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Sins of the Past – a Novella Collection

  Sins of the Past, a romantic suspense novella collection by Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey and Lynette Eason Sins of the Past

Novellas vary, in length and in quality.  In a full-length novel, the author has more time to develop the plot and characters. The novella has to contain all of the story elements in a more compact package. It’s not an easy job – harder, in some ways, than writing a long book. The author has to develop a complete plot, create well-developed characters and (usually) write a believable romance  in a much shorter form. Novellas come in different sizes, usually between 25,000 and 45,000 words. Multi-author novella collections are popular, especially at Christmastime. They can be inexpensive and fun introduction to new authors.

This novella collection from three distinguished writers of romantic suspense, was published one year ago, and I have already listened to it twice. Obviously, I liked it! All three of the authors are on my “read everything list.”

Missing - a novella by Dee HendersonMissing

Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series is one of the most popular and enduring family sagas in its genre. I’ve read them all at least twice, so I had high expectations for her contribution to this collection, Missing. I was disappointed. As I considered it later, I decided that her full-length books are paced in a more leisurely style, developing gradually over a long period of time. She couldn’t do that in a short novella, so the characters had no depth. The romance didn’t make sense. I liked the plot, but unlike traditional mysteries, the ending was based on something totally unknown to the reader. I will still continue to read everything else she writes, of course, because I love her work!

Shadowed - a novella by Dani PettreyShadowed

I have been an enthusiastic Dani Pettrey fan since I found her first book, Submerged, shortly after it was released. It’s still one of my favorite books, and I’ve read everything she’s written since then – usually in audiobook form. Her novella, Shadowed, is by far the best of this collection. It reads like a full-length book, a complex and worthy addition to the Alaskan Courage series. It was set in the 1970’s – a fun and unusual time period we don’t see much of in current books. I enjoyed the “retro” cultural references. Shadowed has terrific characters, plot, setting… and bonus points for continuing the alliteration.

Blackout - a novella by Lynette EasonBlackout

I have only recently started reading Lynette Eason, but I’ve enjoyed the books I’ve read so far. Blackout was a little confusing sometimes, with many characters, but still very good. It moved quickly, with intense action, and I liked the base and progression of the romantic relationship.

Each of the novellas is now available separately, but the Sins of the Past collection is a bargain – and you can pick up the audio version for just a few dollars more!

What do you think?

What has been your experience with novellas?  Have you read many of them? What, in your opinion, makes a novella a good book?

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ACFW Christian Fiction New Releases June 2017

June 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these ACFW Christian fiction books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Engaged by Julie Arduini

Engaged by Julie Arduini — Trish Maxwell returns to Speculator Falls with egg on her face and apologies to make as she tries to determine what’s next, especially when around paramedic Wayne Peterson. (Contemporary Romance from Surrendered Scribe Media)

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter
Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter — When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down. But when Josephine drives out to Noah’s North Georgia cottage to deliver the corrected papers, they are trapped there during a snowstorm. Things couldn’t get worse…until they are forced out into the storm and must rely on one another to survive. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Zondervan])

Then There Was You by Kara Isaac

Then There Was You by Kara Isaac — Would you give up everything for a life you hate with the person you love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


An Encore for Estelle by Kimberly Rose Johnson — A former A-list actress seeks to redeem herself in the most unlikely of places—a children’s theater. The writer/director didn’t anticipate a famous actress would ever show interest in his musical much less him. Will their pasts pull them apart or join them together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

The Cowboy’s Baby Blessing by Deb Kastner — When Ex-soldier Seth Howell suddenly becomes guardian of a two-year-old, he needs Rachel Perez’s help. Though she is gun-shy about relationships, this handsome cowboy and his adorable son break through. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Finding Love by Toni Shiloh — Delaney Jones is putting her life back together after widowhood when in walks Army soldier, Luke Robinson. Luke had a part in the death of Delaney’s husband–will his secrets widen the gulf in their relationship or will he finally find absolution? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)

Cozy Mystery:

The Copper Box by Suzanne Bratcher — When antiques expert Marty Greenlaw comes to Jerome, Arizona to search for a copper box she believes will unlock the secrets of her past, deadly accidents begin to happen: someone else wants the copper box, someone willing to kill for it. (Cozy Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)

General Contemporary:

Coming Home – A Tiny House Collection by Yvonne Anderson, Michael Ehret, Kimberli S. McKay, Pamela S. Meyers, Ane Mulligan, Chandra Lynn Smith, Linda W. Yezak — Tiny houses are all the rage these days, but what can you do with something so small? Here are seven stories about people chasing their dreams, making fresh starts, finding love, stumbling upon forgiveness, and embarking upon new adventures in tiny houses. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)


Katie’s Quest by Lee Carver — Katie Dennis hopes for fulfillment as a single missionary nurse after the death of her fiancé. She trusts God for a new direction, but she’ll never fall for a pilot again. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:


A Sweetwater River Romance by Misty M. Beller — Rocky Ridge Stage Stop Manager Ezra Reid is put in a difficult situation when two ladies show up on his remote doorstep seeking refuge, one of them being Tori Boyd, the mysterious correspondence partner writing him letters for over a year now. Tori refuses the most proper solution to their circumstance—marriage. But when danger follows, it will take a lot more than luck to ensure Ezra’s heart is the sole casualty. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin — In German-occupied Brussels, a WWI nurse struggles to keep two life-threatening secrets. She’s in league with the British Secret Service, and she’s harboring a wounded British pilot. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])


Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands Romance Collection by Susan Page Davis, Susanne Dietze, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Gina Welborn — Meet seven of Turtle Springs, Kansas’, finest women who are determined to revive their small town after the War Between the States took most of its men. . .and didn’t return them. The ladies decide to advertise for husbands and devise a plan for weeding out the riff raff. But how can they make the best practical choices when their hearts cry out to be loved? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere — When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage. A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Grounded Hearts by Jeanne M. Dickson — Set in WWII, an Irish woman must choose between her heart and her freedom when she finds a downed combatant pilot. (Historical Romance from Waterfall Press)

Mail Order Sweetheart by Christine Johnson — Singer Fiona O’Keefe must make a wealthy match to support her orphaned niece. Musically talented Sawyer Evans is a self-made, but not wealthy, sawmill-manager. Unwilling to live off his father’s railroad fortune, can Sawyer prove to Fiona he’s the man she needs when she’s already determined to mail-order a rich husband? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson — On a quest to find her mother’s family in Louisiana, Englishwoman Catherine Haynes enlists a dashing Key West man seeking revenge for his own family. When an incredible secret comes to light, she and Tom will face a choice. Can they relinquish their dreams to step forward in faith? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Sutter’s Landing by Betty Thomason Owens — Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep. (Historical Romance from Write Integrity Press)

Romantic Suspense:

Hidden Legacy by Lynn Huggins Blackburn — When someone threatens the baby she’s adopting, Caroline Harrison must rely on Detective Jason Drake, the man who once broke her heart, to figure out why. If Jason wants a chance at a future with with Caroline and her son, he’ll first have to help them outrun a hit man. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Weaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll — Pitted against each other to recover a map to the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, two recovery specialists follow the trail to Arizona. But someone doesn’t want them to find the map. . .or the mine. They must work together despite their mistrust and growing attraction, to save themselves. (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing)

Speculative:

The Revisionary by Kristen Hogrefe — Revisionary or Rogue? To rescue her brother, Portia might have to break every rule in the book she set out to rewrite. (Speculative from Write Integrity Press)

Women’s Contemporary:

Redemption’s Whisper by Kathleen Friesen — Desperate to escape her past, a suicidal young woman flies from Toronto to a Saskatoon pastor’s home, the only people who may be able to help her. If only someone could love her, in spite of all she’s done. On the flight, she meets a young man torn between seeking affirmation in the big city and helping his parents in Saskatoon. Can these two troubled souls gain the peace they need—and in the process, find love? (Women’s Contemporary from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

Young Adult:

 

 

All Things Now Living by Rondi Bauer Olson — Her whole life Amy has been taught the people of New Lithisle deserve to die, but when she falls for Daniel, she determines to save him. (Young Adult from Written World Communications)

 

Do you enjoy ACFW Christian Fiction? See more recent releases HERE!

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Only Cars and Convicts have Numbers. My Grandchildren have Names.

Only Cars and Convicts have Numbers - My Grandchildren have NamesWhen my boys were young and wild, each of them requiring 100% of my full and undivided attention, I told them I expected six grandchildren from each of them someday. At least half had to be girls. After all, the granddaughters would be perfectly well-behaved little angels, right? And the boys would be payback.

In due time, they grew to be handsome and charming, married lovely girls and started producing babies. And shortly thereafter, each informed me that they would not be having six children. Imagine that. (snicker)

A Story Problem

We have quite a few friends in large families, and sometimes it ‘s easy to identify them by number or position in the family. “What is the name of the third Smith girl?” “Can you believe that woman is having her tenth baby?” “That youngest Jones boy is quite a handful.” “My oldest son is off to college in the fall.” Emma Schenstrom, in my book Baggage Claim, enjoys referring to her numerous offspring like that. It’s a family joke, and no one takes it personally. They’re all happy and well-adjusted. So I did the math – a story problem – for our own growing family:

We started with one granddaughter from our oldest son and his wife, and then the second son and his wife had a girl. Two perfect, precious granddaughters! Son #1 presented us with two grandsons, and then Son #2 and his wife had their first boy – Grandson #3. We had five grandchildren!  Sons (and daughters-in-law) #2 and #3 both announced pregnancies last fall. Grandson #4, the first child of Son #3, was born a few weeks ago, and we are in daily expectation of the arrival of Granddaughter #3. Seven grandchildren. We may get two or three more, but they are definitely falling short of the eighteen I requested.
You don’t need to figure all of that out. It was just silliness. But recently, I was struck by a comment from my youngest daughter-in-law’s mother. We were talking about the new baby, and she said something to the effect that she was very (more) excited because this was their first grandchild and I already had a lot of them. She didn’t mean anything negative – she was just very excited – but it bothered me.

 

Go Pack Go - Cathe SwansonNot a Pack

I don’t think of my grandchildren as a herd. They have names, not numbers, and each of them knows that Grandpa and Grandma loves them individually. This new little fellow stirred as much excitement in us as the first one did, and we are in a state of happy anticipation of our new granddaughter’s arrival.

When asked (or whenever I can work it into a conversation unsolicited), it’s usually easiest to say, “I have seven grandchildren.” The number gives me a prideful thrill, as if I’d accomplished it myself. In a way, that number – each of their positions within the family – is meaningful. It’s like a church. Our local body of believers is a church family. We are individually given various spiritual gifts, to build each other up, and they are all necessary for the functioning of the church. Likewise, we are all parts of the body of which Christ is the head. Grandson #2 may be a foot, and Granddaughter #3 may be an eye, but they are both equally important. That’s what a family is.

We are not numbers. God numbered the sparrows and the hairs on our head, but He knows us by name. In the Book of Life, you will find my name, not an account number.

That’s how it is with my grandchildren. Each new baby is as fresh and exciting as the oldest, who is still as fresh and exciting as the day we welcomed her into our family.

(And no, I couldn’t resist using that picture.)

 

 

 

GrandchildrenGrandchildren – How do you do it?

Do you have grandchildren? How do you keep each of them special and individual while still bonding as a family – especially if you don’t live close together? It’s important to us, but we are finding it difficult to arrange visits with one child at a time. Schedules and transportation issues become complex. I love the “whole family” visits, but the one-on-one time is rare and precious.

How do you do it?

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Rhubarb Crisp – My One Weakness

Rhubarb Crisp Recipe from Cathe Swanson

First of all… Let’s get real. I have more than one weakness. I admit it – I am a multi-flawed individual. But this is a big one:  I love rhubarb crisp. At least once a year, during rhubarb season, I make as many pans of rhubarb crisp as possible and eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks until it is all gone. It’s good hot from the oven, or at room temperature or cold. I don’t need ice cream or whipped cream. It stands on its own merits. I love rhubarb crisp.

Rhubarb Plant at the Castle - Cathe Swanson - Rhubarb RecipeIt’s seasonal

Normally, I eat a fairly clean diet relatively low in carbs and high in protein. I eat weird things like coconut oil and apple cider vinegar (not together). All year long, I avoid cakes, candy and other sweets, but during rhubarb season, I eat enough sugar, fat and empty calories to make up for it. And I don’t feel guilty.

In the past, I was dependent on the kindness of my friends, so sometimes I could only make one batch a year, but there is an established supply of rhubarb here at the castle.

I’ve already moved most of my plants to the new house, but I want to use the rhubarb this spring, so I’ll come back here in the fall to dig it up and transplant it. Rhubarb is easy to grow and harvest, and YES, you can compost the leaves. You can find more information about rhubarb HERE. 

 

Rhubarb Crisp – the Recipe

My rhubarb crisp recipe came from my friend’s mother. LaVonne assured me it’s not a family secret. LaVonne doesn’t like rhubarb crisp. (That’s why we are such good friends. She doesn’t expect me to give her any of my rhubarb crisp.  Since I won’t be sharing mine, here’s how you can make your own rhubarb crisp.

Harvest rhubarb stalks, cut off the leaves, wash them and chop them into pieces – about 1/3” wide. You will need 3 quarts of chopped rhubarb.

Rhubarb Crisp Recipe - Cathe SwansonHeat the oven to 350*
Grease four 9” square or round cake pans. I use that old-fashioned, much-maligned, trans-fatty Crisco shortening for greasing pans. Butter will scorch.

Put into a large pot:
3 quarts chopped rhubarb
3 C. White sugar (I use 2 1/2 cups, to assuage the guilt)
3 C. Water
3 t. Vanilla
6 T. Cornstarch
Cook this until is it thick and syrupy.
While it is cooking, melt 1 1/2 C. (three sticks!) butter. Put it in a large bowl and stir by hand into crumbles:
3 C. Flour (I use half whole wheat and half unbleached)
2 1/2 C. Oats
1 1/2 C. Brown sugar (I usually use 1 1/4 cup.)
1 1/2 C. White sugar (I usually use one cup.)

Put half the crumbs in the greased pans. Pour the sauce over the crumbs and then put the rest of the crumbs on top. Bake for 40 minutes.

 

I hope you like this as much as I do!

Recipe for Rhubarb Crisp

What is your favorite food weakness?

(It doesn’t have to be a weakness, really. Maybe your very favorite food is green beans!)

 

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Celebrating Good Mothers-in-Law – by Heather Day Gilbert

I always like a family story, especially if it has a good mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship. My favorite woman in the Bible is Naomi. She is the ultimate mother-in-law role model. Ruth’s promise to her – “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.   Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. – indicates a rather staggering level of commitment. That is love.

When I read Heather Day Gilbert’s Miranda Warning, I found a new heroine in Nikki Jo Spencer, the mother-in-law of the main character. She’s amazing.  I want to BE Nikki Jo. She gets even better in Trial by Twelve! So when it was time to write about Mothers Day, I thought of Heather, and she kindly agreed to share her thoughts about mothers-in-law . Thanks, Heather!

 

Happy Mothers Day… Celebrating Good Mothers-in-Law

By Heather Day Gilbert

 

Yes, you read that title right. Despite popular opinion, some mothers-in-law are indeed good.

We’ve all heard the mother-in-law jokes that sometimes seem eerily accurate. The controlling MIL. The imperious MIL. The _________ MIL (add your own adjective).

But I also know that good mothers-in-law exist, because I HAVE one. And I constantly ask myself how I can be a good mother-in-law someday (yes, I think about things like this and I actually keep a list of things I want to do as a MIL and grandma, although given my lack of organizational skills, I might not stumble across that list before I’m dead).

As an author, it makes sense that I write both healthy and strained mother-in-law relationships. I thought about doing a rundown of all the MILs I’ve written (Thjodhild and Runa in God’s Daughter and Forest Child), Nikki Jo in Miranda Warning and Trial by Twelve, and Esther Sue McClure in Out of Circulation and the upcoming Undercut, but I decided to focus on Nikki Jo Spencer, because so far, she’s my favorite.

If you’ve read my books, you know I have no “perfect” characters. Each of my characters struggle with real-life issues, and mother-in-law Nikki Jo Spencer in A Murder in the Mountains series is no different. She has her foibles—she’s a bit of a gossip and she can be nosy—but she’s also solid gold when it comes to backing up her daughter-in-law Tess, no questions asked. She’s a superior cook and one of the wealthiest women in the small town of Buckneck, West Virginia, but you’d never know it by the way she treats everyone.

But I think the thing about Nikki Jo I’d like to emulate is this: she respects Tess and she loves her like her own.

That might look like bringing Tess a meal when she’s wiped out. That might look like letting Tess (a relentless sleuth) stay with her when a serial killer has discovered where she lives. Obviously the danger level is more dramatic in a mystery series than in real life, but I do think there’s something admirable about Nikki Jo and Tess’ relationship.

Nikki Jo’s personality isn’t the same as Tess’, which I think is often the case with MIL/DIL relationships. Nikki Jo is chipper and peppy. Tess is a realist and a risk-taker. But they have things they can learn from each other. Tess knows she carries the Spencer name now, and that means something special to her. She loves the family God allowed her to marry into.

I’m not saying MIL/DIL relationships are easy. I’m not saying they’re all ABLE to be as good as Nikki Jo and Tess Spencer’s. Sometimes boundaries have to be set, to maintain your own sanity (whether you’re a MIL or DIL). Not everyone is a Ruth and Naomi. And let’s face it—sometimes love looks like telling the truth in love so the air can be cleared.

But if you happen to have a loving mother-in-law like Tess Spencer does, be sure to tell her so this Mother’s Day. Let her know what a blessing her love is in your family’s lives. Celebrate this extra layer of love God has wrapped around you.

Miranda Warning by Heather Day Gilbert

Read more about Nikki Jo and Tess Spencer’s good in-law relationship in  in A Murder in the Mountains Mystery series.

LIMITED TIME OFFER:

Click HERE to get Miranda Warning FREE for Kindle. The audiobook is only $1.99. That’s a super deal for audiobooks! Be sure to pick it up soon, though, because this special offer ends on Memorial Day.

 

HEATHER DAY GILBERT

Heather Day Gilbert

HEATHER DAY GILBERT, a Grace Award winner and bestselling author, writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet, hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational story-telling runs in her blood. Heather writes Viking historicals and Appalachian mystery/suspense. Publisher’s Weekly gave Heather’s Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is “an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership.” Find out more on heatherdaygilbert.com.

 

 

 

 

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A Spring of Weddings – A Novella Collection

A Spring of Weddings

 

A Spring of Weddings by Toni Shiloh and Melissa Wardwell

Toni Shiloh and Melissa Wardwell have teamed up to create a delightful, romantic read. A Spring of Weddings is a pair of novellas with creative plots and interesting characters.

 

A Proxy Wedding by Toni Shiloh

Carly James values loyalty and friendship above all, so when her best friend calls asking her to be a proxy bride, she says, ‘yes.’ How hard can it be to say ‘I do’ so that her best friend can be with the one she loves? Only, Carly never counted on the feelings that began to swirl around with the proxy groom.

Damien Nichols likes life lined up from A to Z, but when his best friend calls in a favor, disorder begins to reign. Instead of taking a quick flight to the proxy wedding, he must take a road trip with the proxy bride. Carly’s free-spirit attitude bumps heads with his meticulous approach to life. As Damien discovers the woman underneath the carefree façade, his emotions become involved.

Will love become real at A Proxy Wedding?

 

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace of the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes soulfully romantic novels to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness. Before pursuing her dream as a writer, Toni served in the United States Air Force. It was there she met her husband. After countless moves, they ended up in Virginia, where they are raising their two boys. When she’s not typing in imagination land, Toni enjoys reading, playing video games, ​making jewelry, and spending time with ​her family.
Toni is a member of the American Christian ​Fiction Writers (
ACFW) as well as the ACFW Virginia ​Chapter.

 

 

 

Hope Beyond Savannah by Melissa Wardwell

 

Lily Allman and Nikotemo (Nik) Lagatuo were the poster children for the term “opposites attract.” He was an evangelist and CEO for a non-profit from Samoa who grew up in a large loving family. She was a blond bombshell with a funky style and no family to call her own.

Two of the most unlikely people meet in the most unlikely of places, but God had a plan when He brought them together. They never let their differences deter them from the love they had for each other, but when Nik’s mother comes to the States for the wedding, the idea of wedded bliss is shaken. Can prejudices be over looked, insecurities overcome, and hope for a better future be restored so that these two can have all that was promised?

Melissa Wardwell

 

Melissa was born and raised in a small mid-Michigan community living there still with her Husband and three children. She enjoys taking pictures, reading, and leisurely rides with her husband on their motorcycle. All her stories revolve around women who are mothers. Single mothers, widowed mothers, young mothers, married mothers, and even women who have a mother’s heart but no children of her own. She hopes that each story touches your heart, gives you hope, or just gives you a moment away from the chaos of life.

 

 

 

 

 

Spring and summer are the perfect seasons for reading novella collections. We all love to read, but it’s hard to find time for long books in our busy lives.  Novellas are just right! What are you reading this spring? Do you have a summertime TBR list?