Monday, December 22, 2014
Please welcome Sandra Ardoin to my blog this week. Sandra is giving away an e-copy of her book. Be sure to leave a comment with your email address to be entered. And if you are a follower of my blog mention that for an extra entry!
Christmas is a season of giving. Frankly, giving should be something we do all year long, but this time of the year brings a special feeling of benevolence, one that has us sharing with people we don’t even know.
In my Christmas novella The Yuletide Angel, the Lord has given Violet Madison the desire to help those who struggle to put food on the table during the holidays. Violet’s exceedingly shy nature causes her to deliver her gifts in the dead of night when no one is looking—so she thinks. While she takes to heart the words of Jesus when he says not to “let your left hand know what the right hand is doing,” the notoriety of the mysterious benefactor begins to highlight a more negative aspect of Violet’s giving … seeking personal praise and glory.
There’s a good reason for that admonition by Jesus. He knows how liable we are to turn something good into a sin. Have you ever started or taken part in a project because God has led you to do so, or you see a need to help others? When people begin to praise you for what you’re doing, do you find yourself basking in that praise? I can’t imagine there is anyone on this planet who hasn’t experienced Violet’s regret at some point or another.
I’ve been pleased at how well The Yuletide Angel has done over the past two months. As my debut, it has been well-received with reviews of praise. While it’s all encouraging and thrilling, I’ve prayed numerous times that God not allow me to fall into the same trap as Violet. My prayer is that He will use the story or some portion of it, even if it’s only to reach one person in helping them through a spiritual need.
As Christians who also consider writing to be either a calling or a ministry, we work hard to write the best book we’re capable of producing. Yes, writing is a business, but we also want our stories to speak to others and be an influence in pointing someone to the Lord or helping them through a trying and confusing time. Yet, if our book is even a modest success, we can slip into a period of self-congratulations. Believe me, it’s all too easy to take the credit and fail to give Him the glory.
God is generous with our talents, our abilities, and His patience. He expects us to be the same with our praise of Him. So let me say right now: May God be glorified through all that I do, whether others consider it successful or not!
Sandra Ardoin is a multi-published author of short fiction. A fan of old westerns growing up, it’s only natural that she sets stories in the days of the horse and buggy. She’s the married mother of a young adult and lives in North Carolina. Learn more about her at www.sandraardoin.com.
Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Sign up for her newsletter.
No one, except Hugh Barnes, a confirmed bachelor who finds himself drawn to the outwardly shy but inwardly bold Violet Madison, a young woman who risks her safety to help others.
When Violet confesses her fear of eviction from her childhood home, Hugh longs to rescue her. His good intentions are thwarted, however, when Hugh's estranged brother shows up in town ... and in Violet's company.
But Violet faces an even bigger threat. A phantom figure lurks in the shadows, prepared to clip the wings of The Yuletide Angel.
Monday, December 15, 2014
Novellas are near and dear to my heart, because the first thing I sold to a publishing house was a novella. In case you don’t know, novellas are a short work of fiction. They are longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. Generally, they are 20,000 to 40,000 words in length. Longer novellas may be published by as a stand-alone book, but the shorter ones are usually found in a collection. My first three sales were novellas, and I still write them today.
This year, I have novellas in three collections. The first two have been on the ECPA’s Best Sellers’ List for the past three months. Here’s some info about them.
Westward Christmas Brides released in September. It focuses on stories of women who are heading west in hopes of a better life. There are nine authors, including Susan Page Davis, Marylu Tyndall, and Wanda Brunstetter.
My novella is Forging a Family, and it tells the story of Beth Ruskin, an Orphan Train agent, who has one more child to place. Then she and her father will travel to Arizona, where he plans to set up a doctor’s office. But a freak storm causes an unexpected delay in Texas. Beth prays she can find a home for sweet Lizzie, who has been rejected by more than one set of potential parents, simply because she wears glasses. Beth’s problems magnify when a big blacksmith gives her his three-year-daughter after she is injured in his smithy. Can Beth get Cade Maddox to see how much his daughter needs him and find a home for Lizzy, all before Christmas?
Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/1w78Qxi
Also released in September is The Christmas Brides Collection, which includes authors Kelly Aileen Hake, Lynn Coleman, and a local writing buddy, Therese Stenzel. This collection of novellas are reprints from ones that appeared in previous collections. Here’s what The Christmas Brides Collection is about: Journey back into history to experience Christmas alongside nine brides-to-be whose wedding dreams are overshadowed by doubts and troubles.
My novella is titled An Irish Bride for Christmas. It’s the story of a man who recently lost his brother and sister-in-law in a tragic accident and is struggling to find a balance between work and raising his orphaned niece, whom he dearly loves. When a judge rules he’s not fit to raise her alone, Jackson is given until Christmas to find a bride or lose permanent custody of his niece. But how does a bachelor with a stagecoach business to run find time to marry—and just how is he supposed to find a bride in such a short time?
Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/1BMtCoX
My third novella, The Fruitcake Bride, will be released on Dec. 22nd. It is the final novella in The 12 Brides of Christmas ebook series that started in October, with a novella releasing each week. The Fruitcake Bride is the story of a young woman who arrives in Advent, MO, to marry her clergyman fiancé. She makes many mistakes in her attempt to win over his congregation — including using brandy in the Christmas fruitcakes, which she donates to the orphanage fundraiser. Needless to say, the church ladies are in an uproar. Will the wedding still go on?
The Fruitcake Bride is just 99 cents. Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/1srTyn8
You can follow The 12 Brides authors at 12Brides.com and on Facebook. Next summer, readers can enjoy The 12 Brides of Summer, a new novella collection by the same 12 Brides authors.
I’d love to have you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can find me listed by my name at each site. Also, if you’re not receiving my newsletter, I’d love to have sign-up. Just click on this link and you’ll be taken to the sign-up form: http://www.vickiemcdonough.com/www.vickiemcdonough.com/Newsletter_Sign-up.html
I feel blessed to have three Christmas stories out this fall. I hope you’ll get a chance to read at least one of them. I’m giving one lucky reader their choice of the three books listed above. Leave your name and email in the comments section to be entered.
Monday, December 8, 2014
Festive Christmas Table Idea, from Author Linore Rose Burkard
When Debbie Lynne invited me to post on her blog, I first thought I'd post about a regency Christmas since I love that time period in history. As a regency romance author, I've researched Christmas traditions of that day and there is lots to share. (I've written Regency House Christmas: The Definitive Guide to a Remarkably Regency Yuletide, for just that reason!)*
But with Christmas so quickly approaching, I decided instead to share a little practical and easy idea to add seasonal fun to your Christmas celebrations. Personally I love doing something different each year, even though the family adores traditions. Adding a little surprise to the season just seems to bless the household. And it doesn't take much to slip in a new treat, tradition, or small blessing. Today's nifty little idea fits the bill.
In the tradition of Victorian Christmas crackers, we'll make our own!
How to Make "Surprise Rolls."
Take a cardboard tube such as the kind from an empty roll of paper towels, or toilet tissue (the ideal size). Using a pretty foil or heavy wrapping paper, cut a "ten by twenty inch piece out. Center the tube on the paper, and roll it up, pinching the paper together at one end, and tying it off at that end with a long piece of curling ribbon. Fill the tube with candies or other small treats and coins. Pinch the other end together and tie with another piece of curling ribbon."
Open out the ends of the paper in a fan shape; then curl the ribbons.*
This year I'll be making these as favors for my annual Christmas party. I also like the idea of using these as place settings on Christmas (and if your children want to pull them apart afterwards, as above, that's fine, too!)
How about you?
What's your simple trick to add festivity to your holiday table or home?
Leave a comment and you'll be part of the drawing for this week's giveaway--an ebook edition of Coach and Four: Allisandra's Tale (A Romantic Intrigue from the Days of Charles II) by Linore Rose Burkard.
PS: Here's an older post over at Regency Reflections about a Remarkably Regency Yuletide!
*Adapted from the "Surprise Rolls" from 365 Ways to Prepare for Christmas, by David Monn.
Before the Season Ends, The House in Grosvenor Square, and, The Country House Courtship. In addition to writing, Linore is a Writing Workshop Instructor, Editor, wife, and mother of five, two of whom she is still homeschooling.
Monday, November 24, 2014
Please welcome Christina Rich to my blog this week. Christina is sharing a something we've all struggled with in our life. I know you'll enjoy hearing about her journey. Be sure to leave a comment to be entered to win The Guardian's Promise and The Warrior's Vow.
Let’s face it; the home front is one of the toughest battlefields when it comes to warring against the principalities of the air. I’m sure you’ve experienced this first hand. However, let me tell you a little bit about what I’ve learned from my own personal home front battles.
You may be surprised to find out that 99% of the time warring within my own household occurred because of my own insecurities. I could live out the ‘perfect’
Christian life Monday through Saturday, but come Sunday morning it never failed, my skin crawled with irritation and I was ready to draw blood, mainly my husband’s. It seems so silly now, but reflecting back I can see that the root problem of my insecurities was that nasty little bug called comparison.
When Sunday morning came around and I knew my outfit would lack in comparison to all the Proverbs 31 women, I attacked. When my children behaved in a way not fitting the manner of 1 Timothy 3:12, I attacked. When I witnessed the pastor’s wife carrying herself with grace, manage her children with efficiency, support her husband befitting a pastor’s wife, sew, sing, play piano, and bake bread from scratch… I attacked.
How could I not compare? I was raised to compare, as we all were. Our entire culture thrives on comparing. Who is taller, skinnier, healthier, prettier, stronger, the fastest runner, the best role model, the greatest musician? Comparison is so deeply integrated into our beings that mothers compare birth experiences and fathers compare their children’s abilities to other children.
Of course, comparison is nothing new. Why, just look at Cain and Abel. I used
to have a problem with this particular scenario in the Bible. Why would God favor one brother over the other, inciting anger? But as I became more intimate with God and discovered more about His character I realized He did not compare Cain’s offering to his brother Abel’s and find it lacking, rather He recognized and judged Cain’s heart posture, which didn’t line up with the righteousness of God. It was Cain’s attitude, much like mine when I compared myself to other women, that caused Cain to become angry. Cain could have easily repented of his unrighteousness and brought forth a pleasing offering with a proper heart posture, one of worship, instead he acted on his anger and spilled his brother’s blood.
Subconsciously, until we recognize it, we are always comparing and trying to measure up to a standard. Unfortunately, too often we find the bar always raised. I mean, seriously, if you recall my former pastor’s wife, how could God create her to be this perfect Proverbs 31 woman and give me nothing? How could her measuring cup overflow and mine have barely a drop? The bar she set was so far above my head that standing on top of the Empire State Building wouldn’t help me.
Obviously, at least in my mind, God favored her and I was the ugly step-child. It was kind of like Cain and Abel.
Fortunately, I’ve matured spiritually by leaps and bounds since those first days of my walk with Jesus, and I’ve come to realize that there are no comparisons to be made. It’s all about our personal heart posture with the Lord. And I do mean personal, for God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:11) God’s favor and goodness is available to each and every one of us, He does not determine the inflow and the outflow. We do. My cup overflows, and just as my former pastor’s wife mentored, encouraged, and inspired me to walk a deeper walk with my heavenly Father, so is it my wish to do the same for you.
If you are struggling with insecurities set your heart before the Lord and ask Him to show you the root cause. Ask Him to show you where you compare and then ask Him to show you how He sees you.
A Kingdom in Jeopardy
An evil queen and her royal guards will stop at nothing to find—and kill—the rightful heir to the
throne of Judah. When their pursuit leads them to Mira’s village, only her father’s bond servant, Ari, a man shrouded in secrets, can keep Mira safe.
Abandoning his life as a temple guard and becoming an indentured servant was the only way Ari could protect young Joash, the true King of Judah, from Queen Athaliah. But his sacred duty prevents him from confessing his feelings for his master’s daughter. With the future of their nation on the line, Ari and Mira will risk everything to save their people.
He Was Hers to Command
Swept away from her home and into the desert, Abigail is as much a prisoner as she is a princess. A
ruthlessly ambitious captain of the palace guard intends to force her into marriage and rule Judah through her. Yet the badly beaten soldier Abigail rescues offers another choice—if she dares trust him.
She is royalty, yet Jesse is surprised by the gentle compassion Abigail shows him as he heals. In return, he will help her escape to Jerusalem, protecting her life with his own. But Abigail’s rank and Jesse’s deadly past makes any future impossible, unless forgiveness forged by love can triumph over all.
More about Christina:
Christina Rich is a wife and mother of four. She is romance author published with Love Inspired Historicals. The Guardian’s Promise and The Warrior’s Vow, set in ancient Judah, are currently available from Amazon.com and Harlequin.com.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Carrie is giving away the complete series 1-6. Be sure to read down to find out how to enter. And don't forget to leave your email address and let me know if you are a follower for an extra entry!
The Christmas Traditions Series Books 1-6 have now released! I’ve been happy to be part of this series and I’ve read and loved every one of the stories so far! Jennifer AlLee’s is the latest, a story inspired by her real-life grandparents—a ballerina grandmother and Hungarian violinist grandfather. Here’s her storyline: Isabella Brandt lives to dance, but she's spent the last four years in obscurity as part of the corps. Now, she's finally landed a principal role in The Nutcracker. But a handsome Hungarian violinist and a shocking visit from her past may knock this ballerina off her feet and ruin Christmas.
My story, The Fruitcake Challenge, is likewise
inspired by my real-life grandparents—a lumber camp boss and lumber camp cook. Very different social strata but both stories inspired by a love of family and the past. Cynthia Hickey’s story is about a mail order bride, Niki Turner’s has a unique setting of a TB preventatorium in Colorado in the 1920’s. Darlene Franklin has a scientific minded young teacher who falls for an apple orchard grower. This collection is a bit different in that the only
commonality required by the
leads, Cynthia Hickey and Gina Welborn, was that a Christmas Tradition must be presented in each story. So we have all kinds of stories and all are independent of one another. But each includes a Christmas tradition. In Darlene Franklin’s novella, apples and ornaments become a special symbol for love at Christmas. In Jennifer AlLee’s new novella, the couple creates their own special tradition at the end (no spoiler here!) but many of us, including myself, have a tradition of watching The Nutcracker ballet each season (when we can!)
No Christmas series can be complete without recipes! My mother was a cook, like her mother, and every year she baked hundreds of cookies and dozens of fruitcakes to deliver as gifts and for our consumption. She also made the most wonderful candies each year—penuche, hand dipped chocolate cherries, divinity, and so on. We’re having a Christmas party on Facebook in a week and are encouraging guests to share their own special recipes and we’ll be saving some of ours. We also have some nice giveaways, most kitchen and food themed! So come on by the party (click here to sign up) on Friday November 21st.
Books in the Christmas Traditions collection:
By Cynthia Hickey
By Niki Turner
The Fruitcake Challenge
By Carrie Fancett Pagels
An Apple for Christmas
By Darlene Franklin
By Patty Smith Hall
By Jennifer Allee
Two more novellas are yet to be released:
By Gina Welborn
Eleven Pipers Piping
By Angela Breidenbach
Giveaway: Complete series of The Christmas Tradition. Question: Do you prefer to read novellas, short stories, or novels as the holidays approach (or a mix)?
More about Carrie:
Carrie Fancett Pagels Ph.D. is an award-winning, best-selling, and multi-published Christian historical romance author. Carrie was a psychologist for twenty-five years. Married for twenty-seven years with two children. Carrie resides in Virginia’s Historic Triangle and enjoys reading, traveling and researching. She’s a finalist for the 2014 Maggie Awards for Excellence.
Blogs: Overcoming With God and Colonial Quills
Facebook Author Page
Facebook Personal Page
Links to purchase:
The Fruitcake Challenge (2014) on Amazon
A Cup of Christmas Cheer, Guidepost Books (2013)
Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance (Helping Hands Press, 2013) on Amazon in ebook
On Barnes and Noble in ebook
God’s Provision in Tough Times Lighthouse of the Carolinas (2013) on Amazon
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Please welcome Darlene Franklin. Darlene is happy to announce that An Apple for Christmas if FREE from November 7-9 be sure to stop by the link to get it.
An Apple for Christmas is my sixth novella specifically for Christmas. I decided to stick with the setting I know best, Vermont, in the 1890s. In researching the time period, I discovered that apple production was at an all-time high during that decade. My hero, Mac(intosh) Cortland was born, with twin daughters also named for apples, Margil and Pippin. And my heroine, Ruby Nelson, was a horticulturalist who became a teacher instead. Neither of them seem interested in marriage, so the twins decided to nudge them along.
Mac’s name was a no-brainer, but finding names for the girls was tougher. Far more apples are named for boys, and most of the female-named varieties were developed later. The flavorful Margil was discovered in France in the 1750s. The tarter Park’s Pippin came about in 1827.
The plot of An Apple for Christmas suggested itself when all the phrases including apples came to mind. Of course, my twins had to give the teacher an apple in the time-honored tradition. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but one bad apple spoils the barrel.
Add the chance to weave him my favorite apple desserts, and I had to write this story!
Follow the link to download Darlene's story for FREE! http://www.amazon.com/APPLE-CHRISTMAS-Christmas-Traditions-Book-ebook/dp/B00O2BJ6BM
Ruby Nelson trades her job in the laboratory for teaching in a small girls’ school in Vermont. Twin sisters challenge her position—and their father captivates her imagination. Will the orchard grower graft Ruby onto his heart?
Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his family, and continues her interests in playing the piano and singing, books, good fellowship, and reality TV in addition to writing. She is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written over thirty books and has written more than 250 devotionals. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II, from Colorado to Vermont. You can find Darlene online elsewhere at http://darlenehfranklinwrites.blogspot.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/Poet.Darlene.Franklin.