so. I don’t mean to wake up but I do. Maybe that’s because my mind has figured out that’s the one time I’ll have a completely quiet house!

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

Robin Jones Gunn was my first writing mentor. I met her at the Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s conference in 1994. I was only 22-years-old, and she was so encouraging. Since that time she’s become a dear friend.

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 impacts every part of my writing. There is a spiritual story arc in every one of my novels. I often tell people that the relationship between my characters and God is just as important as my characters relationship with each other. God impacts every part of my lives and that’s true of my characters too.

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?

She read God’s Word and then did what it said.

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 love story is most fabulous. When I was an abandoned 17-year-old pregnant teen I dedicated my life to God and started praying for a future husband who would love me and love my child. After I had my son Cory, a friendship started with my pastor’s son and it soon blossomed into more. We were married when Cory was 9 months old and have been married for 27 years.

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

All of my novels have romance—some more than others. I would say my novels have romantic elements but they are not completely romance novels. My characters get one kiss, maybe two … but the reader is ready for them by the time they happen!

And for some extra fun . . .

If you could pick one superhero to save you from impending doom, who would it be and why?
Who wouldn’t want to be carried through the atmosphere by Superman?!


If you could guest star in one TV show, what would be and what would your ideal role be?

I’d LOVE to join the cast of the Great British Baking Show as a judge. Yum!


Name one significant heirloom or keepsake you have and why it’s important to you:

I have my grandmother’s baby t-shirt from 1929 in a shadowbox on my wall. My 87-year-old grandma lives with me, too. Can I call her a keepsake? :)


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

Click the link to my first two chapters: A Secret Courage




Newsletter: Click to Register

Readers: Please comment to enter the free give-away.
Have you ever heard of English lady recon in WWII?
Did your grandmother's have any war effort roles or stories?
If your grandparents are living, I challenge you to interview them about the war effort!


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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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Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Fine Art of...Waiting

Gabrielle Here:

Like many parents today, my husband and I struggle with teaching our children patience. We've become addicted to instant gratification. We've lost the fine art of waiting. We want it, we get it.

Remember the old days when you'd have to use a whole roll of 24 exposures on your camera, then bring the roll to the store, fill out that envelope, and then wait a week for the pictures to come back? Remember when a picture you were waiting for ended up being blurry or someone blinked? And there was no re-dos? You were stuck with what you had.

Now, we take a picture (or ten), look at them quickly on our phone, and if we don't like how they look, we all pose again and take another, then we upload it to social media and share it with the world. Instant gratification.

What about a research project? Remember getting dropped off at the library (or driving your bike), going to the index files, looking up titles that would pertain to your project, finding them on the shelf, and then pouring over them until you found what you wanted? Sometimes, you'd write notes on your spiral bound notebook, other times you'd take it to the Xerox machine and pay five or ten cents for a copy.

Now, we go to Google, type in some keywords, and voila! all we need to know is literally at the tip of our fingers. Instant gratification.

We live in a different world today than the one we grew up in, so how do we teach children the art of waiting? (How do we recall it ourselves...?)

One way we've found is through seeds.


Our son is crazy about plants. He loves flowers, vegetables, fruit--pretty much anything that grows. Because of this, we've chosen to cultivate that love (no pun intended!) and have encouraged him to plant as much as his little heart desires.

This is just one of the plants he has growing
in our yard. I'm not even sure what it is.
This has been a wonderful way to teach him the art of waiting. He loves to look at the packet of seeds and see how long he has to wait before he'll see the sprout appear. Sometimes, he makes a chart and checks each day off the calendar.



He's diligent to water his seeds, checking in on them every day, waiting to see that first little green leaf.


When it does, there is always great rejoicing in our home.


Your Turn: Are you a patient person? What are you willing to be patient for? Have you struggled with the instant gratification in our culture? What ways have you found to teach the next generation patience?

Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Erica here:

This is a super-crammed week for me, arriving home from Florida in the early hours of Wednesday and heading out Friday morning for Gabe's house.

It seems as if this summer has filled up rapidly with all kinds of things, from trips to meetings to deadlines to...Jury Duty.



Yep. I got summoned for Jury Duty in July. I don't know how I feel about this, because I find the whole process of jurisprudence interesting, and I love watching people...but...jury duty? Ugh!

Have you ever served on a jury? 



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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

When Your Life Flips Upside Down

Hey all!! Guest blogger and author, Mikal Dawn is here today! If you haven't met her, she is a load of laughs, has a marvelous streak of sarcasm, is a woman of faith, and has a heart far larger than her cup of coffee. Mikal Dawn is an inspirational romance author, wedding enthusiast, and proud military wife. By day, she works as an administrative assistant for an international ministry, serves in her church’s library, runs her kids to all their sports, and drinks lots of coffee. By night, she talks to figments of her imagination as she attempts to write while dinner is burning. And drinks lots of coffee. When she isn’t writing about faith, fun, and forever, she is obsessively scouring Pinterest (with coffee in hand, of course!) for wedding ideas for her characters.

Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Mikal now lives in Nebraska with her husband, their three children, and one ferocious feline. Connect with Mikal on mikaldawn.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.So grab your cuppa-whatever and enjoy ...

__________________________

Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped—turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there. I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called…oh. Whoops.
Wrong audience. But the song is in your head now, isn’t it? If you’re a 90s child like me, at least. Ha!

But I do have a story to tell you about how my life got flipped, turned upside down. (Seriously. The lyrics are really stuck in my head now.) But rather than my mum sending me to live with my wealthy aunt and uncle, God sent me my husband.

I made some bad choices as a younger adult, and I ended up with a lot of bitterness that I needed to let go of. I used to joke that I was Captain of the USS Bitterboat, but in all reality, it wasn’t that funny. Or a joke. I struggled with anger and letting the past go.

Over one summer, however, the Lord worked on my heart, and it all became so clear to me what I’d been doing: holding on to unforgiveness. Holding on to my own bad choices and holding another’s wrongdoings against them. And more importantly, not asking Jesus to forgive me.

When I was finally able to work through some things and ask for forgiveness—and give forgiveness—let me tell you, it was like the dam broke and peace rushed out. It was amazing. Truly amazing.
A couple of weeks later, I decided to give an online Christian dating site a try when they had a one-week free promotion. A few days into that free week, I met my now-husband (for the record, he’d just paid for a six-month membership; I just remind him that I was worth the money…HA!). We met online that September (this is also when I started my love affair with coffee, because my husband was stationed on the other side of the world, so we’d often talk in the middle of my night), in person in December, and married in April; it was the third time we’d spent time together in person as he was stationed overseas and my oldest and I were living in Canada. I know, I know. Whirlwind! But when you know, you know. Three months after we married, my son and I left Vancouver and moved to—are you ready?—Middle Georgia. Oh, the culture shock!! About as shocking as the Fresh Prince’s move from Philadelphia to Bel Air.

In my debut novel, Count Me In, the main character, Allegra, has her world flipped upside down (she may or may not be loosely—or tightly—based on me). What I learned in writing this story (well, relearned because I’m thick-headed and God often has to teach me something multiple times before I can really soak it in) is that when we step out of our comfort zones and put our faith completely in the Lord, He is always ready to flip our lives for His good and glory. That’s a flip I’m totally okay with taking.

As long as I have coffee.
*”Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Theme Song)” lyrics by Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff

_____________________________________


Count Me In
Allegra Spencer has been living a careful life. Her safe job as an accountant is bookended by going to church and the gym. Okay, sometimes the gym. Fine. She goes to church. And the coffee shop. She avoids risk at all cost, preferring to stay safe in her cozy condo. Until her accounting firm goes belly up and she's out of a job. 

Tyler Hawk had a glorious career as a star NFL tight end. He retired on a high note and now lives a second dream of owning his own business and leading others on extreme outdoor adventures. But he needs help with his books—and his heart. When Allegra takes the job, sparks fly. 

It’s a case of safety zone versus danger zone, and in their minds, never the two shall meet.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

You Only Debut Once!

Anne here.
I have to admit it makes me grin ear to ear thinking about the fun of debuting my first published story. This week I received a huge box of author copies from the mail man. It came the same day my daughter's visa was delivered by the Fed Ex man. I'm still glowing with glee to watch it all unfold.


I believe Gabrielle, Erica, and Jaime when they say opening the box of your books never gets old, but the first time is pretty special and will forever be tied to launching my first-born across the Atlantic for her year in Ireland. Seeing your words on a black and white printed page is surreal--and very cool! I can't wait for readers to get a chance to read this great collection coming out in a few short weeks.

I'm unlocking my Pinterest board where I've pinned all my research while writing this story. I hope it gives you a flavor of the setting and the times. We have some very fun things planned over the next several weeks, so stay tuned! Click to browse the board: The Gardener's Daughter Pinterest Board
Here are just a few pins:














Get ready to jump back to 1895 to Bay View, Michigan, into the story of The Gardener's Daughter.
When the nephew of a prestigious Chautauqua resort founder sets his eye on the new library assistant, believing her an academy student, it will take more than reciting poetry for love to bloom when he learns she's the humble gardener's daughter.

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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, June 16, 2017

Interview & #Giveaway with Author Karen Barnett

We're super excited to have Karen Barnett here with us today, celebrating the release of her latest novel and a shared love of National Parks!!

________________________

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?

The Road to Paradise is the first of my Vintage National Parks series, and it’s set in one of my favorite places in the world—Mount Rainier National Park. I grew up in Washington, so I fell in love with the mountain at an early age. I even had the joy of working there as a park ranger for two years. I can’t imagine a more romantic and exciting place to set a story.


An ideal sanctuary and a dream come true–that’s what Margaret Lane feels as she takes in God’s gorgeous handiwork in Mount Rainer National Park. It’s 1927 and the National Park Service is in its youth when Margie, an avid naturalist, lands a coveted position alongside the park rangers living and working in the unrivaled splendor of Mount Rainier’s long shadow.

But Chief Ranger Ford Brayden knows too well how awe-inspiring nature can quickly turn deadly. Ford is still haunted by his father’s death on the mountain, and the ranger takes his work managing the park and its growing crowd of visitors seriously. The job of watching over an idealistic Senator’s daughter with few practical survival skills seems a waste of resources.

When Margie’s former fiancĂ© sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, the plans might put more than the park’s pristine beauty in danger. What will Margie and Ford sacrifice to preserve the splendor and simplicity of the wilderness they both love?

Tell us about the setting of the story and why you chose that particular spot/area/region:

Obviously the setting is critical in this new series. The more I talk to people about the parks, the more I realize what a huge responsibility I’ve taken on. Readers have strong emotions connected with these places, and I hope it will help them to connect deeply with the stories.

I chose to begin the series with Mount Rainier because that’s where I first became fascinated with the National Parks system and the people who work to protect them. In many ways, that mountain is where my heart lives. For another reader, Glacier or Grand Canyon might elicit a similar sense of devotion. It’s this shared passion for these majestic places I want to represent in each of these stories, and hopefully each book will take you on a little armchair adventure. The next two books in the series will feature Yosemite and Yellowstone, two more parks with rich histories.


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?

My deepest hope for this series is that readers come away with a deeper appreciation for God’s incredible handiwork. Our world is beautiful, complex, and infinitely wild—a reflection of the Creator, himself. I firmly believe that studying nature will give you a deeper appreciation for God’s unlimited power and majesty.

How did you determine what names to give your characters?

All of my previous heroes have been white-collar types, so when I decided to write a park ranger character who had been raised in the mountains, I wanted a name with a rural flavor. The image that jumped to my mind was that of a sturdy Ford pickup truck. Ford seemed like an unusual name for the 1920s, but just outside the main entrance to Mount Rainier is a small community named Ashford. I could picture his parents naming their son “Ashford” after the homesteading family who settled the area, but shortening it to “Ford” for convenience sake. So Ford Brayden was born.

The name Margaret has always been a favorite of mine and was a popular choice for the time period. It has a touch of royalty about it, yet it can be shortened in many fun ways. Since she comes from a political family, I imagined her upper-crust mother drawing out the syllables as she spoke, “Mahr-gahr-et.” But the character is much more down to earth, so she prefers to be called Margie. That minor change also made her more approachable and helps her ease into Ford’s world.

Which sub-character is your favorite and why?

 I have many favorites, and to be honest—not all of them are people. But I’ll let you wonder about that. One of the most fun characters to write was Ranger Carson. I wanted to add some splashes of 1920s lingo into the story, but because of Margie’s upbringing and Ford’s position, slang seemed inappropriate for their dialogue. That left plenty of great lines for a more outspoken secondary character. Carson could refer to Margie as a “tomato,” a “gal with nice gams,” or “a bird out to nick their jobs,” and it all seemed perfectly natural in his voice.

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

I was just talking to some friends about this the other day. I’ve always wanted to be someone like Jo March, Elizabeth Bennet, or Anne Shirley—a natural leader, beautiful, impulsive, and endlessly clever. In reality though, I’m much mor
e like their counterparts, Meg, Jane, and Diana. I’m mild-tempered, gentle, and steady, but living in constant admiration and envy of the extroverts in my life. Maybe I’m just cut out to be a literary sidekick.

What hobby do you enjoy in your “free” time (‘cause we know you have tons of free time!)

I find music to be the ultimate stress-reliever. I’m fairly decent at the guitar, and I also like to play around with the Irish tin whistle, hammered dulcimer, and mandolin. I used to lead worship on occasion, but now I primarily play for the pets. They’re a captive audience.

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

I’m a complete and utter softie when it comes to animals. We have one elderly tabby cat and three mischievous dachshunds. I had never thought of myself as a dog person until we decided to foster a friend’s puppy. We’re what the rescue folks call a “failed foster” because we never gave her back. Eventually we decided she needed a dog buddy, so I started stalking the humane society websites looking for the perfect companion. We found two adorable dachshund brothers and didn’t have the heart to split them up, so now we have a pack. It’s a little insane at walk time, but still a lot of fun. Don’t tell anyone, but lately I’ve been looking at kitten websites. Do you think five pets would be too many?


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?

I thought writing Christian fiction would be a subtle way to share my faith, but what I didn’t realize was God planned to use writing to re-shape my faith. Each spiritual thread in one of my books has been an active case of me wrestling with Him over something. Just like sitting down with a human counselor and talking things through, I feel like Jesus lets me spill out my fears and doubts in writing. Then in His wisdom and timing, He gently guides me to a better understanding of the issue. If that helps others along the way, all the glory has to go to Him!  

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?

It might sound like too easy of an answer, but I’d have to say my husband. The thing I admire most about him is his generous self-sacrificing spirit. He’s always quick to put others’ needs—mine included—before his own. So in a creepy-old-house type of situation, I’d definitely want him by my side.

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

I like stories that wrestle with deep emotions and struggles, but always with an element of romance. Romance is like the cream and sugar in your coffee—it sweetens the bitter moments. As a reader, I’ve found I can walk beside a character as they endure great suffering if I’m confident that they’ll find love and redemption in the end. That’s one of the reasons I love Christian romance.


And for some extra fun . . .

If you could pick one superhero to save you from impending doom, who would it be and why?

Oh, man. Ummmm… Back during the whole Team Ironman vs. Team Cap business, I had to admit to the world that I find Ironman much more entertaining to watch, but in real life, I’d rather have Captain America on my side because of his strong moral code. The rest of them I’m pretty ambivalent about. I’d probably prefer to have the Doctor show up with his TARDIS.

If you could guest star in one TV show, what would be and what would your ideal role be?

As I hinted on the last question, I’m a big Doctor Who fan so that’s probably what I would choose. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of time travel. It would be fun to dress up in the full Victorian garb before getting killed off by some scary alien monster or swept away into another dimension.

Name one significant heirloom or keepsake you have and why it’s important to you:

I tend to be sentimental, so I have plenty of things that I’ve hung onto. I still have the first gift my husband ever gave me when we were dating—a pink mouse he won from one of those claw machines. I also treasure my wedding ring, not just because of what it stands for, but because it was an heirloom passed down from his family. It’s 1920s-era art deco style ring, so it’s quite unique.


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


This snippet comes from the beginning of the second chapter where Chief Ranger Ford Brayden is reluctantly escorting the overly-enthusiastic Margie Lane to her new employee quarters:


Miss Lane blinked at him with deep brown eyes. With the hat framing her pale face, the woman resembled a cornered barn owl. “I wasn’t sure what I would need, so I erred on the side of caution. Likely as not, I overpacked. I usually do, I’m afraid.”

He reached around the box with both arms, grasping the leather handles before heaving it to his shoulder, smearing his uniform with mud. “I didn’t know dresses weighed so much.”

The woman laughed, her lips forming an impish smile. “Not dresses. Books. I brought Forests of Mount Rainier National Park, The Glacier Playfields of the Mount Rainier National Park, Features of the Flora of—

“I see. Well, there’s only so much you can learn from books.” Ford turned and plodded down the path. She may be well read, but he guessed she couldn’t tell the difference between a raccoon and a spotted skunk. Might be fun to find out.

She caught up a moment later, her short legs matching his stride. “That’s why I was so eager to come and study with you.”

“Study…with me? I’m no teacher.”

“Not with you, exactly. But someone like you. One who speaks the language of creation—who can hear the whispers of the waterfalls, see the secrets hidden in the soulful eyes of the black bear…” she lifted her hand to gesture to the surrounding forest. “To sit at the feet of a master.”

What kind of fairy world had Margaret Lane dropped out of? He looked her up and down. Clearly, she’d never been in close quarters with a bear. Ford turned away, the weight of the box crushing against his shoulder.

Ford’s mother had passed when he was just a boy, and he’d spent precious little time with women since. He vaguely remembered her bedtime stories of forest sprites, but this was the first time he’d met anyone meeting their description.

The woman’s skirt swished as she trotted at his side. “I’m determined not to waste a minute of this opportunity. I shall soak in the timeless wisdom of the forest primeval.” She beamed. “And I shall endeavor to live up to your expectations, just like any other ranger.”

Ford halted a few feet from the cabin door. “You are not a ranger. Is that what Harry told you?” The twinge in his spine grew talons.

She took a step back. “Not in so many words. But Superintendent Brown said I’d be working for you, so I assumed—”


“You assumed wrong. A person—a man—has to earn the right to that title. We don’t just hand out…” Ford caught himself, Harry’s warnings still ringing in his ears. “You’re not a ranger. Just a—a naturalist. And here on trial, at that.” Ford tromped up the cabin steps and dropped the box at the door. The sharp sound echoed through the stillness.


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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tips for Hosting a Stress-Free Event

Gabrielle Here:

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about practicing hospitality. It took me some time to learn how to relax, but now that I can, I love to host events.

This week I want to share some tips I've learned over the years to lessen the burden and stress of hosting an event.

1. Ask for Help. This one seems like a given, but I've found it's very hard for people to ask for help! I don't know if it's because we want to have the control over how things turn out, or if we don't want to inconvenience people, but many hostesses don't ask for help. What I've discovered is that people love to contribute. When I'm hosting a meal, I almost always provide the meat (whether we grill, or I do something like BBQ pulled pork). Then I ask others to bring the sides to complete the meal. I send out a list of options, such as fruit, salad, veggie platter, chips, drinks, dessert, etc., and ask them to sign up for one (or more) of the items. We always have more than enough food, and the expense is shared among the group. It also allows others to bring the dish that makes them shine.

Everyone contributed to Easter Brunch!
2. Use Paper Products. I love the idea of a nice, sit-down meal, with fancy china and silver (we've done a couple of those), but for the most part, we invite families with children to our house, and often have twenty to forty people here. Not only is paper easier for clean up, but it doesn't break when dropped. I often go to Costco and get the plastic cups with lids and straws, this eliminates the inevitable spills, as well.

Paper & Plastic!
3. Leave the Clean-Up for Later. When I have a house full of people, the last thing I want to do is waste time cleaning up! I can do that when everyone is gone. Often, a friend will want to help, and we'll put away the food that can spoil, do a quick organization of dishes, and maybe toss the trash into the garbage can in the garage--but the rest of it can wait until later. I want to spend my time with my friends, and that's what I do. I find this helps everyone relax.

4. Invite a Good Mix of People. When I'm planning a small get-together, I usually invite my close friends. When I'm planning a little bigger event, I use the opportunity to mix up the company with a wide variety of people. Not only does this make for interesting conversation, but it also allows new friendships and connections to be made. Don't be afraid to invite someone new.

A group of friends, old and new.
5. Cast a Wide Net. This is another tip I learned along the way. In the past, if I wanted a group of about ten, I'd invite just ten people--and have maybe four show up. But schedules are hectic (especially in the summer) and not everyone can come. So, I send out a larger number of invites and tend to get the number of people I feel comfortable to host. If I want to host an event with ten people, I'll probably invite about sixteen. No matter how many come, enjoy those who are there.

In April, some of my friends and family helped
me celebrate my birthday at my favorite restaurant!
6. Be Felxible! No matter how well you plan an event, something usually doesn't go right. Be flexible, relax, and learn from the situation. Maybe next time you'll do something a little different, but this time, allow it to become part of the experience. Laugh it off. You never know, it might become that thing you talk about for years to come.

These are just some of the tips I've learned over the years--there are plenty more! I'd love to hear your tips for hosting events in your home.

I have a winner from last week's giveaway of a copy of Inherited: Unexpected Family! The winner is Karen Rochon. Congrats, Karen. I'll send you an email soon.

Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How to Have a Productive Working Vacation

Erica here:

I am on vacation visiting my folks in Florida, and I am also on deadline for a project. While I'm having a wonderful time visiting with my parents, shopping, and seeing people, I also have to work. I don't know if you've ever had a working vacation before, but they're tricky to balance!


This isn't my first working vacay, and I've come up with some things that have made things easier that I would love to share with you.

1. Communicate: tell the people you're with what you need to do. Get them on board with the project so that they can be helpful, or at the very least, not distracting.

My parents are the most adorable thing ever


2. Commit: set aside blocks of time when everyone else can be occupied. This might mean you get up early to put in some time on your project before everyone else wakes up. It might mean you're the last one to go to bed so you can have some quiet. Or, it might mean you stay behind on an activity to work when everyone else is out of the house. It might mean you need to sneak away to a coffee shop to minimize family distractions.

Sometimes you need writer-fuel.


3. Reward: when you reach a milestone or finish your project, reward yourself with an outing, shopping, time with your family. For me, today, when I finish this chapter, I get to watch a rugby match and go to a fabric store with my mom. It doesn't have to be something elaborate. In this case, it helps me have a goal, and it helps my folks know what I need to accomplish as well as allowing them to cheer me on to something tangible.

REWARD! A fabric store!


Have you ever had a working vacation? Was it a good experience for you?

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

#June New Releases in the #CBA! PLUS a #GIVEAWAY

I love new release time, don't you?! There's nothing better than a new book winging its way to my mailbox (I usually order paper copies over e-copies, if I can). Take a look at the list below!! As usual, the ones I'm looking forward to reading have the book cover thumbnail beside them. And, don't forget to read all the way through. I'm having a giveaway at the bottom for something special made for you from my mother-in-love!!!

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


Contemporary Romance:

 Engaged by Julie Arduini -- Trish Maxwell returns to Speculator Falls with egg on her face and apologies to make as she tries to determine what's next, especially when around paramedic Wayne Peterson. (Contemporary Romance from Surrendered Scribe Media)

  Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter -- When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down. But when Josephine drives out to Noah's North Georgia cottage to deliver the corrected papers, they are trapped there during a snowstorm. Things couldn't get worse…until they are forced out into the storm and must rely on one another to survive. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Zondervan])


 
  Then There Was You by Kara Isaac -- Would you give up everything for a life you hate with the person you love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

*Jaime insert here: I've already this! It's soooooooo good!!!*



An Encore for Estelle by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- A former A-list actress seeks to redeem herself in the most unlikely of places—a children's theater. The writer/director didn't anticipate a famous actress would ever show interest in his musical much less him. Will their pasts pull them apart or join them together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


The Cowboy's Baby Blessing by Deb Kastner -- When Ex-soldier Seth Howell suddenly becomes guardian of a two-year-old, he needs Rachel Perez's help. Though she is gun-shy about relationships, this handsome cowboy and his adorable son break through. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

  Finding Love by Toni Shiloh -- Delaney Jones is putting her life back together after widowhood when in walks Army soldier, Luke Robinson. Luke had a part in the death of Delaney's husband--will his secrets widen the gulf in their relationship or will he finally find absolution? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)



Cozy Mystery:

The Copper Box by Suzanne Bratcher -- When antiques expert Marty Greenlaw comes to Jerome, Arizona to search for a copper box she believes will unlock the secrets of her past, deadly accidents begin to happen: someone else wants the copper box, someone willing to kill for it. (Cozy Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)




General Contemporary:

Coming Home – A Tiny House Collection by Yvonne Anderson, Michael Ehret, Kimberli S. McKay, Pamela S. Meyers, Ane Mulligan, Chandra Lynn Smith, Linda W. Yezak -- Tiny houses are all the rage these days, but what can you do with something so small? Here are seven stories about people chasing their dreams, making fresh starts, finding love, stumbling upon forgiveness, and embarking upon new adventures in tiny houses. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)


  Katie's Quest by Lee Carver -- Katie Dennis hopes for fulfillment as a single missionary nurse after the death of her fiancĂ©. She trusts God for a new direction, but she'll never fall for a pilot again. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)


Historical Romance:


 A Sweetwater River Romance by Misty M. Beller -- Rocky Ridge Stage Stop Manager Ezra Reid is put in a difficult situation when two ladies show up on his remote doorstep seeking refuge, one of them being Tori Boyd, the mysterious correspondence partner writing him letters for over a year now. Tori refuses the most proper solution to their circumstance—marriage. But when danger follows, it will take a lot more than luck to ensure Ezra's heart is the sole casualty. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

  High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin -- In German-occupied Brussels, a WWI nurse struggles to keep two life-threatening secrets. She's in league with the British Secret Service, and she's harboring a wounded British pilot. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])




  Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands Romance Collection by Susan Page Davis, Susanne Dietze, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Gina Welborn -- Meet seven of Turtle Springs, Kansas', finest women who are determined to revive their small town after the War Between the States took most of its men. . .and didn't return them. The ladies decide to advertise for husbands and devise a plan for weeding out the riff raff. But how can they make the best practical choices when their hearts cry out to be loved? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

  The Captain's Daughter by Jennifer Delamere -- When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage. A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he's glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can't wait to leave behind. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Grounded Hearts by Jeanne M. Dickson -- Set in WWII, an Irish woman must choose between her heart and her freedom when she finds a downed combatant pilot. (Historical Romance from Waterfall Press)

 Mail Order Sweetheart by Christine Johnson -- Singer Fiona O'Keefe must make a wealthy match to support her orphaned niece. Musically talented Sawyer Evans is a self-made, but not wealthy, sawmill-manager. Unwilling to live off his father's railroad fortune, can Sawyer prove to Fiona he's the man she needs when she's already determined to mail-order a rich husband? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Freedom's Price by Christine Johnson -- On a quest to find her mother's family in Louisiana, Englishwoman Catherine Haynes enlists a dashing Key West man seeking revenge for his own family. When an incredible secret comes to light, she and Tom will face a choice. Can they relinquish their dreams to step forward in faith? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Sutter's Landing by Betty Thomason Owens -- Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep. (Historical Romance from Write Integrity Press)


Romantic Suspense:


 Hidden Legacy by Lynn Huggins Blackburn -- When someone threatens the baby she's adopting, Caroline Harrison must rely on Detective Jason Drake, the man who once broke her heart, to figure out why. If Jason wants a chance at a future with with Caroline and her son, he'll first have to help them outrun a hit man. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

  Weaver's Needle by Robin Caroll -- Pitted against each other to recover a map to the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine, two recovery specialists follow the trail to Arizona. But someone doesn't want them to find the map. . .or the mine. They must work together despite their mistrust and growing attraction, to save themselves. (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing)



Speculative:

The Revisionary
by Kristen Hogrefe -- Revisionary or Rogue? To rescue her brother, Portia might have to break every rule in the book she set out to rewrite. (Speculative from Write Integrity Press)


Women's Contemporary:

 Redemption's Whisper by Kathleen Friesen -- Desperate to escape her past, a suicidal young woman flies from Toronto to a Saskatoon pastor's home, the only people who may be able to help her. If only someone could love her, in spite of all she's done. On the flight, she meets a young man torn between seeking affirmation in the big city and helping his parents in Saskatoon. Can these two troubled souls gain the peace they need—and in the process, find love? (Women's Contemporary from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

Young Adult:

All Things Now Living by Rondi Bauer Olson -- Her whole life Amy has been taught the people of New Lithisle deserve to die, but when she falls for Daniel, she determines to save him. (Young Adult from Written World Communications)


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Boy, did my TBR pile just get taller! What about yours? Which book above are you most interested in reading, if you could only pick one? Answer that in the blog comments below and take part in the rafflecopter and you'll be eligible to win a BOOK POCKET, handmade by one of my favorite people in the world: my mother-in-love!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway