Category Archives: books

Don’t forget your free novelette!

rsz_charisa_cover_55x8_96_dpiAll subscribers to my newsletter receive a free novelette, Charisa’s Chance, written just for them! Sign up today!

Charisa’s Chance tells the story of a secondary character from my award-winning novella, You’re a Charmer, Mr. Grinch. I loved her when I wrote her many years ago, and she had a story that needed to be told! You’ll remember her as the young unwed mother who helped Rick and Edie find their way back to each other. Now she’s on vacation in Towering Pines, Colorado with your favorite charming Grinch and his lovely wife–and Charisa has a romance of her own to discover! You’ll get to visit with a few characters from the Towering Pines series, too. It’s a ton of fun!

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Real Life Romance and Free Books

 

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Wanna know more about the real-life romance of this romance writer? Had a LOT of fun telling a few stories on Shannon Taylor Vannatter’s blog. She’s offering one of my books FREE to the person who guesses which story I told in my novella, You’re a Charmer, Mr. Grinch. YOU might know if you’ve followed this blog for a while. Check it out, and make a comment, and I just might be sending you an autographed copy of Tinseled Tidings.

BTW, You’re a Charmer, Mr. Grinch is *FREE* today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday). Enjoy!

And there’s a special fall novelette on the way ONLY to my newsletter subscribers, so sign up and discover a special-edition love story from one of the extra special characters in Grinch. Hint: You’ll get to also me her little one!

Until Next time,

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A Little Update

Hey Friends,

It’s bugging me that this blog is neglected.

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Jerry and me celebrating our 29th anniversary

Here’s the deal. Since my husband’s heart attack December 31st of last year and the subsequent struggle with Graves Disease, I haven’t had much left over for this space. And the times I’ve tried to write something heartfelt? Well, I ended up deleting.

Jerry and I are working through things. Making lots of changes in everything from employment to diet to choices for activities. We finally admitted to each other last week that there for a while we were preparing ourselves to say good-bye. But lately he’s been gaining strength and energy and stamina, and that has us encouraged.

What’s discouraging is that he seems to continue to lose vision. He’s having to give up lots of stuff, and, well, you grieve every time  you have to let something go. Our pastor taught a few weeks ago on “blessed are they who mourn.” It opened up good conversation between Jerry and me about our grieving process. He grieves all he’s giving up. I grieve for him. And we both grieve the things we can no longer do together.

It’s been quite a journey.

I won’t promise I’ll be any better about posting here in the near future. We’ll see. The dam may open and the words come flooding out one of these days. But for now, I’m just trying to take it a day at a time.

22vdcxThat said, I’m not absent in the on-line world. On my author/speaker page I still post daily inspirational thoughts on living Free to Flourish, and I send a weekly newsletter to my subscriber list. We actually have a free novelette coming this fall for my newsletter subscribers, so now’s a great time to sign-up. And the Lord continues to bring me speaking engagements here and there. There’s something really beautiful about still speaking about Jesus while I’m in a season of grief. It blesses me when He pours the love and hope through me, and I see others encouraged.

I’ve had a few of you ask for that next book in the Towering Pines series. Rattled is half written, and poor Chad and Jade are left hanging, still trying to figure it out. I also promised another Christmas novella this year telling Hillary’s story (Evie’s best friend from Fruitcake Fallout). Honestly I don’t know when they will be written. I’m sad with those of you who’ve told me you’re waiting. Me, too. One of these days, months . . . (I hope not years!) . . . it will happen, and I’ll be sure to let everyone in cyberspace know.

For now, Jerry and I would appreciate your prayers.

Blessings,

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God’s Involved

Do you ever reflect on the ways God’s shown up in your life? Stuff that is beyond coincidence. Stuff that isn’t the big story, like being healed from a life-threatening disease, but is still only explained by His interaction with your life?

Today I reflect on the year 2002. A homeschooling mamma, I taught part time at a Christian Enrichment school for homeschoolers. My class, Mindboggling Missionaries, was primarily wiggly boys. I wanted to capture their imagination, touch their spirit, and give them heroes to immaculate. Missionaries. It was an easy topic to sustain with endless opportunities for creative learning. The Trailblazer series by Dave and Neta Jackson provided the base and the boys, my assistant teacher, and I soon traveled to exotic and distant lands. We played games, made crafts, and ate foods from these cultures. (Rule one when dealing with squirrely boys before lunch is food!) Together we learned about ordinary people who did extraordinary things when lives where surrendered to God. (I found out later those elementary boys took bets on have far Miss Paula would get into glass before the story of these heroes brought her to tears. lol) Oh the people we studied!  Prince Kaboo. Martin Luther. Gladys Aylward. Adoniram Judson!

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Adoniram Judson Picture taken from this site, where you can also read his story

Adoniram Judson.

 

One of the first American missionaries and the first to bring the gospel to Burma.

He’s the one who broke my heart.

As I taught about Adoniram’s life, which was wrought with suffering, I secretly cried out to God. My spirit understood that even one life changed for eternity was “mindbogglingly” more important than I could understand. But as I read of his loss of three children and his wife, of the cruelty he endured while in prison, I wondered. Those first six years in Burma were especially hard, and at the end of them he had only one Burmese convert.

“Was it worth it?” I cried silently. His story haunted me.

About this time, through a strange string of circumstances, I learned a Burmese refugee, Dah Doh, lived only five minutes from me. I decided to visit her in hopes she might talk to our class about Burma. As I walked down the dark hallway to her apartment, I wondered if I would find a Buddha outside her door.

The Burmese woman graciously invited me inside. She fed me traditional food, and within minutes I discovered she had a rich and vibrant faith in Jesus, a faith that helped her survive years in a horrible refugee camp in Thailand after she escaped the cruel government of Myanmar, which is what the conquering army renamed Burma.

“I’m teaching about Adoniram Judson,” I said. “Have you heard of him?”

Dah Doh’s eyes lit with joy, and she grabbed an old cassette tape. When she pushed play on the worn tape player, the voices of children singing in Burmese filled the air. She translated the words of a hymn into English. I don’t remember her exact translation, but I googled what I remembered and found this Burmese hymn that seems close:

Eternal God, we offer thanks for the ministry of Adoniram Judson, who out of love for thee and thy people translated the Scriptures into Burmese. Move us, inspired by his example, to support the presentation of thy Good News in every language, for the glory of Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Brushing tears from my eyes, I understood.

Before me, almost 200 years later, stood the fruit of Adoniram’s sacrifice. Dah Doh explained that most of her people, the Karen, were Christians because of the missionary work of Adoniram Judson in the early-mid 1800s.

What a glorious answer God gave to my broken-hearted cry! He could have simply led me to statistics about the wonderful success of Adoniram’s ministry toward the end of his life, but instead the Lord showed me how Adoniram’s willingness to continue to serve, despite intense suffering, left a legacy that still survives, nearly two centuries later.

Inge Sargent and Shan prince Sao Ky Seng

Prince Sao Ky Seng and Princess Inge Sargent. Photo from this site.

Dah Doh came to my class, and the children loved her. She captured their attention as she talked of her beloved homeland.

 

Dah Doh (and God!) had another surprise for us. Dah Doh knew Princess Inge, who was once married to the Prince of Burma. Inge met Prince Sao Kya Seng when they both attended Colorado University in Boulder. When they married and she returned with him to his native land, she didn’t know he was the Shan Prince until brightly colored ships greeted them in the harbor. The prince and princess served the people with an eye to their good. The prince gave his rice fields to the farmers who cared for them and sought ways to strengthen the economy. Inge taught nutrition, established a birthing clinic, and built a trilingual school. They had two daughters and were happy in their work on behalf of their people and country. But Prince Sao Kya Seng’s leaning toward democracy upset the army, and he was killed during a coo. Princess Inge eventually escaped with her two daughters. She hid her identity, taught high school German, and eventually remarried. But she couldn’t stop thinking of the plight of her people. She began to tell her story and to raise awareness for the plight of the Burmese people. (You can read more about them here and here.)

Princess Inge came to our class. We were all so excited! She talked of Burma and the needs of the Burmese people. We were so moved, the children took up a collection.

I started this post thinking about God-moments. I’ve often pondered this one. My heart is tender when I think of how thoroughly He answered the aching (even accusing) questions of this young mamma’s heart. Passion floods as I think about how He turned that teaching moment for ME into an incredible experience for those I taught.

There is no success without sacrifice. If you succeed without sacrifice it is because someone has suffered before you. If you sacrifice without success it is because someone will succeed after.                                                                                   ~ Adoniram Judson

The Story Behind the Story . . .  A Train Ride to Heartbreak

Don’t you love learning the story behind a story? Today I’ve invited author Donna Schlachter to share about what is behind her novella, A Train Ride to Heartbreak, featured in The Mail Order Brides Collection.

Donna, we’d love to hear where you got the idea for your story!

The idea for this story came from a love of a movie and a friend with a great story to share.

The movie was “The Fugitive”, both the original series pilot and the more recent remake. I loved the idea of a train ride leading to a second chance.

My friend had recently taken a train ride from Denver to San Francisco, and she shared several delightful stories. I wondered if a train ride might be like a cruise in that it would provide an insulated environment where the travelers might do something they’d never done before. If so, this was perfect fodder for a romance, much like the old TV show, “The Love Boat”.

And then I saw “Murder on the Orient Express”, and as a lover of anything Agatha Christie, decided to incorporate a few of the details in my story.

The result? A chance meeting, two characters with integrity, and a way for God to reach both of them.

Could you share a few tidbits about your characters and the basic premise of your story?

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John Stewart needs a wife. Mary Johannson needs a home. On her way west, Mary falls in love with another. Now both must choose between commitment and true love.

October 1895

Mary Johannson has scars on her body that can’t compare with the scars on her heart. She is alone in the world, with no family, no prospects, and no home.

John Stewart is at his wit’s end. His wife of three years died in childbirth, leaving him with a toddler and an infant, both girls. Theirs was the love of fairy tales, and while he has no illusions about finding another like her, his children need a mother.

Though separated by thousands of miles, Mary and John commit to a mail-order marriage. But on their journey to Heartbreak, they meet another and realize the life they’d planned would be a lie. Can they find their way back from the precipice and into the love of God and each other, or are they destined to keep their word and deny their heart?

Would you please share an excerpt with us? 

Groverton, Pennsylvania

September 1895

Chapter 1

Mary Johannson plunged reddened hands into the dishwater and scrubbed at a crusty spot on the chipped china plate.

In the yard, the vicar, shoulders slumped from the cares of his congregation, held a small child in his arms while two toddlers clutched his pants leg. And Matron Dominus, the imposing head of the Meadowvale Orphan’s Home, towered over the small group huddled before her.

Mary checked the plate. Satisfied it would pass muster, she dipped it into the rinse bucket and set the piece into the dish rack to air dry. Next she set a burnt oatmeal pot into the water to soak while she dried her hands on her apron and surveyed the scene outside.

The vicar nodded and turned to walk the gravel path he’d traversed just minutes before, the wee ones in tow as he hoisted the child to his other hip for the mile-long trip back. No doubt he was waiting for space to open in the orphanage.

Her space.

Mary would turn eighteen in two months. And despite her desire to escape the confines of the orphanage, she wasn’t excited about making her own way in the world. The last girl who aged out—as the other orphans called the act of turning eighteen—now worked at the saloon.

And everybody knew what kind of girls worked there.

Mary swiped at the scarred worktable set in the middle of the kitchen floor, her washrag sweeping crumbs into her hand. She still needed to finish the dishes and report to Matron

Dominus for her next order for the day.

By the time she returned to the sink, the vicar and his charges were out of sight.

But Matron Dominus stood outside the tiny window staring in at her.

Checking up on her, no doubt. Making certain she wasn’t lollygagging. An activity all of the residents indulged in. According to Matron.

Mary hurried through the rest of the washing up. She swept the floor, put a pot of beans on to soak for supper, and shooed the cat out from under the stove. After checking the dampers to make certain the range wouldn’t needlessly heat the kitchen—another of Matron’s accusations—she hung her apron on a nail beside the back door.

Stepping out into the fresh air, Mary drew a deep breath and leaned against the clapboard siding.

Perhaps she could work at the seamstress shop. She was a fair hand with a needle and thread. Or maybe the general store.

“Mary Johannson.”

The screech like a rooster with its tail caught in a gate startled her, and she straightened. But in her haste, she overbalanced and stepped forward to catch herself, hooking her toe in the hem of her dress, which she’d just let down last week to a more respectable length.

The sound of rending cloth filled her ears as the ground slammed toward her. She got her hands out in front of her just in time to prevent mashing her nose into the soil. The toes of Matron Dominus’s boots filled her vision.

Mary pushed herself to her feet, wincing at an ache in her lower back not there a moment before. Tears blurred her vision when she checked her dress—she had a three-inch rip just above the hem.

“Are you lollygagging about? Sunbathing? Do you think you’re on the Riviera?”

Despite her imposing height and girth, the matron’s voice—particularly when she was irked—resembled the irksome peacock Mary had once seen in the zoo in Philadelphia. Why God would create such a beautiful bird with such a nasty voice was beyond her.

But if what Matron said was true, He’d created Mary, too, only to have her burned by the flames that killed the rest of her family. Angry red scars ran from her forearms to halfway up her neck, and a collar of white tissue, the result of an inept doctor sewing her back together again, ringed her neck and inched toward her ears.

No, if God really loved her, He wouldn’t have allowed that to happen.

Thank you, Donna!

About Donna:

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She Schlachter DSCF1330_Donnawrites historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid author who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime; facilitates a local critique group, and teaches writing classes and courses. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.

You can connect with Donna at the following links:

www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com

www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/DonnaschlachterAuthor

Twitter: www.Twitter.com/DonnaSchlachter

Other Books: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ci5Xqq and Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2gZATjm

 

Jesus’s Joy and Father’s Good Pleasure–YOU

Why would Jesus choose to give up the perfection of heaven to experience ridicule and horrific death?
 
Scripture says that Jesus endured the cross for the “joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). What is that joy? The passage continues by saying that Jesus was given the place of honor when He returned to heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father.
 
My thinking used to stop there.
 
But Scripture also calls you and me Jesus’ “rich and glorious inheritance” (Ephesians 1:18, NLT) and says that we’ve been seated in the heavenlies with Jesus. There are also a lot of passages which talk about how Jesus longs for the final ceremony when His bride (us!) is presented to Him. It’s hard to believe it is true, but Jesus died, in part, because He wanted us as His inheritance. His beloved bride.
 
Then there’s Father God. What would cause a loving Father to ask such a thing of His son? Luke 12:32 tells us that it was the Father’s “good pleasure” to give the kingdom to us. Ephesians talks of the wonder of God adopting us as His very own children, allowing Jesus to pay the redemption price, to purchase us from darkness.
My friend, we are of great worth to our Creator.
Maybe you blaze past those thoughts, accepting them quickly, in the context of the unfathomable actions of the cross. You believe you are loved, treasured even, by God. Why else would God allow the cross of Christ?
 
But will you believe it tomorrow?
 
Will you believe it when life doesn’t go as you planned? When someone wounds you? When you stare at your imperfections in the mirror (on the wall or in your soul)?
 
When the vile voice of the enemy whispers of your inadequacy and failure?
 
Can you know then, way down deep, that the King of All values you? That the cross took all of the shame and inadequacy, all of the outsider-living, and placed you in the center of God’s heart? That even before the cross God chose you as the recipient of His love because you are of great worth to Him? That you are part of the royal family of heaven?
 
If you’re like me, you’ll have good days and bad days when it comes to living like royalty. But whether or not we stand tall in the noble robes our Father gave us, it doesn’t change the fact that we were bought with a price because of our worth to God. It doesn’t change that fact that His actions rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and placed us close to Him in the kingdom of light. It doesn’t change that fact that we are His beloved.
We belong with our family in the throne room.
 
This is yesterday’s introduction to the first week of devotions from Soul Scents: Selections for Easter. Maybe it seems strange to start an Easter devotional book talking about our worth to our Creator, but I believe this is one of the places most attacked by the enemy and also one of the main points of the cross. I hope you’ll join me on this journey as I share what God has shown me about our value to Him (week one) and as we look at other implications of the Cross of Christ. Selections for Easter is free on my website. Just click on gifts.

The Winner!! And February Contest

Congratulations to Becky who won January’s contest for A Bouquet of Brides!

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Becky! I’ll be in touch, and your book will arrive soon! Thank you for commenting often on January’s blog posts. I enjoyed our interactions very much!

Here are the contest details for February:

  • Every new post you comment on during the month of February gets you one chance to win. (This could be a lot of chances over the course of the month!)
  • Follow my blog during the month of February and get three chances to win
  • Sign up for my newsletter during the month of February and get five chances to win!

The contest details are a little different this month, so read them carefully! If you missed the first two blog posts this month, you’ll still be counted in the drawing if you comment on them. They are two of my favorites, talking about the inspiration for and the historical context of At Home With Daffodils, my novella in that book Becky will soon be reading!

The book to win this month is  Soul Scents: Rooted.

PMApprov2-01Become rooted in your identity as the beloved! Soul Scents: Rooted, the second book in the Soul Scents devotional series, includes topics such as worthiness, spiritual battle, and destiny. The week-day readings include scriptures and prayers.

The Soul Scents collection invites readers into an ever-deepening discovery of who God is and how He interacts with us. Combined, its four volumes, Awaken, Rooted, Bloom, and Flourish, offer a year’s worth of devotional reading. Each book has thirteen weeks of down-to-earth insight gleaned from scripture and the author’s journey into spiritual freedom.  Rest in the Son’s embrace as you enter the beautiful heart of the Freedom Giver Himself.

Thank you to all who participated in January’s contest. I had so much fun! Hope you did, too. I enjoyed seeing every new newsletter and blog sign-up, and interacting with those of you who commented here was a delight!

Until Next Time,

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