Thursday, July 29, 2010

ACFW Ohio July Meeting

On July 10, 2010 a group of writers from American Christian Fiction Writers Ohio Chapter met at Der Dutchman in Waynesville. We held a meeting here last year and because some came from as far as Royalton we planned this meeting for 12 :30. 

Some of us got there early and toured the gift shop next door. We are a somewhat lively group. A mixture of multi-published authors and pre-pubbed.
Since Lenore Rose Burkard is from Waynesville she was our hostess for the day. This picture shows most of us, but I'm thinking a couple are missing. 
The original plans were to meet with John Robinson, author and editor at Sheaf House. I own two of his mysteries and was looking forward to purchasing another after lunch and his talk.

We're resourceful writers and  went to plan B because Mr. Robinson got called away before we arrived.
Caroline Brown is happy because she went home with two new books. She won one book on my blog and I saved postage by bringing it along to the meeting. Perhaps she will post her own review soon.
We had the waitress take a picture later, so that we could all be included. We had a great time and will most likely have another meeting at this restaurant next year.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How To Find Money When Your Income Is Tight

Guest Blogger
Alyice Edrich

When the economic crisis first hit the United States I wrote a weekly column where parents could ask anything related to running the household. One question I was asked involved a family struggling to stay afloat. Their hours at work had been cut, their grocery and gasoline budget had nearly doubled, and now their electric company had informed them that their electricity was going up by 30%.

The wife asked, "How can I help my family survive this economic downturn?"

At first, I didn't want to answer the question. I was not a financial expert. I was not debt-free. My husband had just been laid off and my homebased business was already feeling the effects of the crisis.

But then I realized that though I didn't feel "qualified" to answer the question, my circumstances gave me a unique insight into her situation. After all, my husband and I were in the same boat.

After my husband and I sat down to figure out our situation, we realized that there were at least nine things we could do to keep us afloat during these troubled times.

Below is the advice I offered this wife, mother, and hardworking woman:
  • Sell The Large Stuff
    Sell big-ticket household items through Craigslist, flyers around town, and classified ads. Craigslist is free. Flyers only cost a few cents per copy. And classified ads run from free to a few dollars based upon the publication.

    The key to selling the large stuff is to sell stuff you don't need or anymore. Avoid selling items that you still have a use for until the very last resort.

    And remember, just because you won't buy a used mattress from someone else, doesn't mean that others won't buy one from you.

    When we moved into our new rental, it came with a refrigerator. Needless-to-say, ours sat in the garage either collecting dust or being used to store extras. When times got tough we sold that refrigerator for $300 to a couple that didn't have a refrigerator and couldn't afford one like ours—which ran about $1,000 new.

    When writing your advertisement, be truthful. State how many years you've owned the merchandise and how often you used it. State the condition of the merchandise, what you paid for it at retail (or what the retail price for it today is), and what you are willing to accept for the piece.

    Sell The Small Stuff
  • Sell small ticket items at garage sales, through social groups, through second hand shops, on your personal website, or through eBay.

    Again, the key is to really think about what you own from an objective point of view. If it's a collectible, or has been passed down from one generation to the next, you might want to hold onto the item. But if it's something that you've simply outgrown, it's time to let it go.

    I'm not fond of garage sales. I hate the haggling. But when pennies get tight, they can be a true blessing. Just remember that the key to selling your stuff in a garage sale is to think in terms of bargain hunters.

    The retail price of an item may be $100, but garage sale buyers are not going to give you $50 for the piece. They're looking to spend around $25 tops, usually less.

    When I heard my neighbor was hosting a garage sale, I asked if I could join her. That day I sold an old video game station to a grandmother and her grandson for $55. It came complete with 10 different games. The game system was outdated. You could no longer buy spare parts and the games were no longer being made. But the system itself, still worked like a charm.

    Selling through social groups, provided the group allows it, can be great because you already have a targeted audience. I once sold several writing related books that were collecting dust to an online writers' group for 1/3 the price I paid for the books.

    Being between paychecks, I couldn't give my son the spending money he needed to hang out with his friends. Determined to go, he visited a local second-hand shop where he sold several movies, books, and outdated video games for $100 cash.

  • Sell Your Services
     Get a business license and business insurance, then start selling some of those services you are so good at.

    • Are you good with your sewing machine? Open a mending and seamstress shop. 
    • Have you been making jewelry for the past ten years as gifts? Start selling your goods.
    • Can't get enough time with your pets? Start a dog walking or poop clean-up business.
    • Always had a love for children? Consider an after-hours drop-in daycare center.
    • Love to shop? Offer to run errands for those who don't have the time shop for themselves.
    The possibilities are endless. All it takes is a little imagination, and lots of hard work.

  • Shop Second-hand
     Visit used book, video, and clothing stores. Stop by the local Habitat for Humanity's Re-Store for household renovation and repair projects. You'll be surprised what you can find with a little digging. Though I am not fond of wearing clothes that once belonged to a stranger, my daughter has no problem buying used jackets. So on one of our recent trips to the local thrift store, she scored a nice leather jacket for just $5.

  • Shop Discount Outlets
    Discount outlets, when used properly, can save you hundreds of dollars.

    I once got some really nice t-shirts for $5 a piece when another store was selling the exact same shirt for $25 each.

    Cut Your Budget
  • Cut corners in the household budget. For one month, keep track of every dollar you spend. Where does that money go? Is it being spent on "wants" or "necessities"? And is what you once considered a necessity really a want in disguise?

    Take snow removal, lawn care, or housekeeping services. When money was good, paying for these services freed up your time and allowed you more time for the fun stuff. But now that money is tight, it may be time to do these services yourself.

    Take a look at how much money you spend out on utilities. Then call up those companies to discuss lowering those monthly bills. Drop your telephone service to the bare minimum. Disconnect cable or at the very least go with the basic service. If you have a cell phone package with all the bells and whistles, cut back to the very basics and only use the phone for emergencies, not social networking.

  • Lower Your Grocery Bill 
    Opt for eating more homemade items versus pre-packaged, pre-processed foods. Eat a vegetarian meal at least twice a week. Buy organic only if the food doesn't have a peel. Only buy meats that are on sale or purchase in bulk and separate into smaller servings yourself.

    And rethink those coupons. Often, we see a coupon or discount and we jump at the opportunity to "save" money only to discover later that it really wasn't that great of a deal or we just purchased something we never would've bought in the first place. If using acoupon will you actually come out cheaper in the long run, use it. If not, pass.

  • Seek Cheaper Insurance
    When we first got insurance, we spent hours comparing rates and services and then we forgot about it. We paid our monthly premiums without a second thought. Then money got tight…

    After belonging to Allstate Auto Insurance for nearly 15 years, and becoming increasing frustrated by the fact that our insurance went up every year though we had no accidents or traffic violations, we finally decided to shop around. To our surprise, we found an affordable, reliable company at nearly half the price.

    The key to switching insurance companies is to know what you're getting. Make sure you know what the regular rate will be after the introductory rate and when the new rate will take place. Then make sure you know what the fine print reads because it's easy for insurance companies to show you all the fluff, and forget to show you the nitty-gritty.

    Stop Using Credit Cards
  • I know this may sound like a double-edged sword, but using your credit cards can actually hurt you. On the one hand, you need your credit cards to survive with money being so tight, but on the other hand you cannot afford the monthly payments.

    The thing with credit cards is that the more you use them, the higher your balance becomes and the higher your monthly payment gets. And the higher your monthly payment, the harder it is to pay it.

    On the other hand, when you stop using your credit cards, more of the money you pay each month will go towards the balance of your bill, thus lowering your balance and eventually your monthly payments.

    And if you, like me, need to use your credit card between paychecks, make sure you don't charge more than you can pay off in any given month.

  • Stop Driving Your Vehicle 
    With high gas prices, you are probably paying an entire paycheck to car gas each month. Cutting back on how much you use your vehicle can save you a considerable amount of money.

    You can drastically reduce your monthly car gas bill by carpooling with others, taking the local transportation, or biking to work.

    If, however, that seems unreasonable, or not an option due to the distance between home and work, consider grouping your errands together. And whenever possible walk.
Truth-be-told, I'm not sure there is much you can do during an economic crisis except hold steadfast, watch your pennies, and simply wait out this troubling time.

Alyice Edrich is an affordable freelance writer specializing in Q&A format interviews. To view samples of her work or freelance rates, or to hire her for your next writing project visit To order one of her e-books, visit

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Anonymous Bride

by Vickie McDonough

About the author:
Vickie McDonough is treasurer of ACFW and an award-winning inspirational romance author with 16 novels and novellas published.

Her books, The Bounty Hunter and the Bride and Wild At Heart both placed third in the Top Ten Favorite Historical Romance category in Heartsong Present's annual readers' contests.

Her stories frequently place in national contests, such as the ACFW Carol contest (formerly Book Of The Year) and the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest.

Vickie lives in Oklahoma with her husband. She is the, mother of four grown sons and grandma to a feisty three-year-old girl.

To learn more about Vickie and her books, visit her website:

The Blurb:
Three mail-orders brides arrive in Lookout, Texas, each expecting to marry the local marshal. But he didn't order a bride. When a contest ensues to discover which bride will make him the best wife, there is a surprise fourth entry--an anonymous one. Mayhem occurs as the whole town tries to figure out who the anonymous bride is, while the mayor pressures the marshal to pick a bride or lose his job.

Will Marshal Davis tuck tail and run for the hills?

Or will he lose his heart and his bachelorhood?

What Others Say:
There's just something about a mail-order bride story that fills me with more anticipation than a normal romance. Probably because of that unknown factor of the hero and heroine expecting to wed - sometimes within hours - of meeting.

So when Vickie McDonough put out the call for influencers to review a copy of the first book in her Texas Boardinghouse Brides series , I put my hand up faster than a winner does at Bingo.

The Anonymous Bride greatly exceeded everything I hoped for in a romance. Vickie's easy writing style was the perfect vehicle for this historical set in 1886 Lookout, Texas. Visually appealing, the scenes unfolded without laborious descriptions to slow down the pace. And the humor... I can't tell you how many times I laughed out loud.

But, what really kept the story close to my heart was the emotional impact the mail-order bride had on the heroine, Rachel Hamilton. Because you see, Rachel wasn't the mail-order bride. Oh, no. Rachel was just the owner of the boardinghouse where the mail-order bride stayed, which meant Rachel was the one to do her laundry, clean her room and cook her meals.

And there wasn't just one mail-order bride trying to marry the man Rachel loved. There were 3 of them.

How could a man be so insensitive and encourage three women to think they were the only one? Well, it certainly wasn't Luke, the town marshal. No, Luke was moseying along minding his own business, wondering what he was going to do about Rachel when the brides begin to appear bearing letters he supposedly wrote. Seems his cousins figured once a new woman was on the scene, Luke would forget all about the love he used to share with Rachel. They didn't figure on three women wanting to marry Luke.

I sympathized with Rachel when she realized her boardinghouse was the only possible place for the hopeful brides to reside. And, I cried buckets when the brides - who travelled so far on faith, each desperate for their own home - put forth their small requests of assistance to Rachel, without realizing their effect on her trampled heart.

And oh, the pain when honorable Luke agrees to pick a bride.

I loved this story. Both Luke and Rachel place their lives in God's hands, trusting He knows best although they may not like it at the time.

Second Chance Brides, Book 2 in the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series, releases Sept. 1st. Yay!" ~~Anita Draper

My Take:
Call me weird but my favorite character in this book was niether Luke nor Rachel. My favorite is fiesty little Jacqueline. Or Jack as she prefers to be called.

I enjoyed watching tomboy Jack fall in love with Luke in spite of herself. Loved how she became a matchmaker to insure the right bride won the contests.

I'm glad I read it.

Purchase The Book At:
Barnes and Noble:

Or Ask Your Local Library To Order The Book In For You!

Book Contest: 
We are featuring Book One in the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series by Vickie McDonough this week.

Book Contest weeks are from Sunday through Saturday. A new book review is posted each week which may or may not have a contest connected with it. See the Book contest information on the side bar.

Leave a comment on any of my blog my posts this week along with information how to get hold of you if you are the winner. Posts on facebook do not count. We only check the messages on the blog to pick a winner.

We will send one special person a copy of The Anonymous Bride.

God Bless your day and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Brethren Charity Fund Summer Trustee's Meeting

Did you ever wonder what the trustees actually DO at a BCF meeting?  (Besides talking and having refreshments?)

Last evening eighteen trustees of the Brethren Charity Fund met at our Vice President's home. If you live in Ohio you know it was hot and muggy. Even though it made it a bit hard to hear each other, we appreciated the fans. 
Our President called the meeting to order.
As with any Christian Organization we begin with devotions. The wife of course helps get the materials ready for the husband. So it's always team work.
In other organizations the Treasure's Report is the most boring part. But since this report shows how God is working in the hearts of men, we actually look forward to it.
An update on the clothes packing project. It costs $11,000 to ship a container of clothing overseas. The most recent shipment went to a port in Germany to be distributed. We still need some funds to pay that bill when it comes in, but we are confident God will once again provide.
Our next report was about the next food packing for Haiti which is planned for August. We discussed the funds available to ship the food parcels and how much is still needed.
Our Secretary faithfully took notes of the meeting.
A report on the Young Folks and the hygiene kits put together and shipped to Haiti in June. Praise: The exact amount of money needed came in for this project. But we are not surprised.
Our Vice President discussed the Micro Loan project. The trustees have a heart for this new project to help others in third world countries. 
We discussed doing a better job of getting a newsletter out and how all of us will have to provide articles. 
We discussed other future projects . . .
.  .  . and those recently completed.
Most trustees serve for four years and some get their arms twisted to serve longer. But when our last year of service is ended God provides another to take up the work He has given.

I feel blessed to be part of this group of trustees. And those who funnel funds to the hurting through this organization are an even larger blessing. Let me take this opportunity to thank you. God bless all of you.

Of special interest to me, fifteen percent of the money sent in is designated for where most needed, or what we call the general fund. All trustees are volunteers and we use less than three percent of funds collected for overhead. (Postage, electric and heating for the building where we pack clothing and make comforts, etc) We do need to purchase one or two new furnaces this fall.

Tax deductible contributions may be sent to Brethren Charity Fund, Inc.,  P.O. Box 365, Brookville, OH 45309. You can specify Clothing Project~~Food Parcels~~Haiti Fund~~Micro Loans~~ Other~~ Or where most needed, etc. Make checks payable to Treasurer BCF.

Toward the end of each quarterly meeting is the part we cherish most. We determine the amount left in the general fund,  and we pray that God touch our hearts for special needs.

At that time each trustee has opportunity to voice the name of a person or family with known needs. We continue around the room several times until all have bared their hearts. Then we give the necessary address to the treasurer.

Thank you for stopping in letting me share this meeting with you. May God bless your day as He has blessed mine.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Significant Donation

by Gary Lavy

It came in a plain white envelope, sealed and with no return address. As I slid my letter opener into that top seal, I knew this was not going to contain the usual small piece of paper with wording and numbers on it which we call a check.

Turning it over, the contents spilled onto my desktop. Two quarters, 3 dimes, 4 pennies = 84 cents. Nine pieces of money.

I carefully laid the now empty envelope on my desk and sat gazing at the 9 little pieces of money. I sat as motionless as they – while a flood of thought and emotion washed over me. I could almost picture a small child emptying his piggy bank and excitedly running to his parents – proudly opening his little hand and proclaiming,

“Look! I got 9 pieces of money. That should really help some poor people!”

I sat thinking of the widow and her 2 mites (2 pieces?) and Jesus’ commendation. I thought of the contrast. Nine pieces (84 cents) versus the little pieces of paper with a number followed by 2 or 3 zeros which are given to help the poor people. Thoughts came that cannot be expressed with words.

What can be accomplished with 84 cents? Was it a coincidence that 84 cents is exactly what I had paid last summer for 2 forever postage stamps which were used recently to mail thousands of BCF dollars donated to help some poor people in Haiti?

I picked the envelope up from my desktop and slowly one by one dropped the 9 coins back into it and prepared it for bank deposit. Strange – when I opened it I hadn’t noticed those spots of moisture on the address.

Reprinted from BCF Newsletter Issue Two 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Code Blue

by Richard L. Mabry, M.D.

About the author:
Retired physician, Richard L. Mabry, M.D. is now writing Christian fiction and non-fiction, and working fruitlessly on improving his golf game.

His non-fiction book, The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse, was published by Kregel Publications. Dr. Mabry's work has also appeared in Upper Room, In Touch Magazine, and Christian Communicator.

His first novel, Code Blue is now available from Abingdon Press.

The Blurb:
In the first book of the Prescription for Trouble series, “Code Blue” means more to Dr. Cathy Sewell than the cardiac emergency she has to face. It describes her mental state as she finds that coming back to her hometown hasn’t brought her the peace she so desperately needs.  Instead, it’s clear that someone there wants her gone…or dead.

Cathy returns to her hometown seeking healing after a broken relationship, but discovers that among her friends and acquaintances is someone who wants her out of town…or dead. Lawyer Will Kennedy, her high school sweetheart, offers help, but does it carry a price tag? Is hospital chief of staff Dr. Marcus Bell really on her side in her fight to get hospital privileges? Is Will’s father, Pastor Matthew Kennedy, interested in advising her or just trying to get her back to the church she left years ago? When one of Cathy’s prescriptions almost kills the town banker, it sets the stage for a malpractice suit that could end her time in town, if not her career. It’s soon clear that this return home was a prescription for trouble.

What Others Say:
"When I think Christian fiction, I always automatically think female authors, and very rarely do I associate a male author. I think female authors because they create characters that are unforgettable and with whom I can undoubtedly relate to in some way or another. But I must confess and say that I am super pleased with Richard Mabry's work. CODE BLUE is a terrific start to a new medical series written by a highly talented male author.

In CODE BLUE, book 1 in the Prescription for Trouble series, we get a healthy dose of crisis, suspense, faith tested and of course, romance! Inject that with a bit of humor and mix it up for the perfect drug! It will cure any ailment! The characters in this particular story blend well with the plot of suspense. This plot is one that grips your soul and puts you right in the middle of the medical action! I loved the thrill of not knowing what was gonna happen next to Dr. Sewell, and I also loved the feeling that Mabry created by those perfect injections of God's love and faith. It certainly made for better entertainment than those TV medical dramas!

My advice to you? Read CODE BLUE. It's 5 star worthy, like Candace Calvert's Mercy Hospital Series....BETTER than any Grey's Anatomy, ER, or House episode could ever be. I can't wait for a second dose of medical mystery and fast paced thrills with this amazing series! And we'll get that with Prescription for Trouble's book 2: MEDICAL ERROR coming in September of 2010!" ~~Buukluvr Molly

My Take:
Cathy Sewell doesn't just find herself a woman doctor in a man's world. She is a family doctor in a town ruled by specialists. And she has to prove herself and her abilities to gain the hospital privileges she needs to best help her patients. But someone doesn't want her to succeed.

I enjoyed watching Cathy prove her worth over and over. But would it be enough?

Richard L. Mabry, MD is a writer to watch. He brings a fresh new voice to Christian Fiction and medical suspense.

Purchase The Book At:

Barnes and Noble:
Or Ask Your Local Library To Order The Book In For You!

Book Contest: 

We are featuring Richard Mabry's book Code Blue this week.

Book Contest weeks are from Sunday through Saturday. A new book review is posted each Sunday which may or may not have a contest connected with it. See the Book contest information on the side bar.

Leave a comment on any of my blog my posts this week along with information how to get hold of you if you are the winner. Posts on facebook do not count. We only check the messages on the blog to pick a winner.

We will send one blessed person a copy of Code Blue.

Friday, July 9, 2010

How To Create Budget Friendly Greeting Cards

Guest Blogger:
Alyice Edrich

If you are anything like me, you enjoy sending greeting cards to friends and family but hate the price tag. At $3 per greeting card, you can easily spend $90 a year on just 30 greeting cards.

But thanks to scrapbooking kits, like the "Scrapbook Kit In A Stack Friends Family" value pack and a stack of blank greeting cards with envelopes, you can create the same amount of cards for just $25!

And the best part is that you'll still have plenty of materials leftover to create gift tags, to embellish scrapbook pages, and to even create a few place cards for family get-togethers.

Below are just three card samples created from the "Scrapbook Kit In A Stack Friends & Family" value pack. As you can see, you don't need to be an artist to create your own greeting cards, but you do need a little imagination and time.


To get you started, we'll create a simple flower card.

1- Family Sheet (from the 8x8 Scrapbook Kits In A Stack)
1- Pink Cardstock (from the 8x8 Scrapbook Kits In A Stack)
1- White Cardstock (from the 8x8 Scrapbook Kits In A Stack)
1- Friends Circle Sticker (from the 8x8 Scrapbook Kits In A Stack)
1 - 5x7 Greeting Card with envelope
1 - Think tipped black marker
1 - Acrylic paint: pink and green

1 - Paintbrush
1 - Double-sided tape or glue stick
1 - Scissors
1 - 4" Round canister or old computer disc

1. Cut the pink cardstock 5 inches high and 7 inches wide.

2. Place disc on top of white cardstock, making sure that part of the disc falls off the paper. Trace the disc and cut paper.


3. Fold the blank greeting card in half.

4. Glue back of pink cardstock then gently lay it on top of the blank card.

5. Cut the family paper 2 inches high and 7 inches wide.

6. Glue back of family paper then gently lay it on top of the pink cardstock.


7. Glue the back of the circle and lay it on the lower right corner of the card. Make sure the straight edges line up with the corner of the card.

8. Place the friends sticker slightly off center inside the white circle.

9. Draw flower petals around the friends sticker with a thin-tipped black marker.


10. Paint the flower petals with pink acrylic paint. Let dry.


11. Add green polka dots around the flower. (You can use the back end of the paint brush or the paint brush itself.) Let dry.


12. Handwrite a note inside the card, address the envelope, and mail.


FTC Disclosure: 
8x8 Scrapbook Kits In A Stack (Item SBK8Friend) and greeting card (Item 1103-66) was provided to me, free of charge, by Consumer Crafts.

Alyice Edrich is the editor of an award-winning online magazine, The Dabbling Mum, and an aspiring mixed media artist. To view more of her tutorials check out her blog, or stop by her magazine,

Monday, July 5, 2010

Crossing Oceans

by Gina Holmes
A message from the author:
"I’m a Christian. I’ve believed in Jesus and God every since I can remember. Until I was twenty-four however, I didn’t understand my own faith.

I believed all things were relative, (meaning if you believed in reincarnation, then you’d be reincarnated, etc.). It took the argument of a man I thought was obnoxious at the time to convince me that I either believed what the Bible said, or I didn’t. No picking and choosing–it’s either filled with truth or with lies.


I began reading the Bible with new eyes and prayed for wisdom. God promises in His word that if you pray for understanding, He’ll give it. And so I did.

I became born again and as on fire for Christ as I could be. The problem was, my new black and white thinking held little room for grace.

In recent years, God has humbled me and shown that given the right circumstances all of us can fall. (’There but for the grace of God go I’ is something I think a lot!)

I love God. I have accepted the salvation His son has offered. I’ve finally come to understand that the parameters God sets up for His children are for our benefit. Sin equals pain.

 One of the best parts of being a Christian is that things don’t freak me out a whole lot. I know God’s got my back. I know that I’m in His hands and His plans for me are greater than the ones I have for myself. I know I’m loved, even if the world despises me. I’m someone worthy regardless of my earthly success–I am, after all, the daughter of the king of kings, a princess!

At the end of my life, I have Heaven to look forward to … streets of gold, family reunions, no tears. I can’t wait to fall into my Father’s arms!  What sting has death?" ~~Gina Holmes

The Blurb:
Sometimes love demands the impossible

Nothing deepens a stream like a good rain . . . or makes it harder to cross. Jenny Lucas swore she’d never go home again. But life has a way of upending even the best-laid plans. Now, years after she left, she and her five-year-old daughter must return to her sleepy North Carolina town to face the ghosts she left behind. They welcome her in the form of her oxygen tank-toting grandmother, her stoic and distant father, and David, Isabella’s dad . . . who doesn’t yet know he has a daughter.

As Jenny navigates the rough and unknown waters of her new reality, the unforgettable story that unfolds is a testament to the power of love to change everything—to heal old hurts, to bring new beginnings . . . even to overcome the impossible.

What Others Say:
"I am always hesitant to review a book written by a friend. Can you imagine how much more apprehensive I was reading the debut novel from not only a friend but a critique partner? A critique partner lives to rip and shred work to point out what's wrong and what needs to be changed to make the work readable.

Though I've critiqued Gina Holmes for years, I had just glimpses into Crossing Oceans and I knew it was a very different style from her previous suspense novels. Her suspense is strong. But how well would her voice translate to women's fiction?

Once I opened her book and began to read I can say that her voice translates with a poignant grace that is rare in a debut novelist. And Crossing Oceans is a story that Holmes was meant to tell.

Holmes tackles a heavy story line with a touch of whimsy and deep, deep melancholy, sometimes in the same paragraph. A young mother, emotionally orphaned when her mother died and father cocooned himself in a cloak of angry grief, finds herself forced to return to the home she had escaped. Jenny has Stage IV metastatic cancer and must reunite with the family she fled for the sake of her little girl's very near future need. With less than a year to repair and restore relationships Jenny tackles the past and the future, the present and the pain, all while attempting to give her daughter, Isabella, memories and love and what life she has available to give.

This is a novel that quickly overcame the author and my relationship with her. The story told itself in a realistic and three-dimensional tale of life and death, sorrow and fear, choices and consequences, pain and beauty, loss and hope. Holmes voice is similar to some of my favorite authors in the Christian fiction genre, Siri Mitchell, Charles Martin, Susan Meissner, Claudia Mair Burney, Lisa Samson and Bonnie Groves.

Crossing Oceans is not an easy read. It is haunting and beautiful and raw. Expect to cry and expect to remember this family long after you turn the last page."~~Kelly Klepfer

My Take:
This book came highly recommended to me and I was not disappointed. This book changed me.

From the very first line I was intrigued. I wanted to know more about this woman. Why did she say she didn't have a decent relationship with her dad? I had to keep reading to find out.
I appreciated Jenny's love for her small daughter, for her grandmother. I hurt for her when she remembered how she fell in love with Isabella's father, thinking he felt the same. I hurt for her when she revealed how he had broken off with her before she could tell him he would soon be a father.

Gina Holmes has written a compelling book and her lead, Jenny Lucas is a strong woman. I admire her and wish to have the same strength of character.

Purchase The Book At:
Barnes and Noble:
Or Ask Your Local Library To Order The Book In For You!

Book Contest:
I borrowed Crossing Oceans from my friend Rosanna and I do not have her permission to give it away. So this week we are still featuring Nancy Mehl's book Simple Secrets this week.

Book Contest weeks are from Sunday through Saturday. A new book review is posted each Sunday which may or may not have a contest connected with it. See the Book contest information on the side bar.

Leave a comment on any of my blog my posts this week along with information how to get hold of you if you are the winner. Posts on facebook do not count. We only check the messages on the blog to pick a winner.

We will send one blessed person a copy of Simple Secrets.

God Bless your day and thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Simple Secrets: Can Love Overcome Evil in the Mennonite Town of Harmony, Kansas?

by Nancy Mehl

The first book in Nancy’s newest series, SIMPLE SECRETS, released June 2010. Part of The Harmony Series, SIMPLE SECRETS introduces Gracie Temple, a young graphic artist who inherits her uncle’s farm after he dies. Although Gracie has never even met the brother who was estranged from her father, she travels to the Mennonite community of Harmony, Kansas to rescue family heirlooms and try to sell the farm. But Harmony holds quite a few surprises for Gracie. Her journey will take her down a road of self-discovery and danger. Besides uncovering a deadly family skeleton, she will find that Harmony is a community full of secrets. Gracie and a handsome local farmer work together to expose some startling truths that will change the small town – and Gracie - forever. In the end, she realizes that there are some secrets that never die.

The next two books in this three book series are tentatively titled SIMPLE DECEIT ( to be released in 2010) and SIMPLE CHOICES (to be released in 2011).

About the author:
Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Norman and her son, Danny. She’s authored nine books and is currently at work on her newest series for Barbour Publishing.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “It’s a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

She and her husband attend Believer’s Tabernacle in Wichita.

The Blurb:
Graphic designer Gracie Temple wants it all: the big city lifestyle and a successful job in advertising. And it looks like her life is on the right track when she takes a job at a struggling, midsize firm in Wichita.

But when Gracie inherits a house from her unknown uncle in the mostly Mennonite town of Harmony, Kansas, she's not sure what God's trying to tell her. Especially once she discovers the house comes with a dark legacy and a cast of eccentric neighbors. Will Gracie shake off the dust of this town, or will its secret charms pull her in to stay?

All Sam Goodrich wants is to get married and start a family . . . and he thought he'd do it with his fiancee. But he can't bring himself to agree to a wedding date. When he meets Gracie Temple, Sam discovers she's everything he doesn't want. He loves his fruit farm, and he loves Harmony. So why does he feel so drawn to an outsider?

When someone tries to keep Gracie from discovering the truth behind the town's collection of secrets, will Sam and Gracie cling to their faith to help the decide what's most important—before it's too late?

What Others Say:
This first book in Nancy Mehl's latest Christian mystery series is a charmer. Somehow, she manages to pair the perfect characters with the ideal location, then bring them all to life with delightful results. Harmony, Kansas is as much a key character here as Gracie Temple, Mehl's latest series heroine.

Gracie Temple is a graphic designer at a mid-level advertising firm in Wichita, Kansas. She dreams of setting the design world on fire with her creations, but so far that has not happened. Still, Gracie loves her work, loves living in Wichita with all its noise and urban sprawl. When an uncle she never met dies and leaves his property to Gracie, a trip to the boonies is the last thing on her to-do list but she decides to visit Harmony out of curiosity. Her Uncle Benjamin had shunned his relatives since before Gracie's birth. Why? And why leave his property to a niece he'd never met?

Harmony turns out to be a picture perfect little Mennonite village full of happy, quirky people. Some live and dress plain in the Old Order Mennonite way. Others have assimilated modern amenities like TV, phones, and electricity into their lifestyle. The beauty of Benjamin's home and furnishings come as a pleasant surprise. The town folk are friendly and welcoming. On the surface, Harmony seems peaceful and idyllic, but under that perfect surface Gracie senses turmoil. Dark secrets, long hidden, come to light when Gracie finds a letter addressed to her from Uncle Benjamin. An evil man was murdered and buried on Benjamin's property decades ago, and he believed Gracie's father was the killer. She refuses to accept that supposition as fact and begins her own investigation into the past.

Who killed Jacob Glick, and why? Could it have been Sweetie Goodrich, Benjamin's hard faced, soft hearted neighbor? Why does Pastor Abel Mueller's wife go pale each time Jacob Glick's name is mentioned? And can Gracie trust Sweetie's nephew, Sam Goodrich, the roughly handsome fruit farmer? I followed all the hints and red herrings to the wrong conclusions and never did figure out the mystery until Ms. Mehl solved it for me.

Nancy Mehl is my favorite Christian mystery writer for valid reasons. Characters are interesting and complex. The location is intriguing and integral to the storyline. Dialog is realistic, narrative well-written and fast-paced. I eagerly anticipate Book Two of this series, Simple Deceit. Highly recommended to lovers of Christian mysteries or good story telling. ~~Laurel Johnson

My Take:
Gracie Temple's estranged uncle left her his farm and hopes she will be able to succeed where he could not. But someone wants Gracie to leave Harmony and go back where she came from.

What are they afraid she will uncover? And can she solve the mystery without endangering more of her family?

Simple Secrets is Romantic Suspense at its best. A real page turner.

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Book Contest:
We are featuring Nancy Mehl's book Simple Secrets this week.

Book Contest weeks are from Sunday through Saturday. A new book review is posted each Sunday which may or may not have a contest connected with it. See the Book contest information on the side bar.

Leave a comment on any of my blog my posts this week along with information how to get hold of you if you are the winner. Posts on facebook do not count. We only check the messages on the blog to pick a winner.

We will send one blessed person a copy of Simple Secrets.

God Bless your day and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fun With Charley

Husband and granddaughter take a trip with Charley. 

They went to an airshow in Mansfield, OH

They saw old planes and old cars.

Hmm, I think Granddaughter took one. 
Making ice-cream with an old put-put moter.

Thanks for stopping by! God Bless Your Day!