Spotlight on the Author: Julie Arduini, Port of Call: Cozumel with Nora Laing

2015 February 14

melodylodgekoct132_editedThe spotlight today is on the author of the first heroine the reader meets in The Love Boat Bachelor. Julie Arduini is an author with a passion to encourage readers to find freedom through surrender. Her first Adirondack contemporary romance, Entrusted, gives readers hope to surrender fear. A Walk Through the Valley will soon be available as an infertility devotional with 5 other authors. She blogs every other Wednesday at Christians Read and is the contributing fiction editor for the new digital magazine, Imaginate. To learn more about her writing and love of chocolate, visit http://juliearduini.com. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two children.

Julie’s going to share the inside scoop with us on her chapter: Port of Call: Cozumel.

In The Love Boat Bachelor Nora Laing and Brent meet on board and have a lot of fun shopping and bartering in Cozumel. My hope is readers will read their story and enjoy the laughs they share and see the potential for healing in both their lives.

Like Brent, Nora’s been hurt. She’s dropped everything to help her sister, Claire, raise her son, Jimmy. The cruise marks Claire’s transition as a newlywed and now Jimmy has a stepdad. Where does that put Nora? She isn’t sure, and the wedding brings back too many bad memories. Brent comes along in a perfect time to distract her.

Nora was a blast to create. I knew I wanted a character that was good with kids, but I wanted to do something unique. Having her be the “fun aunt” that devoted her life to her sister and nephew that now didn’t seem to need her as much was a fun conflict to explore. Given Brent’s volunteer work with kids, I thought it gave them common ground. Their soul searching was another aspect they shared.

Yet, there had to be something different between them. One of my favorite quotes comes from the late Larry Burkett who said, “If both of you had everything in common, one of you would be unnecessary.” Although Nora is a more behind-the-scenes character, everything changes when she’s bartering. Brent gets to see Nora in a new way that he found amusing. As a writer, I had so much fun with their Cozumel scene.

There is a little bit of Tom and Julie Arduini in Brent and Nora. For instance, when Brent becomes ill, I know that feeling first hand. Our first full day at sea was quite rocky and there was a lot of sickness. I was violently ill to the point of needing medicine from the infirmary. Once I took that and a nap, I was ready for sight seeing in Cozumel.

The “Papi” scene is real as well, except it was my husband who was the shrewd negotiator. I’d never experienced such bartering, and it was amazing to watch. I knew I wanted to use that in The Love Boat Bachelor, except I switched the roles. My husband still has the hat, and we continue to laugh at the woman who said in her thick accent, “Papi, you’re killing me!”

Choosing Nora’s name was fun, too. I was working on ministry things around the same time I was plotting. I flipped through my church directory app and saw a little girl that lights up a room whenever she enters. She’s blonde with beautiful blue eyes and her name is Nora. Another flip of a page and I saw the last name of a family that is known for taking care of each other and being full of love. Nora Laing it was. Then I tried to think of names that went well with Nora for her family.

Nora’s a teacher ready to love again, even if she’s taking baby steps by going on the cruise. Will Brent be the one?

LOVE BOAT BACHELOR CoverMore About The Love Boat Bachelor:

Romance is a joke.

After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too.

Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry?

Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise.

As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.

What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Entrusted FRONT Cover_editedDon’t miss Julie’s awesome romance, Book 1 in her Surrendered series, Entrusted:

Jenna Anderson, sassy city-girl from Youngstown, Ohio, plows–literally–into Adirondack village, Speculator Falls, with a busted GPS. She gets a warning from the sheriff but has ideas for the senior center to prove she belongs in town as their director. Town councilman Ben Regan is as broken as the flower box Jenna demolished. He’s grieving and wants to shut down the center before there’s too much change and heartbreak. They work on community projects and build a slow relationship, but the council needs to vote on the senior center’s future. Can Jenna show Ben both her and the center are worth trusting?

See more at: http://juliearduini.com/booksEntrusted may also be purchased from Barnes & Noble and Christian Book Distributors.

Port of Call: St. Maarten with Mercy Lacewell

2015 February 4

Sint Maarten CanonToday’s special guest is Mercy Lacewell, the last heroine you’ll meet in The Love Boat Bachelor. Mercy, thank you for joining us here today, and please tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do when you’re not taking a cruise?

Um. First of all, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. This feels so odd. I’m better at reading about other people instead of sharing about myself. I’m from Colorado. My dad managed a ski lodge for decades, and we still live on the site. I grew up on the slopes. Hard to believe with my complete lack of tan at this point. I wish I’d had the chance to enjoy the beaches at St. Maarten more. Anyway, I spent several years in college and almost had my nursing degree when Daddy had his stroke. I moved home to take care of him, and I do ski school classes when time permits.

Why did you take “The Love Boat” cruise?

Actually, Daddy and I were only coming home on this cruise. I’m not opposed to falling in love. I’ve even come close a few times, but I’m not looking for it. Daddy’s wanted to visit his friends in St. Maarten for years. At the time, it was the last item on his bucket list. But since the cruise, he’s been improving and building a brand new list!

I’m so glad. Praise the Lord, for your father’s renewed health. Besides the port of call that your story brought to life, what did you enjoy most about the cruise: destination, activity, food, anything you want to share?

There is so much to love about being shipboard. I’m usually a pretty private person, so spending time with Brent stretched my comfort levels, but in a good way. While crowds and party atmospheres aren’t my thing, I enjoyed having someone to share the special moments with, especially when Daddy got so tired. But I think the thing I loved most about the ship was the expansive view. How big is our God that he could speak such a great ocean into existence. And yet fill it with unique, even tiny, bits of His amazing creativity. Makes me feel so incredibly blessed that He knows my name and cares about my life.

Now that you’ve sailed the Caribbean, is there anywhere else you’d like to see? Why does that location intrigue you?

Actually, I’ve been happy to be back home. I love visiting new places, but since Daddy no longer needs so much of my time, I’m trying to discover what the Lord wants me to do now. I plan to complete my degree in the next few months and become an RN. But I’m not sure how I’ll use my skills. Or where for that matter. Should the Lord lead me to, oh, I don’t know, Germany or Switzerland, maybe France, or Italy, I’d sure be okay with that! I could use my nursing skills AND my skiing and boarding ability. That could make a great mix, don’t you think?

So, what did you really think about Brent Teague. Now, come on. Give us the scoop.

Oh, Brent. God really has a plan for that man. So much compassion and kindness and wisdom wrapped in one place. And yes, he’s also so cute. *Blush* St. Maarten and our trip back to the states will always be a special memory. The best part of our trip by far. Daddy urged him to take his next vacation in the mountains. I hope Brent does. I’d love to spend more time with him.

LOVE BOAT BACHELOR CoverMore About The Love Boat Bachelor:

Romance is a joke.

After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too.

Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry?

Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise.

As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.

What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Read all the The Love Boat Bachelor chapters.

Read our interview with the story’s creative mastermind, Jerusha Agen.

Read other interview of our heroines:  Nora Laing, Eliana Grayson, Renee Kessler, Alyssa LaRoche, Sadie Graham, and Lacy Dickinson.

Today through February 7, we invite you to vote for your favorite heroine. When all the voting is done, the winning author (that’s why we’re not sharing the chapter author’s name with you until after the voting), will present the happily-ever-after ending. It will be published, along with the preceding chapters, and offered free on Kindle, starting … when else … Valentine’s Day.

A DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT COVER

A Dozen Apologies (the sequel to The Love Boat Bachelor)

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up. In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better. Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible. Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

 

 

Port of Call: Bridgetown Barbados with Lacy Dickinson

2015 February 3

Wharf Road (Barbados)Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do when you’re not taking a cruise?

I’m from New Orleans, Louisiana, where I teach cultural studies at Tulane University. Right now, I’m on sabbatical, as I plan to write a history of Bridgetown, Barbados.

Why did you take “The Love Boat” cruise?

My mother was born on Barbados. She left the island before I was born, and she never returned, though I tried often to get her to visit her family. I took the cruise to Bridgetown because it is something that she said she would like to do. Mama died six months ago, and I am taking her ashes home. Before I return to my auntie’s house, I want to walk with her through the city of Bridgetown and show her all of the changes—and all of the things that stayed the same—since she left there so long ago. Then, I plan to stay with my family to write my book.

Besides the port of call that your story brought to life, what did you enjoy most about the cruise: destination, activity, food, anything you want to share?

I enjoyed the nighttime when I could stand outside and let the Caribbean breeze blow through my hair. I may not have been born in the islands, but I am a child of the sea. Sometimes, in the background, I could hear the Calypso music. I’d close my eyes and envision the colorful houses, the pristine waters, and the white sands, and I can’t imagine why my mother decided to leave.

Now that you’ve sailed the Caribbean, is there anywhere else you’d like to see? Why does that location intrigue you?

In all honesty, Barbados is my favorite place on earth. Since I first visited on a missions trip, where I met, stayed, and was watched over by my Auntie Bess and her brood, I have never wanted to be anywhere else. I mean, there are seven wonders of Barbados. I won’t tell you about them, but my book will share it all with you.

So, what did you really think about Brent Teague. Now, come on. Give us the scoop.

A real gentleman. That’s the best compliment that I can give to Brent Teague. I mean, the poor man took a serious tumble, and he has this crazy woman (me) standing over him, and of all things, I’m laughing. Sheesh. What is a man supposed to do with that? Brent handled it with humor and an enthusiastic agreement to tour Bridgetown. Of course, he didn’t know he was walking with me and Mama, but when he found out … Let’s just say I’ve never met a man like him, and as Mama would have said. “I be thinking he’s a good man, Lacy. A real good man.”

LOVE BOAT BACHELOR CoverMore About The Love Boat Bachelor:

Romance is a joke.

After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too.

Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry?

Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise.

As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.

What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Read all the The Love Boat Bachelor chapters.

Read our interview with the story’s creative mastermind, Jerusha Agen.

Read other interview of our heroines:  Nora LaingEliana Grayson, and Renee Kessler, Alyssa LaRoche, and Sadie Graham.

One more chapter awaits tomorrow, and the voting for favorite heroine starts. Be sure to check back in. When all the voting is done, the winning author (that’s why we’re not sharing the chapter author’s name with you until after the voting), will present the happily-ever-after ending. It will be published, along with the preceding chapters, and offered free on Kindle, starting … when else … Valentine’s Day.

A DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT COVER

A Dozen Apologies (the sequel to The Love Boat Bachelor)

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up. In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better. Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible. Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

 

Port of Call: Bonaire with Sadie Graham

2015 February 2

Salt SlavesToday, we meet Sadie Graham, one of the heroines from The Love Boat Bachelor. Sadie’s adventures with Brent take us to Bonaire.

Sadie, tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do when you’re not taking a cruise?

I’m a hairstylist from Southern Georgia. I’m active in my church. I serve on the hospitality team. I love to read and watch movies to relax. I’m also active outdoors. I like to hike the woods on bright, sunny days.

Why did you take “The Love Boat” cruise?

I didn’t plan to take it. The ticket actually belonged to my sister. She’s the one who’s always looking for Mr. Right and dreaming of her white picket fence future. Me, I guess you’d say I’m more of a free spirit. And, the cruise was right up my sister’s alley but not mine. Anyway, she found her Prince Charming months before the cruise, so she gave me the ticket. I had no interest in lookin’ for love, I just wanted a nice vacation!

Besides the port of call that your story brought to life, what did you enjoy most about the cruise: destination, activity, food, anything you want to share?

I just enjoyed being free to do whatever I wanted without a schedule. I think it was the first time I could just rest and enjoy myself with nothing pressing to do or appointments to make. The food was fabulous too.

Now that you’ve sailed the Caribbean, is there anywhere else you’d like to see? Why does that location intrigue you.

Yes, I’m a cruise junky now! Y’all don’t know how hooked on cruises I am. I’ve already looked into a Mediterranean cruise. Spain and Barcelona and Italy. What a dream. I’m already saving up.

So, what did you really think about Brent Teague. Now, come on. Give us the scoop.

He’s interesting. I know that sounds like a boring and unimpressive answer, but it’s true. He has so many qualities that I admire, and he’s fun too. Though I will admit, and I’d say this to his face too, so I’m not talking behind his back. But he can have a tendency to be a bit serious. And I probably can be at the other extreme, so I feel comfortable and safe with him, like he’s my rock, do you know what I mean? I think we would make a good team.

LOVE BOAT BACHELOR CoverMore About The Love Boat Bachelor:

Romance is a joke.

After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too.

Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry?

Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise.

As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.

What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Read all the The Love Boat Bachelor chapters.

Read our interview with the story’s creative mastermind, Jerusha Agen.

Read other interview of our heroines:  Nora LaingEliana Grayson, and Renee Kessler, and Alyssa LaRoche.

Two more chapter (Tuesday and Wednesday), and the voting for favorite heroine starts. Be sure to check back in. When all the voting is done, the winning author (that’s why we’re not sharing the chapter author’s name with you until after the voting), will present the happily-ever-after ending. It will be published, along with the preceding chapters, and offered free on Kindle, starting … when else … Valentine’s Day.

A DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT COVER

A Dozen Apologies (the sequel to The Love Boat Bachelor)

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up. In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better. Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible. Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

 

Port of Call: Aruba with Alyssa Laroche

2015 January 30

ORANJESTAD, ARUBA - CIRCA DECEMBER 2013 - Scenic view of a varieToday, please meet Alyssa Laroche from The Love Boat Bachelor. 

Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do when you’re not taking a cruise?

My name is Alyssa Laroche. I was born in Paris, France, but was raised in a small village on the island of Luzon in the Philippines.

I do not cruise as a passenger. Instead, I am employed by the cruise line as a counselor for the Kids Kamp programs. I also perform other duties as needed. Since my assignments last for eight months, there isn’t much non-cruising time to fill. You see I work seven days a week, sometimes logging as many as eighty hours in that period. When I receive the occasional day off, I spend it shopping to stock up on personal items, perhaps get a haircut, and catch up with friends back home. Sometimes, if it is a new port for me, I will walk about the city or visit the beach.

Why did you take “The Love Boat” cruise?

I took the job with the cruise line at a low point I my life. I was about to graduate college with a teaching degree, and had all the bright-eyed dreams of a young woman fresh out of school—a career, one day a husband who would adore me, a home, and children. My grandfather had other plans.

You see, Lolo—that means grandfather—has been the chief of our small village for as long as I remember. The people look up to him. They respect his leadership. But he is torn between moving into the future and holding fast to what he knows best. The past. Two weeks before my graduation, Lolo brought someone to see me. Emman Racato, the man who will succeed my grandfather as chief. And the man Lolo pledged me to in marriage. As Emman has children who are older than me, I took exception to the arrangement.

As for why I took the Love Boat cruise—assignments are made by the headquarters office. I didn’t choose this cruise, but I will always be grateful for the experience.

Besides the port of call that your story brought to life, what did you enjoy most about the cruise: destination, activity, food, anything you want to share?

Sandy beaches, so white they blind you. A sun that always shines. Temperatures that remains constant at 85-90° year round. Trade winds that provide a steady breeze to cool you. Impossibly beautiful, crystal-clear water. And no typhoons—or hurricanes, as they are called on this side of the world. The natives call Aruba One Happy Island, and it’s easy to see why.

As a child, I swam in the oceans of my home country every day. Lolo used to call me a dolphin, so perhaps Aruba draws me because there I was assigned to tag along on a snorkeling expedition, to photograph the passengers’ experience. There I got to swim in the sea again. Of course, it could be because there I met Brent.

Now that you’ve sailed the Caribbean, is there anywhere else you’d like to see? Why does that location intrigue you?

As I mentioned, working on a cruise ship doesn’t allow much free time. The upside is that neither do you have much overhead. I’ve saved most of my pay since joining the cruise line for a special trip. You see, I have no memories of my time in Paris. I want to explore the city, learn the different personalities of such a grand city. I have a longing to see the home where I lived such a brief time with my parents, to walk in their footsteps, to see with their eyes.

So, what did you really think about Brent Teague. Now, come on. Give us the scoop.

Brent Teague. Oh my. Even now, I feel my cheeks warm. Brent stands out from the crowd, but not because of his height. There is a sense of power that surrounds him, but not from his muscular build. He knows the effect he has on women—of all ages, I might add—but isn’t ruled by his physical nature. So many men, had they his looks and physique, would preen and strut. They would use their physical appeal without regard for a woman’s emotions. Not Brent, though. He is confident, but humble, funny, and honorable. He is strong, a man’s man, but also gentle, and more honest than any other I’ve known. Best of all, he knows my Jesus.

LOVE BOAT BACHELOR CoverMore About The Love Boat Bachelor:

Romance is a joke.

After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too.

Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry?

Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise.

As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.

What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Read all the The Love Boat Bachelor chapters.

Read our interview with the story’s creative mastermind, Jerusha Agen.

Read other interview of our heroines:  Nora LaingEliana Grayson, and Renee Kessler.

Remember to catch a chapter every day because we’re counting on our readers to choose the heroine who gets the guy. When all the voting is done, the winning author (that’s why we’re not sharing the chapter author’s name with you until after the voting), will present the happily-ever-after ending. It will be published, along with the preceding chapters, and offered free on Kindle, starting … when else … Valentine’s Day.

A DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT COVER

A Dozen Apologies (the sequel to The Love Boat Bachelor)

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up. In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better. Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible. Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

 

Port of Call: Limon, Costa Rica with Renee Kessler

2015 January 29

Playa Conchal, Costa RicaToday, we meet Renee Kessler, the third heroine in The Love Boat Bachelor. Renee takes us to Limon, Costa Rica.

Renee, tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do when you’re not taking a cruise?

Hello. I’m Renee Kessler, a pediatric nurse from Charleston, South Carolina. The death of my fiance’ three years ago ripped my heart right out of my body. Since then, I’ve struggled to find meaning and purpose in my life to go on without Jeff. I’ve buried myself in my work, sometimes pulling extra shifts. And I’ve been actively training for the Ironman Triathlon. The crazy schedule I keep has helped me work through my depression, but it leaves little room to think, feel, or find romance. I love my church, partly because through Jeff, it was there that I learned about Christ. I’m there every Sunday that I’m not working. Since I live in Charleston, I’m near the beach. I make time to go there to think, reflect, and pray. It’s very soothing.

Why did you take “The Love Boat” cruise?

Great question! I’m the most unlikely person to be on a “Love Boat” cruise. It was my sister’s harebrained idea. I shrugged it off and even laughed about it, but my dear friend and mentor from church encouraged me to do it. She said that I really needed to start living again. But the thing that settled it for me was when I found out about the orphanage in Limon, Costa Rico. This Christian-based orphanage encourages people to come for short-term mission work. When I found out one of the ports of call was Limon, I felt God nudging me to sign up.

Besides the port of call that your story brought to life, what did you enjoy most about the cruise: destination, activity, food, anything you want to share?

My sister accused me of being anti-social, and I have to admit there was some truth to the accusation. I stayed in my stateroom a good bit catching up on some reading and sleeping. I loved getting up before most of the people on board and doing laps on deck. One of my favorite things was being on deck to watch the sun rise. God used the cruise to renew my spirit. After visiting Limon, I ventured out of my room more often. Jo-Jo and I took in some of the shows. And the food. Oh my goodness. The cruise awakened my sleeping appetite, and I even visited the midnight buffet a couple of times. Probably the best thing about this cruise was that I found my laugh again. I laughed from my gut. Oh, it felt so good.

Now that you’ve sailed the Caribbean, is there anywhere else you’d like to see? Why does that location intrigue you?

Another good question. I’m a pediatric nurse, so my heart gravitates to children in need. Sometime in my life I want to visit Ethiopia, or some other third world country. The Chuuk Islands, a remote set of islands between Hawaii and the Philippines, have a real need for medical missions. My home church would help sponsor my trips.

So, what did you really think about Brent Teague.

I literally ran into Brent Teague. I think God knew it was the only way I would even look at a man. What a great guy! Polite, funny, relaxed. Brent’s the kind of guy who puts you at ease. A part-time ship’s chaplain whose day job is being a pastor. So I felt totally at ease around him. I thought he was just being polite and helpful when he accompanied me to the orphanage, but then I saw him in action. Brent Teague is a kid magnet. It’s kind of weird but I felt a real connection to Brent, like he’d been through some heartache too. He’s really the reason I found my laugh again. We had a few bungling moments. Embarrassing and hilarious!  It was like we both gave ourselves permission to relax and enjoy just being in the moment. It felt good. But what I liked most was sharing my thoughts about God and why He allows bad things to happen sometimes. Talking things out with Brent helped me regain perspective.

LOVE BOAT BACHELOR CoverMore About The Love Boat Bachelor:

Romance is a joke.

After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too.

Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry?

Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise.

As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.

What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Read all the The Love Boat Bachelor chapters.

Read our interview with the story’s creative mastermind, Jerusha Agen.

Read other interview of our heroines:  Nora Laing and Eliana Grayson.

Remember to catch a chapter every day because we’re counting on our readers to choose the heroine who gets the guy. When all the voting is done, the winning author (that’s why we’re not sharing the chapter author’s name with you until after the voting), will present the happily-ever-after ending. It will be published, along with the preceding chapters, and offered free on Kindle, starting … when else … Valentine’s Day.

A DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT COVER

A Dozen Apologies (the sequel to The Love Boat Bachelor)

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up. In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better. Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible. Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

 

Port of Call: Grand Cayman with Eliana Grayson

2015 January 28

Rare Blue Iguana, also known as Grand Cayman Iguana (Cyclura lewOur special guest is Eliana Grayson, the heroine featured in today’s post of The Love Boat Bachelor chapter at Write Integrity Press. No, Eliana is not an iguana, but she and Brent do encounter one during their adventure on Grand Cayman.

Let’s get to know Eliana just a bit better.

Eliana, tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do when you’re not taking a cruise?

My name is Eliana Grayson and I’m from Charlotte, North Carolina, where I’m personal assistant to the director of an engineering firm.

Why did you take “The Love Boat” cruise?

My best friend was jilted within weeks of the wedding. She talked me into taking this cruise with her. It was supposed to be her honeymoon cruise. How could I say no? I was her maid-of-honor. Besides, she pulled the BFF card. What could I say?

Besides the port of call that your story brought to life, what did you enjoy most about the cruise: destination, activity, food, anything you want to share?

Besides meeting a very interesting man and spending the day with him? The spa comes to mind. I love being pampered and they certainly know how to do that. I was pleasantly surprised by the cruise, to be perfectly honest. It was actually really fun. There was so much to do, it was hard to choose. I loved the island experience, and shopping in their marketplaces.

Now that you’ve sailed the Caribbean, is there anywhere else you’d like to see? Being from Charlotte, I’m only three hours from the Atlantic coast, and it’s beautiful, but I don’t think it compares to the breathtaking beauty of the Caribbean beaches. This short cruise only served to whet my appetite. I hope to see more in the very near future. My dream vacation is actually Puerto Rico. My mother was Puerto Rican. She raved about its beauty, and I know she wanted to visit, and introduce me to our extended family someday.

So, what did you really think about Brent Teague. Now, come on. Give us the scoop. Brent is the real thing. He’s funny and charming and smart. His faith is real. And yes, he’s very handsome. “Well put-together,” as my best friend LouAnne would say! He … touched my heart, in a way … well, no one has.

LOVE BOAT BACHELOR CoverMore About The Love Boat Bachelor:

Romance is a joke.

After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too.

Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry?

Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise.

As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.

What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Read the first three chapters of The Love Boat Bachelor.

Read our interview with the story’s creative mastermind, Jerusha Agen.

Read our interview with heroine, Nora Laing.

Remember to catch a chapter every day because we’re counting on our readers to choose the heroine who gets the guy. When all the voting is done, the winning author (that’s why we’re not sharing the chapter author’s name with you until after the voting), will present the happily-ever-after ending. It will be published, along with the preceding chapters, and offered free on Kindle, starting … when else … Valentine’s Day.

A DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT COVERAnd if you didn’t read, A Dozen Apologies, here’s what you missed:

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up. In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better. Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible. Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

 

Port of Call: Cozumel, Mexico, with Nora Laing

2015 January 27

Cozumel wooden sign with a beach on backgroundToday, we’re talking with Nora Laing about The Love Boat Bachelor. Nora is our heroine who shares Cozumel with us.

Nora, tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do when you’re not taking a cruise?

Right now I’m living north of the Mason-Dixon Line in a small city called Horseheads, New York. I have a teaching degree, but I’m not teaching right now. Most of my time is helping my sister, Claire, and my new brother-in-law, Eddie, with my nephew, Jimmy.

Why did you take “The Love Boat” cruise?

I didn’t want to, honestly. It was Claire and Eddie’s honeymoon but Claire was so upset about leaving Jimmy that our parents bought tickets for me and Jimmy to go with them.

Besides the port of call that your story brought to life, what did you enjoy most about the cruise: destination, activity, food, anything you want to share?

That’s a hard question because everything is so well done. I guess the food. Anything I could think of was offered and I didn’t have to prepare it. Chocolate everywhere. It was a dream!

Now that you’ve sailed the Caribbean, is there anywhere else you’d like to see? Why does that location intrigue you?

With Claire, Eddie, and Jimmy settling in my schedule is more flexible. I’d love to get to know Upstate NY better. I love the south. But then, now that I had so much eating my way around the Caribbean, I’d love the opportunity to sample everything in Europe.

So, what did you really think about Brent Teague. Now, come on. Give us the scoop.

Well, he did an amazing job diffusing the family tension we had between me, Claire, Eddie and Jimmy. It’s obvious he’s a man of God that walks in wisdom. He’s great with kids. Jimmy teased him all cruise long about how Brent got sick the first full day on the ship and Brent took it all in stride. He’s generous. Without my knowing, he bartered for a necklace. No one has done something like that before. I haven’t forgotten the many kind things he did for us.

LOVE BOAT BACHELOR CoverMore About The Love Boat Bachelor:

Romance is a joke.

After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too.

Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry?

Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise.

As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.

What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Read the first two chapters of The Love Boat Bachelor here.

Read our interview with the story’s creative mastermind, Jerusha Agen.

Remember to catch a chapter every day because we’re counting on our readers to choose the heroine who gets the guy. When all the voting is done, the winning author (that’s why we’re not sharing the chapter author’s name with you until after the voting), will present the happily-ever-after ending. It will be published, along with the preceding chapters, and offered free on Kindle, starting … when else … Valentine’s Day.

A DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT COVERAnd if you didn’t read, A Dozen Apologies, here’s what you missed:

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up. In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better. Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible. Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

 

Author Jerusha Agen Discusses Her Brainchild, The Love Boat Bachelor

2015 January 26
by faylamb

Jerusha AgenToday, I get to interview Jerusha Agen, a lifelong lover of story–a passion that has led her to a B.A. in English and a highly varied career. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Jerusha is the author of the Sisters Redeemed Series, which includes the titles This Dance, This Shadow, and This Redeemer. Jerusha co-authored the e-books A Ruby Christmas, A Dozen Apologies, and The Love Boat Bachelor from Write Integrity Press.

Jerusha relishes snowy Midwest winters spent with her three large, furry dogs and two small, furry cats.

Visit Jerusha’s website at www.SDGwords.com. Follow Jerusha on Twitter @SDGwords and Facebook (Jerusha Agen – SDG Words).

Jerusha is the mastermind behind The Love Boat Bachelor. The job fell to her because her irresistible character, Brent Teague, lost his bid for Mara Adkins, the hero of Write Integrity Press’s 2014 Valentine’s novella A Dozen Apologies in which the readers voted on their favorite hero. Brent lost by a narrow margin, and we felt he needed some closure.

Jerusha, would you introduce Brent to the readers? Tell us what he’s done since last Valentine’s Day, and what he has gotten himself into.

I’d love to. I’m sorry to say that Brent has not been doing well since last Valentine’s Day. His heartbreak over being rejected by Mara a second time is a wound that just refuses to heal. As Brent’s sister, Roselle, always reminds him, he’s pathetic to pine another year over the woman who has never loved him as he dreamed. But since no other woman has occupied Brent’s heart since he was a kid, his heart just doesn’t know how to keep going without her.

Brent plugged away for most of the year since last Valentine’s Day, continuing his duties as the pastor of a small, start-up church in Spartanburg, SC, and staying involved with underprivileged, damaged kids at the children’s shelter. The work as pastor and with the children had always been so fulfilling, but since Mara’s return the joy and purpose seemed to be missing.

When Brent heard of Mara’s wedding to another man, the news was like the final blow to his heart. Up until her marriage, he held out hope that God would work a miracle and she’d still choose him. Now, Brent just has pain and, even worse, doubts.

He was so sure that Mara was the woman for him, that she would love him and they’d live happily ever after together, especially now that she’d become a Christian. If he was wrong in his understanding of God’s will with Mara, who’s to say Brent isn’t equally mistaken in other areas? Did God really call Brent to be a pastor, or did Brent make a mistake there, too?

With everything in his life in question, Brent mopes around in confusion until his feisty older sister gets sick of it. She boots him out of Spartanburg with the help of Brent’s old college buddy, who works on a cruise ship. Roselle and Brent’s pal push and pull Brent onto the ship to work as a temporary chaplain for a two week cruise.

Just when Brent starts to think a cruise might be just what he needs to get away from thoughts of romance once and for all, he discovers a pertinent bit of information his sister didn’t tell him. Brent hasn’t joined just any vacation ship. It’s The Love Boat cruise!

I want to know where you got the idea for Brent to take a Love Boat cruise as a chaplain.

From God! Seriously, I could not come up with any ideas on my own without God enabling me to use the imagination He’s given me and sometimes giving me quite a bit of extra prodding until I finally reach the right idea. The best part of writing for me is getting to create with the Creator of everything. Coming up with The Love Boat Bachelor premise was definitely one of those times when I knew God was directing me to the right idea at the perfect time.

When I received the assignment to come up with Brent’s sequel to A Dozen Apologies, I knew I had a very tough act to follow. A Dozen Apologies was a wonderfully creative idea (by you, Fay!) and so much fun for authors and readers alike. I wanted Brent’s love story to be just as fun, romantic, and exciting.

I knew the sequel had to fit a similar format as the first Valentine’s novella, since we wanted readers to be able to vote in The Bachelor TV show style for one of many lady loves. To realistically meet that many women in a short period of time, I thought Brent better get out of Spartanburg (which he was eager to do because of Mara’s homecoming there anyway).

With those parameters in mind, I actually did something I don’t usually do to come up with an idea. I decided to do a search for old sayings or phrases that had to do with love or bachelors, hoping to find a title I could use as the springboard for the premise. A Dozen Apologies had such a catchy title, I wanted to find the same kind of memorable title for the sequel. After several ideas that were duds, I got a little worried. Nothing was working.

I was about to go with an idea that was good, but not great, when the Lord led me to start thinking about trips Brent could take that would somehow get him to different locations where he could meet many lovely women. The idea of a cruise came out of that and then the irony of Brent, the sworn bachelor, ending up on a romantic cruise was the obvious icing on the cake. And The Love Boat Bachelor was born!

You provided Brent with some great backup in secondary characters. I’d love to hear how you came up with them and whether or not Brent or any of the other characters are a little bit of someone you know or where you got the idea from them?

One of the secondary characters, Brent’s sister Roselle, is actually based on a longtime friend of mine. This friend is one of the most unique individuals I’ve ever met, and I quickly learned to love her personality and became fascinated by her unexpected quirks. She’s a tiny, no-nonsense, intimidating, fiercely independent woman. She’s super confidant, painfully blunt, extremely intelligent, hilarious, and full of contradictions and surprises.

You can’t make up a character with as much depth as my friend has, so I thought I would just borrow on that enigmatic appeal and base Roselle on my friend. Of course, I’ve fictionalized her a bit, and my co-authors naturally took Roselle farther away from her beginnings in their interpretations of her character. But I think that depth that one wants in secondary characters is still there in Roselle throughout, anchoring Brent and our readers in the fun reality of his family life.

Would you mind sharing with us something that you know about Brent that no one else knows?

While this fact is hinted at in The Love Boat Bachelor, readers aren’t actually told how Brent came to know Christ. When Mara publically humiliated Brent by rejecting him in front of a crowd of students at college, twenty-year-old Brent had nothing to fall back on in his despair. His lovelorn heart, which had belonged to Mara since high school, was shattered. Brent decided to drop out of college and was on his way home when he received a phone call from Roselle. Their mother had died.

Brent’s mother was only forty-seven years old, and her death from a heart attack was stunning and quick. As Brent continued to drive home, he wondered if there he could go on with his life at all. Was there even a point?

But when Brent arrived home, he went into his old bedroom and sat on the bed. There, on the nightstand beside him, sat his mother’s Bible. She must have set it there after the last time Brent had been home. That visit was a year ago. Brent hadn’t returned because of the argument he had with his mother when she tried to tell him he needed this Jesus who had saved her.

His mother’s words rushed back to Brent like a flood and he remembered the passionate tears and earnest yearning in her voice as she pleaded with him to listen and believe. Brent picked up his mother’s Bible and through the words on those pages, the Lord answered the prayers of Brent’s mother. He healed Brent’s broken heart and filled it with more love than Brent had ever known.

Jerusha, you write more than multi-collaboration novellas. I love your Sisters Redeemed Series. Would you share a little bit about that series?

Thanks, Fay. The Sisters Redeemed Series begins with This Dance, the story of Nye Sanders, a former tango dancer who’s running from a painful past. God uses a handsome lawyer and other colorful characters to make Nye face the anger and fear that controls her life.

One of those pivotal characters is Oriana, Nye’s sister. Oriana gets her own story told in Book Two, This Shadow. Oriana’s sunny outlook and bright disposition make her the opposite of her sister, but can Oriana’s optimistic faith withstand a devastating tragedy?

As for Book Three, This Redeemer, the story takes readers to a darker place with a woman who is struggling in a world of abuse, fear, and abandonment. Who is she and what is her connection to Nye and Oriana? That’s a secret you’ll have to discover when you read her story! J

Do you have any new ventures in the works? If so, we’d love to know what those are.

I do! I’ve turned to writing in the suspense/romantic suspense genre now and am busily working to finish a novel about a Chicago social worker and a special orphan she encounters (along with lots of danger and thrills, of course!).

You’ve  given us some wonderful insight into the story. Thank you so much! Now, I’m going to head over to Write Integrity Press and read the first chapter. I can tell everyone this because it doesn’t have an outcome on the voting. Shh…Jerusha wrote this first chapter that starts us out on Brent’s wonderfully funny, often poignant journey.

LOVE BOAT BACHELOR CoverMore About The Love Boat Bachelor:

Romance is a joke.

After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too.

Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry?

Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise.

As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.

What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Read the first chapter of The Love Boat Bachelor here.

A DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT COVERAnd if you didn’t read, A Dozen Apologies, here’s what you missed:

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up.

In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better.

Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible.

Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

Jerusha’s Sister’s Redeemed series is one that I highly recommend.

This_Dance_FRONT_COVER_smaller (for promo use)About This Dance:

No love, no pain. No God, no games.

A tragedy three years ago destroyed Nye’s rise to the top of the dancing world as an upcoming tango star, and in the process destroyed her reason for living, too. She survived the pain and built a new life resembling nothing like the one she left behind, determined never to hurt again.

Nye’s emotional walls hold up perfectly until she meets a handsome lawyer and an elderly landowner. They seem harmless, but one awakens feelings she doesn’t want and the other makes her face the God she can’t forgive. Will these two men help Nye dance again?

This_Shadow_FRONT_COVER (660x1024)About This Shadow:

She’s famous for her upbeat outlook. Then the world goes black. 

Oriana Sanders is always happy. And why shouldn’t she be? She enjoys a close relationship with God and a purpose-filled career teaching troubled kids. She even has the potential for romance in her sister’s friend, Nicanor, whose dark good looks and brooding manner make him an intriguing project for Oriana. 
  
Oriana’s attempts to reach Nicanor with the joy of the Lord are brought to a halt when a confrontation with her student’s drug-dealing brother ends in tragedy. Facing darkness she has never known, can Oriana learn to forgive the unforgivable and find her way through the shadows to the light?

This Redeemer FRONT COVERAbout This Redeemer:

Not all prisons have bars. 

Charlotte Davis should know—she’s lived in one for years. She can handle getting slapped around by her boyfriend, Tommy, and even being forced to do things she would never choose, but when Tommy turns on her 10-year-old daughter, Charlotte must try to escape. With nowhere else to turn, Charlotte runs to the stranger her dying mother believed would help her. 

Looking only for shelter or cash, Charlotte finds a family she longs to call her own and a gentle man she could learn to love. But if Tommy catches up with Charlotte, these strangers could learn the truth about her. Will they send her back to Tommy? Or can a Father’s love set her free? 

 

 

Ho … Ho … Help

2014 December 5
by faylamb

Nostalgic magical portrait of Santa Claus at the North PoleEveryone has a favorite uncle. I think if I polled my cousins in the New clan on this matter, one uncle would stand out. His name was Uncle Bill.

My cousin Bobby and I were often regaled by our grandmother with stories about Uncle Bill’s growing up on Torchlight Mountain. Bobby’s dad, my Uncle Bob, is also a storyteller, and what Grandma New left out, Uncle Bob shared.

I also have my very own special memories of Uncle Bill, like the time he lined all of his stepchildren up for haircuts, and because I was staying the summer with Grandma New, I somehow got into that line. You’ve heard of the bowl cut–the one where the bowl is placed over your head, and the hair is trimmed. Well, that was the method that Uncle Bill used. When he finished with my cut, he stood back and started laughing. “You look like Carol Burnett.” In case you didn’t know, that was not a compliment for a twelve-year-old girl.

Last year, Bobby and I discussed Christmas memories of Uncle Bill and he reminded me of a particularly memorable Christmas.

You see, our Grandma and Grandpa New (called Mamaw and Papaw by most of the grandchildren), liked to spend Christmas in Florida. My mother was the first to move here, followed by one of her younger brothers and her older sister. Our Aunt Irene was the Christmas Eve hostess year after year. She put out a spread: ham, cheeses, salads, desserts–including the most wonderful rum balls a child could sneak off the table. The crowd was often a large one since my grandparents had seven surviving children and each child had between one and four children, and the age difference in the children’s children meant that many first and second cousins were the same age.

On this Christmas Eve, I remembered the rum balls, the fact that it was particularly warm–even for Florida–and the children all together in Aunt Irene’s house. You see, we had a special visitor every year on Christmas Eve. The kids would be ushered inside right after the sun went down. The adults’ faces would begin to shine. Back then I thought maybe it was from the excitement of our visitor, but now that I look back, I wonder if it wasn’t caused by something else. Anyway, every once in a while, a mom or dad or an older cousin would ask, “Did you hear something? Were those jingling bells?”

The children would quieten, and we’d strain to hear. I’d often strain to sneak one more rum ball while no one was looking.

After awhile, year after year, the bells would ring, and the children would gasp and go silent. I can’t speak for any of the other cousins, but I always counted back the days to last Christmas to recall if our visitor could hold something against me. Would I get a lump of coal from the family’s Kentucky mountain that would dub me the heathen I actually was or would Santa forget about my crimes? I didn’t ponder it too long or too seriously. Instead, I’d sneak another rum ball.

Out on the lawn–the back lawn–on this particular year, there arose a clatter. The adults moved toward the door, casting wondering glances at each other. They didn’t relax until they heard, “Ho … Ho … Ho!”

“It’s him! Santa’s here,” the whispers would reach to the very front of the house to the cousins vying for the best spot around the tree. Well, everyone but me. I stayed near the food table, sneaking another bite of my favorite dessert.

We waited … and waited. Adults began to whisper to each other.

“Ho … Ho … Ho!” the greet resounded in the night air.

The bells jingled, but Santa didn’t appear.

One adult bravely stepped into the night, and he returned doubled over.

Laughing! Laughing at Santa. If he wasn’t careful, we’d all get pieces of coal.

Around me, kids began to fidget. Had something happened to our beloved Santa Claus?

The bells rang, and we came to attention. Then we heard the Jolly Old Elf cry out. “Ho … Ho … Help!”

The adults laughed.

The children stood in stunned silence.

“Ho … Ho … Help!” Santa said something else, but it was muffled by the laughter of our parents, who designated a committee that gathered at the door and went outside.

The children were held back. “Santa will be in soon.”

Several minutes passed, and finally the sliding door to the back porch opened.

In walked Uncle Bill.

He was dressed like Santa–in the same suit Santa used each year–but his hat was sideways. His face was sweaty and red and melting. His belt was twisted, and he was–let’s just say that that Aunt Irene must have made a lot of rum balls … I’d eaten a good many, but I’m sure Uncle Bill had indulged in a few.

We soon learned the entire story. Seems Santa was busy that year. He couldn’t make his yearly early stop at Aunt Irene’s. Uncle Bill had volunteered to help out Old Santa. Trouble was, he’d dressed in Santa’s suit next door at my cousin’s house, and when he’d attempted to climb the fence between the properties, Santa’s belt (somewhat loose on Uncle Bill) had been snagged by the chain link, and Uncle Bill had been unable to move. The tropical heat had taken its toll on the Santa makeup, and it had stained the underarms of the suit.

And Uncle Bill had created another memory for his many fans. At least that’s my Christmas Memory of Uncle Bill, flavored by the rum balls, but I’m sticking to it.

Christmas Facebook Party Graphic (1)The authors of Write Integrity Press and Pix-N-Pens Publishing, invite you to join us tonight, December 7, 2014, between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. for our Facebook Party. We’ll have food (virtual, of course), fun, and party favors (not virtual–you have to join us to see). Stop in. We’d love to say hello to our old friends and get to know some new ones.

This_Dance_FRONT_COVER_smaller (for promo use)Also, today, is the last day you can pick up a free copy of This Dancethe first novel in Jerusha Agen’s fantastic Sister Redeemed series.

No love, no pain. No God, no games.

A tragedy three years ago destroyed Nye’s rise to the top of the dancing world as an upcoming tango star, and in the process destroyed her reason for living, too. She survived the pain and built a new life resembling nothing like the one she left behind, determined never to hurt again.

Nye’s emotional walls hold up perfectly until she meets a handsome lawyer and an elderly landowner. They seem harmless, but one awakens feelings she doesn’t want and the other makes her face the God she can’t forgive. Will these two men help Nye dance again?