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Another wedding!

July 11, 2014

IMG_8678Our 4th of July this year carried all the hoopla our neighbors could invent (and then some), with fireworks shooting off in front and behind our house. But the bigger event in our lives came when we could finally tell the world the news – our son is getting married! We knew several weeks before that July 4th was going to be the big day he would “pop the question,” but announcements weren’t ready to go out until the day.

This time we were not there to watch, as we were when our youngest threw a surprise engagement party for his bride, but we got in on plenty of the fun, even from long distance. (We got a sneak peek at the engagement ring that our Chris designed himself!) And it looks beautiful on Molly’s finger.

The backdrop of some of their first photos is Big Sur along Highway 1 in California. Beautiful spot! Randy and I took that drive in 2012 and though we only saw Big Sur from the road, it is as beautiful as they claim.

IMG_3940Of course, now the fun begins for the bride and groom and the family and bridal party and wedding planner. With four states involved (family is coming from all directions), this is going to be a whirlwind year. As mother of the groom, however, my biggest job will likely be to find a dress and shoes that are classy and comfortable. (Do they make such a thing?)

I’ve never attended a destination wedding before, and I’m fairly certain there will be a lot more involved than I realize right now. Which is why I’m hoping to get a good handle on all of the writing projects way ahead of time, lest my brain go off to Ancient Egypt when my body is sitting in Virginia!

I am also looking forward to having another daughter in the family–though I do wish they weren’t going to be living so far away. Hard to plan a shopping trip very often or a mother-in-law/daughter-in-law coffee date. But I have high hopes for those infrequent visits we’ll share. And FaceTime is a good way to appease the longings of this mother heart. Temporarily.

In the meantime, I’m working on the third e-book novella about Solomon’s Egyptian princess. (Thus my mind being lost in Ancient Egypt right now.)

I can’t wait to see what God has for our future. Every day is a new adventure!

Selah~

by jill at 11:05 pm in

July 2014 Christian Fiction Releases

July 7, 2014

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

Biblical Fiction:

In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar — Destitute, grief-stricken, and unwanted by the people of God, Ruth arrives in Israel with nothing to recommend her but Naomi’s, love. Her loftiest hope is to provide enough food to save Naomi and herself from starvation. But God has other plans for her life. While everyone considers Ruth an outcast, she is astounded to find one of the most honored men of Judah showing her favor. Long since a widower and determined to stay that way, Boaz is irresistibly drawn to the foreign woman with the haunted eyes. He tells himself he is only being kind to his Cousin Naomi’s chosen daughter when he goes out of his way to protect her from harm, but his heart knows better. (Biblical Fiction from River North [Moody Publishers])

Contemporary Romance:

A Plain Love Song (The New Hope Amish) by Kelly Irvin — Adah Knepp wants nothing more than to sing and play the guitar and write her own songs. That’s a dream that will never come true in her strict Amish community. But then she meets Jackson Hart, and all of a sudden she finds the chance for a different kind of life. But pursuing her dreams means turning her back on her family and community–and saying goodbye to Matthew, the gentle Amish farmer she can’t get out of her mind. Is it worth giving up the only home she’s ever known to pursue her dreams? (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House Publishers)

When I Fall in Love (Christiansen Family) by Susan May Warren — Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled-or maybe yanked-away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime. (Contemporary Romance from Tyndale House)

Contemporary Women’s Fiction:

Hope Deferred by Elizabeth Maddrey — Can pursuit of a blessing become a curse? June and July and their husbands have spent the last year trying to start a family and now they’re desperate for answers. As one couple works with specialists to see how medicine can help them conceive, the other must fight to save their marriage. Will their deferred hope leave them heart sick, or start them on the path to the fulfillment of their dreams? (Women’s Fiction from HopeSprings Books)

The Tidewater Sisters by Lisa Wingate — Tandi Reese and her sister, Gina, have always been bound by complicated ties. Amid the rubble of a difficult childhood lie memories of huddling beneath beds and behind sofas while parental wars raged. Sisterhood was safety . . . once. But now? Faced with legal papers for a fraud she didn’t commit, Tandi suspects that her sister has done something unthinkable. With Tandi’s wedding just around the corner, a trip to the North Carolina Tidewater for a reckoning with Gina was not part of the plan. But unraveling lies from truth will require confronting strained sibling bonds and uncovering a dark family secret that could free Tandi from her past or stain her future forever. (Novella) (Women’s Fiction from Tyndale House)

Historical Mystery:

Murder at the Mikado (A Drew Farthering Mystery) by Julianna Deering — Just as Drew Farthering thinks his life has found smooth waters, Fleur Landis, an old flame, reappears in his life. She’s married now, no longer an actress, and he expects she’ll soon disappear–until she comes to him in dire need. The lead actor in her old troupe’s production of The Mikado has been murdered, and Fleur is the police’s number one suspect. Drew would love nothing more than to just focus on his fiancé, Madeline, and their upcoming wedding, but he can’t leave Fleur in the lurch–even if she did break his heart once. As Drew, Nick, and Madeline dive into the murder, they discover more going on behind the scenes of the theater troupe than could ever have been imagined. Nearly everyone had a motive, and alibis are few and far between. It’s Drew’s most complicated case yet. (Historical General Fiction from Faith Words [Hachette])

Historical Romance:

Captured By Love by Jody Hedlund — Michigan Territory, 1814. A voyageur and a young woman swept up in a time of upheaval and danger discover firsthand the high price of freedom. The British Army has taken control of Michilimackinac Island and its fort, forcing the Americans to swear an oath of loyalty to the crown in order to retain their land. Pierre Durant is a fur trader who returns after being away from the island for years, only to find the family farm a shambles and those he cares about starving and at the mercy of British invaders. Pierre is drawn deeper into the fight against the British–and into a relationship with Angelique MacKenzie, a childhood friend who’s grown into a beautiful woman. She now finds herself trapped by the circumstances of war and poverty, and the cruelty of her guardian, Ebenezer Whiley. As tensions mount and the violence rages on, Pierre and Angelique must decide where their loyalties rest and how much they’ll risk for love. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing Group])

Groom by Design (The Dressmaker’s Daughters, #1) by Christine Johnson — Dressmaker Ruth Fox gave up her dream of a husband and children long ago. Her family’s floundering dress shop, her ailing father and her two younger sisters require Ruth’s full attention. Though the handsome new stranger in town is intriguing, Ruth is certain he wouldn’t look twice at a plain spinster of twenty-six. Sam Rothenburg’s connection with the shy young woman next door is immediate, but he knows Ruth will be crushed when she discovers his real purpose in town. Sam is secretly working to open one of his father’s large department stores in Pearlman, Michigan, which will surely put Ruth out of business. How much is Sam willing to sacrifice to claim Ruth’s heart? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Hero in the Making (Brides of Simps) by Laurie Kingery — Nate Bohannan won’t let anything stand in the way of his grand plans in California. Even if it means traveling there with unreliable huckster Robert Salali. But after a destructive bender in Simpson Creek, Texas, the unscrupulous Salali runs out, leaving Nate to carry the blame-and the debt. He can fix broken furniture…but can anything fix the despair in café owner Ella Justiss’s eyes? When her café was destroyed, Ella felt sure she’d lost her dreams along with it. Yet somehow Nate’s cheerful care and optimism fill her with hope again. When danger threatens, will Nate be the hero Ella can finally trust-and love? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Warrior’s Vow by Christina Rich — Swept away from her home and into the desert, Abigail is as much a prisoner as she is a princess. A ruthlessly ambitious captain of the palace guard intends to force her into marriage and rule Judah through her. Yet the badly beaten soldier Abigail rescues offers another choice-if she dares trust him. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Historical:

Annie’s Stories (Ellis Island) by Cindy Thomson — The year is 1901, the literary sensation The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is taking New York City by storm, and everyone wonders where the next great book will come from. But to Annie Gallagher, stories are more than entertainment-they’re a sweet reminder of her storyteller father. After his death, Annie fled Ireland for the land of dreams, finding work at Hawkins House. But when a fellow boarder with something to hide is accused of misconduct and authorities threaten to shut down the boardinghouse, Annie fears she may lose her new friends, her housekeeping job . . . and her means of funding her dream: a memorial library to honor her father. (Historical Women’s Fiction from Tyndale House)

Military Suspense:

Operation Zulu Redemption: Overkill by Ronie Kendig — In this FREE TEASER episode, readers meet the Zulu team. In the aftermath of their first highly successful op, the first all-female special ops team, known as Zulu, discovered that innocent civilians-women and children-died at their hands. Zulu was set up to take the devastating fall. Fearing for their lives, the Zulu team vanished. With new identities and spread across the globe, they live in relative but isolated peace-yet still haunted by the past. Five years after that horrific night, they’ve begun to hope they might be safe and the tragedy forgotten. Until two of them are murdered. (Military Suspense from Barbour Publishing)

Operation Zulu Redemption: Collateral Damage Part 1 by Ronie Kendig — Five years ago, six soldiers made American military history as the first all-female Special Forces team, named Zulu. A tragic mistake in Misrata, Libya, leaves twenty-two dead and Zulu fleeing for their lives. Now Jessica Herring and Candice Reyna are dead at the hand of an assassin. Keeley Shay clings to life in a hospital. The last three Zulu members are forced into a fight for answers, for redemption, and for their very lives. They must track down who hit the team and deliver justice to the enemy-before the interference of Sam Caliguari and relentless Army intelligence analyst Lieutenant Francesca Solomon gets them all killed. (Military Suspense from Barbour Publishing)

Operation Zulu Redemption: Out of Nowhere – Part 2 by Ronie Kendig — Zulu continues the fight! The remnant of the first all-female Special Forces team, Zulu, will do whatever it takes to determine what really happened that night five years ago-when a trap entangled Zulu in the deaths of twenty-two innocent people in Misrata, Libya. With Lieutenant Colonel Trace Weston and Boone Ramage leading the way, Annie Palermo, Téya Reiker, and Nuala King are training harder and stronger, digging deeper for clues, and tracking down leads in the U.S. and Europe to clear their names. Just when things start to turn for Zulu, one of the team is targeted by one of the world’s most deadly assassins. Then another vanishes. Zulu wanted the truth, but they didn’t know it might cost every one of their lives. (Military Suspense from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Seagrass Pier (The Hope Beach Series) by Colleen Coble — Elin Summerall was one of the lucky ones. Not only did she get a heart transplant, but the donor was a perfect fit. A miraculously perfect fit. But when Elin begins having violent flashbacks-and vivid dreams of being strangled-she realizes that she has been the recipient of more than just a new heart . . . Elin is remembering her donor’s murder. Her strange affliction has attracted some unwanted attention: from the press, from the authorities . . . and from the killer himself. Now, living alone with her young daughter and aging mother, Elin is being stalked-by a man she’s only met in her nightmares. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson & Zondervan])

Firewall (Deadly Force) by DiAnn Mills — After a whirlwind romance, Taryn Young is preparing to board a plane at Houston International Airport, bound for a dream honeymoon, when a bomb decimates the terminal. Injured but still alive, she awakens to discover her husband is missing and they’re both considered prime suspects in the attack. Further, the FBI is convinced her husband isn’t who he appears to be. Agent Grayson Hall’s number-one priority is to catch those responsible for the day’s act of terror. All evidence is pointing to Taryn and her new husband. But his instinct tells him her pleas of innocence are genuine. With both their lives and reputations on the line, and the media outcry for justice increasing with each passing minute, Taryn and Grayson have no choice but to trust one another . . . and pray they can uncover the truth before they become two more casualties. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)

Shake Down by Jill Elizabeth Nelson — To clear his imprisoned father’s name, Shane Gillum must find evidence hidden in a Martha’s Vineyard cottage. But he arrives to find the “vacant” property being prepped for sale by real estate agent Janice Swenson. Is she tied to the notorious owners? Or is she in over her head as the “accidents” on the property grow increasingly dangerous? And who is the saboteur targeting-Shane with his search, or Janice with her dark, hidden past? With so much at stake, trusting Janice is a huge risk…but keeping silent about the cottage’s mysteries could mire them both in a deadly scheme. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin]).

Historical Speculative Fiction:
Shenandoah Dreams by Lisa Belcastro — What if she met the man of her dreams…in another century? (Speculative Fiction/Historical from OakTara Publishers)

Happy reading~

by jill at 8:00 am in

Broken (part 2)

July 5, 2014

Cole_Thomas_The_Garden_of_Eden_1828It is not easy for me to imagine a perfect world, one as I described in yesterday’s post. Far easier is seeing our world’s brokenness. One look at the news each day tells me things are not good. Wars and rumors of wars. Famine. Earthquakes. Fires. Drought. Hurricanes. Poverty. Pain. Suffering. Hatred. Evil. Death.

So to imagine how Adam felt the day the world went from beautiful to broken, to recognize, however long that might have taken, that “this is my fault” isn’t hard for me to do. I blame myself for all sorts of things that carry far less consequences.

kingdom-of-heaven-city-heavenly-city-mary-k-baxterWhat I have trouble imagining are the thoughts of the One Man who fixed what was broken. For though we may be created in God’s image, we are not Him. I am not Him. But I do have access to His Words, and so if you will allow, I would take you on one more journey into imagining what it might have been like to hear that cry for mercy and answer the call.

This time, picture another perfect world, one that might very well have been the original model of the one Adam broke. This world, which still exists, knows no darkness for there is no night there. This world radiates light and love. Beauty is so pure, because love is so pure, that our human eyes can’t comprehend it. Every sense we know on this earth – sight, taste, touch, sound, hearing, intuition, conscience – our heart, soul, mind, spirit, thoughts, strength – everything we can know and understand here can’t even begin to compare to this place. Imagine if you could taste sound? Hear light? Feel taste?

In this place, this perfect world, lived a Father, His Spirit, and His Son. (One God, Three Persons – difficult to understand and harder to explain – so we’ll set that aside for now.) The Bible tells us that together they created the world where Adam lived. As One they created Adam in God’s likeness, His image. The original plan for Adam and the woman, Eve, was to live in harmony with them. To be with them. To eat together. To laugh together, to love with the purest of loves, and to lavish on them every good thing they could possibly enjoy.

images-58But when the man broke their trust, the chords clashed, and the world tilted, and the pieces fell to the earth…like shards of glass, like water spilled that can’t be gathered up again.

And Adam’s cry, his heart-felt plea for mercy, for forgiveness, carried all the way to that pure, unadulterated world where the Creator lived.

The Father and Son and Spirit knew it was coming. Can you imagine the looks that passed between them? Can you imagine the love that saw the future, that saw the pain and death that was coming, that saw the Son’s own agonizing sacrifice that would be needed to fix it all?

And chose to do it anyway?

Oh such mercy!

A perfect man did the ONE thing that could ruin life for every creature on earth. That perfect man, Adam, made in God’s image, could not undo death. And ever since, despite our best efforts, no other image-bearer could either.

But another perfect man could and did. That perfect man was God Himself, not just the image of God. A man who could undo death by conquering it through his life, his death, and his power over both when he rose from the grave.

To fix our broken lives. To fix our lostness, our bitterness, our grief, our devastating feelings of aloneness…even the evil intent of our hearts.

He did it for mercy.

He did it for love.

To restore what one man had broken.

And fixed it for eternity for those who will let Him.

Selah~

by jill at 8:00 am in ,

Broken (part 1)

July 4, 2014

images-57Years ago, my parents bought me a beautiful glass hurricane lamp with a blue and yellow patterned globe on top and bottom. (This picture is similar, but not exact.) It turned my bedroom from drab to pretty, and I even took it with me when Randy and I got married. Some years later, and I don’t remember how, the lamp got knocked over and the top globe shattered, broken beyond repair. I always meant to replace it, but the glass enclosure that hid the lightbulb was still there, so I covered it with something suitable and have lived with it ever since. (I know, I know, I really should buy a new one…)

But I got to thinking about broken things this week…more importantly about broken people because people are so much more important than things. And yet, aren’t every one of us broken?

I don’t think we like to admit that out loud, but every person on the planet is broken at a place no one sees, deep in their heart of hearts. God, who created us, didn’t make us that way, but we ended up that way because of sin. And I think if we’re honest, whether our belief system agrees with sin or not, we know something is wrong.

My belief system tells me one man broke the whole world. Phil Wickham sings about that in his song “Mercy”, and as I listened to the words, I started to imagine–what was it like to be Adam? Can you picture it? What would it be like to live in a perfect world where you walked and talked with God in personevery single day?

1080p-Wallpaper-of-Waterfall-HD-Wallpaper-Garden-Of-EdenThen imagine walking up to a lion or bear or an alligator or dinosaur or some other wild beast and having no fear of touching it or climbing on its back for a ride? Imagine food that grew without your aid, sights and scents and sounds that tasted like beauty and music and joy.

Imagine lying next to your perfect match–a mate hand-picked, supernaturally designed just for you–so in love! Never arguing, never blaming or finding fault. Imagine living in a world of perfect, unadulterated, unimaginable, unconditional…love.

You could do whatever you wanted in this world, and everything you wanted was very good. You could not even imagine doing wrong. Wrong had not been invented! Emptiness, anxiety, depression, loneliness, that vague sense of lostness…were experiences you could not have, could not fathom, and could not choose. There simply was no place for them in your world.

Though there was that one thing…back to Adam for a moment.

Adam had been given one choice. Had been told NOT to do one thing. DON’T EAT THE FRUIT. (You can eat anything else – just not the fruit from THAT tree in the middle of the Garden.)

I wonder if Adam realized the consequences of death. Because he DID know that to eat the fruit meant he would die.

Garden-Of-EdenDid he understand what that meant?

A broken lamp might be irreparable, but not irreplaceable. When Adam broke God’s trust, when he took that ONE choice and chose death, he took the whole world with him. An irreparable, irreplaceable loss.

Death replaced life in a way I don’t think even today we fully realize. When we are young, we think we are immortal. When we grow old, there is still a part of us that clings to time and space because we think this earth will last forever. Every culture in every lifetime has sought immortality. But no one could fix what Adam broke.

Once Adam ate the fruit, he could not turn the clock back. He could not undo the deed. He could not un-set the wheels that his action set in motion. He could not make animals friendly again. Food would never again come without toil and trial. Sights, scents, and sounds suddenly clashed, and a world that once worked in amazing harmony carried an undertone of something off key.

And I think in those moments Adam must have done as the song above suggests he did. After he got finished blaming his wife, and she blamed the snake…after they both realized this was permanent…I think Adam got down on his knees and begged for mercy.

Because when something is broken that can’t be fixed, the person who broke it either pays for the loss or begs to be forgiven. Adam couldn’t pay for what he did. In a thousand lifetimes he could not fix the world. Even nature groans, the Bible tells us, waiting for the day it will be released from the curse of death. The consequence of disobedience.

Mercy. “He cried mercy!”

And another Man heard that cry.

And answered.

Selah~

 

by jill at 8:00 am in ,

Cover Reveal and more!!

July 1, 2014

Rahab CoverI feel like I’m always taking three steps forward, two steps back. (Ever feel that way?) So MUCH has been happening this summer that it is making my head spin. But lest I twirl and dance and fly away with too much at once, I want to fill you in on the writing news!

First - I finished my first (actually third) draft of Deborah’s story!!! Okay, I just had to shout that out. I’m taking a big break from the story as I’m just way too close to it right now to see it clearly any more. One thing I’ve learned about myself and writing this story is this: DON’T WRITE TOO FAST. Some people can put out 3000-5000 words a day and it all works for them. But I felt like I was losing myself in words instead of story. Maybe that works better for people who plot it all out first. But this half “seat-of-the-pants” writer needs to take her time. So…next time things will be different.

Second - The Crimson Cord, Rahab’s Story is already available for pre-order – at least on Amazon. I didn’t see it up on the other sites yet. And the cover is there, so I added it to my Book’s page. I’m going to be revamping my influencer’s list for this book soon, and may have some extra slots available. If you want to know more and aren’t already on the list, please email me. If you are an influencer and find you can’t read fast enough to post reviews or tell your friends in a timely manner, please let me know that as well.

The Desert Princess CoverThird - The Desert Princess, the first e-book short in the Loves of King Solomon series is coming out August 15th! So yay! Almost there. I hope you enjoy this short story as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Current work - Book 3 in the Loves of King Solomon, the story of the Egyptian princess that Solomon married is next up on my to-do list. I began research this week. New stories are always a challenge, and shorter does not mean easier, but I love the era and the setting and anticipate that this one will be fun! (And I won’t be writing it THAT fast!)

MICHAL Free Ebook PromotionLastly - Michal is still FREE in e-book format! They are going to be extending the free promotion a bit longer, and stay tuned for more one-day promotions coming in August. To be sure not to miss out on any, please sign up for my newsletter. I don’t always remember to post here, but you can usually find me on Facebook or through my Newsletter.

I hope your summer is as eventful (in a good way) as ours has been so far.

Selah~