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How the Idea of Christmas Grace Was Born By Rose Allen McCauley

Christmas GraceAbout ten years ago, my oldest daughter’s best friend died of heart failure due to kidney disease. She was such a special person, and left behind a loving husband and daughter. While standing in the long line at the funeral home visitation that evening, I told my daughter I would like to write a fictional story based on a young woman losing her best friend to kidney disease.

I started the story (three chapters), but still had a lot to learn about writing, and then got busy on other writing projects. But, I always hoped to finish this story “someday.”

When Jeanie Smith Cash asked me to join her and two other friends on a series set in Gatlinburg about four cousins who return to Gatlinburg for their Granddaddy’s 80th birthday, I told her I would pray about it. The next day I had my answer when I saw this story in my files. I emailed Jeanie and told her the premise of this story and asked if it would fit with their stories. When she said she and the others were in agreement about it, I joined and began writing the rest of the story. My “someday” had arrived!

Christmas Grace is purely fictional, and although the hero’s first wife did die of kidney disease, none of the rest of the story is based on real facts. But, I still dedicated my story to Penny Sadler Prows who was my daughter’s best friend who died of kidney disease.

Another connection that I hadn’t planned on was that my hero’s name was Chris. My son-in-law’s name is Chris. He is married to my oldest daughter. My daughter’s name is Christy, but I named my heroine Grace for the theme of the story.

When Delia Latham who wrote the first novella in the series, Do You See What I See?, posted her book cover and said she would also do our book covers if we wanted her to. She also said we needed to come up with a picture for the hero and heroine to grace the cover. Her picture and heroine reminded me of a picture a friend took of my daughter and her husband a few years ago. So, I asked them (and the photographer, Dustin Clifford) if I could use that picture on the cover of my book. They all agreed. I even wrote a scene in the book where the cousins discuss how their granddaddy always said they were the two cousins who looked most similar.

I also used the names of several of my daughter’s friends in the book, and my husband’s aunt and uncle’s first names for Grace’s parents because they had gone through some of the diet changes and other health challenges of growing older that Grace’s parents were experiencing.

So, I am happy that this book my daughter and I spoke about over a decade ago has finally come full circle, and the cover for the book bears the lovely, loving picture of my daughter and son-in-law.

I hope the readers enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And I pray for all of you to be blessed with the realization of God’s grace this Christmas season, as you ponder how His Grace came down and was born in a stable for each of us to point the way to Him.

Wishing everyone a grace-filled Christmas and wonderful New Year in 2015, as we all strive to grow in and live out His grace to others.

website-photos-002-640x427About the Author:

Rose Allen McCauley has been writing for over ten years and has been published in several non-fiction anthologies and devotionals. This is her second Christmas novella. Christmas books are her favorites. A retired schoolteacher who has been happily married to her college sweetheart for over four decades, she is also mother to three grown children and their spouses and grandmother to five lovely, lively kids! You can reach her through her website and blog and on Twitter  and Facebook.

More About Christmas Grace:

Grace Buchanan and Chris Fisher were best friends for sixteen years…until he fell in love with her other best friend, Terrie. Chris and Terrie married after high school, then she died three years ago.

A renewed friendship soon awakens stronger feelings in Grace and Chris. Can they both let go of the past long enough to claim the future God has for them?

Christmas Grace will soon be available in print as well as the eBook.

rose's first book cover9781616264802Rose Allen McCauley also has another Christmas novella included in Christmas Belles of Georgia:

Four letters are mailed from Monticello, a small antebellum town in Georgia. Sisters once, now heirs to a historic plantation, each young woman must come to terms with the circumstances of her birth…Will the sisters receive a traditional Christmas gift…of love?

And Rose’s novella in the collection is entitled Nick’s Christmas Carol:

Nick Powers worked hard to earn his college degree and his dream job. He doesn’t know what to expect when he finds out new owners will be taking over Bellingham Plantation soon. When Carol Peterson comes to town, she and Nick get off to a rocky start, but soon combine forces to make Christmas a happier time for others. Can they find their own Christmas happiness?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Interview: Rose Allen McCauley

website-photos-002-640x427Today’s guest is Rose Allen McCauley, author of Christmas Grace. Rose has been writing for over ten years and has been published in several non-fiction anthologies and devotionals. This is her second Christmas novella. Christmas books are her favorites. A retired schoolteacher who has been happily married to her college sweetheart for over four decades, she is also mother to three grown children and their spouses and grandmother to five lovely, lively kids! You can reach her through her website and blog and on Twitter  and Facebook.

Rose, thank you for sharing your story with us.

I’m so happy to visit you and your readers, Fay.

Your novella, Christmas Grace is set in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. When I think of Gatlinburg, I know people must live in and around the area, but I usually think of it as a tourist destination. Why did you choose Gatlinburg as your characters’ hometown?

Jeanie Smith Cash who is the author of the fourth book in the Smoky Mountain Christmas series asked me to join her in this project, so I did not pick the location, but was very happy with it since it is only 4 hours from my home, so I have visited there many times.

Obviously, Grace Buchanan’s name and the story title have a connection. Would you mind sharing that with us?

Grace is the only child of Herschel and Lena Buchanan, so her birth seemed like a grace from God to them. Also her name has a very special memory between her and her Granddaddy Buchanan, which I reveal at the end of the book.

Grace and her hero, Chris, have a long history, which includes tragedy from which they must move from. Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking about starting over after the loss of a loved one?

Like any big life change, pray and seek the Lord’s guidance. And, don’t make rash decisions or changes. Grace and Chris fall in love three years after his wife’s death. I think any sooner would have been too soon for them.

In the story, Grace is facing the inevitable aging of her parents, and she must make decisions that will impact her life. Have you had to make a hard decision for the betterment of someone you love?

Since I am in my sixties, I see myself and my husband more as the parents who are making the changes in diet and moving to a smaller place. My husband and I have faced both diet and living challenges the past few years, and plan to move into a smaller, one-floor home in February. In fact, I spent my afternoon picking out cabinets for the kitchen remodel of the smaller home today. Besides all the rooms being on one-floor, we are also having all 36-inch doors installed so we can stay in this home a long time!

I’d love to know a little about future projects you may have. Would you mind sharing those with us?

I have a story I am doing my final edits on that I presented to two editors at the ACFW conference this past fall. It is set in a small town called Perfect, KY which doesn’t quite live up to its name. The editors were both are interested, so I want to get it in the best shape possible before sending it to my agent to present to them.

And I want to wish a very Merry Christmas to all of Fay’s readers!

Merry Christmas, Rose, and I’m praying you have a very Happy New Year.

Christmas GraceMore About Christmas Grace:

Grace Buchanan and Chris Fisher were best friends for sixteen years…until he fell in love with her other best friend, Terrie. Chris and Terrie married after high school, then she died three years ago.

A renewed friendship soon awakens stronger feelings in Grace and Chris. Can they both let go of the past long enough to claim the future God has for them?

Christmas Grace will soon be available in print as well as the eBook.

rose's first book cover9781616264802Rose Allen McCauley also has another Christmas novella included in Christmas Belles of Georgia:

Four letters are mailed from Monticello, a small antebellum town in Georgia. Sisters once, now heirs to a historic plantation, each young woman must come to terms with the circumstances of her birth…Will the sisters receive a traditional Christmas gift…of love?

And Rose’s novella in the collection is entitled Nick’s Christmas Carol:

Nick Powers worked hard to earn his college degree and his dream job. He doesn’t know what to expect when he finds out new owners will be taking over Bellingham Plantation soon. When Carol Peterson comes to town, she and Nick get off to a rocky start, but soon combine forces to make Christmas a happier time for others. Can they find their own Christmas happiness?

 

Character Interview: Grace Buchanan from Christmas Grace by Rose Allen McCauley

Christmas GraceToday’s guest is Grace Buchanan, the heroine from Rose Allen McCauley’s Christmas Grace, a novella from the series, A Smoky Mountain Christmas. Welcome, Grace.

Thank you for letting me visit. This is my first interview!

I’m honored. Now, inquiring minds will want to know what it was like growing up in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, because I think most people would love to live there year around and not just visit.

I loved growing up here in Gatlinburg, especially because my family’s roots are here and several generations of my family still lives in the area. Gatlinburg’s population (not counting the tourists!) is under 4,000 so it has a small town feel, but there is always something going on in the tourist area, so we have the best of both worlds! That is why I am so happy to living here again.

You followed your dreams. Even the hero of your story, Chris, advised you to stay in Tennessee and attend a local college, but you had bigger plans. What would you say to someone who has a friend or a family member who can’t grasp the dreams he or she holds and seeks to hold them back?

I think the best thing would be to ask them to pray for you to always follow God’s lead wherever you go. I am happy I moved away for a few years and got the art education and experience in working in interior design in Chicago, but also so happy to be able to take that education and training and use it in Gatlinburg and the surrounding area.

You didn’t expect to have to deal with the problems that arose after your arrival, and it had to be hard for you. Is there a scripture or a Biblical concept that has helped you through the hard times?

I love the Psalms, and the promises David and the other writers clung to when in despair. I can always know God is with me. One of the promises I read just this week was Ps. 73: 26 “My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” So comforting!

Likewise, both the problems and an unexpected joy have brought to you the need to make decisions about your future. How do you even begin to rethink your life’s path?

First, I realized I needed to surrender all to God, and make Him my first priority, and my family my second. When the idea to move back to Gatlinburg first came into my thoughts during prayer one night, I kept praying, then later started to put some feet to my prayers. I talked to my boss, the banker, etc. When things began to fall into place, I knew God was giving me the very desires of my heart—another of my favorite verses in Psalms 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

More About Christmas Grace:

Grace Buchanan and Chris Fisher were best friends for sixteen years…until he fell in love with her other best friend, Terrie. Chris and Terrie married after high school, then she died three years ago.

A renewed friendship soon awakens stronger feelings in Grace and Chris. Can they both let go of the past long enough to claim the future God has for them?

Christmas Grace will soon be available in print as well as the eBook.

rose's first book cover9781616264802Rose Allen McCauley also has another Christmas novella included in Christmas Belles of Georgia:

Four letters are mailed from Monticello, a small antebellum town in Georgia. Sisters once, now heirs to a historic plantation, each young woman must come to terms with the circumstances of her birth…Will the sisters receive a traditional Christmas gift…of love?

And Rose’s novella in the collection is entitled Nick’s Christmas Carol:

Nick Powers worked hard to earn his college degree and his dream job. He doesn’t know what to expect when he finds out new owners will be taking over Bellingham Plantation soon. When Carol Peterson comes to town, she and Nick get off to a rocky start, but soon combine forces to make Christmas a happier time for others. Can they find their own Christmas happiness?

website-photos-002-640x427About the Author:

Rose Allen McCauley has been writing for over ten years and has been published in several non-fiction anthologies and devotionals. This is her second Christmas novella. Christmas books are her favorites. A retired schoolteacher who has been happily married to her college sweetheart for over four decades, she is also mother to three grown children and their spouses and grandmother to five lovely, lively kids! You can reach her through her website and blog and on Twitter  and Facebook.

God’s Love: The Right Direction by Therese M. Travis

God's Love the Right DirectionIn Annabelle’s Angel, Annabelle Archer comes to suspect that her life isn’t going according to God’s will, since she’s made most of her decisions based on fear and need, rather than discernment. And when she does try to figure out God’s will, a lot of people give their opinions, distracting her.

Isn’t this an issue for many of us? How many times I have heard or read, either in private conversation, or more often, a speaker or writer, tell me that I should

I should be a missionary to the poor—in my own country or out of it. I should join a group dedicated to a particular cause. I should raise my children following one particular mindset. And these are only a small sampling of the opinions others have given me about how I should live my life and direct my paths.

Maybe they’re right. But maybe they’re not (and they can’t all be right, or I’d be divided into at least a dozen beings).

I don’t want to give any spoilers, but Annabelle does finally come to a decision, and it’s the one idea I’d love for my readers to take away with them: God’s will for each of us is as individual as we are. His love for us gives us the desires of our hearts, and if we follow Him, we’ll find those desires fulfilled. Not to say God’s will is always the easy way, but it’s the right, and the natural, way.

It’s not easy to discern God’s will, either. My advice, if you’re struggling with this: Pray. Ask God to lead you. Ask Him to guide you to advisors who you trust, who will pray for and with you on this issue. Pray some more. Ask Him to give you a certainty of heart. Sometimes, putting out a “Gideon’s fleece” works. I remember I did this as a young child, even before I’d ever learned the Bible story. God answered me. And imagine my delight, as a teen, reading that passage and thinking—oh, wow, no wonder He answered me. But of course, He delights in us, and loves to answer our prayers. What a Dad, right?

I do hope you enjoy Annabelle’s Angel as much as I enjoyed writing it. The Victorian trappings of Christmas, the children—oh, those children!—made this story a delight to work on.

Merry Christmas, and may God bless you, your families, and your celebrations this year, and always.

Therese TravisAbout the Author:

Therese is a wife, mother, grandmother, follower of Christ. She’s been writing stories since the age of eight, and “telling stories” (you know what that means) since long before. She finally figured out how to put those stories onto the page. She loves to talk about Jesus and His love for us, about her family, crafting, writing, and praying. You can connect with Therese at Pinterest and on Facebook.

AnnabellesAngel_w11882_680

More About Annabelle’s Angel:

Annabelle Archer has been crushing on Rick Stockton for years. And now, when he notices her, it’s only because her brothers and sisters make it impossible for him to miss her. Annabelle still hasn’t decided if God’s will means she spends her life taking care of her six siblings, or if He has more in mind for her.Rick Stockton doesn’t mind that church activities and Annabelle’s brothers and sisters keep throwing Annabelle and Rick together. He just isn’t sure what it means. But as the kids keep trying to turn Rick into a snow angel—with sugar, baby powder, and more—he’ll work on figuring it out. Spending time with Annabelle’s family gives Rick a longing for one of his own…and an idea to make it happen.This Christmas, Annabelle may just find there’s a special angel in her corner, one that will stick around for a lifetime.

Here’s more about Everybody Loves Mickey:

EverybodyLovesMickey_w11272_680He’s a saint with a tarnished halo, and Aubrey Thomas can’t stand him…or can she?

Handsome fireman, Mickey Hurst is loved by all. He volunteers at the local parish where Aubrey Thomas works as an administrator. He sings in the choir. He leads the youth group. He even acts as the church handyman, but Aubrey knew him before he became Saint Mickey—when he told her he’d have to be drunk to kiss her…and he was. What’s so infuriating is that despite his horrible admission, Aubrey loves Mickey as much as everybody else.

Mickey doesn’t blame Aubrey for disliking him. After all, he kissed her when he wasn’t sober—and insulted her, to boot. Aubrey deserved a better man—a Godly man. But, since that fateful kiss, Mickey’s drawn closer to the Lord. With the intercession of God and the matchmaking parish staff, Mickey prays that this Christmas he will be able to prove to Aubrey he’s now the man for her.

Author Interview: Therese M. Travis

Therese TravisToday’s guest is Therese M. Travis, the author of Annabelle’s Angel, a Christmas Holiday Extravaganza novella from White Rose Publishing. Therese is a wife, mother, grandmother, follower of Christ. She’s been writing stories since the age of eight, and “telling stories” (you know what that means) since long before. She finally figured out how to put those stories onto the page. She loves to talk about Jesus and His love for us, about her family, crafting, writing, and praying. You can connect with Therese at Pinterest and on Facebook.

Therese, thank you for being here today. I loved Annabelle’s story because my favorite heroes and heroines are those that are not absolutely perfect. In Annabelle’s case, her flaws are physical, and she sees herself as flawed and not at all the way God sees her. This flaw prevents her from truly living. Have you ever known anyone who suffers from what they would consider a physical flaw and allowed themselves to be ruled by their own fears of what others see in them? 

Fay, thank you for having me! I’m so glad you enjoyed Annabelle’s Angel. I had such a good time writing it.

I’ve known plenty of people who have physical flaws that affect the way they see themselves—I’d have to say the majority of people I know at one time or another allow this fear to change the way they feel about themselves. Fear, guilt, grief—these all filter God’s perfect love for us, and leave us feeling like we don’t—and never can—measure up.

Annabelle also harbors some grief and guilt in the story, and I personally have found that grief affects individuals in different ways, and how we handle that grief can impact our daily lives, as it does Annabelle. Are you writing this story from experience in this regard, or do you know someone who has suffered with prolonged grief and guilt?

I think we all have to deal with grief and guilt. We all have our own ways of facing these emotions. I know that after my mother passed away, at first, I took all the blame for the difficulties in our relationship. Then, after a while, I gave her all the blame. Now, I know that nothing is perfect, that we all do our best, and that we’re all bound to fail at something. Now, I can remember Mom, know that she’s perfected in Christ, and that someday, I will be, too.

Annabelle has a handful with her “angels,” but the kids are so well-written. Do you have a lot of experience with children that you pour into the pages of the story?

Thanks. I have to say, I LOVE kids. I have four of my own, six grandkids (counting the one who will be adopted into the family when his mom and my son marry—he lived with us for a year and so we know each other pretty well). Also, my “vocation” is to teach a Catechism class for my parish, so I’m with kids every week. (and in that hour and a half, I have developed a tremendous respect for full-time teachers!). So many times the characters I write come to me fully formed. I just have to get to know them, but I can’t really mold them. I could point to a couple of brothers who were the models for Joe and Liam, but please don’t think they’re exactly the same as the characters. They just walked in and said, hey, we’re in your story (which is what Liam’s real-life counterpart would have done), and there they were.

I don’t want our readers to misunderstand. Annabelle’s Angel deals with deep issues, but you keep it fun. It is a light Christmas read with a message. Would you share your message with us?

That God has a plan for each of us, and only He knows fully what it is. We can rely on others to help us find that purpose, but in the end, it’s between us and God. It’s never the same for any two people, and no one can tell us what we should be doing.

What can we expect to read next from you or what is your next project?

Fixing Perfect comes out in January, and I’m working on several other stories. I’ve got three different middle-grade novels I’m finishing up. I like to have a wide variety of projects to work on.

Okay, and I’ve already ready Fixing Perfect, and I would be blessed to have you share with us again on Inner Source in January.

Thanks again, Fay. God bless, and Merry Christmas!

AnnabellesAngel_w11882_680More About Annabelle’s Angel:

Annabelle Archer has been crushing on Rick Stockton for years. And now, when he notices her, it’s only because her brothers and sisters make it impossible for him to miss her. Annabelle still hasn’t decided if God’s will means she spends her life taking care of her six siblings, or if He has more in mind for her.Rick Stockton doesn’t mind that church activities and Annabelle’s brothers and sisters keep throwing Annabelle and Rick together. He just isn’t sure what it means. But as the kids keep trying to turn Rick into a snow angel—with sugar, baby powder, and more—he’ll work on figuring it out. Spending time with Annabelle’s family gives Rick a longing for one of his own…and an idea to make it happen.This Christmas, Annabelle may just find there’s a special angel in her corner, one that will stick around for a lifetime.

Therese has another Christmas Extravaganza novella that is in the top of my favorite Christmas reads. Here’s more about Everybody Loves Mickey:

EverybodyLovesMickey_w11272_680He’s a saint with a tarnished halo, and Aubrey Thomas can’t stand him…or can she?

Handsome fireman, Mickey Hurst is loved by all. He volunteers at the local parish where Aubrey Thomas works as an administrator. He sings in the choir. He leads the youth group. He even acts as the church handyman, but Aubrey knew him before he became Saint Mickey—when he told her he’d have to be drunk to kiss her…and he was. What’s so infuriating is that despite his horrible admission, Aubrey loves Mickey as much as everybody else.

Mickey doesn’t blame Aubrey for disliking him. After all, he kissed her when he wasn’t sober—and insulted her, to boot. Aubrey deserved a better man—a Godly man. But, since that fateful kiss, Mickey’s drawn closer to the Lord. With the intercession of God and the matchmaking parish staff, Mickey prays that this Christmas he will be able to prove to Aubrey he’s now the man for her.

 

Character Interview: Annabelle Archer from Therese M. Travis’s Annabelle’s Angel

AnnabellesAngel_w11882_680Today’s guest is Annabelle Archer, the heroine from Therese M. Travis’s Annabelle’s Angels, a Christmas Holiday Extravaganza from White Rose Publishing.

Annabelle, welcome. Please start out by telling us about yourself and your family.

I’m the oldest of seven children. Freddie, Joe, Faith, Matt, Brody and Victoria are my siblings. We live with our grandmother, but I’ve tried to be like a mother to the others since our parents were killed.

I don’t want to give away too much, but you suffered an injury and it left you with a scar. What type of an effect did this have on your life?

I’m just—ultra aware of it. It’s always there, reminding me of the accident. Reminding me that if I’d just paid attention—but I never liked to talk about it.

You also have some psychological scars. What do you believe to be their impact on your life?

It took me many years to admit I had inner scars as well as the outer ones I tried to hide. And it’s still hard for me to talk about them.

I don’t want to blame anyone for what happened. Not me, not someone else. They call them “accidents” for a reason, and that’s what killed my parents—an accident. But for a long time I allowed myself to believe I could have done something to keep them alive. It kind of kept me from living. Not that I did things the wrong way, but I did them with the wrong attitude.

You have some “angels” in your life. I’m interested in knowing how you think your life would have been different without the responsibility for their lives that was placed upon you due to a tragedy.

Wow. You mean, if I’d been able to go to college, live life away from these guys? Wow. I can’t imagine….  I wish my parents could be alive now, but the thought of me out in the world without the kids is just—jarring. Besides, without them, how would I have ever met Rick?

Romans 8:28 tells us that “all things happen for good …” No one in their right mind would blurt that out to you immediately after the tragedy that you faced, but now with time between now and then, can you look back and see where God was working to make all things right for you?

As I was saying, how else would I have met Rick? It’s so hard to grasp that concept, the “silver lining” of God’s plans. But once you get it, you get it. In fact, the other day I made bread, and it refused to rise. And I thought, OK, God, how are we going to find the blessings in this mess? And He whispered, “We could try making a sort of pizza. It’s already flatbread….” guess I’ve learned to look for the silver lining.

‘Scuze me, someone just fell out of the tree…

I hope they weren’t hurt. Thank you so much for sharing with us today. I look forward to talking to Therese on Wednesday.

More About Annabelle’s Angel:

Annabelle Archer has been crushing on Rick Stockton for years. And now, when he notices her, it’s only because her brothers and sisters make it impossible for him to miss her. Annabelle still hasn’t decided if God’s will means she spends her life taking care of her six siblings, or if He has more in mind for her.Rick Stockton doesn’t mind that church activities and Annabelle’s brothers and sisters keep throwing Annabelle and Rick together. He just isn’t sure what it means. But as the kids keep trying to turn Rick into a snow angel—with sugar, baby powder, and more—he’ll work on figuring it out. Spending time with Annabelle’s family gives Rick a longing for one of his own…and an idea to make it happen.This Christmas, Annabelle may just find there’s a special angel in her corner, one that will stick around for a lifetime.

Here’s more about Everybody Loves Mickey:

EverybodyLovesMickey_w11272_680He’s a saint with a tarnished halo, and Aubrey Thomas can’t stand him…or can she?

Handsome fireman, Mickey Hurst is loved by all. He volunteers at the local parish where Aubrey Thomas works as an administrator. He sings in the choir. He leads the youth group. He even acts as the church handyman, but Aubrey knew him before he became Saint Mickey—when he told her he’d have to be drunk to kiss her…and he was. What’s so infuriating is that despite his horrible admission, Aubrey loves Mickey as much as everybody else.

Mickey doesn’t blame Aubrey for disliking him. After all, he kissed her when he wasn’t sober—and insulted her, to boot. Aubrey deserved a better man—a Godly man. But, since that fateful kiss, Mickey’s drawn closer to the Lord. With the intercession of God and the matchmaking parish staff, Mickey prays that this Christmas he will be able to prove to Aubrey he’s now the man for her.

Therese TravisAbout the Author:

Therese is a wife, mother, grandmother, follower of Christ. She’s been writing stories since the age of eight, and “telling stories” (you know what that means) since long before. She finally figured out how to put those stories onto the page. She loves to talk about Jesus and His love for us, about her family, crafting, writing, and praying. You can connect with Therese at Pinterest and on Facebook.

Important to God by JoAnn Durgin

Closeup portrait of a young caucasian woman prayingIn Sleigh Ride Together with You, both Nicole Reardon and Alex Kingsfield have suffered deep personal losses. Nicole’s father left her family when she was thirteen. As a result, Nicole’s self-esteem was crushed, and then she saw how her dad’s abandonment devastated her mother. When she was fifteen, as she tells Alex, a friend invited her to church. This is what Nicole tells him:

“At the time, I was mad at God. Mad at the world, really, but especially at God. He’d taken my father away and my mom was so sick that she didn’t even know me. What kind of loving Father would do something like that?” She goes on to say, “Sitting there on that uncomfortable wooden pew, I began to soften as I listened to the pastor talk about how much God loves us. How He knows us and wants us to know and love Him. That slowly seeped into my brain and I began to understand that God didn’t cause any of those things to happen. We’re human, so we’re going to mess up. A lot. He never promises us an easy life. But He promised to always be there to help us, and it’s up to us to accept Him and His love.”

Alex’s best friend, Chase, was killed in car wreck when Alex was home on winter break during his freshman year of college. Alex had been in the car, and they’d been drinking. After the accident, Alex was wracked with guilt because he’d given Chase the last beer, the one that made him feel like he was invincible. This is what Alex tells Nicole: “If I’ve learned nothing else, Nicole, it’s that life holds no guarantees beyond this moment. After the accident, my dad told me in no uncertain terms that I had a choice. I could either reject Christ and what He did on the cross, or I could accept the grace He offered and step into a new life. Kneeling beside my dad in his office, I made the choice to accept that freedom Christ offered, and it changed my life.”

I’ve been blessed in my life. I haven’t suffered a deep, personal tragedy that has devastated me. But I’ve certainly faced my share of disappointment, loss, and heartache. These are all part of life, part of being human, and none of us are immune. Sometimes I feel as if I’m being persecuted in one way or another. Then the Lord helps me to put it into perspective by bringing to my attention that others face far greater challenges, many on a daily basis.

This is what I’ve learned: no matter how big, no matter how small, my problems are important to God. He doesn’t look at them as trivial, insignificant or insurmountable. He knows, and He wants me to cast all my cares on Him. His shoulders are more than wide enough to handle them all. Honestly, there are times when I don’t know what I’d do without the hope I’ve found in Christ. As a hurting child goes to his mother when he needs reassurance and comfort, how wonderful is the knowledge that—as a child of the King—we can surrender our troubles at the foot of the cross. The Lord never fails, He always sustains, and his love knows no bounds.

Near the end of Sleigh Ride Together with You, Alex says good-bye to Nicole as he prepares to Iowa to return to New York. He quotes this scripture to her from Joshua 1:9: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (NIV)

JoAnn Author Photo (Princess Cruise)About the Author:

JoAnn Durgin is the author of five novels (and counting) in the popular Lewis Legacy Series, as well as Catching Serenity, and Echoes of Edinburgh, and the Starlight Christmas Series: Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, Starlight, Star Bright, and Sleigh Ride Together with You. JoAnn lives with her husband and three children in southern Indiana and loves to hear from her readers at www.joanndurgin.com or www.facebook.com/authorjoanndurgin.

Sleigh Ride Together with You Cover (Largest)More About Sleigh Ride Together With You:

As the popular television co-host of Wake Up, Des Moines! Nicole Reardon has achieved her dream. So why has the network sent “image maker” Alex Kingsfield to the station? The irritatingly handsome man is also the first man she’s been attracted to since Jake Marston dumped her three years ago in Starlight, Iowa. When an unexpected assignment sends Nicole and Alex to Starlight, can she rise above the past and make this interview the defining moment of her career?

Alex Kingsfield knows Nicole is poised on the cusp of network stardom. But beneath the professional exterior is a small-town girl at heart, genuine and God-honoring. Alex holds the power to boost Nicole’s career to unknown heights. Or crush her dreams. From any angle, he’s caught in a “no win” situation when he finds himself falling for the beautiful Nicole. What’s a man to do when love comes calling at Christmas?

MeetMeUnderTheMistletoe_w11222_300About Meet Me Under the Mistletoe:

Jacob Marston, Starlight, Iowa’s hometown hero made a long-ago promise to the Lord: he won’t kiss a woman until he knows she’s “the one.” Now at age twenty-eight, the rugged firefighter questions if it’ll ever happen. Then, he meets his best friend’s sister, and Jake believes he’s found the woman of his dreams. But what will she think when she discovers his vow?

When Julia makes an unexpected confession on Christmas Day, Jake shares his secret with her, and it looks as though happily-ever-after will make a holiday appearance.

But somehow, everyone in the tiny town of Starlight learns Jake’s secret, and he’s instantly transformed from town hero to laughingstock. Did Julia reveal his secret? Can Jake forget the humiliation and find his way under the mistletoe to share a forever kiss with Julia?

About Starlight, Star Bright:

StarlightStarbright_w11612_680Dante Moretti, Texas-born goalie of an Italian World Cup champion team, expects Starlight, Iowa will be only a blip on the radar of his life. Grabbing a quick meal at Barney’s Diner during the holidays, Dante meets two women who capture his heart in very different ways. Then his rental car won’t start and leaves him stranded. Does the Lord have a plan for bringing him—and keeping him—in Starlight?

Amanda Marston is excited to be home for her brother’s wedding. When she drops in for a cup of coffee at Barney’s, she’s charmed by the mysterious, Italian-spouting cowboy. Before she can blink, the handsome stranger is helping with projects all over town and working his way into her heart. Does God have a plan for Dante in her beloved little Starlight or will he take her heart with him when he returns to Italy?

Author Interview: JoAnn Durgin

JoAnn Author Photo (Princess Cruise)I’m delighted to have today’s guest back with us again. JoAnn Durgin is a prolific author of clean, downright romantic fiction, and I have had the pleasure of working as an editor for three of her Christmas Holiday Extravaganza novellas from White Rose Publishing. 

JoAnn Durgin is the author of five novels (and counting) in the popular Lewis Legacy series, as well as Catching Serenity, and Echoes of Edinburgh, and the Starlight Christmas Series: Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, Starlight, Star Bright, and Sleigh Ride Together with You. JoAnn lives with her husband and three children in southern Indiana and loves to hear from her readers at www.joanndurgin.com or www.facebook.com/authorjoanndurgin.

JoAnn, thank you for once again agreeing to an interview with Inner Source. Your first novella in your Starlight Christmas series was Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, where we met Jake and Julia. The next story was by Starlight, Star Bright in which Amanda met Dante, and this year in Sleigh Ride Together With You, we get to know Nicole, whom we met in the first story, as well as the hero, Alex. Each character has a unique background that blends in to add interest to the story. How do you choose the occupations for your characters?

First let me say, you may have given me a new tagline: Clean, Downright Romantic Fiction. I like it! As far as occupations for my Starlight series characters, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe features a firefighter hero and a heroine who is a nurse (but not in Starlight). I sat for almost four hours in my local fire station one July evening in 2012 talking with the guys. They told me firefighters often marry nurses because individuals drawn to those occupations are committed, first and foremost, to helping people. Firefighters and nurses get to know one another quite well by virtue of their jobs. I wrote a line into my story about how nurses like the way a firefighter smells: smoky, earthy, and rugged. I never would have thought of it, but that line came straight from my discussion with my local firefighters (as told to them by their nurse friends)!

In Starlight, Star Bright, Dante is a professional soccer player on the world stage, but in his heart, he’s a small-town guy from West Texas. So I paired him with athletic Amanda, a former swimmer from a small town (Starlight) who’s interested in team sports. In Sleigh Ride Together with You, Nicole and Alex are both in the television broadcast industry, both Christians navigating the sometimes difficult corporate world. It’s not so much the occupations/professions that made them interesting but the characters themselves, and I try to give my readers a well-rounded variety!

Nicole has had it rough, and she had to deal with some heavy situations in her life. Are any of the hardships she faced something that you might have faced or do you know someone who has faced them?

Her father abandoned Nicole and her mother when he left them for a younger woman. Nicole was thirteen at the time, and that event shattered her self-esteem. Now in her late twenties, Nicole remains somewhat emotionally fragile, and she has suffered from trust issues. Consequently, she’s chosen men who are wrong for her, and none of her dating relationships have lasted. Nicole’s mother, Laura, was also greatly impacted by her husband’s betrayal, and she now suffers from Alzheimer’s. Whether or not one event led to, or caused, the other is not anything Nicole can know for certain, but she feels that it must have somehow impacted her mother’s health and eventual physical decline. I’ve known several people who have dealt with, or are currently dealing with, parents who are suffering from this ravaging disease.

When we first meet Nicole her ambitions are very big. They take her away from her hometown and from the man she thought she loved. Much of Nicole’s story is about finding the place where she wants to be. Have you ever had to make a decision like that?

When I was twenty-two, I moved to Dallas, Texas, without knowing a soul there, or even in the great State of Texas. Call me crazy, call me independent—call me both, and I won’t take offense—but I was looking for adventure. I wanted to get away from Indiana and prove to myself that I could make it on my own in the big city. I’ll never forget standing at the top of the stairs in my apartment complex as my mother said good-bye. I could never have done such a thing without her support. She paved the way by her example of being a strong, independent single mother from the time I was three years old and my parents divorced. Let me make it perfectly clear that my father in no way abandoned us. He lived in a nearby town and was a presence in my life. My mom stayed with me in Dallas for a few weeks, encouraging me as I went on job interviews, and helping me to find and furnish an apartment. As strong and confident as I like to believe I am, I’m not sure I could do the same for one of my own children, although I suppose it’s all part of the “letting go” process, right?

Do you have any words of wisdom or a scripture reference for our ambitious readers that might help them put their ambitions into perspective?

God knows each one of us better than anyone else: our ambitions, fears, weaknesses, and strengths. He loves us dearly and craves our fellowship. Even when we feel as though we’re not doing as much as we could in our Christian walk to be a witness of that love to others, God knows that, too. Nicole and Alex in Sleigh Ride share a discussion about that very thing. Alex tells her, “I don’t want my faith to be an afterthought, Nicole. I want it to be so ingrained within me, it flows. I want it to be so natural that I don’t even have to make a conscious effort.” To which Nicole says, “We try, and God sees that. The greatest comfort for me is in knowing He’s always there to pick me up when I fall.”

A well-known and oft-quoted verse of scripture is from Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (NASB)

A verse that Nicole writes down for an enthusiastic fan in Sleigh Ride Together with You, who asks her for an autograph and advice for her niece—a college student interested in a broadcasting career—is this one from 2 Timothy 1:7: For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. (NASB)

Are there going to be any other stories either about the residents of Starlight, Iowa, or maybe a spinoff series? If so, can you share? Whether or not the stories spring from Starlight, I know you have other stories in the works. I hope you’ll share a little about them.

At this point, I don’t plan on another book in the actual Starlight Christmas series. However, due to what readers are already telling me (and as I suspected), they would love to read a story where Colin Young, Nicole’s co-host on Wake Up, Des Moines! finds his own happily ever after. Time will tell, but I’d love to write about Colin and at least mention the other familiar Starlight characters.

Next up is Prelude, the prequel to my Lewis Legacy Series, and it’s the love story of the mother and father of Sam Lewis, the core character in my series. It releases on December 19th, and I’ve had such a fun time writing it! It’s a “first” for me in several respects; namely that it’s set in 1962, and as such, it’s considered historical fiction. Also, this is the first story I’ve written where the hero and heroine have known one another for years. The characters and events in Prelude will lend insights into the background, life and career choices of Sam and his brothers and sister who are featured in upcoming books in the Lewis Legacy Series.

Thank you for sharing, JoAnn. It’s always a pleasure having you visit here at Inner Source.

Sleigh Ride Together with You Cover (Largest)More About Sleigh Ride Together With You:

As the popular television co-host of Wake Up, Des Moines! Nicole Reardon has achieved her dream. So why has the network sent “image maker” Alex Kingsfield to the station? The irritatingly handsome man is also the first man she’s been attracted to since Jake Marston dumped her three years ago in Starlight, Iowa. When an unexpected assignment sends Nicole and Alex to Starlight, can she rise above the past and make this interview the defining moment of her career?

Alex Kingsfield knows Nicole is poised on the cusp of network stardom. But beneath the professional exterior is a small-town girl at heart, genuine and God-honoring. Alex holds the power to boost Nicole’s career to unknown heights. Or crush her dreams. From any angle, he’s caught in a “no win” situation when he finds himself falling for the beautiful Nicole. What’s a man to do when love comes calling at Christmas?

MeetMeUnderTheMistletoe_w11222_300About Meet Me Under the Mistletoe:

Jacob Marston, Starlight, Iowa’s hometown hero made a long-ago promise to the Lord: he won’t kiss a woman until he knows she’s “the one.” Now at age twenty-eight, the rugged firefighter questions if it’ll ever happen. Then, he meets his best friend’s sister, and Jake believes he’s found the woman of his dreams. But what will she think when she discovers his vow?

When Julia makes an unexpected confession on Christmas Day, Jake shares his secret with her, and it looks as though happily-ever-after will make a holiday appearance.

But somehow, everyone in the tiny town of Starlight learns Jake’s secret, and he’s instantly transformed from town hero to laughingstock. Did Julia reveal his secret? Can Jake forget the humiliation and find his way under the mistletoe to share a forever kiss with Julia?

StarlightStarbright_w11612_680About Starlight, Star Bright:

Dante Moretti, Texas-born goalie of an Italian World Cup champion team, expects Starlight, Iowa will be only a blip on the radar of his life. Grabbing a quick meal at Barney’s Diner during the holidays, Dante meets two women who capture his heart in very different ways. Then his rental car won’t start and leaves him stranded. Does the Lord have a plan for bringing him—and keeping him—in Starlight?

Amanda Marston is excited to be home for her brother’s wedding. When she drops in for a cup of coffee at Barney’s, she’s charmed by the mysterious, Italian-spouting cowboy. Before she can blink, the handsome stranger is helping with projects all over town and working his way into her heart. Does God have a plan for Dante in her beloved little Starlight or will he take her heart with him when he returns to Italy?

Character Interview: Nicole Reardon from Sleigh Ride Together With You

Sleigh Ride Together with You Cover (Largest)Today’s guest is Nicole Reardon from JoAnn Durgin’s third Christmas Holiday Extravaganza novella set in Starlight, Iowa.

Nicole, thank you for talking with us. Readers first met you briefly in Jake Marston’s story, Meet Me under the Mistletoe. Now, we find that your hard work has taken you to Des Moines, Iowa and an enviable career. Would you please share a little about your life with us?

Thank you for inviting me to be your guest today. It’s great to be here and share with your readers. Since I was a teenager, I had dreamed of a career in broadcast television. However, I knew I needed to leave my small town in order to pursue my professional goals. I started working with a television affiliate in Des Moines four years ago, quickly moved up the ranks, and I was made a weekend anchor within a year. I was named as the co-host of a morning talk show, Wake Up, Des Moines!, a little over a year ago. My co-host on the show, Colin Young, is a constant source of amusement and he’s very protective of me. In many ways, Colin’s my best friend, and I simply adore him.

You are a very giving and caring person, and I’m happy that I could get to know you better in Sleigh Ride Together With You because in Meet Me under the Mistletoe, I think you’re a bit misunderstood. I’d like to know if anything happened in your life to change you in the four years since you’ve left Starlight.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve grown up. Living on my own has taught me, perhaps by necessity, some invaluable life lessons. For one thing, I’ve tried to bloom where God has planted me. I’ve found great joy and a sense of personal fulfillment in regularly helping at a downtown mission in Des Moines. Being able to help others less fortunate is a way for me to share the many blessings the Lord has bestowed upon me.

My mother is in a nursing center and suffers from Alzheimer’s. Every week I send her flowers and I try to visit as much as I can. It’s difficult because Mom doesn’t remember me. She continually asks for my Grandma Camille to come and visit her, but Grandma died a number of years ago. My father abandoned our family when I was thirteen, and that crushed my self-esteem and made me leery of trusting others, especially men. In some ways, I believe his leaving forced both my mom and me to become much more self-sufficient, independent and strong. But while I think it helped me in the long-term, it had the opposite effect on my mom. I realize I might sound like an emotional mess, but I’ve also learned that people are the same everywhere in the world. Being on a bigger show, living in a bigger city, doesn’t necessarily guarantee or equate with success or make me happier. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that my professional success doesn’t define me. Faith, family, home and love. Those are the things that matter most in my life.

When I met Alex Kingsfield and discovered he was from the network, I’ll admit to being wary and suspicious of his motives. As it turns out, Alex coming to the station has brought a fresh perspective and great romance into my life. He’s taught me to trust again and to seek out the good in others.

You’ve carried a heavy load for someone so young. How do you handle a high-stress job as a morning show co-host and the additional stress of caring for a loved one?

The show can be stressful, but it’s a good kind of stress. Perhaps because of some of the things I’ve gone through in my life, I approach the inevitable difficulties in a different manner from most people. What I consider to be a small blip in life might seem almost overwhelming to others. I pray a lot, and I talk to the Lord the same as I do with Colin (except without all the teasing). Being able to lay my troubles, insecurities, and fears at the foot of the Savior is an unbelievable comfort for me.

Alex Kingsfield is definitely the hero-type, but I’d like to know what you think it takes to be a romantic hero.

Thank you, and I think so, too! Colin and I had a fun discussion about that very thing when I interviewed a romance author on our show. She clammed up and I finally sparked her interest when I asked about her latest hero, Slade Stonehenge. The name makes me smile, and he’s the stereotypical romance hero: strong, masculine, romantic, physically impressive, perfect and there’s virtually nothing he can’t do. That’s not real life. A real life hero is someone who takes the time to listen, really listen, to everyone, no matter their age or station in life. He loves with a selfless, deep passion, and he’s willing to fight for love. When I tried to push Alex away because of my lingering trust issues, he made it clear he wasn’t going anywhere. To me, that was very heroic. Alex is also a very handsome and giving man, so I am blessed.

Is there a verse or scripture that has helped you to excel and to be the successful woman that you are today?

One verse that I’ve always loved, and that I often share with others, is this one from 2 Timothy 1:7: For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. (NASB)

The Lord doesn’t want us to be afraid to reach for our dreams. We need to do our part in getting the required education and experience, but we also need to be mindful of the One who is our greatest friend and can help us achieve those dreams. Sometimes, God answers our prayer or leads us in a completely different direction than we expect. In any case, the journey can be very exciting if we just allow Him to take the reins instead of trying to control everything on our own.

Thank you for allowing me to share with you! Blessings to all for a Merry Christmas!

More About Sleigh Ride Together With You:

As the popular television co-host of Wake Up, Des Moines! Nicole Reardon has achieved her dream. So why has the network sent “image maker” Alex Kingsfield to the station? The irritatingly handsome man is also the first man she’s been attracted to since Jake Marston dumped her three years ago in Starlight, Iowa. When an unexpected assignment sends Nicole and Alex to Starlight, can she rise above the past and make this interview the defining moment of her career?

Alex Kingsfield knows Nicole is poised on the cusp of network stardom. But beneath the professional exterior is a small-town girl at heart, genuine and God-honoring. Alex holds the power to boost Nicole’s career to unknown heights. Or crush her dreams. From any angle, he’s caught in a “no win” situation when he finds himself falling for the beautiful Nicole. What’s a man to do when love comes calling at Christmas?

MeetMeUnderTheMistletoe_w11222_300About Meet Me Under the Mistletoe:

Jacob Marston, Starlight, Iowa’s hometown hero made a long-ago promise to the Lord: he won’t kiss a woman until he knows she’s “the one.” Now at age twenty-eight, the rugged firefighter questions if it’ll ever happen. Then, he meets his best friend’s sister, and Jake believes he’s found the woman of his dreams. But what will she think when she discovers his vow?

When Julia makes an unexpected confession on Christmas Day, Jake shares his secret with her, and it looks as though happily-ever-after will make a holiday appearance.

But somehow, everyone in the tiny town of Starlight learns Jake’s secret, and he’s instantly transformed from town hero to laughingstock. Did Julia reveal his secret? Can Jake forget the humiliation and find his way under the mistletoe to share a forever kiss with Julia?

StarlightStarbright_w11612_680About Starlight, Star Bright:

Dante Moretti, Texas-born goalie of an Italian World Cup champion team, expects Starlight, Iowa will be only a blip on the radar of his life. Grabbing a quick meal at Barney’s Diner during the holidays, Dante meets two women who capture his heart in very different ways. Then his rental car won’t start and leaves him stranded. Does the Lord have a plan for bringing him—and keeping him—in Starlight?

Amanda Marston is excited to be home for her brother’s wedding. When she drops in for a cup of coffee at Barney’s, she’s charmed by the mysterious, Italian-spouting cowboy. Before she can blink, the handsome stranger is helping with projects all over town and working his way into her heart. Does God have a plan for Dante in her beloved little Starlight or will he take her heart with him when he returns to Italy?

JoAnn Author Photo (Princess Cruise)About the Author:

JoAnn Durgin is the author of five novels (and counting) in the popular Lewis Legacy Series, as well as Catching Serenity, and Echoes of Edinburgh, and the Starlight Christmas Series: Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, Starlight, Star Bright, and Sleigh Ride Together with You. JoAnn lives with her husband and three children in southern Indiana and loves to hear from her readers at www.joanndurgin.com or www.facebook.com/authorjoanndurgin.

 

Writing for Him; Writing from Him by Marian P. Merritt

Hand writing a note on a sheet of paper with a penDeep Freeze Christmas, my Christmas novella, started as a simple idea—a Louisiana chef goes to Colorado to cook. That was the initial story idea. The character of Leona was the only clear image I had. I wish I could say that I plot out every detail of the story, but that’s not the case. My stories usually begin with a character and his/her situation or issue. I don’t immediately start writing when an idea hits but usually let it simmer for a while. As I begin to write the story unfolds. The beauty of trusting God with my writing is that I never intentionally put a spiritual theme in my books, but by the end there usually is one.

Such was the case with Deep Freeze Christmas. I hadn’t intended to write a Christmas story. But the idea of a female chef from Louisiana going to Colorado kept nagging me. My last Christmas novella, Southern Fried Christmas, featured a Colorado girl going to Louisiana at Christmas. So this would be an opposite story.

I love writing about the two things dear to my heart—my Louisiana roots and my current home in the Rocky Mountains. My tagline, Where the Bayous Meet the Mountains emerged from those loves.

Last year during the Christmas holidays, I began writing Deep Freeze Christmas. A snow storm pushed through our town and there’s wasn’t much to do but stay home, it was then I set out to tell Leona’s story. For the first time in a long time the words flowed. The characters began to tell me their stories and I loved getting to know them. Chef Julian played a larger role than intended when his past revealed itself. He was more than just a boss to Leona, he was her mentor and self-appointed guardian.

As the story progressed, the theme became apparent—be the character of Christ to all we encounter. When Leona is in the presence of someone who treats her poorly, she is called upon to act out her faith. She must let her talk actually walk. She also reminds Chef of their mission to reflect Christ’s character. No matter how hard it is and how difficult the person is.

Everyone has a difficult person in their life and sometimes it’s hard to be Christlike when they seem to go out of their way to be rude or obnoxious. One thing Leona said in Deep Freeze Christmas made a lot of sense. Hurting people hurt others. That’s one thing I try to remember when encountering someone determined to be unpleasant.

The theme of the book, reflects Christ’s character, evolved while writing. I love that I don’t have to push a theme and write to it. I just have to trust and let the Holy Spirit write through me. One of the things I’ve learned about trusting God with my writing is that He doesn’t want me to write FOR Him, He wants me to write FROM Him. This short novelette proved that.

Marian P. Merritt -HeadshotAbout the Author:

Marian Pellegrin Merritt writes stories that blend her love of the mountains with her deep Southern roots. She is an author and freelance writer with over ten years experience. Her work has appeared in newspapers, magazines and online websites and garnered a first place award in ACFW’s Genesis contest.

Marian is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy and an accounting certificate from the University of South Alabama. This Louisiana native writes from the Northwest Colorado home she shares with her husband and a very spoiled Labradoodle. Connect with her through her Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter.

DeepFreezeChristmas_w11849_png (1)More about Deep Freeze Christmas:

Louisiana Chef Leona Buquet agrees to cook at a Colorado mountain lodge during the Christmas holiday. When she meets the son of a movie producer, she is taken by his striking good looks and warm personality. Trouble is, with glamorous actresses clamoring for his attention, why would he even notice Leona?

Cameron Fleming struggles with being in a career he hates in order to please his famous father. When he meets Leona, he feels a connection to her and wants an opportunity to get to know her. That is hard to do while dodging starlets…and the woman he wants is avoiding him.

Can love sizzle, along with the Cajun dishes, in subzero temperatures?

SouthernFriedChristmas_w11200_680 (1)About Southern Fried Christmas, another Christmas Extravaganza novella:

Love: purer than Colorado snow, deeper than a Louisiana bayou.

The Colorado Rockies have always been home to journalist Kelly Shepherd, but after the death of her father, and facing her first Christmas alone, she accepts an assignment that leads her deep into Louisiana’s Cajun country.

Since his wife’s death, Denny Labouve has focused his attention on his ten-year-old daughter and the family business, but Kelly sparks the dying embers of his heart even as a Christmas cold front moves through his beloved Cajun country.

Will Denny and Kelly be able to trust God to bridge the span between the Colorado Rockies and the Louisiana bayou?

a-cajun-christmas-miracle-cover-web-copyAbout A Cajun Christmas Miracle

“Who knows anything about love at seventeen? All those hormones raging, and life decisions to make.”

Thirteen years ago, Mandy St. Pierre and Bridger Mathews were in high school and hopelessly in love. When his parents moved to Colorado in his senior year, Mandy was left behind with a broken heart and a secret. When Bridger never contacted her, she questioned the reality and depth of their love.

While neither has forgotten the other and the deep first love they shared, their lives took different paths. Mandy married and became mother to a child with special needs. Bridger married only to loose his wife to cancer three years later.

Now Mandy and Bridger are thrown together for the wedding of her cousin and his best friend. Mandy, abandoned by her husband, has moved back to Belle Camellia, the River Road, Louisiana plantation home of her youth with Daniel, her three-year-old son who has autism. Bridger is working next door with a rescue horse his best friend has saved.

When Mandy’s son bonds with Bridger and his horse, Mandy is torn. She wrangles with letting Bridger back into her life, letting him into her son’s life, her unnatural fear of horses, and her wavering faith in God.

Through Daniel’s fearless attachment to the horse and Bridger, both Mandy and Bridger are forced to confront the past. Revealed truths present perfect opportunities for forgiveness. Will they let go of the past hurts? Can they open their hearts to trust one another in order to give Daniel an experience that may unlock his world and allow him to interact like never before?