Meet the Characters in Twice Promised by Maggie Brendan

September 29, 2012

The second in Maggie Brendan’s The Blue Willow Brides series is a sweet romance story set in Central City, Colorado amidst the majestic Rocky Mountains in the late 1800s. It is fun, easy read with some interesting twists. I found myself giggling a bit toward the end.

Meet the characters:

Greta Olsen, a tall blonde with big blue eyes,came from Holland and lived with her brother and sister-in-law in Cheyenne, Wyoming before answering an ad for a mail-order bride. Upon arriving in Central City, Colorado, not only did she find that she wasn’t the only “bride” there to marry Jess, he knew nothing of the arrangement. Outspoken, headstrong, and not afraid of work, she’s a personality to be reckoned with.

Cora Johnson was the daughter of a banker, accustomed to having servants take care of her and consequently had no domestic skills except for quilting. After her parents rejected her new-found faith, she answered the ad for the mail-order bride. She was accustomed to much finer living than she found herself in when Zach provided a miner’s cabin for the ladies to stay in when they arrived. Although more demure than Greta, Cora would speak her mind when she needed to.

Jess Gifford took over the mercantile business when his parents died of influenza a year ago. Although her was perfectly satisfied living alone and running the business, his brother, Zach, had other ideas. It took more than a little of Zach’s persuasion to get Jess to agree to hire the two ladies to work in the store and choose one of them as his bride.

Zach Gifford had an ulterior motive for finding a bride for his brother. He wouldn’t leave Jess to run the mercantile alone, but his dream was to be a rancher, a goal he couldn’t pursue as long as he was tied to the store.

Granny had her own ideas about how to decide which of her grandsons should be courting each lady. The spry seventy-year-old woman doted on her grandsons, the only family she had left. The brides-to-be immediately loved her, and she them.

Agnes Cartwright had been courted by Jess in the past, and nothing would please her more than for his attention once again.

Cole Cartwright, Agnes’ brother and a good-looking rancher, waited in the wings, should one of the two brides decline her betrothed and become available.

One Lovely Blog Award – Aw, Shucks

September 29, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award – Aw, Shucks.

One Lovely Blog Award – Aw, Shucks

September 28, 2012

Thank you, Linden Barrick, for nominating me for  the One Lovely Blog Award. Please visit Linden’s blog, Hello God. Welcome to My Classroom at I was very surprised and appreciative that you recognized my blog.

According to the rules of this award, I’m supposed to 1) recognize the one who nominated me (see above), 2) tell seven things about myself, and 3) nominate fifteen other bloggers.

Hmmm, seven things about me:

1.  I’ve finally decided what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be—I am—a writer. So’s that mean I’m grown up now?

2. I’ve been married to a great guy who deserves an award for putting up with me for 48 years.

3. I have three great sons, an awesome daughter-in-law, six terrific grandchildren, and seven (count ’em 7) beautiful great-grandchildren. Oh, and two “in the oven.” So, that’s a baseball team, right?

4. I have a new favorite place–Maggie Valley, NC, at least until a newer favorite place comes along.

5. I am retired from my last public job after 22 years there. Who says retirement’s not what it’s cracked up to be? I’m so lovin’ it!

6. I like to make jewelry… if I can ever find the time.

7. I cannot imagine what life would be like without Jesus. He picks me up, He holds me up, He loves me, even when I’m not lovable.

My Fifteen Nominees:

1. Ada Brownell: Ink from an Earthen Vessel: Stick-to-Your Soul Encouragement Ada is a fellow Christian writer and awesome encourager.

2. Melissa Jenna: Melissa is a sweet, optimistic Christian lady who speaks from her heart.

3. Jennifer Slattery: Jennifer Lives Out Loud, Jennifer is one truly loving Christian writer and encourager with huge heart for others.

4. Lori Roeleveld: Deeper With Jesus in Rhode Island, Lori has beautiful devotionals on her blog.

5. Staci Stallings & Naty Matos: Grace & Faith 4U, Two wonderful writers who promote Christian fiction and host guest bloggers on their neat website.

6. Laura Hodges Poole: A Word of Encouragement Laura is a gracious encourager who’s helped me more than she knows.

7. Patty Wysong: Patterings, The tagline of her super-cool blog is Finding the Extraordinary God in our Ordinary Lives. A definite must read.

8. Sharon Srock: The Women of Valley View, This is a wonderful blog about Sharon’s characters in the fictional town of Garfield, Oklahoma she created for her Women of Valley View book series.

9. Anne Baxter Campbell: A Pew Perspective,, In her blog, Anne reviews books, posts devotionals and has guest bloggers. An interesting and inspiring blog.

10. Peg Blann Phifer: Whispers in Purple:  Peg’s blog is chock full of books and devotions to God. Very good reading!

11. Margaret Daley: Margaret’s Blog: Margaret posts hero and heroine intervews from books in her unique blog. She is an awesome, inspiring, loving mentor to many Christian authors.

12. Diane LaValle McCaslin: My Life in God’s Garden, Diane’s musings about her life as a child of God, a “mother of many,” and adoption. What a story!

13. Joy Avery Melville: Journeys to Joy, This is perhaps the most sweet and encouraging lady I’ve ever met. Once she gets a hold of your name, look out–she will PRAY for you, by name, until your reach your goals. Share her journey on her blog,along with book reviews, workshops and critiques.

14. Terri Porta: Supporting Godly Women, This is a wonderful, relevant blog for Christian women.

15. Nancy Mehl: Nancy’s Notes,, a blog about faith, life and writing. This is a sweet author talks in her 9-21-12 post about her friend, a former Old Amish Order lady, whose given her support and inspiration to write her book, Inescapable, and her soon-to-be released Unbreakable.

Meet the Characters in As We Forgive by June Foster

September 20, 2012

This is a lovely story showing how, as Christians, we have our own issues we face every day. Everything is not always as “perfect” as we’d like it to be, or as we’d like others to perceive. We all have faults and make mistakes—even ministers. But, we have a God who’s willing to forgive  and help us get over the hurdles, once we turn our battles over to Him.

 Meet the characters:

 Tim Garrett – Youth pastor of Bellewood Fellowship has a huge problem with anger. One of the teens in his youth group seems to be bent on inciting that anger in him at every opportunity. Tim’s desire to develop a relationship with his beautiful volunteer is hindered by his sense of alarm—would his anger issues drive her away, too?

 Roxanne Ratner— The new Christian who’s recently joined Bellewood Fellowship is obsessed with her image. She volunteered to coordinate a fund-raiser, a makeover event with the teen girls, an activity that was right up her alley.  After she learns of the youth pastor’s past, a question haunts her: How could a God-called man minister if he’s guilty of losing his temper? And how could she trust him to not lose his temper with her?

 Johnny Thompson—The student in Tim Garrett’s youth group who seems intent on antagonizing him. What is behind all the pranks and opposition? What is to get attention, or something much deeper?

 Jess and Holly Colton—The couple we met in June Foster’s first Bellewood Series book, Give Us This Day,” are Tim’s best friends. In this story, the tables are turned, and Tim goes to Jess for counsel. Jess’ love and understanding are manifested in care and prayer for the young youth pastor.

 Pastor Downing—The senior pastor of Bellewood Fellowship has something in his past he wishes no one would find out. Can it remain in his past, or will the events surrounding this story force it out in the open?  And if the board and the congregation find out, what will happen to him?

 Jack Thompson—Johnny’s father is the head of the finance committee of Bellewood Fellowship. He also seems to have some animosity toward Tim Garrett. What is behind that?

 Janelle Moore— Tim’s sister has nothing to say to him. But she has plenty to say to the pastor of Bellewood Fellowship. Is it sibling rivalry or something else that has her trying to discredit her brother?

 Rena Telles—Rena is Tim’s ex-fiance whom he met through his sister while she was attending the same university as Janelle. The version of Tim and Rena’s break-up that she tells Janelle has snowballing consequences.

June Foster is a retired teacher who travels full time with her husband in their RV.  She has three novels out now from Desert Breeze Publishing: Give Us This Day, the first of the Bellewood Series books,  Hometown Fourth of July and As We Forgive, the second Bellewood Series book.  Her novel Ryan’s Father will release from WhiteFire Publishing in January 2014. June’s books are available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Meet the Characters in Still Life in Shadows by Alice J. Wisler

September 18, 2012

This is a wonderful book of forgiveness and redemption; it is a captivating read with well-developed and diverse characters. I must say that Kiki is, hands down, my favorite.  This well-written, intriguing  story with unexpected twists keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens next.  In my opinion, this is the author’s best book yet.

Meet the characters:

Gideon Miller, the story’s protagonist, is gripped by anger, hatred, and bitterness toward his father to whom he refers as “the Beast.”  Still, he has a caring heart—especially toward those who had suffered as he did under a tyrannical father and strangulated by Old Order Amish beliefs and isolationism. Helping young people who have left the Amish community acclimate to modern life, he became known as the “Getaway Savior.” Can he find it in his heart to forgive his father?

Moriah Miller, Gideon’s youngest brother, had suffered through the same kinds of physical, mental and emotional abuse from their father. Although he was a kind, generous, and thoughtful person, he had difficulty handling his newfound freedom in the English world. He made choices that would cause untold agony for his family and friends.

Kiki Yanagi was always herself—totally honest and uncomplicated. She loved people and she yearned for them to love her, especially her classmate, Angie.  She’d learned to endure thoughtless teasing from her peers, but she longed for Angie to be her friend. After her persistence lands her a job repairing bicycles at Russell Brothers Auto Repair where Gideon works, it isn’t long until she manages to steal the hearts of Ormond, the owner of the shop, and the other employees—even Gideon. Would Gideon ever have thought that a thirteen-year-old autistic girl would have such an impact on his life?

Mari Yanagi, Kiki’s older sister, runs Another Cup, the coffee shop/diner where Gideon eats lunch every day. Putting her own desires aside, she assumes responsibility of caring for her kid sister because of their mother’s mental illness. Gideon longed to know Mari better, but would she let him into her life?

Reginald Smithfield, son of a prominent resident, Luva Smithfield who “owned” Twin Branches, North Carolina, was an intolerant bigot who loathed anyone who was different, including blacks, American Indians, Jews, Asians, and Amish—anyone who wasn’t a white, mountain-born person.

Ormond, who owned Russell Brothers Auto Repair, was an easy-going, funny, wise and generous man of faith who would “give his right arm for his friends.”

Meet the Author:

Alice J. Wisler was born in Osaka, Japan to Presbyterian missionaries. She went to Eastern Mennonite University after graduating from Canadian Academy, an international high school in Kobe, Japan. She majored in social work and has worked across the U.S. in that field.  She taught ESL (English as a Second Language) in Japan and at a refugee camp in the Philippines.  She also studied Spanish at a language institute in San Jose, Costa Rica.

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.

Still Life in Shadows is Alice Wisler’s fifth novel.  Rain Song, How Sweet It Is, Hatteras Girl and A Wedding Invitation were all published by Bethany House.

Alice presents online writing courses–Writing the Heartache–and workshops across the country.  She also has a line of remembrance cards.       She is a contributing writer at Open to Hope and at the Raleigh Examiner where she writes on grief and loss. Her two blogs are Writing the Heartache and Alice’s Patchwork Quilt. I hope you’ll visit her there.

Meet the Characters in Sandwich With A Side of Romance

September 10, 2012

 Sandwich With a Side of Romance by Krista Phillips is an entertaining and relaxing read with realistic characters and a satisfying Christian theme without being supercilious.

Meet the characters:

Madison “Maddie” Buckner is a twenty-year-old hairdresser who’s just earned her cosmetology license and moved to Sandwich, Illinois to work in a hair salon and begin a new life. So how in the world did she wind up working in the Sandwich Emporium? Her heart’s desire is to be able to provide a home for her eleven-year-old brother—and to avoid a romantic relationship at all cost. As a new Christian, her past niggles at her, threatening her new-found faith.

Reuben Callihan owns and manages the family business with plans for expansion. His abrupt and overbearing personality is a challenge Maddie willing to accept to keep her job.  Although deep down a caring person, he struggles with the loss of his father and the man who he feels is trying to take his place, the stresses of running a business and a relationship he’s not sure he wants to be in.

Olivia “Livy”  Sanderson is Reuben’s drop-dead gorgeous girlfriend with whom he’s been involved off and on since high school. She’s also jealous, smothering, and manipulative.

Allie Crum, became Maddie’s best friend who sometimes pushes Maddie outside her comfort zone.

Betty and Gary Luther, Reuben’s mother and step-father, “bless the socks off” Maddie with their generosity, while giving Maddie a taste of a real, loving family life.

Kyle Buckner is Maddie’s street-wise younger brother who’s stuck in the system with a foster mom he calls “Sarg” and her husband. The Blakelys have applied to adopt Kyle. Will Maddie be able to qualify before the adoption goes to court?

Debut Krista Phillips has created a winner in her first book, ”Sandwich,” and I, for one, am looking forward to more of her work.

Krista writes inspirational romantic comedy. She believes a sprinkle of laughter (and a wee bit of chocolate) makes everything a little better! She blogs regularly about life as a wife, mother, follower of Jesus, and mother of a child with a rare congenital heart defect at  She lives with her husband and four beautiful daughters in middle Tennessee.  She also contributes to the blog, The Writer’s Alley at

Sandwich With a Side of Romance, published Abingdon Press, is available in paperback or eBook at,, and, or ask for it at your local bookstore.

Testimonial for Carol Round’s book: Journaling With Jesus

September 3, 2012

     It never ceases to amaze me how God puts things (and people) in our path at the precise moment we need it. In my case, I had started a prayer journal several weeks ago and wasn’t as happy with it as I thought I should be. As I suppose others do also, my prayer journal was pretty much just a list of thanks, praises and requests, usually for other people.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We should pray for others. Daily. But I felt that something was missing.

Then I ran across Carol and her book. The very first chapter acknowledged this shortcoming to me as God spoke to me through His Word and Carol’s book. My journaling has now become much more meaningful–a learning tool, as well as a communication tool. Each day is a new “letter to God” in which I express freely the thoughts of my heart. Deep thoughts. Thoughts I’d never considered putting on paper.  After only a few days of “Journaling with Jesus,” I can see (and feel) the difference. If you are seeking a deeper relationship with the Savior, I definitely recommend this book.

The portions that I feel stood out the most for me are:

  • “Keeping a prayer journal guides you to gain a deeper insight into who you are, what your potential is, and how to attain it with God’s help.”
  • “…it requires you to slow down and take time to listen to His voice.”
  • “…questions for reflection that will jumpstart your healing through writing.”
  • What you need to get started and preparing to meet with God through journaling.
  • One of my favorite Scriptures: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8, NKJV

No matter how long we’ve been a child of the King, we can always learn something new and draw closer to God, if we have the desire and try.This is a short book–only sixty-one pages–but it has a lot to say, if you take the time to digest it as you go, and it is, in my opinion, well worth the money.       

Carol Round is a self-syndicated columnist, Christian author and inspirational speaker. She began her journey with the Lord in 2001 when she admitted her need His guidance. Since that time she has sought a deeper relationship with Him through reading Scripture, Bible Study, and the personal discipline of keeping a daily prayer journal. After being encouraged by other Christian women, Carol has compiled her experiences with prayer journaling into this book.

Journaling With Jesus, How to Draw Closer to God, is published by West Bow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson and is available from the author at , from or from the publisher at

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