Thursday, February 29, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Kaitlyn Clarkson!

How does an Author find the Right Readers?
By Kaitlynn Clarkson

We’ve all been there. We eagerly await the latest offering from a favorite author or pick up a book that looks interesting, only to discover that it’s not to our tastes at all. We experience a moment of disappointment or distaste and might hesitate to try that author again. As a reader, this is perfectly normal and expected.

For an author, it can be disappointing that a potential reader didn’t like that book, but there is a lot more work that an author can do to ensure the right readers find their books.

So, how does an author connect with the right readership? Here are a few things authors can try:

1. Identify the ideal reader

This is a crucial early step when planning a book. Who is going to be reading your book? Are you creating a character or setting that resonates with certain people? Who is in your tribe of super-fans who just love what you do?

If your story is a family saga with romance, the ideal reader is going to be different from someone who would enjoy a sci-fi romance. One helpful hint is to think about your main character and begin by creating a similar reader persona for your ideal reader. Then, write with the picture of that person in mind. Many authors find it helpful to imagine writing their story for a specific person who will absolutely love their work.

Some authors gather data about their ideal readers from advertising, while others use organic (unpaid) methods such as building an email list, being active on social media, or teaming up with other authors to run promotions.

2. Hang out where the ideal reader spends time

One way to get to know ideal readers is to hang out where they are. It’s important to spend your time
Pixabay/Lubos Houska
wisely, so knowing where your ideal readers are on social media (and in the real world) helps to avoid wasting time on activities that don’t benefit your readers or you as the author.

When you find your readers’ favorite places to gather, spend time there too. Ask questions and get to know people and what matters to them.

3. Understand what’s important to an ideal reader

As you write, always keep your ideal readers in mind. What are their likes and dislikes? How do they choose what to read? Are you offering them something of value? Will they find it irresistible? Romance is an especially tricky genre for meeting reader expectations. An author must adhere to the (often unwritten) rules that govern sub-genres and tropes or risk alienating fans, so understanding reader expectations is critical for success.

4. Build connections

Readers love to connect with authors and are more likely to become loyal fans when authors make an effort to engage. Chatting in Facebook groups, answering reader emails promptly, and responding to reader comments on social media are all great ways to show your readers that you’re a real human.

5. Learn from other authors

Pixabay/Gerd Altmann
One of the best ways to learn more about your ideal readers is to network with other authors who share the same readership. They often have handy tips about what is working for them, and it’s also helpful to follow them on social media so you can see how their fans interact with them. Newer authors can learn a lot from other authors, and even established authors will pick up new ideas or ways of doing things by observing other authors.

There are many more things authors can do to find their ideal readers, but these tips are something everyone can implement and expect results. The perfect reader is out there waiting for your book to land in their hands!

Kaitlynn Clarkson has written over forty novels and novellas across several genres. Her latest offering includes Ezra’s Brides from the Double Trouble multi-author series.

Ezra’s Brides

Two brides. He makes his choice. And then the unthinkable happens …

When Ezra meets his mail-order bride at the station, he doesn’t expect a second woman to fall at his feet. Deeply shocked, he has no idea what to do until his mother steps in and takes the girls into her expert care. But he still has to make a choice, and each woman is worthy of his love. It’s an impossible situation.

He finally makes his choice … only to have the unthinkable happen. Saved from disaster at the last moment, Ezra is almost ready to give up on finding a bride as he questions his true identity. But even as he grapples with events of the past, love sneaks up. Will he allow his heart to receive it? Or will he forever be known as the man who couldn’t find a bride even when one fell at his feet? 

Ezra’s Brides is Book 6 of the multi-author series, Double Trouble. It is sweet and clean with hints of faith and is a standalone story that can be read in any order in the series. 

Purchase Link:

About Kaitlyn Clarkson:
Kaitlynn Clarkson loves writing sweet and clean, faith-friendly romance stories. She writes in contemporary and historical genres because she couldn’t decide which one she likes best! She’s dreamed of writing ever since she was a little girl when she would get into trouble for reading instead of doing her chores. These days, Kaitlynn lives on a farm with her husband and children and a herd of cows. She loves to play the piano and trombone in her spare time and is certain there will never be enough time to read all the books she wants to. You can follow Kaitlynn on:

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Traveling Tuesday: Life as a Military Family

Traveling Tuesday: 
Life as a Military Family

Pixabay/Military Material
I bit off a lot when I decided to write a story that featured a member of the U.S. armed forces. Interestingly, my college roommate attended school through the Army ROTC program and encouraged me often to consider applying. I replied with snarky comments such as “I don’t look good in green,” “I have problems with authority,” and my personal favorite, “I have too many phobias to qualify.” Can you see me trying to explain why I can’t scale a wall because of my acrophobia or refusing to crawl through a tunnel because of my claustrophobia? In actuality, I knew I didn’t have what it took.

When it came time to conduct research for Dial V for Valentine, I reached out to the writing
Amazon Author Photo
community through a newsgroup and almost immediately heard from USA Today and Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author Jodie Bailey. Her husband, 1SG(R) Paul Bailey, is apparently quite used to being a resource, and the two were a gold mine of information. I should have realized like any industry the army has its own vocabulary. Here are a few tidbits of what I learned:

  • Mission cycle: A soldier can be called in and have to report within two hours. They can’t be more than a certain distance from home and must be in reach at all times. When called they can be “wheels up” in less than 24-hours. Someone is always on a mission cycle.
  • Wheels up: Literally, in the airplane and on the way to your assignment. 
  • Rapid deployment: Doesn’t just happened to any old unit or soldier at any time. A rapid deployment typically happens to those on mission cycle. It’s unplanned and typically in response to a world event.
  • Regular deployment: Military members often know about these months or even a year in advance. Departure and return dates are well-known. These are rotational. However, a regular deployment can be extended. 
  • Transfers: If a soldier is transferred into a new unit, and that unit is deployed, he’s going along. It’s not like, oh, you’re new, you can wait until the next round. 😁

These few terms gave me a tiny inkling (is that redundant?) about the countless sacrifices members of the military and their families make every day. I can’t imagine having to report to a who-knows-how-long assignment or having my heart leap into my throat because I’ve just been tapped for a rapid deployment.

I loved writing this book, and the research gave me an even greater appreciation for those serving in the armed forces. There’s no way I have what it takes to be part of this special group of people. I hope Dial V for Valentine honors them and brings to light their daily sacrifices.

Thank a veteran or currently serving member of the military today!


Dial V for Valentine

Valentine’s Day is perfect for a wedding. If only the bride will agree.

Being part of the military is not just a job for Fergus Rafferty, it’s a calling. He’s worked his way up the ranks and doing what he loves best: flying Apache helicopters. The only thing that will make his life complete is marrying Celeste. After he transfers to a unit scheduled to deploy in three months, he’s thrilled at the idea of marrying before he leaves so they can start their new life. Except Celeste wants to wait until he returns. Can he convince her to wed before he leaves?

Celeste Hardwicke has just opened her law practice when she finally accepts Fergus’s marriage proposal. Not to worry. She has plenty of time to set a date, then plan the wedding. Until she doesn’t. But a quickie wedding isn’t what she has in mind. Besides, why get married when the groom will ship out after the ceremony? When she stumbles on her great-grandmother’s diary from World War II, she discovers the two of them share the same predicament.

At an impasse, Celeste and Fergus agree to call into WDES’s program No Errin’ for Love. Will DJ Erin Orberg’s advice solve their dilemma or create a bigger divide? One they’ll both regret.

Purchase Link:

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Welcome back, Valerie Massey Goree!

The inspiration for: 
Meet Me Where the Windrush Flows
By Valerie Massey Goree

This is the first time the setting for a story has been my inspiration. In February last year, I was visiting with the woman who does my income taxes. She knows about my novels and my love of traveling. I mentioned that I’d like to return to England and stay in a cottage in a little village, something my husband and I didn’t do when we visited in 2019.

She replied, “Good idea. You can do research for a book you set there, and then use some expenses as a deduction on your taxes next year.”

Aha! That started the wheels turning. I immediately checked out villages online and found so many cute places. I chose Bourton-on-the-Water and then located a cottage that fit our needs. (A friend traveled with me.)

We also wanted to attend the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland which is only performed in August. Now, the month was set.

During the plotting stage of the story, I researched the history of the village and its location online. I had to have a reason for my hero and heroine, both Americans, to be in Bourton for more than a few days. The research provided the perfect reason for my heroine, and then I created one for my hero.

I began writing with the knowledge I’d have to make revisions after I stayed in the village. We spent 
eight wonderful days in the cottage and also enjoyed trips to other villages in the Cotswolds. Although Bourton-on-the-Water was inundated with tourists, it was still a magical place. I loved researching locations to use in my story while I absorbed the peaceful idyllic atmosphere after the crowds left for the day.

The owner of the cottage agreed for me to use it in my story. My hero stayed there for a week. But he left Bourton briefly and when he returned, he had to find a different cottage. So did I. The owner of the second cottage also agreed I could use the real place in my story. She asked for a signed copy of the book to keep in the cottage for her guests. Both cottages are great places to stay.

I know I will be able to use some deductions on my income taxes, but the benefit I derived from living in my cottage in my village far outweighs any monetary benefit. The Windrush River runs through the village, and I love that name. Before I ever left Texas, I’d decided to title the novel, Where the Windrush Flows. However, while doing research in the village library, I found a non-fiction book with that title. I didn’t want to risk alienating the local population by using the same title.

Hence my title: Meet Me Where the Windrush Flows.

About the book:

She’s an anthropologist working as a visiting professor in England. He’s a pediatric surgeon taking his ill mother on her bucket list trip to England.

Grace and Logan are instantly attracted when they meet in a small village in the Cotswolds. But will the threat to her life and accusations of malpractice against him encourage their romance or keep them apart?


About to leave, he (Logan) couldn’t help but overhear the conversation at the table behind him.

“Do you think the bones I found might be Roman?”
Intrigue stopped him in his tracks. Roman as in Roman ruins? He had to ask. “Excuse me. I heard your question. What…where are these bones? I’m interested in Roman ruins of any kind. While we’ve been in England, I’ve visited many sites. Maybe I can help?”

“Are you an archeologist?” Grace asked.

“No, a doctor, a pediatric surgeon, but I’m taking a break to help my mother.”
If anyone but Grace had asked, he would have responded only with a shrug. “Staying in Bourton-on-the-Water is on her bucket list.”
“What a nice son.”

Debatable. Grace’s reply ruffled his usual calm. His trip to the UK and away from Texas was as much for his benefit as Mother’s.

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Monday, February 19, 2024

Mystery Monday: Raymond Chandler

Mystery Monday: Raymond Chandler

Courtesy Britannica
I am always amazed when I read about authors from the past who turned to writing to earn a living during difficult circumstances. Grace Livingston Hill is one of those authors, and Raymond Chandler is another. As a way to immerse myself in the world of my characters, I read books they might have read. The “hard-boiled detective novel” was a popular choice during the 1940s, and Raymond Chandler published quite a few.

According to several sources, Chandler decided to become a writer after he lost his job as an oil company executive during the Great Depression. Another source indicated he was fired for his alcoholism, absenteeism, and “promiscuity with female employees.” Fortunately, he seemed to find success with his stories almost immediately. But he’d done his homework by teaching himself how to write in the manner of pulp fiction authors by studying and imitating Erle Stanley Gardner’s work (most famously his Perry Mason stories). Chandler’s first money-making story was “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot” published in Black Mask magazine in 1933.

By the mid-1930s, he began working on novels in addition to his short stories. Published in 1939, The
Big Sleep
, featured detective Philip Marlowe and was an almost instant best-seller. The second Marlowe book, Farewell, My Lovely, was published the following year and became the basis for three different movie versions. This led to a successful screenplay career in addition to his novels. Marlowe was his most famous character, and he went on to write seven of them.

Enamored with California (where he set most of his books), Chandler and his wife moved to La Jolla in 1946. Sadly, he lost his wife to illness in 1954 which exacerbated Chandler’s drinking and his depression. His writing suffered, and he traveled to England, but the trip didn’t seem to do much for him. He returned to La Jolla where he passed away in 1959. In 1988, on the hundredth anniversary of Chandler’s birth, Author Robert B. Parker completed Chandler’s unfinished manuscript Poodle Springs. The book was published in October 1989.


Dial V for Valentine

Valentine’s Day is perfect for a wedding. If only the bride will agree.

Being part of the military is not just a job for Fergus Rafferty, it’s a calling. He’s worked his way up the ranks and doing what he loves best: flying Apache helicopters. The only thing that will make his life complete is marrying Celeste. After he transfers to a unit scheduled to deploy in three months, he’s thrilled at the idea of marrying before he leaves so they can start their new life. Except Celeste wants to wait until he returns. Can he convince her to wed before he leaves?

Celeste Hardwicke has just opened her law practice when she finally accepts Fergus’s marriage proposal. Not to worry. She has plenty of time to set a date, then plan the wedding. Until she doesn’t. But a quickie wedding isn’t what she has in mind. Besides, why get married when the groom will ship out after the ceremony? When she stumbles on her great-grandmother’s diary from World War II, she discovers the two of them share the same predicament.

At an impasse, Celeste and Fergus agree to call into WDES’s program No Errin’ for Love. Will DJ Erin Orberg’s advice solve their dilemma or create a bigger divide? One they’ll both regret.

Purchase link:

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back Barbara Britton!

The Delight and Dilemmas of Writing Biblical Fiction

By Barbara M. Britton

I love bringing little-known Bible stories to light. I spent many years teaching chapel where I taught stories from the Bible using drama and visuals. My teaching eventually morphed into writing Biblical Fiction.

When you write about history, sometimes you have to go against traditional writing rules.

Main characters should have names that are easy to pronounce, so the reader isn’t confused. Some of the heroes of the faith have names that are difficult to pronounce. Most readers are familiar with Noah and Abraham, but throw in Ittai and Micaiah, and readers are left wondering how to say the name of your character. Writers are also taught to avoid similar-sounding names. History is history, and families didn’t necessarily take writing rules into account when naming their kids.

When I wrote about the daughters of Zelophehad (Who?), all the sisters had names that ended in ‘ah.’ I tried to give the sisters personalities that eclipsed their similar names. Biblical Fiction readers deserve a star for wading through complicated names.

Romance is the bestselling genre of all time. But, in Biblical Fiction, the customs of the day prohibited men and women from casually associating with one another, let alone touching. Chaperones were plentiful to protect one’s reputation. There were no couples slipping off in the dark at a fancy ball. Biblical Fiction authors have to work extra hard to show a relationship budding without physical contact.

I’ve written contemporary romance stories, too. In a critique group, one of my friends asked me if I
was writing a romance because my characters weren’t touching. Not even holding hands. I realized that I was staying in the Biblical Fiction groove, and I needed to change how I approached characters in the twenty-first century. For me, it was almost scandalous to have my characters kiss.

Research goes hand-in-hand with writing historical novels. While we have plenty of photographs and memorabilia from the WWII era, we have little, if anything from biblical times. Biblical Fiction writers have to cross-reference Bible passages and find relics near the time of their Bible story. Sometimes, we have to take an educated guess at how people in the Bible performed tasks.

You’ll find many writers delving into research to avoid getting words written on a page. That writing truth crosses every genre. Research can lead down rabbit trails and pretty soon the day has flown by. Writers of historical fiction work to bring a time period to life for the reader. I enjoy diving into the Bible and learning something new. The Living Word never ceases to amaze me. Authoring Old Testament, and even New Testament stories, makes my job a challenge, yet it’s a delight. I may break a few writing rules when crafting a story set in Bible Times, or about a Bible hero, but without brave authors, we wouldn’t have Biblical Fiction.

Who is your favorite person from the Bible? Have you read any Biblical Fiction about their life?

David is easy to pronounce, but Ittai?

About “Defending David” (Yes, there’s romance).

When a quiet journey to Jerusalem turns tragic, newly orphaned Rimona must flee a kinsman set on selling her as a slave. Racing into the rocky hills outside of Hebron, Rimona is rescued by a Philistine commander journeying to Jerusalem with six hundred warriors.

Exiled commander, Ittai the Gittite, is seeking refuge in the City of David. Protecting a frantic Hebrew woman is not in his leadership plan. Although, having a nobleman's niece in his caravan might prove useful for finding shelter in a foreign land.

Rimona and Ittai arrive in Jerusalem on the eve of a rebellion. In the chaos of an heir's betrayal, will they be separated forever, or can they defend King David and help the aging monarch control his rebellious son?

Purchase Link:

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Wayback Wednesday: In Memoriam

Wayback Wednesday: In Memoriam

This is a post from a couple of years ago in celebration of my mom whose birthday is today. It's been edited to reflect that she has since passed on, but I will always equate Valentine's Day with her instead of chocolates and flowers.

Today is Valentine's Day, and for most people that means candy and flowers. However, the day has never been about romance for me because it's my mother's birthday. I'm blessed that she lived close by for almost twenty years and was in good health, something I don't take for granted. She was an intriguing mix of her parents: shy and an avid reader like her mother, and tenacious and independent like her dad. Born in the middle of the Great Depression, she was raised on a farm in a small town in Maryland surrounded by lots of extended family where she was more comfortable with outside chores than being in the kitchen. As a result, she had an encyclopedic knowledge of plants and trees and could easily have had a career as a landscape architect. You should see her front yard! (Unfortunately, the new owners of her house aren't quite as gifted.)
By the time she started school, the country was at war, and several of her uncles and cousins went
Mom and her brother,
my Uncle Lawrence
overseas to serve, some of whom didn't return. Despite being fairly young during WWII, she had strong memories of collecting scrap metal and looking at the maps on the front of the newspapers. She recalled her mother saving fat and mending the family's clothes rather than making new ones. Because of living on the farm, rationing didn't affect Mom or the family as much as it did my dad who lived in Baltimore City, although she did talk about gas rationing and the fact the family rarely went anywhere. She was eleven years old when the war ended.

Her folks scrimped and saved to purchase a piano and arrange lessons for her. She took to the instrument like the proverbial duck to water and by early high school was playing for the church choir. Further saving allowed her to attend Western Maryland College where she obtained her bachelor's degree in music and met my father. They married, and she followed him to various locations first with the Army, then Citgo, and finally IBM. At each location, she got involved in their church's music program, often serving as church pianist. Her love of books prompted her to start libraries in several of her churches.

She had friends all over the country and faithfully corresponded with them using the postal system. That's right - no email for her. She'd much rather handwrite a letter - a lost art. And folks didn't have to be far away for her to bless them with a card or letter - I've received quite a few myself (many of which I still have.)

Happy birthday, Mom! I wish you were still here so I could say how much I love you!

Dial V for Valentine

Valentine’s Day is perfect for a wedding. If only the bride will agree.

Being part of the military is not just a job for Fergus Rafferty, it’s a calling. He’s worked his way up the ranks and doing what he loves best: flying Apache helicopters. The only thing that will make his life complete is marrying Celeste. After he transfers to a unit scheduled to deploy in three months, he’s thrilled at the idea of marrying before he leaves so they can start their new life. Except Celeste wants to wait until he returns. Can he convince her to wed before he leaves?

Celeste Hardwicke has just opened her law practice when she finally accepts Fergus’s marriage proposal. Not to worry. She has plenty of time to set a date, then plan the wedding. Until she doesn’t. But a quickie wedding isn’t what she has in mind. Besides, why get married when the groom will ship out after the ceremony? When she stumbles on her great-grandmother’s diary from World War II, she discovers the two of them share the same predicament.

At an impasse, Celeste and Fergus agree to call into WDES’s program No Errin’ for Love. Will DJ Erin Orberg’s advice solve their dilemma or create a bigger divide? One they’ll both regret.

Purchase Link:

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Traveling Tuesday: Military Bases

Traveling Tuesday: Military Bases

Pixabay/Military Material
My father served in the Army reserves when I was a small child, but I wouldn’t say I come from a military family. And despite having lots of friends who were part of the military and often driving past Fort Meade in Maryland and Fort Belvoir in Virginia, my knowledge of the life is limited, so when I decided to write Dial V for Valentine, I needed to do quite a bit of research. I was surprised at what I discovered and now have a great appreciation for those who serve in the armed forces and their families.

According to one source,1 the U.S. has approximately 750 bases in at least eighty countries. Just in Japan, there are 120 active bases, with 119 in Germany, and seventy-three in Korea. The article goes on to say that the actual number is unknown and probably higher, because the Pentagon doesn’t “release all data.”

Large bases are defined as military installations with an area of more than ten acres or have a value of
Courtesy Fort Meade
more than $10 million. Typically, two hundred or more servicemen and women are stationed at a base of this size. Small bases are called lily pads and with an area of four acres or less. Some bases are branch-specific such as Belvoir and Meade which are both army bases. Others are joint bases such as Joint Base Pearl Harbor – Hickham which houses the Air Force and the Navy. Other bases have specific roles such as boot camps and training centers.

To give you an idea of what a large base encompasses, Fort Meade, which is featured in Dial V for Valentine, consists of 5,400 acres (or approximately 8.5 square miles) with more than sixty-five miles of paved roads and about 1,300 buildings. Fort Belvoir consists of more than 8,600 acres. The smallest active U.S. military base in the U.S. is Ammunition Depot Indian Island in Port Hadlock, Washington, a naval base that is staffed by only a dozen or fewer personnel.

Pixabay/Ken Haines
During basic training, all enlisted service members are required to live in the barracks. When they move to their permanent duty station, only single members are required to live in unaccompanied housing or barracks. During dependent-restricted assignments, non-commissioned and commissioned officers may also be required to live in barracks. Generally, housing is provided for active-duty individuals whether they are living on or off base. Unless designated as key or essential personnel, single officers are authorized to reside off-base. Outside the U.S., officer quarters are usually made available on base.

Have you been part of a military family? Thank you for your service!

About Dial V for Valentine

Valentine’s Day is perfect for a wedding. If only the bride will agree.

Being part of the military is not just a job for Fergus Rafferty, it’s a calling. He’s worked his way up the ranks and doing what he loves best: flying Apache helicopters. The only thing that will make his life complete is marrying Celeste. After he transfers to a unit scheduled to deploy in three months, he’s thrilled at the idea of marrying before he leaves so they can start their new life. Except Celeste wants to wait until he returns. Can he convince her to wed before he leaves?

Celeste Hardwicke has just opened her law practice when she finally accepts Fergus’s marriage proposal. Not to worry. She has plenty of time to set a date, then plan the wedding. Until she doesn’t. But a quickie wedding isn’t what she has in mind. Besides, why get married when the groom will ship out after the ceremony? When she stumbles on her great-grandmother’s diary from World War II, she discovers the two of them share the same predicament.

At an impasse, Celeste and Fergus agree to call into WDES’s program No Errin’ for Love. Will DJ Erin Orberg’s advice solve their dilemma or create a bigger divide? One they’ll both regret.

Purchase link:

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Beth Wiseman!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Beth Wiseman!

Let's give award-winning and best-selling author Beth Wiseman a warm welcome as she chats about her writing journey and the inspiration for her story: 

What was your inspiration for the story?

The Messenger percolated in my mind for years following a profound event when I was speaking to a group of elderly people at an assisted living facility. After my presentation, an older gentleman by the name of Walter approached me with a rather spectacular story. He said that he had recently died, visited heaven, and was sent back by God to deliver messages to random people. Walter told me that he had a message for me.

Honestly, I smiled and kind of played along, skeptical that this kind man would really have any words of wisdom for me sent directly from God. But then, he provided me with an answer to a situation that had been heavy on my heart for a while, something personal that I hadn’t told anyone. I had to excuse myself and go to the restroom, where I began to cry. How could he know this?

Suddenly, Walter’s story had merit, and I knew it had to be told. And, while The Messenger is a fictional tale, I incorporated Walter’s experience into the book. I wish he had lived long enough to read the story, but I recently learned that he has passed.

Tell us about your road to publication.

I’ve been writing in some capacity for decades, but it wasn’t until later in life when I finally had my ‘big break’. I had been told by those in the industry that I was a good writer, but I couldn’t seem to get an agent or sell to a traditional publisher. I finally admitted to myself that having a good story wasn’t enough, and I identified my problems. I had not mastered the craft of writing, which is like playing the piano or anything else that requires dedication and practice. So, I read every book I could get my hands on about the ‘correct’ way to write a book.

In 2007, my laborious efforts paid off, lol. I snagged an agent, and HarperCollins (Thomas Nelson back then) offered me a three-book contract for an Amish series based on three chapters they had read of my first book, Plain Perfect. I had always wanted to write just one book that would change one life, so to have the opportunity to write three books for a major publisher was a dream come true. Currently, I have penned sixty-plus books with three million in sales. I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams, and I remind myself daily not to take that for granted.

How does/did your job prepare you for being a novelist?

For almost five years, I was a reporter for a newspaper in Schulenburg, Texas. I covered feature stories
and general news coverage. When it comes to newspapers, there are no deadline extensions, lol. The paper is going out whether you are happy or not with what you have presented to the editor. This type of mandatory deadline was instilled in me long before I published my first book, which was helpful since due dates are critical in the publishing industry. My newspaper experience also taught me a lot about editing. Although newspapers and book editing are very different, they meet at a crossroads along the way. But, despite the difference in requirements, I found my time at the newspaper helped prepare me for a life of writing books.

What is the one thing you wish you could do?

I wish I could maintain balance in my life. I’m able to do that sometimes but not as often as I would like. It’s been a constant struggle for me over the years . . . knowing when to say ‘yes’ and when to say ‘no’. With each passing year, I cherish my family and friends even more than I thought possible. Yet, I love to write. I’m happiest when I can balance those two things in a way that fulfills the author in me and allows time to spend time with those I love.

How do you celebrate when you finish a manuscript?

I cry, lol. It’s true. I’m always relieved that I made it to the end of the story. Life, in general, can be challenging. It ebbs and flows with everything from illnesses to unexpected events. After I’m done crying, I give myself a gentle pat on the back, thank God for giving me the story to tell, then pray that readers will enjoy the book and hopefully move toward a closer relationship to God.

What is your advice to fledgling writers?

I firmly believe that anyone can publish a book, but most aspiring/fledgling writers won’t achieve that goal because they will give up somewhere within the process. It takes very thick skin to write a book. I could wallpaper my office with the rejection letters I received before signing with HarperCollins. My best advice would be . . . a good story is NOT enough. Don’t make the same mistake that I made for years. Study and work hard to master the craft of writing before you submit to agents and editors.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

  • In no specific order, here are what I believe to be common traps for aspiring writers:
  • The misconception that you have nothing else to learn. You’ve mastered the craft and published a book. Wonderful! Congrats! But, there is always more to learn—from other authors, leaders in the industry, and within the ever-changing landscape of publishing.
  • Beware of vanity and unscrupulous publishers who will promise you the world only to take your money and basically RUN. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
  • Pray. Believe in yourself and your writing abilities. It is way too easy to let other people, situations, bad advice, and life, in general, strip you of your confidence. If you’re a writer, BE A WRITER. Resist discouragement. Tune out the negative noise.
What is your next project?

I’m currently working on an Amish short story based on a real event that I witnessed when I was a reporter. I believed it to be a miracle at the time, and I still do. I am also working on another Amish book that I hope to have out in a few months. The Messenger was a shift from the Amish genre I normally write in, and I’m super pleased that that the book has been well-received, that readers trust me to still deliver even if it isn’t an Amish story.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog! You can find out more about me and my books at:

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About The Messenger

Walter was eighty-two when he died--the first time. His visit to Heaven was glorious as he reunited with his wife, daughter, and other family and friends, relationships that a full life had nourished. But God tells Walter that he can't stay in Heaven, that Walter has more to do on Earth before he returns Home for good. Leaving those he loves, as well as the love of God, seems unbearable.

The Lord tells Walter that he will return to his earthly existence right away with renewed health and pain-free. God explains to Walter that He will relay messages to him, words that he might not understand but that are intended for the betterment of the recipient.

Walter awakens in his hospital bed feeling like a man of twenty but wondering if he'd dreamed the entire ordeal. When he begins to hear God's messages for others, he follows through, although his own doubts and fears lead him to worry whether he is handling the callings correctly. As a series of events unfold, Walter is happy when things come together for the strangers he seems to have helped, but he starts to become bitter. The two most important people in his life are hurting, and God isn't helping either one of them.

As Walter's faith is tested, will his own bitterness block the voice of God that carries with it a special message for Walter's loved ones?

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Friday, February 2, 2024

Fiction Friday: February's New Releases!

February 2024 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

Finally Forever by Karin Beery -- Former competitive dancer Caroline Novak dreams of leaving the corporate world to work with special needs women at the Pathways nonprofit, but the organization can’t afford a fulltime director. All-American defensive end Ben Allen was on his way to the NFL when a knee injury sent him home and into the same office as Caroline, his best friend’s older sister. When Pathways participates in a Dancing with the Stars-inspired fundraiser, Caroline quickly volunteers, and Ben joins her as the local “star.” It doesn’t take long for Ben to realize it’s more than a dance competition, and Caroline is more than his best friend’s sister, but after two failed engagements, she’s hesitant to trust her heart with another man. When the NFL calls Ben, it looks like his dream might finally come true—but it could cost them the championship and Caroline her heart. (Contemporary Romance from Elk Lake Publishing)

Taylor’s Trek to Love by Elsie Davis -- Escape to the Great Smoky Mountains…where fresh mountain air and love await! This is the fourth heartwarming Christian Inspirational Women's Fiction Romance that will take you to the Great Smoky Mountains for a vacation getaway that will change the lives of Taylor and Andrew in ways they would have never expected! (Contemporary Romance from Sweet Romance Publishing)

Much Ado about Romance by Susan Page Davis, Shannon Sue Dunlap, Linda Fulkerson -- A collection of novellas inspired by Shakespearen romantic comedies. (Contemporary Romance from Scrivenings Press)

A Mommy for Easter by Linda Goodnight -- Back in his hometown after a decade, Jake Colter and his adorable toddler are a reminder of everything Rachel Hamby lost. And working on the same Easter committee with her ex-husband makes avoidance impossible. Throw in a small town’s matchmaking scheme and Jake’s sweet dog, and soon Rachel’s falling for the little girl…and her father. But will Rachel risk a second chance with the painful secret she’s keeping? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Cozy Mystery:

Birds Alive! by Jennifer Dodrill -- Widow, mom blogger, and empty nester Peg forms the Empty Nesters Birding Group. On their first outing, a birder dies from an allergic reaction to peanuts from birdseed that should be peanut-free. Later, she finds another of her new birder friends wounded and dying. Peg recruits a fellow birder and her mother-in-law to help solve the crime. She teams up with the detective investigating the case, whose dimples draw her in a way she hasn’t experienced in years. (Cozy Mystery from Scrivenings Press)

Mardi Gras and Mayhem by Jann Franklin-- Just a fun girls’ weekend in New Orleans during Mardi Gras...except for the murders. Chantilly Romero held an important place as a mover and a shaker within the New Orleans business world. But she had her secrets. Did she run an illegal high-stakes poker game out of her whiskey distillery? Had her bodyguard committed a few dastardly deeds, so Chantilly could profit? Did Chantilly’s husband die by his own hand, or did she help him along to the pearly gates? Regardless, the police never found proof of any wrong doing. Did someone take matters into their own hands? (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published from Rougarou Press)

Historical Romance:

A Reluctant Melody by Sandra Ardoin -- Kit Barnes’ drinking ruined more lives than his own. Now sober, he wants to make amends by opening a mission for drunkards. The most suitable location belongs to Joanna Cranston Stewart, a love from his sordid past and the person he hurt the most. A pariah among her peers, Joanna is all too eager to sell her property and flee the rumors that she sent her late husband to an early grave. But she will let the gossips talk and the walls of her rundown property crumble around her before she’ll allow Kit back into her life. When a blackmailer threatens to reveal her long-held secret, she must choose between trusting Kit or seeing her best friend trapped in an abusive marriage. (Historical Romance from Corner Room Books)

Protecting the Mountain Man’s Treasure by Misty M. Beller -- Jude Coulter is far more comfortable in his family’s sapphire mine tucked in the Montana mountains than on the bustling streets of New York City, where he’s been sent to deliver a shipment of gems. His relief at boarding the train for the first leg of his journey home is short-lived when an accident renders him unconscious. Angela Larkin worked hard to earn this assignment for the Treasury—an undercover mission to determine the source of the sapphires brought each year for auction in the city. When an accident causes her target to lose his recent memory, Angela jumps at the opportunity to create the ideal ruse. Jude seems surprised to learn the two of them had married and were returning from a glorious wedding trip, but his severe head injury keeps him from protesting…for now. But the accident is far from the worst threat they face. When enemies close in, Angela and Jude must depend on each other to survive the treacherous journey home. (Historical Romance, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

An Uncertain Road by Abbey Downey -- When young widow Flora Montfort returns to America, she’s determined to use her training in auto racing to support herself and her French mother-in-law—even if female drivers are rare in 1905. When the owner of a successful sporting goods store hires her to drive in a ten-day race through New England, she jumps at the opportunity. Jensen Gable is not convinced that joining the team as the ride-along mechanic is worth the risk. After losing his best friend in a tragic racing accident, Jensen has vowed never to participate in the sport again. But a promise to protect his friend’s younger brother, also on the tour, outweighs his fear of the dangers. As they race through New England, Flora and Jensen find common ground that ignites their interest in each other, but doubts and old enemies come between them. As the race of a lifetime heats up, one question rises above all others…can their love find the road that leads to forever? (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

Relying on the Enemy by Danielle Grandinetti -- All widowed mother Marian Ward wants is to provide for her girls. However, she faces the dead of winter with no income and dwindling resources. Then she overhears a nefarious conversation, putting her life and that of her children in immediate danger. Aiming to make amends to the Wards, Gilbert steps in when the threat to Marian escalates. It costs him dearly. Either lose his career or marry her and be tied to his past until death do them part. He leaves the decision to Marian, who will do anything to protect her girls, even marry the son of the man who ruined her family. How will their fledgling trust prove strong enough to fulfill their vows as winter tightens its grip and desperation stalks at the door? (Historical Romance from Hearth Spot Press)

To Marry an English Lord by Robin Lee Hatcher -- Sebastian Whitcombe, Viscount Willowthorpe, comes to America to experience the great Wild West for himself before it disappears for good. The adventure comes with a convenient bonus—it postpones his father’s edict that he take a wife from the British aristocracy. Sebastian isn’t so much against marriage as he is an arranged marriage to the wrong woman. Jocelyn Overstreet hasn’t returned to her family’s eastern Idaho cattle ranch in six years. She’s far too busy managing the New York City offices of Overstreet Shipping. But when her older brother has a serious run-in with a bison, she returns to the ranch only to find the Overstreet home invaded by visitors from England, one of them a disturbingly handsome viscount who disarms her defenses at every turn. Sebastian’s future lies in England. New York City holds Jocelyn’s future. Amidst the clash of their worlds, Sebastian and Jocelyn find that the risk of love, against all odds, might just be a risk worth taking. (Historical Romance, Independently Published from RobinSong, Inc.)

Embers in the London Sky by Sarah Sundin -- After fleeing the German invasion of the Netherlands, Aleida Martens searches for her missing child in London—which sets her on a collision course with BBC radio correspondent Hugh Collingwood. During the London Blitz, they will risk their lives to discover the truth—and find a connection closer than they imagined. (Historical Romance from Revell – A division of Baker Publishing Group)


A Day Ago by Luana Ehrlich -- As he prepares to defend his client of murder charges, not only does Attorney Mylas Grey receive unexpected news about his future, he discovers he has feelings for a former female acquaintance and uncovers evidence that points to the real killer, someone who’s determined to put an end to Mylas’s future. However, Mylas has other plans. (Crime/Mystery, Independently Published)

8 Down by Kimberley Woodhouse -- Investigator Carrie Kintz is new blood with the Alaska Bureau of Investigation in Anchorage. But with a serial killer on the loose, there's no easing into the job. The only clues to stop this madman are the taunts he drops into crossword puzzles across the country--always in the same 8 DOWN position. Calling in security specialist Scott Patteson for his expertise seems like the right move--until Carrie realizes that he may be a dangerous distraction for her heart. With her faith fading in the face of horror and uncertainty and her career in danger of ending, this is no time for flirtation.But with a killer who is determined to prove that he's smarter than everyone else, it may be impossible to fight both the madman and their feelings for each other . . . (Contemporary Thriller/Suspense from Kregel Publications)

Romantic Suspense:

Hidden Chance by Shawna Coleing -- Hannah spent her childhood on the mission field in Burma, but witnessing the tragic murder of her father propelled her into a life dedicated to making a difference. A specialized military team is carrying out a mission in Burma to stop a militant group that has been wreaking havoc on local villages. After breaking into a school that has been the militia’s base of operations, they uncover an elaborate plan to exploit those most vulnerable. Robby, the specialized military team leader, determined to expose the truth, discovers a company based in America may be behind the chilling acts of savagery. Robby and Hannah must find common ground to save the lives of countless children and bring an end to the threat at their front door. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

Rebuilding Joy by Regina Rudd Merrick -- Single mom Darcy Emerson Sloan has enough to do raising twins and running a restaurant. She’s doing fine on her own and doesn’t need the complications of a man in her life. But when her café turns into a crime scene, putting her and her children in danger, she begins to take interest in the handsome young FBI agent that comes on the scene. Contractor Del Reno is as even-keeled as they come, but even he has his limits. And Darcy Sloan has pushed him too far. Every time he tries to help, it backfires. But now that Darcy and her kids are in trouble, he has no choice but to come to her aid and to protect her. She’s just going to have to deal with it. Secret tunnels, organized crime, adorable children, and a wedding. (Romantic Suspense from Scrivenings Press)

Western Romance:

Chasing the Horizon by Mary Connealy -- Uncovering her tyrannical father's malevolent plot to commit her to an asylum, Beth Rutledge fabricates a plan of her own. She will rescue her mother, who had already been sent to the asylum, and escape together on a wagon train heading west. Posing as sisters, Beth and her mother travel with the pioneers in hopes of making it to Idaho before the others start asking too many questions. Wagon-train scout Jake Holt senses the mysterious women in his caravan are running from something. When rumors begin to spread of Pinkerton agents searching relentlessly for wanted criminals who match the description of those on his wagon train, including Beth, she begins to open up to him, and he learns something more sinister is at hand. Can they risk trusting each other with their lives--and their hearts--when danger threatens their every step? (Western Romance from Bethany House)

  Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

Marrying the Mountain Man’s Best Friend by Misty M. Beller -- A marriage of convenience, desperate escape from danger, and the Christmas miracle of love that heals wounded hearts. (Historical Romance)

Silencing the Witness by Laura Conaway -- Can he keep both of them alive long enough for her to testify. (Romantic Suspense)

Meet Me Where the Windrush Flows by Valerie Massey Goree -- Will the threat to her life and accusations of malpractice against him aid their romance or keep them apart? (Romantic Suspense)

Love or Lies by Craig Hastings -- Overcoming the lies of the past: A journey of self-discovery, faith, and love. (Contemporary Romance)

Testimony: The Fourteenth Codex by Christopher J. Mooney -- Can a Coptic nun complete the quest and find relics of the founders of the church? (General Historical)

The Rare Jewel of Everleigh Wheaton by Susan L. Tuttle -- In her search for a rare gem, will she end up uncovering the true treasure of her heart? (Contemporary Romance)

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Chevron Ross!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Chevron Ross
A Behind the Scenes Look at The Samaritan's Patient

This novel might never have been born had I not seen an interview on PBS with two New York Times writers, Megan Twohey and Gabriel Dance, on December 16, 2021.

These reporters did an extensive investigation into a website on which subscribers discussed committing suicide and shared methods for doing so. Most visitors to the site were thirty or younger. There were 1.2 million messages. At least forty-five suicides in multiple countries were linked to the site.

At the time of this broadcast, I had just completed my second novel,
The Seven-Day Resurrection, and was wondering what to do next. The PBS interview was so shocking that I could not stop thinking about it. What motive could a person have for encouraging strangers to kill themselves? What could one possibly gain from such an endeavor? And what could provoke someone to throw away the gift of life at such a youthful age?

The Samaritan’s Patient is a blend of two stories: the famous parable of Jesus in the Bible, and a young person with good intentions who gets caught up in a social media nightmare.

I am amazed and grateful that God would choose someone so ordinary and unaccomplished as myself to do this work. Each novel God has written through me has been a great personal gift and a reaffirmation that God has a plan for each of us. I pray that The Samaritan’s Patient will be as great a blessing to its readers as it has been to me.

The link to the PBS Newshour broadcast that inspired the book:

Let's Connect: 
A sample chapter, book reviews, and purchase options:

The Samaritan’s Patient: A Chevron Ross Novel

Teenager Paige Abernathy awakens after a severe beating to find that she suffers from amnesia and that everyone seems to hate her.

She has only flashes of memory until the night a grieving parent attacks her in her hospital room. Paige then remembers her role as the creator of an online group where members talk about ways to commit suicide.

After recovering from the beating, Paige embarks on a journey of penance to atone for a disaster born of good intentions. Her odyssey launches her on a mission of mercy and into new danger.

The Samaritan’s Patient is a thought-provoking novel about navigating the treacherous waters of social media. 

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