Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Victorian Spring: A Matchmaker Governess Novelette by Ruth Axtell, © 2014

Matchmaking Governess series, Book 1

This is a sweet, sweet story. Don't miss it!

RuthAxtell_VictorianSpringVictorian Spring

London, 1893.

Widowed governess Constance Whitaker has just taken charge of two young children in a comfortable middle-class household in a London square and already she is frazzled by their spoiled behavior. But with a young son and widowed mother to support, she has little choice but to brave it out. When an encounter during an April shower with her neighbor, widower Angus Sherwood, stirs hopes and longings, she tells herself not to create pipe dreams like a schoolgirl.

Mabel Atwood has more than friendship in mind when she introduces herself to Constance. As governess to Angus’s 13-year-old daughter, she thinks Constance is the perfect match for her widowed employer. So does his daughter, Natalie.

But what does Constance’s heart say?

From Redcliffe Square in Kensington to the seaside town of Margate, Book One of the Matchmaking Governess series takes the reader into the late Victorian era, a time of tradition and great change. Pour yourself a cup of tea and meet Mabel Atwood, the matchmaking governess. --author Ruth Axtell website
Tea Cup Clip Art 8 Tea Cup Clip Art

Available as an eBook ~  Click here to purchase on

and... read the first Chapter excerpt!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sandra Byrd's novel Mist of Midnight releases March 10, 2015!

Daughters of Hampshire, Book One

Author Sandra Byrd has a new novel releasing in the Spring of 2015!
Sandra Byrd
Photograph © Studio B Portraits
~*Engaging Books... Engaging Hearts & Minds.*~
In the first of a brand new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.

MOM Final CoverRebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her… and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca’s name, but her home and incomes.

That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real imposter. Her home and her father’s investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives–does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, would she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”?

            Be sure to watch for it.

Please sign up for my mailing list, below, so I can let you know when the book is available and enter you into any contests run!  I’ll be drawing five names from among the sign ups for a free advance copy of the book plus a Victorian lace book mark to be sent early next year.  --author Sandra Byrd
Sandra’s newsletter sign up: Click Here

Mist Final Facebook Banner

Also, click here for descriptions of her adult, tweens & teens writings!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Butterfly and the Violin ~ Kindle Fire giveaway & Facebook Party on August 7th!

N*E*W*S ALERT: The Butterfly and the Violin has been selected as an AMAZON DEAL all week -- $7.00 for paperback and $6.15 for Kindle eBook 8/3 - 8/9/14. Enjoy!

Book 1 of A Hidden Masterpiece series
Hi Readers,
I don't want you to miss out on this wonderful opportunity to learn more about Kristy Cambron's The Butterfly and the Violin.
You can enter for a chance to win a Kindle Fire, and a copy of The Butterfly and the Violin. Plus — join Kristy LIVE for an Author chat on August 7th!
Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

Welcome to the launch campaign for debut novelist Kristy Cambron's The Butterfly and the Violin. Romantic Times had this to say: "Alternating points of view skillfully blend contemporary and historical fiction in this debut novel that is almost impossible to put down. Well-researched yet heartbreaking. . . ."
The BEST Day!
Author Kristy Cambron and her debut novel!
Kristy is celebrating the release of the first book in her series, A Hidden Masterpiece, with a fun Kindle Fire giveaway and meeting her readers during an August 7th Facebook author chat party.


 One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 7th. Winner will be announced at The Butterfly and the Violin Author Chat Party. Kristy will be connecting with readers and answering questions, sharing some of the fascinating research behind the book, hosting a fun book chat, and giving away some GREAT prizes. She will also be giving an exclusive look at the next book in the series, A Sparrow in Terezin!

So grab your copy of  The Butterfly and the Violin and join Kristy on the evening of August 7th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 7th!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

based on the life of Rich Mullins: Ragamuffin, DVD, © 2013, offer of one DVD Giveaway

We are not changed by the expectations of others, but by the love of God. Our Abba Father. Philippians 1:6-8, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
click here for Rich Mullins' music
“I hope that I would leave a legacy of joy. A legacy of real compassion. Because I think there is great joy in real compassion. I don’t think that you can know joy apart from caring deeply about people – caring enough about people that you actually do something.”
   —Rich Mullins, 1994
Based on the life of the late singer-songwriter Rich Mullins, the story is told as a radio interview, from Rich at a young age to his death, according to the remembrances of his family and friends. A real person, not glossed over, Rich talked about pursuing God not religion nor expectations of man. The one question becomes, "Do you believe that I loved you?" The movie portrayal conflicts with the words of his music, highlighting his character flaws. Quotations by Rich Mullins point to examination of where we place our focus ~ on God or man. His joy is not shown, nor a deeper acceptance he received being loved in brokenness. I liked the connection with Brennan Manning in the film, as a mentor with Rich. The lead actor does the singing and Rich's recordings are not used. Good visual clips of Rich interwoven with the credits.

The movie back cover does not contain a rating. There is cursing, smoking, and drinking portrayed in the film. Drama/biography, 137 minutes, co-produced by Rich Mullins' younger brother, Dave Mullins. DVD release date: July 8, 2014. The film seemed overly long in spots. Special features include the making of Ragamuffin, deleted scenes, audio commentary with David Schultz and Dave Mullins, and a message from Dave Mullins.

Parenting Healthy: Ragamuffin the story of Rich Mullins New Release #Review & #Giveaway
***Thank you to Fly-By Promotions for sending me a copy of this movie to review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

One copy of this DVD is being offered as a giveaway. Please leave an e-mail address ...[at]...[dot]com with your comment so the winner may be contacted following the drawing on 7/22/2014.

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Revealing by Suzanne Woods Fisher, © 2014

The Inn at Eagle Hill, Book 3

Cover ArtA rainy morning and a proposal. New neighbors are moving in across the road and a new occupant for the Inn at Eagle Hill guest flat is on her way for an extended stay. Innkeeper Rose Schrock has a morning caller; Galen King. He has a question, she surprisingly answers, "Yes."

In this third book of The Inn at Eagle Hill family and neighbors, open communication brings lives together to search truth in ordinary days. Hidden secrets brought forward change and reveal character that stems from the heart. New visitors bring an addition to those living in Stoney Ridge.

What I liked most about this final story is the way selfish and selfless stand out so vividly. There are those who come and go who are only thinking of themselves and what they can gain. Others, trying to find their course and direction, become disillusioned but plod on as they only look to circumstances. The ones who shine are those who take life and expect it head on, rather than ducking, and become better for it.

I liked the growth shown in thought and actions of the characters. Families were modeled by the choices they made, influencing others for either good or bad. Necessary to take a stand for right and continue on. Galen King portrayed this with integrity in his actions as Rose examined her life. Rose has brought a great gifting into the lives of her children as they surrender their "wants" for the better good of their needs and those near them. They are able to make decisions, forgive, and talk over where they are, to take the next step.

What I especially liked about the author's writings is that they were unveiled as they would be in actual living, rather than them popping up to complete the previous two stories. It would be good to read the series in order, but in this final story, catch up is done so effortlessly, you have the background without it being a listing of happenings in prior books. Some loose ends were left unfinished. I hope to see these friends from Stoney Ridge again!

Suzanne Woods Fisher  Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Letters, The Calling, the Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of an Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner for The Search, a Carol Award finalist for The Choice, and a Christy Award finalist for The Waiting. She is also a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. Learn more at and connect with Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

The Inn at Eagle Hill series

The Letters   The Calling   The Revealing      

***Thank you to Litfuse Publishing Group for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for Suzanne Woods Fisher's novel ~ The Revealing. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Enjoy this excerpt of Suzanne Woods Fisher's The Revealing ~ Chapter 1
This secret life was doing her in.
   At times, Naomi King wondered how in the world she had become so secretive. She used to be the type who would answer any question, talk to anyone about anything. No longer. Maybe years of enduring dreadful migraines that had kept her pinned home so much of the time, waiting for the worst to pass, had made her more reticent and reclusive. Maybe it was because she’d never had a reason to keep a secret of this magnitude. Most likely, it was because she didn’t realize what she was missing until now. It was as if she had come out of the shadows and into the real world.
   And it all had to do with Tobe Schrock.
   Tobe was serving out a sentence at FCI Schuykill in Minersville for withholding evidence about wrongdoings in Schrock Investments, his late father’s investment company, from the Securities Exchange Commission. Minersville was a one-hour- and-thirty-one-minute bus ride from Lancaster, plus another twelve-minute bus ride from Lancaster to Stoney Ridge. Naomi had it timed to the second.
   Except for today, when the bus to Stoney Ridge had run late.
   As she walked down the lane, she unrolled a half-eaten pack of Tums, chewed two tablets, and tried very hard to do nothing but take deep breaths and think about Tobe. It helped a little, but not enough. She found herself nervously twirling the strings of her prayer cap and forced her hands down by her sides. Stubbornly, she wrestled against the anxiety. If Galen were already home and asked where she had been, she wouldn’t lie to him. I will not lie. She had never once lied to him, though she didn’t tell him everything, either.
   So what would she tell him? The band around her chest cinched tighter and her pulse picked up speed. She would say that she had gone visiting a friend on a Sunday afternoon, which was true. And yet it wasn’t. Tobe wasn’t just a friend. He was much, much more than that. But Galen, her dear, intrusive, overprotective brother, could never understand that.
   She heard a horse nicker in the darkness and another one answer back, and panic swooped down and seized her from head to toe.
   She took another Tums and chewed fast. She couldn’t keep this up.
   She couldn’t keep the secret about Tobe much longer. Today he had promised her that the time was coming soon when everything would be out in the open. He said he would be released from prison soon. Any day now.
   But until then? Her hands were trembling and her stomach was churning and her heartbeat thundered. Galen must be home by now. The horses would need to be fed soon.
   Unease tightened in her stomach. She took three more Tums out of the package and chewed them, fast and hard.
   Oh . . . where had she left that bus schedule to Minersville? Where, where, where? If her brother found out she had been to see Tobe Schrock . . . at a federal prison . . . She cringed.
   Naomi and Tobe were an unlikely pair, she knew that. He had been born Amish but spent his growing up years in a Mennonite church and remained unbaptized. Uncertain. Worldly. She was sheltered, overprotected by her brother. Her life was on the horse farm that her brother managed. Her work was to care for their home and be a part of the Amish church, and she loved her life.
   Her brother did not think well of Tobe Schrock. It wasn’t just because of the recent troubles the Schrock family had with their investment company imploding—his disdain went farther back. He considered Tobe to be lazy and selfish, an opinion based on Tobe as a young teen. But Naomi saw past that and found so much more in Tobe. She believed the best about him. There was a fine man in there, a diamond in the rough, and she was desperately, hopelessly in love with that man.
   She took a new pack of Tums out of her dress pocket, chewed two tablets, and swallowed so fast she didn’t even taste the chalky cherry flavor, turned down the wooded driveway of the King farm, and stopped short. There, in front of the house, was her brother Galen. He stood with his arms crossed against his chest, deep in conversation with Bishop Elmo and Deacon Abraham.
   Lightning split the sky, followed by a great clap of thunder and a torrent of soft raindrops. There was a sweet smell in the air on this gray Monday morning, the mulchy smell of wet earth. Spring was but a promise, but a promise was better than winter.
   Rose Schrock crossed the yard to the henhouse with an empty basket in her arms, hardly aware of the rain that was falling, mindful of all she needed to do before the children returned from school. The guest flat needed to be cleaned, aired out, fresh sheets and towels brought in. She just received a message on the machine in the phone shanty from a woman who wanted to reserve the guest flat for an extended stay. The woman said she needed a quiet place to “reinvent herself”—whatever that meant.
   Rose felt relieved to have someone stay in the guest flat during the off-season. The inn had provided a far more steady stream of guests than she could have imagined, mostly because of the mistaken notion of Eagle Hill as a place where miracles occurred. But the stream of visitors drizzled in December and came to a complete stop in January, February, and March. It was a worry. This was her first year as an innkeeper. She didn’t know if it was normal to expect a seasonal dip or if it meant an inevitable decline, but she did know she counted on that income to help make ends meet for her family.
   Something on the road caught her eye and she stopped for a moment. It was a truck, following a buggy, and it looked as if they were turning into the vacant property across the road. She’d heard that a new Amish family was moving into the district. Vera, her mother-in-law, who rarely left home but knew the business of everyone, said that the recently widowed father was a minister. He had bought the Bent N’ Dent grocery store, looking for a fresh start for his brood, and Rose certainly understood that. A fresh start sounded delightful on days when life’s complications seemed to hold her by the ankles.
   The chickens fussed and clucked as she entered the rickety henhouse. She let them out into the yard and gathered the eggs in the nest boxes, taking care with Harriet, the old hen who refused to leave her nest and pecked with a vengeance. When the basket was full, Rose hurried outside and latched the door behind her. As she turned, she found Galen King, her particular friend and neighbor, waiting for her with an odd look on his face.
   “Rose, there’s something I need to talk to you about.” His voice was both soft and gruff, very, very bass, like rumbling thunder from the next county. She loved the sound of it.
   He paused, shifting from one foot to another as if he had a pebble in his shoe. He coughed, and Rose saw a bead of perspiration trickle down his temple under his black felt hat. She looked at him, wondering if he wasn’t coming down with a fever and thinking that standing here in the rain couldn’t be good for him if he was. “Come inside for a cup of coffee.”
   He glanced toward the house. “Vera’s inside, isn’t she?”
   “Yes. In the kitchen.”
   He cleared his throat and met her eyes at last. “Then, no. I’d rather say what I have to say in private.”
   “Well, could we at least get out of the rain?” She walked over to the porch and spun around to face him, a tad impatient. He followed behind, glancing nervously at the kitchen windows to see if Vera was peering out them. What did Galen have on his mind? It was cold and her feet were wet. She was in no mood for a mystery. “Is something wrong?”
   “No, no, nothing’s wrong. Well, actually, maybe there is. Did something happen to trouble Naomi yesterday?”
   “Nothing that I know of. Why?”
   “Bishop Elmo and Deacon Abraham dropped by yesterday afternoon to ask if I would take on another apprentice, since Jimmy Fisher is busy with the chickens.”
   That didn’t surprise Rose—she knew Galen had more work than he could manage—but she held out a hope that he might wait for Tobe, to apprentice him after his release. Beyond Galen, Rose noticed a porch gutter was clogged with leaves, causing the water to spill over the gutters. The droplets fell to puddles on the ground with uneven plips. She looked at him, not sure what an apprentice had to do with Naomi. It wasn’t typical of Galen to circle around the block before getting to his point. “So . . . about Naomi . . . ,” she urged.
   “Naomi walked up the driveway like she’d seen a ghost, then shot past us and into the house. Acted as twitchy as a cow’s tail at fly time all evening long.”
   Rose shivered in the damp air. “I can ask Bethany if she knows something, though I’m not sure she’d tell me.” She started to move past him.
   He reached out to stop her, his hands on her arms. “But Naomi’s not the reason I stopped by.” He glanced over her shoulder to the kitchen windows. Satisfied Vera wasn’t peering out at them, he looked straight into Rose’s eyes, took a deep breath, and said, “I think it’s time we moved things along.”
   She glanced around the farm and saw all the things that needed moving along—a pasture fence that needed repairing, a barn door that kept falling o` its track, a sagging clothesline that was threatening to fall over in the next big windstorm. She was surprised it had lasted through the winter. In May, they were due to take a turn hosting church at Eagle Hill. The to-do list was endless. Where to start?
   But Galen’s face had such a strange look on it, uncomfortable and shy, not like a man who was creating a to-do list. A blush began to creep up his face. Slowly, his meaning began to dawn on her and she was astounded. “Galen!” she exclaimed. “Are you asking me to marry you?” His eyes flew open wide, and he swallowed hard. “Doesn’t it sound like I am?”
   “Well. Sort of. Maybe. Not quite.” The more she said, the sillier she felt. But at the risk of embarrassing him even further, she knew she’d better make her position clear. She wasn’t ready. Her husband Dean hadn’t been gone two full years and things were still unsettled, unfinished.
   Galen took another deep breath. “Yes. Yes, I am. I am asking you to marry me.” He took her two hands in his. “Rose, there will always be obstacles. I want us to face those things together. I want us to get married. Soon.”
   “I . . . I don’t know what to say.”
   “Just say yes.” To Galen, everything was simple.
   But it wasn’t a simple question. The very thought of getting married was ridiculous. It made no sense. Frankly, their entire relationship made no sense! She was older than Galen by more than a few years. She had a family—two stepchildren, three children, plus a very cranky mother-in-law; he had never married. She was still trying to unravel the mess of her husband’s investment company gone awry. Tobe, Dean’s son, was serving time in jail. Jake Hertzler, a key player in the downfall of the company, charged with all kinds of terrible crimes, hadn’t been found. Getting married was the furthest thing from her mind.
   And why now, on a rainy Monday morning, would Galen blurt out something like asking her to marry him? Why not yesterday, when the sun was shining as they had picnicked up at Blue Lake Pond?
   Yet such an unrehearsed proposal was so like him. Words were few with Galen, but when he did speak, they were impactful. He was a man of action instead of words, purpose rather than intention. So different from her first husband, who could stir up a dust cloud with his fancy way with words.
   Rose remembered the first time she had noticed Galen— truly noticed him. It was a sunny afternoon, sometime after the foggy period when Dean had passed, and Galen had offered to teach her how to drive a buggy. She had been raised Amish but had left the church over a dozen years ago. She hadn’t been near a horse in as many years and it was high time she grew comfortable with them again. As she was climbing into the buggy, the horse pranced sideways at a scurrying mouse, and Rose leaped back with a screech, startled. Immediately Galen stepped forward, taking the bridle, rubbing the mare’s forehead, and the horse soon quieted. But Rose’s reaction must have been so unexpected to Galen that his eyes went wide.
   “I take exception to mice,” she explained, feeling color rise in her cheeks.
   Then Galen broke out in a rich laugh. Never having seen him even smile before, she was unprepared for the impact. The sight was incredible; it completely changed him. She had not known his eyes to sparkle in such a way, his jaw to be so perfect, his throat so tan, his mouth so handsome. It was the first time she saw all that he could be.
   An embarrassed laugh left her throat, then a second, and soon her laughter joined his and she suddenly found herself feeling happy. Happier than she had felt in a long, long time. He had held out both his hands to her to help lift her into the buggy and she felt an unexpected jolt of excitement. As they sat together in the small buggy, she was as close to him as she’d ever been and the thought made her light-headed.
   Each time she saw him after that buggy ride, there was a knife-edgy feeling in the pit of her stomach. Galen was so quiet and composed that she had no idea he felt the same way. It was months later that he admitted he had fallen in love with her.
   With the rain falling behind him, Rose looked at Galen. He had a rugged, capable face. Firm features, determined jawline, placid eyes. She saw the great kindness in his expression, and she saw his wisdom, which was well beyond his years. She saw compassion in those green, green eyes. She saw love there.
   It made no sense to marry now. No sense at all.
   But . . . the thing about love was, once started, it couldn’t easily be stopped. A voice that she was surprised to realize was hers said, “Yes, Galen. I believe I would like to marry you.”
Suzanne Woods Fisher, The Revealing Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2014.

The Revealing by @SuzanneWFisher | Enter to win 1 of 3 iPads and LOTS of books!

In The Revealing, the riveting conclusion to the Inn at Eagle Hill series, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher pulls out all the stops with a fast-paced tale of deception, revelation, and just the right dose of romance.

Suzanne is celebrating by giving away THREE iPads!

  THREE grand prize winners will receive:
  • An iPad
  • The Inn at Eagle Hill series (The Letters, The Calling, and The Revealing) by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Five second place winners will receive:
  • The Inn at Eagle Hill series (The Letters, The Calling, and The Revealing) by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on July 20th. All winners will be announced July 21st at Suzanne's blog. AND ... if you're looking for more in the Inn at Eagle Hill series, be sure to pick up the ebook novella, The Rescue, for just $1.99!


Suzanne is also giving away two 10-book mystery prize packs! 

One of the major themes of The Revealing is learning to trust your intuition and instincts. These are God-given qualities that we sometimes are too timid or unsure of to act on. For a chance to win one of the 10-book prize packs, leave a comment on this blog and share about a time when your intuition or instinct saved the day—or a time you ignored it and missed an opportunity. 

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Suzanne's blog on the 21st to see if you won one of the great prizes! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Interview and Giveaway Drawing ~ Somebody Like You Book Tour ~ author Beth K. Vogt

Somebody Like You - Beth K. Vogt

Hi Beth,

Thank you for offering to do an interview showcasing your new novel, Somebody Like You. Not giving out any spoilers, I would like to ask you some questions to acquaint readers with you and your writing style.

The first question I would like to ask is ~ Did you have twins in mind when you wrote your story? What a difficult choice for your antagonist to make with both her vision and memories engaging her heart.
Twins was the first plot element I had in place for Somebody Like You. I’ve always wanted to write a story that had twins in it because I am a twin – I have a fraternal twin sister. I wanted to weave my real-life experience into one of my novels. As I fleshed out the story idea, I thought identical twins presented a challenging romance component. Yes, that’s an understatement.

Have you been thinking about this story for a long time ~ did the ideas come while writing another book?
I was writing the fast draft of another novel and at the same time I was playing the “what if?” game that writers like to play – mulling over ideas for other books. During this time, I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference and had the chance to talk with my editors at Howard Books. They asked what I was working on and I talked about both ideas, tossing out the “Can a young widow fall in love with her husband’s reflection” Story Question. Ultimately, they requested that novel.

When is your favorite time to write? Before or after your family time? Now that summer is approaching and school is out, do you take your laptop with you when you go on outings or do you keep notes in a notebook for future writing?
I’ve learned to write in between all the interruptions. My dream is to have hours and hours of time devoted to writing – but that isn’t realistic. I get a couple of hours to write by getting up early in the morning, and then real life happens and I have to ignore the imaginary characters for a while. Right now I’m on deadline, and my family is extremely understanding. My 13-year-old daughter is writing a story with her best friend – how fun is that? – so sometimes she’s sitting on the couch with her computer while I’m sitting across from her with my computer!

Do you have volunteer activities or hobbies you enjoy doing with others?
I am careful what I say yes to – and, not surprisingly, my other activities are writing-related. I mentor other writers because my life has been changed because others took the time to pour their expertise into me. I’m also the Skills Coach for My Book Therapy, the writing community started by best-selling author Susan May Warren. And then I’m the president of the Colorado Springs chapter of ACFW.

I have noticed the similarity in the layout of your fiction covers? Have you had input in the designs? I like that they are easily identified as yours.
I love my book covers – and so appreciate how my publisher has allowed me to have input on them. And yes, I like that there’s a unified look to them: the font title and style, where they position my name – that sort of thing.

What is your favorite part of your story? Did it sneak up on you, or did you plan it in advance of writing?
I love when my story surprises me. For Somebody Like You, there were scenes that flowed from my own life, my own heart, out onto the page. Some were written with tears, some I laughed a little as the words filled the page . . . I do plot all of my stories in detail, but always find that there’s always a surprising scene or two that shows up and becomes a favorite. My endings? Those always change from what I first imagine. Always.

Is there a question(s) you would like to explore that you haven't been asked in your book tour interviews?
I truly believe a book doesn’t become complete until it is in the hands of readers. And I love to connect with my readers. I try to do that through my author newsletter and my blog and my author Facebook page with questions and contests and giveaways. I’d love to know how readers like to connect with authors . . . what’s their favorite way to get to know authors? And is there something they’d like to know about Somebody Like You or writing?

One further question (or two!) ~ Do your antagonists take off with you typing to keep up, and are you surprised where they take you? Is there one who wants to speak out and keeps at you?
I love when my characters surprise me, taking over the story and doing something I hadn’t planned on happening. That occurred several times in Somebody Like You – well, in each of my books – and I just sit back and let it happen. My characters end up knowing the story better than I do!

Thank you, Beth, for stopping by Lane Hill House today.
Somebody Like You by Beth Vogt  Beth has graciously offered one copy of her novel Somebody Like You to a resident within the U.S. ~ Comment below answering one of Beth's questions and leave your e-mail address ...[at]...[dot]com to contact the winner of this drawing on July 16, 2014.
Author Beth Vogt  Beth's questions ~
I’d love to know how readers like to connect with authors . . . what’s their favorite way to get to know authors? And is there something they’d like to know about Somebody Like You or writing?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rival Hearts by Tara Randel, © 2014 ~ a Quilts of Love story

Walking into the publishing company on a normal day of work, Molly Henderson and Ben Weaver find it is anything but a normal day. Their boss calls them into his office to announce a new magazine, American Legend. Both of them will be competing for the spot of editor-in-chief ~ however, there will be a different plan on accomplishing that goal. They will switch places for their current magazines for one month.

Their magazines? Quilter's Heart and Outdoor Adventures. Ben will join a quilting group and Molly will take a first-time group of teens on kayak outings. Completely out of their comfort and knowledge, they began their quest.

I liked the change that came to each of them as they set out to learn these new skills and what the stretching did for their lives personally.

Nora, in the quilting group, was my favorite. She was a listener and asked questions that brought them each to discover new things about themselves.

Rival Hearts is well-written and draws out the intent of the heart. Molly and Ben have sheltered their true selves from becoming bruised. I liked the development of their backgrounds being exposed to find acceptance and enrichment beyond what they ever would have tried on their own. Relationships are built and others renewed. The story flows very well as they find their place and the true longings of their hearts. Overcoming obstacles, they are strengthened and both are winners beyond the competition of their intended goal.

Tara Randel is an author of novels focusing on family values, laughter, mystery and romance. Her novels include Lasting Love, Melody of Love and This Time Love. A member of ACFW, Tara is also the lead author of the new Annie's Mysteries series. Tara lives in New Port Richey, Florida. Visit Tara at


***Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group for the invitation to be part of the blog tour for Tara Randel's novel ~ Rival Hearts and to Abingdon Press for sending me this Quilts of Love story for review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Enjoy an excerpt from Tara Randel's Rival Hearts ~

Chapter 1 - Excerpt
Molly Henderson forced herself to remain still, even though every fiber in her being wanted to scoot to the end of the chair and rattle off at least twenty questions that came to mind. “A challenge?”
   Her boss, imposing as he sat in his leather chair behind an enormous mahogany desk, steepled fingers under his chin. Self-satisfaction curved his lips. “Let’s call it a little in-house competition between you and Ben. The winner will be editor-in-chief of my new magazine, American Legend.”
   Pushing her glasses higher on her nose, Molly’s gaze darted to Ben Weaver, the man who had just gone from colleague to competitor. His veiled expression showed no emotion. Was he as surprised as she? Of all the topics this meeting could have entailed, informing them of a competition hadn’t been one of them.
   She’d been surprised by the impromptu call to the boss’s office. Equally surprised when she found Ben waiting to attend the same meeting. What a way to start her Wednesday morning.
   “My plan is unusual, I know. Both of you are qualified for the position and would do an excellent job.” He shrugged. “I decided to put my own spin on the promotion process.”
   Putting his own spin on things had made Blake Masterson a very successful publisher. His unorthodox style of management set him apart in the publishing world, but somehow it worked for him. Mid-fifties, self-made and very popular in the Tampa Bay area for his publicity stunts. The stunts captivated the public, but always brought notice to charitable organizations and needs in the community. The man had a savvy mind and knew how to use it to keep his company in the limelight.
   “As you know, Master’s Publishing is ready to expand with a new magazine. I need people focused for the long haul to get the magazine up and running and to handle day-to-day operations afterward. You have both proven valuable in your current editorial roles and I want to see where this challenge will take you.”
   Molly bit back a sigh. She’d been with Master’s Publishing for eight years now, four as senior editor and writer for Quilter’s Heart Magazine. She loved working for the company, but steered clear of Mr. Masterson’s publicity stunts. She had seniority; her longevity alone should give her first shot at the position. But a competition involving her? Honestly, she’d never been very good at any endeavor outside her comfort zone, which consisted of working behind the scenes or immersing herself in a quilting project. Given the determined look on her boss’s face, his grand plan would definitely be uncomfortable for her.
   But not for her soon-to-be rival.
   She sneaked another peek at Ben. Tall, built, tan, and extremely masculine. Not to mention the most soulful brown eyes she’d ever seen. Yes, the man was handsome. But his ego? Another story all together.
   They’d rubbed each other the wrong way since the first day he stormed into Master’s Publishing six months ago to take over as senior editor and head writer of Outdoor Adventures Magazine. He’d smiled his confident smile and acted like he owned the place. He assured Mr. Masterson his former freelance writing and television experience would increase circulation of his magazine and far outsell all the other magazines published by Master’s, including “the little quilting magazine,” as he referred to Molly’s magazine. He made friends with all the staff, frequently took over meetings, and whenever she tried to make suggestions, he smiled down at her, not taking her seriously. She never let on how much he bugged her, but, boy, did he bug her. And now a competition? Ben would relish any out-of-the-box trial thrown his way. This was so unfair.
   “I’ve been very impressed with both of you. Our sales have increased due to both your efforts and we’ve already made a presence with our digital editions.
   “Ben, before you took on Outdoor Adventures, I was ready to pull the brand, but the articles are entertaining and well-written. The results have increased the circulation and advertising revenue. Of course, your past foray into the cable television show Extreme Survivors helped ramp up circulation. After watching you on TV, I jumped at the chance to lure you onboard. Nothing like having a mini-celebrity on staff.”
   Yes, Molly knew that part, since everyone in the office talked about him.
   Mr. Masterson grinned, as if Ben’s fame would benefit him. “I allowed you to fulfill your prior commitments when you first took the job, but since the traveling has wound down, we’re happy to have you in the office full-time.”
   Some people, Molly thought.
   “I have to give credit to Charlie,” Ben said as he leaned back in his chair. “He kept the magazine going while I finished up my schedule.”
   “Always good to have a competent assistant, especially one who knows what readers want. Since you’ve shown your dedication, I thought you might want a shot at the new position.”
   “Yes sir, I would,” he said, his smile dazzling.
   “Good. Good.” Mr. Masterson turned to Molly.
   “Molly, you’ve been here since you started as an intern. When you came up with the idea for a quilting magazine, I have to say I wasn’t convinced the market could sustain it. But you kept after me and proved me wrong. Who knew crafts were so popular? You’ve built a readership and the numbers keep growing, but you haven’t quite gotten to the place where readers connect you with Master’s Publishing.
   “Your monthly Dear Reader column is great but it’s time to take your relationship with your readers to the next level. I know you’re working on a special project to connect with readers, but let’s up the ante. Get them behind you.”
   Which Ben, with his high profile in the extreme sports world, had already done in just six months.
   “Even though both magazines are regional, as editors, I’m sure you’d like to work on a bigger project like American Legend. You both have a knack for finding in-depth human-interest stories to touch your particular readers. Just the type of content I want for my new magazine. Stories featuring ordinary people doing extraordinary things in their lives—not expecting accolades—just doing what comes naturally. I want stories of daring-do, faith-based stories, tearjerkers whenever possible. You’ll be given a chance to shine as an editor as well as moving up in the company.”
   Rumors had infiltrated the office for weeks now that Mr. Masterson had something in the works. Speculation about the new magazine ran the gamut from parenting advice, to the auto industry, even a new comic book division. With Mr. Masterson’s love for giving back to the community, American Legend was a perfect choice for his reputation. And while Molly appreciated the idea, she still had questions.
   “Could you be more specific?” she asked, still unsure about her part in this latest development. “About the challenge?”
   With pen and paper in hand to jot down notes perhaps affecting her future with the publisher. She waited patiently. She loved being an editor, loved her magazine. But a promotion? Who wouldn’t jump at the chance?
   “Out of all our inventory of magazines, both of yours are the most popular. Top sellers, actually. And polar opposites. So I thought, why not have my two top editors switch places? Molly, you belong to a quilting group, right? The one you’ve mentioned in your column?”
   Mr. Masterson turned to Ben. “You will join Molly’s quilting group. Let’s find out if those outdoor skills of yours translate into sewing and producing a well-made finished product.”
   “Quilting?” Ben raised a questioning eyebrow.
   Oh, her friends would love this. Her boss had no idea of the dynamics in an all-female gathering. Ben might be used to his rough and tumble world, where strength and experience with Mother Nature gave him the upper hand in the wilderness. Spending an hour with suburban moms who talked about love, life, kids, what to make for dinner, and what their husbands were in trouble for, might send him screaming into the sunset. She’d seen the caged look on many faces of men forced to spend too much together time in a room with chatty women. Ben didn’t know it yet, but he’d just signed up for an adventure very few men could withstand and survive to tell the tale.
   “Right now you’re working on the next issue of Outdoor Adventures which features . . .” Mr. Masterson glanced down at his notes. “Kayaking?”
   “Perfect. Molly—”
   Please, please, please, not sports. No physical activities. Anything but the outdoors. Her pulse rate elevated and she held her breath while she braced herself.
   “—we’ll get you hooked up with a local kayaking event. Since Ben already has some activities lined up for the next issue, here’s a perfect opportunity to show me what you’re made of.”
   “Kayaking?” Molly croaked, echoing Ben’s earlier response to his challenge.
   “Afterward, we’ll showcase your individual journeys in your magazines.” Mr. Masterson shot them a teasing wink. “I do love publicity. And friendly competition.”
   Molly gripped her pen. Friendly? More like a battle of the sexes if you asked her. One she doubted Ben would make easy. He took on a challenge the way an explorer took on the jungle, divide and conquer. No way could she kayak a few feet from shore, let alone with some major activity cooked up by Ben. She doubted she could get in the thing without tipping over.
   “You’ll each have four weeks to complete your tasks. At the end of the month, I’ll review your progress and name the new editor-in-chief. Any questions?”
   Ben spoke up first. “Yes, sir. Where will my new office be located?”
   “Your office?” Molly sputtered.
   He smiled at her. “Yes. My office.”
   “Don’t you mean my new office space?” she countered.
   Mr. Masterson stood. “Both of you follow me.”
   He led them down the hallway from his office. All the offices on this floor were for upper management, while one story down housed the other departments, including her office and Ben’s. Once they reached their destination, Masterson stood to the side as he opened the door with a grand flourish. Ben, his eyes bright with success, motioned for Molly to enter ahead of him. The more confident he appeared, the more steamed she became. No way would she let him win.
   The vacant office had more square feet than both Molly and Ben’s current offices combined. Wide windows overlooked downtown Tampa, offering a glimpse of the vast city spread out before them. Bright sunlight glinted off Tampa Bay, where boats zig-zagged across clear azure water. From a closer view, eleven stories below, cars moving in a steady stream of traffic alongside a city park dotted with benches located under palm trees and plenty of grassy area before ending at the banks of the Hillsborough River.
   Standing before the windows, Molly savored the sunshine and forced herself to calm down. Her inside office had no windows while Ben had managed to procure an outer office with one window. What she wouldn’t give for this spectacular view every day.
   Ben might be Mr. Masterson’s bright, shining star, but Molly had grown tired of working her tail off with little reward. As much as she loved Quilter’s Heart, lately she’d been antsy. Ready for a change. A challenge would shake up her life, hopefully in a good way. And the best outcome? To beat out Ben for the job.
   She turned just in time to see Ben place his briefcase on the empty desk, remove a clear plastic cube with a baseball inside, and set it on the smooth surface. His gaze met hers, telling her with no words necessary he’d marked the place as his. She bit back a retort because their boss hovered in the doorway, but she vowed to make him eat those unspoken words.
   “Before you two plan your individual battle strategies, I suggest you return to your desks and figure out the logistics of the challenge.” Mr. Masterson motioned for them to exit the office. “I’ll stay in the loop to see how you’re both progressing. I may want to tweak things a bit as the competition heats up.”
   Bad enough she had to compete, but knowing Mr. Masterson might throw in a game changer somewhere along the line? Great. Just great.
   Being dismissed, Molly walked on shaky legs, allowing Ben to precede her. He couldn’t know how her boss’ grand scheme, or Ben’s confidence in assuming he’d won the challenge before it had started, rattled her. Never had she imagined she’d have to prove herself in such an unusual way. She’d been a loyal employee for years. Had doubled the circulation of her magazine in her time as editor. Shouldn’t her work ethic have merit in her boss’s decision?
   She joined Ben by the elevator, tugging the lapels of her jacket over her blouse. Her mind ran in so many different directions, she couldn’t focus on any one thought. She glanced up to watch the progress of the elevator as numbers lit up above the door, trying to ignore the hunky man who now worked against her. Ben hadn’t said much after the question in Mr. Masterson’s office and the silence grated on her sensitive nerves. Finally, he turned her way.
   “Do you have anything planned right now?”
   “Just heading back to my office.”
   “Mind if I tag along? We can discuss the challenge details.”
   Details. Right. If only she could ignore him like she wanted to. Suspicious, she asked, “Why my office?”
   He chuckled. “Either will do. I thought you might be more comfortable hammering out the details on your own turf.”
   Oh, sure. Now he decides to be accommodating, unlike his confident assumption he’d be moving into the upstairs office. “Fine.”
   The elevator doors parted and Ben nodded for her to board first. He entered, pressed the button for their floor and the doors slid shut, followed by a jerk of movement.
   Molly stared at her fuzzy reflection in the metal doors. Why did these things always feel so small? And why did Ben have to stand so close? His shoulder brushed hers, but she held her ground. No way would she shy away from him.
   Instead, she tapped her foot to the canned music playing some oldie but goodie.
   “Something wrong?” he asked.
   “No. Just enjoying the music.”
   “You’re off beat.”
   She stopped. Stood stiffly. “Guess we all can’t be good at everything.”

Quilts of Love | RIVAL HEARTS – Summer Coleman Camping Kit Giveaway!

Don’t miss this month’s Quilts of Love book, Rival Hearts, by Tara Randel. Who doesn't like a friendly competition, every now and then? You'll be sure to love this fun tale of unexpected competition between two people forced out of their comfort zone.

Celebrate June's release by entering to win a summer camping kit (grill, tent, and camp chairs) from Quilts of Love.

One winner will receive:
  • A Coleman grill, tent, and camp chairs
  • A Promise in Pieces by Emily Wierenga
  • A Stitch and a Prayer by Eva Gibson
  • Rival Hearts by Tara Randel
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on July 13. Winner will be announced on the Quilts of Love blog.

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