Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The More We Get Together The Happier We'll Be

ROAD TRIP! Older sister photo bombed in front,
Younger sister behind her. Nieces in back.
Mom to the right.

No matter what our situation, I think we all like Thanksgiving food. 

To me, though, Thanksgiving is more about fellowship than the food. Let's change that to fellowship AND the food. ;)

There are those, though, who have suffered tragedy on or around this day. The annual celebrations dig up hurt feelings. If you, reader, are one who is going through this trial, know that I am praying for you. Praying for peace, comfort, and a song in your heart.

If you can, please join us for the rest of this post. You are loved.


God wants us to get together. Adam wasn't left alone. God didn't even intend animals to be left alone -site two by two saved from the flood, (and all the pet lovers said Amen). Oh, and I AM setting aside all the biological reasons needed for procreation. :)

God loves to fellowship with us. Yep. It's true! He not only asks us to fellowship with Him, He loves to fellowship with us. Now that is pretty awesome, eh?

Did you know these are some of the magical things that happen when we get together with others:

New ideas- This is not isolated to recipes. Conversation brings about new ideas. Places to travel, things to do, ways to help the kids, finances, things not to do/say, etc.

    Along with this is: we learn ways to improve our own ideas
                                 we get to share our ideas

We are forced to break out of our shell in a safe environment.

We learn prayer requests.

We become motivated (seeing other people's activities encourages us to try).

We find reasons to laugh.

An excuse to sing (my sisters and I always sing while cleaning up after meals.)

A time to eat awesome food.

A time to learn. My mother-in-law enjoyed telling childhood stories from when she lived in Germany. 

A time to think of someone other than ourselves.

The container the church fills with water.

Today I will share my quick story: My daughter lives in Arizona an hour from the Mexican border. The people from her church gather on a regular basis, drive near the border and leave water in special containers. Many men, women, and children lay dead from thirst in the Arizona hot deserts after illegally crossing. What a horrible way to die. Her church is not saying the choice these people make is right or wrong, they are simply giving water to those in need.

So through a means of gathering together, her church is sharing a cup of water to those who are thirsty.

Consider the fellowship you will have this week. The chatting. The smiles. The memories. The music. The football games blaring in the background. The aromas. 

God gave all of this to us so we could be with each other. 

And my one last soapbox comment. Thanksgiving celebration does NOT have to happen on Thursday. My hubby is a medical provider in the emergency room. Accidents happen. Sure is nice to know someone will be working at the hospital if the need arises. Families who have medical providers and other emergency care family members often celebrate holidays on different day. This year, we will celebrate Thanksgiving on Friday. No leftovers. The real deal.

Sigh...this was a long post. Did you make it to the end? Yeah, I get chatty...and love to chat with you.

Leave me a greeting. PAH LEEZE!!?!?!?! Longing for your fellowship.

This post has been brought to you by the one-word: FELLOWSHIP

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Feature-Amanda Barratt-Moments Both Holy and Harrowing

Today we welcome author:
Amanda Barratt

One commenter will win a copy of
Amanda's book:

 The Most Eligible Bachelor Series

Scroll down to see how.

Mary here. I'm so happy Amanda, a young author, is visiting with us this weekend. I met her three years ago at one of our local ACFW meetings. She helped the leader present "how to make a one sheet". My product is a result of their presentation. Everyone went home and tweaked, but the session proved very valuable. Amanda went on to...well, I won't spill the beans, she tells you in her post below. I asked Amanda to tell us how God led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said: 

Moments Both Holy and Harrowing

Thank you so much for hosting me today, Mary! It’s been a joy and privilege to get to know you!

My journey as a writer started – like many of our journeys do – in my early teen years. 

I had just watched a film adaptation of Jane Eyre, and wrote a similar story for an assignment in school. An underprivileged servant girl, a madwoman in an attic…you might say I was plagiarizing. But in reality, I was captured by the power of the story and wanted to put words on the page with as much beauty and talent as my favorite classic authors did. 

I continued writing, on and off, for several years, imitating authors like Dickens, Bronte, Austen, and Georgette Heyer, sharing these stories with my captive group of readers – my mom and younger sister.

Though I’d grown up in a strong Christian home, I hadn’t given my heart fully to the Lord. Other things took priority – including writing my historical romances. I honestly can’t remember the exact details of how God tugged my heart towards Him, but I began to add Christian authors to my reading repertoire – Francine Rivers, Julie Klassen, and Julie Lessman – to name a few. 

As I read the stories these authors told, gleaning from the characters’ journeys of faith, my own walk with God took on a whole new dimension and I began to fall in love with Jesus. Slowly, elements of my relationship with Him found their way into my stories, and after I attended an ACFW conference, my first novel gained representation with Books and Such Literary Agency.

Without a doubt, God brought me to the place I am today, and without His beautiful grace and mercy manifesting itself in my life, I would not be an author. He has led me, carried me through moments both holy and harrowing, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude. 

I look forward to growing in Him, delighting in Him, and letting Him use me to tell stories to draw others toward a relationship with him – just as Christian fiction did for me.

Soli Deo Gloria.
Glory to God alone

Amanda Barratt is the ECPA bestselling author of two novellas published by Barbour Publishing. Her third story, The Price of Love, releases August 2016 as part of The California Gold Rush Bride Collection, also by Barbour. Amanda fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story - a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Since then, she's penned novels set in Regency and Victorian England, and the Gilded Age. 

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she lives in the woods of Michigan with her fabulous family, who kindly put up with the invisible people she calls characters.

These days, Amanda can be found reading way too many books, watching an eclectic mix of BBC dramas and romantic chick flicks, and trying to figure out a way to get on the first possible flight to England

Amanda loves to connect with readers. You can find her at:
The Most Eligible Bachelor Romance Collection
Meet nine men from bygone days who have all the qualities of a true hero and who all the single ladies wish to court—though some are unassuming and overlooked until their worth is revealed. The socialite, the architect, the doctor, the masked vigilante, the missionary, the postmaster, archaeologist, the wealthy widower, and the heir can have their pick of brides, but which one will they choose?

The Convenient Bride Collection

Join nine brides of convenience on their adventures in a variety of times and settings gone by—from a ranch in California…to the rugged mountains of Colorado…to a steamship on the Mississippi…to the dangerous excitement of the Oregon Trail…into high society of New York City. No matter the time or place, the convenient brides proceed with what must be done, taking nuptials out of necessity. . .and never dreaming that God might take their feeble attempts to secure their futures and turn them into true love stories for His glory.


Enter the contest to win a copy of Amanda's book:
The Most Eligible Bachelor Series
SIGNED by all eight authors!

here is how:
leave a comment (and email address)

AND sign up to receive my newsletter -in the right column
(subscribers to my newsletter will receive a special Christmas gift)

AND/OR sign up to receive posts by email if you aren't already

Thank you, Amanda, for joining us this weekend!

We enjoy chatting with you and are looking forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, or hey.

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


When the movie "Unbroken" came out in the theaters ,I heard great reviews. I went and saw the movie and was equally impressed. 

I had heard that the man in this story, Louis Zamperini, had come to know Christ. I didn't see anything about this in the movie. What I saw instead was Louis's strength to endure starvation, beatings, hard labor, sun exposure, isolation, lies, demeaning words, sleep deprivation, and much more.

I read the book and learned so much more. The best part had been left out.

So many other men in the same situation did not survive. 

The few men whose bodies endured to the end of the war and returned home suffered post traumatic syndrome disorder. Nightmares, voices, sudden sounds...all tormenting their minds and drawing the survivors back to the prison camps.

Louis struggled with the same problems. He lashed out at his wife and others around him. His body and mind had been broken and he didn't know what to do.

One day Billy Graham held a rally in his town. 

Louis's wife attended the meeting and asked Jesus into her heart. She asked Louis to come hear Billy speak. Reluctantly, Louis agreed.

Louis sat in the arena. Billy Graham's words zipped in and out of his head. It wasn't until Billy mentioned suffering and God's understanding of the sacrifice that Louis really heard Billy's words. Billy went on to present the Gospel to thousands of listening men and women, including Louis.

That night, Louis asked Jesus into his heart.

Before reading the book, I had reflected on the movie many times. I wondered how Louis managed to survive the torment of one particular Japanese officer, how he survived so many days on a raft with no food or water, how he found the courage to return to Japan and carry the Olympic torch years later.

Days after finishing the book it occurred to me that God had helped him survive. 

Like Elijah worn, weary, and hungry, God sent an angel to nurse Elijah to health. 
Like Paul, God healed him from the venomous snake bite to continue the missionary work. 

Like so many others whom God helped live longer to complete the task. God knew Louis would ask Jesus into his heart that day in the arena. He knew Billy's words would touch Louis's heart. He knew Louis's wife would invite him to go. 

God knew. And He gave Louis the strength to survive until that day.

God knows what job lays ahead for us. Who we'll impact. What we will do. He will help us accomplish whatever we've been called to do like He did Moses.

God loves you and has some really awesome plans for you. This does not mean that life will be sweet, good, or full of cheer. It might be. It might not be. Either way God will always love you and insure you will have the opportunity to do that special task.

This post has been brought to you by the one word-Unbroken

I'd like to invite you to sign up for my free newsletter in the right column. Those who sign up will receive my Christmas story, 14 Mornings ’Till Christmas in December. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Feature-Belle Calhoune-Joyful Moments in Stories

Today we welcome author:
Belle Calhoune

One commenter will win an copy of
Belle's eBook:

 Till the End of Time

Scroll down to see how.
International Readers invited to enter!

Mary here. I'm so happy Belle is visiting with us this weekend. I asked Belle to tell us how God led her on her writing journey. Her words are really touching. Here is what she said: 

Joyful Moments For Those Going Through Rough Times

As the kid who grew up across the street from a public library, I have always been fascinated by books. I had childhood favorites such as Nancy Drew, Little Women and Rebecca. I was known to constantly have my nose buried in a book.

Throughout my childhood and adolescence I was fortunate to live in a faith-based household.  I enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the Lord and always drew on Him for strength.

My faith journey as a writer has taken me through some twists and turns. As an aspiring writer I was dealt a devastating blow when my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer back in 2000. It was a bitter pill to swallow to know that although she’d never smoked a day in her life, she had lung cancer. The question of “Why her?” was a constant in my mind.

Having always enjoyed a wonderful relationship with God, I found myself so angry about her death that I shut Him out. I didn’t want to write or explore a career as an author because I was grieving and hurt by the storms of life. It wasn’t until it hit me that I hadn’t always thanked God for the blessings that I realized I couldn’t be angry at Him for the hardships. Life is a mix of things…the good, the bad, the sour and the sweet. God’s love for us never changes. The hardships will come. But leaning on the Lord during these times makes us stronger. 

Back in 2012 I was fortunate to stumble across an opportunity to pitch a story in an online contest with Harlequin Love Inspired editor, Emily Rodmell. I had an inspiration to write a story about a woman who had left her Texas hometown after being the driver in an accident that had paralyzed her best friend. The heroine, Cassidy, had also jilted her fiancé, Tate, when she packed up and left.

In writing this story I wanted to create a heroine who had done something that she couldn’t fix with the snap of a finger. I wanted to show the character’s remorse and her journey toward redemption. To my everlasting delight, Emily bought the book which hit the shelves nine months later.

By leaping out on a leap of faith and entering the pitch contest, I had changed my life forever.  And there is no doubt in my mind that God led me down that road. He showed me the way to reach for my dreams.

Writing inspirational romance novels is extremely rewarding. I love hearing from readers. It is extremely gratifying to hear how my books have impacted people’s lives. Readers have shared their hearts and souls with me.

After writing a paralyzed heroine, I heard from a reader who is paralyzed herself. When she told me she had never found the type of love that my heroine found, and that she was able to live vicariously through her, I shed tears. I’ve heard from readers who’ve lost children, who’ve buried husbands or been blindsided by divorce and cancer. I have no doubt in my mind that God led me to writing inspirational romance so that I could provide joyful moments for people who are going through rough times. It is an honor to be able to give readers pleasure through my stories and characters. I truly believe that everyone has a gift in this world and it’s our responsibility to find out what that gift is and then share it with the world.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

I enjoy writing stories about forgiveness, which is a constant theme of mine.  I think forgiveness is the greatest gift of all. In my latest Indie release, “Till the End of Time” (A spin-off from my Seven Brides Seven Brothers series) my heroine, Callie, has a lot to forgive.  Having been separated from her biological brother, Mac, for two decades, Callie is struggling to forgive her father for his deception.

Belle Calhoune grew up in a small town in Massachusetts as one of five children.  Although both her parents worked in the medical field, Belle never considered science as the pathway to her future.  She began to gravitate toward romance books in her tween years.  Growing up across the street from a public library was a huge influence on her life.  Married to her college sweetheart, she is raising two lovely daughters in Connecticut.  A dog lover, she has one mini poodle and a chocolate lab.   Writing for a living is a dream come true.  Working at home in her pajamas is one of the best perks of the job.  Belle enjoys summers in Cape Cod, traveling and reading.  A lover of all things French, Belle often dreams of her next Parisian adventure.  Belle is the author of five Love Inspired romance novels and the popular Christian romance series, Seven Brides, Seven Brothers

Belle loves to connect with readers. You can find Belle at:    Facebook|Twitter

Callie Duvall was raised in the lap of luxury in Savannah, Georgia after being adopted by the Duvall family at the age of five. When she discovers that her biological brother, Mac Donahue, is alive and well, despite having been told as a child that he was deceased, Callie realizes her life as a Duvall has been built on a foundation of lies. Seeking to distance herself from her father and his deception, Callie moves to the guesthouse of Savannah House, the famous resort where she worked summers as a teenager. On the brink of a whole new life, Callie begins spending time with her childhood friend, Jax Holden. Jax is funny, tender and sweet. But Callie isn’t sure she can deal with her growing feelings for him. Life has taught her that love is a dangerous emotion and she can’t help but fear that falling for Jax will make her world unravel.

Businessman Jax Holden has been in love with his childhood friend, Callie Duvall, for as long as he can remember. For many years, Callie has viewed Jax as nothing more than a thorn in her side. Now, he’s determined to win the love of the one woman who owns him heart and soul. As the two begin a relationship, Jax begins to feel Callie thaw toward him. But when Jax’s employment with Duvall Investments, the company Callie’s father owns, places him at odds with Callie, he’ll have to fight to win Callie’s love. Can Jax convince Callie to give their love the chance it deserves?

Enter the contest to win a copy of Belle's eBook:
Till the End of Time

here is how:
leave a comment (and email address)

AND sign up to receive my newsletter -in the right column
(subscribers to my newsletter will receive a special Christmas gift)

AND/OR sign up to receive posts by email if you aren't already

International Readers Are Invited to Enter, also!

The winner will be announced on my Facebook page

Thank you, Belle, for joining us this weekend!

We enjoy chatting with you and are looking forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, or hey.

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Gift. The Spark

If you've been coming to Let's Talk for at least a year, you know I've written a Christmas story for my blog readers every year. Usually it's something short, broken into blog pieces and spread out in posts over the month of December.

This year, though, I chose to go all out. 

I asked my friend, Angie Dicken, from the Writer's Alley to design the perfect suspense story cover to interest all readers.

Perhaps because the story idea seemed one that just needed respect. 
Perhaps because I've learned new ways to present good material for you
Perhaps because I wanted to give you a extra special gift to let you know I thought of you.
Perhaps because Christmas is that important. 

I commissioned myself (payment will be your comments) to write a short story for my newsletter subscribers.

I asked myself to write a:

Christmas story (my absolute most favorite in the whole calendar year holiday)

That was not girly. Heh, our men need good Christmas stories too!
   First question to me: How to interest the men...
        Main character a guy, a real man's man
        Guy (twenty something) moves away from parent's city to be on his own
        Suspense/ Mystery

  Second question How to still interest the female readers...
       Christmas lights
       Guy is a master chef

To stir the pot, the guy recognizes he has a memory issue and has to work around this problem while solving the mystery who broke into his home and stole Christmas. Intruders, break-ins, chase scenes.

14 Mornings ’Till Christmas is based on real stories from a village in Denmark.

Only subscribers to my newsletter will receive this Christmas Story gift called 14 Mornings ’Till Christmas .

I'm excited to give this never-before-read story gift to you.

In the right column is a box to sign up for my newsletter. Takes seconds. The story will be sent with the December newsletter.

Tell your friends. The gift is for anyone who subscribes.

**Followers of this blog are not automatically signed up for the newsletter. I choose to respect you that way....and hope you are intrigued to sign up.

Reading a good story is a great way to enjoy Christmas.

Angie Dicken makes one sheet's and book covers. You can see all the details here:  http://www.angiedicken.blogspot.com

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fabulous Feature-Rachel Dylan:A Faith-Based Outlet

Today we welcome author:
Rachel Dylan

One commenter will win an copy of
Rachel's eBook:

 Trial and Tribulations

Scroll down to see how.
International Readers invited to enter!

Mary here. I'm so happy Rachel is visiting with us this weekend. I asked Rachel to tell us how God led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said: 

A Faith-Based Outlet

Since I was a child, I have always loved to read and write. I remember going to the library when I was little, and it was one of my favorite things to do. I truly was a book nerd.

Faith was a way of life for me, having grown up a preacher’s daughter. But it wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized my true passion and direction for writing—and that was writing Christian fiction. It wasn’t something I specifically set out to do, but when it happened it changed me. 

I worked full time as a lawyer, and I was in the midst of trial preparation. But I decided to enter a writing contest for Love Inspired Suspense. A contest I almost didn’t enter because, I thought, do I really have the time for this? There were a million reasons not to try, but I did. I took a small step driven by faith. And with God’s help, I made the time. 

Through that contest, I got my first contract with my Love Inspired Suspense and my debut released in August of 2014. I am still writing for Love Inspired Suspense, and I really enjoy it.

Writing has challenged me to take my faith to a different level. For me, writing is something I love to do, but it also provides me with a faith-based outlet of expression. In Trial & Tribulations, releasing on November 17th, I decided to expand beyond the romantic suspense genre. I took a risk and wrote a legal suspense about spiritual warfare. I wouldn’t have been able to write a book like this had it not been for the beliefs and teachings that were instilled in me at a young age. You don’t realize it until much later in life how formative those early years really are. 

What’s more, I didn’t even intend to write this book. I started writing another story, but for some reason was led down this road. And in the process of writing the book and researching, my faith has become even stronger.  That doesn’t mean the road has been easy—in fact it’s been really difficult. Many roadblocks popped up along the way to getting this book ready for publication. But I know that the Lord has been with me each step of the way. I had to remind myself during this journey: The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? 

I would encourage you to step out in faith today. You never know where the road is going to lead, but the journey with God by your side is amazing. I can’t wait to share this story with the world. The ebook is available for pre-order now, and print will be available on release day-November 17th.

Rachel Dylan writes Christian fiction including inspirational romantic suspense for Love Inspired Suspense and the Windy Ridge Legal Thriller series. Rachel has practiced law for almost a decade and enjoys weaving together legal and suspenseful stories. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five furkids--two dogs and three cats. 

Rachel loves to connect with readers. You can find Rachel at    
Facebook Twitter


A Windy Ridge Legal Thriller #1

High-powered attorney Olivia Murray faces the biggest test of her career when she is assigned to represent Astral Tech, a New Age tech company, in a lawsuit filed by its biggest competitor. While Olivia is accustomed to hard fights in the courtroom, she arrives in Windy Ridge and discovers there is much more to this case than the legal claims—forces of darkness are at work.

Windy Ridge quickly turns from quiet Chicago suburb to spiritual battleground, and Olivia must rely on her faith to defend against legal and spiritual attacks. Although they are enemies in the courtroom, Olivia finds a friend and unlikely ally in opposing counsel, Grant Baxter. Once a skeptic about faith, he ultimately comes to her aid when she needs it most.

The battle between evil forces heats up in and out of the courtroom, pushing Olivia to the breaking point. Will she be able to help good triumph over evil, or will the town of Windy Ridge be torn apart?

Enter the contest to win a copy of Rachel's eBook:
Trial and Tribulations

here is how:
leave a comment (and email address)

AND sign up to receive posts by email

AND/OR sign up to receive my newsletter
(subscribers to my newsletter will receive a special Christmas gift)

if you aren't already

International Readers Are Invited to Enter, also!

The winner will be announced on my Facebook page

Thank you, Rachel, for joining us this weekend!

We enjoy chatting with you and are looking forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, or hey.

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!