Archive | December, 2013

One Imperfect Christmas

5 Dec

imperfectChristmas

One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson

Synopsis:

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.

Thoughts:

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.

 
JohnsonMyra
 

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, www.MyraJohnson.com, or my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/MyraJohnsonAuthor . I Tweet as @MyraJohnson and @TheGrammarQueen, and you can also find me in Seekerville, www.seekerville.net, 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

Synopsis:

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.

Thoughts:

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. 

VannettaChapman

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

Synopsis:

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?

Thoughts:

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!

Biography:

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  www.elizabethgoddard.com.  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.