Thursday, February 28, 2013

Verse of the Day

The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him." The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. (Lamentations 3:22–25)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Flora's Wish by Kathleen Y'Barbo

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Flora's Wish

Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)


Kathleen Y'Barbo


RITA and Carol award nominee Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than forty novels, novellas, and young adult books. In all, more than one million copies of her books are currently in print in the US and abroad, and her books have been translated into Dutch, German, and Spanish, to name a few.

Kathleen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She holds a BBA from Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School and a certification in Paralegal Studies, and is a former member of the Texas Bar Association’s Paralegal Division.

A tenth-generation Texan, Kathleen Y’Barbo has four children of her own as well as seven bonus kids she gladly inherited when she married her own hero in combat boots. Kathleen is proud to be a military wife, even if it did mean giving up her Texas drivers license.


May 1887--Flora Brimm is determined the fifth time is the charm. Back home she has a reputation as "Fatal Flora," a woman whose previous four fiancés died in untimely accidents. Flora is desperate to marry, because producing an heir is the only way she can keep her family's estate. She's confident this visit to Eureka Springs with her grandmother will help her land a husband.

Pinkerton detective Lucas McMinn is hot on the trail of Will Tucker, the thief who broke his sister's heart. When he discovers the slippery fellow with Flora, he thinks they are in on the devious plot together. Will Flora be able to convince Lucas of her innocence? Will Lucas catch the elusive Mr. Tucker?

And, more importantly, will Lucas survive if he pursues Flora's heart?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Flora's Wish, go HERE.

Margie's comments: I will have to give a full review later, but for now, let me say I think Flora is going to be my favorite of all of Kathleen Y'Barbo's heroines. I absolutely love her! So spunky and unexpected. Can't wait to dig deeper into her story! 

Verse of the Day

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Verse of the Day

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. (Ephesians 6:10–11)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Review of Unbreakable by Nancy Mehl

About Unbreakable:

Gentle and unassuming, Hope Kauffman has never been one to question the traditions of her Mennonite upbringing. She quietly helps her father run Kingdom Quilts and has agreed to the betrothal he arranged for her with the devout but shy Ebbie Miller.

Despite the attempts of Hope and other Kingdom residents to maintain the status quo, changes have already begun to stir in the small Mennonite town. The handsome and charismatic Jonathon Wiese is the leader of the move to reform, while Ebbie insists Kingdom must remain true to its foundation. When Hope's safety is threatened by a mysterious outsider, she can't help but question what she's always been taught about the Mennonite tradition of nonviolence.

As it swiftly becomes apparent the threat Hope faced is only the beginning, the town that's always stood so strong finds itself divided. With tensions high and their lives endangered by an unknown enemy, will Hope and the people of Kingdom allow fear and division to break them or will they draw on the strength of the God they serve?

Link to buy the book:     

 Meet Nancy: 
Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Norman and her very active puggle, Watson. She's authored fourteen books and is currently at work on a new series for Bethany House Publishing. All of Nancy's novels have an added touch - something for your spirit as well as your soul. "I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing," Nancy says. "God is number one in my life. I wouldn't be writing at all if I didn't believe that this is what He's called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan for your life, and there is nothing you can't overcome with His help." Readers can learn more about Nancy through her Web site: She is also active on Facebook. 

Margie's Comments: The Old Order Mennonite community comes alive in this series by Nancy Mehl. Once again I've enjoyed a fast-paced, satisfying read from this author. In Unbreakable she deals with the difficult subject of Mennonite nonviolence as it relates to trust in God's protection. I loved the characters in Unbreakable, especially Hope. Her struggle with God's plan and purpose for her life is one we can all identify with. Hope's courage in the face of extreme danger is inspiring as she learns to trust God with her life. I look forward to the next installment in the Road to the Kingdom series.  


Unbreakable Kindle Fire Giveaway and 3/5 Facebook Party!

Celebrate the release of Unbreakable with Nancy Mehl by entering her Kindle Fire Giveaway and RSVPing to the March 5th Author Chat Party on Facebook!

Unbreakable Kindle Fire Giveaway

One fortunate winner will receive

  • A Kindle Fire

  • Books one & two in Nancy's Road to Kingdom series (Inescapable and Unbreakable)

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 4th. Winner will be announced at the "Unbreakable" Author Chat Party on March 5th. Connect with Nancy, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at the trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be gift certificates, books, and fun Mennonite-themed giveaways.

Grab your copy of Unbreakable and join Nancy on the evening of the March 5th for a chance to connect with Nancy and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 5th!

Verse of the Day

If you need wisdom – if you want to know what God wants you to do – ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. (James 1:5 NLT)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Verse of the Day

I love you, LORD; you are my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. (Psalm 18:1–2 NLT)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Verse of the Day

“Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because they will be fed until they are full." (Matthew 5:6 CEB)

"Desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33 CEB)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

For Love of Eli by Loree Lough

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

For Love of Eli

Abingdon Press (February 1, 2013)


Loree Lough


With more than FOUR MILLION copies of her books in circulation, Loree has 98 books (fiction and non-fiction for kids and adults; four novels optioned for movies; more books slated for release between now and 2014), 68 short stories, over 2,500+ articles in print, and over 19,000 letters from fans!

Loree loves sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry, and her comedic approach makes her a favorite (and frequent) guest of writers' organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, college and high school writing programs both here and abroad.

A writer who believes in "giving back," Loree dedicates a portion of her income to Soldiers' Angels, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and other worthwhile organizations.

She splits her time between a tiny home in the Baltimore suburbs and an even tinier cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, and shares both with her real-life hero Larry, who rarely complains, even when she adds yet another item to her vast collection of "wolf stuff."


When unspeakable tragedy leaves young Eli an orphan, two families are devastated. But Taylor, Eli’s aunt and legal guardian, vows to help him remember his parents by creating a Memory Quilt. As she begins piecing together the moments of his parents' lives, the story of the young family emerges and Taylor and Eli begin to heal. But Eli’s uncle Reece is slow to let go of the past and still blames Taylor’s brother for his sister’s death. So, although he has long been attracted to Taylor, Reece keeps a safe distance away. Can their shared love for Eli pave the way to forgiveness or will Taylor and Reece be separated by pain?

If you would like to read a first chapter excerpt of For Love of Eli, go HERE.

Margie's comments: Have I mentioned before how much I'm enjoying Abingdon Press's Quilts of Love series? Each story has been unique, but all center around a special quilt to the characters. In For Love of Eli, I'm immediately captivated by Eli, a four-year-old who has greater wisdom than most adults. Taylor and Reece are also very likable, although I'll have to admit that Reece took me a little longer to like because of the grudge he still carries. Taylor and Reece are bound by their love for their nephew, but of course the path to forgiveness is never easy, but they each have to make their own decisions to forgive the other's sibling. All the little twists and turns the plot takes kept me riveted to the story. As it deals with the subject of grief at the loss of loved ones, I appreciated Loree's excellent portrayal that grief affects each of us in both similar and dissimilar ways. I highly recommend this quick read.

Verse of the Day

"Be strong and courageous! Don't be afraid or discouraged . . . for there is a power far greater on our side!" (2 Chronicles 32:7 NLT)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Verse of the Day

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don't be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:5–7 NLT)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Verse of the Day

But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, for You have been my stronghold and a refuge in the day of my distress. (Psalm 59:16)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Daybreak by Shelley Shepard Gray

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Avon Inspire; Original edition (February 12, 2013)


Shelley Shepard Gray


Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold over thirty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, Abingdon Press, and Avon Inspire. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, The Protector, the final book in her “Families of Honor” series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, The Survivor, appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, Forgiven and Grace, and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire, Hidden, was an Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two children in college, and is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and currently leads a Bible study group, and she looks forward to the opportunity to continue to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.

When she’s not writing, Shelley often attends conferences and reader retreats in order to give workshops and publicize her work. She’s attended RWA’s national conference six times, the ACFW conference, and Romantic Times Magazine’s annual conference as well as traveled to New Jersey, Birmingham, and Tennessee to attend local conferences.

Check out Shelley's Facebook Fan page


When Viola Keim starts working at a nearby Mennonite retirement home, she strikes up an unlikely friendship with resident Atle, whose only living relative, son Edward, is living as a missionary in Nicaragua. Viola understands the importance of mission work, but she can’t imagine leaving her father in the hands of strangers. Even though her family is New Order Amish, it’s not the Amish way, and though she doesn’t know Ed, she judges him for abandoning his father.

But when Ed surprises his father with a visit, Viola and Ed both discover an attraction they never expected. Despite her feelings, choosing Ed would mean moving to a far-off country and leaving her family behind. She can’t do that. Her twin sister, Elsie, is going blind and will need someone to care for her all her life. Her family is reeling with the recent discovery that her grandmother hid her past as an Englischer. Her father seems forgetful and distracted—and to be harboring some secrets of his own.

Does Viola dare leave them all behind and forge her own life? Or will family ties mean her one chance at love slips away?

If you would like to read a first Chapter excerpt from Daybreak,go HERE.

Margie's comments: Daybreak by Shelley Shepard Gray caught my attention right away and proved to be an excellent read. Because I grew up on the mission field, I was drawn to Edward and his father right away. And I could also understand Viola's struggles to come to terms with Edward's obvious call on his life. Amid family dynamics and secrets from the past, Viola isn't sure who to trust with her future. I found this book to be a quick, engaging read, and I'm looking forward to reading the future books in this series.

Verse of the Day

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Shattered by Dani Pettrey

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Bethany House Publishers (February 1, 2013)


Dani Pettrey


In real life, Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom, and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of one’s faith and plenty of romance. She’s a huge fan of dark chocolate, is always in search of the best iced mocha and her dream is to one day own a little cottage on a remote stretch of beach. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters.

Just in case you’re curious…The real Dani does love traveling. She’s been to some amazing places (Greece, Hawaii, the Keys) and there are many more she hopes to visit in the future.

And while she’s not quite up to sky-diving, cave diving, or heli-skiing (too high, too enclosed, too cold!) she and her family love hiking, canoeing, wave jumping, and a ton of other outdoor adventures a little further down on the risk scale.


Piper McKenna couldn't be more thrilled that her prodigal brother, Reef, has returned to Yancey, Alaska, after five years. But her happiness is short-lived when Reef appears at her house covered in blood. A fellow snowboarder has been killed—but despite the evidence, Reef swears he's innocent. And Piper believes him.

Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKennas like family, but he's also sworn to find the truth. Piper is frustrated with his need for facts over faith, but he knows those closest to you have the power to deceive you the most. With his sheriff pushing for a quick conviction, some unexpected leads complicate the investigation, and pursuing the truth may mean risking Landon's career.

With Piper waging her own search, the two head deep into Canada's rugged backcountry--and unexpected complications. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Shattered, go HERE.

Margie's Comments: I'm still a little behind on my reading this month as I'm working to complete my own book manuscript and get it turned in to my editor. I'm looking forward to getting reacquainted with the characters Dani Pettrey introduced us to in Submerged. Plus I need to find out what changes are coming for Piper and Landon's relationship. So please check back in a couple of weeks for the review of Shattered. 

Verse of the Day

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 AMP)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Verse of the Day

Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10 KJV)

"Cease striving and know that I am God." (NASB)

"Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything." (MSG)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Verse of the Day

The LORD who created you says: "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you." (Isaiah 43:1–2 NLT)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Redeeming Grace by Ward Tanneberg

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Redeeming Grace

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas;
1st edition (February 28, 2013)


Ward Tanneberg


Ward Tanneberg is a pastor/writer/novelist who has given more than 50 years to evangelism, youth, college, and pastoral ministry, including two Pacific Northwest churches and 23 years as the senior pastor at Valley Christian Center in Dublin, CA. In 2008, he was named President/Executive Director of The CASA Network. Ward speaks extensively at 50+ retreats and ministry leadership events in the USA and elsewhere. When at home he meets weekly with a group of business and professional leaders. He and Dixie have 2 children, 3 grandchildren, 4 step-grandchildren, and a great-grandson.


Seven years ago, Grace Grafton died in a boating accident while partying on the Georgia, South Carolina coast. Was her death the result of alcohol and drugs or something more sinister? Nobody knows: her body was never recovered. Now years later, a woman reads in disbelief the note addressed to her: Hello Grace, did you think we wouldn't find you?

Those nine chilling words end Grafton's self-imposed sanctuary of witness protection. Now she and everyone she loves are in grave danger. Long believed dead, she has a secret that can change the world. She knows the man running for president is guilty of a double murder! But who will believe her?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Redeeming Grace, go HERE.

Margie's Comments: Review to come later.

Verse of the Day

“Be very brave and strong as you carefully obey all of the Instruction that Moses my servant commanded you. Don’t deviate even a bit from it, either to the right or left. Then you will have success wherever you go. Never stop speaking about this Instruction scroll. Recite it day and night so you can carefully obey everything written in it. Then you will accomplish your objectives and you will succeed. I’ve commanded you to be brave and strong, haven’t I? Don’t be alarmed or terrified, because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7–9 CEB)

God's words to Joshua after Moses died, but still applicable to each of us today.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bella's Back!

Enjoy this fun interview with author Janice Thompson, where she shares the story-behind-the-story regarding Bella’s return.

Janice, welcome! I really enjoyed the Weddings by Bella series and am excited to read the spin-off series.

1. Can you tell us more about why you decided to write it?

Sure! (Thanks for hosting me, by the way!) When I wrote Fools Rush In (book one in the Weddings by Bella series) I knew I had something special on my hands. The characters really resonated with me, but there was more. I felt as if I’d created a world of real, wonderful, wacky people. Sure, I’d breathed life into them on the page, but they seemed to take it from there, springing to life and moving the story forward as they willed. I wrapped up the series with Swinging on a Star and It Had to be You, but my readers weren’t satisfied! At least once a week I got a letter from a fan saying, “Are there more? Please keep this story going!” I sent several of those letters to my editor, and before long she agreed that we should, indeed, keep the story going! That’s how the Weddings by Design story began. I’m so relieved to have more to offer. Since Fools Rush In went free on Kindle, it has been downloaded nearly 300,000 times. Crazy! So, I have many, many new readers, aching for more!

2. How are these stories similar to the novels in the Weddings by Bella series?

This is a wedding-themed series, just like the first, and loaded with fun, quirky mishaps on the way to the altar! Readers will experience the same “feel” of Galveston Island and my ever-present humor, which drives the stories forward.  I truly hope that readers pick up the first book in this new series and sigh with relief as they catch up with their favorite characters from the last series: Bella, D.J., Aunt Rosa, Uncle Laz, the three ladies from Splendora, Brock Benson, and so on. Here’s what the publisher had to say about the new series: With her contagious humor and cast of quirky characters, Janice Thompson gives readers more of the bridal business drama they want in a brand-new series all about those long-suffering people who make beautiful weddings happen. Readers are desperately waiting for more of Bella and this new series brings her back in a big way, while introducing new characters fans will love. Fans will laugh out loud as they experience this breezy and entertaining novel from a great storyteller.”

3. What sets this new series apart from the last one?

The Weddings by Design novels are told from the point of view of new characters. Book one, Picture Perfect, is about a wedding photographer named Hannah. Book two, The Icing on the Cake, is about a wedding cake designer named Scarlet. Book three, The Dream Dress, is about a dress designer named Gabi. Book four (yet untitled) is about a wedding florist named Gina. Each of these ladies longs to work with the most fabulous wedding coordinator on the island—Bella (Rossi) Neeley, so everything loops back to Club Wed, just like the first series.

4. When does the new series release?

Book one, Picture Perfect, is already available on Amazon. The Kindle version will be ready for download on February 15th. (Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all!) I received my author copies last week, so autographed copies are available for purchase ($12) if readers are interested in that. They can email me at for more information.

5. Can you tell us about Picture Perfect, the first book in the series?

Ooo, I’d love to! The synopsis should answer any questions:
She’s trying to focus on her future. How can one man make everything feel so . . . fuzzy?
Hannah McDermott has a successful photography studio. She’ll soon be featured in Texas Bride magazine. And she has a celebrity client whose Galveston ceremony will be her ticket to the top spot on wedding coordinator Bella Neeley’s list of recommended photographers. But it could all come crashing down around her because of one man: archrival and photographer extraordinaire Drew Kincaid.
As the competition between Hannah and Drew heats up, Hannah is surprised to find that it’s not the only thing getting more intense. She can’t get the handsome man out of her thoughts-or even out of her line of sight-and the job of her dreams is turning into a nightmare. Will everything she’s worked for slip out of her hands? And can she see past her pride to find a picture-perfect love?
6. How is the new series doing with readers so far?

Great! Folks who’ve read the book have already contacted me to say they love it! I’m also thrilled that Picture Perfect got a great Romantic Times review. . .four stars! Here’s what the reviewer had to say: "Fans of romantic comedies are in for a treat just in time for Valentine’s Day. Book one in the Weddings by Design series does not disappoint! Funny one-liners and absolutely lovable characters combine with just enough romantic tension to keep the pages turning at a brisk pace — but readers will want to slow down to savor this one."

7. How are you kicking off the new series?

I’m hosting an online party! I’m calling this my “Bing & Bob” party and it will be held on the night of February 18th at 7:00 p.m. central time. These two funny fellas hold a special place in the heart of my characters and they will provide the entertainment at our gathering! This fun, interactive party will take place inside the “Bella’s Back” group on facebook. Join me for an interactive chat, video teasers, Bing Crosby music and giveaways! Some lucky reader/participant will win a free Kindle Fire! To be entered, you must join the Bella’s Back facebook group and attend the party. (i.e. “Must be present when your named is called.”)

For more information about the party, check out this video invitation.

8. Can you share a little bit from the novel?

Going My Way

May your troubles be as few and as far apart as my grandmother’s teeth.
Irish proverb
My life has been a series of almosts.
Take, for instance, the time I almost made the cheerleading squad in high school but lost out to my archnemesis, Jacquie Practically-Perfect-in-Every-Way Goldfarb. Then there was the time Matt Hudson, the hunkiest football player at my high school, almost asked me to the prom but ended up going with Jacquie instead. Oh, and we can’t forget the time I almost got a photographer’s dream job, shooting superstar Brock Benson’s wedding. Yep. Another almost. That time, the opportunity of a lifetime slipped through my fingers and into the open palms of my chief competitor, Drew Kincaid of Kincaid Photography.
Some people are haunted by memories of things they’ve done. Me? I’m haunted by all of the things I nearly accomplished but missed by a quarter of an inch. That’s why, when faced with yet another unbelievable opportunity—a profile piece in Texas Bride magazine to promote my new Galveston-based photography business—I couldn’t blow it. No more almosts for me. This time I would hit the finish line a winner. My meeting with the Texas Bride reporter would transform my career and propel me into the limelight, winning me the favor of the island’s top wedding planner, Bella Neeley. If I could just keep from messing it up.
Oh, but this time I wouldn’t! In fact, I could almost hear my Grandpa Aengus cheering me on from the great beyond: “Hannah Grace, if you’re lucky enough to be Irish, then you’re lucky enough.”
I didn’t happen to believe in luck, but if being Irish meant I stood a better chance at succeeding in business, I would embrace my heritage as never before. I would bathe with Irish Spring soap, dress in the vibrant colors of the family crest, skip through fields of shamrocks, and listen to my father’s nightly tales of Clan McDermott’s glory days. And I would do it all with a smile on my face and confidence in my stride.
From his mansion up in heaven, Grandpa Aengus smiled down on me, his gold-capped front tooth gleaming like the precious stones in the pearly gate. I could sense his pleasure as I made up my mind to do the McDermotts proud. Like my warring ancestors of yesteryear, I would fight to the finish, wielding my bloody sword—er, my two-thousand-dollar digital camera with stellar resolution and optical zoom—until I took the prize. I would come out a victor in the end, or make a fool of myself trying.
Either way, I wouldn’t go down without a fight. A true McDermott never did.

Thanks for visiting with us, Janice! Looking forward to the new series!

Join the “Bella’s Back” Facebook group
Watch the Bing & Bob party video invitation

Margie's comments: I have a copy of Picture Perfect and plan to post a review soon! 

Verse of the Day

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves . . . and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. (Romans 8:26–28 MSG)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Unbreakable by Nancy Mehl

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Bethany House Publishers (February 1, 2013)


Nancy Mehl


Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Norman and their dog, Watson. She’s authored thirteen books and is currently at work on her newest series for Bethany House Publishing.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “It’s a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

She and her husband attend Believer’s Tabernacle in Wichita.


Mennonite Romantic Suspense Sure to Thrill Readers

Gentle and unassuming Hope Kauffman has never been one to question or try to make changes. She quietly helps her father run Kingdom Quilts and has agreed to the betrothal her father arranged for her with the devout but shy Ebbie Miller.

Despite Hope's and other Kingdom residents' attempts to maintain the status quo, changes have already begun to stir in the small Mennonite town. The handsome and charismatic Jonathon Wiese is the leader of the move to reform, and when one of Kingdom's own is threatened by a mysterious outsider, Jonathon is one of the first to push for the town to arm itself. Hope's fiance, Ebbie, is at the forefront of those demanding the town stay true to its traditions of nonviolence.

When strange incidents around town result in outright attacks on several townspeople, Hope can't help but question what she's always been taught. As the town that's always stood so strong together is torn apart at the seams, Hope is caught between opposing sides, both represented by those she has come to care for. With tensions high and lives endangered by an unknown threat, Hope fears Kingdom can never survive in one piece.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Unbreakable, go HERE.

Interview with Nancy: Nancy Mehl is a friend of mine, and I'm so glad she agreed to the interview so I can introduce her to you.

How did you get started writing, and where has that journey taken you that you may not have expected starting out?

Well, I never expected to write Mennonite-themed novels. I started out writing mystery. A certain publisher, looking at a cozy mystery proposal that started out with an Amish background, asked me to make some changes that would turn my mystery into romantic suspense. I made the changes, and now I’m starting work on my seventh Mennonite novel. Some people might wonder if I’d rather be writing mystery. Mystery is still my first literary love, but I’ve had two publishers that have encouraged me to include my mystery side in my writing. So I have the best of both worlds. Mystery and suspense. I love what I’m writing now.

How do you balance family life with writing?

Actually, it’s just my husband and me now. Our son, his wife, and our new grandson are living in Missouri. I have plenty of time to get my work done and still spend time with my husband. When we move to Missouri, that will change. I’ll have to make some adjustments, but I’m happy to do it. I miss my children and my grandson so much, I’m willing to do whatever I have to do to make it work.  

How does your walk with the Lord affect your writing? And how do you balance time with the Lord with your writing schedule?

I put every book in His hands before I start writing. I ask Him to say what He wants to say through it. He’s so good to help me, even giving me plot ideas. Just wish He wouldn’t wait until I get in bed at night to pop great concepts into my head! LOL!

I try to get up early and spend time with God before my day starts. This way I can protect those precious moments from any surprises that might pop up. Besides, I think putting Him first pleases Him.

Since my blog is geared to writers who want to improve their self-editing, could you briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision?

Oh, my. That’s a big question.

I usually start out with just a synopsis. I’m the kind of writer who has to start a story before I’m ready to do much plotting. I need to know my characters and my surroundings before my entire plot becomes clear. I try to do a character outline at the beginning so I don’t lose track of my characters. This saves me from getting a note from my editor asking why someone’s eyes changed from blue to green in the middle of my story! LOL! About one quarter into the story, I can begin plotting. I might write down some ideas – or put different scenes I know must take place on 3 X 5 cards. I put these cards in a certain order, but many times, that order will change as I near the end of my novel.

Two important points: I don’t do substantial edits until after the story is done. I do quickly edit a chapter after I write it, but then I go on. Too many writers get stuck editing and never get to the end. If you hold on to most of your edits until you’re done, you’ll not only finish your novel, you’ll get to see your work with fresh eyes when you start back through it. That helps a lot.

When I’m finished, I send my completed manuscript to my editor.

And then…a whole new round of edits begins!

What kinds of things do you have to revise once the editor at a publishing house gets done with your manuscript?

They’ll point out mistakes in details, question certain choices in an effort for consistency, and evaluate the level of suspense. I’m blessed to have incredible editors who give me great input.

Would you tell us a little about your future projects?

In September, the third and last book in my Road to Kingdom series, UNFORESEEABLE, will be released. Bringing a serial killer into Kingdom was quite a challenge. I think my readers will like the results And it ends with a major twist. I took this story in a direction I haven’t done in any of my other Mennonite-themed books.

In 2014 a brand new series begins. Tentatively titled the Sanctuary Series, it will feature two stories told through the eyes of non-Mennonite characters. Also, two of my favorite characters from the Kingdom series will make an appearance! I’m excited to merge these two series. I think my readers will be happy to see these characters again so I can complete their “star-crossed” story.  

Finally, would you discuss Unbreakable? The research, the idea, and the scope of the project?

Unbreakable was a novel I had to write. After four previous Mennonite-themed books, I felt it was time to address the elephant in the room. How could I write about the Mennonite way of life and not talk about their commitment to nonviolence or passive resistance? Not being Mennonite, I’ve leaned heavily on a wonderful lady from Goessel, Kansas, to keep me on track. Judy Unruh is a church historian and has been with me from the beginning, providing answers to all my questions. But when I told her what I was contemplating, she was less than confident in my ability to portray the importance and passion behind this core Mennonite belief. I’m happy to say that when she read the manuscript, she told me I’d pulled it off. High praise indeed.

I presented two points of view in Unbreakable. Jonathon Wiese is convinced that protecting the people he loves means he must be willing to do whatever is necessary. Ebbie Miller decries violence of any kind and chooses not to pick up a weapon under any circumstances. Both men love Hope Kauffman. She isn’t sure which one is right, but when her life is at stake, the choices they make, though thoroughly different, are each made out of devotion.

I never pick a side in Unbreakable. I leave that to my readers. In the end, I hope everyone takes away a deeper understanding of both sides. Something we desperately need in our current political and religious environment.

Thank you so much, Nancy! We appreciate your time and the opportunity to spotlight your work.

Thank you, Marjorie. I’m thrilled to be with you. Now may I take a moment to sing your praises? You’re a dynamite editor, and I highly recommend you to anyone out there who needs an editor they can trust. You’re a joy to work with and a blessing to know. 

Aww, thanks, Nancy! 

Verse of the Day

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired. (Isaiah 40:31 AMP)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Persevering Focus

The word the Lord had impressed on me last year was focus. The verse was Hebrews 12:2: “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” But all year the secondary word seemed to be contentment, choosing to be content with where the Lord has put us for this season in our lives. So many things have changed over the last two years, and sometimes it's hard to keep my focus on Jesus rather than on our circumstances. 

Toward the end of the year, the primary word that kept coming up in my Bible and devotional reading and in prayer was perseverance or endurance. But focus was still prominent because the verse for this year is Hebrews 12:1. Plus verses 1 and 2 are all part of one sentence: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1–2 nasb).

The Lord seems to be saying, “Stick with it. This is the race you’ve been given to run. Do it. Don’t give up because it’s not what you envisioned. Keep your eyes on Me, for only in Me will you find true satisfaction and contentment.”

The last two months of last year and the first two weeks of this year, I was very focused on what needed to be done with two book contracts so I could complete them. But once I turned in the work-for-hire project, I took a few days to relax a little before doing the final push on Calming the Storm Within. Those few days turned into a few weeks. As a result, I’ve struggled with disappointment (those unfulfilled expectations again), discouragement, and even depression. Distractions and interruptions are common, but I allowed them to control the way I spent each day.

Since the beginning of the year I’ve been working at losing the weight that had accumulated everywhere on my body during the last few years of stress eating. I joined a FB group called Transformation 2013, and we’ve been reading/studying Lysa TerKeurst’s 70-day devotional based on her book with the same title, Made to Crave. The readings the last two days have especially hit home, specifically in how I’ve been making choices based on my fleshly pleasures and desires.

Yesterday I read, “If you want to be a sold-out somebody for God, you have to break away from the everybody crowd.”

Ouch! The Lord reminded me of my deepest heart’s desire: to daily become the woman God created, reflecting Christ to others around me. Instead, these last few weeks I’ve focused on me—needing more time to “think through the topics” before I can write them, and trying to find a solution to our continued financial issues. In reality I’ve known what goes in those last two chapters for several weeks now. And my trying to find a solution to our problems is a lot of what got us into this mess in the first place. So . . . yeah. Very convicting.

Then Lysa quoted these verses from The Message paraphrase: “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention” (Matthew 7:13–14). My choices weren't shortcuts to getting those chapters written, nor did they bring solutions to paying the bills.

So I approached the day and week with purpose and a plan to finish the book. Which was fine until I took time after lunch to play “just one game.” Just to relax a little, get my mind into gear for writing. Only I know better. It takes my mind out of gear so I don’t have to think about the tough things like self-discipline and hard work. I went to bed last night frustrated with myself once again.

This morning when I opened Made to Crave on my Kindle, I read: “We often desire the long term solution, but shy away from the actions necessary to reach our goal.” 

Ouch again! She’s not talking about just food here. Anything that keeps us from being all God desires for us is sin. It involves a conscious choice which direction I pursue. When I allow the “easy” choice—the one that gives me temporary pleasure and postpones the real work—I’m playing into Satan’s desires to keep me from being effective and fulfilling God’s plan for me.

It’s obvious I can’t accomplish the work the Lord has given me to do in my own strength. Nor can I truly be content when I’m pursuing my own way. Frustrations continue to build when I choose to focus on my circumstances rather than on what God wants me to learn because of them. True contentment all boils down to my choices—to pursue God and holiness or to follow after the temporary pleasures of my flesh and the world; to persevere in the face of extreme trials or to drift along or give up the struggle; to prepare for eternity to come or to live in the moment. 

Today I choose to pursue God’s plan one decision at a time. Step by step walking the path He has chosen for me. Perseverance, focus, contentment. “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).   

Verse of the Day

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Verse of the Day

"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:13–14)

"Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention." (Matthew 7:13–14 MSG)

Friday, February 1, 2013

ACFW New Releases—February 2013

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

Angelguard by Ian Acheson — In a war that transcends time … A new offensive is launched … Hidden dark forces are advancing … Heaven’s warriors respond … One man finds himself at the center of the conflict … Can he stop the unthinkable occurring? (Supernatural Thriller from Monarch – Lion Hudson).

Heart of a Rancher by Renee Andrews — After having his heart broken in the past by a city girl, John Cutter isn’t quick to fall for the new city girl in town, but when he does, he falls hard…and then he learns her secret. (Romance from Love Inspired).

A Home for Lydia by Vannetta Chapman — A Home for Lydia centers again on the Plain community of Pebble Creek and the kind, caring people there. As they face challenges to their community from the English world, they come together to reach out to their non-Amish neighbors while still preserving their cherished Plain ways. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House).

The Reluctant Earl by C.J. Chase — Alone in a gentleman’s bedchamber, rummaging through his clothing – governess Leah Vance risks social ruin. Only by selling political information can she pay for her sister’s care. And the letter she found in Julian DeChambelle’s coat could be valuable-if the ex-sea captain himself had not just walked in. As a navy officer, Julian knew his purpose. As a new earl, he’s plagued by trivialities and marriage-obsessed females. Miss Vance’s independence is intriguing-and useful. In return for relaying false information, he will pay her handsomely. But trusting her, even caring for her? That would be pure folly. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired).

Detection Mission by Margaret Daley — K-9 officer, Lee Calloway, finds a woman running for her life, scared, injured, and no idea who she is. Lee vows to protect her until her memory returns, but someone is desperate to make sure that doesn’t happen. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired).

Catherine’s Pursuit by Lena Nelson Dooley — The search for her sisters will become a spiritual journey for the entire family. (Historical Romance from Realms – Charisma Media).

Love Comes to Paradise by Mary Ellis — Nora King follows her heart to a turbulent new land, only to discover one cannot escape the past…or true love if God wills it to be. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House).

A New Home for Lily by Suzanne Woods Fisher and Mary Ann Kinsinger — Lily Lapp is moving with her family to Pennsylvania to join a new Amish community. In this small town where changes–and newcomers–are greeted with suspicion, Lily must adjust to a new school, new friends, and Aaron Yoder, an annoying boy who teases her relentlessly. Still, there are exciting new developments, including an attic full of adventure and a new baby brother. But why, Lily wonders, can’t God bring her just one sister? (Middle-Grade/Chapter book from Revell).

Beyond the Valley by Rita Gerlach — Will his love be enough to find her again within the wilds of the Maryland frontier? Book 3 in the Daughters of the Potomac series. (Historical Romance from Abingdon).

Groom by Arrangement by Rhonda Gibson — The wrong groom could be the perfect match. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired).

Torn Loyalties by Vicki Hinze — Madison McKay doesn’t trust anyone. When Madison is framed for a security breach at a top secret military facility, she’s forced to put her life in ex-military special investigator Grant Deaver’s hands. But after she discovers that he’s been deceiving her, everything will be torn apart unless Grant can convince her to trust him with her life…and her heart. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired).

Love’s Journey Home by Kelly Irvin — Love’s Journey Home is the story of how the families of Bliss Creek’s Amish community learn to be still and listen for the Lord’s direction and then act on faith that His plan will lead them to a long awaited new life. (Romance from Harvest House).

Shattered by Dani Pettrey — Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKenna family, but he’s also sworn to find the truth. Piper McKenna is trying to convince him her brother is innocent of murder. The two head deep into Canada’s rugged backcountry–and unexpected complications. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House).

The Magistrate’s Folly by Lisa Karon Richardson — The magistrate didn’t know if his greatest folly was condemning her, or trying to rescue her. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing).

When the Heart Heals by Ann Shorey — A young woman tries to put the past behind her and find her place in a new town and a changing world. (Historical Romance from Revell).
Rebekah by Jill Eileen Smith — Can love heal the rift between two souls? (Historical/Biblical from Revell).

Hide and Seek by H.L. Wegley — He expected security breaches, but the conspiracy she uncovers sends them running for their lives. (Romantic Suspense from Harbourlight Books).

Congo Dawn by Jeanette Windle — When a multinational corporation with unlimited funds hires on a private military company with unbridled power, how far might they be willing to go with the planet’s ultimate “conflict mineral” up for grabs? Especially in a Congolese rainforest where governmental accountability is only too cheaply for sale. (Thriller/Suspense from Tyndale).

Firefly Island by Lisa Wingate — Big city career lady Mallory must decide fast whether to move to an isolated Texas Ranch with a man she recently started dating, well, two males actually, Daniel’s son Nick is part of the package deal. (General Contemporary from Bethany House).

Flora’s Wish by Kathleen Y’Barbo — If you like your historical romance Southern with a dash of steam punk, don’t miss the first novel in the Lives of Will Tucker series: A revenge-bound Pinkerton agent with a pocketful of inventions cannot seem to stop “Fatal Flora” Brimm from reaching the altar with prospective groom number five, but the arrest warrant Agent Lucas McMinn carries in his pocket for Flora and her fiancé just might. (Historical Romance from Harvest House).