Archive | December, 2013

Interview: Joanne Bischof

19 Dec

My Hope is Found

I recently had the opportunity to ask Joanne Bischof a few questions about My Hope is Found, Book 3 in The Cadence of Grace series.  This is a MUST READ series and I cannot recommend it enough!  If you missed my review of My Hope is Found, simply click the link below.

I am delighted to share Joanne’s interview today!


Joanne, each of your book titles is so profound and a wonderful descriptor of each book.  How did you choose your titles?

Thank you!  I really wanted each of the titles to have a lyrical quality.  With music being one of the elements that runs throughout the series, it just felt like the right fit.  Also, was the desire to have each title really represent the emotion of each individual story.  Sort of what the characters might say they were feeling in each book.  And in a way that progresses through those ups and downs, finally ending with My Hope is Found.  I was so happy when we’d settled on that title and it was going to be the one to represent this final piece of the story.

I have heard authors say they were surprised by a character/scene/or other element in their writing?  Did you encounter any surprises while you were writing My Hope is Found? 

I really did experience many surprises.  I think the one that most often happens, is when a character does or says something that I never anticipated.  I don’t typically give a lot of thought or attention to identifying a character’s full personality when I first begin a novel.  Actually, I find that I don’t know them all that well.

I take the idea of them and let the rest evolve with what seems the most natural.  For example, with Gideon, I didn’t think about the ins and outs of his personality and his beliefs.  Here was this man who was once a womanizer and an alcoholic and as his character grew and matured, I’d often sit back and would be tempted to write him one way, often what felt like the easy way.  But then I’d have to stop and think, “no…he would do or say…this. Because of who he is and where he’s been…”

It was an intimidating part of the process, but one that I most enjoy with characterization—letting all the aspects that make that person who they are, who they were, and who they will one day become, define all they do on the page.  It’s very freeing and very fun.  Almost like going on an adventure myself!

My Hope is Found is a stunning conclusion to The Cadence of Grace series.  When you began writing, did you know how the series would ultimately end? 

Thank you so much!  I confess, that I did always know that Lonnie and Gideon would end up together.  But that doesn’t mean the journey to that point wasn’t loaded with challenges.  One of the greatest challenges there was with Toby McKee, the Scottish reverend who has the ability to completely win Lonnie’s heart in the third book.  He’s such a good man, and such a worthy hero, that as the story was unfolding, it became more and more difficult to approach that point in the story when Lonnie would have to choose between two good and worthy men.  It was at that point, that I didn’t so much get doubts as to how it would end, but I got butterflies.  Would readers be satisfied?  So far the response has been wonderful, but let’s just say that I get a lot of emails on the subject of a particular Scottish reverend along with requests for just one more book.  It’s been amazing to see how many readers really connected with this cast.

Did you find yourself eager to write this conclusion or were you reluctant to let these characters go?

Most definitely reluctant!  It was truly so bittersweet.  Spending three whole books with the same characters really was quite an experience.  Looking back, this series was about 7 years of active work and writing, the last of those years being during the publishing process.  So saying goodbye to this cast of characters I had spent so much time with and knew so well, was definitely bittersweet when My Hope is Found went to print.  But the joy!  Knowing the characters and story would be able to one day connect with readers…it was (and is!) so exciting.

As the author, who created and nurtured these characters, how did you feel when you wrote the very last word of My Hope is Found?

I think I had the biggest smile. Writing those words was such a long time coming and there was such a victory there. It was sort of the final expression of how God truly can build something out of nothing and even this couple who thought they could never be happy together, would not only lose one another, but one day find a way back.

Do you think you will ever revisit these characters, perhaps in another book or series?

It’s something I’ve often thought about. I don’t know if I’ll be visiting them again or not, but the idea is always there for another little snippet of story or even to visit some of the other characters whose stories are a bit untold.

I know you are deep into a story now and you have said the characters have already made you cry.  What can you share with us about this next book?

Oh yes, I don’t know that I’ve ever cried so much while writing a single book! Not because of some heart-wrenching tragedy, but because it’s a tender story and what to me feels like a powerful love story. One I can’t not tell. It’s another Appalachian romance, the first of three books sketched out, and so much of my heart is wrapped up in those pages that I often find myself wiping tears as it unfolds. It’s a project I’m really, really excited about and one that I’m (on a daily basis) having to continually give back to the Lord and trust that His plan for it will be the perfect plan.

Oh, I cannot wait to get my hands on your next book!  Thank you so much, Joanne, for taking the time to answer these questions and for sharing your talent with us through your amazing writing.  You are such a blessing! 

To learn more about Joanne Bischof and her books, please visit her website at

The Cadence of Grace series:

Book 1: Be Still My Soul
Book 2: Though My Heart is Torn
Book 3: My Hope is Found

My Hope Is Found

17 Dec

My Hope is Found

My Hope Is Found by Joanne Bischof


Gideon O’Riley has been given another chance at a life with Lonnie. But will the fight for her heart risk it all over again?
After finally finding love with his sweet bride Lonnie, Gideon’s heart was torn when a woman from his past claimed to be his true and rightful wife, forcing him away from his family. God’s merciful hand saw Gideon through the heartache, and with Cassie’s blessing, he is able to return home. But his journey back through the Blue Ridge Mountains will hold a trial he never anticipated.
Meanwhile, Lonnie determines to seal off her heart from Gideon, convinced he is lost to her forever. Strengthening her resolve to move on is her growing fondness for the handsome Scotsman, Toby McKee—the young reverend she has come to care for deeply. His proposal of marriage offers a bright future for her and her young son.
Yearning to allow joy back into her life, Lonnie must put aside the broken pieces of her heart that still love Gideon. When he returns to find her betrothed to another, he has to place his hope in God, trusting that the One who redeemed their love once can do it again.


Rarely have I found a book or books that evoked such strong emotions. However, Joanne Bischof masterfully stirred my emotions with every turn of the page.

My Hope Is Found is a stunning conclusion to The Cadence of Grace series. I gave my heart completely to the compelling characters and the vivid beauty of the Appalachians in Book 1, Be Still My Soul. I wept at the heart-wrenching emotion so beautifully written in Book 2, Though My Heart Is Torn. Wanting and needing to know what was going to happen to these precious people I had come to know and love, I was eager to read My Hope Is Found. I found myself speeding up and slowing down and savoring every last word. As I finished reading the last words of this book, I exhaled the breath that I found myself holding. Sighing with great satisfaction in the fact that, despite despair and suffering, hope is found!

Joanne Bischof has written an amazing series of books that will touch your heart. The spiritual thread so beautifully and eloquently woven into these books is a gift and a blessing to everyone who reads them. The Cadence of Grace series is a poignant story that you absolutely must read!


Christy Award-finalist and author of Be Still My Soul, Though My Heart Is Torn, and My Hope Is Found, Joanne Bischof has a deep passion for Appalachian culture and writing stories that shine light on God’s grace and goodness. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children. When she’s not weaving Appalachian romance, she’s blogging about faith, folk music, and the adventures of country living that bring her stories to life. You can visit her website at

On Thursday, I will be sharing my recent interview with Joanne.  I am so excited to be discussing My Hope Is Found, as well as a bit about the book Joanne is writing now.  I hope you will join us!  

A Wild Goose Chase Christmas

13 Dec

A Wild Goose Chase Christmas

A Wild Goose Chase Christmas by Jennifer AlLee


Upon her grandmother’s death, Izzy Fontaine finds herself in possession of a Wild Goose Chase pattern quilt that supposedly leads to a great treasure. 

Of course, once the rest of the family finds out about the “treasure map,” they’re determined to have a go at the treasure themselves. And, if that weren’t enough, Max Logan, a local museum curator, contacts Izzy and says that Grandma Isabella promised him the quilt.

What is it about this quilt that makes everyone want it? Is Izzy on a wild goose chase of her own, or a journey that will lead her to the treasure her grandmother intended?


A Wild Goose Chase Christmas is an enchanting tale that will warm your heart!  I fell in love with this story on the very first page and loved it even more as I read the last words. 

Izzy Fontaine receives a very special gift, a Wild Goose Chase pattern quilt, from her beloved grandmother.  Izzy does not understand the gift, or its value, and is surprised when Max Logan appears on her doorstep claiming ownership of the quilt.  Max is a local museum curator and claims that Isabella promised him the quilt, to be used in a museum exhibit. 

If that isn’t strange enough, notes begin to arrive from unexpected people and places.  Soon everyone is on a wild goose chase searching for the treasure that Grandma has alluded to.  What they find is something they least expect but need the most! 

Jennifer AlLee has written an endearing story that is sure to delight readers!  With a wonderful cast of characters, including Bogie, the Jack Russell Terrier, and important lessons beautifully woven throughout, A Wild Goose Chase Christmas is a story you won’t soon forget! 

Click to enjoy an excerpt from A Wild Goose Chase Christmas!

Please read Jennifer’s delightful interview below.


1. I adore A Wild Goose Chase Christmas!  What inspired this enchanting, heartwarming story? 

Thank you so much! There were several inspirations for this book. First, my grandmother was a professional dancer, so she was the inspiration for Grandma Isabella. The dynamic between Izzy, her mother, and her brother was inspired by my own family, even though our personalities are much different. And finally, the town of Monrovia is an actual place in Southern California that actually has a Friday night Street Fair. I’ve got lots of happy memories of it, so it seemed like the perfect place to set the story.      

2. A Wild Goose Chase Christmas is part of the Quilts of Love series.   Are you a quilter and/or do you have any quilts that are meaningful to you?  

I’m not a quilter myself, but I do have a special quilt. It’s a pattern called “Grandma’s Flower Garden” and was made by my mother. She used material from dresses and other clothing that had belonged to four generations of women in the family, from my great-grandmother to me. The quilt was a present when I went to college.      

3. The quilt in this story leads to great treasure.  What are some things you treasure?  

My greatest treasures are the people in my life, my family and friends. My son, Billy, is twenty, and he’s been my number one treasure since the day he was born. God certainly did bless me with that boy!      

4. Christmas is quickly approaching!  Please share with us one of your favorite Christmas memories.  

When I was in kindergarten, I was an angel in my school’s Christmas pageant. That’s one of my best Christmas memories, because I was so proud of my angel robe and my sparkly, gold tinsel halo!  

Thank you so much, Jennifer!  Merry Christmas to you and your family!!


Jennifer has shared a special character post, written by Izzy Fontaine.

I love my family, but you know how it is. Spending time with them, especially at the holidays, can be beyond stressful.

Take my mother… please! Just kidding. My mother and I have always had a bumpy relationship. For some reason, she can find fault in everything I do while my brother, Brandon, remains the golden child. But this year, Brandon’s not shining quite as bright, and Mom and I are spending way more time together than we expected to.

And it’s not just family that causes stress. There’s a new man in my life, and not because I went looking for one. No, Max Logan showed up at my door looking for his grandfather, who had gone AWOL from an assisted living facility, and for the Wild Goose Chase quilt that my grandmother left to me. He’s got the crazy idea that Gran gave the quilt to his museum. 

I tried not to like Max at first. I told myself that he was pushy and only cared about the quilt and making it the centerpiece of his new exhibit. But he also is smart, and funny, and I can’t ignore how much he loves his grandfather.

Thanks to Grandma Isabella, this could be the best – and craziest – Christmas yet.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Abingdon Press.  All thoughts expressed are my own and no monetary compensation was received.


The Christmas Star

12 Dec

The Christmas Star

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins


Can the broken heart of a child be healed by an unexpected Christmas letter?  Robert Reed gave his life for his country in the early days of World War II.  His sacrifice was honored when his widow and son were presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor.  At Christmas, the final decoration Marge Reed hangs on the family’s tree is that medal.  Rather than being a symbol of honor for young Jimmy Reed that shining star represents loss, pain, and suffering.

Yet a message delivered by one of Robert’s fellow soldiers and a mystery letter found in a Bible put a father’s sacrifice and faith into perspective and bring new meaning to not just the star hanging on the Christmas tree but the events of the very first Christmas.  Then, when least expected, a Christmas miracle turns a final bit of holiday sadness into a joy that Jimmy has never known.


As you open the pages of The Christmas Star, you will be swept back in time to the December of 1945.  Ace Collins captures the essence of days gone by with his wonderful use of nostalgic details and descriptions.  This is a captivating tale that is sure to be enjoyed this holiday season! 

While the small town of Ash Flat, Arkansas gears up to celebrate the first Christmas after the war, Jimmy Reed is feeling less that celebratory.  Embittered by the loss of his father, Jimmy begins to run with wrong crowd and soon finds himself in a situation beyond his control.

However, the events that transpire are a beautiful illustration of hope and faith.  The Christmas Star is a touching story that will warm your heart.  I encourage you all to read this special book! 

Click to enjoy an excerpt from The Christmas Star!

Please continue reading to enjoy my interview with Ace Collins. 


1. The Christmas Star is set in a small town in Arkansas during the Christmas of 1945.  What inspired you to write about this time in history?
The first Christmas after World War II was a remarkable holiday. Imagine the joy in families reuniting. Many fathers were seeing their sons and daughters for the very first time. The message of the 1942 hit single, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” as being realized. But put that in context with the reality of those whose loved ones had died in World War II and their reunions would not be coming this Christmas or any other.  Those contrasting emotions made this time period rich with drama and a perfect platform for the story.
2. The star that adorns the top of the Reed’s Christmas tree is the Congressional Medal of Honor.  What are some special things that adorn your Christmas tree?
We have many ornaments that go back through our family history that we used on our trees. I also always have a tree with blue lights as a way of being reminded of my Grandmother Shell who only put blue lights on her tree and beside the tree are angel chimes just like my Grandmother Collins always set out each holiday season.
3. The themes of faith and hope are beautifully woven throughout this story.  What do faith and hope mean to you?
Faith for me is believing in things you feel in your heart but can’t see with your eyes. Hope is vehicle that runs on faith. You can’t have one without the other.
4. Jimmy Reed receives a joy greater than he has ever known.  Please share with us one of your greatest joys. 
Buying Christmas presents and delivering them to children who otherwise would not get a gift are what brings me the most joy. Seeing faces light up when they are surprised makes me understand the power of Matthew 25:35-40.

Thank you, Ace!  Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Ace has also shared a special character post for us to enjoy.  The following is Jimmy Reed’s letter to Santa.


Dear Santa,      

All my friends just want normal gifts this year. Audrey wants the newest Sinatra record and John wants a new coat. Matt has the most way out list and it includes a 1940 Mercury Coupe. But I don’t want anything that you can bring on a sleigh or make in your shop, unless you actually have the power over life and death. You see my dad died fighting in the war. You might have heard about it. He fought off a whole batch of Japanese soldiers so that hundreds of his fellow Marines could escape to safety. While they got out through the jungles or by using Army Air Corp planes, my dad held his ground. He died alone.      

Everyone says Robert Reed is a hero. They even gave Mom and me something that pretty much guaranteed that he was all that and more. They call it the Congressional Medal of Honor and it means so much to Mom that she hangs it on our Christmas tree each year. Can you imagine a star on your tree being a stand in for someone you love and will never see it again? It may be wrong, but I’d rather have had all those Marines die that day in 1942 in The Philippines than have my dad die saving them. So I wish I’d never seen that medal.      

So this Christmas, almost four years after he gave his life for his country, all I’m asking is that you give me my father back. I’m not just asking just for me. I’ll asking for my mother too. She might even miss him more than I do. You see our lives are empty without him. And now as I look toward Christmas 1945, with the war over and peace on earth being so much more than just a saying, and with all my other friends having their fathers come back from the war, my heart is breaking.

So Santa, if you can’t bring my dad back to life, I ask you to please make Christmas go away. Please make it disappear so that I don’t have to see that star on the tree and realize just how lonely and lost I am. You see, I don’t want to celebrate the fact my dad died a hero, I just want to have him be a regular guy who can still put his arms around me and assure me everything will be all right.                                                                              


Jimmy Reed


I received a complimentary copy of this book from Abingdon Press.  All thoughts expressed are my own and no monetary compensation was received.

Blame It On The Mistletoe

11 Dec

Blame it on the Mistletoe

Blame it on the Mistletoe by Joyce Magnin


Is There Really a Fountain of Youth in Paradise?

Welcome back to Bright ‘s Pond, where strange happenings are afoot at the Greenbrier Nursing Home. Strange even for Bright ‘s Pond. The residents suddenly act like kids again riding trikes, climbing trees, and of all things falling in love. Some of the townsfolk blame it on the crooked new gazebo, or its builder, a quirky little man who quotes Don Quixote, collects water from the fountain at the Paradise trailer park, and disappears on a regular basis.

While Chief of Police Mildred Blessing investigates the mystery, Griselda and her friends deal with a luau Thanksgiving, preparations for the Christmas pageant, and maybe even an upcoming wedding. Only, in Bright ‘s Pond, nothing ever really goes as planned . . .


Blame it on the Mistletoe is the fourth novel in Joyce Magnin’s Bright’s Pond series.  In the small town of Bright’s Pond, the characters are a bit quirky and the situations sometimes bizarre!

Residents of the local nursing home seem to have found a source of rejuvenation and are acting years younger than their age, leaving those in the community to wonder who or what is responsible.  With a mystery to solve, as well as an on-again, off-again love story, Blame it on the Mistletoe is full of surprises and lots of laughs!  I enjoyed this delightful visit to Bright’s Pond and wonder what these characters will come up with next!

I have not read the other books in the series, so this was my first introduction to Bright’s Pond.  While I didn’t really know the time setting of the novel or the history of the cast, I was able to read this book as a stand-alone novel.  However, I would assume that reading the first three books would certainly add to the enjoyment of Blame it on the Mistletoe.

Click to enjoy an excerpt from Blame it on the Mistletoe!

Joyce has graciously answered a few of my questions.  Please read her delightful interview below! 

Joyce Magnin

1.  Blame it on the Mistletoe is the fourth novel in the Bright’s Pond series.  What inspired this fun series?  Oh boy, that’s hard to pinpoint. I just love small town life and quirky characters. I guess it was the character of Agnes Sparrow that started it all. She arrived one day and said, “Write my story.” And I went from there. I love these characters and  I just follow them around and write down the things they say and do.      

2.  What can we expect next from the quirky characters of Bright’s Pond?  Well, my publisher isn’t doing any more Bright’s Pond books but I am hoping to continue the series with E-Books. I get requests for more all the time. I’d like to see Charlotte open her pie shop and Griselda and Zeb finally adopt Mercy and maybe some more romance and even a little intrigue as the characters grow.      

3.  This book is full of humorous and bizarre situations.  Have you ever found yourself in such a situation?  If so, please share.  MY life is a humorous and bizarre situation. HA! The truth is the church in Bright’s Pond is pretty much the church I grew up n. Very odd and quirky. MY father once built a cannon and set it off one fourth of July. It turned out okay, the police were understanding. My mother was the pie baker and we still talk about the cherry pie of 1982. It was incredible. Of course the year my father drop kicked the turkey through the living window was interesting. So yeah, lots of stuff.   

4.  What are some special traditions or celebrations you and your family enjoy during the holiday season?   I enjoy Christmas lights. Cuckoo for them. So stringing as many lights as possible is always a goal. And of course going out and driving around town to see other displays. They crack me up sometimes, especially when folks mingle the religious with the secular traditions. Frosty visits the Holy Family–those are my favorite.Of course in my home, someone always manages to sneak an elf or a giraffe into the creche. But that’s okay, everyone is welcome to see the baby Jesus.      

Thanks for asking. Merry Christmas to All. Peace!

Thank you, Joyce!  Merry Christmas!!

Joyce has also shared a fun character post written by Charlotte Figg!


It’s almost Christmas. I cannot imagine where the year has gone. But here we are facing the hustle and bustle of the season. Ha, I guess it’s more bustle than hustle for some, especially after eating all those Christmas goodies. And speaking of goodies I just got back from Shoops with Griselda and Rose Tattoo. We bought all the ingredients I need to make pie. Yep, pie. Lots and lots of pies.  

Don’t worry though, I know Zeb has the market cornered on lemon meringue what with his famous Full Moon Pie. But I’m planning on Apple, Dutch Apple, Pumpkin, Cherry, Mince and my brand new experimental Super Duper Chocolate Praline pie. That’s right, experimental.

Now I know, I know it’s not a good idea to experiment with recipes during the holidays and especially not good to serve something that has not been tried and found true. But I’m gonna give it a whirl. I just love pralines. Don’t you.  

And so does my dog, Lucky. That pooch will sneak them right off the counter, right out of the bowl if I’m not careful or keep them tucked up high or in the fridge. Ha! That’s the perils of pralines, I suppose.  

But I got to say that amidst all the hustle of shopping and decorating and wrapping – oh dear, the wrapping, I enjoy the day most when I’m wrist deep in flour or rolling out my extra special flaky crust. It might sound odd but it’s at those times when I find it easiest to remember the real reason for the season. That’s right, the birth of our savior, Jesus. Not that Jesus has a lot to do with crust mind you, it’s just that at those times the house is quiet, the Christmas carols are playing sweetly in the background and I can let my thoughts drift on account of I can make crust blind folded and with one arm tied behind my back. Anyhoo, with each roll of the rolling pin and each pinch on the crust I say a little prayer for well, two things, Peace, Peace on Earth for all humans, and that Jesus will make his return quickly. Don’t you agree?

Merry Christmas.




I received a complimentary copy of this book from Abingdon Press.  All thoughts expressed are my own and no monetary compensation was received.

The Long Awakening

10 Dec

The Long Awakening

The Long Awakening by Lindsey O’Connor


On a crisp October day in 2002, Lindsey O’Connor woke from a 47-day medically induced coma. She heard her ecstatic husband’s voice and saw his face as she emerged from the depths of unconsciousness. She was bewildered by the people around her who looked so overjoyed and were so thoroughly attentive and attuned to her every move. Then came the question: “Do you remember that you had a baby?”

Lindsey drifted in and out of consciousness again for weeks. When she finally and gradually surfaced permanently from her long submersion, she struggled to understand that the day her baby came into the world was the day she left it. Her awakening was the happy ending for her family and friends–the miracle they had been praying for–but it was just the beginning of Lindsey’s long and frightening journey toward a new reality.

With visceral images and richly layered storytelling, Lindsey O’Connor vividly tells the poignant true story of the struggle to reenter her world and rebuild her identity. Underlying this life and death battle is a story of lost and found love, the effort to make sense of life-altering events, and the continuing search for self. This moving memoir paints a powerful picture of pain, beauty, and the unsurpassable gift of finally knowing who you are.


“The riveting true story of a life-threatening coma, a miraculous awakening, and the long quest to regain what was lost.”

Lindsey O’Connor has courageously shared the story of her awakening, after being in a medically induced coma for 47 days. In her stirring memoir, Lindsey recounts the events that would forever change her life and the lives of her family and friends. She details the physical and emotional struggles, as well as the triumphs, she endured on her arduous road to rediscovering herself and her family. Told with compelling candor, The Long Awakening is an unforgettable story that will speak to the heart of every person who reads it.

Lindsey O’Connor is a gifted writer and has written a book that will amaze and inspire you. Her story is one that is meant to be shared and one I hope you will read!


Lindsey O’Connor is the author of five books, a freelance journalist, and speaker. Her newest book is a memoir called The Long Awakening. She’s a narrative storyteller, produces radio stories, and has contributed to American Public Media’s Weekend America,, The Rocky Mountain News, Christianity Today, Guideposts and others. She’s a former radio and television anchor and her audio book was a finalist for an Audio Publishers Association award. True story is her thing.

To learn more about Lindsey O’Connor, please visit her website,


My thanks to Lindsey O’Connor for sharing her story and for the opportunity to read The Long Awakening. I received a complimentary copy of this book; all thoughts expressed are my own and no monetary compensation was received.

The Christmas Quilt

9 Dec

The Christmas Quilt

The Christmas Quilt by Vannetta Chapman


Babies have their own schedule. But so does God.

Annie’s life is deliciously full as the Christmas season approaches. She helps her husband, Samuel, attend to the community’s minor medical needs. She occasionally assists Belinda, the local midwife, and most days, she finds herself delivering the buggy to her brother Adam. Annie’s sister-in-law Leah is due to deliver their first child before Christmas morning, and Annie is determined to finish a crib quilt before the boppli arrives. With six weeks to go, she should have no problem . . . but God may have a different plan. Leah is rushed to the English hospital when the infant arrives early, and Annie discovers the Christmas quilt may hold a far greater significance than she ever imagined.


In The Christmas Quilt, we revisit the characters and community first introduced by Vannetta Chapman in A Simple Amish Christmas.  I loved returning to Mifflin County, Pennsylvania and catching up with this special Amish community! 

Samuel and Annie Yoder continue to help the community with their medical needs.  Expecting their first child, they are eager to share the experience of parenthood with Annie’s brother and sister-in-law, Adam and Leah Weaver.  Leah is pregnant with twins and due to deliver before Christmas. 

While Annie pregnancy has been a smooth experience, Leah has experienced some emotional and physical difficulties.  When Leah goes into early labor, Annie hurries to her side and convinces her that going to an Englisch hospital is best. 

As they wait for the arrival of the twins, Annie and Leah begin working on a nine-patch crib quilt for the babies.  As they work on each square, they pray together and share stories inspired by the fruits of the Spirit.  What started as way to fill the time begins to hold a far greater significance! 

The Christmas Quilt is a wonderful story of faith and beautifully illustrates the fruits of the Spirit.  I love The Christmas Quilt and would love to visit the residents of Mifflin County again!  

Click to enjoy an excerpt from The Christmas Quilt.

Vannetta has graciously answered a few more of my questions.  Please read the interview below.


1.  In The Christmas Quilt, we return to Mifflin County and catch up with Annie and Samuel and the other residents, whom we grew to know and love while reading A Simple Amish Christmas.  Do you enjoy revisiting characters when you are writing?

Yes, especially since there was a 3 year period between the two books. This was a wonderful chance for me to show how my characters had changed, grown closer in some instances, and encountered problems in others. Through it all, their faith is a major component.

2.  I love the significance of the Christmas quilt and its squares.  Are you a quilter and/or do you have any quilts that are meaningful to you?

I am a beginning quilter, which means that I’m doing wall hangings and lap quilts at this point. I love doing it. On days when I finish my writing early, I reward myself with an hour of two of quilting. As far as special quilts, I have several. One is the nine patch quilt a friend made for me as I wrote The Christmas Quilt. She pieced and quilted it by hand, and I definitely treasure it. I also have quilts that were my grandmother’s and her mother’s. These are a sweet connection to our ancestors.

3.  Can you share with us one of your favorite Christmas memories?

My husband had a torn retina a few years ago. It required surgery, and then several days lying horizontal, and then when he was up and about still no driving. So I took him to see Christmas lights. I look at Christmas lights at the same speed I go through a museum–rather quickly. We were zip zipping around the lighted neighborhoods in our town, when Bob finally admitted he was getting dizzy. Oh we laughed about that, and I slowed down a little. But it’s a good reminder of my need to enjoy the moment a little more, especially at Christmas time. 

4.  What can we look forward to reading from you next?

I actually have two books releasing in March. Murder Simply Brewed is book one in my new Amish mystery series and will be set in Middlebury, Indiana.  Where Healing Blooms is part of a novel collection, An Amish Garden. You can view both of these on my Amazon page at

As a special treat, Vannetta has shared a character post with us.  The following is an interview with Annie Weaver Yoder. 

1. What is the most interesting things about you?   Some might say that the most interesting thing about me is that I’m a nurse, and I’m Amish. Those two things don’t usually go together – but I earned my high school equivalency and nursing certification while I was living with my aunt. I suppose you’d say I was on my rumspringa then. Actually, I was just following my heart, and soon my heart led me home. I think the most interesting thing about me is that I’m surrounded by a loving family, including my  husband, Samuel.  

2. What do you do for fun?   I love to quilt! I’m not the best quilter in my family—that would be my mamm. I love to do it though, and when I’m not helping Samuel with his patients, cooking, or cleaning then I am quilting. Right now I’m working on a nine patch crib quilt for my brother’s wife, Leah.

3. What do you put off because you dread it?   I will admit that I dread going to visit Rachel, Samuel’s sister-in-law. She is a sad, bitter woman and try as I might we’ve yet to become friends. When I’m with her, I’m at a loss for what to say, and when I leave, I wish that I could have thought of some way to brighten the situation.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?   I think the natural answer would be death—but after working in the hospital I know that death is a part of life. Perhaps I knew that even before I pursued my nursing certification. Since we are Amish, we believe that each person’s life is complete when they die, that God is all-knowing. Sometimes I think about my father’s accident, and how I wasn’t here to help him. Then I grow afraid that something similar could occur again. When those thoughts plague me, I know that praying is the only thing that will ease my heart.

5. What do you want out of life?   To be with my family—all of my family. Samuel and I are expecting a boppli, so this is a very exciting time. What I want more than anything is for our child to be raised in this circle of love that includes my parents, brothers and sisters, and friends.

6. What is the most important thing to you?   My faith. I know that without my faith I would be floundering through life. The scripture is what guides me. I’m grateful that I was raised in a house of faith, and that each day brings me a little closer to my Lord.

7. Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read?   I do read—a lot! I read all sorts of things—nursing books and articles, quilting books (even Amish enjoy new patterns), and I also like to read a good fiction book. We visit the small library in our town quite often.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?   I’ve been trying to learn to slow down. Now that I’m 23 and expecting a child, I shouldn’t run around like a small child. I’m trying to remember to measure my steps and think before reacting. That’s hard for me, as I become caught up in whatever is occurring and my first reaction is to act—not always the best thing.

9. Do you have a pet? if so, what is it and why that pet?   We do not have pets in the traditional sense, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Samuel purchased a hunting dog. He’s been looking at them lately, though he thinks I don’t know that. I suppose our horses are like pets though, as we spend a lot of time caring for them and we depend on them for transportation. My mare’s name is Beni. She is a quarter horse, 14.2 hands high and  6 years old, sorrel colored.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?   I would go to the night of my father’s accident, when his buggy was hit by a car. I would be with him, to care for him as he lay in the snow. But I can’t go back, and I’m grateful that Gotte used that incident to bring Samuel and me together.


 Thank you so much, Vannetta!  Happy holidays to you and your family!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Abingdon Press.  All thoughts expressed are my own and no monetary compensation was received.

One Imperfect Christmas

5 Dec


One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson


Only Love Makes a Christmas Perfect.

Graphic designer Natalie Pearce faces the most difficult Christmas of her life. For almost a year, her mother has lain in a nursing home, the victim of a massive stroke, and Natalie blames herself for not being there when it happened. Worse, she’s allowed the monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves—most of all her husband Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she’s one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom.

Junior-high basketball coach Daniel Pearce is at his wit’s end. Nothing he’s done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them. And their daughter Lissa’s adolescent rebellion isn’t helping matters. As Daniel’s hope reaches its lowest ebb, he wonders if this Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear.


One Imperfect Christmas is a unique Christmas story that realistically portrays the struggles and imperfections of life.  Natalie Pearce grapples with the guilt she feels over the stroke her mother suffered.  Unable to let go of this burden, Natalie’s relationship with her family begins to suffer.

Christmas has always been a time of great celebration for Natalie and her family.  Each year, they gather together to enjoy several special traditions.  With her mother in the nursing home and her own family falling apart, Natalie soon realizes that this Christmas may not be perfect after all.  Can an imperfect Christmas bring this family back together again?

Myra Johnson has penned a Christmas story full of rich layers that will stir your emotions.  While I didn’t always agree with Natalie’s choices, she was a very believable character.  One Perfect Christmas illustrates the importance of faith, family and forgiveness.  Most importantly, it is a reminder that we must always rely on God and cling to hope and faith in the face of adversity!

Click to enjoy an excerpt from One Imperfect Christmas.

Myra has graciously answered a few of my questions.  Please read the interview below.


1. One Imperfect Christmas is a realistic look at the struggles and imperfections of life.  What inspired this unique storyline?   The original inspiration for the story came from a dream I had after overdosing on Hallmark and Lifetime holiday movies one year. All I had was a vague idea about a couple about to celebrate their fiftieth Christmas together, only something stood in the way. After much brainstorming, I came up with the character of Natalie, the couple’s daughter, and imagined how her own experience of the Christmas season might be altered if something tragic happened to one of her parents.

2. Natalie Pearce, as well as the rest of her family, certainly endured an imperfect Christmas.  Have you ever experienced an imperfect holiday?  If so, will you share with us a bit about it?   Lots of things can make a holiday seem “imperfect.” You burn the turkey. The kids start picking on each other and it turns into a brawl. A gift you were absolutely certain would be under the tree is conspicuously absent.

But looking at the big picture, those are minor issues. My most “imperfect” holiday was the first time neither of our daughters came home for Christmas. Our married daughter was spending Christmas with her husband’s family, and our daughter at college decided that was the year she’d fully assert her independence by spending Christmas with her best friend’s family near campus. I was a total grump that year, because for me, Christmas just isn’t Christmas without family around to share it with.

3. Christmas was celebrated with several traditions in One Imperfect Christmas.  What are some Christmas traditions that you and your family enjoy?   Sometime during the holidays, my husband and I snuggle on the double recliner and watch our DVD of White Christmas. We also love attending Christmas Eve worship service, and usually afterward we drive around to admire the neighborhood holiday decorations. Then it’s home to cookies and eggnog, and if the grandkids are visiting, we send them to bed before setting to work filling stockings and bringing out last-minute gifts to place under the tree.

4. What can we look forward to reading from you next?   My latest release from Abingdon Press is When the Clouds Roll By, book 1 in my post-WWI historical romance series Till We Meet Again. Books 2 and 3 will be out in 2014. Readers can learn more about my books by visiting my website,, or my Facebook page, . I Tweet as @MyraJohnson and @TheGrammarQueen, and you can also find me in Seekerville,, where I blog with 12 other Christian novelists.


As a special treat, Myra has shared a character post with us.  The following is a post from Bram Morgan, Natalie Pearce’s father. 

Natalie Morgan Pearce is her mother’s daughter, no forty-seven ways to Sunday about that. Now, I admit I have a mule-headed streak of my own, especially when it comes to keeping my family together. But that girl—all the time she wasted carrying the guilt for her mother’s stroke when the blame could just as easily have fallen on me.

I lived with the woman, after all. I should have seen the signs something wasn’t right with my Belinda. She’d mentioned a headache or two, maybe didn’t have the energy she usually did. But I just had to go to that dad-blamed horse auction, leaving Belinda home alone all day.

And naturally, my sweet wife insisted on hauling out boxes and packing up the Christmas decorations all by herself. Just wouldn’t do to have dried-up evergreen needles all over the carpet when her book club came over the next day. Like those fussy women didn’t have their own houses to un-decorate after the holidays.

Ah, well, no use bemoaning what can’t be undone. Which was what the whole family tried to tell Natalie. Instead, all we could do was stand by and watch her slowly come undone. Buried herself in her work, let her marriage fall apart, pulled away from all of us—emotionally, anyway.

But I will say Natalie took real good care of me, especially in those first few months when I was at loose ends, myself. Belinda and I were going on fifty years of marriage, and I could no more imagine living without her than I could cut off my right hand.

Thank the good Lord for Natalie’s brother, Hart. He’s a real fine veterinarian, so he saw to horses and generally kept an eye on the farm while I spent as much time as possible at the convalescent home with Belinda.

And don’t you know we did a whole lot of praying that year. Praying for my sweet Belinda. Praying for Natalie. Praying for Daniel and Lissa, Natalie’s husband and daughter, to just keep loving her and have patience till the healing could begin so they could be a family once more.

There’s a lot more to the story—parts Natalie and Daniel and Lissa are better off telling you themselves, so I’ll leave the details to them. But you can rest assured, God’s plans are always far and above anything we mere mortals can dream up, and you could sure see His mighty hand at work that Christmas.

So my message to you folks is this: You may not understand or even appreciate what God’s doing in your life until you’re farther on down the road—or maybe not in this life at all. But no matter what trials you’re facing, no matter how hopeless your life may appear, God’s got your back. Give Him a chance, and He’ll give you a joy deep down in your heart to outlast all the “Merry Christmas” wishes in the world.


It’s been delightful, Britney. Thanks for hosting me on your blog today!

Thank you, Myra!  It has been my pleasure.  Happy holidays to you and your family!


I received a complimentary copy of this book from Abingdon Press.  All thoughts expressed are my own and no monetary compensation was received.

A Simple Amish Christmas

4 Dec

Simple Amish Christmas

A Simple Amish Christmas by Vannetta Chapman


Will Annie find acceptance in the Amish community she left behind?

Annie Weaver always planned to return home, but the 20-year old RN has lived in Philadelphia for three years now. As her time of Rumschpringe is about to come to an abrupt end, bringing for Annie an overwhelming sense of loneliness. She returns home and finds herself face-to-face with a budding romance with an Amish farmer and Annie has several important choices to make.


A Simple Amish Christmas is a wonderful story to be enjoyed, not only during the holiday season, but any time of the year!  Set in an Amish community of Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, this story is full of vivid descriptions and enjoyable characters.  I encourage you to open the pages and step into this delightful tale and visit this special community!

Three years ago, Annie Weaver left her Amish community to live with aunt in Philadelphia.  During this time, she acquired an education and career among the Englisch.  Annie enjoys her work at the hospital as a registered nurse.  However, thoughts of home wash over her from time to time and leave her longing for home.  A sudden phone call changes everything and Annie rushes to return to her Amish community. 

Samuel Yoder is a local farmer who helps with the medical needs of the community.  When he makes a house call to check on Jacob Weaver, he is surprised to find Annie caring for her father.  Skeptical at first of Annie’s ability to nurse her father back to health, Samuel soon learns there is more to this young woman than he realized.  There is also more to Samuel Yoder than meets the eye, as Annie slowly discovers. 

A Simple Amish Christmas is a well-written story of love, acceptance, and realizing God’s will in all things.  I highly recommend this book! 

Click to enjoy an excerpt from A Simple Amish Christmas.

Vannetta has graciously answered a few questions for us.  Please read her interview below. 


1. What inspired you to write Amish fiction?

I was actually working on a narrative historical about my grandfather’s life, and my agent asked me to stop what I was doing and write an Amish story. At the same time, I came across a bundle of correspondence which was all in German. I already knew that his birthplace was Albion, PA. He was born in the 1880s, and my father has already passed, so I need to get those letters translated in order to delve deeper. Those two things combined to convince me Amish was a good fit for me, and A Simple Amish Christmas was the story I wrote for my agent.

2.    A Simple Amish Christmas is full of vivid descriptions of an Amish community, including dialogue, rules, and traditions.  How did you research these various aspects of Amish life?

I read a lot, both fiction and nonfiction (including news, blogs, and books). I think when we read nonfiction, we are able to get the rhythm of a group’s dialogue and also a feel for their true lifestyle. And of course I have been to visit quite a few Amish communities.

3.    As I learned in this story, the Amish celebrate Christmas differently than the Englisch.  What special traditions or celebrations do you and your family enjoy during the holiday season?

Our traditions are fairly simple — Christmas eve with my in-laws, attending the midnight Christmas eve service, Christmas day at home, playing games and going for a walk. We don’t do a lot of gift giving, but we try to give something special. In our family, one thing that has become important is flexibility. Our children are grown and have a lot of pressures in their lives, so we try to be flexible, go where ever they are, and just enjoy the time together.

4.    Christmas stories are some of my very favorites to read.  What are some of your favorite books?

I do love Christmas stories. Remember The Gift of the Magi by O Henry? I used to teach that to my high school students. It’s a wonderful tale of love and sacrifice. I also like Scrooge, which reminds us of what is important in life. And then there are the more modern tales. Just reading the Christmas story from the four gospels is a special thing to do during this time of year.


 As a special treat, Vannetta has prepared a character interview for us to enjoy.  The following is an interview with Samuel Yoder:

1. Samuel, I’ve heard that you’re a doctor, an Amish doctor. Tell me about that.    Nein, I am not a doctor. I’m a herbalist. I care for minor medical problems in my community, and I’m quick to refer folks to an Englisch doctor when they need one.  Amish can be stubborn, and they sometimes avoid going for help when they need it. I never hesitate to send someone to the clinic or the hospital when it’s necessary. But often what they need is to be reminded of common sense things. That I’m gut at. I’ve always enjoyed helping animals and people become more healthy.  

2. You’re recently married?   Two years ago. Ahh . . . I wish you could meet Annie. She’s a delight with a smile as bright as the flowers in her garden and a heart as big as her famous apple pies. And now we’re expecting a boppli. If things go well, I’ll be there with our midwife when Annie’s time comes to birth our child.

3. You were married before?   Ya, I was. My wife and doschder died in a winter storm, when they became lost. It’s a difficult thing to discuss and even now a piece of my heart hurts when I think of them.

4. That must have been difficult, but you’ve found a way to continue your life. You’re somber now, but you’re also quick to smile. Apparently you’ve found joy again. Could you tell us a little about that?   I’m not an expert on dealing with grief. Each person finds their own path through that dark valley. You speak of joy, but it was years before I could smile again without feeling I was betraying the memory of my loved ones. I owe any progress I’ve made in that regard to Gotte, and I remain grateful for Annie’s presence in my life.

5. You’re also a farmer, correct?   Ya. Most Amish men have some land where they grow a crop that they can sell to earn a little extra money. I’m no different. This year we had a gut crop of hay. The market prices were fair, and I was able to put back a little savings. Annie also has a big garden. We like to grow as much of our own food as possible.

6. Do you hunt?   I do. Not for sport but for the pantry. The only game I hunt is what we eat, of course—dove, turkey, and deer.

7. Let’s talk about the area where you live—Mifflin, PA. How has it changed over the years?    A little more crowded, and a little more modern. Most technological advances we avoid, but it affects even us. There was one Amish family I visited who had solar panels installed on their home. It provided energy for their stove and refrigerator. These are things our community has remained undecided about. Time will tell if it’s something we want to allow in our homes.

8. But you still use the horse and buggy?   We do. Both are a cornerstone of our society. We do not wish to travel fast or far. The buggy slows us down. If you have to hitch up a buggy you think twice before you head into town. It’s a lot of work.

9. You have a lot of family in the area. Do you see them often?   Every Sunday, whether we are attending church services at a member’s house or visiting for a meal. Annie’s family is quite large. She is the oldest—only her and Adam, her brother, are married. But the rest will marry in time, and the family will continue to grow. Once married, the children will begin to come. It’s the Amish way to have large families, as you probably know.

10. What is one thing you wish people knew about Amish life?   Things which seem odd to you all, seem natural to us. We make decisions based on our faith, what we feel Gotte would have us do, and also based on our families, what is best for those we love. Traditions are important to us, because they remind us of those who have gone before, those who have paved the way for us. Our desire to live simply is a direct result of our faith and trust in Gotte. Our needs are few, and He always provides.


I received a complimentary copy of this book from Abingdon Press.  All thoughts expressed are my own and no monetary compensation was received. 

Wilderness Peril

2 Dec

Wilderness Peril

Wilderness Peril by Elizabeth Goddard


Run off the road and left for dead, Shay Ridiker’s only hope for surviving the frozen claws of the wilderness is pilot Rick Savage. The beautiful airplane mechanic came to Alaska expecting a routine repo, but a missing coworker and a crippled plane are just the tip of the iceberg. Now held captive by ruthless killers at a derelict gold mine, Shay needs Rick’s protection more than ever. But Rick has shadows that follow him into the land of the midnight sun. With gunmen at their backs, can he be all Shay needs—a haven…and a hero?


Wilderness Peril is an exciting story of adventure, suspense and romance! The plot twists and turns and sweeps you away to the frozen wilderness of Alaska. Don’t miss this great escape!

The action starts in the first chapter and doesn’t stop until the very end. Shay Ridiker is an airplane mechanic who has been dispatched to Alaska, along with pilot Rick Savage. These two co-workers are expecting a routine repair and repo, but soon find themselves running for their lives. Shay and Rick struggle to survive in the wilderness and escape the madmen who hold them captive.

Shay and Rick are both troubled by past experiences and reluctant to share their vulnerabilities. However, they must learn to trust each other in order to survive. Will their open hearts lead to love?

I enjoyed every minute of this action-packed adventure! Danger and suspense, coupled with troubled characters, kept me quickly turning the pages. Elizabeth Goddard has written another great escape and I can’t wait for her next adventure!

You can order your copy of Wilderness Peril today from Amazon, other online retailers, or your favorite bookstore!


highresgoddard-HR-2-2-e1382722351811Elizabeth Goddard is an award-winning author of eighteen romance and romantic suspense novels, including the romantic mystery, The Camera Never Lies—winner of the prestigious Carol Award in 2011. After acquiring her computer science degree, she worked at a software firm before eventually retiring to raise her four children and become a professional writer. A member of several writing organizations, she judges numerous contests and mentors new writers. In addition to writing, she home schools her children and serves with her husband in ministry. 

To learn more about Elizabeth and her books, visit her website at  While you’re there, be sure and sign up for her quarterly newsletter so you won’t miss any exciting news!

* I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.