The MacGregor Legacy - From Scotland to the Carolinas

(Book 1 - For Love or Loyalty) (Book 2 - For Love or Country) (Book 3 - For Love or Liberty)

Path of Freedom, Quilts of Love series

1858 North Carolina - When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple..

Highland Sanctuary, (Highland series - Book 2)

1477 Scotland - A chieftain heir is hired to restore Briagh Castle and discovers a hidden village of outcasts who have created their own private sanctuary from the world.

Highland Blessings, (Book 1 - Highland series)

1473 Scotland - The story of a highland warrior who kidnaps the daughter of his greatest enemy and clan chief to honor a promise to his dying father.

Awakened Redemption (Inspirational Regency)

1815 England - A story that pierces the heart and captures the Regency era.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Highland Sanctuary Just Released on the Nook!

#christianfiction, #christianromance

Since so many have asked, Highland Sanctuary just released as an ebook on the Nook. Yesterday it came out on Amazon's Kindle. As always, thank you for your support of historical Christian fiction!  



Get Highland Sanctuary on the Nook!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Highland Sanctuary Just Released on Kindle!

#christianfiction, #christianromance

For those who have been eagerly awaiting the release of Highland Sanctuary as an ebook on Kindle, the wait is over. Yesterday it came out on Amazon's Kindle, here. As for the Nook and other ebook formats, I'm still not seeing it on those platforms, but keep checking. I'm sure it will be available on the Nook very soon!

As always, thank you for your support of historical Christian fiction!  


Highland Sanctuary on Amazon Kindle!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Highland Sanctuary Sale!




Highland Sanctuary - Copies

Word of Inspiration: The Beginning of Wisdom

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Proverbs 1:7)

Too many people covet the knowledge of man's wisdom, especially university degrees and the idea of surrounding one's self with educated individuals. I'm not against education. I have a college degree and I'm thankful for it. What I'm referring to is coveting man's knowledge over common sense and biblical wisdom. 

Our university degrees and certifications is from others--men and women. They challenge us to think and question the world--even to question our faith and belief in things that can't be scientifically proven--a direct contrast to the principle of faith. Only then, does man's education become a danger to our existence in the will of God--we can't be so grounded in reality of this earth--a place of sin--that we lose the ability to believe in something we can't touch or see or sometimes prove or even explain--to simply believe. This is pride, believing that one's ideals are more true over the living creator God who's thinking and word is so high above our comprehension that we don't always understand it. This is why I believe Jesus chose disciples who were common, uneducated men.

Faith is believing in the Word of God--in God--even when we don't understand it or Him. We just believe that what He says is true--just like a child. If we fear that what God says is true--just the tiniest bit as much as a muster seed--it really is the beginning of wisdom. Because this is the deal, if someone is questioning their faith or belief in God, they are seeking proof of His existence. They don't necessarily have proof that he does NOT exist, but in their mind they don't have proof that He DOES exist. 

If they are wrong, they risk eternal damnation in hell. If they are right, then they have nothing to lose--He and His word doesn't exist. So therefore, which risk is common sense--the risk of being wrong and eternal damnation in hell or being wrong and losing nothing? Logic and common sense would dictate that not fearing that the Lord might be real and His word true is a lack of wisdom--foolish.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

CFBA Blog Tour - "Naomi's Gift" by Amy Clipston




#Christianfiction, #Christmas
 
The
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
 
is introducing
Naomi's Gift
 
by
Amy Clipston





ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A native of New Jersey, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I often joke that my fiction writing “career” began in elementary school as I wrote and shared silly stories with a close friend.

In 1991, I graduated from high school and attended Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, and graduated with a degree in communications. I met my husband, Joe, during my senior year, a few days after my father had a massive stroke. Joe and I clicked instantly. We married four years later.

After graduation, I took a summer job with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, which turned into an eleven-year career. I worked in the Public Affairs Office for four years and then moved into Planning as a writer/editor. One day while surfing the Internet for a professional editor’s group, I accidentally found a local fiction writing group, Chesapeake Romance Writers. I attended a meeting and I met writers in all stages of their careers. The group helped me realize that I did want to be an author, and it was my dream to see my name on the cover of one of my novels. 

Through Chesapeake Romance Writers, I learned how to plot, write, and edit a novel, and how to pursue an agent. I signed with Mary Sue Seymour at the Seymour Agency in 2006, shortly before Joe and I moved my parents and our sons to North Carolina. My dream came true when I sold my first book in 2007. Holding my first book, A Gift of Grace, in my hands was exhilarating and surreal.

ABOUT THE BOOK:


Take a trip to Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, where you'll meet the women of the Kauffman Amish Bakery in Lancaster County. As each woman's story unfolds, you will share in her heartaches, trials, joys, dreams ... and secrets. You'll discover how the simplicity of the Amish lifestyle can clash with the 'English' way of life---and the decisions and consequences that follow. Most importantly, you will be encouraged by the hope and faith of these women, and the importance they place on their families. 

Naomi's Gift re-introduces twenty-four-year-old Naomi King, who has been burned twice by love and has all but given up on marriage and children. As Christmas approaches---a time of family, faith, and hope for many others---Naomi is more certain than ever her life will be spent as an old maid, helping with the family's quilting business and taking care of her eight siblings. Then she meets Caleb, a young widower with a 7-year-old daughter, and her world is once again turned upside-down. Naomi's story of romantic trial and error and youthful insecurities has universal appeal. 

Author Amy Clipston artfully paints a panorama of simple lives full of complex relationships, and she carefully explores cultural differences and human similarities, with inspirational results. Naomi's Gift includes all the details of Amish life that Clipston's fans enjoy, while delivering the compelling stories and strong characters that continue to draw legions of new readers.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Naomi's Gift, go HERE.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

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Refocus by Karen Mayes

Please Welcome Guest Blogger, Karen Mayes.

With both eyes glued to my son, I attempted to carry on a conversation with my fellow mom friends. I scanned the play area and took inventory of everything that Grant could hurt himself on:  uneven ground, steps, the plank that bordered the playground…  


Play dates at the park always make me nervous, I thought to myself, So much chaos and uncertainty.

I watched Grant trying his best to keep up with the other children. He wants to be just like them. And he loves life. 


He began to climb up the stairs to go down the slide and stumbled forward. I inhaled sharply and lunged forward, catching him just before he crashed. 


A few months ago Grant was diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome. It is the number one known genetic cause of autism and the most common cause of inherited mental impairment.  A significant component of the syndrome is Sensory Processing Disorder. 


Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), formerly known as sensory integration dysfunction, is a condition that exists when the seven sensory signals (touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight, vestibular and proprioception) jam together and do not get organized into appropriate responses. 


SPD affects Grant’s whole world - the way he eats, walks, plays, and filters the commotion of the environment around him.


When Grant was learning to walk he had a very difficult time transitioning one surface to another and he was absolutely terrified of cracks in the sidewalk. Because of his perception issues related to SPD, Grant found it difficult to judge the depth of an ordinary crack. His whole body would shake with fear when he approached certain spots during our afternoon walks. I had to hold his hand and guide him. To his eyes, those cracks could have been deep caverns.
It was, and still is, painful to watch Grant struggle at something that is second nature to many. 


When I realized the details of Grant’s condition, I put on a brave face, but inwardly cascaded into a valley of darkness.  My life had changed in an instant. One day I was a normal mom – the next I was the mom of a special needs child who would never live independently. The dreams for my son’s future shattered and I felt lost, alone, and hopeless. I went into mourning. My mourning gave way to bitterness. I felt haunted by my new reality. Any public place was a platform to display the life that was taken away from me. 


A few weeks after Grant’s Fragile X Syndrome diagnosis, I was standing in line at the grocery store and I overheard a conversation between a mother and her teenage son. They were talking about the teenager getting his homework done so he could drive over to a friend’s house. It was a normal conversation that wouldn’t have caught anyone else’s attention, but I felt as if I had been slapped in the face. I dropped my items and fled to my car. Sobbing, I cried out to God, Will Grant ever drive a car? Will he learn how to be “socially acceptable” enough to have friends? Who will take care of him when I am gone? Oh Lord, why did you choose to give my son a life so full of trials?!  


God replied by putting a verse on my heart:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… Isaiah 43: 1b-3a
It was then that my focus began to adjust. I didn’t want to live a life stuck in sadness. I had to move on. I began to focus on the blessings God had given me and lean heavily on Him to provide our needs. My son, and my family, will have many struggles. But all of this is for God’s glory and if I rest in Him, there will also be much peace and joy.
I spent too long to wanting what was taken from me and not what was given.
Prince Caspian from The Voyager of the Dawn Treader
I am pleased to say that with a lot of hard work and therapy, Grant now walks with ease over any crack. We love our evening walks as a family.

For more information on Fragile X Syndrome, Sensory Processing Disorder or to follow my family’s journey, please visit my blog, Red Letter Living, at www.akmayes.com.


About Karen Mayes
Karen lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and two boys. She used to work in the field of grant management and data research, but her life quickly changed courses after her oldest son was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder and Fragile X Syndrome. Karen turned to writing as an emotional outlet and to educate others through her son’s experiences and those of her family. Recently she contributed to the book, Sensational Journeys. You can follow her at www.akmayes.com.

Friday, October 21, 2011

More Winners from Highland Sanctuary Book Launch Contest!

The first batch of winners had 7 days to respond and a few failed to do so. Therefore, we have drawn more winners to replace those who did not respond. The winners listed below will also have 7 days to respond. This will be the last drawing. Those that fail to respond to this drawing in the 7-day time period will forfeit their prize(s). 
 
Winners were drawn at random. To claim your gift, all winners must respond within 7 days of this announcement by contacting Jennifer at jt4novels@yahoo.com with "Highland Sanctuary Contest" typed in the subject line. I will need your full name and mailing address to mail your gift. 
 
Those who contact me on a first come, first served basis will have their choice of available prizes. The available prizes left are: 1 participant will receive a tote bag with 5 books, 3 participants will receive their choice of an Amazon or B&N giftcard, and 2 participants will receive a Chick-Fil-A giftcard. The last winner to contact me will be left with whatever gift selection has not been chosen by the others. 
 
If you contact me and do not get an immediate response, the date and time of your email will be noted and I will respond as soon as I'm able. If you believe your email is lost in spam, you may leave a comment here on this blog post letting me know you have sent me an email to claim your prize.
 
For those that emailed their responses and didn't want their whole name posted, I've listed only your first name and the first initial of your last name. 

DRUM ROLL, please....

Judy Burgi
Emma Vanderbeck
Robyn (CoolestMommy)
Angela Holland
Lisa Grazano
Aly Logan
 
Congratulations to all of you and many blessings!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Coping with Asperger's by Sarah

Please welcome Guest Blogger, Sarah.

Most people who meet my daughter tell me how impressed they are with her conversation skills and politeness. They find her to be sweet and friendly and she is … BUT if you met her at the ‘wrong’ time you’d think she was one of the worst behaved children you’ve ever seen. It is not naughtiness or lack of discipline that causes this drastic change in her behaviour; it is Asperger’s Syndrome.

Kezia has only just been diagnosed with Asperger's but the symptoms have been there for six years! Why so long before a diagnosis?  Well, it’s only with hind-sight that I realise there were symptoms so long ago. Initial symptoms were attributed to other causes or simply seen as little quirks, not part of a much bigger picture.

What is Asperger's? The very condensed answer is Asperger's is “high-functioning” autism. ‘Aspies’ are usually of above average intelligence, but have extreme difficulty with social skills.  It is much more than that though. For us it’s lots of little differences, in thought and behaviour, that turn everyday things like school, shopping, or meeting friends into very demanding situations.  A change of plans or simply trying to leave the house can cause a temper tantrum as it’s taking Kezia out of her ‘comfort zone’. She has a very literal understanding of language, so I have to be careful how I word instructions, responses or plans. If I say, “I’ll be there in a minute” but take longer or, “I’m coming” and don’t immediately stop what I’m doing then, in her mind, I lied.  She also requires more time to process information and cannot multi-task.

Kezia barely spoke until nearly 3 years old but then, almost immediately, her speech and vocabulary were well above average. She would get upset that she couldn’t write her name or draw as well as the other children at her nursery could. She’d get quite frustrated and negative about her efforts and just give up. I now see this as the initial signs of her motor skills / co-ordination problems and her mind-set; she has a very negative impression of herself and her abilities. These difficulties and others have become more obvious as Kezia has gotten older and progressed through school.

The temper tantrums of the terrible twos didn’t stop and actually began to increase in frequency, length and strength and the nipping and pushing that is common behaviour in pre-schoolers also increased rather than stopping. Her teachers have often said they were concerned about Kezia’s social skills. Academically there are no concerns, she is above average in most areas.

School has been a nightmare over the last six months as Kezia’s behaviour problems have rapidly increased. She started refusing to do lessons if they involved a change of classroom or if it was an activity she felt she couldn’t do. Nearly every morning is a trial just to get her to school and many days she comes out of school breaking her heart because the situation is so difficult for her.

Patience is a virtue but I’m sorry to say I’ve never considered it to be a strong point of mine. However all the professionals involved have praised me for the way I cope; for my patience, understanding and for being “commendably calm”. I’m not saying this to boast, but in recognition and thankfulness for the Lord’s help. I've prayed consistently for patience, wisdom and strength and, in His mercy, He has answered my prayers and continues to do so, helping me through each new day or situation. I don’t just take a day at a time, it’s often more like hour-by-hour or even minute-by-minute as things can change so fast!

I’m on a very steep learning curve and am always trying to be one step ahead of situations in an effort to spot and diffuse problems before they escalate into total meltdown. It is often physically and emotionally draining, but Kezia is my gift from the Lord (Psa 127:3), and I know He’ll help me be all I need to be to support her. I’ve always been shy and self-conscious but, with the Lord’s help, I’ve attended large meetings of professionals and been able to address them all.  I’ve also attended parent group sessions, led by child psychologists, where we not only had to speak; we had to do role play at every session! I never thought I’d do that, but the Lord gave me confidence to do it and do it well, according to the leaders. When I feel I can’t cope, I take courage and renewed hope from the following scriptures:

“My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9)

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phil 4:13)

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.”  (Pro 3:5)

“Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” (Psa 37:5)
About Sarah
Sarah lives in Scotland and is one of my readers who has become a great friend.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wild Card Book Tour - "Autumn Song" by Martha Rogers



#christianfiction #christianromance

Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Realms (October 4, 2011)

***Special thanks to Kim Jones | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Martha Rogers is the author of Becoming Lucy; Morning for Dove; Finding Becky; Caroline’s Choice; Not on the Menu, a part of a novella collection with DiAnn Mills, Janice Thompson, and Kathleen Y’Barbo; and River Walk Christmas, a novella collection with Beth Goddard, Lynette Sowell, and Kathleen Y’Barbo. A former schoolteacher and English instructor, she has a master’s degree in education and lives with her husband in Houston, Texas.

Visit the author's website.



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Why does everyone think a girl’s only lot in life is to find a husband and settle down?

Kathleen Muldoon is twenty-three and tired of ranch living. Fiercely independent and determined to become a nurse, she has left her family’s ranch to study medicine under Old Doc Jensen and to live in town with her Aunt Mae, who runs a boardinghouse.

Daniel Monroe has just arrived in Porterfield to set up his law practice. Sparks fly when he is introduced to Kate at the boardinghouse, but the initial attraction quickly dissolves into an argument—the first of many. Daniel is enamored with Kate but uncomfortable with her independent spirit and dreams of becoming a nurse.

When trouble erupts between the ranchers and lumberjacks over timber rights, Kate is furious to learn that Daniel has worked out an agreement she believes will destroy her father’s land. Can they overcome their pride and help each other become everything God wants them to be?
Set in the late 1800s, the Seasons of the Heart series follows the lives of four women and their families, weaving together their stories of faith, life, and love as they bond in friendship only God could orchestrate.

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (October 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616384573
ISBN-13: 978-1616384579

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

August 1889

Kate Muldoon, I simply can’t understand why you haven’t found yourself a husband among all the eligible men in this town.” Sarah picked up a book from the bedside table in Kate’s room. “You’re twenty-three now, and hiding yourself away to read and study all the time will not help you find the right man.”

Kate grabbed the book from her sister-in-law, who had wandered into her room for a chat. As usual, the talk had turned to men. “I don’t need a man,” Kate declared.

“How can you say that?” Sarah gasped.

Kate shook her head. Marriage and family ranked last in the things she wanted out of life right now. Kate fought against the swelling tide of anger that had landed her in trouble on more than one occasion. Why did everyone think a woman’s only role was that of a wife and mother? Sarah meant well, but then she loved living on a ranch and taking care of her husband Donavan Muldoon. Sarah believed everyone should be in love, as did her other sisters-in-law.

Once again Kate tried to explain. “Sarah, I do not intend to marry a rancher or anyone connected with cattle. I was born on a ranch, grew up on a ranch, and have lived around cattle and horses all my life so far, and I don’t plan on spending the rest of it on one.” Despite her love of horses and riding, the ranch held no pull or fascination for her as it once did when she was younger. Kate hugged her textbook to her chest. “Why do you think I’ve studied everything about Florence Nightingale and nursing and moved into town to help Aunt Mae?”
Sarah waved her hand airily, dismissing Kate’s plans. “I don’t know about that, but I do know Auntie Mae’s boardinghouse is full of men who are not ranchers. Why, there’s my cousin Seth who just moved out here to pastor our church, and then there’s Doc Jensen’s nephew who came to town to assist his uncle with the infirmary. They’re both unattached. Sometimes I think you’re just too picky.”

Picky wasn’t exactly the word Kate would choose, but preachers and doctors held no interest for her other than as people she could work with. She did enjoy working with Doc Jensen and his nephew, Elliot Jensen, but they were teaching her to be a nurse. Besides, Elliot wasn’t really a friendly sort even if he did have an excellent bedside manner with his patients.
Kate sighed. Her sister-in-law was raised in an upperclass family in Boston, where the entire focus of her life in the last few years had been on her whirlwind romance, marriage to Donavan, then moving to Texas and having Jeremy. How could she possibly understand Kate’s dreams? “I’m learning all I can about nursing and treatments so I can work more with Doctor Jensen,” she explained with as much patience as she

could muster. “He lets me help with some of the lighter cases and says I’m getting good at recognizing symptoms. Besides, I was thinking that the preacher would make a wonderful match for Erin.”

Sarah brightened at the thought. “That might not be a bad idea now that she is of marrying age. Erin would be a good wife for Seth and a good mother for their little ones. She loves little Jeremy and has been a big help to me in taking care of him.” She turned to leave. “I’ll look for you Sunday at church and then afterward for dinner out at the ranch. Now I need to rescue Auntie Mae from Jeremy.”

As if Aunt Mae needed rescuing. Kate waved her hand in the air to say good-bye. Dinner with the Muldoon clan meant much food and lots of laughter, but it also meant another boring afternoon listening to talk of cattle drives and auctions and horses by the men, and talk of babies and mothering by the women—none of which held any interest whatsoever for Kate.
Three older brothers—Brody, Donavan, and Ian—had ranches of their own, and that’s all they talked about. The fourth older brother, Cory, had his sights set on being a lawman and had moved into town to be a deputy for Marshal Slade. Erin, the baby of the family, still lived on the ranch. She’d just turned nineteen and was by far the prettiest of the Muldoon clan.
Kate welcomed Cory’s company and his presence at the boardinghouse. At least he wasn’t interested in finding a bride, and he didn’t pester her about finding a mate. He had his sights set on being a marshal himself one day and figured that job too dangerous to take a wife. Kate snorted. So it was OK

for a man to be unmarried and pursue his dreams, but not a woman.
She laid aside her book and sauntered down to the hallway to find the mail from Aunt Mae’s boarders. One of her jobs at Aunt Mae’s included taking care of the mail. With a start, she realized she’d have to hurry to get there before the afternoon train arrived.

One afternoon train from the west would be picking up mail headed for the East Coast. An earlier train had dropped off its delivery, and that mail waited for her now at the post office. Ever since the railroads had been completed, Kate had seen more men coming to town to work the ranches around the area as well as find their own land and start farming or ranching. All the land around Porterfield belonged to ranchers

and farmers, but in a state as big as Texas, there seemed to be plenty of land to go around.

She donned her wide-brimmed straw hat to ward off the sun’s rays and hurried out to complete her task. The Grayson General Store and Post Office beckoned her to hurry. The train would be here any minute. Her feet kicked up puffs of dust as she walked. Her shoes would need a good cleaning later, but she didn’t mind as she enjoyed the four-block walk to the general store that housed the post office.

When Kate stepped into the store, the balding proprietor grinned and tilted his head. “Is that mail from the boarders at your aunt’s house?”

Kate plopped the letters on the counter along with coins

for stamps. “Yes, it is.”

Mr. Grayson affixed a two-penny stamp to each envelope. “How many boarders are there now?”

Kate closed her eyes to vision the count. “Counting Cory and me, there’s eight. All but one of the rooms is filled, and Aunt Mae is happy as a lark. For some reason, men come to this town, like it, and stay.”
Mrs. Grayson joined her husband. Her blue eyes sparkled as she gazed at Kate. “And when are you going to choose one of these men here for your own?”
Heat rose in Kate’s cheeks. Everyone thought they had to ask that question. “I don’t plan on marrying anytime soon. I’m studying to be a nurse, and besides, who’d help Aunt Mae take care of the house and all the meals if I wasn’t around?”

The plump, rosy-cheeked Mrs. Grayson laughed. “She’d do fine without you, and I’ve seen how Mr. Fuller over at the bank looks at her. Wouldn’t surprise me if she takes a husband one of these days.”
“That’s hard for me to imagine.” The very idea of her aunt with another man after the love she shared with Uncle Patrick caused Kate’s insides to quiver like the branches of a justfelled tree. Aunt Mae did have a few of the men, including Mr. Fuller, looking her way, but she paid them no mind. If Aunt Mae did decide to marry, Kate wouldn’t interfere, but she’d have no part in bringing about that possibility.
As soon as Mr. Grayson dropped the envelopes into the outgoing mail bag, he headed outside and toward the depot. Mrs. Grayson handed her mail from the boardinghouse box. “Thank you.” Kate slid the envelopes into her pocket and wiggled her fingers at Mrs. Grayson. “Bye, now. It’s time to get things started for dinner at Aunt Mae’s.”
On her way back to the boardinghouse, the idea of Aunt Mae marrying danced through her head. Would Aunt Mae give up running the boardinghouse if she married? Kate knew how much her aunt loved visiting with the boarders and preparing their meals. It was impossible to think of her ever leaving the place. Certainly she had found her calling, and for once in this town it didn’t focus only on being a wife and keeping house! Still, when Uncle Patrick was alive, Aunt Mae had combined being a wife and managing all those boarders without much trouble. Perhaps Kate could do the same sometime in the far distant

future.
Daniel Monroe finished his letter and sealed it in an envelope. In a few days he’d leave for the greatest adventure of his life, and he wanted Seth to know when to expect him. He reread the post from his friend telling him that the mayor was more than willing for Daniel to come to Porterfield, Texas, and practice

law as they had no lawyers in the town. If lawyers were needed in Porterfield, then that’s where he’d head.

Seth Winston had gone to Texas last year to pastor the church where his cousin Sarah and her family were members. The idea of going to Porterfield had grown more appealing as Seth had described it when he’d returned to Briar Ridge for his sister Rachel’s wedding this past spring. True, Texas was a long way from Connecticut, but images of the untamed West and all the adventures Daniel could have outweighed the

distance.
He envisioned cowboys, gunfights, saloon brawls, and train robberies. The tales he’d heard about Texas rolled through his mind in an endless stream of pictures. All the action and excitement sounded much better than the quiet town of Briar Ridge where he spent most of his time writing wills and taking care of legal documents for land sales or contracts for service. He’d already reassigned all his clients to other lawyers in

Briar Ridge, and none had truly complained, which only served to emphasize the fact that he wasn’t really needed here. Daniel cleaned out his desk and put it all in a box to carry home. He planned to have the desk, a gift from his parents, shipped to Texas with him. Now all he had to do was purchase his train ticket and say good-bye to family and friends. Since his parents, especially his mother, didn’t approve the move, he didn’t expect a going-away party.

Father seemed on the verge of understanding Daniel’s desire to travel to new frontiers and make a life for himself. Mother, on the other hand, wouldn’t and couldn’t accept the fact that her only son wanted to leave home and move thousands of miles away. His sister, Abigail, would hardly speak to him, but that did not keep Daniel from making arrangements to leave. After his twenty-fifth birthday last month, the desire

for a change came over him, and Texas seemed the best place to do just that.
On the way home he stopped at the depot and purchased a ticket that would begin his trip. He’d have stops in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, and Dallas before the last leg of the journey to Porterfield.
The ticket agent handed Daniel his passage. “That’s a mighty long trip. I take it you’re heading out West to join Seth Winston. I can see the need for a preacher out west, but what’s a fancy lawyer like yourself going to do there?”

Daniel laughed. His mother had asked the same question. “Not sure, but I hope to help tame some outlaws.” How he’d do that he had no idea, but it sounded good when he said it.

“Well, now, just don’t go and get yourself shot by one of ’em.”
“I don’t plan to, Mr. Colley.” He tipped his hat and walked back out to his rig. At least he knew how to ride a horse well. With all his many long trips to Hartford by horseback, he figured he’d have no trouble riding in Texas. The rig today was simply a convenience for carting home his personal belongings from his office. Tomorrow the desk would be crated and shipped westward.

He entered the foyer of the comfortable, two-story home he still shared with his family. At his age, many other men had places of their own, but Ellie’s cooking and the free lodging had tempted him to stay.
After handing over his hat to Stevens the butler, Daniel turned toward the voices he heard in the drawing room on his left. He knocked then pushed open the doors. “Good evening, Mother, Father.”

His mother stood and hurried to him. She wrapped her arms around him. “Oh, Daniel, please tell me you’ve changed your mind and are staying in Briar Ridge. I can’t bear for you to leave us.”

He patted her back and glanced at his father, who simply lifted his gray bushy eyebrows and shrugged. He turned back to his mother. “I’m sorry you feel this way, Mother, but I purchased my train ticket on the way home this evening and will leave the beginning of next week.”
She pushed away from him and held a handkerchief to her nose. “I simply can’t believe it. I don’t understand why you have to go all the way to Texas to practice law. New Haven and Hartford are much closer. Why, even Boston would be better than way out West.”

“We have a multitude of fine barristers in the cities here in the East. As I’ve said many times, this will give me the opportunity to travel and see what is happening in the rest of our great country.” No matter how many times he explained, his mother would never truly understand his desire to move on. She had grown up in this town, as had his father, and she would never leave it or her beautiful home.
Stevens appeared in the doorway. “Mr. and Mrs. Monroe, dinner is served.”
Mother hooked her hand into Daniel’s arm. “Thank you, Stevens. Tell Ellie we’ll be right in.” She patted Daniel’s hand now resting on hers. Although she held her head high, he noted the slight tremor in her voice as she spoke. “I had Ellie prepare your favorite meal tonight. She’ll be serving all your favorites until your departure.” She swallowed hard as she walked beside Daniel into the dining room.
Daniel’s younger sister, Abigail, bounded down the stairs but stopped short when she saw her parents and Daniel. Her next steps were much more sedate. “Good evening, Daniel. I didn’t know you were home.”

Father waited to escort her into dinner. “And what is your great hurry, my dear girl? Is Ellie’s food that tempting?”

“No, Father, I’m just happy about my trip to see Rachel and Nathan in Hartford next week. I haven’t seen her since the wedding, and I’m anxious to visit and talk with her.”

Daniel assisted his mother in her chair at the table. “I’m sure you two will have much to talk about. What’s it been? Two, three months since the wedding?”
She turned to glare at him. A month ago she wouldn’t have minded the teasing, but since his decision to leave, she had been less than sisterly. “Three, if you must count, but it may as well be three years.” Abigail dismissed him and turned to her mother. “I truly miss having Rachel here in Briar Ridge.”

Father held her chair while she seated herself. He bent and brushed his lips across her hair. “Then I’m glad you will have this chance to visit Rachel in Hartford.”

After his father said grace, Ellie brought in a platter emanating the most delicious aroma. His favorite roast beef as Mother had promised. Along with it came perfectly creamed potatoes, buttered asparagus, carrots, fresh baked bread, and his favorite sweet pickles. “What, no soup tonight?”

Mother pressed her lips together. “You said you didn’t care for soup at every meal, and since this is your meal, we skipped it.”

“Thank you, I prefer to fill up on the main course and not the first one.” He glanced over at Abigail, who scrunched up her nose as the asparagus was passed to her. “Not to worry, dear sister, after I’m on my way to Texas, you won’t have to worry about asparagus. Ellie only cooks it because she knows how much I like it.”

“Humph, that will be one good aspect of your leaving.” She placed two stalks on her plate and handed the bowl to their father.

As his parents began discussing their day, he noted the total lack of reference to his leaving the coming Monday. His mother believed if she ignored it, that perhaps it wouldn’t really happen. Father cast a wistful eye Daniel’s way a few times, as though he wanted to talk with his son. Perhaps after dinner he and Father could have a conversation.
Daniel gazed around at the opulent surroundings. Sparkling crystal, fine china, silver cutlery, and damask table cloth and napkins reminded him of his parent’s wealth. He would find nothing like this in Texas.
Then he glanced again at his mother and swallowed a lump in his throat along with a bite of potato. He didn’t want to hurt her, but he could see in her face and the way she only moved the food around her plate without actually eating it that he had done just that.

How could he make her understand his desire to move away and seek a new life? Somehow between now and Monday he must convince her that God had called him to the frontier. He had spent many hours in prayer over this move, and now he gladly embraced the future and all it held in the grand state of Texas.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Colors of Grief by Alice J. Wisler

Please Welcome Guest Blogger, Alice J. Wisler.


When the pediatrician called to tell me that my son had a small blue-celled round tumor in his neck, I was seated on my sofa, my eyes staring at the light blue floral valances and moving to the dark blue wallpaper that bordered the family room.
 
"Malignant," she said.

The day before Daniel had surgery to remove this growth.  The surgeon was convinced he could drain this large bloated inconvenience that had lodged under his skin in the left side of his neck. Many days before that, doctors were thinking the swelling was due to Cat Scratch Fever, sending samples from his skin to the Center of Disease Control.

No one mentioned cancer.

When I got off the phone I had to do something no mother ever likes to do.  I woke my three-year old son from his nap to take him to the hospital.

Surgeries, chemo, radiation, fevers and vomiting followed over the next eight months. The tumor shrunk; hope shone like the sun over the Carolina coast. We talked of what Daniel would look like once his hair grew back, and whether his newest sibling would be a boy or a girl.

But during Daniel's check up visit to the cancer clinic, a staff infection entered his compromised body.  Seconds after he was rushed to the ER, he coded.  And then again.  His brain didn't receive the oxygen it needed.  His body shut down.

Daniel was not going to live with us much longer; he was on his way to Heaven.

Months ago I thought having to wake a child from a much needed nap was difficult.  Telling my four-year-old son good-bye choked my insides. Burying his ashes in a tiny lamb urn the color of his newborn skin cut my core.

The journey of hope ended.  Bleakness and numbness, followed by anger, consumed my days.  I had no desire to live, but knew my two children ages six and 18 months needed me.  The baby in my womb needed me to live so that she could be born.

With a severed faith in a God who had disappointed me, I woke each day to a repeat of the day before.  There was no respite, no place I could go to get away from the loud noises in my head.

I wrote. In between changing diapers, buying boxes of tissues, and making room on my dining room table for the gifts of floral arrangements, I poured out my pain onto the pages of a journal a nurse gave me.  I wrote, hoping to find a loophole in the past weeks, a way to write my son from demise back to health, to life. 

Writing brought sanity, giving me a place to fling out all my anguish.  While it was not powerful enough to bring my child back to me, it did provide healing.

For months, I felt removed and distant from God. Now I can say that my faith has taken on a new texture, a new color.  I used to think that God would never allow a child to suffer and die, making his parents and family carry on, handicapped in a huge world. Now I know that God allows many sorrows.  Jesus promises that our paths will be rocky and yet, He tells us that we can survive the raging sea of grief because he will be with us.

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NIV).  

"I will never leave you nor forsake you."  Hebrews 13:5 (NIV).

I like to think that these two verses are etched in my heart in a bright blue marker, the same color Daniel used to draw on his sister's wall.

About Alice J. Wisler
Alice was born in Osaka, Japan.  Her parents were Presbyterian missionaries. As a young child, Alice loved to walk down to the local stationer's store to buy notebooks, pencils and scented erasers.  In her room, she created stories.  The desire to be a published famous author has never left her.  Well, two out of three isn't bad. She's the author of Rain Song, How Sweet It Is and Hatteras Girl.


She has four children--Rachel, Daniel, Benjamin and Elizabeth.  Daniel died on 2/2/97 from cancer treatments at the age of four. Since then, Alice founded Daniel's House Publications in her son's memory.  This organization reaches out to others who have also lost a child to death. In 2000 and 2003, Alice compiled recipes and memories of children across the world to publish two memorial cookbooks, Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle

Visit Alice's website at:  www.alicewisler.com.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Clearing Out the Clutter in Your Twitter Stream

There's no denying the fact that Social Media can become overwhelming and very time consuming, but if we take the time to set boundaries, we'll feel a little less overwhelmed. We'll also feel like some of the time we spend on Social Media sites is more productive--especially those of us who are on there to network. 

In this post I'm going to share with you some of my personal Twitter boundaries, which are really my pet-peeves and the reason I unfollow people in an attempt to clean up my twitter stream.

Reasons I Unfollow People
1) Cursing

2) Sex Talk

3) One word tweets that don't mean anything


4) Phrases that don't mean anything


5) Tweeting in a different language other than English. Even if a profile is in English, but the tweets are in Spanish or some other language, I unfollow. It's annoying when I don't know what is being said.


6) Zero tweets, even if you're new, you need to tweet something. It only takes a couple of seconds. Otherwise, I'll assume it's a spam acct and unfollow.


7) No tweets in a month or longer. Some people create accts just to see what Twitter is all about, and then they never use them again or they're sporadic tweeters. I don't like tweeting to no one. 


8) Repeat lines, if an acct has multiple tweets that are all the same, it's spam and I unfollow. 


9) Racial comments, I'm not interested if a person is black, white, hispanic, oriental or poka-dotted. I'm interested in people and souls. I have no tolerance for racial comments or gossip for that matter. 


10) Idolizing celebrities, including repeating tweets to celebrities, begging celebrities to follow back, or only retweeting tweets from celebrities. Someone who does this gives the impression that their focus is in the wrong place. 


11) Bombarding me with political tweets. A few are ok, but if I don't agree with the views being stated, that person risks me turning them off=unfollow. 

12) Tweeting horoscopes, not interested and it goes against my faith. 


13) People who don't have the courtesy to follow back. I don't care how famous and important they think they are, if a person refuses to follow back, I unfollow them. I'm not interested in one-sided conversations. If I really like the content they put out, I still unfollow, but may include them in a list.


What are some of your pet-peeves and unfollow boundaries?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Winners of the Highland Sanctuary Book Launch Contest!

Thank you for participating in this contest to celebrate the release of my new novel, Highland Sanctuary!
Winners were drawn at random.  There were 11 total winners. To claim your gift, all winners must respond within 7 days of this announcement by contacting Jennifer at jt4novels@yahoo.com with "Highland Sanctuary Contest" typed in the subject line. I will need your full name and mailing address to mail your gift. 
Those who contact me on a first come, first served basis will have their choice of available prizes listed on the Contest page of my website/blog. The last winner to contact me will be left with whatever gift selection has not been chosen by the others. If you contact me and do not get an immediate response, the date and time of your email will be noted and I will respond as soon as I'm able. If you believe your email is lost in spam, you may leave a comment here on this blog post letting me know you have sent me an email to claim your prize.
If a winner does not respond by email on the comment section of this blog post in the 7-day time frame, they forfeit their win, and we will announce a new winner, who will also have 7 days to respond. Please read ALL Official Contest Rules here
For those that emailed their responses and didn't what their whole name posted, I've listed only your first name and the first initial of your last name. 

DRUM ROLL, please....

Tina Rice
Debra Marvin
Katie McCurdy
Jessica Kramasz
Michelle Vasquez
Jeannie Campbell
Rebecca S.
Susan Cook
Susan Snodgrass
Beth Bulow
Linda Wagner
Congratulations to all of you and many Highland Blessings to you!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Do You Understand Me, Son?

Please Welcome Guest Blogger, Dee Yoder.

My son has Asperger’s Syndrome. His is a high-functioning form that has caused him trouble with obsessions, as well as over-sensitivity to light and sound. We spent 3rd - 12th grade homeschooling because his overly stimulated brain had been turning him into a robot—shutting down his responses—in order for him to cope with perceived chaos in the traditional classroom. Needless to say, there were challenges along the way, but he made it to his senior year and is a graduate of the class of 2011. It took prayer and consistent support for all of us to succeed.


Becoming a grown-up is difficult for anyone, but the added challenges of Asperger’s often make this process seem, at times, impossible. Learning to drive has become a year-long progression. Apprehension of unfamiliar experiences often holds him back, causing stress anytime he is asked to drive. But he is slowly learning to adjust to the nuances of handling a machine the size of our minivan. He is coming along, and I have no doubt he will succeed, but it takes time and patience.


Signing up for tests and course work at the local community college has also brought its share of difficulties. His dad and I watched as the admission clerk gave him instructions in rapid-fire succession. His instinct was to look to us for intervention, but we figured he could handle the pressure, so we quietly stepped back from the desk and let him deal with her on his own. 

We saw the confusion and indecision flash across his face from time to time, but we held our positions. Sure enough, he was able to pull himself together and adjust his focus. When our son turned from the desk, clutching the information packet tightly in both hands, I was joyful because he had finished the task on his own. No matter that few of her instructions stuck with him, he had managed an adult decision. 


He did well on his ACTs, but had to retake a math placement test. The second time around, he couldn’t wait to call me as he and his dad traveled home. In his voice I heard pride and recognition of his own abilities as he read me his high scores. I smiled and cried for his victory.


But there have been what I call blank days, too. These are days when, no matter how often I request something from him, or how carefully I word the request, he looks back at me with a blank stare. His brain simply can’t comprehend my appeal. Frustration often rises to the surface then, and I hear myself impatiently asking “Do you understand me, Son?” 


There is triumph and victory in little things, and like all young adults, discouragement, as well. But there is never a day when his dad and I aren’t proud of our son’s accomplishments as we look forward to sharing many more days of discovery with this extraordinary young man!

About Dee Yoder
I am a writer with my Amish novel, The Miting, represented by The Hartline Literary Agency, with Terry Burns, as my agent. I'm currently editing my second novel, The Powerful Odor of Mendacity. I also write short story fiction for the Faithwriters Writing Challenge. My work has been published in The Evangel, Good Tidings, and The Quill magazines. I'm happily married to Arlen, and I enjoy home educating my teen son, Joseph.

Dee's Blog: My Heart's Dee-Light

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Friendly...To a Fault? by Joanne Sher

Please Welcome Guest Blogger Joanne Sher.

Friendly. That's often the first word people think of when they talk about my mildly autistic son. He loves to talk to, and visit with, everyone and anyone. He's the kind of kid who says hi to each and every person he passes at the store—and wonders why they don't do the same. On occasion, he'll ask if he can roll down the car window so he can say hi to the people on the street as we zoom by. He loves to give hugs. His favorite part of our church service is when the associate pastor says, “Let's greet one another.” He flies out of the pew and walks to every person he can reach in those few moments, shaking hands with a smile.

It's delightful to watch, but it also makes me sad, and nervous. You see, my son is 10 years old, just entering the 5th grade. His behavior is cute, but it isn't exactly age-appropriate. I know he has eyes rolled at him. I know some kids won't play with him because of how “childish” he is. I know he is too trusting of strangers. I know he doesn't yet have the skills to develop deep friendships. And, perhaps most heartbreaking, I know that he is becoming less and less “blissfully ignorant” of how others see him.

My son has other struggles too—higher-level thinking skills, focus, patience, self-control—but the social issues are the ones that make my heart ache the most. He so wants to be liked. And he has come an extremely long way since he was first diagnosed several years ago. He has learned from his school's incredible special education staff how to make conversation, proper facial expressions for his emotions, and dozens of other things I was never taught – because they came naturally to me.

Though I fear that some day he will “be friendly” to the wrong person, or be taken advantage of because of his naivete, I know that his “childlikeness” can be a huge blessing, both to the people who know him, and the Lord.

A couple years ago, there was a boy who was picking on him, and causing some problems in school. Both of them were taken into the principal's office to talk about exactly what happened. My son, who was not at all at fault, sat with this classmate who was trying to get him in trouble, and asked this “troublemaker” if  he went to church. When he said no, my son invited him to our church. Talk about loving your enemies – and faith like a child.

Every child is a gift from God. Their idiosyncrasies, struggles, and talents are part of what makes each of them unique. God has blessed us with our son, and we are anxious to watch how He uses him, and his disability, to make a difference and bring glory to God.

About Joanne Sher
I was raised in Southern California but am now living in West Michigan with my wonderful husband Marc, and our two kids - Andrew is 10 and Annika is 7. I was raised in the Jewish faith, but have since become a follower of Christ.


I love to write and have had assorted stories published in a handful of magazines and a few Christian writing anthologies. I'm currently working on a non-fiction book about God's workings through my husband's health issues. Tentatively titled Ailing Body, Nourished Soul, the first chapter received honorable mention in Fathwriters.com's Page Turner First Chapter contest. At the moment, it is being considered by a literary agent.


My other passion is God's Word, which I find can meet my every need, if I'll just do more than read it. God has sustained me and my family through so much, and it is my ministry (among others) to share that sustenance, and God's work, with all who will listen. 


Visit Joanne's website at: www.joannesher.com.



Monday, October 10, 2011

Shocking News to Authors by W. Terry Whalin

Before I began working inside a book publishing house, I had written more than 50 nonfiction books, ranging from children’s to adult books. I have never self-published a book and always worked through traditional publishers. However, I was unaware of the financial production numbers for nonfiction books and I found it shocking—and something critical for potential authors to understand. 

The author never sees these figures for their books as the publisher doesn’t reveal them throughout the contract negotiation process. A publisher will produce these financial calculations as simply a part of good business practices.  As an author, understanding this helped me see publishing as a business. Authors have huge amounts of time and emotional investment in their words. When I saw these production numbers, I understood that the publisher, not the author, has the largest out-of-pocket cash investment in a book. 

Inside the publisher, the editor will gather a sales projection about how many copies the sales department believes they can sell of your title the first year. That sales figure will be used to calculate the production costs of ink, paper and binding for various amounts of printing (5,000, 10,000 or 15,000 copies). As the initial print number is raised, the cost per book decreases. 

You may ask, So why not print a large volume each time? The answer is, if the publisher prints a large number of copies, then he has to store those copies in their warehouse (read cost and expense), plus make sure they actually sell those copies within a year’s timeframe. The cost of tying up financial resources in storing and warehousing books that aren’t selling is large. Also, the federal government taxes publishers on each copy in storage. These tax rules have forced publishers to think long and hard about how many copies of each book to print.

Inside my former publisher, we calculated the overall printing details of the book (paperback with general publishing look or hardcover with jacket) and the number of books to print before offering a book contract. In short, publishers pour a great deal of work into their books and financial projections before they call you and offer a nonfiction book contract. Understanding this process helps you see some of the reasons it takes such a long time for an author to receive a publishing contract…

Often the publisher returns to an author with whom they have already published a book. If the publisher takes a second or third book from the same author, they are investing in that author’s career and trying to build that author’s audience and market. If the author’s books are selling well, then the publisher will be eager for another project. Each week, publishers monitor sales numbers on their books to see if particular authors merit another book contract.

Many writers focus only on the creative aspects of writing a book and getting it published, but the executives inside a publishing house are business people who want to sell books and turn a profit at the end of the day. It’s a delicate balance between creating the best possible product and assuring that each product has the best opportunity to sell into the market and reach the target audience.
________________________________________________
W. Terry Whalin, a writer and publisher lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. A former acquisitions editor, former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. To help writers, he has created 12-lesson online course called Write A Book Proposal. On Thursday, October 13th, Terry is answering your questions about proposal creation and marketing in a free teleseminar at: http://askaboutproposals.com You will also receive a free 24-page Ebook, Book Proposal Basics. The call will be recorded and you will receive the replay information if you can’t make the live event.