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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Congratulations to Cheri Swalwell. She is the winner of Gift Package #3. Your box is in the  mail, Cheri. You should receive it by Monday.

Today I'm posting a poem I wrote for our writer's group meeting several years ago. I want to share it with all of you today. I shared it on VOTW (Verse of the Week) for the ACFW loop last week. It's my Christmas gift to you.


O Worship the King

Toys, Christmas trees and candy canes
A hint of frost kissing window panes,
Santa Claus with his sleigh bells ringing,
Carolers their noels singing,
People scurrying store to store
In an effort to buy gifts galore
With a frenzied haste to get it all done.
Children are laughing, having great fun.
They know Santa is on his way
To bring them gifts and toys that day.

One star outshining them all
Comes to rest over a simple stall.
A mother's prayer, whispered low
As shepherds come and bow.
Angels sing in the sky above
Proclaiming the arrival of peace and love.
Three Kings see the star one night
And travel far to see the source of light.
Bowing down with gifts they brought,
They worship the babe as they ought.

As Christmas comes this year,
Which scene will you hold dear?
Will you see a baby small
Lying in a manger stall?
He came to heal our sorrow
And give us hope for tomorrow
Bow down and worship the King
Who gave His life so we may sing
Of a Savior willing His life to give
So all who believe may eternally live.

O worship the King, born this day!

May each of you have a blessed Christmas.



Friday, December 14, 2012

Gifts from the Kitchen

First, Congratulations to Nancy Kimball. She's the winner of Christmas Box #2. I'll be in touch, Nancy.

Welcome to Christmas Party #3. In addition to the great ideas below, I'm featuring Anita Higman's book, Merry Little Christmas. This one is warm and cozy, just right for the holiday season. Fall in love with this  story about two people from different worlds. Franny Martin is an Oklahoma farm girl who’s preparing to spend the holidays alone…again. Then Charlie Landau shows up one day, all wealth and polish, and offers to buy Franny’s farm. Franny has no money to speak of, but she is clever and spirited, and she’s more than happy to sell the farm and move to the city.

As Sinatra croons from the radio and Christmas descends upon her charming farm, Franny teaches Charlie the curious and sometimes comical ways of country life. In the process, they unearth some discoveries of the heart—that sometimes love comes when you’re least ready for it. Will the holidays bring their most impossible dreams within reach?



Today I'm featuring ideas for food to give as gifts. I love giving gifts from my kitchen for Christmas. I make mini loaves of nut bread or little bags of homemade candies for the ladies in my Sunday School class every year as well as give the same to friends. Food gifts say the giver spent time and effort to make something, and it can be eaten and out of the way instead of being put on a shelf somewhere or tucked in a drawer.
Dollar stores and craft stores have decorative plastic bags in which to put such goodies as well as tags to tie onto them. After wrapping mini-loaves in plastic wrap, they slip right into these bags and are ready to go.
Another good thing about food gifts is that you can make so many at one time. One good shopping trip for supplies will net you gifts for those you want to honor with a gift from your kitchen.
The recipes I’ve included here are traditional recipes people expect from me. Some are from my grandmother and others from friends through the years. I begin the first week of December and usually have it all done in one week. The breads and candies keep well when wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated or stored in airtight plastic containers.
One food gift item is chocolate dipped candy canes and plain spoons. Melted chocolate chips make the coating. After dipping crook part of candy cane or bowl part of spoon in the chocolate to coat it, roll the cane or spoon in colored sprinkles or tinted sugars. When fully set, wrap in red or green plastic wrap and tie with a bow. The spoons are great for stirring hot chocolate or coffee. Chocolate and peppermint make the candy canes a real treat.
Answer the following question to enter the drawing for Christmas Box #3 pictured below. This box will have a loaf of the Banana Nut Bread as well as a tin of pralines. An added bonus is a copy of Anita Higman's new Christmas book, A Merry Little Christmas. Don't forget to include your email address.


(Necessary little disclaimer) This contest void where prohibited by law and is available in the US only. Odds of winning depend on number of participants.

What is your favorite food gift to give or receive? How much baking and such do you do at Christmas?

Easy Pralines (It wouldn’t be Christmas without these)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
Dash of salt
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ cups pecan halves

Combine sugars, salt and milk in saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thermometer reaches softball temp. on candy thermometer. Test by dripping a small drop from a spoon into ice water. When the mixture forms a soft ball when rolled between the fingers, it is ready. Stir in vanilla and pecans and stir briskly until mixture thickens and sugar crystals form on the edges of the saucepan. Drop quickly by spoonfuls onto waxed paper covered cookie sheet. Refrigerate immediately. If mixture becomes too thick, add a tablespoon of hot water and stir then continue make patties on the wax paper. The number of candies will depend on how large you want to make them. If the mixture doesn’t begin to set within a few minutes or by the time you drop all the mixture onto wax paper, it can be scraped off, returned to the pan and reheated for a few minutes then begin again with stirring and dropping.

Microwave Peanut Brittle (Our three sons demand this in their Christmas stockings)

1 cup sugar
½  cup White Karo syrup
2 cups raw peanuts
Dash salt

Place all ingredients into a microwave safe bowl with a handle. (I use an 8 cup Pyrex measuring bowl)  Cook on high for 3 ½ minutes. Stir with a wooden spoon then cook for another 3 ½ minutes.

Stir again and add:
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp. butter

Stir again and cook 1 minute 20 seconds on high.

Quickly stir in 1 tsp. baking soda then pour onto a buttered cookie sheet. As brittle cools, stretch it with your fingers coated in butter. When thoroughly cool, break into pieces and store. Does not need to be refrigerated.

Chocolate Pecan Clusters
1 12 oz. pkg. Hershey’s special dark chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups pecans lightly chopped

Melt chips over hot water or in a microwave bowl just until they can be stirred smooth. Immediately add milk and nuts. Stir well and drop by spoonfuls into mini-muffin liners. Refrigerate for several hours until firm.

Banana Nut Bread (My grandmother’s recipe)
½ cup shortening                                             1 tsp. soda
1 cup sugar                                                      3 bananas, mashed
3 eggs                                                              ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 cups sifted flour                                           1 tsp. vanilla

Add soda to flour and set aside. Cream sugar and shortening until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Beat well after each egg. Add flour 1/3 at a time and mix well after each addition. Stir in bananas, nuts, and vanilla until well mixed. Pour into mini-loaf pans sprayed with Bakers Joy or pour into one large loaf pan sprayed with Bakers Joy. Bake large pan at 325 degrees for 40 minutes, mini-loaves for 30 minutes or until pick inserted into center comes out clean.  
                                                                        
Cranberry Nut Bread
4 cups sifted flour                                                       2/3 cup orange juice
2 cups + 4 Tbsp. sugar                                                ½ cup water
2 ½ tsps. baking powder                                             4 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. salt                                                                     1 ½ cups chopped nuts
2 eggs                                                                          1 bag fresh cranberries
1 tsp. soda                                                                  

Grease bottom and sides of 4 large or 12 small mini-loaf pans with oil or Baker’s Joy. Sift flour and add baking powder, soda, sugar, salt. In another bowl beat eggs and orange juice, water and melted butter. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add egg mixture. Stir with wooden spoon until blended then fold in cranberries and nuts. Do not over mix. Pour into prepared pans and bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes for large loaves, 45 minutes for small ones or until a pick inserted into middle comes out clean.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Christmas Crafts for Young and Old

Congratulations to Janet E. for winning Christmas Gift Box #1. It'll be on its way to you on Monday.

Christmas crafts are fun to make with your children or for yourself. Simple ornaments and even more detailed ones can be made in a afternoon of fun with your children or just because. You don't have to be "artsy-craftsy" to enjoy making these ornaments. The ones pictured were made by me and my three boys at various ages. We had fun doing them and I still use them on the tree because they bring back happy memories. I did the sewing and they did a lot of the gluing and some cutting as they started school. Planning an afternoon to make ornaments or other decorations can be a most rewarding time with your children or grandchildren.



Pictured from top center and clockwise:
Spool Thread Drum (made by a 6 year old.)
Felt Scrap Snowman
Christmas Fabric mini-stocking for candy or cookies
Mini-wreath
Styro-foam and felt stocking (Made by a 7 year old)
Six diamond point star
Two mini-clothespin angels
Three mini clothespin reindeer

Drum Supplies: Empty Thread spool, grosgrain ribbon, felt scraps, braid trim, gold cord and glue.
The drum is an empty thread spool wrapped with a piece of grosgrain ribbon and trimmed with a braid trim. Felt circles complete the ends and a gold cord glued to the top for hanging.

Snow Man Supplies: One large white felt square, felt scraps, sequins, seed beads and paint or embroidery thread in colors for the face.
The snowman is made from piece of white felt with two cutouts of a snowman. The scarf, hands, buttons and hat with trim are scrap pieces cut in any color you might have. The hands and buttons are sewn by hand onto one piece of felt. The face may be embroidered or painted on. The hat is cut from a scrap of black felt. A red band and a felt holly leaf or then sewn on with matching sequins and beads then sew it by hand to the head. The snowman's body is outlined with silver sequins and beds. The two pieces are then sewn together by hand with an opening left in the bottom for stuffing. After stuffing, sew the opening closed. The red scarf is a long piece of red felt decorated with red sequins and beads then sewn around the neck by hand. Cut slits in the ends to form fringe.

Stocking Supplies: Christmas fabric, solid red or green felt, gold rick rack, three inch strip of felt
Draw a 8" and a 8 1/2" stocking pattern on paper then cut out a front in the Christmas fabric using 8 1/2 pattern then cut out the felt back with the 8" one. Turn edge of Christmas fabric down 1/2 inch and sew on rick-rack trim by hand or machine. Sew the two pieces right sides together and turn. Press to make edges flat. Hand sew the strip of felt to the top of the stocking to make a hanger. The hanger can be omitted if you don't want to use it on the tree.

Mini Wreath Supplies: Mini-wreath, narrow red and green ribbon, miniature ornaments, glue gun and sticks.
Wrap the wreath with the ribbon in the two colors as shown. Glue on miniature ornaments. Glue on bow made of the ribbon then loop a piece of ribbon and glue it to back of wreath for hanger.

Styro-foam Stocking Supplies: Foam paper plate, felt, gold cord, gold braid or fringe trim, sequins and glue.
Draw a stocking outline on the foam plate then cut out. Use the foam for the pattern to cut out the felt, one piece red and and a smaller white piece for the cuff. Glue onto the foam. Glue on the trims as shown then glue on the sequins in a random pattern or a set pattern.

Six Point Diamond Star Supplies:
Christmas fabric, red or green solid fabric, iron on interfacing. thread, red or green extra narrow ribbon for hanging
Cut six diamonds from Christmas fabric. Sew bottom halves of diamonds by machine as shown. Using sewn star as a pattern, cut out the interfacing and the back. Iron interfacing onto the diamond pattern piece. Cut ribbon to desired length then sew the two stars right sides together with the ribbon sewn to one point. Leave one star point open for turning. Press star flat then hand sew the opening.

Clothespin ornaments supplies: Mini clothespins, cardboard, cotton, pom-poms, paint, gold cord, ribbon and fabric scraps.
For Angel, paint one clothes pin white for wings, then paint the other one pink or blue or any desired color. Using a magic marker draw in any detail. Paint face pink then draw in mouth and eyes with felt tip marker. Glue the two clothes pins together at the round ends leaving the prongs at either end for wings. Glue on yellow fuzz or cotton for air. Glue cord to back for hanger then glue the figure onto an oval shaped piece of white card board. Glue cotton clouds around angel.
For Reindeer glue two mini pins side by side as shown then glue third one sideways and upside down for head and antlers. Use black magic marker to color feet and antlers. Eyes may be drawn on or the small beaded eyes from a craft store may be used. Cut felt scraps into a design for the back of the reindeer and trim with gold cord. Glue gold cord in a loop to the back of the reindeer. Then glue on pom poms for nose and tail.

Leave a comment about something you and your children or grandchildren do together for Christmas and be entered for Christmas Box #2. Follow my blog for an extra entry. U.S. entries only please. Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.

Here's Christmas Gift Package #2
Enter again for a chance at this gift.
Disclaimer: Void where prohibited by law. Chances of winning depends on number of entries.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Holiday Entertaining


Thanks for stopping by for my first Christmas party in honor of the release of my Christmas book, Christmas at Holly Hill. Today the feature is Holiday Entertaining and menu ideas. Hope you will enjoy the article and the pictures. 

So many times when asked to host a party, luncheon or other social event, we may cringe and immediately worry that our house isn’t large enough or nice enough, or we may worry that we can’t pull it all together and be a gracious hostess.  Whether it is an ice cream or dessert party, a luncheon for class or department at church or home or a fancy dinner for hundreds at church, loving hearts and hands can make the difference.
Holiday entertaining can be the most stressful because of all the other responsibilities associated with Christmas and other holidays. The main problems of a luncheon or open house at Christmas are theme, decorations, and food. Christmas makes it easy to decide on those three elements.

First determine the number you can easily accommodate in the space you have available and make up your guest list. After you have the guest list and the type of party, the menu is selected. Because so many parties are taking place, your guests may be attending more than one open house, brunch, or luncheon. This means simple foods and a simple menu will keep you from spending more time in the kitchen than you do with your guests.

Decorations may be as elaborate or simple as you want to make them. Whatever decorations you use for your own family and holiday decorating will be fine. No need to go to extra trouble to make more elaborate decorations. Here, simple but festive can be as appealing as the other. The Christmas tree, a wreath on the door, a nativity scene or two and a few candles can go a long way to dressing your home for the holiday. One hostess I know always moved out extra furniture from her living room and family room, and stored it in a bedroom. That door was then closed and decorated with a nice sign that indicated the room was for storage. She then used folding chairs to replace the seating now stored away. Dollar type stores carry a plentiful supply of Christmas decorations, ornaments, plates, napkins, and cups or you can use your own Christmas dinnerware. 
   
Now it is time for you schedule your time to get things done before your guests arrive. Think about everything that needs to be done and make a list. Then prioritize the list by what has to be done first and what can be saved to the end. For example, cleaning the bathrooms should be last so that they are at their freshest for the guests. Also, scheduling things far enough in advance will keep you from last minute rushing to be finished.

Even the most laid back personality will benefit from a schedule. Once you have a schedule made, you will find it much easier to do the things that must be done to be ready for your guests without spending all of your time cleaning house and cooking.

A home doesn’t have to elaborate, expensive, or professionally decorated to be warm and inviting for guests. Let the things you enjoy express the warmth of your heart. Leave family photos on display as well as your favorite accessories. Your friends will be relaxed and in good spirits in a home that expresses the personality of its owners.

Here are a few Holiday Menu Ideas along with pictures of two set tables
                                                            Menu for Holiday Open House
Fresh Fruit Platter/Dip    Banana or Cranberry Bread/Cream Cheese Spread
Vegetable Tray/Ranch Dip or Spinach Dip 
Chicken Salad/Tuna Salad Tea Sandwiches   
Cranberry Holiday Punch 

      Trim the Tree Party
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Tortilla Chips/Salsa
Tossed Vegetable Salad with light dressing
Cheesecake  Iced Tea or Coffee

Christmas Luncheon
Almond Chicken Salad
Cranberry Relish Jell-O Salad
Layered Salad with Lettuce, Peas
Marinated Carrots
Fresh Fruit Tray
Assorted Crackers     Mini-muffins
Coffee        Peach Tea


Tell me about your favorite Christmas menu or foods and be entered in a drawing for a special Christmas gift of goodies. Names will be drawn on December 7. Check back for pictures of what the gifts will contain.
This is part of the gift box for this party. If you want an extra entry, follow me on my blog.


Annoying legal disclaimer: drawings void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents; the odds of winning depend upon the number of participants.




Monday, June 18, 2012

Forgiving As He Forgave Us

Thank you for stopping by and helping me celebrate my birthday on June 22.

Spring Hope is the story of my journey to forgiveness with my brother. Forgiving seems to be one of the most difficult things for Christians to do. Jesus told us it is something we must do as we are forgiven by Him. I’ve read so many books lately with forgiving as one of the main threads of the plot. The threads range from forgiving someone who has hurt the character in the past to forgiving someone of going against everything a Christian holds dear.

Jesus doesn’t care how small or how great our sin is. A white lie or fib is as big a sin as murder because there are no degrees of sin. We are all guilty, and Jesus forgave us with His life, so how much more should we be able to sacrifice our feelings and forgive another person.

My hero followed the same path of forgiveness that I took with my brother nearly thirty years ago. I was in my forties and for years had denied I even had brother because of his lifestyle and numerous imprisonments from Texas to Kansas to Georgia. My fear lay in the fact that I didn’t want my Christian friends to know about him because they might think less of me.

Coming face to face with my own sin of being unforgiving opened my eyes to truths I had denied for many years. Once my eyes were opened, peace came and the love I had for my brother as a child returned. God forgave my brother who became a Christian in prison, and I had to forgive him, too, or make a mockery of my own Christianity.

Yes, hurts do run deep, and forgiving takes much more than many of us want to give. We have no choice because Jesus gave us a commandment that we must follow or be disobedient. Let us open our hearts and let His love flow through us as we forgive others who have sinned against us.

My brother is still in prison, but he is a redeemed child of God, and I love him.

My prayer is that as you read Spring Hope, you will draw closer to the Lord as you think of people in your own life who may need your forgiving heart.

Spring Hope

Libby Cantrell’s life has gone from bad to worse since her mother’s death. With an abusive father, and life in a brothel, she sees no hope for her future until she gains the courage to make her escape one cold winter night.  

When she arrives exhausted, hungry, and ill in Portersfield, Texas, Sheriff Cory Muldoon finds her in an alley and takes her to a doctor. Against Cory’s better judgment, Seth and Erin Winston take her in and offer her a job as a nanny for their young son. As a minister, Seth sees it as his duty to take care of the young woman. As a deputy, Cory sees it as his duty to find out the truth about her even as he is attracted to the waif of a young woman. An unexpected late winter storm and an accident at the river brings the two of them even closer.    

As his love for her grows and winter becomes spring, will he be able to accept her as she is now and truly forget and forgive her sordid past?  

Set in the late 1800s, Seasons of the Heart weaves together the stories of four women whose great faith make a difference in the lives of the men they love. The series moves from Connecticut to Texas as it follows the lives of these women and their families as they find true love and bond in friendship only God could orchestrate.  

Answer the following question for an opportunity to win a birthday gift from me including a copy of the book and a Starbucks Gift Card.
Why is forgiving others so difficult thing for Christians?
P
Please: US and Canada only. Leave your email address so you will be notified about winning. The drawing will be after midnight on Friday, June 22.




Sunday, June 03, 2012

AFTER ALL One you don't want to miss


Once again Deb Raney takes us to Hanover Falls, the scene of a tragic fire that took the lives of five heroic firefighters. Susan Marlowe mourns the death of her husband, Pete Brennan carries the weight of the death of four of his men and one woman in the fire, and Andrea Morley must mourn the loss of her closest friend in the fire without the right to mourn him.

Raney weaves a story that reveals secrets which affect the lives of all concerned. She gives us characters who tug at our heart, make us angry, and give us hope. The twists and turns of events will keep you turning the pages to see where the next turn takes you. The last in the Hanover Falls series, Deb Raney wraps up the stories of the firefighters and their loved ones who have overcome loss to regain hope and forge a future that draws them closer to God and brings them great joy.

After All begins eighteen months after the tragic fire. Susan Marlowe mourns her husband, but is finally beginning to heal until she discovers a secret her husband carried to his grave. Pete Brennan is the fire chief who continues to believe that somehow he could have prevented the tragedy. Andrea Morley mourns David Marlowe, but does so in silence because he was someone else’s husband.

As Susan contends with the knowledge of David’s relationship with Andrea and the behavior and attitudes of her sons following the death of their father, she finds support in Pete who is rebuilding the team at Station 2. As these two grow closer, they learn lessons in love and forgiveness that only God could teach.

Although this is a stand alone, you will most definitely want to read the other two books in the series after you read this one.

Answer the following question and enter your name into a drawing for a Barnes and Noble giftcard so that you may purchase your own copy of Deb's book or any one of her others.

If you have read other books by Deb, which one touched your heart the most and why?

If you haven't read any of her books, tell us about a book that did touch your heart and why. 

The drawing will be on Friday, June 8.

Monday, April 09, 2012

A visit with Cara Putman and Mackinac Island

A visit with Cara Putman and Mackinac Island

This week Cara Putnam is my guest. She is a familiar face to all of us in ACFW and has fans all over the country. Cara is just as delightful in person as she is in her interviews and in her picture. Welcome, Cara. Cara C. Putman lives in Indiana with her husband and four children. She’s an attorney and a teacher at her church as well as lecturer at Purdue. She has loved reading and writing from a young age and now realizes it was all training for writing books. She loves bringing history and romance to life.
An honors graduate of the University of Nebraska and George Mason University School of Law, Cara left small town Nebraska and headed to Washington, D.C., to launch her career in public policy. Cara is an author chasing hard after God as she lives a crazy life. She invites you to join her on that journey.
Learning More About Cara
What was your inspiration for this story?
The idea came from a combination of watching a true crime show on TV that talked about a murder between neighbors. That became the teeny backdrop of the case that Alanna just finished. Then the Island itself was a huge inspiration. I’d been one time prior to going back to research and I knew it was magical. Then it was imagining how to wrap that into a story that would be compelling.
 
I love it when little nuggets we find in life become the springboard for a story.
I felt like I was really on the island and could picture how it looked. How much of the “real” Mackinac Island did you use in this story?
Martha! I’m so glad you felt transported there. I made the setting as real as I could. As far as I know, there are no actual cabins just like Alanna’s and Jonathan’s, but theirs are based on what you’d actually find on the island. But the downtown, the businesses to a large extent, and the feel of the island are as real as I could make them. I want readers to feel like they’ve taken a short vacation to Mackinac within the pages of my book.
 
You certainly accomplished that for me. One thing I’m curious about, why did you choose to be a writer rather than practice law?
I’ve always loved writing. As a teen, I first tried my hand at writing. Then life, college, marriage, law school, and kids intervened. But that deep desire never disappeared. In God’s timing, he opened the doors for me to pursue writing. Right now I do a tiny bit of legal work, but homeschooling my kids and writing are my primary focus. I feel blessed to have this time to work from home while my kids are so young.
 
With four children, you day is bound to be full. How do you find time for your writing?
I do most of my writing after the kids are in bed. If I’m on deadline, I’ll also hire a babysitter at least one afternoon a week if possible to get some work time before the midnight oil is a burning.
 
You’ve written a number of novels set during WW II and I loved them, but you’ve also written contemporary. Which is your favorite to write? A great question. There’s something absolutely magical and special to me about the World War II time period. It’s a generation and a time that I love to recreate. So I adore getting to tell those stories. At the same time I enjoy the contemporaries, especially when the story has a good mystery or overlay of suspense. But if I had to choose, I’d focus on World War II.
 
World War II is special because I grew up with the war. So many memories from that time are triggered by your books set then. When you find time to read, what type of books do you most enjoy reading?
I love a good historical that will introduce me to a new setting or time period. Otherwise, I want a romantic suspense or thriller that’s going to keep me guessing as I try to figure out who the bad guy is before the author reveals that key tidbit.
 
Oh, I love a good mystery or suspense thriller, too. With your large family, what type of activities do you most enjoy with them? Tell us a little about your family.I have four children ages 11 to 17 months. Since my oldest is on a competitive gymnastics team, we spend a lot of time at the gym. We also enjoy traveling to new places and exploring them together. We also love reading, playing games, riding bikes. We just enjoy being together.
 
Nothing like family being together to have fun and it sounds as if your family really has fun together.
If you were to cast this novel as a movie, who would play the major roles? Hmmm, I think I’d chose Reese Witherspoon for Alanna and Josh Lucas would place Jonathan Covington.
Good choices for both. What are two things that would surprise people to know about you?
Good question. I’m a cat person but have a dog because my husband is allergic to cats. And as a young person I wanted Jane Pauley’s job on Good Morning America. I thought that looked like such fun!
 
That’s the same reason I don’t have a cat, Cara. Have to take care of our husbands.
When readers pick up one of your books, what can they expect to find?
They can expect to read a story that is laced with hope. That no matter how crazy or dangerous life gets, God is always with us —even when we can’t see Him. The book will take readers to a place they can escape their lives for a bit—but filled with truth and hope that impacts their lives.
 
You’ve certainly accomplished that in your books that I have read.
What is in the works for you? I have several proposals out for consideration and am dreaming up that next idea in between talking about the books that release this year.
That’s good news. Keep those books coming. Thanks so much for having me, Martha! I really appreciate the chance to stop by. I’d love for your readers to come interact with me all over the web:
Now for the book:
Attorney Alanna Stone vowed long ago to avoid Mackinac Island. Although it may seem the perfect place to heal, for Alanna it holds too many memories of a painful past.
But an exhausting high profile case and an urgent plea from her parents have brought Alanna home. Moving into the house next to Jonathan Covington doesn’t help her. Jonathan may have been her first love, but he was also her first lesson in betrayal. Now Alanna must protect her privacy and her heart. Then Secrets and a murder intersect, and she’s thrust into controversy again as tragedy turns public opinion against her and potentially her family.
For years, Jonathan has stubbornly resisted the urging of his family and friends to date, believing he’s already found the perfect woman. With Alanna’s return, he begins to wonder if he’s waited too long for someone who isn’t the right one after all.
Now, for a chance to win a copy of this book, answer the following question and enter your name and email address. Don’t forget to tell others about the drawing too. We need at least 15 comments in order to send a free book.
Mackinac Island is a wonderful vacation spot, what is your favorite spot or one you’d like to visit but haven’t had the opportunity as yet? Good luck.

Monday, February 06, 2012

K. Dawn Byrd

Welcome to K. Dawn Byrd, today's guest.
Cover blurb:
When Zoe Mack moves in with her grandparents to start college, she's thrown into more mystery than she bargained for. Her cousin, Emma, is terrorized by a stalker who breaks into her house and leaves a photo-shopped image of Emma hanging from a tree. Nothing is as it seems and Emma soon learns that even the man she thinks she can trust is suspect.

Zoe can't wait to reunite with Nate, the bad boy who doesn't talk about his feelings much, but the passionate kiss he gave her last summer had to have meant something. When she arrives back in town and discovers that he's in trouble with the law, she must take matters into her own hands in order to clear his name. She has her hands full with a needy Emma, a cop who gives her the creeps, and Nate, the guy she desperately wants to call her own. Can Zoe solve the mystery, clear Nate's name, and make him fall in love with her?

Writing Mysteries
Thanks for hosting me! You asked how it came about that I wrote a mystery. Zoe Mack and The Secret of the Love Letters is the first book in a new young adult mystery series. I like to call it, mystery heavy on the romance.

I grew up with Nancy Drew books. I must have read every one in the school library. Twice. The first Nancy Drew books I owned were a paperback collection in a special slipcase that were given to me as a gift by an elderly friend of the family. I still have those books and they're a prized part of my collection. At last count, I had over 1,000 Nancy Drew books, many of them dating back to the 1930s.

I love a good mystery, but I love romance also. Unfortunately, there aren't that many books that combine the two. Also, I like to read about characters who are little older than high school. That said, I wrote what I like to read.

Zoe Mack and her boyfriend, Nate Neitch, have graduated high school and are waiting to start college when Love Letters begins. Since I believe there's something missing from any book that doesn't have a good romance, going I wrote quite a bit of romance into the series.

I just finished the second book, Zoe Mack & A Case of Fatal Attraction, which will be out in June. The third book in the series, as yet unnamed, will release in December.

I've written a little bit of everything. Romantic suspense. Historical (WWII) romantic suspense. Contemporary romance. Young adult romance. I have to say, that mysteries are the most challenging to write. Everything has to come together like jigsaw puzzle. There must be clues, suspects, red herrings, and main characters who are believable, likeable, and capable.


I appreciate Martha so much and her getting together the cozy basket that will go to one lucky winner. In addition, I'll throw in a free download of Zoe Mack and The Secret of the Love Letters.

The "basket" is one to cozy up with on a winter's night. Cozy socks, a mug, tea bags, hot chocolate, instant coffee giving you a choice of beverages as well as cozy mytery or two to curl up and read are among the items to be included. The drawing will take place Friday. Have fun.

To register to win, please answer this question in the comment section, What is your favorite genre to read and why?