More Than Life
Windchimes swung in the background. A gentle wind hummed. Fingers picked the tinny strings of an acoustic guitar, one at a time cascading into a tender melody.
“Belief in the breeze
The smoky morning haze
The sun on her face
and the touch of lovers' hands
The pain that comes today
Is here, then goes away
And we are homeward bound
I want this more than life…”
Whitley’s version of the song, “More Than Life,” brought Saylor and Tucker into my mind, sitting on a porch swing, watching the sun set.
The two characters have stayed with me over the years, as I have traversed their roads, through wet marshes, muddy mountain trails, and the wilds of the Australian outback. What would they be doing right now, I’d ask myself. The hard part about meeting characters and following their stories is that they stay with you, real as friends. Their lives influenced mine. Their stories shaped mine. So in that smoky morning haze, in the golden, setting sun, what would they be doing, I’d revisit the question in my memory.
Would Saylor ever be satisfied with her ending?
What would she want more than life?
And from the ashes of broken dreams, from the depths of dark nights, of agony, of restlessness, of inability to wait with inaction, the story of EARTHSHINE came to be. Could a girl who’s “done the hard thing” once more rise to the occasion? You see, there is not just one “hard thing” to face in life. There will be one, then another, and another. Each time more difficult, each time more unhinged and chaotic, each time drawing the protagonist further into the hero position. What would Saylor do when asked to face her greatest fears, knowing they are real?
I wasn’t ready to write EARTHSHINE when the words began spilling out. It began with another title – Deadlight.
Halfway through, exploring the theme and tone brought on by the title “dead-light” generated, the word no longer fit. Is death the finale? While it served as an intriguing vocabulary word, no, it didn’t fit with Saylor and Tucker’s story. Theirs is a story of perseverance, of love, of hope. Of reflection. Of audacity. Of moxie. Of grit. One morning as I began to wrap up the final chapters on my manuscript, my “Word of the Day” email popped into my inbox. The term, “earthshine,” lit up my screen. In fact, it lit up my eyes from its first appearance, because earthshine means…well...I suppose you’ll have to read the book to find out.
I hope you will.
I hope you enjoy the story that had to be written.
I hope you may also get back up, once your heart has broken.
I hope you will be the one who shows up, builds up, and believes.
May you be the light, shining into the abyss. May you be someone’s Earthshine.
Earthshine releases in three weeks, on October 9th. Happy reading.
Did you know that sprints are the number one exercise to fight belly fat? About two years ago I began sprinting. I began with a ten-minute timer and have worked my way up to twenty minutes. I set the timer for twenty minutes and run as fast as I can from thirty seconds down to zero, walk for thirty seconds, and hit it again on the following thirty. Most of the days I've shot across the pavement with my jogging stroller, baby in tow, throughout sun, slushy puddles, and wintry clouds overhead. Last weekend was a first -- I went out on my own, the four-year old preferring to stay inside and watch cartoons. So my soles rammed against the concrete, amid potholes, leaves, and burning sun. While salty drips dribbled down my temples, my brain got to whirling.
Why do we commit? Why do we give up? How do we keep going? What do we do when we want to cave, want to decline, want to bow out? Do you call in sick, or do you buck up and slam the toes against the cold ground?
Here are my thoughts from my run last weekend. Hope the encourage you and inspire you to persevere, even when the winter clouds tumble down.
5 Tips for Committing (Life Lessons I Learned From Sprinting)
ONE: Do it for you and no one else. Make it your business to fully follow through your commitments.
You agreed to do the thing. Own your choice and dive into enjoying the work, offering your best capabilities, and hanging in until you no longer need to do the work. You control your action and attitude. Build your own excitement and fulfillment in the work. If you look at a job or task and tell yourself you are doing it because someone asked it of you, or you are “out” of something if you don’t do it, then that takes you out of your business and out of your power. Take hold of your capability to do the work you chose to do. You could be doing something else; you will eventually be doing something else. While you do this job, do it because you know you can do it and better the lives of others in the process. Look at your task as an act of service, for others and yourself.
Find something to be grateful for in the work and look for the opportunity to learn and engage your inner warrior. Consider this a time to build your tool box.
TWO: Employ grace for your season.
When I first began running, I pushed my forty-pound daughter in the jogging stroller. I’ve grown accustomed to shoving the burden ahead of me, with a slot for my water bottle and my phone to blast the tunes. But you know what? You can run so much faster without a stroller.
What baggage do you have? What season are you in? Have grace with yourself for whatever season you’re in. Do your best right now and keep working toward the coming season while celebrating the current one. Avoid comparing your story to someone else’s. One day you may be sprinting clear and free, no stroller, no handbag, no accompanying soundtrack. That may be relieving or intimidating. Regardless, employ grace for your season.
Whatever season you are in, whatever baggage you are dealing with in your commitments, allow some wiggle room. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. As Jess Glynne sings, don’t be so hard on yourself. Run your race. Dig in to your sprints. And allow time and space for the extra weight you’re pushing along the track. If you insist on running full force and physically cannot do it, then don’t commit to doing more than you can handle. Be honest to the people with whom you’ve committed and allow space for the stroller. In the long run (especially the long run!) everyone will thank you for the honesty and grace you employed. That’s wisdom.
THREE: Set time limits.
Committing to something for an endless amount of time overwhelms most people. Deep in the trenches of life and stress and sinks full of dishes, even the heartiest soul considers giving up. So prepare to invest in your activities by committing for a certain time. Maybe it is a twenty-minute workout, three times a week, for six months. Can you do that? Maybe it’s to do something for thirty days. Can you do that? Maybe it’s to say, “I will do this every Monday for one year.” Can you do that? Specify your time limits and purpose your expectations.
Now, let’s level up. Extend the time. Extend what you think you can do. Add five seconds. Add a day. Add a couple inches. Many runners slow down at the end of the race. Expect the race to last longer. Place your mental finish line farther than you think you can go.
In my research into training and military exercises, I came across some videos instructing how to punch. Set your feet, own your placement on the mat, and punch through the punching bag. The strongest punch doesn’t aim for the front of the bag; the strongest punch aims for the back of the bag. Use this same strategy for your commitments. If you know that you can commit for six months, allow for seven, mentally. If you need to run a race, train by running farther. Don’t just end where everybody else is ending. Punch through to the other side of the punching bag.
Set yourself up to win by setting your expectations and accountability limits. Own your limits, and then blast through them. Intentionally focus on specific boundaries, and then go one step further. The only limits you have are the one you set for yourself. Detail them and raise the bar for yourself, for you are stronger than you know.
FOUR: The smoother the ground underfoot, the easier it is to stay upright.
How much do you believe in yourself? Do you have a solid foundation, confidence in your competence to do the task?
My neighborhood is apparently packed with crumbly streets, leaves, potholes, and rocks. And I’ve trekked over them for years. One street recently got the nice treatment and it’s smooth, black, and freshly tarred. The difference between running over the potholes and on this one fresh slab of smoothness suddenly illuminated a truth: you can run faster when the road’s clear, when there are no rocks in your shoes or on your path. While you can’t take the obstacles out of your path, you can believe in your abilities, your path, and your journey. What kind of foundation are you treading upon? Doubt in yourself serves as a pothole. Doubt in your capabilities, letting the fear creep in? That’s like running with a spike in your shoe.
Avoid comparing your road to anyone else’s. Your journey has a twisty, windy path with obstacles built just for you. The obstacles will help you get faster and stronger – are you moving ahead, one step at a time?
Get the rocks out of the way. Take the grime out of your shoes. The road will have obstacles and twists and hills, but you’ve got to trust your feet and find your own smooth track.
FIVE: Decide what story to tell.
What’s the story? When the plot has a great story, readers stick around to the end. This step consists of basically finding your “why” but maybe you haven’t personalized it enough or been intentional with it. What’s depending on this seven years from now? Twenty-seven years from now? What brought you here from seven years ago?
How do you know when to end a commitment you’ve made? Think about the ending of the story. Many times I’ve thought about giving up on my sprints before the time expires, shutting down my writing career, or just not going to the gym because I’m not “feeling it” that day. But then I think about the story I want to tell about it. How do I want the story to end, and what will make a satisfying ending for this task I’ve committed to doing? When I’m happy with the ending, that’s when the task has been completed. Not all stories have happy endings, but I’m determined to serve the character I will be in seven years. She needs me to follow through right now. I’m not sure why; but in seven years I’ll get back to you and we can chat about it. What story will you be telling in seven years about your commitments? And how will that story end?
Take a step back and consider the lives at stake, the risks involved, and what kind of story you want to tell about following through with the commitments. Maybe you just need a change in perspective to see how important this ability to persevere and commit will forge you into the hero you are. Go, hero, go!
Sprinting along the streets in my neighborhood, wobbling along with my jogging stroller, gasping in the sizzling Texas air, has offered me a wealth of knowledge. I’ve released some stress, some sweat, and gained some inspiration. Now it’s time to level up.
Run as fast as your dirty silver sneakers will carry you.
The timer’s running.
How will you commit to your promises? What story will you design? Are you running for yourself or in the name of something greater? Are you excited about the pavement? The gritty pathway awaits. I’m right here too.
Flip The Switch
Do you remember the moment you met someone who changed your life? The first time I was invited to go hear Krista Johnson speak about nutrition and health, I didn’t want to go. All of my friends were talking about her fat loss program, how they were suddenly losing all this weight, and how I *just had to* hear her story. At the time, I was a new mom, had just recently lost my job, and possessed little motivation for trying new things.
But I sure am glad that my friends didn’t give up. There in that white-walled church meeting room, as Krista introduced her story of releasing one hundred pounds from her body, going from being a tired mother of four, into a business owner who taught Tae Bo classes and had trained in person with Billy Blanks, I could almost feel the sands shifting under my feet. A fresh, soft breeze began to blow within my spirit. It started out with a plate. Now I’ve changed from that weary new mom who lived on coffee and bagels and struggled to get out of bed without crying, to someone who races to the gym every day to see if I can beat yesterday’s weight bracket. Now I understand that every day I get this great gift, this new opportunity, to speak life into others, and I think my friends understood that. I’m so glad they insisted I go to that meeting seven years ago.
If you’ve never met someone who helped you understand freedom, let me introduce you to my friend Krista.
1. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to own and operate Fit By Faith. When did you establish it?
When I was in the middle of my weight loss journey, down 20 pounds from 242 pounds, I was going for a run. Well, if you want to call it a run. I was tip toeing up a hill, crying in pain, feeling humiliation trying to get my body to move. I made a choice to keep pushing on and I literally heard in my head, FIT BY FAITH. I prayed and God showed me a vision for Fit By Faith and I laughed. How could someone as out of shape as me ever be able to help others get fit? As I began to lose and become fitter, God gave me guidance and equipped me mind, body, and spirit, to start preparing Fit By Faith. About two years later, I taught my first Tae Bo class out of another gym. One month later we opened up Fit By Faith, on September 30, 2006.
2. What does your typical day look like now?
Each day is a bit different. It involves keeping my household running, being available for my family and my famous dogs :) It is a mix of personal training, teaching fitness classes, running nutrition groups online, organizing all the other services we offer that are taught by my Husband, running two Network Marketing businesses and volunteering at my church running the media and working on the protection detail team. It sounds like a lot, but God truly equips me to handle it all. When I become overwhelmed and feel like it is too much, I stop trying to do it myself and get back on track letting God lead me!
3. What kept you going through your fitness/wellness journey when you felt like you were at a plateau? What did you do?
I like how you call it a journey, because it is. I am still on it and will be on it forever. There were times I had no changes, but I think the reason people quit when results stop or give up is because their motivation was a weak one. If it is to be a certain weight by a certain date, to look good in a swim suit, etc, then those are weak motivations that will not last a lifetime. For me it was realizing I had the responsibility to break this cycle and keep it from trickling down into my children. It was realizing I did not want to be this overweight, sick burden to my family. I want to be an example and a blessing to my children and family. So whether I am having results or not, they see me walking in faith, making good choices, being joyful in all situations and then they learn to do the same.
4. Do you have a favorite quote or Bible verse which encourages you?
Yes. There are about 354 to be exact! Ha! But the one that stays with me through all situations is Acts 1:8. I believe we are equipped to do whatever God leads us to do. I may have had no clue about fitness, but when I allowed him to use me 100%, he has equipped me. If he told me tomorrow he wanted me to be a hair dresser, I may have no idea today about how to be one in that moment, but you can bet I would become the best one in the nation because He would equip me to do it :) You shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be His witness to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8
5. Do you have a favorite and a least favorite fitness move? What are they?
I have an equal amount of both, but if I had to pick one, I like burpees. It is funny because when I first did one, I thought they were straight from the pit of hell and hated them with all my being. Now I love them. I love that I can do them and do them well. I love to get creative with them too. Least favorite would be pull-ups. Enough said. Ha!
6. What is one change anybody can make today in order to begin a fitness journey? What about a faith journey?
I believe the absolute first change has to be what comes out of your mouth for both your fitness journey and your faith journey. Our words are life and death. What you speak is what you will become. Change your words, change your life. When I finally fixed the inside, the outside was no longer a battle. It just fixed itself. Until you can speak truth to your body, to your mind and spirit, and only work on the outside, it will be like a dog chasing its tail in circles.
7. Do/did you have a particular struggle in regard to changing your lifestyle? What do you do when you find that weakness creeping back in? Do you have a particular strength or preference that keeps you in the fat loss lifestyle?
I did and still do face struggles all the time, but through them I grow and learn. I see struggles as great teachable moments. You have to be a teachable person and be willing to have not so good days and learn from them. I think what has kept me on this journey is just loving myself through the process. Understanding that my best will be different each day and embracing every victory no matter how small. I think love is the answer to everything, honestly. It is the strength that everyone possesses, you just have to do it :) Honestly the power is always in our hands. You just have to flip the switch on!
8. What’s one thing you would tell your teenage self?
When your flesh wants to handle something, stop before you speak or act and remember this: Be in love, walk in faith, be led by the spirit.
9. What do you hope to leave as your legacy?
John and I have four of the absolutely most amazing children. Each one of them truly is if you know anything about them. They are my legacy and as far as I am concerned, that job is already done!
10. What do you offer at Fit By Faith? Do you offer personal training? Do you have a particular program to help me on my wellness journey? How do I find you online?
We offer personal training, fitness classes, nutrition classes, CPR & Lifeguard Certification, Reflexology, Nutritional products and a lot of love. You can find out about all of it at www.fitbyfaith.net .
It doesn't matter if you're burned out, broken down, or just plain tired. You've got this one moment to make a change and act. Can a mom of four lose one hundred pounds and keep it off? Yes. Can an ordinary chica break a board with a swift kick? Yes. Can even the clumsiest of fumblers learn how to deadlift her weight? Oh, my, yes. Can one decision change a life? You know it.
Flip on that switch, readers! Welcome to this beautiful new day of life, creation, and wild adventure. If you struggle with your weight or nutrition choices, need mental clarity, lack motivation, or just want to feel better overall, I encourage you to check out fitbyfaith.net and see all that Krista has to offer. She’ll get you the tools you need and equip you with courage, hope, and love, to not just be fit, but fit by faith.
Who Invited The Mom That Runs?
"Who invited the mom that runs?" She said it partially in jest, but the hint of insecurity and chastisement were what I heard. Did she really disapprove of the parents who chose to join their kids on the track of the running club? Wasn't the point to get people moving?
No, I think she had a moment where she felt inadequate or jealous and let that win. There's space for every mom. Some moms stand on the sidelines cheering on their kids, some moms drop off the kids and drive to work, and some moms get on the track. I'm glad this mom said her piece, because it inspired me.
The first day of running club, I wasn't sure whether to join my daughter on the track. It was technically FOR the kids, so could parents run too? I stood on the sidelines that first morning, unsure if I could use that twenty minutes to get my own blood pumping.
Then The Mom Who Runs showed up with her kids and took the track with them. She was the only one. The second day? I wore my running shoes and joined the fun.
Don't be afraid or insecure if you want to get on the track. Maybe there's a place for helicopter parenting but I'd also venture there's a place for being an example. I want my kids to see that they can be physically fit at any age, and I want them to be encouraged in their striving. I want them to know they are capable of doing more than they imagine, that it's okay to be courageous, and it's okay to be different.
Time to toss the fear, the insecurities, the jealousy, the inability. You are needed on the field. You're wanted on the field. You're capable of filling the space that needs to be filled. Lace up those running shoes. Take that first step and get on the track. The children are watching. So are the other moms.
Do It Anyway
The black and silver sequins on her shirt reflected the stage lights. A sparkly bracelet on her ankle flashed a jaunty twinkle, a hint of what was to come. The recorded piano thrummed alive in the background and Christian Faith began to sing the Martina McBride country hit song Anyway. Christian balanced in the wheelchair, buckled in snugly, never once flinching or holding back a breath. Her confident smile allowed only one message to be relayed that evening at the Texans Got Talent contest:
You can pour your soul out singing
A song you believe in
That tomorrow they'll forget you ever sang.
Sing it anyway.
Yeah, sing it anyway
(Martina McBride, Anyway)
You know what’s pretty amazing about miracles? They often happen right in front of your eyes and you might not even realize they’re happening. You know what’s important about recognizing miracles? They remind of all the good, all the light, in this life.
A small water bubble welled up in the corner of my eye. Her words continued to echo around the auditorium. Christian’s heart and talent brought down the house.
She has an amazing story to tell and allowed me to send her a few questions to share with you.
Read along and meet one amazing spirit who reminds us that no matter the outcome, no matter the challenge, no matter what if… do it anyway.
Do you have a particular name for what makes you physically so unique? Have you been able to find a community of others who offer support?
The medical term for my condition is called Amelia. Basically I was born without all of my limbs not including my small leg. I do have a friend who happens to be quite similar to me but with little difference. Her name is Niki Browder. She’s 36, and we have a lot in common.
What does your typical day look like?
My typical day I guess you could say is just like anyone else’s except for the simple fact that I might need to work a little harder to achieve daily activities like primping and others like feeding myself. I do everything with my foot. Just like others I’ve adapted to life in my way. I’ve created a unique lifestyle.
What has been one of the biggest challenges you've faced?
You would think that I’ve come against some huge challenges in my life, but honestly I don’t think that I could ever tell you of a time where I’ve absolutely dealt with something huge that I couldn’t handle it. Everything I’ve ever desired to do in life I’ve accomplished with Faith and a strong mindset. My family has always been so supportive as well, and they’ve helped me accomplish so much in my 22 years.
How long have you been training vocally?
I’ve been singing since I was 2 years old. When I was younger I used to watch my grandfather sing. My whole family is musically proficient, so it wasn’t that hard to pick up on. I did however take vocal lessons from the ages 6 to 11, so I guess you could say I’ve had some experience.
Are you doing anything currently to pursue singing or another career?
I am pursuing a career in the music industry. I’ve taken some online courses with Berklee College of Music, but unfortunately I wasn’t financially capable to finish my studies with the school due to my grandfather becoming ill. My family has to pay for occasional medical bills, and other sorts of needs he has. I do however look forward to furthering my career in any way that I can.
Have you written any of your own songs or are you more of a cover artist?
I’m a Singer/Songwriter, so I have written some of my own songs. A few of my originals are called Forever Reign, Oh Holy King, Stop Sign, Can’t Change Me, Falling in Love, Daddy Owns a 12 Gauge, The Middle, Mama’s Little Girl, Daddy Hold Me, Mama Said, Done Deal, and so many more.
Have you participated in many talent competitions? What type of musical gigs are you currently finding?
I hope this doesn’t appear too boastful, but I have won so many talent competitions in my life that I have lost count. The biggest competition I have ever won was at 17 years old in Stamford, Connecticut. It was called Talent America, and I was competing with people from all over the U.S. and parts of Africa. I brought home the 1st place win, and it was one of the greatest thrills in my life. I was scouted by all kinds of agencies at that time, but felt as if I was still a little young to start my career officially. I had offers to move to Nashville and New York, but felt that I wasn’t fully matured enough at that specific time to take on a huge task in my life such as the one I’m pursuing although now I feel that I’m highly capable of doing so. I do get paying gigs at weddings, restaurants, charity events, etc.
Do you have a favorite song or artist?
I love music so much that I would have to say I don’t have a favorite song or artist, because I’m open to each song I’m exposed to as an artist. I like all kinds of music, but my favorite genres would have to be Christian, Country, Bluegrass, Pop, and R&B.
Why is singing so important to you?
Singing is so important to me, because from the time I was a little girl it has been the easiest way to express myself, and I think it has become an essential part of who I am as a person. I’ve been singing all of my life.
What is the hardest thing about singing/performing?
The hardest part about performing is knowing at first that everyone is not always gonna be open to me, because I’m different, but once I open my mouth and sing then everyone becomes enlightened to me as a person.
Do you have a verse or quote serving as a reminder for what you hope to accomplish?
I look to all of God’s word to find hope, but Luke 1:45 is one of my personal favorites. It says “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!” I know that God has a purpose for my life, and I’m trusting in Him to continue molding me into who I’m supposed to be.
If you could say that you have one thing in particular you'd like to leave as a legacy, what would it be?
I want my known legacy to be the woman who served as proof that with Faith you can do absolutely anything you set your mind to, and I hope everyone will know me as the woman who set the perfect example of how EVERYONE is special in their own way. We are all masterpieces of The Most High God!
If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger me it would be, “Never doubt yourself, because you are so strong!”
Listen to some of Christian's performance at Texans Got Talent 2018:
Fabulous clean romance? Yes, please! Check out these steamy, sweet, delectable romantic reads now available from Clean Reads.
Better Than This
by Tia Souders
What can keep a dream alive?
Before the car accident that changed everything, Samantha Becker was a happy and loved little girl. Ten years later, Sam, now 18, lives under a dark cloud—largely ignored by an alcoholic mother who never recovered from her loss and ruled by an overbearing father who blames Samantha for the family tragedy. And yet, the troubled teenager has a dream that keeps her going, and an extraordinary musical talent that could take her all the way to Julliard…and far beyond.
Following her heart, however, means defying her father, who has his own plans for his daughter’s future. Then, in the wake of another devastating personal catastrophe, her dream is irreparably shattered, and in her pain and anger, Samantha acts out recklessly. But her salvation could come from a most unlikely trio: a handsome college student, a hopeful little boy…and an older neighbor woman whose caring and secrets will change Sam’s world forever.
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by Dana Louise Provo
Orphaned at an early age, now twenty-four-year-old Camryn Lucks is ready to commit to find that special someone, and so accepts a date from a charming, gallant, handsome stranger.
The last thing she imagines after accepting that first date with Carson would actually be the
beginning of her worst nightmare. Red roses, a reminder of her parents' killer, soon become an emblem of horror for Cami as one by one, those closest to her fall victim to a serial killer. Cami becomes an obsession for Carson, the man she had finally allowed herself to love. Not only is he vying for her heart, but also her
Finding herself in a whirlwind of torments shadowed by the blood-colored bloom, Cami finds
solace in Isaac, a neighboring police officer. She’s desperate to escape the haunting memories,
but she must revisit them in order to catch her would-be killer. Living life in constant fear has
driven Cami to second-guess every choice she makes. Will the police catch the illusive murderer,
or will Cami be forced to face him once again?
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by Shea McIntosh Ford
As a freshman at New York University, looking for love is the last thing on Sarah McKenna’s mind. She is too preoccupied with being homesick for her North Carolina home and finding a peaceful place to play her harp amid the noise of the city. And yet, she also dreams of Ireland and is always thinking about Grandma Maggie’s stories from that idyllic country. So who better to grab her attention than a handsome, young Irishman, especially one who shares her passion for Irish music? But Cal O’Keefe has dark secrets. Can Sarah learn to see past the superficial and cope with the secrets to be with the one she loves?
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To Dance One More Day
by Rachel Jones
A medical diagnosis takes away Jillian Russell’s opportunity to become a prima ballerina. Knowing a part of her will die if she walks away from ballet, she changes her focus and builds a dance company. This endeavor takes all her resources and leaves no time to develop new relationships outside the world of ballet.
A supporter of the arts, Dr. Alan Armstrong finds himself on the board of the North Carolina Ballet Company. He has always had a penchant for fixing things and is eager to help solve the company’s loss of funding.
Romance blooms between Jillian and Alan. The doctor discovers her misdiagnosis and tells the ballerina she must decide between their love and a performance career.
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Happily Ever Afters
by Rachel Magee
Lainey Stratton does not fall in love with strangers she meets on vacation. It simply doesn’t make logical sense. So when Lainey meets Carter Thompson on the first day of her Caribbean vacation, she knows it could never amount to anything more than a crush. At the end of the vacation she will return to Dallas and he will return to DC, and that will be the end of it. Well, unless he wants to join her at a friend’s destination wedding, which would be considered vacation too, right?
But when an unexpected tragedy sends Lainey’s logical world spiraling out of control, she realizes her vacation crush might be the only one who can help her pick up the pieces of her shattered life. That is, as long as she can get out of the way of her own happiness. And as long as Carter’s past doesn’t catch up with him before she gets a chance.
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by Danielle Doolittle
Prince Henry Fitzgerald's life has taken a drastic turn. The once high flying playboy finds himself grounded and forced into rehab after one too many wild nights. Changing his ways wasn't in the cards, a fact he makes loud and clear during treatment. But when he faces off with feisty horse trainer, Carleigh Philips, Henry starts thinking he's not as far gone as everyone-including himself-thought.
Carleigh Philips has had her fill of arrogant, too good looking to be true men. Since discovering her ex in bed with another woman she's contented herself with training the horses on her family's ranch turned rehabilitation center. But when Prince Henry comes storming into her life she can't ignore him, even if half the time he makes her want to scream, she learns that some men are worth taking a risk on.
When a series of accidents add up to foul play, Henry must set aside his fear of failure and act quickly to save the woman who made him believe he could be a better man.
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Not Every Girl
by Jane McGarry
In her small kingdom of Stewartsland, sixteen-year-old Olivia trains with the squires and harbors a secret dream. She longs to become a knight under the command of the Master-of–Arms, who just happens to be her father. Dismayed by the constant discouragement of her ambitions, Olivia’s makes an impetuous decision to disguise herself in order to sneak on a mission and the consequences are not at all what she anticipated.
When her deception is revealed, she is sent home in disgrace. And that is when things get interesting. An unexpected turn of events puts her at the center of a dangerous plot against the King. The ensuing adventure finds her grappling with mercenaries and outlaws, but these pale in comparison to her newly awakened emotions. She finds not only her life at risk, but also her heart, when the aloof Prince Liam begins to affect her in ways she never thought possible. In the end, it is her courage and unique spirit which must guide her through the challenges she encounters both physical and emotional.
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The Duchess of Earl
by J.L. Salter
This is not a Regency… but SHE thinks it is.
A young woman suddenly awakens after a terrible vehicle accident convinced she’s betrothed to a lesser British baron 200 years ago. But instead of a baron, she encounters a man named Earl… and this low-key, 2013 Tennessee farm isn’t anywhere near Regency England.
Is her name really Georgette Heyer? Is she truly betrothed to Baron Hertford? It’s up to Dusty to find out.
Dusty Earl thinks the beautiful accident victim (temporarily staying in his house) is close enough to kiss, but she believes there are 200 years between them. She’s also expecting a gallant gentleman to transport her to her betrothed baron.
An affectionate tweak of Regency novels.
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by Jordan Elizabeth
Serena Cole can kick serious butt thanks to young women only she can see. School bullies aren’t a problem, but Serena’s mental health might be. To shield Serena from a dark secret, her family tries to convince her that her friends are imaginary.
Fleeing her distrustful aunt, Serena joins her mother on an archeological dig at Kistishi Island. There, Serena discovers an ancient scroll and realizes her invisible friends are goddesses native to the island, and they are in danger of enslavement for their abilities. Only Serena can save her friends if she can discover the past her family has hidden her entire life – the reason why only she can see the goddesses.
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Gray's Good Samaritan
by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
On an ordinary Saturday morning, Robin Cavanaugh’s life takes a wild turn. A wounded man leaps into her car at a traffic light. He refuses to go to the hospital and after he reveals his real name, she realizes she knows him from church. When he swears he’s one of the good guys, Robin abandons common sense to help him. As his condition worsens, she soon learns he’s not really Spike McGee, a criminal but an undercover agent whose life is in danger. His brother, Jack, a doctor, pulls Gray through and soon, Robin is part of the action too. Their love grows under the unlikely conditions and when Gray heads home to visit his mother, Robin comes too. While there, Gray proposes and she accepts but a family tragedy brings them back to Tulsa. Everything hangs in the balance as Gray goes undercover as Spike one last time…if he survives, can find their happily ever after?
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Right Time for Love
by Jannette Spann
Brandy Wyne’s future includes an old house with plumbing problems, a new job, and caring for her mother who has suffered a stroke.
Gavin Wilkin has increased his Grandpa’s plumbing business to twice its original worth, but the old man’s got a hot lady friend with greedy hands. How can he convince his grandpa of what she’s after without hurting him? Added to his problems is the responsibility of caring for his seven-year-old niece for the summer.
Brandy can’t afford the plumbing repairs she needs, and Gavin can’t find a sitter for his niece. Ever heard of the barter system?
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by Iris Blobel
Becoming a parent can be daunting at the best of times, but for Flynn, a business lawyer in Melbourne, it almost pulls the feet from right underneath him. He’s become a father to six-year-old Nadine literally overnight! He had no idea about her existence, and the news throws him into chaos, even more so when he is asked to take over custody.
With the help of Emma, an employee at the hotel where Nadine and her grandparents are staying, and his parents, Flynn tries to do the right thing. Yet, the right thing in his eyes differs from his parents’, and Emma is voicing her opinion as well. And right in the middle is little Nadine, still grieving the loss of her mother and finding a wonderful friend in Emma. There’s no doubt she’s afraid where and with whom she will settle.
But in the end, it’s a letter Flynn receives that helps him figuring out what to do.
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by E.A. West
Lacey Daniels wants a normal life where she can go to dinner or the mall without constantly looking over her shoulder. Unfortunately, her abusive father is out of prison and more dangerous than ever. The Hawthorne Guardians, a local motorcycle club that protected her as a child, is her only hope for normalcy. Some of the faces have changed, but the credo is the same: protect the innocent. One Guardian, Ratchet, takes an interest in more than her safety. He wants her heart.
Despite her growing feelings for Ratchet, Lacey can’t escape the threat her father poses. With him free and seeking revenge, she will never be safe. Her only chance for a normal life — and maybe true love — lies with Ratchet, a man who is willing to do whatever it takes to keep her father from hurting her again… even if it means risking his life to save her.
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Queen Mary's Daughter
by Emily-Jane Hills Orford
There are so many possibilities that affect the course of history. One change, one small item overlooked, can make a world of difference, not only in a person's life, but in the history and well-being of an entire nation. And then there are those multiple scenarios of what if? What if King James VI of Scotland didn't succeed in amalgamating Scotland with England? What if there had been another heir to the throne of Scotland? One who would secure its independence? Would Scotland have remained free and independent and a nation of its own well into the twenty-first century? And would Scotland, this independent version, make its own decision to join the European Union when its southern neighbor was choosing to pull away?
"Queen Mary's Daughter" presents another plausible timeline, one that incorporates both historical fact and fiction with the endless possibilities of time travel.
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Dating the It Guy
by Krysten Lindsay Hager
Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator's son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon's world and it doesn't help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren, seems determined to get back into his life, along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you're dating the it guy.
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A Chaotic Courtship
by Bethany Swafford
Twenty-year-old Diana Forester, a country-bred young woman fears that her inexperience and uncertainties have driven Mr. John Richfield away. On arriving back home from London, she learns that he is already there, ready to continue their acquaintance. If Diana thought that it was difficult in London, courting takes on a whole new aspect when Diana's younger siblings become involved. She finds herself dealing with her own feelings, her sister, her younger brother, jealous members of a house party, a jilted suitor, and a highwayman as she falls in love with the charming Mr. Richfield.
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by Melody Delgado
When her family’s cider business is ruined and other local businesses are vandalized, Anika Pembrie wonders if the recent bout of unrest is merely a result of rivalry between local merchants and noblemen or if something more sinister is at the root of the recent crimes. Along her journey Anika befriends Prince Valdemar, future king of Brevalia but their relationship hits many twists and turns along the way. Lady Winifred Paxel Flemming pursues the prince relentlessly. His grandmother, Queen Marguerite, expects him to wed whoever she thinks is suitable, even if it means marrying a foreign princess he’s never met. Anika’s mother, Lady Sarah, wants Anika to help ease the family’s financial burdens by marrying Erland Riccats, National Chairman of the Merchants’ Guild. Lady Sarah also harbors secrets regarding Prince Valdemar’s mother, Princess Karin, who met an untimely death years before. In the end, will both Anika and Prince Valdemar be forced into loveless marriages, or will they be able to outwit their enemies?
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by SM Ford
Ready for adventure in the snowy Colorado mountains, Cecelia Gage is thrilled to be employed as the live-in housekeeper for her favorite bestselling author. The twenty-five-year-old doesn't count on Mark Andrews being so prickly, nor becoming part of the small town gossip centering on the celebrity. Neither does she expect to become involved in Andrews family drama and a relationship with Simon Lindley, Mark's oh so good-looking best friend. And certainly, Cecelia has no idea she'll be mixed up in a murder investigation because of this job.
Will Cecelia's faith in God get her through all the trouble that lies ahead?
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Season of Hope
by Sara Jane Jacobs
Amanda Jarvis and Tyler Armstrong have shared life together as best friends for ten years. But as Tyler prepares to pursue his dream of becoming a Navy SEAL, while Amanda plans for a future at Barnard College, he's awakened to the greatest challenge he has ever faced in the history of their friendship: he’s seeing Amanda as much more than just his best friend. Convinced the timing is all wrong, he pushes his feelings aside as he leaves for boot camp and Amanda heads to Manhattan for a summer job at her aunt's advertising agency.
When Amanda’s plans for Barnard fall through, her new job catapults her into a modeling career. She readily accepts the much-needed distraction, filling her days with as much work as she can find. Tyler’s impending deployment is turning her world upside down. That, and the fact that she’s falling for her best friend. And, for the first time in her relationship with Tyler, she’s keeping a secret from him.
Phoebe Garrison, Amanda’s controlling aunt, is thrilled when she is given the opportunity to manage her niece's new career. Bored with her Fortune 500 advertising agency, becoming Amanda’s manager is just what she's been looking for to rekindle her aspirations. But as Tyler becomes aware of Phoebe’s obsession to push Amanda into supermodel status, tensions rise and this perfect friendship will meet obstacles that Tyler and Amanda could have never imagined. As the three of them become entangled in a mass of concealed ambition and desire, each will make decisions that could change everything between Tyler and Amanda. Will the truth be revealed before Tyler is deployed?
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The Pirate Princess
by K.R. Martin
Sometimes, to become a princess…
Raised to marry a king, Renee’s greatest desire is to be a true queen. So, while other girls learned the art of embroidery, Renee perfected her skills with a sword. She was prepared to earn the respect of her future husband, but a chance encounter with a handsome stranger awakens her heart to the possibility of love.
… a girl must become a pirate.
When tragedy strikes, Renee flees, right onto a pirate ship! Surprising herself, she offers to join their crew. Happy to finally put her swordsmanship to use, she fights injustice on the seas, but when her kingdom is threatened, can she give up the safety and happiness for an uncertain future? Or can she finally become the leader, the princess, her people need?
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Diamonds or Donuts
by Lucie Ulrich
Sarah Alexander’s marriage to millionaire Logan Montgomery is put on hold when Logan is offered the opportunity to go on an extended archeological dig in Egypt. Though not happy with his decision, Sarah supports her fiancé, despite the fact she’s already given up her apartment and teaching position.
When Sarah’s best friend, Pippa, suggests Sarah move to Sunset Cove, she figures a new town, new job, and new friends are just what she needs to help her through the separation. If she’d known one of those friends would turn out to be kind-hearted, good-looking, and well-built, Officer Kevin Jenkins, she might have figured a little harder.
Though Sarah goes out of her way to keep her relationship with Kevin on a friends-only basis, it’s clear their feelings for one another are teetering toward something more. Now Sarah must make the most important decision of her life. Will she go for diamonds or donuts?
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by Dana Romanin
For years, Jane’s mom told her horror stories about her time spent in foster care. Now she’s determined to keep her little sister from suffering the same fate.
Seventeen-year-old Jane Sanders has had to take care of her alcoholic mother and little sister, Abby, since her dad died seven years ago. And now Mom had to go and die too. Authorities determine it was a homeless transient who died in the fire of the old manufacturing plant, but Jane knows the truth.
There is no way she’s going to let Abby go into foster care which leaves her with one option—fake her mom’s life. As far as Abby knows, their mom is in rehab. And Jane wants to keep it that way. She’d be eighteen in a few months then she could become legal guardian to her sister. With the help of her best friend, Clark, it should be easy, right?
Juggling nosy neighbors, a concerned school counselor, and an oblivious new boyfriend turns out to be harder than Jane thought. But the real problem begins when Abby starts writing letters to Mom. Through Abby’s letters, Jane sees a different side to their mom—a side she could have loved. And loving Mom is something she didn’t plan on. Because loving somebody makes it harder to ignore their death.
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by Kadee Carder
Power within her. War without. Between the lines of flirtation and justice, Saylor must clench the missing pieces of her fate. While harnessing her ability to communicate with deadly weapons of mass destruction, attending the annual gala, and fighting her growing feelings for the hunky Australian soldier, Saylor’s instincts become increasingly distressed. Tempted by greed and in-dependence, she must determine what she stands for and on whose side she belongs.
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Pre-order your copy of the Young Adult Action Adventure HERE BE DRAGONS for only $4.99 and receive your own Alliance Military Guard Training Guide containing TWO WEEKS worth of exercises, guaranteed to get you in battle-ready shape to train as a Guardsman.
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With over ten years of experience specializing in metabolic conditioning, and as the official trainer of the Alliance Military Guard, Fit By Faith© owner Krista Johnson has created ten workouts to get you in gear and ready to crush life. Utilizing a variety of whole-body strengthening techniques, your free gift with purchase will be just what you need to start your new year off the right way. Each of the ten workouts can be completed at home or in a gym, and takes approximately thirty minutes or less.
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What's HERE BE DRAGONS about?
Alliance Military Guard sent the order. Sergeant Tucker Thompson acquiesced. Hopping a plane to his long-lost Australian birthplace, he's been charged with his toughest mission yet. Thompson must rally his company of soldiers to prevent a new generation of weaponry from breaching the world's borders.
Pound the war drums. Rattle the cages. Here be Dragons.
Excerpt from HERE BE DRAGONS:
Creeping through the sultry space, footsteps steady and stealthy, we readied our weapons. Blood and fire pulsed through my veins like they’d done so many times in training. This was the game, after all. These Alliance builders loved their long hallways.
Our rustling stirred up dust underfoot, and cement beams overhead groaned in disuse.
“How many feet‘re we underground ya think?” Hawk asked from the back of the line.
Flashlights and head lamps illuminated the way before us, stark tile work on the ground cracked and chipped. With every few feet we advanced, the walls became more fractured and peeling, as if a wave of tremors had rippled outward from the explosions of the bombing. Like vines along the paint, crevices in the cement grew substantial and entangled. Cautious and wary, we proceeded.
After several minutes of quiet steps echoing along the corridor, someone’s beam of light caught a fleck of darkness upon the wall.
“What’s that?” Norita asked.
Burkman shined his light to the scrawled paint upon the wall. The black paint dripped the warning: Beware.
GET IT HERE: HERE BE DRAGONS
She Made The Wrong Decision
I’ve been getting some feedback from readers, which I LOVE, by the way, and wanted to chat about some of the themes/topics/plot points in my Young Adult trilogy, Insurrection. I’ve seen several comments about how in the third book, Indelible, the fact that (spoiler alert!!) Saylor listens to Breame and works with him is upsetting. Readers want Saylor to make better decisions than that! Readers want heroes/protagonists to make the better decision. Readers want to see protagonists DO BETTER THAN. Am I right?
Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?
But seriously, have you ever, especially in your teens, made the decision to go against what you knew deep down to be right? Were you ever in a hard position where you didn’t know what was right or wrong, so you tried your best, but found yourself in what seemed like the wrong place at the wrong time? Have you ever found yourself listening to the lies of fear, hate, or doubt wandering about your brain?
Well, friends, this is what I want my readers to really ponder. I’m excited you questioned it, so that we could have this discussion.
Sometimes we listen to our demons. Sometimes we listen to our doubts instead of our faith.
Sometimes we listen to the crowd, or the false news, or the scary whispers, instead of finding the truth from the Commander. Sometimes we make the decision to go into the tunnel instead of letting the bombs blow up the mountaintop.
I wanted Saylor to face some hard decisions and waver. I wanted her to have to rally. I wanted to let her take a wild risk that turned out a bit sour. Why? Because I wanted to give her a chance to redeem herself. I wanted to give her Commander a chance to let her know the truth about who she was, who HE was, and all she could do. Saylor needed to see the darkness so she could choose the light. Too many spoilers there? I don’t know.
Additionally, I wanted to let readers get to know Wellington Breame and judge him for themselves. Was he a big, fat liar? Or was he a pitiable genius? We can’t often deal with our enemies until we’ve met them and named them.
Saylor needed some impossible moments to realize her full power. Could she have done that if she'd "made the right decision"? Sometimes there is no "right" decision. The right decision finds us. The right decision helps you realize your full potential, because it's exactly the decision you needed to make to be better.
Until next time, readers! Leave a comment, review, or a question on my Subscribe page! I’d love to hear from you! Choose the light. <3 Happy reading!
Now Available In Paperback!
You like to flip through the crisp pages of a fabulous story, right? Well now you can dive deep into the oceans of Saylor's war with your very own signed copy of Incomplete!
You can get a copy from Amazon by clicking HERE, or you can order a signed copy directly from me by clicking HERE for $17.99.
Buy one for everyone you know! Big smiley faces!
I have an order of books coming to me, so as soon as they hit my doorstep I'll get your signed copy in the mail. When ordering from my site you will receive an email stating an order confirmation, and then a second email when I've shipped your book. If you'd like a special message in the book or to ship it as a gift, please note in the comments when you purchase.
Thank you SO MUCH for supporting this exciting endeavor and enjoying Saylor's story. You readers mean the world to me!
In working with Clean Reads, I've gotten to virtually meet some cool people who write great books. One author, Sara Turnquist, has written some historical romances which I wanted to share about because I enjoyed reading them so much. So these books are Kadee Carder Ink verified, in that you can trust that you'll enjoy them. Five stars! After reading these stories, I had to reach out to Ms. Turnquist and ask her some questions. She graciously answered my questions and I wanted to share them with you. She’s put a lot of thought into writing these books and I adored hearing her take on the backstory.
For your reading pleasure, here's two quick book reviews and a fun question/answer sesh with Sara Turnquist!
Now let’s chat about "Hope In Cripple Creek." I ABSOLUTELY adored this book! Imagine if you combined “When Calls The Heart,” by Debbie Macomber, “Anne of Green Gables,” and a Kate Alcott historical, and you've got this delightful story of a girl following her heart, even when it forges into the wild unknown. About halfway through I just started grinning and almost couldn't stop, except a few times when my eyes widened in shock. I couldn't put this one down. Romance, heartache, a headstrong heroine, and some twisty characters who don't know how to keep their hands to themselves, the bunch of them make up the fascinating little town of Cripple Creek, Colorado. The challenges that Katherine faces really spoke to my heart, and I think a lot of women will appreciate the struggle and how she manages it. It's a quick read with great pacing, lovely characters, a fun setting, and I wanted it to be longer. Grab this one RIGHT NOW. You will love it.
“A Convenient Risk” offers a tale of love lost, tricky relationships, and redeemed hope. Amanda is one hot mess. She cries a lot, she doubts her worth and parenting abilities, and she finds herself making out a TON with a super hot rancher whom she can’t seem to read. Ms. Turnquist provides a sweet story with swoon-worthy kisses, entirely relatable characters, and some brilliant (and, fun fact, historically based) plot twists. Through a winding road of risky business deals, unnerving country living, and lovely sunsets, “A Convenient Risk” provides readers a memorable story of second chances worth their weight in gold.
Directly from Sara Turnquist:
1) Have you been to the places where you set the stories? Or, What made you place the books in these locations?
Other than through Google Maps/Google Earth, I have not visited these places. I did a great amount of research on them.
For "Hope in Cripple Creek", I was looking for a city in Colorado for the last great gold rush to that area. I asked my husband, who lived in Colorado for a short stint, to give me the name of a small town in Colorado to set my story in. He offered up "Cripple Creek". When I started researching this town, I found this whole history of this great miner's strike that gave me my secondary story line. Love when that kind of thing happens.
For "A Convenient Risk", I knew that I needed to anchor this story brewing in my mind somehow in time. I wanted it to be in the late 1800s in the west...and that sparked my interest in a renowned outlaw. Billy the Kid's timeline worked out with my story's timeline. For that reason, I placed the story in Arizona as Billy the Kid was in Arizona in the late 1800s. But I chose a small town, Wharton City, for the story to be set in to fit in with some of the events pertaining to Billy the Kid's timeline and my own story's needs.
2) What kind of research did you do for these books? How long did it take to write them?
This is a time period I am somewhat familiar with due to books I have read and TV shows/movies I have seen. However, I that is not really primary research. So, while I rely on that for a general feeling/tone of that era, I researched when I needed details. Research for novels, as you probably know, has to be reliable. Especially since anyone can post anything on the internet. Wikipedia is a great place to start, but I would not consider it a reliable source. The bibliography on Wikipedia are great resources though.
3) Where did you get the ideas for your main characters?
"Hope in Cripple Creek"...I'm not really sure where these characters came from. I'm sure they are pieces of personalities of characters I have read and seen in other characters, but I cannot point to one place and say, this is it.
"A Convenient Risk" - this is a different story. A friend of mine loves to visit cemeteries for the interesting history there...just go with me here. We found a set of tombstones that appeared to be where a woman had married a man much older than her, he died, and then she married a man closer to her own age. It intrigued me. It was a marriage from the early 1900s. I wondered if that first marriage had been arranged by her parents or a marriage of convenience for monetary reasons. But then I began to think about second marriages and the way we tend to remember people who have passed on sometimes differently than they really were...in a glassed over sort of way. We tend to remember the good times and gloss over the bad times. Is it difficult for a second husband to compete with the memory of a first husband when the wife tends to gloss over or forget the bad times altogether?
4) What's your next project in the works?
I rarely have only one project going on. I have a book coming later this year, called "The Lady and The Hussites", that is a sequel to my debut novel "The Lady Bornekova". I just this past week turned in my last round of edits (proofing edits). This story continues to follow my characters into the Hussite Wars (the religious civil wars in the Czech lands in the late 1400s). I am also working on my backlog. "Trail of Fears" (about the Cherokee Trail of Tears) and "Among the Pages" (about the Women's Suffrage Movement) are getting covers this summer and edited for release early next year. I am also starting to plot my first Biblical Fiction (or Historical Fiction set in the Biblical Era).
So reader friends, if you’d like to grab these lovely romances, I highly recommend them. Seriously, go get Hope In Cripple Creek. If you have a heart for adoption or caring for the weak, you’ll adore it. If you need a refreshing romance that's hot but not too spicy, grab A Convenient Risk. And check out Ms. Turnquist on her blog: http://saraturnquist.com/ She’d love to connect with you!
Volume Two Now Available!
Power within her. War without.
Between the lines of flirtation and justice, Saylor must seize the missing pieces of her fate. While harnessing her ability to communicate with deadly weapons of mass destruction, attending the annual gala, and fighting her growing feelings for the hunky Australian soldier, Saylor’s instincts become increasingly distressed. Tempted by greed and independence, she must determine what she stands for and on whose side she belongs.
Volume Two of the Insurrection trilogy is NOW AVAILABLE! Get your copy now for only $4.99, and continue Saylor's adventure on Isla Barina!
Join me for a fun celebration on Facebook, the Incomplete Release Party. We'll have confetti, games, and an hour of clinking virtual sparkling drinks, and freebies. RSVP HERE and hang where all the party people roll. :D
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