Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A sneak peek at Chapel Springs Revival

Just a tidbit to introduce you to Claire and her friends a bit more...

Bev sniffed. "What in the world is that odor?" Her upper lip curled in distaste, and she lifted the plate to her nose.
"It's Claire," Patsy said, snickering. "She's resisting temptation. It's creative, I'll give her that." She picked up one of the danish and slid the plate back to Bev, who now eyed its contents suspiciously.
"I could use some help resisting Dee's goodies," Bev said. "What have you done?"
Claire pointed to the cotton in her nose. "I can't smell anything but VapoRub, and it's not exactly appetizing."
Bev twitched her nose. "Doesn't that feel uncomfortable?"
"Nope. Well, maybe some, but a girl's gotta do ... whatever."
"You don't have too much to lose." Bev gestured toward herself. "And you and Patsy are both tall. Not like me, anyway. I'm desperate to lose three pounds.” She sighed and pushed the pastry away. "I'm so short every ounce shows."
For the love o' Van Gogh, where would those pounds come from? Bev looked as perfect as a woman could. Totally put together, like a fashion model. Except petite. Maybe she could give her and Patsy some tips. They hadn't known her all that long, three years at most, but maybe it was time to take her into their confidence. Keep the enemy close and all that —without giving away too many details, of course. Claire glanced at Patsy, who returned a half smile and a suggestion of a shrug. 
"Bev, I don't know about yours, but our marriages need some refreshing, something to put the zing back." Claire took a mouthful of lukewarm coffee.
Bev's eyes opened wide and round and she slowly shook her head. "You're not going to do something kinky like swap husbands, are you?" She put her hands out in front of her as if to stop them. "I'm not into that."
Claire spewed coffee and snorted. The cotton wads shot out of her nose and 
landed on the table.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Love Comes Home ~ Reviewed

Love Comes Home
by Ann H. Gabhart

World War II is finally over and the people of Rosey Corner are busy welcoming the boys home. The Merritt sisters in particular are looking toward the future. Kate is eager to start a family and live out her dream of happily ever after with Jay. Evangeline wants a beautiful house and encourages Mike to pastor a big-town church. Victoria wants what can never be--a life with a man who will never come back. And little Lorena is growing up and wondering more and more about her birth family.

Through the heartfelt storytelling of bestselling author Ann Gabhart, readers join these endearing characters as they walk an uncertain road. Each sister must learn to hold her plans with a loose hand, trusting that God will guide and strengthen them as they share the joys and sorrows of life in their little corner of the world.

I ate this book up! I was transported to when the boys came home from WWII and felt like part of the family. When I discovered Love Comes Home was the third book in the series, I zipped over to Amazon and bought the first two. My Top Ten for 2014 has become My Top Books of 2014, because Love Comes Home is going on it. Novel Rocket and I give it our highest recommendation. It's a must read!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Meet a new budding writer, who's winning contests!

A farm girl from the time she could shimmy under a string of barbed wire, Natalie Monk is an award-winning author of historical romance spiced with southern humor and small-town oddities. Natalie is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and her manuscript HEART OF VALOR won its category in the 2013 RWA Lone Star contest and third place in the 2014 RWA Great Expectations contest in the inspirational category. Lead Me Home, the sequel to HEART OF VALOR, was a finalist in the 2013 ACFW First Impressions Contest. Natalie is a homeschool graduate from North Mississippi, a piano teacher, part-time portrait photographer, and certified wedding planner. She loves sweet tea, reading, porch swings, book talk, and watching musicals and action movies with her family. You can find Natalie (and Valor) on Facebook and on Natalie's blog

Today's interviewee is Natalie's heroine, Valor. So, Miss Valor Hill, tell me a little about yourself.

Valor: I’m the third-born in a family of four daughters. All my other sisters have moved away in pursuit of some great mission work or another, so, thankfully, we should have some peace in which to conduct this interview.

Please, do help yourself to some tea. It’s iced and a la Russe, as I’m sure you recognized by the brisk, lemony scent. These plum tarts, I made just this morning. You must tell me how they are.

AM: Mmm. Wow. You made these? Delicious. That crust…

Valor: Isn’t it fine? It’s the pork lard. I start with chilled ingredients and only use the finest.

Lard? Ahem. Yes, well, for the sake of posterity, will you give us a short description of yourself?

Valor: Certainly. I’m of medium height and build with hair of brown waves, amber eyes and an infernal case of freckles. My voice is too low to be fashionable, and I hold an affinity for the color red.

Did she say, us?

I—I’m sorry? What was that last question?

Valor: Oh, excuse me. I didn’t mean to ask that aloud. Now I’m sure I’m blushing. I might as well ask now, though. Did you say, “give us a short description?” If I may be so bold, whom do you refer to as “us?”

That would be me and the readers of this blog.

Valor: Pardon?

Blog. It’s an online community of sorts. Something you don’t have in your time.

Valor: Good heavens. Is it contagious? My father is the best doctor in three counties. I’m sure he would assist you with any treatment you require.

I—haha. I don’t think that will be necessary. Now, tell me about your recent endeavors.

Valor: I’ve established a local chapter of the International Women’s Christian Temperance Union in my town, Charity Creek. My dearest friend, Sadie, was ill used by her drunken father when she was a child. I could do nothing for her then, but I’m now determined to close Battoon’s Tavern for the sake of our town’s children. Liquor takes bread from the childrens’ mouths and puts bruises on their persons. The poor sweet things shouldn’t have to suffer because of the choices of others.

Your heart seems very tender toward children.

Valor: Yes. I… After the fever, Papa said I’ll likely never bear a child. I’m hopeful, though, for a chance to take in young Lacey Roeper and raise her as my own daughter. Her father and mother have passed, and her bachelor brother Jesse desperately needs the help of a woman’s hand in Lacey’s upbringing. I’m sure he will see the necessity when I present him with my proposal in a few days. The marriage will be a practical match, but none can argue it will be best for all.

So, this Jesse Roeper, you’re not in love with him?

Valor: Jesse and I are friends from childhood. He is extremely quiet, nigh taciturn. But I think we’ll get along fine. To answer your question, no, he doesn’t have my heart. At least, not yet. Actually…maybe never, thanks to Lacey and Jesse’s oldest brother, Blane. The scoundrel took my love with him six years ago and hasn’t returned. As far as I am concerned, he is dead to me now, along with that part of my heart.

I’m curious, now. You plan to marry his brother, and you’re not concerned he may return someday?

Valor: It is high time Blane Roeper learned he doesn’t own my affections. I’m sure the bittersweet memories I made with Blane will take time to fade. Six years hasn’t erased his baffling behavior from my mind—the utter contradiction of rogue and tender beau. I can’t say I don’t long to go back to those days.
But no matter. If Blane ever does return, he will know I have moved on with my life. I am determined he will not see these tears.

Hmm. Yes. I see. Have you, um… Have you prayed about your decision to marry Jesse?

Valor: I see no reason to continue entreating God when He hasn’t answered my prayers in six years. Forgive me if that offends you. I should better conceal my feelings on the matter. I’m forever speaking when I shouldn’t. Do you have any more questions for me?

Let’s see. Is your story published yet? Is it available to readers?

Valor: Not as of yet. But I hope it will be soon. The author I’m using to write this story is still seeking to find assistance from someone she calls a literary agent, as she has tailored the story for traditional publishers. I suppose this means a publishing representative of some type. I’m not sure. If it were my writing, I would go directly to Mr. Palmerton of the Charity Creek Chronicle and have him print the work in a serial. This is how I intend to battle that oily snake Battoon. Once all of Charity Creek hears of the saloon owner’s double-handed ways, he will run for cover.

So the story is finished? A complete work?

Valor: The author says so. Though, at ninety-six thousand words, who could claim such a thing? Compared to the great literary works I reference when tutoring Lacey, this story must surely be shorter by far. It is not uncommon to read six hundred pages in a book in my time.

In confidence I’ll tell you she refers to the story as a retelling of the prodigal son story in the Bible. Forgive me for the raised eyebrow, but this couldn’t be so. I should know my own story, shouldn’t I?

Please excuse me for cutting our time short, but I believe I hear a wagon. That will be Jesse delivering Lacey for her lessons. I thank you for seeking me out and requesting an audience. I wish you all the best in your own endeavors.

Leaving her took all he had. Winning her back will take more than he’s got.

In 1878 Mississippi, logger Blane Roeper is in a world of hurt. A struggling new Christian, he returns home for his family’s forgiveness…and his sweetheart. Instead, he finds his father dead and the family farm set to auction in ninety days. After everything he’s done, will God listen to his plea for help?
Temperance activist Valor Hill listens well. As a child she listened helplessly to her best friend’s cries when the girl’s drunken father beat her. Later she listened when neighbors said her first love Blane would never return. When the best doctor in three counties gave her no hope of having children. When the preacher said God always has a plan.

But her heart refused to listen.

Now six years later, her goal to rid the town of liquor comes second only to her heart’s foremost desire of taking in Blane’s orphan sister and rearing the girl as her own. To do that she needs a husband, so Valor pursues the last bachelor in town—Blane’s brother.

Blane’s return rekindles a good deal more than Valor’s anger, but she vows to show him she’s moved on with her life. When Blane’s brother is injured in a strange accident, the local saloon owner’s veiled threats against Valor grow increasingly suspicious. Can Blane conquer old fears to save the farm and win back his lady in time? Or will he forever relinquish a heart of valor?