My Writer’s Retreat

This past weekend I was blessed to be able to hang out with many of my favorite Christian authors. We had time to worship together, pray and share, talk about the industry and of course spend many meals together. It didn’t hurt that we met at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, and with the unexpectedly cold weather came their holiday displays. My phone takes terrible pictures so most of those I took came out blurry (okay, perhaps it’s operator error . . .) but it was an already lovely hotel dressed up with thousands of twinkling lights.

The Cascades Atrium at Opryland Hotel

The Cascades Atrium at Opryland Hotel

Screenshot 2014-11-17 10.40.13The tree of poinsettias is probably too dark to really enjoy the effect, but it was too gorgeous not to want to share!











Tamera Alexander, Jill Eileen Smith, Kathleen Fuller, Maureen Lang

Tamera Alexander, Jill Eileen Smith, Kathleen Fuller, Maureen Lang

It was great to share some time with others who have the same passion, not just for writing but writing for the Lord. Some people I knew only online, so putting faces to names was fun. Kathleen Fuller and I have known each other for well over ten years but only just met face-to-face for the first time. I told her she’s not nearly so tall in her emails! But she’s every bit as sweet in person, so we fell into the comfortable friendship we’ve enjoyed for years. The picture above is the first online critique group I was part of, begun before any of us had published in Christian fiction.

Have you ever gone to a conference and felt that way? Knowing everyone there shared the same passion? Whether it’s a writing conference, a woman of faith conference, a craft group, whatever it is—stepping into a room of like-minded people always brings a sort of “belongingness”, doesn’t it? If you haven’t already experienced such a thing, I hope you’ll take the opportunity in the future to enjoy something like this!

I also hope you’re enjoying the weekly releases of the 12 Brides of Christmas! This week is Miralee Ferrel’s Christmas novella, The Nativity Bride. Enjoy a little romance this season!

Eight Weeks Until Christmas!

Today marks the release of my Christmas e-book novella, The Gift-Wrapped Bride! I’m so happy to be part of the 12 Brides of Christmas series, featuring twelve different Christmas-themed novellas from various Christian authors. The stories began releasing on the first Monday of October, and one will continue to release every Monday until Christmas week.

My story is the fourth, which means . . . 8 weeks until Christmas!

If the release of this novella wasn’t enough to mark the progression of time, we had such a windy weekend that the trees in my yard would have alerted me to autumn’s passing. It seems like just yesterday my favorite tree looked like this:











But now after a few days of wind it looks like this: Screenshot 2014-10-27 09.21.17

And before I know it, it’ll likely look like it did last year (taken from another angle to show both trees in my yard):

Screenshot 2014-10-27 09.25.06











Each season has its own beauty, and I didn’t show this lovely tree in its glory days of summer. But the pictures above certainly show that time marches on whether we’re ready or not.

I always look forward to Christmas, though. I’ve already started my Christmas shopping! I love that part of the coming season, choosing gifts for loved ones that I hope they’ll enjoy, even find meaningful or memorable in some ways.

So here’s my advice for the day: get in the Christmas mood early this year with one of the 12 Brides of Christmas! A shameless plug, I know, but what could be better than a light romantic story set during the most generous time of the year?

Links to purchase this e-book only:

79 cents on CBD:

99 cents on Amazon:
99 cents on Barnes and Noble

I’ll resist saying Merry Christmas before Halloween has even arrived, so I’ll just say: Happy Reading!

Scavenger Hunt Stop #32



Follow the clues for a Chance to Win a Kindle Fire HDX or 30+ novels

Screenshot 2014-10-16 19.38.17Welcome to the Autumn 2014 Scavenger Hunt. You have arrived at Stop #32. The hunt begins at noon (Mountain Time Zone) on October 17, 2014. You may have arrived here before the start which could mean all of the sites aren’t ready quite yet. Once the official start has begun, you should go to Stop #1 and then work your way through the sites, gathering clues and entering bonus giveaways, until you reach the final stop which will also be on the site of Robin Lee Hatcher.

The hunt ends on Sunday, October 19, 2014 at one minute before midnight (Mountain). That means you have all of the weekend to finish it, so take your time. Enjoy reading the exclusive content the authors have prepared for you. You will collect a CLUE IN RED at each stop. Write them down as you go. At the end of the hunt, you will enter the clues into a Rafflecopter form. (The answer will make sense, even if you aren’t familiar with the quote.)

The hunt is open to international entries. The grand prize is a Kindle Fire HDX. Two runners-up will receive a new release from each of the participating authors.


Robin Lee Hatcher has prepared a “cheat sheet” with direct links to each author’s post in case a site goes down or a link gets broken. We hope there will be no such issues, but just in case, please make note of the URL for the Participating Authors & Stops page so you can check back and be able to complete the hunt.

And now for the Hunt!
For my turn during this Scavenger Hunt, I’m happy to present best-selling author Susan Sleeman, her favorite Christmas memory, and an introduction of her newest book, Silent Night Standoff.


I have two Christmas books releasing this year so my mind is already on Christmas and the many wonderful memories of Christmas’s past. Our family, like many of you, have traditions we keep each Christmas and we don’t often stray from them.

However, when we were planning a move from Orlando back to Oregon, our oldest daughter thought it a perfect time for a visit so we could all go to Disney World. What could be more fun that taking your four year old grandson to Disney so we gladly agreed.



We were able to get tickets for the much sought after Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The event starts after the park closes for the day and tickets are limited so there is never a line for the rides. Bonus!

The entire park is lit up with amazing colors, there’s a special parade, incredible fireworks, and it even snows on Main Street. Oddly enough, the usual balmy Florida weather took a dive and we were bundled up to keep warm. It felt like snow was really falling from the sky.



Watching our grandson’s face light up at the fireworks, marvel at the parade was a priceless experience. I’ll especially remember the look of awe when we walked under Cinderella’s castle as it changed colors. Such an amazingly beautiful sight. Don’t you agree?


So what about you? What is your favorite Christmas memory?





SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of inspirational and clean read romantic suspense books. Awards include Thread of Suspicion-2013 Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Best Book Award, No Way Out-2014 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence finalist, and The Christmas Witness-2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence finalist. In addition to writing, Susan also hosts the popular website







Silent Night Standoff
Sleeman_CoverHOSTAGE SITUATION-When armed robbers strike her bank, hostage negotiator Skyler Brennan’s life is on the line. Rescue comes from the last person she thought she could count on the ex-boyfriend who chose his job over their relationship. FBI agent Logan Hunter knows how much is resting on this case. The promotion of his dreams and the safety of the woman he’s never been able to forget. But when an unexpected twist in the case pulls Logan in two separate directions, he’ll have to make an impossible choice. Will he manage to have it all by Christmas a career and love or will he lose them both? First Responders: Brave men and women alert and ready for danger and love.

Silent Night Standoff is available everywhere, including these fine online retailers:





“Terms and conditions: ONE entry per person. If we find you’ve registered under separate IDs, you’ll be disqualified. Please, be HONEST. Because, you know, Jesus would WANT you to be. If you’re an international winner, your prize will be the equivalent of what we’re offering in the USA in terms of USD$$, based on that day’s exchange rate, and what we can figure out in terms of online options (ex. Apple in Australia, etc.). If the Kindle Fire HDX is more expensive in your country than it is in the USA ($269 USD), we shall give you an Amazon gift card for the equivalent of the USD value. International runners-up winners will receive most of their books via Book Depository, and therefore, they cannot be autographed—sorry. The giveaway is open to those who are ages 15-17 with a parent or guardian’s permission and to those who are 18 and above.”


The Scavenger Hunt Skinny

Thanks so much for stopping by my site and participating in the new Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt. Before you move on to Stop #33, which is Susan Sleeman’s site, to pick up your next clue, be sure to write down this Stop #32 clue: SOME TO BE CHEWED

Also, please note: Many of the authors use Rafflecopter for their giveaways. Rafflecopter requires JavaScript to work. If you can’t see the form, please turn JavaScript on in your browser in order to enter. Rafflecopter sometimes doesn’t work on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device and can’t see the entry form, then you’ll need to find a computer.


But Before You Go

And now some info for my own little giveaway! First, let me thank you for participating in this Scavenger Hunt. I know they’re lots of fun, especially with added bonus chances along the way.

For my Giveaway, available only here on my blog, I’ll be awarding one winner my favorite gift, a tear bottle.


What’s a tear bottle? You might think this looks a bit like a fancy perfume bottle, and of course technically you’d be right. But for a long time, I’ve loved the verse in Psalms that reminds us we’re so precious to God that He keeps track of our tears. (Psalm 56:8) And so, since the Psalmist drew such a lovely image of God putting our tears in a bottle, I want to remind everyone that though we won’t escape tears in this life, we can rest in the knowledge of God’s love for us.

Please enter my contest below. This is in addition to the Scavenger Hunt entries that are collected on Robin’s site!
a Rafflecopter giveaway




Kicking Off The 12 Brides of Christmas!

If your weeks go by as fast as mine do, you might be thinking about Christmas already. I know it’s not even Halloween yet, but soon the stores will twinkle with ornaments and lights. I suppose some people are concerned about the commercialization of Christmas, about retailers wanting to spread out the season as long as possible to rake in more profits. But the older I get the easier it is for me to resist such worries, since the underlying presence of the season is Christ. I wish we could think about Christmas all year long!

Perhaps thinking of Christmas this early is easy for me because my mother used to shop for Christmas gifts all through the year. With six kids and extended family to buy presents for, I always thought she was just a great planner always ready to take advantage of sales or snatching up just the right thing for the many people on her list.

Did you know there are only twelve Mondays between today and Christmas week? So if you do want to get in the Christmas spirit, I’m here to help!

I’m happy to introduce to you the first novella in the 12 Brides of Christmas series. Every Monday between today and Christmas, one e-book novella will be released from our series. Each story features a romantic tale from various eras in history and from different parts of America. It’s been so much fun interacting with the other authors involved in this project! All of the stories celebrate love, history, America, and most of all a wondrous reminder that Christmas reveals the love God holds for all of us.

Today Mary Connealy’s novella releases, The Advent Bride.


Here’s the scoop on the story:

Melanie Douglas is alone on the Nebraska plains, teaching school to get by. She finds a unique box with hidden drawers to use over the advent season to engage a young boy in his schooling. When Henry O’Keeffe sees a positive change in his son, he has to see for himself what this new teacher is doing.

If you’ve read anything by Mary you already know this book will be fun!

The twelve e-books are available for Kindle or Nook on various online sites. For a complete listing of the series and the dates they’ll release, click here for  Christian Book Distributors convenient listing.

Other vendors include:


Barnes and Noble

My own novella, The Gift-Wrapped Bride, is Number Four in the series and I’ll feature it here on its turn, Monday October 27th—but I hope you’ll enjoy all twelve stories!

What I’m Up To

Today the sun is shining and the weatherman tells me it’ll get up to 81 degrees . . . not exactly the usual environment to inspire thoughts of Christmas, at least here in the Chicago area, however that’s exactly what I’m thinking about these days! I’m so excited to be included with 12 other wonderful authors who have written novellas for the 12 Brides of Christmas collection. We’re kicking off upcoming sales in various ways.

First, Walmart contacted our publisher and requested print copies to sell exclusively in their stores this season. The first 4-in-1 print version just arrived in stores over the weekend. I’m happy to say that my novella, A Gift-Wrapped Bride, is included in Book One:


Right now, the only way to get a print version of the collection is through your local Walmart. This was a definite bonus for us, the authors, since the original plan was to release the books in e-book version this season, then next season (2015) to look for the stories in print. I’m happy to say we’ll see the print versions next year as well, but for this year the paper copies are exclusive to Walmart.


The e-book versions of each of our stories are being released one at a time starting on October 6, for only 99 cents each, but are already available for Pre-Order on Amazon and other sites.

To kick off the series, the first novella is Mary Connealy’s The Advent Bride, available for Pre-Order on Amazon and other vendors as well!


I’ve had so much fun getting to know the other writers who have contributed to this collection. We’ve encouraged and prayed for one another, we’ve shared ideas to promote each others work, and we’ve been blessed to be reunited for a Summertime collection of novellas that will release in the summer of 2015. (More to come on that project in the future!)

For more information about the others involved in this project, please visit the 12 Brides of Christmas website.


One last note, a reminder about the upcoming Scavenger Hunt I’m participating in. The fun starts on October 17th, so be sure to stop back here for a chance to win a Kindle Fire HDX or 30 books from the many Christian authors included in the Hunt. The print version of Heartland Christmas Brides, the 4-novellas-in-one pictured above that includes my novella A Gift-Wrapped Bride, is one of 30 books that will be given away.

Until then, Happy Reading and . . . may I be the first of 2014 to wish you a Merry Christmas!

Now I’m off to do some early Christmas shopping – and enjoy the weather while I’m at it. :-)


Upcoming Scavenger Hunt!

I’m pleased to announce I’ll soon be participating in a Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt that will award one winner a Kindle Fire HDX and another winner a copy of some exciting new fiction! My new novella, part of a Christmas collection with three other wonderful Christian authors, will release this fall. To help celebrate, I’m joining a bigger group of friends for this huge giveaway. Tune in again for more details on the Hunt, closer to its October 17th kick off!

SH_Fall2014_coversFINALI’ll be running another mini-contest here on my website in addition to the Hunt, for a small basket of goodies including a copy of the 4-in-1 Christmas novella collection I’m part of. So mark your calendar! The Hunt will run from October 17th until the 19th, 2014.

My Happy News

All_In_Good_Time_Screen_ShotI’m pleased to announce that my title All In Good Time has been named a finalist in this year’s Selah Award. Below is the official Press Release – take a peek, you may find some interesting new books to add to your reading list!













Contact: Eva Marie Everson, Contest Director



May 7, 2014

Ridgecrest, NC—Alton Gansky, Director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and Eva Marie Everson, BRMCWC Contest Director, announce the finalists in the 2014 Selah Awards, awarded to published authors each year during the “Blue Ridge”conference.

The Selah Awards are open industry wide and internationally to authors published by traditional and nontraditional publishing houses during the previous year. The awards will be given during the awards banquet held on Wednesday evening, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The 2014 Book of the Year award is chosen by the contest director from the top scores/first place recipients.

This year, finalists have been named in thirteen categories. They are (in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name):


Children (Tie for Third)

Michelle Medlock Adams—God Knows You (Candy Cane Press)

Burton W. Cole—Bash and the Pirate Pig (B&H Kids)

Hannah C. Hall—God Bless You and Goodnight (Thomas Nelson)

Jill Roman Lord—If Jesus Came to Visit Me (Candy Cane Press)


Inspiration and Gift

Debora M. Coty—Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolates (Barbour Publishing)

Cynthia Howerter & La-Tan Roland Murphy—Gods Provision in Tough Times (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Rose Chandler Johnson—God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)


Christian Life

Jo Ann Fore—When A Woman Finds Her Voice (Leafwood Publishers)

Cynthia Ruchti—Ragged Hope (Abingdon Press)

Linda Evans Shepherd—Finding Gods Presence (Revell)


Bible Study

Nick Hawkes—The Bible on the Key Issues of Life (Wombat Books)

Beebe Kauffman—Isaiah: Setting Things Right (Lighthouse Bible Studies)

Erica Wiggenhorn—Moses: Every Life Proof of Gods Promises (Crossbooks)


Young Adult Nonfiction

Bethany Jett—The Cinderella Rule (Regal)

Kelly McIntosh (Gen. Ed)—God Hearts Me; Daily Devotions for a Girls Heart (Barbour Publishing)

Cyle Young—Belly Buttons & Broken Hearts (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)


Young Adult Fiction

Elaine Marie Cooper—Fields of the Fatherless (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Tessa Emily Hall—Purple Moon (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Eddie Jones—Dead Low Tide (Zonderkidz)


First Novel (Tie for Third)

Dianna T. Benson—The Hidden Son (Ellechor Publishing House)

Carole Brown—The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Aaron D. Gansky—The Bargain (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Tessa Emily Hall—Purple Moon (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Fiction: Novella

Paula Mowery—Be the Blessing (Pelican Book Group)

Linda Wood Rondeau—A Christmas Prayer (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Gina Welborn—Mercy Mild (Barbour Publishing)


Fiction: Speculative

Ian Acheson—Angelguard (Lion Hudson)

Lisa Belcastro—Shenandoah Crossings (OakTara)

Lisa Belcastro—Shenandoah Nights (OakTara)


Fiction: Suspense

Richard L. Mabry, M.D.—Stress Test (Thomas Nelson)

Linnette R. Mullin—Finding Beth (CrossRiver Media Group)

Jordyn Redwood—Poison (Kregel)


Fiction: Historical

Vikki Kestell—Joy on This Mountain (Faith-Filled Fiction)

Ann Tatlock—Sweet Mercy (Bethany House Publishers)

Liz Tolsma—Snow on the Tulips (Thomas Nelson)


Fiction: Romance

Rachel Hauck—Once Upon a Prince (Zondervan)

Maureen Lang—All in Good Time (Tyndale Publishers)

Davalynn Spencer—The Ranchers Second Chance (Love Inspired / Heartsong Presents)


Fiction: Contemporary Women

Normandie Fischer—Sailing Out of Darkness (WhiteFire Publishing)

Anita Higman—Winter in Full Bloom (Moody Publishers)

Cynthia Ruchti—When the Morning Glory Blooms (Abingdon Press)


Thanks to the generous support of Crossbooks and LifeWay/Ridgecrest, the banquet will be telecast live over the internet. To access the live stream during the awards banquet, click on:

For more information, you may email Eva Marie Everson at

 Congratulations to all of the finalists! I’m thrilled to be in such wonderful company. :-)

Blogging over on Christians Read Today!

Just wanted to remind my readers that I regularly blog over on Christians Read! It’s dedicated to readers and hosted by various Christian authors. Click on the link for my topic today, about the memories that were stirred when I saw the movie The Railway Man this past weekend.

Hope you’re having a great week!

A Snapshot from Chicago history

I happen to be working on two new projects, both of which are set in Chicago, so I’m up to my literary ears in research. In other words, I have Chicago on the brain.

The first time I traveled to Europe, nearly 30 years ago now . . . excuse me as I gasp over how old that makes me feel . . . when I told someone I was from Chicago they would mimic a machine gun and inform me I came from the city of gangsters like Capone and Bugs Moran.

Ah, but there is so much more! My research proves it.

Although my 1895 setting falls after the 1893 Columbian Exposition World’s Fair, my characters surely would have been aware of it and the city itself would reflect having hosted such an event. Some of the legacy we still see today—like Cracker Jacks, for example. And of course the famous Ferris wheel.

1kEenVBIKNR9M5ZR8y7CInhbKlwocg1wbGrF4wmCOKgThe Ferris wheel is a story I almost wish I could include in my book. This original was far larger than any Ferris wheel we think of today. With 36 carriages each roughly the size of a train car, they were capable of holding 60 riders for a capacity of 2,160 people! It took 20 minutes per revolution, and cost 50 cents to ride two revolutions. Since most of the stories about the Columbian Exposition featured the giant wheel at least somewhere on its horizon, it obviously played an important part in the fair’s success.

But I said I almost wish I could include its story, and that’s because things didn’t end up so well for either the wheel itself or its inventor. After the fair closed in the fall of 1893, the Ferris wheel sat idle until the end of April, 1894. It was dismantled and taken to storage on flatbed train cars, but there were plans to use it again in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Bonds were sold to improve the landscaping of the still largely undeveloped area, and there were plans to build a restaurant and band shell, a beer garden and vaudeville theater. But the community voted down the idea to sell alcohol, so the plans soured from there. To make matters worse, once the wheel opened again, patrons didn’t come to ride the engineering marvel. Evidently its novelty had worn off, or perhaps it needed the backdrop and excitement of a World’s Fair to make the event more memorable.

So the Ferris wheel was sold to a junk company. It did have a brief resurrection when it was moved to St. Louis for the 1904 World’s Fair, celebrating the Louisiana Purchase. Once again the wheel played an important part in a fair’s financial success, perhaps confirming my suspicion that the surroundings played an important role in attracting riders.

But the giant wheel set neglected again after that fair closed. In 1906 it was destroyed with 200 lbs of dynamite. Reports say it crumpled slowly and it took another 100 sticks to finish the job.

George Ferris himself died of typhoid fever at only 37 years old, before the wheel was used for the second time and after having fought Columbian Exposition organizers for his rightful share of revenue the wheel raised during the fair. More sad than that, Wikipedia says his ashes sat unclaimed for a year.

Research often tempts me to write more stories than I set out to do, and perhaps there is a story here . . . but I’ve pledged to write happy endings, so I guess I’ll leave this one to someone else!




What I’ve Been Up To

For visitors who might have missed more current postings from me during my blogging hiatus, I wanted to write a note about what I’ve been up to lately. I’m glad to report to those who have expressed concern that everything is fine on this end. I’m healthy, happy, and hard at work!

In February I was offered a contract for a Christmas novella which will release later this year. So, despite some winter weariness after so many snowstorms and record-low temps, I was able to look out my window many times in March to see snow falling as I wrote the first draft of a Christmas story. :-)

I’m also busy at work with two new full length novels, one of which I’ve pledged to publish independently this summer. I’m so excited about this new opportunity! My friend Jane Steen has been a huge inspiration to me, who successfully published her debut novel House of Closed Doors and is well on her way to publishing the second book in the series.

While I do love writing for wonderful editors, it’s been a fun experience to tackle a new project directly with readers in mind. I’ve always thought of myself as a reader first, and every book I’ve written was a book I wanted to read. Because of that, writing on my own has rekindled a love for writing just for the pure joy of it—to be entertained by the story and characters and not worry about market trends or other demands.

Plus I’ve read some wonderful independently published books lately, starting with Jane’s. I also recently judged for a contest which included several books published this way, and thoroughly enjoyed most of them. Now is definitely the time to jump into these welcoming waters, and so far it’s been more than refreshing.

I plan to keep you posted on this new venture, so look for more information to come about this next new release!

I’ve also been doing quite a bit of reading, which helps so much to keep the creative juices flowing. Here are a few books I’ve been busy with lately:

Screenshot 2014-04-14 09.18.48


The Rosie Project is a fun book about a young man with Asperger’s who decides to go about the task of finding a wife in a rather systematic way! (Warning for gentle readers, however, the language isn’t exactly pure but it’s a fun read.)


Screenshot 2014-04-14 09.24.40



The Paid Companion is a secular romance about a woman hired to pose as the hero’s fiance. (Keep in mind that it’s a secular romance, which comes with the mandatory love scenes.) Amanda Quick is better known as Jayne Ann Krentz.





Screenshot 2014-04-14 09.27.36



Another secular romantic novel, The Firebird, is especially enjoyable as an audio book since the narrator’s performance is wonderful with a variety of colorful accents. Though this is a secular novel regarding a fantasy-type “second sight” gift, it’s a great example of fascinating research combined with stellar writing.





And up next on my To-Be-Read Pile from two of my favorite Inspirational authors, Tamera Alexander and Jill Eileen Smith:

A Beauty So Rare

Screenshot 2014-04-14 09.30.18

Screenshot 2014-04-14 09.31.53

Rachel, from the Wives of the Patriarch Series








I’m also listening to comedian Tim Conway’s autobiography which has been fun, as well as some great non-fiction from another favorite, Beth Moore. I’ll soon be starting a Young Adult novel titled Daughters of Smoke and Bones by Laini Taylor—something I likely wouldn’t have come across except for the book club I belong to. I’ve been introduced to some great surprises that way!

As you can see, there are countless and wonderful ways to fill up anyone’s day. I hope you might find something here that stirs your interest.

And speaking of filling up my day, I’d better get back to work. Blessings to you on this start of another new week!