Friday, August 31, 2012

Join the party and win a pearl necklace

Margaret McSweeney's Mother of Pearl Facebook Party! {9/4} RSVP today.

A note from Margaret McSweeney:

To celebrate the release of Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith I'm hosting an evening of chat, laughter, and encouragement on Facebook!

I've invited the Pearl Girl contributors to join us on the evening of September 4th. I'd be so honored if you'd come too!

We'll be giving away a ton of fun stuff {books, gift certificates and a Beautiful Pearl Necklace set}.

Mother of Pearl celebrates the collective iridescence of motherhood. We'll gather to connect, be encouraged and make some new friends!

So RSVP today and then come back on September 4th (at 5pm Pacific, 6pm Mountain, 7pm Central, and 8pm Eastern) and join us for the "Pearl" party. Let's share our stories and encourage one another.

We'll also have an update from the charities involved with Pearl Girls, Wings and Hands of Hope.

Buy the book!

About the Book: 

Like oysters, women often encounter unexpected grit during their everyday lives. In response, God’s love and grace covers this grit and transforms the pain into a precious pearl that leaves a layered, luminous lining within a shell: Mother of Pearl. This brilliant luster is strong, lasting, and purposeful—just like the love, lessons, and legacies left by the special women in our lives.

Mother of Pearl celebrates the collective iridescence of motherhood. Margaret McSweeney presents a collection of heartfelt vignettes from authors who communicate the importance of the unique relationships between mothers and their children, between granddaughters and grandmothers and between children and the mother-figures in their lives.

These stories tell of the power of faith, prayer, and values, exploring coming of age, the joy of becoming a mother, the importance of motherhood, the ways to heal from a bad relationship with a mother and weathering the death of a special loved one. Poignant and thought-provoking, the stories serve to inspire, encourage, instill hope, and strengthen faith.

The proceeds from the sale of Mother of Pearl will be donated to organizations helping struggling women and children. The charities include Wings (Women in Need Growing Stronger) to help fund the Safe House in the Chicago suburbs and to Hands of Hope to help build wells for schoolchildren in Zambia.

Meet Margaret: 

Margaret McSweeney is a well-published author often writing online articles for Make It Better (the former North Shore Magazine) and freelance articles for the Daily Herald, the largest suburban Chicago newspaper. In addition, she has authored and compiled several books including A Mother’s Heart Knows; Go Back and Be Happy; Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, Mother of Pearl and Aftermath.

With a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina in international business, Margaret became a vice-president in the corporate finance division of a New York City bank and worked there 1986–93.

As founder of Pearl Girls, Margaret collaborates with other writers on projects to help fund a safe house for WINGS, an organization that helps women and their children who are victims of domestic violence, and to build wells for schoolchildren in Uganda through Hands of Hope. For the past 10 years she has served on the board of directors and leadership advisory board for WINGS. Margaret lives with her husband and 2 daughters in the Chicago suburbs.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Author Sibella Giorello talks about The Stars Shine Bright

An Interview with Sibella Giorello,
author of The Stars Shine Bright

Q: The Stars Shine Bright takes place at a race track. What drew you to that setting?

Here's one key for writing fiction: Don't squash the "weird idea." Sometimes that weird idea is your best friend.

Last year, the weird idea was gambling and horses. Aside from driving around Seattle in the rain, I don't gamble. And I'm not a "horse-girl." But this idea kept pulling at me. When I mentioned it to my husband, he said: "I got a guy."

Note: My husband is from New York City, he's "got a guy" for everything. 

But this guy turned out to be a former jockey, who now owns part of a race horse. He spent weeks showing me the local track, including the back barns. He also introduced me to the track vet, who was invaluable. The vet told me to come on his rounds, starting at 5 A.M.

It was all a gift, because it's difficult for strangers to get inside barns at most big race track. Trainers and owners are wary -- justifiably so -- that somebody will steal their training secrets or use the information to sway the betting odds. 

But with these two guys, doors opened.        

And from there, the "weird idea" started to unfold like a map.

Q: Has that ever happened before, when a certain person makes research easy?

With every book, keep thinking: "Well, THAT will never happen again."

But it does. With every book in this series.

When I was researching The Mountains Bow Down, for instance, my family took a cruise to Alaska. Our first day at sea, I went to check out the chapel, where the chaplain was giving a sermon. It was a good sermon, and I thanked him for it afterwards--only to discover the guy was also the ship's cruise director. When he asked about my trip, I told him, almost apologetically, that I was doing research for a murder mystery. 

His reply?

"There are hundreds of ways to kill people on this ship. I'll show you."

For the next seven days, he took me from the engine room to the kitchens to the captain's bridge, pointing out the hazards and dangers.

If that sort of thing is not the hand of God, I don't know what is.

Q: Your books are known for in-depth research, especially with geology. Beside horses, what kind of research went into The Stars Shine Bright?

My kids have gotten used to piles and piles of books in my office. It looks like a cave with stalagmites made of paper.

Before starting each book I comb through Forensic Geology by Ray Murray. It's the definitive textbook on the subject, and a really great read even for the layman.

For this book specifically, I read several autobiographies of agents who went undercover, including The Last Undercover by Bob Hamer. Then a bunch of books on wagering, which were colorful and often funny. How odds are determined, what constitutes a long-shot. I still don't understand wagering entirely. It's like some intuitive calculus with greed as one of the variables.

But I also read a half dozen astronomy books, trying to understand something about space and getting to know constellations. I wasn't sure how this title -- The Stars Shine Bright -- fit into the story, but the more I read, the more clear it became.

Q: The Stars Shine Bright has Raleigh Harmon going undercover for the FBI. Why did that situation appeal to you as an author?
Raleigh Harmon's been undercover most of her adult life--she just wasn't getting paid for it. 

Right out of college, she started working for the FBI as a forensic geologist. Then her father was murdered, and she chose to become a special agent. But she never told her mother about the FBI, because her mom's mentally ill. She suffers from paranoid delusions. Raleigh's only said she's a geologist. Which is true, but not totally true. That's why I mean when I say she's always been undercover.

But now the jig's up. In The Stars Shine Bright, her mother's been sent to the state mental hospital, and Raleigh's decided, finally, to be honest with her--right when the FBI tells her to start lying.

That whole double-life (or double-double-life) was a terrific challenge, especially since Raleigh is so blunt about everything else. Really fun to write about.

Q: After four Raleigh Harmon novels, did you approach this fifth book any differently?

Every book is written on my knees. I am not kidding.

They all begin with that "weird idea," followed by a bunch of imaginary friends who have personality issues and who all demand to join the adventure. And since it's crime fiction, somebody's going to die.

If that doesn't drop a writer to the floor, they're either dumb or bulletproof.

But there was one difference with this fifth book. Music. In particular Herb Alpert's "This Guy's in Love with You." I didn't know why that song was important until the book's second-to-last chapter.

Which brings me back to my first point: Every book is written on my knees. The unknown is just too overwhelming otherwise.

Q: Raleigh Harmon's definitely faced some serious ups and downs. When you first started writing about her, did you see those challenges coming, or have they surprised you?
Raleigh's taught me that sometimes the writer is the last to know.

When I first "saw" her, I was a reporter at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. I would walk to work and pass a certain house, this brick mansion on Monument Avenue. It sat across from an enormous statue of General Robert E. Lee. But this house wasn't like all the other stately mansions. This place was a mess. Overgrown magnolia trees, ivy climbing over the cracked slate roof. 

But I clearly "saw" who lived there. Raleigh Harmon. Her mentally ill mother. The black dog. Back then, Raleigh struck me as so strong and capable that she was unlikely to change. 

I know God gave me Raleigh Harmon to write about, and I also know He's laughing now. Because I was so wrong about her.

Q: What sort of books do you read for fun?

For fun, I always come back to mysteries. It's in my DNA. I grew up in Alaska without a television and my dad was a judge. Instead of hiring babysitters, he had me sit in his courtroom. A significant part of my childhood was spent listening to cops, thieves, swindlers, wife beaters, child molesters, and lawyers. Today somebody would probably call Child Protective Services but it was a fantastic education. Even better, my grandmother sometimes came with me. It was quite the contrast. She was one of those elderly women with perfect posture and perfect diction who attended daily Mass. But she also liked to discuss motive and means, and she was extremely well-read. She layered all that courtroom experience with Dickens and Dostoyevsky and Chekhov.           

Given that background, is it really any wonder I'm into crime fiction?

Q: What writer or book most inspired you?

That's so difficult to pinpoint. I really believe some kids are marked to become writers. And certain books almost whisper their name. It makes you want to grow up and write as well as those authors. For me it was books like The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken and the Narnia collection by C.S. Lewis. Later came the great mysteries by Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald and John D. MacDonald.

But what keeps me inspired is the Bible. And you know, whenever I say that, some people gag or groan. They feel a need to distinguish themselves, maybe they want us to believe they're too intelligent for scripture. But those 66 books are sheer poetry, and they cover the most crucial questions. What's life all about? Who is God? Why are we here and what's the plan -- for individuals and for humanity? 

Those questions inspire me to keep me writing. Those questions matter.

Q: Did you have an easy time finding an agent and publisher?

No. And yes.

A friend sent the manuscript for my first book, The Stones Cry Out, to her agent. This was a great agent, among the best in New York City.

But we didn't see eye-to-eye.

First of all, she couldn't believe a forensic geologist would question evolution. Secondly, she wanted me to change Raleigh Harmon from a Christian into an alcoholic. I guess she saw them as equal handicaps, except being a drunk was somehow better marketing.

I wrote her back, thanking her for her time, then politely advised her to get out of New York City. 

My writer friends were horrified. That reply was the kiss of death, they said, the agent knew better than I did.

But another writer gave me the name of her agent. Several months later he sold that same manuscript to Revell, and the following year The Stones Cry Out won the Christy for best first novel. 

Which means, five books later, I'm still right about Raleigh Harmon.
Q: So you don't think there's a problem with a scientist who's also a believer?

No. In fact, I can't understand how anyone, especially a scientist, could believe in evolution. It's scientifically impossible. For evolution to work—for random chance to be the operating system—we would see tornadoes blasting through junk yards and leaving behind F-15 fighter jets.

But that's not how what we see.

We live in a highly designed world. Check out one tree—just one—from its root system to its leaf veins. In mathematical terms alone, random chance can't create that sort of engineering. Meanwhile, we have scripture telling us, the heavens declare His glory. That's an invitation. God wants us to explore all these mysteries of nature. I think atheists and Christians make the same mistake, seeing the world as binary. As either-or.

The world is both. God and science.

That's why Raleigh Harmon is a geologist and a believer. She knows who created the universe, and she looks to science for the means and methods.

Q: So what's next for Raleigh Harmon?

I'm writing two new series.

One picks up where this book leaves off. As readers will discover, she has a whole new life after The Stars Shine Bright.

The other series is a prequel. Her life before she became a forensic geologist, before she joins the FBI, before her father dies.

I'm thrilled with both series, and I hope readers will be too.

Visit Sibella Giorello online at, Facebook or Twitter

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Join Austin Gutwein for a webcast and enter the Get and Give contest

Click here to RSVP!
Scroll down to find out how you can win a Kindle Fire
and $250 donated to your favorite charity!

An interview with Austin Gutwein,
Author of Live to Give

Austin Gutwein has a message to share with his fellow teens: God made each of you unique so that He can use you for a special purpose. In his book “Live to Give: Letting God Turn Your Talents into Miracles, Gutwein challenges that regardless of age and talent, God can use you to make a difference. Though He could do it all Himself, God created humankind with a mission: to take care of His creation.

Q: You start off Live to Give talking about how God does not need us, but He wants to use us to help others and take care of His creations. It’s a profound thought. How did you come to this realization?

To be honest, just reading about the creation of the world in Genesis made me realize just how incredible God is. God is so amazingly powerful, and the Bible shows us this many times. It just hit me one day while reading through the Bible, God doesn't need me, or any of us for that matter, but He wants to use us. Sure God could solve all the world’s problems without having to think about it, but each of us were created for a purpose. We are made in the image of a perfect God and when we use what God has given us to make a difference, incredible things happen.

Q: What are some of the ways that God used young people in the Bible?

God has been in the business of using young people for a while. For instance, the great King David was just a "shepherd boy" when God used Him to slay a giant with a rock. What modern day "giants" does God have for us? 

Q: How do we figure out what our unique gift is? Can we always turn it into a talent for God?

It's simple. What has God made us good at? Or even if we aren't necessarily good at it, what do we enjoy? There are so many ways to turn our gifts into a work for God. There are always people that can be helped by your unique gifts. What are some examples? Say you are great at math—there are some people who could use a tutor. If you are good at creating art, there is a retirement home in your town that would love some artwork to display. Maybe you are good at music: the world is always looking for people to help others worship God with music. Even if you are good at jumping on a pogo stick, I am sure you have a neighbor down the street who would love a good role model to teach him/her. Whatever it is God has gifted you with, use it for it Him.

Q: You encourage kids to embrace their uniqueness – inside and outside. Why is that such an important part of being able to Live to Give?

We have all heard the phrase "cookie cutters" and the truth is, we aren't all the same. It is a great thing! I wouldn't love cookies if they all looked, tasted, and smelled the exact same. We all have many gifts and talents that are unique to us. That is what makes you, you! When we embrace it, we can do so much for God because we are happy with what God gave us.

Q: Explain the lunchbox analogy that you use in the book. How can adults, as parents, teachers, youth workers help kids and teens find what’s in their lunchbox?

The lunch box analogy is from John 6 with the feeding of the 5000. We are told of a boy who is pulled from the crowd by Andrew, and Jesus uses this boy's meal to feed the entire crowd. The miracle happens because this boy is just willing to let God use what he has. I believe the analogy applies to the gifts and talents that God has given us in our "lunch." When we are willing to let God use that lunch, miracles can and will happen!

Adults can help students find what is in their lunch by asking thought provoking questions and pointing out the gifts they have. The best way anyone can help is encouragement. Encouraging the youth to just do something, anything, to make a difference!

Q: What inspired you to start Hoops of Hope? How old were you at the time?

In the spring of 2004, when I was 9 years old, I watched a video that showed children who had lost their parents to AIDS. After watching the video, I realized these kids weren’t any different from me except that they were suffering. I felt God calling me to do something to help them.

I decided to shoot free throws, and on World AIDS Day, 2004, I shot 2,057 free throws to represent the 2,057 kids who would be orphaned during my day at school. Friends and family sponsored me, and I was able to raise almost $3,000. That year, the money was used to provide hope to 8 orphan children.

Q: For those who may not be familiar with your ministry, can you tell us about Hoops of Hope and some of the projects you’ve been able to accomplish over the past 8 years?

Hoops of Hope is the biggest basketball shoot-a-thon in the world, much like a walk-a-thon, but more fun! You can join thousands of participants and teams from around the world that shoot free throws for children in need. Every dollar raised will go directly to the project you select to help these children. Every free throw will literally help keep children from becoming orphans.

Over the past eight years, Hoops of Hope has turned into the largest free throw marathon in the world with an estimated 40,000 people in more than 25 countries participating. By doing something as simple as shooting free throws, Hoops of Hope participants have raised close to $3 million. The efforts have led to the construction of the only high school in a rural region in Southern Zambia, four dormitories, two medical clinics, a computer laboratory, multiple water projects as well as the funding of a dormitory at an orphanage in Kenya and a school in India.

Q: Where are some of the places you have been able to visit and help out firsthand?

I have had the chance to travel firsthand to Zambia, Africa five times now. Each time I am blown away by the realization that something as simple as basketball is literally saving lives half way across the world.

Q: Have other kids/teens contacted you with their stories of making a difference? Is there one that really stood out to you?

Yes, many students have shared their stories with me. I love getting the chance to hear the message of Live to Give actually lived out in people lives. One story I love sharing is about a girl who decided to use her gift of knitting to knit 20 blankets. Those 20 blankets are now in Zambia providing warmth to new babies and their mothers. Because she used her gift, people have warmth. That is the true message, using what you have in your lunch to show God's love to the world. 

Live to Give: Letting God Turn Your Talents into Miracles by Austin Gutwein
(Thomas Nelson/August 7, 2012/208 pages/ISBN 978-1400319930)

Learn more about Austin and Hoops of Hope at

Enter Austin's "Get and Give" Giveaway - you could win a Kindle Fire for yourself AND Litfuse will donate $250 to the charity of your choice!

One winner will receive:
  • A Brand New Kindle Fire with Wi-Fi
  • Five copies of Live to Give by Austin Gutwein
  • $250 donated on the winner’s behalf to the charity of their choice
Hurry, the giveaway ends on 9/5/12. The winner will be announced on 9/6/12 during the webcast.

Just click one of the icons below to enter. Tell your friends about Austin's giveaway on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Win an eReader in Suzanne Woods Fisher's The Haven giveaway!

Celebrate the newest book in the Stoney Ridge Seasons series with Suzanne by entering Suzanne Woods Fisher's 4 eReader Giveaway. Also RSVP for the Live Facebook Party and Video Chat on 8/30! 

Four grand prize winners will receive:
  • A Brand new Kindle Fire or Nook Color 
  • $25 or Gift certificate 
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 29th. Winner will be announced at Suzanne's Live Author Chat Party on 8/30. Suzanne will be hosting an author chat (party will start on Facebook AND then be Live from her website) and giving away books, gift certificates and several Burt's Bees® Nourishing Radiance Kits!!

So grab your copy of The Haven and join Suzanne on the evening of the August 30th for a fun chat (both on Facebook and via Live Video), trivia contest and lots of giveaways. 

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 30th!  

About the Book: 

When Sadie Lapp steps off the bus in Stoney Ridge after being in Ohio for the winter, she is faced with a decision–one that goes against her very essence. Yet it’s the only way she can think of to protect a loved one.

Schoolteacher Gideon Smucker has been crazy about Sadie since boyhood. But his response to her surprising decision undermines his own reputation–and his relationship with Sadie.

College student Will Stoltz is spending the spring at the Lapp farm as a guard for a pair of nesting Peregrine Falcons–courtesy of the Lancaster County Game Warden. Will needs to get his life back on track, but his growing friendship with Sadie threatens his plans.

The lives of these three individuals intertwine, and then unravel as unexpected twists create ripples through the town of Stoney Ridge . . . and through Sadie’s heart.

Once again, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher intrigues and delights with a story that explores the bonds of friendship, family, and true love. Readers will enjoy every surprise in Sadie’s story as they search for the truth hidden within these pages.

Read an excerpt!  

Meet Suzanne: 

Suzanne Woods Fisher’s interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world. In both her fiction and non-fiction books, she has an underlying theme: You don’t have to “go Amish” to incorporate many of their principles–simplicity, living with less, appreciating nature, forgiving others more readily– into your life.

When Suzanne isn’t writing or bragging to her friends about her first new grandbaby (!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

To Suzanne’s way of thinking, you just can’t take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone’s underwear in its mouth. Suzanne can be found on-line at:

Click here to buy the book!

Check out reviews of The Haven!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The kids' last video of 5th grade

In this last video as 5th graders, the kids share what they've learned this year, a recap of the class rules, and what they are looking forward to in Junior High.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Their last day as 5th graders

Today marked the last Sunday for my 5th graders before promotion to Jr. High. They start school tomorrow. And yet, they randomly spouted this song this morning singing the opposite parts. I turned the video on, and a couple of the boys that had been singing the Ruth part refused to do it for the camera.

I was so entertained. Really, I was. Seriously.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A sad realization

I'm just trying to prepare you. Tomorrow morning marks the last Sunday before the 5th graders promote up. It will be the last video I do with them.

And since I am going to take a break from teaching on Sunday mornings, it will be the last Bible class video for a while.

I'll leave you with that and we'll take a moment of silence.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sometimes you have to just do it yourself!

I think it was last Thursday. It was some day last week. Actually, it was last Friday. Anyway, I called my dad and both he and Paige answered at once. I told them that I could do a free scrapbook on Shutterfly if they would find pictures of my mom so that I could put it together for her birthday.

I'll say right now, this is the only thing Klout is good for. Ok, two things. It got me hooked on Lipton Tea with Honey (is that good) and it got me a free scrapbook on Shutterfly that I might have could have gotten some other way.

A couple of years ago, I had done one of these for my Dad when he had a special birthday. I knew it wasn't going to be big enough or have enough pages for my Seattle trip.

His first response was, "I don't know where to look."

"Why don't you start with that whole closet down the hall full of photo albums?"

Dad, Paige and Peyton started on the project. Then I told Dad more of what I needed. Across her entire life. Pictures of her with people. Go!

I've revised my list, told him again, got a few off the wall pictures of pictures of sunflowers and photos of headstones in a cemetery (because she is obsessed with ancestry and dead relatives?).

He decided it was easy to just attach pictures instead of scan them. Pictures I already had mind you since they were digital and either on my computer or uploaded on Shutterfly already.

Every couple of days I would revise the list of what he still needed to send by phone or email.

And I would be careful not to email at times I wasn't certain he would be playing Spider solitaire on the computer so Mom wouldn't see my requests.

Finally, I just show up at his house yesterday morning and dig myself. Finding what I was looking for (with the exception of 1 or 2 pictures) and had him scan while I was there.

Really? You can't look through and find while your home all day? That's what I wanted to ask.

Last night I was fervently trying to get it all uploaded and done so there would be a snowball's chance of getting the book back by next Saturday. I couldn't find one of the things he scanned and called. Evidently, he couldn't come up with some reason to kick Mom out of the computer room so that she wouldn't see him email. (REALLY?) I kept telling him I needed the pictures PRONTO in order to get the book printed. They can't send it overnight if they don't have it produced.

I got it turned in last night and paid for overnight (once produced) with an estimated delivery of next Thursday instead of 2 day with an estimate of Friday. After all, you never know when my neighbors are going to park in front of the mailbox.

I did some special book evidently that cost $4.99 instead of free. But I had to pay $20 to get it here.

Oh, and the thing that really annoyed me is that every single picture in the book with the exception of one has my mom in it. On the last page, I had to throw in one without her. Evidently, my mother and sister-in-law Julie have never ever been photographed together. Or I didn't get a picture from my Grandmother's house one Christmas that was on someone else's camera. I dug and dug and dug and dug and dug. I figured that issue may be made if I had a "Robbie... This is Your Life" album that did not include her daughter-in-law.

I guess it was a good thing I thought of that, huh?

Next weekend, I'll post the book for you to look at. Otherwise, someone might mention it to my mother.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mary Connealy's "Over the Edge" Nook Color Giveaway

Enjoy the latest release in Mary Connealy's
The Kinkade Brides series:
Over the Edge

One winner will receive:
  • A Nook Color with GlowLight
  • The entire set of Mary Connealy's The Kincaid Brides series
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 28th. Winner will be announced at the "Over the Edge" Author Chat Facebook Party on 8/29. Meet Mary, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and more. There will also be gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack to be won (10 copies for your book club or small group.)!

So grab your copy of Over the Edge and join Mary on the evening of the August 29th for a chance to connect with her and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

About the Book:

Seth Kincaid survived a fire in a cave, but he's never been the same. He was always a reckless youth, but now he's gone over the edge. He ran off to the Civil War and came back crazier than ever.

After the war, nearly dead from his injuries, it appears Seth got married. Oh, he's got a lot of excuses, but his wife isn't happy to find out Seth doesn't remember her. Callie has searched, prayed, and worried. Now she's come to the Kincaid family's ranch in Colorado to find her lost husband.

Callie isn't a long-suffering woman. Once she knows her husband is alive, she wants to kill him. She's not even close to forgiving him for abandoning her.

Then more trouble shows up in the form of a secret Seth's pa kept for years. The Kincaid brothers might lose their ranch if they can't sort things out. It's enough to drive a man insane--but somehow it's all making Seth see things more clearly. And now that he knows what he wants, no one better stand in his way.

Meet Mary: 

Mary Connealy writes fun and lively "romantic comedy with cowboys" for the inspirational market. She is the author of the successful Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, and Sophie's Daughters series, and her novel Calico Canyon was nominated for a Christy Award. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her husband, Ivan, and has four grown daughters.

Visit her on her Web site

Check out the reviews from the Over the Edge Blog Tour!

Click here to buy the book!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Aftermath of Grief

Tonight I'm just keeping you up to date with another new book available, this time, Aftermath by Margaret McSweeney.

About the Book: 

Growing in Grace Through Grief

Loss is a four-letter word that grips our hearts and gridlocks our lives. Grief can hold us captive until we surrender it to God. How do we find the necessary grace to journey through the mourning process?

Juxtaposed to the outpouring of her mother’s words about grief, the author shares her parallel journey from the emotional abyss of grief after becoming an adult orphan. With candor, the author shares her own emotions experienced along the spectrum of loss after her parents’ deaths: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—adding interactive options for readers.

Five sections cover these common emotions and provide:

• comfort Scripture lists

• counsel sections from grief experts

• chronicling sections with detailed helps

• tangible handles on dealing with grief during holidays, capturing loved ones’ legacy, and more. 

About Margaret: 

Margaret McSweeney is a well-published author often writing online articles for Make It Better (the former North Shore Magazine) and freelance articles for the Daily Herald, the largest suburban Chicago newspaper. In addition, she has authored and compiled several books including A Mother’s Heart Knows; Go Back and Be Happy; Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace and most recently, Mother of Pearl.

Margaret has a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina in international business. As is the founder of Pearl Girls, Margaret collaborates with other writers on projects to help fund a safe house for WINGS, an organization that helps women and their children who are victims of domestic violence, and to build wells for schoolchildren in Uganda through Hands of Hope. For the past 10 years she has served on the board of directors and leadership advisory board for WINGS. Margaret lives with her husband and 2 daughters in the Chicago suburbs. Learn more about Margaret and the work of Pearl Girls at

Check out the blog tour to read the reviews!

Click here to buy the book!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Stars Shine Bright Kindle Fire Giveaway!

This is the latest book I have finished. Loved. Loved. Loved. Now, I have to go back and read all of Sibella Giorello's previous books. 

Win a Kindle Fire from @SibellaGiorello in
The Stars Shine Bright Giveaway! 

Novelist Sibella Giorello is celebrating the release of the latest book in her praiseworthy Raleigh Harmon series by giving away a Kindle Fire! 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • The entire 5-book Raleigh Harmon series.
Hurry, the giveaway ends on 8/25/12. The winner will be announced on 8/27/12 on Sibella's blog!

Just click one of the icons below to enter. Tell your friends about Sibella's giveaway on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

About the Contest:

You will be receiving an additional e-mail on Saturday morning (8/4) with the HTML code attached that has more information about the Kindle Fire giveaway. Please use it in your post or on a separate day. Simply copy and paste the code into the html screen of your blog. If you have a scheduled date that is near the end of the tour, please consider posting twice, once earlier in the month about the contest, and then again later in the month with your review.  
More about the book:
After the FBI suspends her for bending its rules, Special Agent Raleigh Harmon is looking for a chance to redeem her career and re-start her life.

Sent undercover to a thoroughbred horse track, Raleigh takes on a double life to find out who’s fixing the races. But when horses start dying and then her own life is threatened, Raleigh realizes something bigger—and more sinister—is ruining Emerald Meadows.

She’s never felt more alone.

Her one contact with the FBI is Special Agent Jack Stephanson, a guy who seems to jump from antagonistic to genuine friend depending on the time of day. And she can’t turn to her family for support. They’re off-limits while she’s undercover, and her mother isn’t speaking to her anyway, having been confined to a mental hospital following a psychotic breakdown. Adding insult to her isolation, Raleigh’s fiancĂ© wants them to begin their life together—now—precisely when she’s been ordered not to be herself.

With just days left before the season ends, Raleigh races to stop the killing and find out who’s behind the track’s trouble, all the while trying to determine if Jack is friend or foe, and whether marrying her fiancĂ© will make things better—or worse.

Raleigh is walking through the darkest night she’s faced, searching for a place where the stars shine bright.

Meet Sibella Giorello:

Sibella Giorello grew up in the mountains of Alaska admiring the beauty and nature that surrounded her. She majored in geology at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts hoping to learn more about the landscape she loved back home. From there Sibella followed a winding path, much like the motorcycle ride she took across the country, which led to her true love, journalism. 

She found herself in Seattle writing for rock-n-roll magazine and earned a journalism degree from the University of Washington before heading south to the land of great stories.

In Virginia, Sibella became a features writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. It was there she also met her husband and would hear Jesus whispering her name at a tent revival.

Sibella started writing about Raleigh Harmon as a way to keep her love of story-telling alive while staying at home with her young sons. As a journalist and author, her stories have won state and national awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. The Stones Cry Out, the first Raleigh Harmon novel, won a Christy award for debut novel in 2008. Sibella now lives in Washington state with her husband and sons.

Visit Sibella Giorello online at, Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Choice - You could win a Nook Color!

Click here to enter!
If you've read my blog before, you've read a few reviews of books by Robert Whitlow. You've also heard me say before that I don't ask for a lot of books because I don't have time to commit to reviews on a schedule. And part of the books I read I don't post reviews of because I forget or get busy or whatever. 

And you should also look at my office. I mean my library. And now I have a Kindle (as of this week!) and am quickly accumulating free books on it that I've gotten off of the Inspired Reads website. (Check out Inspired Reads and Vessel Project for free e-books without "must review" strings.) Based on all our blog tours right now, you'll be getting plenty of posts on new books and CONTESTS in the next couple of weeks. There are a lot of new books hitting shelves if you are looking for some great recommendations.

Here I am rambling on to say that I set a reminder on my computer to pop up on the morning Book Sneeze was offering The Choice so I could get a copy. I was going to to make time to review this one! So, I requested it, then went off on vacation. When I met Amy (the Litfuse Lead Hen) in Seattle, we were talking about books and requesting books and why we don't request books because we have a lot of publicity projects going on right now and blog tours. I told her this was the one book I had requested in a while.

She told me, "oh, we just got that book for a blog tour." Before I got back home, I had a second copy headed my way. This is one book that I have to keep, and have another copy to pass around. Let me start my review this way:


My mom has already read it, she's passed it on to a friend who zoomed through it, then has given it to a third person.

Years ago, I picked up one of Robert's books because the company I was working with had done a radio show on the book, but we didn't work with the author. This is actually the first time I've worked with him, and the other day, I emailed about something and told him that The Choice was my favorite of his books. He replies back:

"Did you cry?"

"Almost. I admit to having tears in my eyes. I gave the book to my mom (because I'm her own personal library) and she was crying so hard she had a hard time finishing it."

"I like your mom."

I told my mom about this exchange, and she was tickled to death. She told Ruth Ann. Ruth Ann read 100 pages one day, got up the next morning and didn't stop until she finished (300+ pages). And Ruth Ann cried. When she gave the book to the next person in line, Mom told her she had to cry to enjoy it.

It's that kind of book. But in a good way.

One of the things that makes this book different than the rest of Robert's books is that instead of the main character being a lawyer, she needs one. But that comes later in the story. (That's not a spoiler because all Whitlow books work the attorney part in there somewhere - after all he's one himself!)

The Choice tells the story of Sandy, a high school senior who finds out she's pregnant. It's 1974, in the time when Roe vs. Wade was just being decided and teen pregnancy was the scandal that it probably should be instead of the spectacle MTV has glorified it to be. But now, she has a choice. And readers agonize right along with Sandy as her life is turned upside down, and is ultimately on her own as she faces the biggest decision of her young life. Sandy has family, but it really is her choice to make, and she really is alone in having to decide.

Fast forward 30 years--Sandy's choice shaped her life in a lot of ways. And the pain is still front and center when one of the students at the school she teaches comes to her. Sandy tries to help the young pregnant girl as best she can given the restrictions she has as a teacher. And let me tell you, part of those limitations and how her hands are tied will infuriate you.

In comes Sandy's need for a lawyer. As Sandy helps Maria, she is faced with the choice she made long ago in ways she never imagined. As you read, you'll find yourself going through all the same emotions that Sandy is right along with her.

And if you can make it to the end without tears in your eyes, you just may not have a heart.

About the Book: 

One young woman. Two very different roads. The choice will change everything.

Even as a pregnant, unwed teen in 1974, Sandy Lincoln wanted to do the right thing. But when an ageless woman approached her in a convenience store with a mysterious prophecy and a warning, doing the right thing became even more unclear. She made the best choice she could . . . and has lived with the consequences.

More than thirty years later, a pregnant teen has come into her life, and Sandy’s long-ago decision has come back to haunt her. The stakes rise quickly, leaving Sandy with split seconds to choose once more. But will her choice decision bring life . . . or death?

Meet Robert: 

Robert Whitlow is the best-selling author of legal novels set in the South and winner of the prestigious Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction. A Furman University graduate, Whitlow received his J.D. with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law where he served on the staff of the Georgia Law Review. A practicing attorney, Whitlow and his wife, Kathy, have four children. They make their home in North Carolina.  

For more about Robert and his other books, visit

Win a Nook Color from Robert Whitlow in The Choice Giveaway. RSVP for 8/28 Facebook Party. Celebrate with Robert by entering to win a Nook Color with GlowLight!

One "choice" winner will receive:
  • A Nook Color with GlowLight
  • A four book Robert Whitlow library (winner's choice)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 27th. Winner will be announced at the "The Choice" Author Chat Facebook Party on 8/28. Meet Robert, get a sneak peek of his next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and more. There will also be gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack to be won (10 copies for your book club or small group.)!

So grab your copy of The Choice and join Robert on the evening of the August 27th for a chance to connect with Robert and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 28th!

For more reviews, keep up with The Choice blog tour here!

I received this book from Book Sneeze in exchange for a review. The book is also one of the books we are promoting at Litfuse Publicity Group.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

There's something about Ruth

To follow-up on last night's post about Daniel, here is our special presentation about Ruth. I assigned everyone a character and made them act out the book of Ruth. Except the laying at Boaz's feet part. They kind of refused.

I narrated from The Gospel Story Bible by Marty Machowki (New Growth Press).

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Daniel was a mighty man?

At church the kids sometimes sing this song:

I want to be like Daniel.
I want to be like Ruth.
I want to be like Daniel.
I want to be like Ruth.
For Ruth was so, so sweet and kind.
And Daniel was a mighty man. 
I want to be like Daniel.
I want to be like Ruth.

This song is not among my favorites because:

A) We sing it too often and need variety.

B) I hate the voices Sam uses to sing it. (Sorry Sam) It makes Ruth sound sissy and really, what's the need for that deep "mighty man" thing? And the muscle thing?

C) As Rachel and I discussed, the point of Ruth's story is not that she was sweet and kind - she was loyal and chose to follow God. And while Daniel was mighty spiritually, the point of learning about Daniel is about his faithfulness. 

The two of us are also very troubled by the lack of basic Bible knowledge that the the kids who are there every Sunday have about the major figures in the Bible. Or they have their stories completely crossed. 

One of the girls said last week that she didn't like the above story because she did not want to be like Ruth and that she didn't get the song because she didn't know who Ruth was. 

I decided last night to go off trail of our regular material and do a refresher of Daniel and Ruth. I could have done all in one class, but the girl who made the comment was not in class this morning, so I'll save that for next week. 

So, here's what was learned this morning about Daniel. It's in two parts because I had the small chip in my camera this week and had to switch out to a spare that was in my purse. Same thing happened during VBS except I ended up using my phone again.