Monday, July 31, 2017

How to Help a Grieving Friend by Stephanie Grace Whitson ends August 7

 Please welcome Stephanie Grace Whitson to my blog this week. Stephanie is giving away 5 (yes, I said 5!) copies of her book so read on down to see how to enter. 

Five Books That Changed My Life

Stephanie Grace Whitson

Do you belong to a book club? I do, and one of the things I love most about it is being introduced to new authors I might have missed. So many books … so little time, right?

One of the bookshelves in my “books-are-stacked-to-the-ceiling” office is reserved for some especially precious books. The “keepers.” The ones I treasure because they changed my life—both novels and non-fiction. Today, I share about five of those “keepers.” 



The Attributes of God by Arthur W. Pink My husband, Bob, and I read this book aloud together as newlyweds. What I learned impacts me to this day (it’s second only to the Bible in my life). Why? Well, when I’m going through a difficult time, taking my eyes off the circumstance and focusing them on God helps me bear up by reminding me Whose I am. The seventeen short entries explain things like God’s solitariness, faithfulness, goodness, mercy, love … and wrath. A balanced view of the Almighty changes my life for the better in countless ways. 

How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life by Alan Lakein

I was a newlywed with no children and no thoughts of being a novelist when I first read this book. Bob and I used to spend every New Year’s Day with it, going over our life goals, re-evaluating how we used our time, and adjusting accordingly. I now have five grown children, ten grandchildren, and twenty-eight books in print. And I still value the simple principles and practices shared in chapters with titles like “What Do You Really Want from Life?” “How to Create Quiet Time for Yourself” and “How to Do Better Next Time.”


Hidden Art by Edith Schaeffer 
Schaeffer is one of the mentors whose books and example taught me how to be a Christian wife and mother. This book, based on the premise that “because man was created in the image of the Creator, man was created that he might create,” describes how to implement creativity in music, painting, interior design, flower arrangements, drama, etc., in everyday life. 

Loving God with All Your Mind by Elizabeth George When Bob (my first husband) was battling the cancer that would take his life, I purchased this book because I didn’t think I loved God enough. Little did I know that this book would change me at a fundamental level—my thought life. Subjects like “Taking Every Thought Captive,” “Keeping On Keeping On,” and “Enduring Difficult Times” arrived in my life at exactly the right time. 

This book put my feet to things I was learning from the Elizabeth George book mentioned above, providing practical things for me to do that helped me survive the worst moments of my life (the father of my children was dying and I was facing life as a young widow and single mother). What I remember most about it was beginning a list of “thankfuls” and running out of room on the paper. My husband was dying, but “in light of eternity” nothing was out of control, and I had a lot for which to be thankful.


Those are the five books … and yet I want to mention two more—Mary Beth Chapman’s Choosing to See and Randy Alcorn’s Heaven. Both books helped me in the midst of struggle, reminding me to have HOPE.

What book has most impacted your daily life? What book has given you hope? Share the titles so we can all learn. As a way of thanking you for sharing, I’ll be giving away 5 copies of my little book How to Help a Grieving Friend. Be sure to let me know how to contact you for a shipping address if you win one!

About Stephanie
Stephanie Grace Whitson celebrated her twentieth year as a published
novelist in 2014. When not writing or researching, she enjoys reading,
quilting, spoiling her grandchildren and/or Kona (the golden retriever),
and riding her motorcycle named Kitty. Learn more at Join the conversation at

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mermaid's Song by Darlene Franklin ends July 31

Recently, I celebrated the publication of my fiftieth book (Mermaid's Song) with a jubilee on Facebook. I have a few thoughts to share in the afterglow.

The biggest one is: everyone has a unique ministry. No one else can tell your story. That’s the neat part about being a Christian writer. We’re not in competition with each other. God assigns each one of us a different role. My success doesn’t threaten yours; instead, it validates it.

A second is, you don’t know what path your writing career will take. You may start out expecting to write fantasy, and God may turn you into writing doctrinal pieces. Or you may shift sideways. I went sideways from contemporary romances to historical romance, and took another turn with cozy mysteries. You may dream of writing the great American novel, but God want you to write for a weekly take home paper, or genre fiction.

Related to that, be prepared for change. At the moment, I suspect my career is going to take a dramatic change in direction. Over the past year, I’ve been asked to write a monthly magazine column, prayers for a book on prayers, and devotions for a year-long volume—all nonfiction. A few other nonfiction doors are nudging open.

My first (never published) book was nonfiction. A quarter of a century later, it may be starting to happen!

Persevere, be open to anything, and you may find God will give you more work than you think you can handle. Whether you are called to be a writer—or something else—cling to this truth.

Question: How do you handle jealousy, when someone succeeds and you fail?  That’s a heavy question. We can also ask: What is your favorite fairy tale? Mermaid’s Song is a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s  classic Little Mermaid.

Answer one of Darlene's questions to be entered in her giveaway. Good Luck!

About Darlene 


Twitter: @darlenefranklin

Monday, July 17, 2017

Love's Compass by Carla Gade ends July 24th

 Please welcome Carla Gade to my blog today. Carla has some fun an interesting facts she's shared. Be sure to read on down to find out how to enter for her giveaway!

Picturing my Stories
I once walked into an antique store and found a box full of old photographs with a sign in front of it that read, “Instant Relatives.” When this writer looks inside a such a box, she sees instant characters! I’ve always enjoyed looking at old fashioned photos, especially the ones in sepia tones. These are the tintypes and daguerreotypes that were made in the in the 1800’s. It’s fun to browse online to find these kinds of photos for character inspiration. I have done this each time I have written a story set in the 19th century.

As I browse, I imagine the individual’s personality, which seems kind of silly, doesn’t it? After all, since quite often you will find that the subject of the photograph smileless and therefore depicting little personality at all. There is a reason for this, I found.  The process for picture taking took a relatively long time so the subject had to remain perfectly still to avoid a blurry outcome. Nevertheless, I usually manage to find a little nuance in the demeanor of the person that creates enough interest to spark my imagination.

But when I have a specific character in mind, I will enter a Google Images search for the specific physical traits that I had chosen and see what surfaces. That’s how I found Eliana, the heroine in Love’s Compass. As I was looking a photo after photo, one suddenly came up and I knew it was her. Everything about it was right, her coloring, her expression and even her attire, which was perfect for the southwestern locale. 

Next, I found Yiska, the half-native hero of the story. I needed a smart, good looking guy, with an attitude. I found him all right, but the joke was on me. This was a tintype, but it was made in the 1970’s! It a teacher’s website, showing himself as a teenager when he had the photograph taken with the special camera. So, I emailed him and asked if I could use it for character inspiration and he generously agreed.

I found the rest of my characters to inspire me as I wrote Love’s Compass, which included one of Eliana’s father smiling! A rare photo, but true to the character. Some of the other photos I used were not only for inspiration, but for authenticity. To write an authentic setting I research using books and photographs, especially ones from the specific time period. I find this essential to my writing as setting is a very important component of every story I write. 

I set up a story board on Pinterest for readers to enjoy for each of my stories. It is also a reference and inspiration for me while I write and blog about my novels and novellas after they are written. For book signings, I like to show readers a photo collage to give them a visual idea what’s inside the book. Here’s the collage for Love’s Compass that shows the main characters and some scenes from the story. You may like to check my
Pinterest Story Board for Love’s Compass sometime.

Carla is generously giving away a copy of her book, Love's Compass. If you'd like to be entered be sure to answer one of her questions below and leave your email address. If you are a feedburner follower be sure to tell me for an extra entry! 

Do you like to see visuals of how an author perceives her characters or do you like to leave it to your own imagination?
Photography is a personal hobby of mine. Do you enjoy photography? What hobbies do you have?
Colorado Territory, 1875 -
Daring Eliana Van Horn aims to make her mark by joining her father as his photography assistant--disguised as a young man--on a survey expedition to the remote Four Corners. Living in the shadows of his native heritage, trail guide Yiska Wilcox is thrown off course when the
shadow catcher's daughter opens up the uncharted territory of his heart. As they travel through dangerous terrain in the mountains and deserts of Colorado and New Mexico, Eliana and Yiska must learn to overcome the barriers of culture, faith, and ideals to discover common ground. Though they are worlds apart, will they stake a chance on love?

New Englander Carla Gade writes from her Victorian home in central Maine. With ten books in print she enjoys bringing her tales to life with historically authentic settings and characters. An avid reader, amateur genealogist, photographer, and house plan hobbyist, Carla's great love (next to her family) is historical research. Though you might find her tromping around an abandoned homestead, an old fort, or interviewing a docent at an historical museum, it's easier to connect with her online.

Monday, July 10, 2017

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels ends July 17

Where’s Maude? Why Does it Matter?

I’ve been having some fun up here in Mackinaw City, Michigan, and on Mackinaw Island, taking pictures of the cover of my new novel, My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring! I’m so excited about showing off my new “book baby” because God has helped transform her from a problem child into a lovely young miss! Only God could have done that with this manuscript which gave me fits. A few years ago, I prayed that the Lord would show me what to do with this manuscript and I stepped out in obedience to Him and got a lot of help. I told the Lord – this story is Yours but I need some help! If You want to see it published, You are going to have to show me what to do! And He did! 

 I’ve been taking pictures of different people, and myself and friends and family, holding either the book or a postcard of the cover. You see, only God could have put this story out there and I pray this novel will really bless people. I used to love that “Where’s Waldo” game and my nephew and I used to look through the picture books to find Waldo. Sadly, my nephew left this earth too early, this April shortly before his 42nd birthday, and is in heaven. But playing “Where’s Maude” makes that sadness a little easier to bear. 

Learning from friends that copies of Maude’s Mooring can be found at Barnes & Noble stores all over the country matters to me because once again, it shows what God can do with something when you turn it over to Him.  The members of the Avid Christian Fiction Readers on Facebook (a group moderated by Martha Artymenko and Tricia Goyer) have been a big blessing to me in telling me which B&N’s in their areas had the book (or not.) It matters when you have placement in a store, because readers can more easily get their hands on the book. And this is my first novel where the Lord has given me that kind of favor. It’s amazing what can happen when you get on board with His agenda even if it means humbling yourself and getting lots of guidance.

Question: Have you ever had a situation when you couldn’t get something accomplished and God showed you what to do? Did it feel good to give Him the glory when He helped you?

Giveaway: An autographed copy of My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring (USA only).

Bio – Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D.

ECPA-bestselling author Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of a dozen Christian historical romances. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn't "cure" her overactive imagination! A self-professed “history geek,” she resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia but grew up as a “Yooper.” Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time! You can connect with her at

Links to purchase:
Links to purchase My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring (Barbour Publishing, July 2017)