Wednesday, December 30, 2009

First Impressions by Michelle Sutton ~ 5/5 stars + Favorite

First Impressions
Michelle Sutton
Tombstone Treasures, #1

Desert Breeze Publishing
About the book:
Sammie Carpenter understands how a uniform influences behavior. Wearing her Army fatigues puts her in the mindset of a soldier and donning her Class-A Uniform always helps her shift into Captain Mode. So what harm could come from her dressing like a saloon girl and strutting through the streets of Tombstone? She didn't know how to flirt to save her life, and she wasn't getting any younger.

When she met the lonesome stud cowboy, Jimmy, she knew he was the one. So why was their communication always so awkward? Couldn't he see that she was interested in him? No matter how hard she tried to win him over, she couldn't seem to get him to see past his first impression of her. But Sammie didn't give up easily. Somehow she would make him see that they were meant to be together, but how can she do that when all of her plans keep falling apart?

My review:
First of all, I want to say that this is definitely for mature teens and up. This is very steamy and not to be read by younger people. But, the message in this book is priceless. First Impressions so completely stresses the importance of handling relationships God’s way that it will make you examine yourself and your walk with the Lord. Michelle is one of those authors that really touches you because she understands the importance of being real. Yes, the book is fiction and fun to read, but it deals with real issues that are usually not addressed in such a straight-forward, understandable way. There are consequences for doing things our way instead of God’s. Not because He gets angry and decides to ruin our life since we didn’t do what He told us to, but because God’s way is best. He created us and He knows how we work. When we follow His guidelines, it keeps us from ruining our own lives. I loved this book and think that Sutton is just getting better and better as a writer. I look forward to seeing the amazing ways that God will continue to use her writing to reach people.

**Come back this Friday when Michelle Sutton will be giving away a copy of this e-book**

Monday, December 28, 2009

Cover Contest ~ Time to vote!

Thank you all for sending in covers! Here are the options (in the order that they were nominated):

The Jewel of His Heart by Maggie Brendan

Love Finds You in North Pole, Alaska by Loree Lough

A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist

The Carousel Painter by Judith Miller

The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen

Deep in the Heart of Trouble by Deeanne Gist

A Measure of Mercy by Lauraine Snelling

Dawn's Prelude by Tracie Peterson

A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman

Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson

Things Worth Remembering by Jackina Stark

A Vote of Confidence by Robin Lee Hatcher

Remember, you are just voting on the covers, not the book. Please only vote once. Thank you for participating! May the best cover win!

*Do not comment your choice. I have a poll going on the right side of my blog.*

Friday, December 25, 2009

12 Pearls of Christmas: Celebrate

What Really Matters
by Dawn Meehan

In the hustle and bustle and commercialism of Christmas, take time to remember the real reason why we celebrate - the birth of Christ, our Lord and Saviour. May you all have a blessed Christmas!

I had a VERY long day with the kids doing little but fighting. By the time we left for church, we were all short tempered, snapping at each other, and not at all in the Christmas spirit. Thankfully, once at church, we calmed down. Things were put in perspective for us. We sang Christmas songs and began to smile at one another again. The kids didn't fight once while we were there. Well, they did use their battery operated candles as light sabers for a minute, but we'll forget about that part.

I never sent out cards (sorry to all my family and friends). It just didn't happen this year. I don't think I ever completely finished my shopping, but it's a little late now. Several items I ordered online have been back ordered. I just realized that the kids have eaten all the cookies I've made and there are none to put out for Santa now. I encouraged them to leave him a glass of wine instead. And I failed to read the Christmas story to the kids before they went to bed.

But you know what? None of that matters. It really doesn't. Christmas is here! Christ is born! And He doesn't care if we sent out Christmas cards. He doesn't care if we ate all the cookies we baked. He doesn't even care if we never got around to baking a single cookie at all! He loves us no matter how much we screw up.
Now that's worth celebrating!

Dawn Meehan (aka mom2my6pack) grew up in Chicagoland where she began her writing career at the age of 5 with her widely praised, The Lucky Leprechaun, an epic tale of a leprechaun who is- yes, you guessed it, lucky.

Dawn has six children, basically because she didn't want seven. She is the author of Because I Said So and spends her days blogging at, changing diapers, cleaning pudding off her ceiling, tackling insurmountable piles of laundry, and explaining to her kids why they can't have a pet squirrel or an indoor slip-n-slide.

A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is leave a comment here. Come back on New Year's Day to see if you won!
12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Allison Pittman ~ Interview + Giveaway!

Today author Allison Pittman is telling us about her series, Crossroads of Grace. She has offered the ENTIRE three-book series (autographed) to one lucky winner! Allison will also be stopping by throughout the week to answer any questions you leave in a comment for her. (If you are only asking a question, and not entering, then please say that you don't want to be entered.)

Welcome, Allison! Tell us a little about yourself.

Let’s see…I’m a busy mom of three boys (twin teen-agers and a tween), and my husband and I just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary! I left my teaching career after 17 years to pursue writing full time, and somehow my schedule got crazier! I think I thrive in chaos…

How long have you been writing? How many books do you have published?
My first novel, Ten Thousand Charms, came out in 2006, and The Bridegrooms, my 6th book (yay!!!), comes out in April.

If you compared your writing style to any other Christian Fiction author, who would it be? Also, how would you rate the romance in your books?
Hmmm…I have no idea who I would compare my writing to. Weird, but I think I’m too close to it to make that call. I’m also not sure how to classify it in terms of sweet, sensual etc., because I think that’s all going to depend on what the story calls for. Let’s go with “saucy”!

In your own words tell us a little about the Crossroads of Grace series.
The series tells the story of three women whose lives intersect when they find themselves spending a year together in a frontier Wyoming brothel.

Ten Thousand Charms-
A woman with no future.

A man with no hope.

A God who knows the key to their deepest need lies in each other…

Wyoming Territories, 1860. Gloria is in trouble. A mining camp is a merciless place when you’re young, pregnant…and a prostitute. No matter. Life will not defeat her.

John William McGregan is in despair. His beloved wife died in childbirth. And while John is a resourceful man, raising an infant daughter on his own seems impossible.

Thrown together by a seemingly cruel fate, Gloria and John William make a pact: She will nurse his daughter; he will raise her son. Neither asks for marriage. They are joined by necessity, nothing more.

But after a move to the new Oregon territory, facing John William’s faith day after day, and receiving an older woman’s motherly mentoring, Gloria longs for something more. For the love she’s been denied all her life. If only that life hadn’t made her unfit, not only for John William…but for God.

Then tragedy strikes—making even the resolute John William question his faith. Terrified, Gloria turns to the One she has never been able to trust. But can even God save what now means more to Gloria than life itself: her newfound family?

Speak Through the Wind-
After a lifetime of mistakes…can Kassandra ever be forgiven?

New York City, 1841

When Reverend Joseph plucks a gravely wounded child from the mean streets of Manhattan’s rough Five Points District, he intends to give her a real home. And though Kassandra flourishes in the preacher’s house, learning Bible verses at his knee and going to school, as a young teenager she makes the first of many devastating decisions, running away from the only haven she’s ever known.

What follows is a waking nightmare: life in a tiny room above a brothel, the loss of a child, a lover’s rejection, and finally, life as a prostitute. As circumstances lead her further and further from the reverend’s secure home, an ashamed Kassandra is certain that neither God, nor Joseph, will ever forgive her.

Feeling as though she has nothing left to lose and nowhere to go, Kassandra leaves behind her hopes of redemption and heads west to California, where she is transformed into the woman known as Sadie. Unfortunately, nothing in her life is pointing to a happy ending, and Sadie is forced to grapple with the question: Once you’ve passed the point of no return, can you ever go back?

With Endless Sight-
Behind every story of loss is the promise of grace.…

Belleville, Illinois and Wyoming Territories, 1861

Born into a life of privilege, fourteen-year-old Belinda never questions her security, even as she leaves Illinois with her family to discover new adventures in the Oregon Territory. But when disaster falls, Belinda is left wounded, weak, and alone. Her faith in God gives her the only strength she knows in a harsh new world.

Belinda’s journey takes her to a snow-covered mining camp and a red-roofed brothel in the Wyoming mountains, but not before she must spend a lonely winter with the man who took away the life she knew. Throughout the grief and hope of a strange land, Belinda must decide if her faith is big enough to allow her to forgive.

The satisfying conclusion to the Crossroads of Grace series, With Endless Sight offers a rich story of family, new beginnings, and the freedom that grace can bring.

What made you want to write these stories?
The inspiration for the series came from looking at a picture of a group of frontier prostitutes posing in their parlor. I looked into their eyes and realized that these women had stories, and they’d all taken vastly different paths to end up in a life of prostitution. I realized, too, that when it came to their wants and desires for their lives, they weren’t any different from the more “respectable” women of the time or, for that matter, from women today.

Who would you pick to play the lead roles if this book was made into a movie?
I really do envision actors and actresses when I write, but I’m afraid I sometimes go to obscure extremes. Gloria was inspired by an actress named Theresa Blake, who actually played a character named “Gloria” on a soap opera years ago, so we’d need a time machine to cast her :) ; Kassandra/Sadie Liza Weil (from Gilmore Girls), and Belinda/Biddy is based on a photograph of Laura Ingalls Wilder when she was about 14 years old, so maybe a young Lindsay Lohan? Again, the time machine…

What are you working on now or going to write next?
My next novel is due out in April. It’s called The Bridegrooms, and it is such a fun book! Tons of romance and secrets.

How can readers get in contact with you?
I am, of course, on facebook, and they can also go to my website to send me an email. I’m the world’s worst blogger, though. That’s my New Year’s resolution!

What are you currently reading?
A couple of different things, actually! I’m reading Anne Patchett’s Run (she is amazing!), and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Tell us something surprising about yourself that readers may not know.
Goodness, I am soooooo boring. OK, I just started drinking coffee, like, a month ago. My teen-age sons like it, and wanted a coffee maker in the house. I’ve never liked coffee at all, but that’s because I didn’t know about rich, chocolate Coffee-Mate creamer. ‘Nuff said.

If you could be any animal, which would you choose? Why?
I’d want to be my dog, Stella, because, really, she has such a wonderful life!


TV show, and/or movie?
TV show: Gilmore Girls. I can pretty much recite entire episodes. Movie? Hmm…impossible to narrow it to one, so I’ll go with three: Love Actually, Dan in Real Life, and Mildred Pierce.

Place to go on vacation?
Disneyworld! I’m a wee bit obsessed…

Book this year or month? Why?
I just finished reading The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe. It’s an older novel, and it totally doesn’t conform to a lot of current fiction conventions. It dabbles in omniscient point-of-view (gasp!!!) and was such a nice, kind of old-fashioned change. Loved it!

**USA residents only, please**
Okay readers, here is your chance to win autographed copies of each book in the Crossroads of Grace series! To enter: Leave a comment with your name and email address (so I can contact you if you win), and please specify that you want to be included in the contest! *If you want an extra entry, become one of my followers.* The comment is mandatory. (Please, say in the comment if you are a follower!! It makes my job easier when you do.) You will not be entered unless you leave a comment. If you are already a follower, and then you leave a comment, you will still get two entries in the contest. The contest will run from today (Dec. 25) until 10:30 CST on Thursday (Dec. 31). I will announce the winner that night. The winner is always randomly drawn. I will contact the winner on Friday the 1st, and then that person will have one week to reply. If the winner doesn't reply within that time period, I will pick a new winner. Good luck! Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

This week's winners!

The winner of The Believer by Ann H. Gabhart is:

The winner of Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana  by Tricia Goyer is:

12 Pearls of Christmas: Slow Down, Pray & Give Thanks

All Decked Out For Christmas
by Maureen Lang

One of the reasons so many of us love the holiday season is that it's just so...pretty! Twinkling lights, shiny ornaments, packages that glisten with bows and fancy wrapping. Our houses are trimmed with wreaths and glowing trees, and the neighborhood lights up the night with strands of icicles and glimmering reindeer.

Even we get decked out for the holidays! Chances are most of us will attend at least one party this season, and if we don't usually don clothing or jewelry with a bit of sparkle, now's the time to take a chance with something that reflects the holiday.

Smiles are another reason this season is such a popular one. They accompany that familiar greeting-Merry Christmas! Smiles go with the gifts we give and with the gifts we receive. Smiles go with the old Christmas carols and classic movies we watch every year.

The holiday season is a time when everything can seem amplified. But what if we're all decked out on the outside, from the sparkling clothing to our best effort at a smile, and on the inside we're anything but happy? If life isn't what we expected it to be, the gap between reality and our happy, hopeful expectations seem wider when everyone around us is laughing through the season.

I know there are as many reasons to be unhappy as there are to be happy, and I wouldn't begin to have the answer to make this season bearable for everyone. But I do know a few things that have worked for me:

Slow down. What? During the busiest time of the year? Yep. I know when I feel completely overwhelmed it's because I'm pressuring myself to do too much. So I try to plan ahead, settle for less than perfection, do my best without driving myself and everyone around me crazy. Choose what's really important and let go of the other things. And I've adopted my aunt's favorite saying: "However it turns out, that's how we like it." Works wonders on attitude!

Pray. As my pastor reminded me this weekend from Psalm 34:18: the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. God may not deliver us from our troubles, but He promises to stay beside us-in fact, closer than when everything seems hunky-dory.

Find a moment to give thanks for what you do have (without looking around at those who have more).

This last point deserves a moment of reflection, and is something I'm still learning to do. I have a child severely handicapped by Fragile X Syndrome, a genetic form of mental retardation. For years I thought I'd accepted his condition. I obediently said to God, "thank you even for this," since it taught me many things about adjusting to the life I've been given rather than the one I might have chosen.

But as my son gets older, I see new forms of acceptance making that feeling of gratitude more genuine. I think I'm finally letting go of some of the hopes and dreams I had for him, my oldest son. I can no longer imagine him any other way than the way he is, even though I'd be first in line if a cure is ever found.

I still think it's a good thing to give thanks in all things, even if it begins out of obedience rather than tender gratitude for whatever thorn we live with. But realizing it's okay to grow into that gratitude was a blessing to me.

Maybe some of the bruises on our spirit seem tender during the holiday season, a reminder that all the glitter on the outside might not light us up on the inside. My prayer is trust Psalm 34:18. Let's lean on Him this season-He's right here beside us!

Maureen Lang grew up loving to tell stories, and God has blessed her immeasurably to be able to tell them to a wider audience these days. For the latest goings-on, please check her blog!


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is leave a comment here. Come back on New Year's Day to see if you won!
12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

12 Pearls of Christmas: Wondrous Mystery

by Anna Joujan

Holy. Holy. Holy is the Lord. The familiar catch of breath. The sting in the eyes. And the tears begin to flow with the falling rain. Or do the tears fall with the flowing rain. What is it in these words that I whisper that wrenches at my heart so? Why does Mary's prayer touch the core of my being, so many centuries after it was spoken?

I think it must be because I know that she was just a girl, just a human being, with a woman's heart like my own. And so, when I hear her wondering words, I can feel with her the emotion she must have felt. To bear the son of God-what wondrous mystery, what glorious honour! And she was, like me, just a young woman-much younger, in fact, than I am now. And so, no matter how often I hear the story and read her words, it still has the power to bring abrupt and unsought tears.

What a gracious God, to work wonders with such frail and faulty creatures as us!
Anna G. Joujan was born in South Dakota, as a Canadian citizen, and was raised in Zambia, the child of missionary teachers. Since her family's move to the U.S., Anna spent her childhood and early adulthood traveling throughout the world thanks to various educational and work opportunities . . . France, China, Peru, and Jamaica being some of the stops in her journeys. Her undergraduate degree in French Literature led to a Masters in Information Sciences, and to work as a college and high school librarian, and a cross country coach. She has also returned to Zambia multiple times to teach for individual families and for local schools. All the while continuing pursuing her passions of writing, artwork, photography . . . and running to a fault. She blogs at Full of Grace.


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is leave a comment here. Come back on New Year's Day to see if you won!
12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

12 Pearls of Christmas: Perspective

A Soggy, Jolly, Holly Christmas
by Melody Carlson

One of my most memorable Christmases started out as a natural disaster. But isn't that a bit how a pearl is formed? An oyster's soft easy life is disrupted by the invasion of sand, but something good comes out of it. When I was eight, we experienced the worst flood in recorded Oregon history. It was only a few days before Christmas when our streets became shallow rivers and the governor proclaimed a state of emergency. My sister and I assumed the flood was simply our new water-world playground and didn't understand the seriousness of washed out bridges and downed power lines and submerged homes. But when we realized this flood was about to nix our usual three-hour trek to our grandparents' home near the coast, we were not happy.

Naturally, our mom, a single parent, protested the sensibility of holiday travel (most of Oregon's rivers were involved in the flood). But Christmas at Grandma's house was our favorite event of the year. And thanks to our persistence, Mom finally gave in. We piled into the car and headed out. Flood waters climbed higher the closer we got to the coast. And at one point the road behind us was closed and the one ahead was flooded and about to be closed as well. The state policeman told us we could cross "at our own risk." We followed a Volkswagen Bug into the water-then we actually watched the bug floating away! Of course, there was nothing to do besides plow on through the water, which appeared to be nearly two feet deep! Fortunately we had an old heavy Chevy that did not float away, but the water seeped in and pooled on the floors.

Fortunately, we made it safely to the grandparents. But once we arrived, we learned there would be no Christmas tree because the road to the woods was closed. Then my grandpa picked up his ax and led us outside where he chopped down his prize holly tree planted in the parking strip. I stared in horror, thinking Grandma was going to have a fit. But then he explained the city had told him to remove the tree for traffic visibility. So we had a twelve foot holly tree for Christmas. It was a little prickly decorating it, but with its shiny green leaves and red berries, it was the most beautiful tree ever! So what started out as a disaster turned out to be a soggy, holly, jolly Christmas after all.


Melody Carlson, author of Limelight, Love Finds You in Sisters, The Christmas Dog, 86 Bloomberg Place, Diary of a Teenage Girl, The Carter House Girls, and much more...


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is leave a comment here. Come back on New Year's Day to see if you won!

Monday, December 21, 2009

12 Pearls of Christmas: Help & Support

Calling Elizabeth ... HELP!
by Tricia Goyer

Mary, the mother of Jesus is one of the most well-known women of all time. She was also a teen mom facing an unplanned pregnancy. This Christmas we will see evidence of Mary's story all around us. And as you hear it through Christmas songs and Christmas shows think of three things:

1. Mary was signed up for a big task she wasn't prepared for.
2. Mary no doubt faced criticism from people around her.
3. Mary found someone to turn to - a friend who could help Mary to succeed in her new role. It was Mary's older cousin Elizabeth.

Elizabeth played an important part in Mary's life. We know this because the book of Luke begins by telling us Elizabeth's story first. Elizabeth was the wife of a priest. She was very old and had no children, but God blessed her in her old age by allowing her to get pregnant. After Elizabeth's story comes Mary's story ... another surprise pregnancy. Can you imagine what a shock that was to everyone who knew both women? (Yes! I'm sure you can!)

The cool thing is that the angel Gabriel told Mary about Elizabeth's surprise pregnancy. It's as if he was saying, "Look, there's someone in your same situation. Turn to her. She can help you."

Mary did go to Elizabeth. In fact she lived with her older cousin for three months. Elizabeth was the first one who rejoiced over the child Mary held within her womb, and I imagine Elizabeth was there to encourage Mary as she coped with the idea of becoming a teen mom.

Like Mary, each of us should have people in our lives who we turn to for help, support and encouragement. Being a mom isn't an easy thing, and facing an unplanned pregnancy is even tougher.

When I had my son Cory I was 17-years-old, and there were a group of women from my grandma's church who supported me. They were the first ones who showed me that the child that was growing inside me was a gift. They gave me a baby shower, and they fought over holding my son after he was born.

As my son grew, there were other women I looked to ... and most of the time they didn't even know I was watching. One of them was Cheryl. Cheryl was patient with her children, she gave them big hugs, she laughed with them and played with them and I modeled myself after her. The thing about finding mentors is sometimes we can observe them without them even knowing. And if we're really lucky they enjoy their role of giving us advice.

Later, when I had two kids, I met a friend named Cindy. She and I were the same age and we became quick friends. Cindy was a support to me because we traded babysitting, talked about parenting problems, and we encouraged each other. She was someone who was walking the same road as me, and her advice helped more times than I can count.

No matter who we are, or where we live, each of us can look around and see the people we have in our lives. Some may cheer us on, some may guide our parenting, and others may just be there to walk along side us. If the mother of Jesus needed someone to look to for support ... shouldn't we? Everyone needs someone to provide a little help and support.

Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty-one books including From Dust and Ashes, My Life UnScripted, and the children's book, 10 Minutes to Showtime. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like Today's Christian Woman and Focus on the Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in the mountains of Montana. Connect with Tricia at

A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is leave a comment here. Come back on New Year's Day to see if you won!
12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Tidings of Great Boys by Shelley Adina ~ 5/5 stars

Tidings of Great Boys
Shelley Adina
All About Us series, #5

FaithWords Publisher
About the book:
Finals week is approaching and Mac is still undecided on where to spend the holidays. Normally she'd go home to Scotland, but spending two weeks alone in the castle with her dad isn't as appealing as it used to be. So she invites Carly, Lissa, Gillian, and Shani to join her for the holidays!

Mac is determined to make this the best Christmas ever. She even decides to organize the traditional Hogmany dance for New Year's Eve. If she can get her mother involved in the dance, maybe her parents will finally get back together.

But when Mac and the girls arrive in Scotland, they are faced with bad news: the castle is falling apart and Mac's parents are struggling financially. Not only that, but Shani is in big trouble with Prince Rashid's royal family. Can the girls find a way to celebrate the holidays, get Mac's parents back together, save the castle, and rescue Shani from her relentless pursuers? There's only one way to find out. . .
My review:
I loved Mac's story. This is a great book and I really felt connected to the characters. I've read all the books in this series and have not been disappointed with any of them. I seriously recommend that you read this entire series if you haven't already.
(Sorry the review is so short. It took me forever to finish the book, and then I didn't have time to write the review while it was fresh on my mind. I've been too busy, and thats going to have to change. *Insert determined face*)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

12 Pearls of Christmas: God Intervenes

The Answer
by Susan May Warren

Whos, Here, we are Whos here, smaller than the eye can see. Whos here, we are Whos here, I'm a Who and so is she...

I've always wanted to live in a musical. When I was a kid, I loved Oklahoma, Sound of Music, West Side Story. I seriously thought that, if the moment was right, maybe the stars aligned, people would break out into song and dance.

I was sorta right. Because in my house, one needs to be able to talk in movie lines and song lyrics to effectively communicate. At any moment, someone might break out with a quip from the Princess Bride, or Finding Nemo. They might sing Tomorrow from Annie, or My Favorite Things like Julie Andrews.

But, most recently we've found ourselves speaking in "Suess"...

It's suppertime, son, and the time is near To call far and wide the sneetches who hear Just the sound of their bellies, the whir of their gear The Gurgles and Burbles that give them great fear Tell them all, tell them loud, tell them clear Their hands they should wash, check their face in the mirror Because the food is now ready and it's time to steer Close to the table, where they'll find hot gribbles here.

Why, you ask? Because David and Sarah are performing in the community theater's production of Suessical the Musical, a hilarious conglomeration of Dr. Suess' fun work, from Horton hears a Who to Horton Hatches an Egg.

As the Christmas season draws close (and the songs from the play linger in my head), one line has stood out to me... "We are here, we are here!" You know the story - that part where, after everyone has called Horton names and they're about ready to boil the speck that contains Who-ville, Horton calls out to the Whos to send up a cry to prove themselves as real. "We are here, we are here!"

It strikes me that sometimes we can feel like Whos...smaller than the eye can see. Tossed hither and yon by the wind, helpless and facing being boiled. Tired, perhaps, or alone. Wishing someone might find us and pay attention.

Someone has, and that's the good news about Christmas. Because we don't have to "make ourselves heard," like the Whos. In fact, even before we realized we were headed for the cauldron, God intervened. God demonstrated his own love for us in this - while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8). That's what Jesus is all about - he's the answer to even the unspoken cry of our hearts, saying, "I am here, I am here." Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

So as this season approaches with its whistles and bells I hope you hear the voice where the Mighty One dwells -- down deep in your hearts, so nothing can shake the knowledge of his love, given all for your sake.

Merry Christmas from Susie May Warren

Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of twenty-one novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep's Clothing, a thriller set in Russia, was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader's Choice award. A former missionary to Russia, Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota. Check out her Christmas Novella, The Great Christmas Bowl.


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is leave a comment here. Come back on New Year's Day to see if you won!
12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Saturday, December 19, 2009

12 Pearls of Christmas: He is Always Enough

Christmas in a Barn
by Mary DeMuth
The Christmas of 2006 we were homeless. We didn't have keys. Not to a car, not to a home. We'd flown halfway around the world, leaving behind a ministry we toiled over. Much, particularly in our hearts, lay in ruins.

Some friends had a camp, and on that camp stood a barn. In the corner of the barn was a tiny apartment, flanked by this caboose and hundreds of acres of Texas pasture. We'd never been there before, so we followed directions at night, making plenty of wrong turns.

When we found the place, we drove a borrowed car over the cattle guard toward what would be our home for a month. String lights illuminated a small porch, a window and a door in the corner of an aluminum-sided barn. We hefted large pieces of luggage to the apartment.

And when we opened the door, Love welcomed us.

The place, usually completely unfurnished in the winter, was decked out with just the right amount of beds, couches and tables. The pantry was full. We had dishes and garbage cans, and cups and forks and food. But even more, we had a Christmas tree. Friends had hijacked the place, decorating it for Christmas. Cookies preened on the table.

I will never, ever forget that Christmas. We had so little. We felt the painful burden of failure. But we were loved, so terribly and wonderfully loved.

Christmas felt right there, in a barn. We heard the nickering of horses, the meowing of kittens, the clop of hooves against the barn floor. Chickens and goats and cows served as a holy object lesson of the incarnation. Although we were warm and clothed, we understood more keenly the Savior's homelessness, how He left the splendor of heaven for the sodden earth. We experienced barnyard life alongside him, without much to call our own except our Heavenly Father and our sweet family.

He was enough, that Christmas. And He will always will be.

Mary DeMuth writes fiction and nonfiction. Her latest book, A Slow Burn released in October and she has a memoir entitled Thin Places coming out in February of 2010. You can meet her:,, on Facebook and Twitter!


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is leave a comment here. Come back on New Year's Day to see if you won!
12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Friday, December 18, 2009

12 Pearls of Christmas: Faith, Hope & Love

The Pearls We Pass Down
by Holley Gerth

Ten years ago my Grandma Frances went home to heaven in her sleep just before Christmas.

My Grandpa carefully handed me a brightly-wrapped box on Christmas morning and said, "This is her gift. Now I want you to have it."

I opened the lid slowly and tears came to my eyes as I saw a lovely string of pearls.

My Mom gently helped me fasten them around my neck. As I ran my fingers over each one, I thought of my Grandmother and all she taught me through her life...

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

At age twenty-nine, my Grandma contracted polio and learned she would never walk again. She had a husband, two little girls, and a future suddenly very different than she imagined.

A pastor came to visit her in the hospital. He said, "Frances, this can make you bitter or better." She often told that story with a sparkle in her eyes as she said, "I chose better." I learned through her example that faith is a choice and with God we can thrive through anything.


My grandparents took a leap of faith and started the first Christian bookstore in their city with a small kiosk in the center of a mall. Over the next few decades that little kiosk grew into a large and successful store that touched countless lives.

Many of my favorite childhood memories are of curling up in the back room with a stack of books. My Grandma taught me hope is like a small seed and, watered with prayer, it can grow into a huge blessing for many.


For fifty-six years my grandparents shared a life together. I adore these two pictures because one is taken when they were dating and the other just a few weeks before she died. The twinkle in their eyes is still the same-and that's not easy in this world. They faced their share of challenges, like my Grandma's disability, but always got through them together.

My Nana also loved her family deeply. When I went to college, she often wrote notes to me and signed each one, SCTH (Stay Close to Him). She showed me love is a commitment that begins with Christ and then overflows to everyone else in our lives.

I still miss my Grandma Frances, especially this time of year. Sometimes I pull out her string of pearls and hold them in my hands. Then I think about how we're all creating our legacy as we live. And while the difficulties we face may seem hard to understand now, God can turn each one into beauty that blesses our family for generations.


Holley Gerth - Cofounder of (in)courage, editorial director for DaySpring, author of Rain on Me, wife of Mark, lover of Jesus, friend to YOU.

Visit Holley at Heart to Heart with Holley or follow her on twitter as @HolleyGerth.


12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit
12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Ann H. Gabhart ~ Interview + Giveaway!

Today author Ann H. Gabhart is telling us about her book, The Believer. She has offered an autographed copy of her book to one lucky winner!

Welcome, Ann! Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a country girl who loves to write. I have three grown children, all married, and nine beautiful grandchildren who keep me hopping. I’m married to a wonderful man who loves to sing gospel music as much as I love to write. Darrell sings bass in The Patriot Quartet, a Southern Gospel group. I like walking on our farm with my three dogs. I attend a small country church a lot like the church in my Hollyhill books. Right now for lack of anybody else willing to do it, I’m leading the singing there even though I’m not much of a singer. But I’m willing to try most anything except jumping out of an airplane. I’ll leave that one up to President George Bush who says he’s going to skydive again on his 90th birthday. I prefer the birthday excitement of a nice hot cup of tea and a new book to read.

How long have you been writing? How many books do you have published?
When I was nine or ten I loved to read Hardy Boy mysteries and decided to write my own mystery with me, my sister, and my cousin as the crime solvers. That was loads of fun and I’ve been writing ever since. I’ve published nineteen books in various genres and have five more under contract to be released in the next few years. My first novel, a historical romance, was published in 1978. My first inspirational novel, The Scent of Lilacs, was published in 2005. I love writing for the inspirational market. The readers of inspirational fiction are great.

If you compared your writing style to any other Christian Fiction author, who would it be? Also, how would you rate your romance?
While I’ve had some reviewers compare my writing to this or that other writer, that’s not something I do. I like thinking I have my own unique style the same as those other writers do.

I’d describe my novels as G but there is some kissing in the stories. Of course with the Shaker novels, the kissing is rare since the Shakers didn’t believe in men and women having any sort of romantic relationships. They believed all should live as brothers and sisters.

In your own words tell us a little about The Believer.
The Believer is set in 1833-34 in a Shaker community in Kentucky. The two main characters, Elizabeth and Ethan, come to Harmony Hill by different paths. Ethan is raised by the Shakers after he makes his escape from an abusive father. Years later Elizabeth ends up in the Shaker Village when her father dies and she has no way to take care of her younger brother and sister. Naturally when Elizabeth and Ethan first meet, sparks fly, but since such feelings are forbidden in a Shaker community where matrimony is considered sinful and the Shakers practice extreme measures to keep contact between the sexes at a minimum, there seems little hope for their romance. Ah, but the need for love is hard to deny. The story has several other characters that add depth to the story including Elizabeth’s little sister. Hannah is a free spirit who struggles with the Shaker rules even as Elizabeth does her best to keep her out of trouble. Ethan is guided in his spiritual growth by a kind Shaker brother, Issachar. Both Elizabeth and Ethan are faced with challenges that test their beliefs and courage.

While The Believer is set in the same Shaker community as The Outsider, the stories take place in different time periods, 1812 and 1833-34, and aren’t about the same characters. However they are book one and two of my Shaker book series. Book three, The Seeker will be released in the summer of 2010 and takes place during Civil War times.

Elizabeth Duncan has nowhere to turn. In charge of her younger brother and sister after their parents die, her options are limited. When she hears that the Shaker community in the next county takes in orphans, she presents herself and her siblings at Harmony Hill. Despite the hard work and strange new beliefs around her, Elizabeth is relieved to have a roof overhead and food to eat. But when she feels a strong attachment to a handsome young believer named Ethan, life gets complicated. Ethan has never looked on the opposite sex as anything but sisters, but he can't shake the new feelings that Elizabeth has awakened in him. Will Elizabeth be forced to leave the village to keep Ethan from stumbling? Or will Ethan's love for her change their lives forever?

What made you want to write this story?
My first Shaker book, The Outsider, was very popular with readers and actually was a finalist for 2009 Fiction Book of the Year Award given by ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishing Association). So my editor encouraged me to write a couple more Shaker books to build on the popularity of that first book. I was a bit hesitant at first, not sure I could come up with new stories set among the Shakers, but then after more research and getting to know my characters, I really enjoyed telling Elizabeth’s and Ethan’s story.

What research did you have to do for this book?
The Shakers were a unique religious group that started up in America a few years before the Revolutionary War. They grew in popularity in the Nineteenth Century and then gradually died out until now there are only four active Shakers in Maine. I tried to read as many books about the Shakers as I could so that I could get an understanding of their religious ideas and how they lived. I also had to research the time period to try to make the story as historically accurate as possible while letting my characters live their stories.

Who would you pick to play the lead roles if this book was made into a movie?
I’m not much of a movie buff, so I have to admit I’m totally out of touch with current movies and movie stars. My publishing company asked me to send in movie star pictures for my heroine in the book that will be out next summer and I had to google red-haired actresses. But I’ll play along. If I was casting the parts of Elizabeth and Ethan in The Believer, Ethan would be the most handsome dark-haired actor there is and Elizabeth would be an actress who is spunky and blessed with common sense. So how about Leonardo DiCapria for Ethan? And Ashley Judd would make a good Elizabeth even though she might be a bit old for the part.

What are you working on now or going to write next?
I’m writing my fourth Shaker novel. It’s in the early stages so I haven’t come up with a title yet. But I’m actually working right now on the copy edits of The Seeker, my third Shaker book, that’s scheduled for release in July 2010.

How can readers get in contact with you?
I always enjoy hearing from readers. It’s fun to hear what they think about my books and my characters. You can get in contact with me from my website, or check out my Facebook fan page at I also have a blog, One Writer’s Journal,, where readers can keep up with what’s going on down here on the farm and in my writing life. I usually post on Wednesdays and Sundays and I do my best to respond to all comments and messages.

What are you currently reading?
I’m reading Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier. I’m also reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, an entertaining book about writing and how to find the stories within and then get them out on paper or the computer screen. Her language is not crystal clean, but if you can get past that, her advice is excellent.

Tell us something surprising about yourself that readers may not know.
I grew up on a farm. When I was fourteen, I begged to bushhog a field so I could drive the tractor. I got married when I was seventeen and have been married forever. I don’t recommend marrying so young, but it worked for my husband and me.

If you could be any animal, which would you choose? Why?
A dog of course. Because dogs know how to have fun. They love without reservation, forgive easily, and don’t mind getting dirty.

TV show, and/or movie?
I don’t watch much T.V. My husband likes to watch all those talking head news programs. I like reading newspapers to keep up with what’s going on in the world. I do love sports and watch University of Kentucky basketball without fail. As for my favorite movie, I enjoyed the Raiders of the Lost Ark movies with Harrison Ford because they were so much fun. As I said earlier, I’m not a big movie buff. I’d rather read the books.

Place to go on vacation?
I love hiking in the mountains and I love walking on the beach. So anywhere with oceans or mountains is good.

Book this year or month? Why?
My favorite book this year? That’s a hard pick. Maybe Ahab’s Wife by Sera Jeter Naslund because of the lyrical writing and all the historical details. Or Stephen King’s On Writing. I like to read other writers’ how-I-got-started-writing stories and King is an entertaining writer even when he’s giving out writing advice.

Do you have a link to a place to read the first chapter of this book?
I have links to a portion of the first and third chapters on the Shaker Books page on my website,

The Believer was released on August 1, 2009.
**USA and Canada residents only, please**

Okay readers, here is your chance to win an autographed copy of The Believer! To enter: Leave a comment with your name and email address (so I can contact you if you win), and please specify that you want to be included in the contest! *If you want an extra entry, become one of my followers.* The comment is mandatory. (Please, say in the comment if you are a follower!! It makes my job easier when you do.) You will not be entered unless you leave a comment. If you are already a follower, and then you leave a comment, you will still get two entries in the contest. The contest will run from today (Dec. 18) until 10:30 CST on Thursday (Dec. 24). I will announce the winner that night. The winner is always randomly drawn. I will contact the winner on Friday the 25th, and then that person will have one week to reply. If the winner doesn't reply within that time period, I will pick a new winner. Good luck! Thanks for visiting.