Takeaway in At Home with Daffodils

1141Writing novellas is just plain fun for yours truly. Setting two people up to fall in love—well, if I were God, that might be my favorite part of the job. It’s delightful to imagine romantic scenes and I really enjoy digging into the character arcs of my heroes and heroines, trying to understand what makes them tick.

Usually there is some lie the characters believe about themselves, and it’s wonderful watching the one they are falling in love with help them discover the truth. But what may be my very favorite experience of creating these stories is that moment when a “takeaway” value unfolds. Often, even if I’ve planned a rough outline of the character’s spiritual journeys, there is something unexpected, and I find myself tearing up and thanking the Holy Spirit.

The creation of At Home with Daffodils, my novella in A Bouquet of Brides, is no exception.

Instead of sharing about the specific spiritual journey of my hero and heroine, I’ll tell you about one of those moments, the kind I’ve come to recognize as “God-moments” when something unplanned but extremely meaningful jumps out at me as the author.

I’ll resist describing the scene where it happened. I think it is beautiful and tender, and I don’t want to rob my readers of discovery. But I’ll tell you what I took away from how the story unfolded. I wept as I understood, at a deeper level, this truth: The community of God—the church—has the power to do great good in the lives its people. The church has the opportunity to act as God’s loving arms, embracing people, demonstrating God’s grace, and seeing the good in each of us that we often can’t see in ourselves. I think you’ll see what I mean when you read my story, At Home with Daffodils.

In the collection, A Bouquet of Brides, you’ll meet seven American women who were named for various flowers but struggle to bloom where God planted them. Watch how love helps them grow to their full potential!

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To celebrate the release of A Bouquet of Brides, I’m giving away a copy of the book. Enter the drawing by signing-up for my newsletter or leaving a comment on my blog during the month of January (USA readers only). Check out my website, where I have free resources and information about the Free to Flourish writing and speaking ministry.

 

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IMG_5685art-567x720-240x300 smallAuthor, speaker, and mom of four, Paula Moldenhauer encourages others to live free to flourish. She shares this message when speaking at women’s events, and it permeates her written work. Paula has published over 300 times in non-fiction markets and has a devotional book series, Soul Scents. Her first published novella, You’re a Charmer Mr. Grinch, was a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards, and she now has six published works of fiction. Paula and her husband, Jerry, are adjusting to a sometimes-empty nest in Colorado. They treasure time with their growing family of adult children, spouses, and spouses-to-be. Paula loves peppermint ice cream, going barefoot, and adventuring with friends. Visit her at www.paulamoldenhauer.com

Until Next Time,

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Devotional Thoughts in the Aftermath of Heart Attack

FINAL design for devotionalsMy husband had a heart attack on December 31st. I’m still processing (with gratitude) the experience, and the first public telling (beyond facebook posts) is published today on Devotionals for the Heart. It was written soon after we got back from the hospital, when I first started sorting things out in my mind, spirit, and emotions. I have more thoughts buzzing in my head that I’m sure will soon find their way onto a blog or into another devotion. But this is the first. I thought you might enjoy knowing where to find it. Devotionals for the Heart is Alexis Goring’s new devotional blog, and I’ll write for them once a month for 2018. She has several wonderful writers. Check it out!

Until Next Time,

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Periwinkle in the Park’s Takeaway Value

Today’s post comes from Kathleen E Kovach, author of Periwinkle in the Park included the collection, A Bouquet of Brides. Join us as she shares what she sees as the takeaway value from her story.

Mark Twain quoted: Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

This is the ultimate result I want for my characters. Both heroine and hero have issues to deal with, but unfortunately, some of their “enemies” are not in a position to smell the fragrance of forgiveness. However, the idea that the violet gives of itself even after being crushed says a lot about the characters in my story.

Of course, it takes a few years for them to get to that point.

Have you ever had an “enemy” from the past, be it a person or a circumstance, that continues to torment you, years after the fact? Peri’s father is a retired missionary to the Native American people, many of whom had been directly affected by the voracity of the white man. His motto is “Forgive the unlovable; Love the unforgivable.”

Peri and Clay both have ghosts in their past. Peri is near to forgiveness when the story opens, but hasn’t quite gotten there. Clay, however, is drowning in his anger. Their journeys are similar in that neither can confront the offender, but God gives Clay a special gift that helps him along that journey.

‘Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.’ – Colossians 3:13

This is the takeaway value for my story, and it is my prayer for any reading this struggling to move on.

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kathy_in_bookstoreKathleen E. Kovach is a Christian romance author published traditionally through Barbour Publishing, Inc. as well as indie. Having grown up in Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park was her playground. She lives in northeast Colorado with her husband of over four decades and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. An award-winning author, she presents spiritual truths with a giggle, proving herself as one of God’s peculiar people. Please visit her at http://www.kathleenekovach.com.

 

GOD’S MYSTERIOUS WAYS

Today’s post comes from Mary Davis, author of Holly and Ivy in the collection, A Bouquet of Brides. Join us as she shares what she sees as a take-away value from her story.

Bible-book-1210029_1920“Holly & Ivy,” my #HistoricalRomance novella in A #BouquetOfBrides, takes place in 1890, in Washington State. It’s about a young woman who accompanies her impetuous younger sister on her trip across the country to be a Christmas mail-order bride and is helped by a gallant stranger.

Holly and Nick learn that just because their lives get kicked off the paths they had set themselves on doesn’t mean something has gone wrong. In their cases, something has finally going right. They need to rethink their lives and accept the gifts God has given them. He’s given them each another chance for love.

It encourages me the way God can take something we might view as bad or a mistake in our lives and turn it around for good. I love how God can speak to me through a Bible verse today that He spoke to me differently through a year ago or ten years ago and might use that verse to speak to me differently five years from now. Every verse in the Bible is relevant yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” 2 Corinthians 9:15

51OhyGLrtxLIn celebration of the release of “Holly & Ivy”, I’m giving away (US only) a print copy of A BOUQUET OF BRIDES Collection. To enter, subscribe to my newsletter and receive a free short story. I’ll be drawing for the book at the end of January.

Follow my blog at Mary’s Blog.

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#ChristianRomance #HistoricalRomance #Romance

MARY DAVIS is an award-winning novelist of over two dozen titles in both historical and contemporary themes. She has four more titles releasing in 2018; Courting Her Amish Heart in March 2018, The Widow’s Plight in July 2018, Courting Her Secret Heart (Working Title) September 2018, & “Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in MISSAdventure Brides Collection in December 2018. She is a member of ACFW and active in critique groups.

Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over thirty-three years and two cats. She has three adult children and one incredibly adorable grandchild. Find her online at:

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Join us every Tues and Thursday to hear more about the takeaway value of the stories in this book! Until next time,

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What Will You Take With You?

51OhyGLrtxLWhat will you take with you when you read A Bouquet of Brides?

Honestly my guess is that the Holy Spirit will give each reader something slightly different, something specific to their own personality and circumstance.

But I thought it would be fun to share with readers what the authors of this collection believe is the takeaway value for her novella. The first post about this will be Thursday–so watch for it!

There are other fun things to  know. My fellow authors of A Bouquet of Brides and I are doing a bouquet of blogs (at least that’s what I’m calling it. Couldn’t resist.) to celebrate the launch of our book this January. Each of us are writing behind the scenes information about our stories and sharing it with the others. Then each author will host a specific topic on her blog this month. Mine, as I stated already, is the story’s take away value.

Here’s where you can find the other topics this month:

Mary Davis is hosting each of us as we talk about those handsome heroes!

You can learn about the blossoming heroines at my friend Kathy Kovach’s blog.

For the inspiration behind the stories, visit Suzanne Norquist.

Pegg Thomas hosts tidbits on the historical backdrop of each novella

Learn more about each setting by visiting Donna Schlachter’s blog!

See you Thursday when Mary Davis shares the take-away value of her story, Holly and Ivy!

Until then,

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Ok . . . Just a Note About that Last Author

Maybe I’ll share just one thing about the author in A Bouquet of Brides who I chose not to introduce this week: me. You know plenty about me already, right? And my writing journey has been so entwined with several of the authors in this collection, that you got bits of my story as I talked about them. But I want to share one more thing. This:

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Why that picture?

Because God sent these angels to hold me together on my writing journey, to walk with me into greater personal freedom, and to cheer me on in my calling.

It’s my prayer group, and we’re beginning our 7th year of meeting regularly. We call ourselves the Council of Kings. We believe that God has a destiny and a kingdom for each of us. (Not just in this group. For you too.)

I love you Deb, Kathy, Margie, and Jill. As I move forward in the writing and speaking the Lord is calling me to do, I’m grateful for the support God has given me by His Spirit and through loved ones.

Which means I need to add one more picture. It’s not easy having a writer for a wife or mom. She can get really distracted and disappear for hours. Her income is sporadic. Her tears come often. But these special people fill my heart with joy even on the hard days.

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Until Next time,

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Hello . . . Pegg Thomas!

pegg-signing-contract-4-10-22-17.jpgPegg Thomas, the author of In Sheep’s Clothing, the last novella in A Bouquet of Bride is my newest friend in this “bouquet” of authors, and she’s already impressed the socks off of me. (Actually it’s cold today and my warm, fuzzy socks are still on, but you know what I mean.)

Pegg stepped up to bat to provide valuable leadership, offering great ideas about getting the word out about this collection that we all love. You can thank her for the fun hosted on my blog and the blogs of the other authors for the month of January. We’ll each be posting fun tidbits about our stories on each other’s blogs through the month. I hope you’ll hop around with us from blog to blog on this special blog tour! Thank you, Pegg!

Since I didn’t know Pegg very well, I asked her to do a quick interview so I could get to know her along with my readers. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into her life as much as I did.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

It was always in the back of my mind, probably since high school, but never something I seriously thought I would do. Then came the dreaded empty nest. I needed something to keep busy and I thought … why not? That was in 2009. I signed my first contract in 2016. If I had known how much I didn’t know before I started, I probably wouldn’t have. But after I’d invested in the first writers conference, I felt compelled to see it through. So happy I did!

Tell us about one of your favorite writing mentors.

I didn’t really have any mentors in the usual sense. I stumbled onto Christianwriters.com from the beginning. It was an active site pre-Facebook and filled with other newbies trying to figure out the whole writing gig. That’s where I learned about writers conferences. Attending my first conference – even though I won an essay contest there – was where I learned how much I didn’t know. I also learned about ACFW. It was through ACFW’s Scribes program that I found my critique partners. We were all at about the same level of writing and so we grew together, sharing what we learned at conferences across the country and always pushing each other to write better. I’m a firm believer in an active critique group – and a pushy one! Don’t look for people who will slap you on the back and tell you how great you write, look for people who will bleed red all over your manuscript and push you – or drag you kicking and screaming, which was me – to improve.

You seem especially focused on writing historicals. Tell us about that passion.

I think I was born a history geek. Or maybe I was just born a couple hundred years too late. My granddad, who remembered the end of WWI and lived through a lot of history, was a natural-born storyteller. I was his favorite audience. I soaked up history via story from the start. And I must have passed it on, because our homeschooled son is now a history teacher in the public schools.

What’s something unique to you we can learn about?

I’m a shepherd. I’ve raised registered Border Leicester sheep since 1993. I’m also a handspinner. I use my wool to create one-of-a-kind pieces of clothing. My passion at the moment is knitting shawls. I like to spin a very fine yarn and knit the shawls on smaller needles to create a heirloom-quality shawl. Each one is unique since I only prepare enough wool for a single shawl at a time. I couldn’t replicate one if I tried! I decided to give away one of my shawls with the release of each of my books. The Meadowsweet Shawl, named after the lamb in In Sheep’s Clothing, part of A Bouquet of Brides Collection, will be given away on January 31st to one subscriber to my newsletter. https://www.subscribepage.com/PeggThomas
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Thank you, Pegg, for a glimpse into your world!
Until Next Time,
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Meet Donna Schlachter!

img_6534-juggling-the-books-smallerJust seeing the name of this dear sister-in-Christ makes me smile every time. Donna Schlachter is the author of A Prickly Affair, the sixth novella in the collection, A Bouquet of Brides. Donna and I go way back. God is so good! We had no idea all those years ago that someday the Lord would again weave our writing journeys together, giving of the great pleasure being published in the same collection. (Thank you, Jesus!)

From the beginning of our experience together I knew Donna to be a conscious, servant-hearted, capable leader with a quick smile and wit.

When I served as president of the north Denver chapter of ACFW, Donna served as treasurer. She was wonderful, handling details that would have bogged me down on top of keeping the books, a job I think only a saint would sign up for.

The picture below, taken November of 2010, is of the His Writer’s board the day we hosted our first writer’s conference. We were thrilled to have teacher extraordinaire and multi-published author, Susan May Warren, as our speaker for the day. She’s standing between Donna and me in the picture below. On the other side of me is Linda Ables, who served as treasurer, and Jill Hups, who was vice-president at the time. Donna and I have laughed together over email about this day, which had its own foibles and learning curves, but still offered wonderful instruction to area writers.

74017_1662508329931_246122_nI’m grateful for all Donna did to make our board run smoothly and for the encouragement she so often was to me personally. Her desire for excellence and her wisdom was such an asset! The Lord also used her to speak some thing into my life that I hadn’t understood about myself.

Looking back to those years we served together, its fun for me to relive Donna and my developing friendship. It’s a testimony to how God knits hearts together and how deeply we need people who help us see new perspectives.

Donna and I liked and respected each other from the beginning, but I’m not sure we always understood each other. It seemed we often saw things in leadership from the opposite perspective! What’s so beautiful about that is we soon learned that sharing our ideas, even when we differed, made the outcome better for everyone. Donna was definitely the balance I needed as I grew as a leader in this position.

51OhyGLrtxLIt is with deep love and gratitude that I think of this special friend and all we shared together during those days of serving. Donna is incredibly faithful and giving, and we’ve been cheering each other’s journeys for a while.  I’m so grateful God chose us to be friends and blessed the love we share by allowing us to be published together in A Bouquet of Brides.

Before I close, I wanted to let you know about Donna’s daily devotion, Transformation, which releases TODAY! Talk about a God-thing! I pre-scheduled these “friend” posts about my fellow authors. Then I heard Donna had a devotional book releasing, so I decided to add that information this post. THEN I discovered I’d already scheduled the blog about Donna on the very day Transformation releases! Isn’t that cool? I love these little gifts of the Father.

Here is a blurb about the book:

Cover imageTransformation offers 366 devotions that will chronologically walk you through the Bible in a year

If you’ve ever wished you could start a devotional at some time throughout the year other than January 1st, then this is the devotional for you! Each day is numbered, so you can start any day of the year and still walk through the Bible in a year

If you like to start out the year on the right foot on January 1st, then this is the devotional for you!

However you like to structure your quiet time, today is the absolute best time to start!

If you’d like to follow Donna:

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

You can check out Donna’s other publications on her Amazon author page. 

Until next time when we meet the final author of the collection, Pegg Thomas,

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Our dear Donita K. Paul

51OhyGLrtxLTalk about fun! It’s a delight to be included in the collection A Bouquet of Brides with author Donita K Paul. I have some friends who get a little star-struck when they learn Donita is part of my friendship circle. If you know Donita, you know she is a down-to-earth, albeit talented, grandma who loves laugh, has a sparkling twinkle in her eyes, and delights in helping children succeed.

512sw4ZtcKLI don’t know if she gets tired of hearing it or not, but I can’t introduce Donita without saying that she wrote one of my favorite books ever, DragonSpell. I read this 2005 Christy award-winning tale to my children when they were small, and the time we spent sharing this story together is forever etched in my mind. Of course she has a ton of other wonderful, well-written books, both fantasy and inspirational romance, but I can’t help but talk about my favorite. It was such delight to see it listed at the library as one of the top picks for a summer read back when my children and I frequented summer library programs.

483523_4837587698156_310653620_nBut Donita’s not only a fantastic writer, she’s a dear friend and mentor to many of us. In fact, I think it is safe to say she’s become a mentor to mentors, because I’ve heard both Mary and Kathy, who I featured earlier this week, call Donita their mentor. And that’s pretty cool since I think Suzanne, who is a debut author in this collection, would call Mary one of her mentors. And I call Kathy my mentor and she calls Mary hers and Mary goes right back to Donita. (Did you follow that?) That’s legacy my friends!

Here’s another fun Donita story. She once told me she wrote her first book, a romance, while her daughter was away at camp one summer. Evidently Evangeline, then a teen, had started reading romance and her momma wanted her to read a story that was wholesome and pointed her to a healthy, God-centered relationship.

This picture was taken  taken at a book signing in December of 2012. Pictured with Kathy, Mary, and myself is Donita’s daughter, Evangeline Denmark, who has now released her first novel! (There’s that legacy thing again.)

I also had the distinct pleasure of attending Donita’s wedding. What a high day that was! I treasure this picture of Kathy, Mary, and I celebrating with Donita on her wedding day in September of 2015. Isn’t she lovely in yellow?

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Until next time when I introduce the author of the next story in A Bouquet of Brides,

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Introducing . . . Suzanne Norquist

1Drum roll please!!

The next author in our Bouquet of Brides line-up is debut author Suzanne Norquist, who wrote A Song for Rose.

(Actually the next story in the collection is At Home with Daffodils by yours truly, but I figure you already know me and Suzanne’s story is the next in the book.)

I’m Jumping up and down about this one! It’s always an incredible delight to see a friend get her first publishing contract. Congratulations, Suzanne! We’re so happy for you and so proud of your hard work and perseverance!

It’s such a joyful honor to be alongside Suzanne in this book, her very first release. As I’ve worked on these blogs I’ve had this sense of God’s special blessing. Many of us in the collection did a lot of WORK together with ACFW. It’s almost as if He is smiling upon us saying, “Ok, ladies, you worked together, now enjoy publishing together!”

Suzanne and I became fast friends when we served together in state leadership for ACFW Colorado. She was on the Colorado Springs board, and I was ACFW Colorado Coordinator. Suzanne and I met monthly with the state team to discuss and implement strategies for supporting Christian writers in our state. I loved the vision part of the job, the networking, teaching, leading, and encouraging. The paperwork and spreadsheets? Not so much. I sent out a cry for help from someone who understood spreadsheets, and Suzanne not only rescued me from the details the national folks expected of me, but she also created an amazing tool that helped us reach out to writers all across the state. Because of her spreadsheet design, work that was taking me hours was accomplished in minutes, and we were much better equipped to reach out to ACFW writers in Colorado. Suzanne served ACFW faithfully and diligently, with much skill and grace.

Dear Suzanne and I share another love besides writing. We love to walk–and we’ve done a lot of it together, shedding pounds as we went. When we took this picture, we’d just finished a 10.18 mile trek together. And we’re still smiling, if a little sunburned.

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Congratulations, Suzanne! I’m privileged to call you friend!

Until tomorrow when we meet the next author,

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PS I’m a special guest today on Mary Davis’ blog. We’re talking about my handsome hero, Jace Gruber! Check it out!