Friday, November 28, 2008

Beloved Captive by Kathleen Y'Barbo

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Beloved Captive

Barbour Publishing, Inc (November 1, 2008)


Kathleen Y’Barbo


There’s never a dull moment in the Y’Barbo household! From hockey and cheer mom to publicist to bestselling author, Kathleen Y’Barbo somehow manages to do it all - and well. While wearing her publicist’s hat, Kathleen has secured interviews with radio, television, and print media for clients at NavPress, Hatchette, Integrity, Barbour Publishing, and Broadman & Holman, to name a few. She also brings her own unique blend of Southern charm and witty prose to the more than 350,000 award-winning novels and novellas currently in print. Her novels have been nominated for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006; and 2007 will see the release of her 25th book.

Kathleen is a tenth-generation Texan and a mother of three grown sons and a teenage daughter. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University. Kathleen is a former treasurer for the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a member of the Author’s Guild, Inspirational Writers Alive, Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild, and the Fellowship of Christian Authors. In addition, she is a sought-after speaker, and her kids think she’s a pretty cool mom, too…most of the time, anyway.

The first book in this series is Beloved Castaway.


In this sequel to Beloved Castaway, Emilie Gayarre is learning to accept her mixed race heritage while finding fulfillment in teaching children of the key. There is no denying the attraction between Emilie and the handsome young naval commander, Caleb Spencer, who is shadowed by his own flock of secrets. But if her heritage is found out, even greater things than his career are at risk. Enjoy this historical romance full of risk and redemption.

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

Review: I've long been a fan of Kathleen Y'Barbo's writing. Her stories are more than fluff; I can always count on a well-told story with substance when I pick up one of her books. And Beloved Captive is more of the same. I first became aware of Kathleen when Barbour sent me a Heartsong Presents! book she'd written. And I fell in love with the South all over again. (Growing up in the Rio Grande Valley in the tip of Texas, though I'm not a native Texan, did that for me. *smile*) Then I got to work with her more closely when I was asked to copy edit a couple of her novella collections. So when I was asked last year to proofread the first book in this series, Beloved Captive, her first full-length novel, I fell in love with her characters. Kathleen tells wonderful love stories, and Beloved Captive is a prime example of Kathleen's writing. The themes of redemption and forgiveness and acceptance run strong throughout this book. I couldn't put this book down. Thank you, Kathleen, for yet another excellent read.

If you'd like a free copy of this book, please leave a comment. We'll have a drawing of a name next Friday, and I'll announce it here then.

It's Official

Rejoice and praise God with me. I'm a winner in the 2008 NaNoWriMo challenge. My final word count came in at 50,350 words. Whew!

The glory goes to God, because without Him I wouldn't have had the impetus to keep my rear end in the chair and my AlphaSmart on my lap.

This month has been a real learning experience for me. Now I know that it can be done (this is my third completed novel, but my first completed in a month), I'm hoping I won't drag my feet on future projects.

Now on to editing! Here's where I can let my perfectionist come back, sort of. With a reduced role, but she is needed. As much as I also need my crit partners! They have cheered me on through this month. And I appreciate them so much. You know who you are!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Grateful Heart

Thanksgiving is this week. Not that I had to tell anyone of that. *smile* Much has happened since last year when I posted about the Lord's promise to bring me out of the desert that was my life. I still have moments, but this year is evidence that God is faithful to keep His promises.

This morning in my quiet time I read the words (and yes, sang them—in my head because my cat doesn't appreciate my singing and she sits on my lap during my quiet time) to "Now Thank We All Our God."

Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom His world rejoices;
Who, from our mothers' arms
Hath blessed us on ouw way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
And bless peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace,
And guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills
In this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God
The Father now be given,
The Son, and Him who reigns
With them in highest heaven,
The one eternal God,
Whom earth and heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now,
And shall be evermore. Amen.

Martin Rinkart (1586–1649)

The history behind the words gave new insight to these words: "Like so many other great hymns, it was forged in the crucible of the Thirty Years' War. Martin Rinkart was the only pastor in the walled city of Eilenberg [Germany]. Many refugees fled there, hoping the walls would protect them, only to see the city overrun by Swedes, Austrians, and Swedes again. In the crowded condition, hunger and plague were chronic problems. In 1637 Rinkart conducted funerals for five thousand residents—including his wife. So when he prays, "Guide us when perplexed," he is not talking about minor inconveniences."

This year for me has been a year of rejoicing in God's abundant blessings, but they haven't come without trials. The Lord gave me the word guidance for this year (maybe into next year) and He's given me all sorts of opportunities to learn to trust Him and His leadership. His ways are strange to me, and I've fought His leading way too many times to say I'm passing these tests with flying colors—I'm not. But through it all I'm learning that His way is perfect.

If I allow myself to dwell on the downside to this year's Thanksgiving holiday, I'd be missing the point of a having a grateful heart. I would have liked to make the trip to Illinois to be with Roger's brothers and sister. I wish my mother could be here; this is the first Thanksgiving where we've stayed in Colorado that Mom won't be here (I avoided this milestone last year by going to Illinois, where Roger's mom was missing in the family circle). This also is the first Thanksgiving since she was born that we won't be spending with Kathy, either here or in Illinois.

But I'm thankful for God's provision and comfort. Both our moms are in heaven with the Lord. Kathy is where I believe God has placed her at this time. As Roger, Randy, and I are. I'm extremely grateful for my family, including all the extended family on both sides. I'm thankful for the salvation God provided for me through Jesus Christ. And I'm thankful for the opportunities He gives me each day to praise Him and thank Him. Those are the things I can hang onto for eternity.

God is good.

Monday, November 24, 2008

NaNoWriMo Update

Last week was not a good week for finding writing time, even with my two-week old "new" schedule of getting up at 5:30 and sitting down by 7:45 to write for two hours. By Thursday evening I'd only added less than 2500 words to the total word count. Not good. I was going to write after Randy went to work Thursday evening, but I was so tired, I couldn't even think straight. So I felt the Lord's urging me to set aside Friday to write—all day.

With frequent breaks on Friday—to do laundry, bake bread that was soy-free (sigh, fighting yet another rash), and eat—I wrote a total of nine hours with a word count just shy of 11,000 words. Didn't know it could be done! God is good and gracious. It was all Him, believe me.

So with today's two-hour writing session done, I've now completed 41,935 words toward my goal of 50,000 words by Sunday. Only 8,000 words to go. And the story is definitely on the downward slope. Thanks for all your prayers and encouragement! Keep it up through this week . . . please. *smile*

Daily Bible Reading: Tuesday, November 25—2 Chronicles 13–14; Luke 7:1–30
Wednesday, November 26—2 Chronicles 15–16; Luke 7:31–50
Thursday, November 27—2 Chronicles 17–18; Luke 8:1–25
Friday, November 28—2 Chronicles 19–20; Luke 8:26–56
Saturday, November 29—2 Chronicles 21–22; Luke 9:1–17
Sunday, November 30—2 Chronicles 23–24; Luke 9:18–36
Monday, December 1—2 Chronicles 25–27; Luke 9:37–62

Friday, November 21, 2008

Vacation in the UK-9

Several times when we were near the Tower tube station, we saw portions of the original wall built by the Romans. Amazing.

Wednesday we decided to do the London Walk of the Tower of London. So we were back to Tower tube station to meet our guide, Tom. We'd met him before as he was one of the guides on our walk through Westminster Abbey.

Since we did the tour of the Tower with London Walks we didn't actually get inside any of the buildings within the walls until after lunch. But the walk was full of good information about what was inside as we went by the various places.
The moat was filled in and is used for demonstrations of medieval war machines.
Entry to the Tower grounds.

Tom definitely likes to involve his audience and makes a point of asking direct questions. He told us quite a few stories about the Tower (one about the ravens that live within the walls—if the ravens leave, the Tower of London will fall), included a lot of history (the Tower is the site of many executions since the time of William the Conqueror),
(Traitor's Gate)

and ended with Richard III and the deaths of his nephews in the Bloody Tower, another mystery that has never been solved conclusively as to whether he was or wasn’t responsible for their deaths. Probably something else I’ll never write about, but it’s always interesting to speculate. And who knows? One day, I may work the story into one of my books.
Execution site for the men, actually outside the walls of the Tower and across the street near the tube station.
The women's execution site (Anne Boleyn) inside the Tower walls.

We broke up about 12:45 then, and the first building we went through houses the crown jewels. Our guide, Tom, had said that the British in the group would probably tear up when they saw the film of the Elizabeth II’s coronation. Well, I did, too. *smile* The crown jewels are impressive, including the two largest diamonds in the world.

After seeing the crown jewels, we headed for the café inside the walls for lunch. Over lunch we discussed the other buildings in the Tower walls that we wanted to visit.

Then we headed for the White Tower, which is the oldest building within the walls, and the original tower built by William the Conqueror and the living quarters for him and several of his descendants. Today it is a museum of the armoury, with a big display of armour, weapons, even horse armour. We went to the very top of the building. Interesting features included the indoor bathrooms, garderobes, that William installed on the main living level, which is actually about three stories up. He built a set of wooden steps leading up to that level. The idea was that if the Tower was ever under seige, they could burn the stairs, making it almost impossible for anyone to scale the walls to get inside. William I also put in the first fireplaces in England along the walls rather than in the center of the room.

After the White Tower, we went to see the display of torture instruments in the basement of the Bloody Tower where young Edward and Richard were held and evidently killed by their uncle, Richard the III. We visited Edward II’s living quarters on the South wall and finished up with a walk along the top of the outer wall through another couple of towers and ended up on the east wall.

It was 3:00 by the time we finished seeing everything we wanted to see.
(Tower Bridge)

So we descended into the tube station once more and took a fairly long ride with a connection to another long ride to get to Harrod’s, our final touristy thing on our to-do list. When we came up out of the tube station at Knightsbridge, we were about three blocks away from the store. Once inside the store, we toured a couple of perfume and cosmetic salons before finding the food halls. Oh my! Tons of food of everything edible imaginable. And some things not so edible to me. *smile* Some of it was downright tempting . . . but expensive.

We soon made our way downstairs to the gift shop. And what a shop! Goodness, there was everything imaginable. We bought some gifts and souvenirs. Then we went through the Egyptian lobby to find the escalator back up to the ground floor, then tried to find the exit. Well, we found one, but we were all turned around and ended up walking the entire perimeter of the huge building in order to find the underground station again.

When we got to the Old Street tube station, we called Kathy for instructions of the bus stop we were supposed to go to and the bus number and destination that would place us right across the street from her flat. We didn’t realize until later that we were right across the street from John Wesley’s house and a museum that chronicles the rise of Methodism in England. We had a brochure about it, but it was the one thing we just couldn’t squeeze in today. Next time. *smile*

After an early supper with Kathy, we went back to the hotel to get packed and ready to leave the hotel at 5:30 a.m. We had a taxi coming to take us to Heathrow.

The trip fulfilled a lot of my dreams, and much of the time it felt a little surreal—I couldn't quite grasp that I really was seeing the things I'd only heard and read about for so long. I've asked the Lord to allow me at least one trip to Britain for every year Kathy is there. He provided in amazing ways for this year's trip. We'll see what He works out for next year. *smile*

This week, one of my proofreading projects was Stephen Lawhead's latest book, Tuck, the third in his King Raven series, a retelling of the Robin Hood legend. (Excellent series. I've gotten to work on all three books in this series.) These books are set just before 1100, during the time of William II, William the Conqueror's son. This time I noticed several allusions to places we visited, the main one being the White Tower, now known as the Tower of London. Made the whole story come alive in a new way. Definitely another benefit derived from our adventures in Great Britain.

God is good!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Vacation in the UK-8

I'm hoping to finish this tonight. I've had a couple of really busy weeks. Not really done with all the deadlines, and I'm terribly far behind on NaNoWriMo, but I plan to write most of the day tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll get caught up on that. So tonight I'm going to try to get through the last two posts on our time in the UK.

Tuesday was a very long day. And by the time I checked my pedometer at the end of the day, we'd walked just over eight miles!

We started early, this time going to Waterloo to catch the train to Windsor. We got there about 10:00 and by the time we found the castle entrance, we were surrounded by school groups. But they had a different gate they went through. After buying our tickets we had to go through a security check. Really the only place we had to do that in all our tours. Other than the airports, of course. We then picked up our audio tours where the man handing them out seemed very glad to hear we wanted English. There was also quite a crowd of Asian people.

After getting through the entrance, the crowds of school kids thinned out. We knew there was a changing of the guard at Windsor that day, so we asked one of the docents when it was and where when we came to a place where we had to decide what to do next. He told us it would be in the area in front of the guardhouse at the bottom of the hill . . . in front of the church. So instead of starting the palace tour, we decided to go into the church for a while before getting a spot for the changing of the guard.

Windsor is not only the Queen's official home, it is also home to the Order of the Garter, the knights. The church, St. George's, is where they go through their commissioning service when they are admitted into the Order. Very interesting. The church is a beautiful building with lots of history, as is the case for the entire castle.

We only saw a little of the church before going outside again. Not knowing how many people would be coming to see the ceremony, we were out there in plenty of time. So again we were up against the barriers. But this time we weren't looking through a tall fence. And when the ceremony began, we were standing right behind the new guard as they came on duty. We could hear the commands much more clearly, and I actually felt that I understood much more of what went on. Of course, the ceremony was much smaller, involving less people. But again, it made it easier to follow what was going on. Still had all the ceremony and pageantry of the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

After the ceremony was over, Roger took a picture of me with the new guard. Felt a little strange. *smile* Kind of like standing next to a breathing statue.

When we went back into the church to pick up our tour where we left off, it was packed with all those who had watched the changing of the guard. So we worked our way through most of the people to where we'd left off. However, it was never as peaceful as before. So we walked through the rest of the building rather quickly. Then we headed up to the tower and took the tour there. Since this is the official residence of the Queen, we were only allowed in the "public" parts of the castle. But that was still a lot of ground to cover. It was interesting to see how the work on the portions of the castle that were burned several years ago had maintained the flavor of the original rooms.

Lots of armor and weapons in the rooms we went through. Randy would have loved it. One of the rooms, a long gallery, had coats of arms from every knight who had been in the Order of the Garter placed on the ceiling. Some were blank white, meaning that in some way that person had disgraced his position, with criminal activity or some other way, and therefore had been removed. (Think King Arthur and the Round Table.)

After a late lunch at a teahouse, we walked through several shops, buying some souvenirs and books for research on our way back to the train station. Eton is also at Windsor, but while we looked for it a little, we decided not to pursue it when we didn't find it. We knew we were still up for lots of walking later in the day. We caught the 3:20 train back to London, and I got in a nap.

We were meeting Kathy for dinner before our walk that evening, but she couldn’t meet us until at least 5:45, so we decided to check out the Metropolitan Tabernacle where Spurgeon preached and was pastor for many years. It’s still a Baptist church, but Kathy warned us it wasn’t a very good part of town. Not sure how long it would take us to find it, we went to the tube station (Elephant and Castle—love the name!) near there, and came out of the station right across the street from the church. It definitely wasn’t one of the nicer spots in town, and there were tons of people milling around. We took the subway (pedestrian walkway) under the street to get to the other side. Roger took some pictures and we checked to see if the bookshop was still open. It wasn’t, so we headed back to the station and to the hotel to drop a bunch of stuff we’d bought in Windsor before heading back out to meet Kathy at 6:15 at the Tower Hill tube station.

We found a nearby pub where we could grab a quick supper before meeting our London Walks group back at the tube station at 7:15. Wow! We never expected so many people to be interested in Jack the Ripper! We broke into still large groups. Then we were off on our walk through the east end of London where the murders took place in 1888. We stood at the places where each woman was found and the guide included all the gruesome details. J Not that I ever really want to write about anything connected with Jack the Ripper, but I may write something in that time period, and it’s good to know. As we walked we also received quite a few theories of who might have committed the murders, but to this day no one knows. It was quite a walk, probably covered over two miles.

It was a good end to the day. *smile* One more day in London before heading home.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

White Christmas Pie by Wanda Brunstetter

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

White Christmas Pie

Barbour Publishing, Inc (September 1, 2008)


Wanda E. Brunstetter


Fascinated by the Amish people during the years of visiting her husband's family in Pennsylvania, WANDA E. BRUNSTETTER combined her interest with her writing and now has eleven novels about the Amish in print, along with numerous other stories and ministry booklets. She lives in Washington State, where her husband is a pastor, but takes every opportunity to visit Amish settlements throughout the states.

This year Wanda also published A Sister's Hope.


Step into Amish country for this bittersweet holiday romance. Here you'll meet Will Henderson, a young man tortured by his past, and Karen Yoder, a young woman looking for answers. Add a desperate father searching for his son, and you have all the ingredients for a first-class romance that will inspire and enthrall.

Abandoned by his father, Will Henderson was raised by an Amish couple. Now he's about to marry Karen Yoder but is having second thoughts. Can Will overcome the bitterness of his past in order to secure his future? Karen cannot break through the barrier her fiance has suddenly constructed around his heart. When she seeks the advice of an old boyfriend, Will begins to see green. Has he already lost his chance for happiness?

When an accident threatens Will's life, the strength of blood ties is tested. Will a recipe for White Christmas pie contain the ingredients for a happily-ever-after?

If you would like to read the first chapter of White Christmas Pie, go HERE

Watch the book trailer:

Margie's comments: I love Wanda's Amish books. Whenever I'm asked to proofread one of them for Barbour Publishing, or I pick one up I haven't read yet, I know I'm going to get a good story. Wanda's style of writing lends itself well to the types of stories she writes. For a breath of fresh air in your reading, I highly recommend any of Wanda's books. I'm looking forward to reading this one . . . later. *smile*

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekly Bible Reading Schedule

Tuesday, November 18—1 Chronicles 22–24; Luke 3
Wednesday, November 19—1 Chronicles 25–27; Luke 4:1–30
Thursday, November 20—1 Chronicles 28–29; Luke 4:31–44
Friday, November 21—2 Chronicles 1–3; Luke 5:1–16
Saturday, November 22—2 Chronicles 4–6; Luke 5:17–39
Sunday, November 23—2 Chronicles 7–9; Luke 6:1–26
Monday, November 24—2 Chronicles 10–12; Luke 6:27–49

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

One Holy Night by J. M. Hochstetler

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

One Holy Night

Sheaf House (April 1, 2008)


J. M. Hochstetler


J. M. Hochstetler writes stories that always involve some element of the past and of finding home. Born in central Indiana, the daughter of Mennonite farmers, she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Germanic languages. She was an editor with Abingdon Press for twelve years and has published three novels.

One Holy Night, a contemporary miracle story for all seasons, released in April 2008. Daughter of Liberty (2004) and Native Son (2005), books 1 and 2 of the American Patriot Series are set during the American Revolution. Book 3, Wind of the Spirit, is scheduled for release in March 2009. Hochstetler is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, and Historical Novels Society.


In 1967 the military build-up in Viet Nam is undergoing a dramatic surge. The resulting explosion of anti-war sentiment tears the country apart, slicing through generations and shattering families. In the quiet bedroom community of Shepherdsville, Minnesota, the war comes home to Frank and Maggie McRae, whose only son, Mike, is serving as a grunt in Viet Nam.

Frank despises all Asians because of what he witnessed as a young soldier fighting the Japanese in the south Pacific during WWII. The news that his son has fallen in love with and married Thi Nhuong, a young Vietnamese woman, shocks him. To Frank all Asians are enemies of his country, his family, and himself. A Buddhist, Thi Nhuong represents everything he despises. So he cuts Mike out of his life despite the pleas of his wife, Maggie; daughter, Julie; and Julie s husband, Dan, the pastor of a growing congregation.

Maggie is fighting her own battle--against cancer. Convinced that God is going to heal her, Frank plays the part of a model Christian. Her death on Thanksgiving Day devastates him. Worse, as they arrive home from the gravesite, the family receives news of Mike s death in battle. Embittered, Frank stops attending church and cuts off family and friends.

By the time a very pregnant Thi Nhuong arrives on his doorstep on a stormy Christmas Eve, Frank is so filled with hate that he slams the door in her face, shutting her out in the bitter cold. Finally, overcome by guilt, he tries to go after her, but driving wind and snow force him back inside. With the storm rising to blizzard strength, he confronts the wrenching truth that what hate has driven him to do is as evil as what the Japanese did all those years earlier, and that he needs forgiveness as desperately as they did . . .

Frank doesn't know that what God has in mind this night is a miracle. As on that holy night so many years ago, a baby will be born and laid in a manger—a baby who will bring forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing to a family that has suffered heart-wrenching loss.

If you would like to read the first chapter of One Holy Night, go HERE.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bible Reading

Tuesday, November 11—1 Chronicles 1–3; Jude
Wednesday, November 12—1 Chronicles 4–6; Luke 1:1–20
Thursday, November 13—1 Chronicles 7–9; Luke 1:21–38
Friday, November 14—1 Chronicles 10–12; Luke 1:39–56
Saturday, November 15—1 Chronicles 13–15; Luke 1:57–80
Sunday, November 16—1 Chronicles 16–18; Luke 2:1–24
Monday, November 17—1 Chronicles 19–21; Luke 2:25–52

Vacation in the UK-7

I'm going to try to finish up this saga in the next couple of days. But proofreading job and NaNoWriMo is taking up huge chunks of time right now. *smile* So we'll see.

The Sunday we left Scotland and arrived back in London, we had a late lunch invitation with friends of Kathy's—Sarah and Sam Wilde. So we cleaned up from our travels and headed over to their place. Sarah and Sam are the ones who introduced Kathy to St. Helen's Bishopsgate, and they met through a mutual friend, Jessica Barnes, who studied for six months over in Britain. Sarah and Sam made us feel right at home, and we had the added pleasure of meeting one of the vicars from St. Helen's, Andrew Sach. He's cowritten a couple of books that son, Randy, and I are reading. Right now, I'm using his Dig Deeper! in my ladies Sunday school class.

Sarah is also an excellent cook, we were treated to a three-course, very delicious meal. Then just before leaving for church we had tea with another dessert. Yum. *smile*

We were blessed with another wonderful service at St. Helen's. God does answer prayer . . . my prayer for Kathy to find a good church He answered the first full Sunday she was in London. He is so good.

Monday we decided we needed to backtrack to some places we'd already seen and do them a little more in-depth. But first, we went to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard. We got there more than an hour early, but there were already lots of people milling around. I found a spot open right at the fence and told Roger to wander around and get his pictures. He also stopped by the Mews shop and bought me a guidebook for Buckingham (they only do tours inside a few weeks in the summer) and a book on the succession of kings and queens in England. It didn't take long for the spots on the fence on either side of me to fill up. Each time Roger checked in with me, he had to push himself through more and more layers of people. It was neat to see and hear the bands, the guards, the pageantry. But I wished I could have understood the commands better.

After the ceremony was over, we took a walk through St. James Park to near #10 Downing Street. Near being the operative word. Because of the heightened security, it's difficult to get very close, but it was a nice walk through the park. We'd planned to have lunch with Kathy, but she was unable to meet us, so we decided to go ahead with our plans for the afternoon.

We found the tube station and headed off toward the Globe Theatre, to cash in our discount coupon on the tour. We planned to cross the Millennium Bridge, but it was closed for maintenance. So we walked down to the river and walked along it to the Southwark Bridge that had a pedestrian walkway across it, stopping for lunch on the other side of the Thames.

We arrived at the Globe just in time for their tour. Neat place. Fairly new, but an excellent replica of the old Globe. It's off season right now and they were doing some work on the thatched roof, so we had to look around some scaffolding. But actually being inside the theatre,

sitting in the stalls, and walking through the extensive exhibit on Shakespeare, his plays and his times, almost made me wish I was still teaching high school English. What a treasure trove that made the plays come alive for me.

After the time at the Globe, we walked back across the Thames (the Millennium Bridge was still closed) and went by the College of Arms building. But it was too near closing time to make it worthwhile stopping in. We wandered down Fleet Street, noticing there were a lot less people than when we'd walked down it the first day we were in London. About the time we got to the Twinings tea shop, it started raining. The shop is very narrow, very long. And that day it was almost empty, making it much easier to find the gifts and tea I wanted to take home.

From there we walked to the tube station in pretty steady rain and made our way back to the hotel, ready to call it a day. Still raining when we got off the tube near the hotel, I pulled out our umbrellas for the first time since we'd arrived in London. (We really had excellent weather the whole time we were there! So we didn't complain about the rain.)

We rested for a bit at the hotel, talked to Kathy on the phone, and then decided to head out again to find a restaurant for dinner. We went to bed early, knowing we'd be up early to catch a train to Windsor Castle.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Until We Reach Home

Bethany House (October 1, 2008)


Lynn Austin


For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband's work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she'd earned at Southern Connecticut State University to become a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. She has published twelve novels. Three of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, and Fire by Night have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, and 2004 for excellence in Christian Fiction. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005.

Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.

Among Lynn's latest books are A Proper Pursuit and A Woman's Place.


Life in Sweden seems like an endless winter for three sisters after their mother's and father's suicide. Ellin feels the weight of responsibility for her sisters' welfare and when it circumstances become unbearable, she writes to her relatives in Chicago, pleading for help.

Joining sixteen million other immigrants who left their homelands for America between 1890 and 1920, Ellin, Kirsten, and Sophia begin the long, difficult journey. Enduring the ocean voyage in steerage and detention on Ellis Island, their story is America's story. And in a journey fraught with hardships, each woman will come to understand her secret longings and the meaning of home.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Until We Reach Home, go HERE

Friday, November 7, 2008

Out of Her Hands by Megan DiMaria

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Out of Her Hands

Tyndale House Publishers (September 22, 2008)


Megan DiMaria


I was born and raised in New York State and have since lived in Maine, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Jersey, and now Colorado. My husband and I have three delightful adult children and an old Jack Russell Terrier named Belle who seems to find her way into my novels. My resume will tell you I graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh with a degree in Communications, and after graduation I worked as a radio and television reporter, freelance writer, editor, and marketing professional.

I'm a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and am assistant director of Words For The Journey, Rocky Mountain Region.

But what's most important to know about me is that I am a follower of Jesus, wife, mother, friend, reader, and writer.

Life’s a journey, enjoy the adventures!


In this second novel by Megan DiMaria, Linda Revere is back and continuing to struggle with the turmoil of contemporary life. Linda has been praying for her children's future spouses since they were very small. Confident that her prayers will be answered, Linda is not prepared for the young woman her son brings home. But Linda soon learns that while everything she once controlled is out of her hands, God is still in control. Megan uses her trademark humor while dealing with issues to which her readers will relate.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Out of Her Hands, go HERE

"No sophomore slump for DiMaria! This novel (Out of Her Hands) is as engaging and meaningful as her first, Searching for Spice. Her realistic portrayal of the characters' lives should endear them to readers and help Christians to feel less alone in their daily trials."
~Romantic Times Magazine, 4 ½ stars TOP PICK!

“Life in Linda's world is messy . . . but filled with love, laughter, struggle and faith. Megan has created a most real heroine for us to love . . . and I adore her!”
~Deena Peterson, reviewer: A Peek at my Bookshelf

“Megan DiMaria crafts a novel so compelling, so real, you forget you're reading fiction.”
~Darcie Gudger, reviewer: TitleTrakk

"This is a great read for a quiet afternoon or in those times when you feel your own life spinning out of control and need the reality check of knowing you're not in it alone."
~Amazon reviewer

Margie's review: I've had Megan on this blog before for her first book, Searching for Spice. I fell in love with Linda Revere and her family, friends, and coworkers. So it was refreshing to open up Out of Her Hands and join up with Linda once again. Megan has a knack of taking Christian family values and issues that we all struggle with and writing about them with humor, compassion, and biblical insight and wisdom. Out of Her Hands is a fun, easy read as well. I needed this timely reminder that God is ultimately in control of all things.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Vacation in the UK-6 and NaNoWriMo Update

Sorry, I skipped a couple of days. I've been busy keeping up with NaNoWriMo. It's day six, and according to the site, my count is supposed to be around 8,333 words by midnight tonight. As of this morning's writing session, I have 12,440 words. Whew! About 60 words behind my personal goal, but still well ahead of the national average. But next week is supposed to be the killer, so please, I need all the prayers and encouragement I can get!

Now back to our time in Scotland.

Saturday we decided to stay in Edinburgh after our exploration day on Friday. Since we had Internet service at the B&B, we checked online and learned that Holyrood Palace, the Queen's official residence when in Edinburgh, opened for tours at 9:30. So we didn't rush, but we still arrived before the crowds. Which was very nice. We couldn't take pictures inside, which was usual for most of the buildings we were in—the reason I bought guidebooks everywhere we went. They are very valuable for research for historical mysteries that are "composting" in my mind right now. *smile*

The audio tour was very interesting, and with very few people around, we were able to take our time observing each room. It also made it easier to ask questions of the docents stationed throughout the viewing area. The tour included a chapel in ruins and the palace gardens that we walked through at the end. The sun shone, but the wind was fierce, and the clouds brought periodic showers (more like mist) that blew through quickly.

After we were done at the palace, we drove back into the city centre, found a car park (garage) near the Royal Mile, and went to do a little more sightseeing and shopping. Roger and I wanted to see John Knox's house and read the history connected to that, so while we did that, Kathy did some window shopping, checking out prices of things we knew we wanted to buy later. Across the street from the John Knox house was a fudge shop, offering free samples. I popped in to grab one—delicious and still warm!

We'd decided the prices were best at the mill at the top of the hill, so we worked our way up the Royal Mile, accompanied by bagpipe music, stopping in St. Giles (since it was closed Thursday evening)—and yes, St. Giles is on the Royal Mile not in Glasgow as I said earlier. Thanks, Kathy, for reminding me!—and walking a little way off the mile to see another church that played a big part in the history of Edinburgh, Greyfriars Church. They were getting ready for a luncheon to thank all their volunteers who kept the church open to visitors throughout the summer months—October is the end of tourist season all over Britain, so we picked an excellent time to visit.

After lunch at Deacon's Brodie's lunchroom, across from the pub and restaurant, we went up to the mill and did some serious shopping. I picked up some gifts for family and Hannah, Teamway's girl-Friday (the guys would get nothing done without her, but they also create a lot of extra work for her at times! She's a gem. *smile*)—sorry, you'll have to wait for Christmas!—shortbread, toffee, and more gifts. Roger and Kathy got in line to try the free samples of haggis. I passed, even though someone pointed out later it couldn't have been much different than a hot dog here in the States. However, since I eat maybe one hot dog a year, that argument didn't sway me to try haggis.

It was still early when we left the shops at the mill. Roger had been so patient with our shopping time and he'd shown a definite interest in visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia every time we passed signs for it that we decided we'd check it out after Kathy checked a couple other shops. In a little shop back in an alley off the Royal Mile, Kathy found what she was looking for, and we all headed for the car happy with our purchases.

We made our way to the docks where the Britannia is berthed, paid our admission fee, and got our audio tour handsets. What a ship! Amazing information about the sailors who had the duty of sailing her and the workings of the ship itself. Then we saw the royal living quarters, including the state dining room and salons. A totally different lifestyle than I can imagine.

I came away with the thought that although I would never, ever draw the interest or attention of any earthly king or queen, the King of Kings loved me from before the foundations of this world were laid. And He paid the blood-price of my redemption so that I could be adopted into His family and I now have the privilege of calling Him, my Abba, Father. He welcomes me into His throne room any time. Wow! God is so good!

After dinner, Roger and I went back to our room and Kathy took off for a ride and some time to herself. Then it was early to bed for an early flight back to London on Sunday.