Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Deadline Disasters

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you’re familiar with my occasional ”deadline disasters,” i.e., the various household calamities that seem to befall me whenever I’m deep in the throes of a book deadline and in such a writing fog that I do stupid things with calamitous results. For example, one time I somehow accidentally washed an entire box of trash bags along with a load of laundry. What a pain!

Anyway, now that I’ve made it through yet another deadline, it’s time to add not just one but two more such incidents to the pantheon.  Both of the following happened just two weeks ago as the clock was ticking down and my brain was somewhere off in a fictional world rather than paying attention to the physical one.

The Soup Curse

Note to self: The next time you’re on a deadline, don’t make soup! That’s the lesson I’ve learned as once again I had an incident that ended in despair. The last time, I accidentally left the fridge door open all night—and ended up spoiling everything inside including a huge batch of soup I’d just made.

This time, I also destroyed an entire batch of freshly-made soup, albeit in a different way. Here’s how it went…

As you can see from the above photo, I decided to cook up some homemade “bone broth”, which is done by combining a big beef bone with chopped veggies, water, and various herbs and spices then simmering the whole thing for about 48 hours.  It was a lot of work, especially considering I had to go to a special butcher to get the bone, but I knew it would pay off in the end. Ah, the best laid plans…

After the first 24 hours, it was time to add some more spices to the mix, but as I reached into the cabinet, my head was off in the clouds so I wasn’t really paying attention, and I accidentally knocked over a big jar of bouillon cubes. As if in slow motion, the jar tumbled from the cabinet and struck the edge of my favorite glass serving bowl, shattering part of it to pieces, the largest of which then shot sideways and struck the edge of the crock pot, causing a big chip in its rim and a crack that ran all the way down the side.  

It happened so quickly and within such a small space that there was no way to know whether any of the broken glass from the bowl or shards from the chip had ended up in the soup or not. So after a brief period of denial followed by a pity party, I scrapped the entire thing. Final score? Mindy-0, trash can-1, including the soup, the broken serving dish, and the crock pot itself.

Insult to Injury

Later, I was washing the items I’d used in my broth-making venture—cutting board, utensils, etc.—and was once again lost in thought when a second calamity occurred…

I think this one was just a case of a worn out hose finally losing its grip rather than a result of anything I did. However, thanks to my absentminded state, it took a good 15 or 20 seconds before I even comprehended what was happening. In the photo, I’ve got the water barely turned on, just for demonstration purposes. But during that 15-20 second gap, the water was running hard enough to shoot straight up into the air in a giant arc, landing on the kitchen bar behind me—about a foot away from my open laptop! Talk about panic!!!

When I finally grasped the situation, I turned off the water, grabbed my laptop, and flipped it upside down.  Then I toweled it dry and left it upside down for the rest of the day. (Fortunately, I had a printed copy of the manuscript, so I was able to keep working even without the computer.) The next morning, prayers said and fingers crossed, I turned the machine right side up and tried it out. Praise the Lord, there were no residual problems. Big exhale, but boy, that was a close one!

Not Again

Whenever I have one of these incidents, I tell myself it won’t happen again, but inevitably it does. Maybe the next time I’m on a deadline, when things get really bad, I should considering hiring a babysitter—for myself. J

For now, I’m just going to put these incidents out of my mind, sit back, and enjoy the fact that I managed to get the manuscript done and in on time regardless. My mind is already gearing up for my next project, but hopefully I won’t have any disasters like this again—or at least not until the next deadline rolls around! 

Surely I’m not the only one who goes through this. What’s something dumb you’ve done when your mind was on something else?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

November 2017 Christian Fiction Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Rooted in Love by Valerie Comer -- A divorcé with a set of rambunctious twins falls for the boys’ daycare administrator, but does he deserve another chance at love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Prescription for Romance by June Foster -- Though history teacher Scott Townsend made a commitment to the Lord as a teen, he can't relinquish his bitterness toward his younger brother after he squanders their parents' money. When a beautiful, young pharmacist seeks affirmation in a way that challenges Scott's values, he must uphold his Christian upbringing. (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romance [Winged Publication])

Believing in Tomorrow by Kimberly Rae Jordan -- Sammi struggles to accept the consequences for her actions and to live with her new reality—unwed mother instead of wife and then mother. Though it eats at her soul, she feels that the judgment she faces is her lot to bear. Can Levi get Sammi to see that their child deserves better? Or will she lose everything she’s dreamed of for her tomorrow because she can’t accept that forgiveness is hers for the taking? (Contemporary Romance, ACFW QIP)

Texas Christmas Twins by Deb Kastner -- Miranda Morgan’s Christmas will be twice as busy now that she’s guardian of her sister’s sweet twin babies. But the celebrity photographer is happy to trade a glamorous LA lifestyle for motherhood in her small hometown of Wildhorn, Texas. Unfortunately, the twins’ handsome godfather, Simon West, is unconvinced. The brooding rancher isn’t thrilled about letting sunny, spontaneous Miranda into his carefully managed world. Though they disagree on almost everything, Simon and Miranda discover common ground as they work to make the twins’ first country Christmas cozy and bright. Could this holiday transform Miranda and Simon’s tentative friendship into a forever love? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


The Legacy by Carol Ashby -- A father’s martyrdom makes his son and daughter hunger for revenge on their brother who betrayed him and the people who led him to faith until God answers their father’s final prayer in unexpected ways. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)

Jerusalem Rising by Barbara M. Britton -- When Adah bat Shallum finds the governor of Judah weeping over the crumbling wall of Jerusalem, she learns the reason for Nehemiah’s unexpected visit,God has called him to rebuild the wall around the City of David. Nehemiah challenges the people of God to labor on the wall and in return, the names of their fathers will be written in the annals for future generations to cherish. But Adah has one sister and no brothers. Will her father, who rules a half-district of Jerusalem, be forgotten forever? Adah bravely vows to rebuild her city’s wall, though she soon discovers that Jerusalem not only has enemies outside the city, but also within. Can Adah, her sister, and the men they love, honor God’s call? Or will their mission be crushed by the same stones they hope to construct? (Historical from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])


Historical Mystery:

Death at Thorburn Hall by Julianna Deering -- Amateur sleuth Drew Farthering and his wife Madeline travel to Scotland for the 1935 British Open, but instead of a relaxing holiday, they find murder, mystery, and international intrigue. (Historical Mystery from Bethany House [Baker])

Waiting for His Return by Carrie Turansky -- The daughter of a wealthy Tennessee doctor falls in love with an injured artist-correspondent on assignment to cover the battles near Union occupied Nashville. (Historical Mystery from Flowing Stream Books)

Historical Romance:

The Virtuous Viscount by Susan M. Baganz -- Lord Remington falls for a woman he rescues and recovers in his home, but can Miss Storm trust his virtue when he risks his reputation to unbeknownst to her, saves her life. (Historical Romance from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Lord Phillip’s Folly by Susan M. Baganz -- Lord Westcombe finds himself falling in love with his unexpected wife and having to rescue her from the devices of the Black Diamond with the help of his friends and newfound faith. (Historical Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

The Regency Brides Collection by Amanda Barratt, Angela Bell, Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Nancy Moser, MaryLu Tyndall, and Erica Vetsch -- Romance is a delicate dance bound by rules and expectations in Regency England...Seven couples must navigate society’s gauntlet to secure the hand of true love.... Charity and Luke are strangers who were forced to marry three years ago. Adelaide and Walter share a love of music and disdain for elitism. Caroline and Henry are thrown together by three orphans. Helen and Isaac harbor his unlikely secret. Esther is empowered to choose between two men. Sophia is determined not to choose a man like Nash. Jamie and William face a daunting London season together. Will their faith grow and love prevail in a time when both were considered luxuries the elite could not afford? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas -- Judd Markley is a hardworking coal miner who rarely thinks much past tomorrow until he loses his brother--and nearly his own life--in a mine cave-in. Vowing never to enter the darkness of a mine again, he leaves all he knows in West Virginia to escape to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It's 1954, the seaside community is thriving, and Judd soon hires on with a timber company. Larkin Heyward's life in Myrtle Beach is uncomplicated, mostly doing volunteer work and dancing at the Pavilion. But she dreams of one day doing more--maybe moving to the hollers of Kentucky to help the poor children of Appalachia. But she's never even met someone who's lived there--until she encounters Judd, the newest employee at her father's timber company. Drawn together in the wake of a devastating hurricane, Judd and Larkin each seek answers to what tomorrow will bring. As opposition rises against following their divergent dreams, they realize that it may take a miracle for them to be together. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Legal Thriller:

Guilty Blood by Rick Acker -- A desperate mother tries to prove her son's innocence, but shadowy forces want to keep him in jail--and kill him there. (Legal Thriller from Waterfall Press)

Romantic Suspense:

An Unexpected Legacy by Amy R. Anguish -- When Chad Manning introduces himself to Jessica Garcia at her favorite smoothie shop, it's like he stepped out of one of her romance novels. But as she tentatively walks into a relationship with this man of her dreams, secrets from their past threaten to shatter their already fragile bond. Chad and Jessica must struggle to figure out if their relationship has a chance or if there is nothing between them but a love of smoothies. (Romantic Suspense from Tulpen Publishing)

Christmas Double Cross by Jodie Bailey -- Undercover Texas Ranger Colter Blackthorn’s convinced Danielle Segovia is really a wanted criminal—until she’s nearly kidnapped right in front of him. Now Colter must keep her out of the clutches of the notorious drug cartel leader whose traitor sister is a dead ringer for Danielle. The drug czar wants the drugs he thinks the pretty shop owner stole from him. And with the younger brother Danielle is raising dragged into the crosshairs, Colt has to find a way to protect them both. But a showdown at Christmas—with Danielle as bait—may be the only way to make sure they all survive the holidays. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright -- Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather's Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house's dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide. A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy's search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives--including her own--are lost? (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])


Awakened by Morgan L. Busse -- The monster has awakened. After her escape from the Tower and from her father's experiments, Kat Bloodmayne wakes up to discover the dark power inside of her has grown stronger. Now more than ever she needs to find the doctor who holds the key to healing her, but the only one who can help her find him is Stephen Grey, the very man who betrayed her. Stephen Grey cannot change the past or what he did to Kat, but he will do everything he can to help her now. But will Kat let him? Or will his transgression be too much to overcome? Time races against them as they travel with sky pirates through harrowing storms and across the war-torn country of Austrium in search of the doctor who can cure Kat. But can he cure what is broken inside of her? Or will the monster inside of Kat consume her soul? (Speculative from Enclave Publishing)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A CFSH Redux: A Southern Belle

If you participated in the recent online Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt, then you saw my post that was hosted by Ann Gabhart. I think it was a fun one, so for those who missed it, I’ve decided to re-post it here today. Enjoy!

What is my dog, Belle, doing, and why is she dressed like this? Keep reading to find out!


Just because my latest book is a serious work of fiction doesn’t mean I can’t get a little silly now and then when sharing it with others. “Silly” is definitely the word for this video—though I’m hoping you’ll have as much fun watching it as I did making it!

The Story

A bit of background on the novel first… 

My Daughter's Legacy, co-written with Leslie Gould, is the third and final book in our Cousins of the Dove series.

• The novel features two heroines living in two different eras—one in the Civil War south of 1864 and one in the modern day—and their stories intertwine in unique and important ways.

• The heroine of the historical portion is Therese Jennings, a brave young woman who takes a stand against slavery despite the cost. When her widowed mother inherits a plantation, Therese flees to Civil War Richmond, where she works as a governess by day and tends to wounded soldiers at night.

• The heroine of the modern day portion is Therese’s great-great-great-granddaughter, Nicole Talbot, who is ready to take a stand of her own. After years of substance abuse, she’s finally gotten her life back on track. But now she needs to share a shocking secret, one that will cast doubt on her family's legacy and jeopardize all that she's gained.

The Movie

• The minute-and-a-half film, below, presents a reenactment of a brief excerpt from the historical portion of the story.

• Like I said, it’s pretty silly—and it doesn’t reflect the tone of the tale, which is far more dignified, I promise—but it is a lot of fun. The star of the movie is my dog, Belle, who plays the roles of both Therese and Mother. 


• As you watch, bear in mind that no animals were harmed in the making of this film. If you follow me on Facebook, where Belle is featured every Friday, you’ll know she’s a Therapy Dog and loves any activities—with or without costumes—that put her at the center of attention. (Watching the video, you can actually see how relaxed she is.) My daughter Emily was her “handler” throughout filming, and the only possible negative ramification from that process was that Belle may have earned a few too many dog treats for her good behavior.

So, drum roll please, with all of the above in mind, I hope you enjoy Belle’s reenactment of a brief scene from the historical portion of My Daughter's Legacy

To see more of Belle, follow me on Facebook, where I share a picture or video of her every Friday. Thanks for watching!

Do you have a beloved pet too? Tell us about him or her in the comments below.

Monday, October 23, 2017

And the Winner Is...

The winner of my drawing for a Reader's Gift Basket is:
The prize, a Reader's Gift Basket

Sabrina Templin!

Congratulations, Sabrina, and thanks to everyone for playing!

Even If You Didn't Win This One

If you enjoy giveaways, you'll want to keep up with this blog and/or my Facebook, because I LOVE giving stuff away and I hold drawings frequently.  In fact, I've got two going on right now:

• I'm currently collecting votes on my blog to determine everyone's favorite book cover.  Each person who votes gets entered in a drawing, and the person who wins the drawing will receive a free, signed copy of the winning book!  You can find all the info and cast your vote here through Oct. 31st.
• There's always a book up for grabs on the home page of my website, just scroll down, look for the GIVEAWAY box, and click on the ENTER TO WIN button. Currently, the prize is my book Plain Answers About the Amish Life, and you can sign up for the drawing through Nov. 30th. 

Sounds like fun? Feel free to enter both giveaways, and do stick around, because there will always be more! I guess "gifting" must be one of my Love Languages, because I love my readers, and I truly enjoy showing it by offering fun prizes whenever I can.

Free Goodies for the Asking

Some examples of the types of promo freebies you may receive, based on availability

Speaking of giving stuff away, did you know that you can order "promo freebies" from my website anytime? I've got all sorts of fun items available–postcards, bookmarks, pens, keychains, and much more–which I'm happy to provide, free of charge, to help you spread the word about my books. To order, simply visit the "Extras" page of my website, or click here to fill out a request form.

Or, if you'd just like a free list of all of my books, visit the "Books" page of my website for a downloadable booklist or click here to request the newly-designed printed version, which doubles as an oversized bookmark:

Scavenger Hunt Wrap-Up

I have to say that I had a really fun time with this past weekend's Scavenger Hunt. I'd never done one before and wasn't sure what I was in for! But it ended up being fast-paced, exciting, and very rewarding. Thanks again to ALL who participated!

On my entry form for the Scavenger Hunt, I asked, "Have you ever participated in one of these Online Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunts before?"  If you're curious about the answers, the percentages came out as follows:
  • 42.3% said this was their first time
  • 32.5% said they'd done it multiple times before
  • 23.1% said they'd done it once before, and 
  • 2.1% said "Other."
Wherever you might fall on that list, I'm so glad you came! Thanks again for playing, and now that the Hunt is over, don't be a stranger.  :)  

Congrats again to Sabrina, and enjoy your prize!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt Stop #11

Welcome to the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! If you've just discovered the hunt, be sure to start at Stop #1, and collect the clues through all 25 stops, in order, so you can enter to win one of our top 3 grand prizes!

  • The hunt BEGINS with Stop #1 at Lisa Bergren's site.
  • Hunt through our loop using Chrome or Firefox as your browser (not Explorer).
  • There is NO RUSH to complete the hunt—you have all weekend (until Sunday, 10/22 at midnight MST)! So take your time, reading the unique posts along the way; our hope is that you discover new authors/new books.
  • Navigating from site to site should be super simple, but just in case you get lost along the way, you can go here to see the full list of all the stops, in order, with links.
  • Submit your entry for the grand prizes by collecting the clue on each author’s scavenger hunt post and submitting your answer in the Rafflecopter form at Stop #25. Many authors are offering additional prizes along the way!

I'm thrilled to host Melanie Dobson as part of the Scavenger Hunt. Melanie is a prolific author who writes historical, timeslip, and suspense novels. She has a wonderful heart and a compelling voice. Here is a bit about her book, Enchanted Isle:

In the spring of 1958, Jenny Winter embarks on a two-month adventure to one of the most enchanting places on earth, a quaint village in England's magical Lake District. When Adrian Kemp, a handsome and enigmatic local, shows Jenny his late father's abandoned dream, a deserted island amusement park, she glimpses a kindred spirit in this reckless, haunted young man. Yet as she opens her heart to Adrian, the two stumble into a labyrinth of mystery leading back a generation to an unforgettable romance and an unsolved murder that still casts a shadow over the lakes. As long-held secrets come to light, it's left to Jenny and Adrian to put the past to rest and restore a lost dream.

Take it away, Melanie!

If These Walls Could Talk ...

by Melanie Dobson

The house in Virginia hadn’t been occupied in decades, but someone left clothes hanging in the bedroom closet, plates on the kitchen table, the rusty hood of a Chevy buried in what was once a yard. I was twenty-five at the time, exploring this clapboard home for a newspaper article about forgotten places, and I wished, more than anything, that its crumbling walls could tell me what had happened here.

The house kept its secrets, but this experience changed my life. Abandoned places, I discovered, fueled my imagination. I wanted to know who had lived there, why they left, and where they had gone. When I couldn’t find the answers, I began to create stories of my own.

In the two decades since I trekked through that forgotten house, I’ve written novels inspired by a number of deserted places—a manor home, lighthouse, English cottage and medieval French chateau—but for Enchanted Isle, my latest historical novel, I wanted to write the story of a different sort of place. An amusement park that harbored its secrets well like the abandoned park called Geauga Lake that I visited often as a child.

My main character in Enchanted Isle is an aspiring photographer named Jenny who sees beauty in unexpected places. With pencil and paper, I started building an amusement park from the 1930s for her to explore, set on an island in England’s magical Lake District with a dozen old rides inspired by the sea—a wooden roller coaster that once surfed through the trees, a boat excursion around sunken ships in an ocean cave, and the Magic Lagoon, a merry-go-round with brightly colored sea creatures instead of horses, the eaves of the carousel plated with gold leaf and stained glass.

In the novel, Jenny and a British man named Adrian search together for ancient coins his father purportedly hid on the island. As she learns the legends in this district, Jenny begins to discover beauty among the ruins of the park and she ultimately determines to restore all that’s been lost—the hidden treasure, shattered dreams, and relationships broken in years past after one of the park’s owners disappeared.

Abandoned spaces continue to inspire me today. Because of their secrets, but also because I think of them now in terms of restoration, symbols of hope that God can rebuild the broken walls in all of our stories.

Writing fiction is Melanie Dobson's excuse to explore abandoned houses, travel to unique places, and spend hours reading old books and journals. She enjoys stitching together time-slip stories, and her novels have won awards for historical romance, romantic suspense, and historical fiction. Melanie loves connecting with readers—the best places to find her online are on her website and on Facebook.

Thank you, Melanie, for sharing what inspires you!

Here’s the Stop #11 Skinny:    

You can order Melanie's book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD or at your local bookstore! 

Clue to Write Down: authors

Link to Stop #12, the Next Stop on the Loop: Melanie Dobson's own site!


But wait–before you go, as a fun addition to the Scavenger Hunt, I'm hosting my own giveaway! Enter to win a Reader's Gift Basket (pictured below), which includes a Reader's Journal, two of my signed books–My Brother's Crown and A Pocket Guide to Amish Life–Amish stationery, an inspirational necklace, a candleholder, an Echoes of Titanic keychain, a Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels wooden nickel, a My Daughter's Legacy porcelain box, and more!

To enter:

1) Like me on Facebook 

2) Click on the button below and complete the entry form. 

Deadline to enter is 11:59 pm on October 22, 2017, so don't delay. Thanks for participating, and best wishes on completing the Scavenger Hunt!