Friday, October 30, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-Lorna Seilstad

Today we welcome author:
Lorna Seilstad

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

 As Love Blooms

Scroll down to see how.

Mary here. I have quickly learned what an amiable person Lorna is. After only a few emails we've become great friends and found similar things to talk about. You'll see this same spirit in her post below. I asked Lorna to tell us how God led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said: 

Excuses! Excuses!

Moses and I have a lot in common. Oh, I haven’t led any Egyptians out of bondage, but I have looked at the path God laid out for me and rattled off excuses that would rival those of the great spiritual leader himself.

You’re probably familiar with the story. God gets Moses’ attention with a burning bush, and then when He begins to disclose his plans for Moses’ future, the excuses start.

(My paraphrase of the story:)

“Moses, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people out of Egypt.”


“I’ll be with you.”

“Who says I can do this?

“I do.”

“But God, what if they won’t believe me? They won’t listen to a word I say.”

“I’ll make sure they do.”

“But I’m not a good speaker.”

“Moses, I made your mouth! I know what you can do!”

“Please, Lord, send someone else.”

“Fine. I’ll send your brother with you. I’ll give you the words to say and teach you what to do.”

Did you notice Moses’ excuses? He doubted himself, he was scared of the reaction of others, and he even begged God to not put him in that position. Finally, God gives him a partner. We humans do like backup.

Now, how Moses-ish have I been in my writing?  A bunch.  When I realized that God wanted me to take the passion He’d placed within me for writing onto a new level, I was terrified. I’d been writing fan fiction on a wonderful site for several years, but I felt a tug that it was time to work toward publication. 

My prayers mirrored Moses’. “What if I can’t do this? What if no one wants to read it? What if I fail?” and I felt God’s answers just as surely.  He even sent me dear friends as backup. Finally, I had to come to a point where I said I didn’t care if I never became a published author, I was going to write because that was what God wanted me to do. I developed a new mantra of “God’s words. God’s will. God’s timing.”

Mary here: that is a great mantra for all of us not matter what the calling. Thanks, Lorna!

God should have just said, “Hold on! I’m going to take you on the ride of your life.”

And He even provided me with an Aaron. Only my Aaron was one of my best friends named Dawn who went with me to my first American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW) get together. She went because she knew I’d never go alone. It was at this first meeting that God led me to my dear friend and mentor, Judy Miller.

I wanted to go to the ACFW conference in 2008, but didn’t have the $500 for the fee. Out of nowhere, we received a check from a credit card for $500 with a note that said we’d overpaid them and this was discovered during an audit. I can assure you that there had never been a time in our lives that we would have paid an extra $500 and not noticed, but God had it covered.

When I went to that first conference, I didn’t expect to land a contract, but I did feel prepared. I had my one sheet in hand, proposal written, and pitch polished. And I’d prayed so hard I was afraid God was tired of hearing from me. I remember singing this little song as I rode down the elevator, “I’m yours, Lord. Everything I am and everything I’m not.” I placed a heavy emphasis that day on the “not.”

I stepped up to my assigned Revell’s senior acquisitions editor, and introduced myself, praying she didn’t see my legs shaking. Then, the worst thing happened. I forgot every word of my pitch.

Blank. Empty. Gone.

What popped into my head was a Seekerville post by Myra Johnson. She’d explained that she'd often handed her one sheet to the editor and sat quietly while they read it.  After all, she said, they were used to making decisions on what they read. Bless you Myra! That’s exactly what I did.

When Andrea finished the one sheet, she asked me a few questions and then asked to see my chapters. I again sat silently while she read two of the three chapters. Thank goodness she laughed at the right places. I knew I was in trouble if she didn’t.

She then set it down, complimented me on my fresh voice, and asked me to send the full manuscript to her. Within the year, I had a three-book contract with Revell.

I’m so glad that God didn’t take my excuses any better than He did those of Moses. God had a plan for me, but fear almost kept me from realizing it.

Are you letting excuses keep from reaching your goals?

Today, I encourage you to give them up.

Lorna Seilstad brings history back to life using a generous dash of humor. After her first child was born, she quit teaching and became a professional wiper. She says she wiped noses, tears, skinned knees, and baby bottoms, but at naptime, she wrote. She is the author of the Lake Manawa Summers Series and the Gregory Sisters Series. She and her husband have three children and call Iowa home.

To find more information about Lorna and her books:
Facebook Twitter


Tessa Gregory is nothing if not tenacious. Denied a position as a horticulturist at prestigious Como Park in Saint Paul, Minnesota, she is not above a little benevolent deception in order to get the park superintendent to change his mind and hire her. She plans to infiltrate the world of wealthy and influential people in hopes of drumming up financial support for a world-class conservatory. But before she can put those plans into action, she meets Reese King, a handsome gardener at Como Park--and a major distraction. Still, Reese might be the key to achieving her dream. But is his goal to help her . . . or to capture her heart? 

Against the lush backdrop of manicured gardens and greenhouses full of the exotic, Lorna Seilstad weaves a sweet and sassy story that is sure to delight.

As a graduate of Fannie Farmer's School of Cookery, Charlotte Gregory is thrilled to have the opportunity to travel, lecture, and give cooking demonstrations on the very latest kitchen revolution--the gas stove. And she certainly doesn't mind that the gas company has hired the kindhearted Lewis Mathis to entertain at her lectures.

Lewis encourages Charlotte's work, especially her crusade to introduce fresh, appetizing, nutritious food to those convalescing in hospitals. But young Dr. Joel Brooks is not convinced any changes should be made--especially by this outspoken young woman.

When Charlotte and Joel are coerced into planning a fund-raising gala for the hospital, will this combustible pair explode?

Follow the second Gregory sister as she looks for true love and makes her way in a rapidly changing world in this breezy, lighthearted love triangle that will keep you guessing

Enter the contest to win a copy of Lorna's book:
As Love Blooms

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

The winner will be announced on my Facebook page

Thank you, Lorna, 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, October 27, 2015

Be Bold

Photo Courtesy

A blended family lived in the house behind us. When the kids from dad's previous marriage and the kids from mom's previous marriage joined the kids from the new blended family, there were a lot of kids ranging in age from infant to high school.

All in all, the troop played really well together...except when they didn't.

The four-year-old was my all time favorite. His name was Henry. Henry said the most memorable things. Like:

When his toddler sister crept outside to joined in the fun and suddenly screamed, he ran into the house yelling, "She's crying, and it's not my fault."

Clearly, poor Henry excelled in finding mischief. 

Then there was the time Henry used his compassionate, organizational skills. He called all the younger kids together and said, "All right everyone, let's take turns. Everyone get behind me."

Yes, sweet little Henry was four.

And his bold little spirit was like the sprinkles and nuts and cherry on top of ice cream. 

His spirit made me laugh. He caused me to think. He'll probably be a CEO of a company some day as long as that spirit isn't crushed.

Sure he needs to guard against offending. If he can keep the humor in his bold statements, he will go far.

Now we switch to the adults.

Time has a way of stealing this same spirit from adults. Caution morphs into shyness. Determination dissolves into gruff endeavors. The spirit to speak out withers to second thoughts.

There are times when we need to keep quiet and time we need to have the bold voice of John the Baptist. Do you remember reading how John the Baptist boldly went before Herod? He pointed his finger and told him he'd committed adultery by killing a man and marrying his wife. Ooo there is so much more to that story. And, yes the end of that story is not what we'd like to hear...but I find John the Baptist to be an example. A man who stood up for what he believed and boldly proclaimed that message. No matter what the cost.

This is sounding a bit rebel, true. Maybe we need a bit of rebel in us to climb out of our shells and be bold for the good things.

Consider your current situation. Is there someway you can stand bold in your faith? Not impose. Not shove-it-down-the-throat. Not sanctimoniously. But boldly. 

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

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fabulous Feature-Andrea Boeshaar

Today we welcome author:
Andrea Boeshaar

Three commenters will win a copy of
Andrea's book:

 A Thousand Shall Fall

Scroll down to see how.

Mary here. Andrea has had an amazing journey. One many of us can relate to. Her post below shows her strength and positive spirit. I'm so happy Andrea is visiting with us today. Pull up a chair, grab your coffee and come chat with Andrea. I asked Andrea to tell us how God led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said: 

Romance Done Write

I didn’t read much while growing up in my family’s suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin home. I read what I was assigned for school, along with an occasional children’s novel like Pippi Longstocking and Little House in the Big Woods

When I was in fourth grade, I wrote my first novel, Little Miss Mouse. My mother kept it all these years and it’s now in my possession. I laugh when I read those ten handwritten pages. At the time, it was a laborious undertaking and it seemed as though I’d penned 200 pages. In junior high, I read The Saracen Lamp—probably the only novel I read at that age, but I still enjoyed writing stories and plays and singing folk songs with my guitar.

Shortly after graduating high school, I married my sweetheart. We’ve been married nearly forty years and raised three sons. When my boys were young, I became an avid romance novel reader. My best friend lived across the street and I often traded books with her and she recommended authors to me—authors like Shirley Busbee, LaVyrle Sprencer, and Kathleen E. Woodewiss. 

Soon I had ideas about writing my own romance novel. I signed up for a creative writing class at the local university, and learned some textbook techniques. My sons grew up to the sound of electric typewriter keys and the smell of Wite-Out correction fluid as I wrote and rewrote my many stories. 

It wasn’t until the fall of 1990 when I attended a workshop in Oak Brook, Illinois, led by Dr. Dennis Hensley, that I learned Christians wrote novels—and romances! I could not for the life of me, figure out how someone claiming to be a Christian could write romance. To me, the word romance was synonymous with explicit sex.

How wrong I was! But that initial, na├»ve question eventually led me to a saving knowledge of Christ. Not only did I read Dr. Hensley’s novel, but I read books by Louise Gouge, Lori Wick, and Elaine Schulte too. Their stories helped me understand the meaning of true faith and love--and, yes, romance.

In 1994, my first novel was published by Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents line—a Christian romance. Since then, I’ve written thirty novels. They have been published by Christian companies such as Barbour Publishing, Summerside Press, Guideposts, Charisma House, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, Prism Book Group, and Kregel Publications. 

For me, reading Christian romance led me (and ultimately led my sons and husband) to Jesus.

Now that’s what I call “romance done write!”

Andrea Boeshaar has been married for nearly 40 years. She and her husband have 3 wonderful sons, 1 beautiful daughter-in-law, and 5 precious grandchildren. Andrea’s publishing career began in 1994. Since then, 31 of her books have gone to press. Additionally, Andrea cofounded ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and served on its Advisory Board for a number of years. In 2007, Andrea earned her certification in Christian Life Coaching and she’s now the purveyor of Steeple View Coaching for Writers and The Writer’s ER.

To find more information about Andrea and her books:
Facebook Twitter

In the autumn of 1864, spirited Carrie Ann Bell is searching for her runaway sister in the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Disguised as a Yankee soldier, she stumbles into a skirmish near Front Royal—and instead of her sister, she finds trouble.

Colonel Peyton Collier of the Union cavalry division arrests her for impersonating an 
officer, but protects her from worse consequences. Soon the Southern girl finds herself drawn to the chivalrous Yankee horseman, discovering that her foe has become her ally—and more than that, someone she could love. 

But Carrie has promised to keep a dark secret, never suspecting that her silence might threaten the life of the gallant Colonel who holds her—and her heart—captive.


Enter the contest to win a copy of Andrea's book:
A Thousand Shall Fall

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

if you aren't already

The winner will be announced on my Facebook page

Thank you, Andrea, 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, October 20, 2015

Ten Seconds

Photo Courtesy

Ten seconds.

Depending on the scenario ten ticks on a second hand can seem like an eternity or a gasp.

Olympic races have been won in a fraction of one second.

Many of us have watched the clock anxious for the last ten seconds to finally pass at the end of a work shift.

We either wait...for what seems like an eternity for ten seconds to pass or we blink and realize it vaporized.

In either case, most of us think nothing of great value can be done in a mere ten seconds.

I would have been the first to agree with you...until two rival football teams played last weekend.

I love football. I'm even okay with rooting for the best play instead of a given team.  

This particular game (University of Michigan vs Michigan State University) was the unforgettable game.

Inundated with unusual referee calls, conservative enforcement of a new rule, sideline refs calling touchdowns that were overturned several times...over 1/2 inch. Yah.

Still, all in all the score was very tight and the game exciting. One team barely ahead of the other. The leader had the ball and ten seconds left on the clock. There was no way the team behind could get the ball AND make a touch down before the game ended.


Both sides.


The play was called, the ball was snapped. The special team punt kicker held the ball...almost. It tumbled from his hands to the ground. Not a problem. He rushed to pick it up and positioned himself to kick the ball far down the field. 


The team behind broke through the line at the very moment the kicker set the ball to kick. The kicker inadvertently tossed the ball to the behind team in the process. The behind team secured the ball in their grasp and, in the remaining seconds, ran the ball for a touchdown. The behind team won the game.

The fans on both sides were stunned. The once leading fans stared in disbelief. The once behind team cheered their player to the end zone.

The unbelievable happened.

In ten seconds.

I can't heat a cup of tea in ten seconds.
I can't fill my gas tank in ten seconds.
I can't make my family's dinner, do the laundry, wash the dishes, vacuum the floor, or write a blog in ten seconds.

BUT, I can plant a God Loves You seed in the heart of a person in ten seconds. I can give a hug. Listen. Wipe a tear. Say a prayer...

In ten seconds.

Your turn. 

You have been given ten extra seconds. What will you do?

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

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fabulous Feature-Amy Leigh Simpson, Beauty for Ashes

Today we welcome author:
Amy Leigh Simpson

THREE commenters will win an eBook copy of
Amy's book:

 When Fall Fades

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

Mary here. Amy is more than a kindred friend to me. She is a fellow Alley Cat from the Writers Alley Blog, a gifted writer, a tremendous singer and more. You'll see what I mean as you read how God has led her on her writing journey. I expect we will see many books with her name in the future. And now, I present Amy:

Beauty for Ashes

Ever had a dream wither away? 

For most of my life, starting from the first few notes hummed from my carseat until college, all of my dreams hinged around becoming a … singer. Gasp! Wait, you thought this was a blog about writers, right? Yep, it’s true. I’m not one of those true-blue, writer-from-the-crib types of writers who cut their baby teeth on the bindings of the classics and wrote their first enchanted tale with a crayon on the dining room wall. I was a songbird. 

I spent my youth cultivating my love of music from musical theater to worship teams, voice lessons to cutting demos. The dream had even become a part of my identity until one day I was mature enough to realize that dream was starting to clash with dreams that held so much more value.

You see, life as a struggling musician is a long, lonely road of sacrifice and rejection. Sacrificing time with my new husband to be on tour. Sacrificing the family I wanted to start young to perform and claw my way up a very unsteady ladder. Sacrificing the stability I craved in a home. The dream I’d envisioned as a girl was definitely one of hard work and unlikely odds. I wasn’t naive to the overwhelming size of my ambition. I knew it going in. 

The reality of the life I would have to lead while chasing that dream though, was not one I was prepared to see through to the bitter end. Now I still love to sing and worship and use the gift God gave me in other ways, but that dream of making it as a singer, that flame that kept the dream alive for so many years was snuffed out. The dream lay in ashes. And my very fulfilling life as a wife and mother became the reality I wanted to live in.

Mary here: I've stood next to Amy during a church worship time. Her voice is lovely, blending gorgeous harmony into the melody. Yep, she has a true gift of song. I've also been to Amy's house and saw such a deep, sincere love for her family.

But there are times when a dream dies when you feel the void of all that passion you held for so long grow into a cavernous hole in your heart, making you wonder what you are meant to do with the creativity that stirs in your veins without the dream to fuel the fire. For me, God’s promise in Isaiah 61 came when he gifted me a new dream … ironically, through my dreams.

I began to dream up stories. Stories I knew I was unqualified to write. I knew nothing about novels, other than I loved reading them. I hadn’t even take a creative writing class, since … ever! How on earth was I going to write a book?

What came next was a wrestling match. I wrestled with those persistent characters in my head. Wrestled with the stories infiltrating my dreams. I wrestled with God about my ability to actually write a novel. But I figured I’d give it a shot, more than likely vomit out 20 pages of dribble and call it a failed experiment.

Six weeks, probably twelve hours of sleep, and over 80k not entirely terrible words later and I had a story. Maybe not a great one, but I’d learn to make it great. I was a writer and it was a dream I could chase and keep my priorities in tact. So I dove into the craft, found writer friends and encouragers. Signed on with a superstar agent who believed in me. And I let all those stories I’d tried to ignore pour out of my head (and heart) in the most amazing labor or love. Bringing me so much more joy than writing songs ever did.

Who knew that dream was meant to run its course so I could find my true calling? God did. Because he is the giver of new dreams. He breathes life into barrenness. He takes the broken pieces of our hearts and fashions them into something beautiful and brand new. 

It’s not too late to find your dream. 

Sometimes you just have to let go and let God lead you into the beautiful unknown. It might be scary, but I promise you, it’s worth it!

My first book When Fall Fades (originally titled Beauty for Ashes) was born of that lesson God was teaching me four years ago. It is releasing on October 30th! We will be drawing a winner from the comments for a free e-copy of my book.

Just follow the instructions below to enter and, if you’re up for it, tell me about what became of your childhood dream to enter. I’d be so honored to hear about your journey!

Amy Leigh Simpson writes romantic mysteries with honesty and humor, sweetness and spice, and gritty reality covered by grace. When she’s not stealing moments at naptime to squeeze out a few more adventures in storyland, she’s chasing around two tow-headed miscreants (Ahem)—boys, playing dress up with one sweet princess baby, and being the very blessed wife to the coolest, most swoon-worthy man alive. Amy is a Midwestern-girl, a singer, blogger, runner, coffee-addict, and foodie. Her Sports Medicine degree is wasted patching up daily boo boo’s, but whatever is left usually finds its way onto the page with fluttering hearts, blood and guts, and scars that lead to happily ever after.  

Amy says: 
I’d be delighted to connect with you on Facebook and completely tickled if you checked out my book!
Facebook Website  

One dying secret. One missing truth. And a whole lot of trouble…
Sadie Carson is an expert on unfinished business. Five years after the derailment of her dreams she’s just barely existing, using her job as a hospice nurse to give others the one thing she can’t seem to find—closure. So when her elderly neighbor Charlie, a brilliant conspiracy nut known for harassing the FBI, is murdered, Sadie suspects Charlie might’ve been onto something and intends to make sure someone solves the mystery of her friend’s death, even if it’s her.
The feisty little blonde may have found the victim’s body, but FBI Special Agent Archer Hayes has no intention of letting some nosy civilian interfere with his investigation. The guilt he feels is bad enough. The last thing Archer needs is another distraction to haunt him. Especially one as beautiful and beguiling as the girl next door.

But throw in a mountain of hoarded evidence and suspiciously coded journals and the case takes a puzzling turn toward a decades old conspiracy cover-up from World War II—one only the victim’s closest confidant can help untangle. Sadie and Archer reluctantly join forces to decode the riddle of secrets Charlie carried to his grave. Or did he? Someone is after a dangerous truth. But to uncover it or bury it is a question that leads the unlikely pair on a quest for redemption that lands Sadie in the crosshairs of a desperate killer. And when the dangers of the past and present collide Archer must fight to save the life of the woman he’s falling for . . . only to discover he might be the one in need of saving.


Enter the contest to win an Advanced Reader's eBook copy of Amy's book:
When Fall Fades

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

if you aren't already
International Readers are invited to enter!!

The winner will be announced on my Facebook page

Thank you, Amy, 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!