Friday, December 21, 2012


My Christmas List is more than just 
a way to keep track of
The special people God has brought
into my life to love.

It's like a treasured scrapbook
filled with pleasant memories
Of all the times God's answered prayer
through friends and family.

Every name's a touchstone
that leads to a place and time,
Where God has used another's heart
to reach out and touch mine.

It may have happened years ago
or even yesterday
But every person on my list
has changed my life some way.

Through simple conversation,
a warm hug or a shared meal,
Every  person on my list
has helped me grow or heal,
Or laugh or love or learn or smile.....
the blessings never end
As God allows our paths to cross
as family and friends.

So please know that this greeting
is more than a Christmas wish.
It's a "thank you" card to God
for putting on my list
Each and every one whose name
I've come to hold so dear....

Those who've shown me Christmas joy
each day of the year.

Vicki J. Kuyper

To each of you and yours I wish you a
filled with Christmas joy



Monday, December 17, 2012

Authors, Bloggers, Writers, Readers and Books Group


The page with the title of Authors, Bloggers, Writers, Readers and Books has now become a group!
It’s for members of the group to share and inspire others with their happenings and updates.

The page is still where it was originally, with the word Page added to it’s title.

I hope I’m not confusing anyone…..but it is Monday…isn’t it?

Let me know if you’d like to join this group. Hope to see you there!

(11) Authors, Bloggers, Writers, Readers and Books

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


At the age of 22 (In 1982) Marlayne was inspired to write The Victor by a line in an Amy Grant song called: "Fairytale" (from her Father's Eyes album). The particular verse in the song which inspired the idea was: "two princes wage the battle for eternity but the victor has been known from the start". The verse made her imagine an evil "Baron" in black armor and knight in shining armor crossing swords over "maiden in distress". She wrote the story in her free time at work on an IBM Selectric typewriter and at home on a Smith Corona Portable.

Marlayne rewrote the story over the course of almost 30 years and made many attempts to get it published for several years but after a 4-year bout with ulcerative colitis that resulted in major surgery, then infertility then the adoption of her daughter and the demands of having to work full-time to pay the bills, she gave up on her dream of The Victor ever being published until April of 2008 when Tate Publishing called to offer her a contract.

The Victor was released on April 14th of 2009 and many doors have opened up for her to get the word out on her book. One of which being that as a direct result of her former employment with John Styll at CCM Magazine 28 years ago (who is now currently President of the Gospel Music Association), both he and Amy Grant now have copies of The Victor and Marlayne's personal copy has been autographed by Amy Grant herself.

Welcome, Marlayne, I'm so pleased to be getting better acquainted with you. While reading In Plain Sight, I knew I wanted to know you better - it was a fun read and certainly a deep thought provoker.  I admire your imagination and bravery to write an Amish story intertwined with space aliens, what thoughts and ideas of yours instigated such an idea?

I was challenged to write an Amish fiction in order to get a book contract because it is the hottest genre in Christian fiction. I am a Southern California native and have only been a tourist to Amish communities (Lancaster, PA) three times. Most Amish authors live near the Amish communities and know them or have family members who are/were Amish and I am none of them, but I figured how hard could it be? I have a general idea of what they do and don’t do and used the internet to research what I didn’t. I had no idea what I was going to write when I started. The seeds for the story actually came as a running joke at a writer’s conference I attended where an editor was commenting on the speculative fiction he publishes and said he wasn’t interested in the “buggy and bonnet” manuscripts unless they were…oh…maybe Amish Vampires from outer space (said tongue-in-cheek). I came up with the back cover teaser first and used that as my plot guide. I also married ideas from C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet, Romeo and Juliet, and the book cover from The Host by Stephanie Meyers and the movie Signs.

You and those you read are certainly of unique mind, some of that is challenging to understand.  What interested you in this particular genre and era?

I had never read Amish fiction and always wondered what the big deal was. In preparation for writing my book I bought a couple of Amish books and read them.  I quickly realized that they were basically G-rated romance novels about a sect of people that we “Englisch” find fascinating for their simple, self-sufficient and content lifestyle.  It was more or less a “challenge” to see if I could do it.

You certainly met that challenge with In Plain Sight.  How did you research for this book?  That alone must have been a major undertaking!

Most of it was pure imagination. I did use Pennsylvania Dutch glossaries of common phrases that I mixed into the dialogue and found several Amish information sites on the internet.

What part of In Plain Sight did you enjoy writing the most and why?

The scene where the brothers go to the banker’s house to borrow the ham radio to contact their people. This was the point at which the inspiration had finally clicked in and I was actually giggling out loud when I wrote this scene. Also the auction scene was a lot of fun.

Oh, those were some of my favorites also -  I love that kind jolly banker….a bit like a Santa character.  LOL!  He certainly developed a quick affinity for Amish treats that so amused me. I also laughed aloud.  The dialogue between the twins was very well done, as was the fantasy time travel scenes.  Fascinating.  Where do you get the ideas for your books?

The Victor was inspired from an Amy Grant song 30 years ago called Fairytale and Make a Wish was a compilation of 35 short stories where I granted wishes for real people so the ideas came directly from the people (and the Lord) for whom I wrote the stories.

After many arduous years of trying, your book The Victor was published and quite successful.  Please tell us a bit about it’s message and what was most important for you to convey to the readers.  I definitely want to read The Victor and have added it to my TBR’s.

I was raised a nonreligious Jew who didn’t want to be witnessed to, go to church or read the Bible. The Lord got to me through watching Jesus of Nazareth on television by reaching my heart through my emotions. I gave my life to the Lord right in front of the television set. That is the goal for The Victor; to reach people emotionally with the Gospel in a fiction story where they are identifying with the protagonist who represents Jesus. To demonstrate through The Victor that the good news is the “ultimate” love story and how we are the object of His love. It was written to share the Gospel in a nonthreatening way with others who don’t want to be witnessed to, go to church or read the Bible.

Marlayne, that is so touching and fascinating, and I want to talk a bit more about that, but first tell us about your other writings.

Make a Wish is a truly remarkable book. It is the only book that was a gift for other people in which the recipients felt like they had heard from God and were blessed to the point of tears. I was even happily surprised at the reactions of readers who didn’t know anyone in the stories I wrote.  Their reactions can be read in the reviews on Amazon but I can tell you that were  all pretty emotional, which I also found very gratifying. I have a fourth book almost ready to go but don’t know when I will ever be able to get it into print now that I am working full time.

That can certainly be an obstacle to writing, but I have a feeling that the Lord will work that situation for good and it will be completed when the time is right.  Marlayne, out of everything you have written, do you have a favorite and why?

The Victor is my “love child” and baby. I labored over that book for decades and never thought I would ever get to see it in print; much less read and appreciated by total strangers.

Miracles do happen!  When did you know you were called to write?

I truly feel that The Victor was divinely inspired and got the idea in 1982 when I was 22 but I have been writing since I was age 12. I never went to college so it is safe to say that my writing abilities are a ‘gift’ from the Lord as well as a result of all the books I have read. I was a voracious reader as a child.

Marlayne, I can see you've had some major challenges as a writer?  Please tell us how you overcame problems, or what you are doing to change it?

The greatest challenge I have had as a writer is the publishing industry itself. I had two traditional publishers interested in The Victor and In Plain Sight. They loved my writing,  they liked the stories,  but because I had self-published and had not sold 5,000+ copies on my own (it’s much harder than anyone realizes) they did not want to take a chance on me. It seems like they no longer care about how good the stories or writing are; they just want authors to already have a large platform. It discouraged me so much that I have just decided to give up on it all.

Oh Marlayne, I vehemently hope you don't give up altogether, you're too talented and imaginative of a writer and the readers would suffer the loss.  Discouragement is a big killer of what can be - so I'll be praying this will change for you - again, when the timing is the Lord's.

Ok, I'm always curious about writers development of characters and wonder - what character is most like you in your books or have you written yourself into your stories?

I suppose there is a little of me in all my characters; after all; I am making up their reactions and dialogue.  I did put my mom and brother in law as minor characters in my third book, In Plain Sight.

Now you've got me wondering about who your mom and brother are in this story - I'll have to return and read it again.  LOL  Marlayne, back to a bit about you, please tells us how you first came to faith in Jesus and your salvation experience?

My entire family is Jewish. I used to attend a reformed Temple in her youth and observed the high holy days but it was mostly done out of a cultural obligation to Judaism rather than devotion to God. Like many Jews, I was raised with an anti-Christian/anti-Jesus “bias” and was taught that it was the height of betrayal to my Jewish heritage to "convert". Growing up I had little to no interest in “religion” and at the age 13 considered myself an atheist. At this time the “Jesus Movement” was in full swing and I found myself a “prime target” for the “Jesus Freaks”. I soon learned that if I just prayed the sinner’s prayer with them they would go away not only happy but quicker! I came to faith in Jesus as Messiah as a direct result of watching the television film, “Jesus of Nazareth” by Franco Zefferelli in 1977. From that moment on I began to read the Old Testament and discovered that believing in Jesus was the fulfillment of my Jewish faith and not a betrayal of it

How does your faith influence your writing?

It is my desire to reach the lost for the Lord with my writing and to bless 
those who already believe who are struggling and suffering. 

Do you have a favorite scripture?

Shortly after beginning The Victor, I asked the Lord for a confirming scripture that this book was inspired by Him and Psalm 45 popped into my head. I looked it up and the first verse said: “My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” My jaw just dropped. I sign that verse at all my book signings, it is the url for my blog and it is my tagline.

Have you imagined writing stories about Biblical characters – a woman, perhaps?

I often thought of writing a story about a young woman who knew Jesus growing up and loved him from afar since she was a child only to undergo a series of tragedies that result in her being the woman caught in adultery and thrown at his feet for judgment.

Has any particular person, author or otherwise been a literary inspiration to you? 

J.R.R. Tolkien. I read The Hobbit and entire Lord of the Rings in a single weekend and then once a year every year after that for decades. The man was an absolute genius and his work was a masterpiece.

What book have you read that stands out as your favorite? Did that book or any book impact your life in any way?
The Lord of the Rings and Hans Christian Anderson fairytales had a big impact on me. The fairytales taught me compassion, the virtues of perseverance, honesty, faithfulness and empathy.

You have a great appetite for reading, so what is your favorite comfort food? 
Noodle Kuegel. The recipe is one of my very first blog entries.  By the way, the A
mish food recipes mentioned throughout the book are in the back of the book. 

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Both; it really depends upon the situation. At book signings I have to be an extrovert. I go up to total strangers in my medieval costume with a basket full of candy and bookmarks and chat bookstore customers up until I talk them into buying a book. I find it really fun to be the center of attention and talk to a crowd of people about my books but at a party I’m a total wall flower unless I am lip synching to music as part of the entertainment.

Do you enjoy other hobbies other than writing? What do you and your family enjoy doing in your leisure time? 

I love to cook (and I look like it). When I was much younger I used to draw, take ballet, ice-skate, stamp, scrapbook and sew but all of that has fallen by the wayside. I’m either too poor, too old or don’t have enough time. The only creative outlet I have left is cooking because we have to eat. 

If a movie was made about your life or the protagonist from this story in particular, who would you want to play the lead role and why? 

I would like a total stranger to play the lead characters in In Plain Sight. As far as me, my husband thinks Sally Field and I have no clue. 

Hmmm, I would consider that a compliment...Sally is a great actress.  Marlayne, Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. 

It will leave you really wondering hard about the ‘what if’s” posed in the story-line. 

What is next on your writing agenda? 

Maybe a second Make a Wish type book once I have enough short stories compiled.

This has been a fun and interesting chat with you, Marlayne.  I love your answers, you are a very interesting lady   I am very impressed with your background and interest in writing what many aren't brave enough to attempt.  I know I don't feel capable of your style, but that's what keeps all of us ready for the challenge.  Your faith in God is solid - and it definitely shows your faith in yourself  depends completely on Jesus.  Believe me, God isn't done with showing you and the readers that He isn't finished with you be ready for what he's planned to bless your life with excitement and greater success.   Are you prepared to give us your recipe for Noodle Keugel?  Perhaps you can share that with us on your next visit unless it is listed in the back of the book where you mentioned the Amish recipes are listed.

Now, let's allow our friends and followers know what I really thought about In Plain Sight!  Thank you for being here and keep us posted from time to time about what's going on in your authoring career.  Oh, and be sure to bring your Noodle Keugel recipe!

Marlayne Giron wrote a note inviting me to read and review her newest novel. Amish stories are among my favorite reads, but little did I realize what I was in for! After I accepted her invitation, there was doubt and skepticism as to which one of us was crazy -  in my thinking anyway. Presently, I am honored and grateful to Marlayne for the pleasure.
As the story opens, Jacob Lapp has begun the early daily chores and as daylight began he was badly shaken at what his eyes saw, and his mind couldn’t believe. He was horrified to see that his entire corn field had been flattened in a precise circular design. Disbelief caused various thoughts to emerge in rapid succession until he could only surmise that the stories he’d heard about crop circles might be factual. He had never seen anything like this and decided to take the matter to the Bishops immediately.
As I began the next chapter, I was a bit confused as to who the Protagonist of the story was. I soon found out the Esh family, especially Rebecca, were the main characters the story extended around; although Jacob is importantly blended into the story as is the Amish faith and culture.
As Jacob Lapp was taking in the mysterious happenings on his farm, nineteen year old Rebecca Esh was helping her mother prepare breakfast in the Esh family kitchen. All seemed normal as every other day when Rebecca’s wandering thoughts were interrupted by a silver flash as she glanced out the kitchen window and saw a strange blue beam above the hill behind the barn. “Surely she had imagined it…it couldn’t possibly be what she thought it was. “Time to stop reading science fiction novels and stick to Beverly Lewis she thought.” She did long for romance and adventure, it seems, proven by the number of books on the shelves in her room.  We learned that Rebecca has a good sense of humor among all her qualities – but if this story was heading in the direction I imagined – Rebecca might be in for a shocking change or two in her near future.
Marlayne Giron is an imaginative writer and courageous to put the Amish culture and aliens from outer space into an equation that adds up to a sensitive spiritual story beyond any I’ve read.  I felt some of Marlayne’s writing was a bit Disney-ish where the time travel sequences between Rebecca and Seth were concerned;  however, important to the flow of her story. Her style is fresh and of a generation much younger than I, and that is why I kept an open mind throughout and was entertained. Her story brought out my emotions and I felt a lot of joy emanating from her words, as well as the sorrows. Ms. Giron added humor that caused me to break out laughing where lifting the scene was essential.  Especially the kind banker and how the twins duped him into allowing them in his home to use his radio equipment.  I wonder if he gained any weight with all those Amish pastries the twins used as persuasion for his help?  Those twins!  Sometimes they went a bit far trying to help.  I found it quite delightful. This lady knows how to write.
Back to this fascinating story…..the next day is a barn raising for a newly married couple in the community. Every family is involved in the preparations from food to physical labor. When the meals have been served, many times the women and young girls participate in quilting – as do the Esh ladies. In fact, one of the fun parts of this book is about a quilt fashioned by the Esh mother and daughters.  The day of the barn raising, Rebecca undergoes strange feelings,  hears bothersome hums, thinks someone is watching her and at times is rendered mute. THEN!!  The first “Amish” twin makes his presence known to Rebecca and mesmerizes her with his silver eyes and handsome prince-like appearance.  The second twin makes his appearance a bit later, and we learn how alike and different the twins are from outer space, as here on earth. Whew, can you tell I’m really getting into Marlayne’s story?
Are you rushing to buy Marlayne Giron’s book yet? Why not? If I said much more about this intriguing story – I might tell you too much and spoil your entire reading experience of In Plain Sight. This is a very well written, educational, and thought provoking story that will cause you to wonder more about this vast universe and about who the alien’s King is. When we, people of faith, think about the wonders of the world, how can we not ponder the first chapters of Genesis  - is our God the God of the universe or only the God and father of the planet we live on?  Marlayne has made an important point of truth that I pray all her readers will determine correctly.  A space ship crashing in an Amish corn field is unlikely…..but then only the God of the universe knows the likeliness of such a happenstance.  Who am I to question?  

Marlayne's blog is
The Victor website is:
Facebook: Author Marlayne Giron
Twitter: @thevictorbook
I have a lot of copies of my book on hand so if people want an autographed copy, they can get them directly by emailing me.

Don't forget, you're actually getting a bargain with In Plain Sight being a good read as well as a recipe book for some good eats!!
So - hurry and buy a copy or a few - it's Christmas - visit your favorite bookstore or online.  I know for sure it is on Amazon.  Good deal!!

So - be sure to pass this forward and pass on the blessings of a Merry Christmas to all!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe - JoAnn Durgin

Captain Jacob Marston, Starlight, Iowa’s wounded hometown hero, made a long ago promise to the Lord: he won’t kiss a woman until he knows she’s “the one” he’ll marry. Now, at age twenty-eight, the rugged firefighter questions if it’ll ever happen. Then he meets his best friend’s sister, Julia Sinclair, and Jake believes he’s found the woman of his dreams–but she’s promised to another man. When Julia makes an unexpected confession on Christmas Day, Jake shares his secret with her, and it looks as though happily-ever-after will make a holiday appearance. But somehow, everyone in the tiny town of Starlight learns Jake’s secret and he’s instantly transformed from town hero to laughingstock. Did Julia reveal his secret? Can Jake and Julia find their way under the mistletoe for a forever kiss?

( Meet Me Under the Mistletoe is now onsale for $.99 at Amazon - 
so get your copy now!)

JoAnn Durgin


What could possibly happen when a handsome, enticing, brave, young, kind firefighter and a darling, sweet, engaging, gorgeous, compassionate, bright young nurse are introduced by the nurse’s brother?
Well, when JoAnn Durgin begins to whip up a new recipe for romance she spills the wordy ingredients into writing and comes up with a wonderful Christmas Novella.  JoAnn writes about love and romance as though she invented it herself.

Let’s drop into the town of Starlight and meet JoAnn’s atypical candidates for romance, I mean – the characters Jake and Julia appear perfect in personality and physique, not to mention high moral fiber. However Barbie and Ken-like Jake and Julia might appear, they are alive and vibrant. Their human qualities are compatible and more importantly, they are equally yoked as believers and children of God.

We come into JoAnn’s charming story during a cold and snowy pre-Christmas scene and first meet Jake who is recovering physically from an injury incurred during a firefight saving a beloved family dog. He has his mind and hands busy repairing toys for Starlight’s Christmas Drive.  He says a prayer for each child who will receive this toy. A loud persistent knock at the door interrupted Jake’s solace and we meet Sergeant Dylan Sinclair, Jake’s best friend and fellow firefighter.  Now, we come to my query at the beginning of my review. Dylan is of the opinion that Jake has spent enough time in emotional pain over his broken relationship with Nicole one year ago. He begins to introduce his sister Julia and turns to see her adjusting the Christmas lights on Jake’s front porch. He tells her to come meet Captain Jake Marston, Starlight’s resident hero.  As Julia Sinclair comes through the front door, Dylan quietly lowers his voice to tell Jake not to mention the touchy subject of Julia’s fiancĂ©.  Jake’s first response was to thank Julia for taking care of his bulbs, seeing Dylan’s smirk of amusement, he felt like a fool. Particularly when…ZOWIE….he wasn’t expecting to see a beautiful grown young woman with sparkling eyes – he was expecting a gawky teenager with braces. Julie shyly replied that she was happy to help him. I was wondering if she could see the size twelve foot in his mouth – but she showed herself to be a quietly discerning lady as she began to comment and admire the house Jake lived in. He informed her that the house had belonged to his grandparents – but from here, you’ll need to read for yourself why the house is so special. Does Jake recover from his injuries and get rid of that foot in his mouth?

JoAnn Durgin started a heat wave of love all over the state of Iowa, mainly the town of Starlight. This story is full of God’s love in every corner of this town. In fact, Dylan and his wife Hannah are “great with child” and the sweet entrance of this child is quite exciting and timely. I laughed at the Keystone Cop antics throughout between Dylan’s family, Jake and Julia, not to forget grouchy Caroline and her famous cup of coffee. Jake’s unprepared filling in for the absent angel at the start of the Christmas pageant was great comedy; but I loved most of all watching him embrace the children around him. They saw him as a hero, of which he was deserving. Jake’s head never swelled, he was a man of humility and humbleness. Julia is loving and full of compassion, always there to listen and help. What fun we all had with Jake’s new puppy and how Julia taught him the rules of puppy raising. I particularly enjoyed the other romance ongoing behind the scenes between Ben Picasso and Caroline from Barney's Diner. She didn’t forget the generic generation.

When I found out Julia was carrying a load of deception in which she had involved herself, I was shocked. It’s up to you to read how she worked that angle out. Oh, and yes, Jake had temptation thrown his way from several different directions, which added interest to his romantic feelings toward Julia.  When Jake was made the object of fun and ridicule, we did see a normal excusable flaw – anger, but he was full of hurt.  Julia was the only ointment that could soothe that pain.  Just when you begin to feel that everything will be alright, the feathers all explode from the pillow of comfort and the ending of that situation becomes unpredictable.

JoAnn’s Christmas story is full of the spirit of the majesty of Christ’s birth and why he was born to give us the gift of salvation. Meet Me Under The Mistletoe is a sensitive, touching, fun, wonderful read.  JoAnn Durgin is a terrific matchmaker and I can feel the fun she has making up these beautiful stories.   For a number of years, I’ve found it hard to feel Christmas in its true essence…didn’t feel like going through another stressful time. This season, I’m feeling excited and the Christmas Spirit is felt deep in my heart. Thank you, JoAnn, for the gift of reminding me about the true meaning of this wonderful season.  I’d advise anyone with the blues at this Christmas time to read JoAnn’s Novella and meet Jesus once again under the mistletoe. What love you will feel.


I like to say I've "been around" in the nicest possible sense. Meaning I've lived in several states in this great country, and I've lived long enough to have gained a certain amount of hard-earned wisdom. I've always heard to "write what you know." My first published book, Awakening, is loosely based on my love story with my husband, Jim. A lot of the strength of character and unwavering faith in my hero, Sam Lewis, is based on Jim. The stubborness and feistiness of my heroine, Lexa Clarke, is based in part on yours truly, but I like to think we also share a resilience and resourcefulness. Awakening is a contemporary (1997) romantic adventure, and you'll be swept into the world of summer director Sam's TeamWork crew when Lexa signs on as a volunteer rebuilding homes destroyed by sudden flooding in San Antonio. This sweeping romance has all the elements - fun, humor, emotion, drama, mystery and lots of romantic moments. Hang on tight! The adventures of Lewis and Clarke have only just begun!

Hi Ya'all,
This book was so much fun to read and I absolutely adore JoAnn.  She's become a dear friend and she doesn't realize how much she has taught me in several respects.

It's so good to be back again after my long absence. I'm so relieved that we don't have to spend our days before Christmas like the world does......rush, rush, stress, stress and stressed!  That is, if we remember that this is the birthday of Christ and not our day of birth into this world.  As Christians we are not part of this world, and that is what I meant - we can know the peace if we just remember whose day it is.  I love to smile at strangers, particularly those with downturned mouths - if I get a smile back and the mouth upturns, then I feel the gift of Christmas and that's all I need. 

Please feel peace and serenity at this time and remember whose birthday it really is and our gifts go to him.  Please pray for those unfortunate and homeless, in war torn countries, and all the families in distress.  Pray that they will find hope and fulfillment in christ and allow him to change their state of being.

See ya next time!


Saturday, December 1, 2012



Julie Lessman

I have been blessed with the privilege of being on the cover of The Book Club Network’s Book Fun Magazine for December, so to say thank you to Nora St. Laurent and her husband Fred, I am holding a contest to drive subscriptions to this wonderful and TOTALLY FREE e-magazine. Inside you will not only find an extensive interview with me, but 88 pages of awesome articles including regular columns such as Passionate Spouse, Family Book Club, and articles by Kim Woodhouse, Jeff Petherick and Sandie D. Bricker, as well as two hilarious articles by Renae Brumbaugh.

— A KINDLE (or equivalent gift card for $69) 
— COPY OF THE WELL BY MARK HALL (the fabulous book mentioned above)
Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury
Redemption by Karen Kingsbury
And the Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers
The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers
Faith by Lori Copeland
Glamorous Illusions by Lisa Bergren
Long Trail Home by Vickie McDonough
Out of Control by Mary Connealy
A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin
House of Secrets by Tracie Peterson
Breathe by Lisa Bergren
Twice Promised by Maggie Brendan
Faith by Lori Copeland
Snow Angel by Jamie Carie
The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers
A Lady of Secret Devotion by Tracie Peterson
The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian

SO, HOW DO YOU WIN? Simply get as many people as you can to sign up for a FREE subscription to Book Fun Magazine, 1 entry per subscription. If you personally subscribe or have already subscribed, that is an automatic entry. Please let me know the number of subscriptions you’ve gotten by contacting me through my website or Facebook. The winner from this random drawing will be announced in my December 28 Journal Jot.
IT’S EASY, IT’S FREE AND IT’S A GREAT MAGAZINE that will automatically come via e-mail each month, so here’s the link and GOOD LUCK IN THE CONTEST!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012



Greetings from Portland, Oregon where I am amidst chilly rain, snow, high winds and winter weather to celebrate my mother's 94th birthday and Thanksgiving with my family here. However, I needed to keep my promise to review Leslie Gould's delightful new novel Courting Cate.  It had been my intention to add pictures of the book and of Leslie Gould, however I am writing this blog on my new toy - a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, and the logistical problems are making me tear out my hair, of which I am getting less of as time passes.


(Book 1 in the Courtships of Lancaster County Series)

In Paradise Pennsylvania, Cate Miller is known more for her sharp tongue and fiery temper than her striking appearance.  Her sweet and flirty sister Betsy on the other hand seems to have attracted most of the bachelors in Lancaster County.    

But the sister's wealthy father  has made one hard and fast rule;  older Cate must marry first  before younger Betsy can even start courting.  Unfortunately untamable Cate has driven away  every suitor - until Pete Tregor comes to town that is.  Prodded by the men of the area Pete turns his attention on winning Cate's hand.  But is his interest true or is there a scheme at play?    

                                                                 COURTING CATE

Leslie Gould's brilliant idea of an Amish twist on Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" shows her unique creativity and talent to the highest degree.  My interest was quickly drawn into the story with eager anticipation as to what would happen next.

My first impressions toward Cate's personality were a bit negative as I found her irritating and stubborn, causing her own problems for the most part.  That is...until I learned that her problems were very real to her, trapping her into an existence brought on by her mother's death giving birth to her younger sister, Betsy.  Cate was turning shrewish through the responsibilities thrown on her to raise her sister and help with her father's business, let alone the duties and chores of being of the Amish faith in the household where she lived with her father and sister.

Leslie's story became more enthralling as I could easily relate to Cate's ever changing moods caused by frustrations, dashed hopes, self doubts and ongoing problems with those around her causing her feistiness.  Her defensive side could quickly change to a soft heart, compassion, understanding, empathy and sympathy to another's predictaments and situations; and as quickly again to a hot temper and harsh judgments toward other characters she disliked.

Cate was hurt deeply by the betrayal of her betrothed when he dumped her and married another.  She was left without the hope of a marriage and children at an age when young Amish women were already married and having families.  She had decided to accept her lot in life and make the best of her situation when things began changing faster than she was able to adjust to them.

Reading was the joy in Cate's personal life, and dreaming of becoming a writer.  Of course, she day dreamed of marrying, romance, and all the things she had missed, but found it best to avoid these thoughts as they were much too depressing.

Betsy, Cate's younger sister, was young, beautiful, spoiled, sweet, manipulative and very interested in a fellow........and then - the crux of the story changed dramatically.  Their dat set a hard and fast rule that Cate must marry first before allowing Betsy to be courted.

Then, a young handsome Amish man arrived in Paradise, Pennsylvania from New York state that caused Cates heart to flutter, however unsure as to his motives when he began to show signs of wanting to court her - she suspected he might be a "gold digger" and wanted her dat's wealth for himself.

The plot thickens and gives the reader much to laugh and cry about.  The metamorphosis in all the characters one way or another was incredible and only enabled through faith in God and wanting to do His will.  Leslie developed each character thoughtfully and I loved her approach to bring them alive in one's mind.

Overall, I give Leslie's Courting Cate a 5+.

Readers, get this book, you'll love yourself for it!

LESLIE GOULD is the co-author with MINDY STARNS CLARK of the #1 bestselling The Amish Midwife and The Amish Nanny.  She is also the author of numerous novels, including Garden of Dreams, Beyond the Blue (winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice for best inspirational novel of 2006) and Scrap Everything.  She holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction writing at Multnomah University as an adjunct professor.  She resides with her husband and four children in Portland, Oregon.  Learn more at


Monday, November 5, 2012



A Light in the Window
*To purchase copy simply click on the cover or link!*

One Woman. Two Men.
One stirs her pulse and the other her faith.
But who will win her heart?

Marceline Murphy is a gentle beauty with a well-founded aversion to rogues. But when two of Boston's most notorious pursue her, she encounters a tug-of-war of the heart she isn’t expecting. Sam O’Rourke is the childhood hero she’s pined for, the brother of her best friend and a member of the large, boisterous family to which she longs to be a part. So when his best friend Patrick O’Connor joins in pursuit of her affections, the choice seems all too clear. Sam is from a family of faith and Patrick is not, two rogues whose wild ways clash head-on with Marcy’s—both in her faith and in her heart.

While overseeing the Christmas play fundraiser for the St. Mary’s parish soup kitchen—A Light in the Window—Marcy not only wrestles with her attraction to both men, but with her concern for their spiritual welfare. The play is based on the Irish custom of placing a candle in the window on Christmas Eve to welcome the Holy Family, and for Marcy, its message becomes deeply personal. Her grandmother Mima cautions her to guard her heart for the type of man who will respond to the "light in the window," meaning the message of Christ in her heart. But when disaster strikes during the play, Marcy is destined to discover the truth of the play’s message first-hand when it becomes clear that although two men have professed their undying love, only one has truly responded to “the light in the window.”


A Light in the Window

(First published in THE WORDSMITH JOURNAL MAGAZINE  November 1, 2012)

I'm Just Sayin....

My reading began with high anticipation as eighteen year old Marceline (Marcy) Murphy stood on the front porch of the O’Rourke home nervously preparing to ring the doorbell. Five long years had passed since Marcy and her family had left Boston for New York where her father had taken a new job as a vice president for Reading Railroad, and subsequently lost due to the worldwide economic depression in 1893, costing him and thousands their jobs. Marcy’s family returned to Boston in hopes of new beginning. How could she predict what heartache lay ahead? She and her family would need to lean on their faith in God to see them through.Marcy’s best friend Julie (Jewels) O’Rourke lived behind those doors with her large family and the memory of Julie’s older brother Sam made her hands clammy. Hmm, I thought as I read. Sweet memories of Sam? Wasn’t her love interest……? Marcy’s thought leads us into the story, “A Light in the Window” and promptly caught my attention. I still puzzled over Marcy’s romantic thoughts about Sam when she…..oh never mind…just keep on reading.

Among the many fans of Julie’s writing, I had been waiting for her story about the young couple who started this saga of the O’Connor family. Having read all of the previous books in Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change; both series about the O’Connor children, my curiosity about the couple that sired them didn't end. Finally, Julie Lessman is telling how it all began. 

This had to be good!

As I continued reading, Jewels opened the O’Rourke front door to an anxious grown up Marcy and enthusiastically noticed the beauty her best friend had become. Jewels commented that Marcy would certainly turn heads during their senior year, especially her brother Sam’s.The best friends begin to reminisce, giggling and talking about the old crowd…mentioning Sam and his best friend Patrick often. Marcy grimaced at the recalling of what she already knew about Patrick – considering him the rogue of all rogues and thinking him to be the cause of Sam’s unruly shenanigans. She kept her opinion of Patrick to herself because Jewels had a wild crush on him, as did other girls. Their conversation brought up the St. Mary’s church Christmas play fund raiser for the soup kitchen, and Marcy eagerly told Jewels that she had already talked to Sister Francine and got the job to spearhead the fundraiser. She also volunteered Jewels to be the pianist and her assistant in directing the play performance. Marcy was pleased with her selection of the play. It was something old she found that was significant regarding a true Irish tradition at Christmas. At this point, she had no idea of the real meaning that would evolve into her life forever.

Marcy believed that a solid marriage needed commitment and faith in God. It was her heart’s desire to have such a marriage. She recently developed mistrust toward the opposite sex from traumatic revelations of adultery and unfaithfulness before returning to Boston. She thinks she knows Sam and has hope that he will be the love of her life, even though she is aware of his oat sowing. She feels her prayers can change him. Marcy is an only child and looks to the O’Rourke’s as being the ideal family and wants desperately to be a part of them. She considers Patrick a devious rogue and rover, causing her mixed emotions as she gets to know him. What Marcy eventually comes to learn of her parents and family surprises her.
Patrick has been disliked and misunderstood by his father all his life. His father, a hypocrite controls his family through physical, emotional, and verbal abuse. Despite his upbringing, Patrick is a young man with refined values that are not fully developed yet, until he sees Marcy again for the first time after five years. He questions himself and begins to seek the real meaning of his life with the desire to be better.

The scene with Sam and Patrick hiding in a confessional at St Mary’s drinking the sacristy wine from the bottle and smoking shows the audaciousness of youth in a humorous and predictable way. Of course, they get caught! Father Fitzgibbons is not shocked and handles the situation thoughtfully while assigning a consequence to the boys that leads into the gist of the story and from thereon we are hooked.
Julie Lessman’s writing is always a great mix of high emotion, clashes of right and wrong, forgiveness, past and present hurts, secrets, guilt, shame, fun, humor, family stresses, life decisions, love and lust – the good, the bad and the ugly, dishonesty, thievery, hypocrisy, dreams and always God’s love and the human struggle to entrust their hearts Him. Her script is divinely developed around the evidence that she has researched the time period extensively as to history, fashions in style, education, religion, morals, courting, and human behavior which is primarily the same from generation to generation. She writes such beautiful and easily comprehended word pictures that are vivid to the imagination throughout her story. Ms. Lessman has no qualms at expressing belief in the plans that God has for each individual.

The characters are all mostly lovable, with a couple of deterrents there, yet each one is unique and vital to the story. You will meet the children that perform in the play and learn their life struggles. Julie Lessman has no lack of imagination in creating the right character(s) for every situation. The surprising compassion and involvement of one character in the youngster’s lives is heartwarming and tender. It brings a bit of a tear to the eye.Here is where I will leave my review of Julie Lessman’s book. As always, after I have finished reading a Julie Lessman novel, I discover I have learned much from her words in relation to my own life. Some of my personal damaged emotions begin to heal and my faith in God has rooted deeper. Recently I told Julie “Your talent overwhelms me….how do you do that?” She answered, “LOL ... my so-called "talent" overwhelms me too, and I have NO earthly idea how I do it except by the grace of God - just like you!! :)” There, by the grace of God, we write.


Lots of Hugs,