Saturday, December 28, 2013

RE:View | Catching Up

One of the things I look forward to the most on my holiday vacation (aside from seeing my family of course) is the extra time I can spend reading. I get through a lot of books when I'm traveling, but I also have extra time here at home to sit by the fireplace and enjoy a book (or 5 hehe).

Because I've finally made it through several I've been needing to review, this post will be a catchup for those books. Don't worry, more will be coming as well!!!

If you have extra free time like I happen to now, make sure and check out these books. I've included links to amazon and most of them are available in Kindle form too in case you just can't wait! Take some time to read a book :D

High-Stakes Holiday Reunion | Christy Barritt

Christy Barritt does it again with High-Stakes Holiday Reunion! As number three in her Security Experts series (don't worry you can read them out of order), she infuses suspense into Christmas the way only Christy Barrritt can!

When Ashley Wilson shows up on Christopher Jordan's doorstep in need of help for her nephew, he knows that he wont turn her down. His determination deepens when he discovers that, in reality, the boy is actually his son - the son Ashely never told him about.

Tension is high as this estranged couple who were once engaged must now work together in order to bring back their son by Christmas. Will the terrorist group intent on gaining information from Ashley outsmart them, stopping this reunion from happening?

I enjoyed this book as I do all of Chrsity's novels! The suspense is always present and the action never more than a few pages away. Due to the tension between Ashely and Christopher, I felt there was slightly less romance than some of her previous books but that didn't take away from the enjoyment of the book. When the holidays come, there is nothing better than romantic suspense with a Christmas theme. This is a must read and don't forget to check out her other Security Experts books - you can find their reviews here.

Purchase High-Stakes Holiday Reunion (The Security Experts) [here]

Dirty Deeds | Christy Barritt

I jumped in late on this train. Dirty Deeds is book 4 in The Squeaky Clean Mysteries and I enjoyed hopping right in to Gabby St. Claire's crazy life.

For those of you who have been with Gabby from the beginning, you will know much more of her history going into this book. I, on the other hand did not, but that in no way took away from the book. I felt there was sufficient information to get caught up quickly without too much distraction.

In this mystery/adventure, Gabby finds herself headed into a weekend of relaxation where her fiance Riley has asked her one simple request - no investigating. Unfortunately, Gabby's inherent nature is to investigate... anything. The minute she's left alone while Riley attends his law conference with his former college friends, Gabby can't help but investigate the disappearance of one of Riley's friends.

Follow Gabby on the rocky and sometimes hilarious journey at the expensive resort that puts her out of her comfort zone. You'll be entertained by the mystery, unanswered questions, and secrets that make up Dirty Deeds.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes cozy mysteries. It's not as suspenseful as some of Christy's other books, but is filled with mystery with a sweet touch of romance.

Purchase Dirty Deeds: Squeaky Clean Mysteries, Book 4 [here]

Friend Me | John Faubion

From the back of the book...
"When a lonely wife and her frustrated husband each secretly pursue companionship online, neither dreams that a real woman is behind the virtual creations, threatening their marriage -- and their lives."

Friend Me is John Faubion's first release coming out on February 4, 2014. This trilling suspense novel will leave you frantically turning pages late into the night as it did for me. 

It's the idea of a virtual friend that draws both Scott and Rachel to and the possibility of creating their own online friends. With their marriage struggling, both Scott and Rachel are turning to the one thing that could ultimately destroy their marriage and even their lives.
This book took me through various emotions - all of them strong. At first, I was intrigued by Faubion's idea of a virtual friend. The concept is not far fetched at all, frighteningly so. As things progressed, I was pulled completely into the story. I won't go into detail and risk giving anything away, but Faubion deals with difficult issues that many could face in marriage. His characters realize and deal with emotions in a believable way that creates a satisfying ending.

I will say that I felt the last third of the book, though good, seemed far fetched at some times. The pieces fell into place a little to easily. But, that didn't take away from the enjoyment of the book.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes thrilling suspense novels, but with a certain caution recognizing the very real nature of some of the issues discussed. There is nothing inappropriate, but I did find some parts difficult to take with regards to the marital issues discussed. The clean writing and the ending make it worth the internal angst as you struggle with the characters.

Pre-Order Friend Me [here]

I received a free copies of these books for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read them or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in these reviews are honest and entirely my own.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

After Christmas

I can hardly believe that Christmas is over. It comes and goes so quickly now that I'm older, and part of me is sad for that. If I had my way, I'd be celebrating Christmas for at least a month but....

I am excited for the New Year though. Lots of fun things coming and I just know what the Lord has in store will be amazing. I know for a fact there will be some exciting announcements to come, but for now I'll just say that I am looking forward to 2014!!!

So, how did you like the Spread the Christmas Joy posts this year? I know I had a blast with them and was so encouraged by the various stories from amazing writers and authors. And how about those prizes? Did you know you still have time to leave a comment on posts where there's a giveaway? Because you DO!!! You can find all of the prizes (listed out and pictured) [here]. Just make sure to leave your comments by December 31st (12pm Pacific Standard Time).

Well, as I've been home visiting with my parents, I've enjoyed the beautiful - but cold - weather and scenery. I thought I'd share some photos with you to finish out the post. 
Be sure to check back soon - I'll be announcing some fun, blogging news regarding this coming year. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Spread the Christmas Joy with Jennifer Slattery and Giveaway | Day 24

Joy from Jennifer Slattery

It was ten AM Saturday. I was in my jammies, feeling unwell, nursing a big ol’ mug of chicken broth. My husband, on the other hand, had been up for hours, ready to tackle everything on his (and, it seemed, my) to-do list long before lunch. Me? I was ready to go back to bed, like for the entire weekend. Unfortunately, he needed me. I’m pretty sure every married woman can relate.

Hubby: “Honey, where’s my socks? You know the thick ones I like so much?”

Me: “In the back bottom of your sock drawer.”

Hubby: “Have you seen my jacket?”

Me: “Yeah. I hung it up.”
He darts in and out, upstairs and down, and soon lugs the box containing our fake Christmas tree upstairs.

“What’s this?” Face contorted, he holds up a mass of tree limbs conglomerated by some wiry, netting gunk. We didn’t know what it was, but one thing was certain—that tree was going back.

Forty-five minutes later, he returns with a four foot, pre-lit Christmas tree, which now sits, neatly decorated, near our window. Pleased the tree drama is over, I settle deeper into the couch cushions, ready to finish my now cold broth.

But the questions keep coming, and he shows no signs of slowing.

Me: “That’s good, hon. I think you can be done now.”

He looks from the mantle to me to the mantle again. “You think the nativity scene is good?”

Without looking, I reply, “Yep. It’s fine.” I pause. “Do you have baby Jesus?”


Me: “No baby Jesus?”

“Nope. I can’t find Jesus.”
--> Apparently, we’re awaiting His return.

Not wanting to be sacrilegious, we decide to forego the manger scene that is now missing the most important aspect of Christmas. (Chew on that for a moment.)

So, he carries the incomplete set to the trash then returns to tackle a new project—going through the ornaments stored in the basement.

You better believe this got me off my toosh, and quick. I lurch downstairs and form a human barricade between him and our decorations.

--> “You can’t throw these away!” I say, because I know what’s in there. Every ornament, and where they came from.

The first ornament I ever received, given to me sixteen years ago by a special friend from high school, a woman now married and preparing for the mission field. The delicate angel is missing one arm and half of the other.

And it stays.

Then there’s the ornament made for us by my mother-in-law, sent to us in December of 1997. Our daughter’s first Christmas where we took a billion pictures of her playing with wrapping paper and discarded boxes.
--> And then there’s this one, given to me by a special woman named Iris Peters. She was one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met, inside and out. She loved books, food, Mt. Dew, and her three adorable little boys. More than that, she loved Jesus, and the Christmas of 2011, after a brave and valiant fight against brain cancer, she realized she’d meet Him sooner than anticipated.

So how does a dying woman spend her last Christmas?

Simply, making sure her friends and family know how much they are loved. And that she’ll be waiting for them. Because they’ll see her again.

And that, my friends, is what Christmas is about.

--> Jennifer Slattery is a novelist who writes missional romance novels, her first of which will be released by New Hope Publishers in 2014. She also writes for, Internet Café Devotions, and writes and edits for an international ministry called Christ to the World Ministries. When she’s not working on her own projects, she’s helping other authors grow in their craft. Find out more about her and her writing at and find out more about her editing services at

I've got to take a second to brag. My mom, Connie, is pretty amazing. She's a quilter and crafter and has offered one of her small quilts to be one of my giveaway items! Check it out and comment below to enter for your chance to win it :)

**Giveaway rules: To enter, comment on each the post (or posts) in the month of December that offer giveaway items you wish to win. One entry per person per giveaway item is permitted. All winners will be drawn in January (after the holiday craziness) and will be notified shortly thereafter.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Spread the Christmas Joy with Christy Barritt and Giveaway | Day 23

Joy from Christy Barritt

One of my favorite parts about Christmas has come in recent years. This wonderful memory is experiencing Christmas through the eyes of my children.

I was singing along with the radio the other day, and my oldest said, “What are you singing?” I said, “A Christmas song.” He said, “This isn’t a Christmas song. There’s no mention of Jesus. Isn’t Jesus what Christmas is all about? Not jingling bells.”

I love seeing my kids get it.

I love seeing my kids understand that Christmas isn’t all about presents and getting things.

I love it when my kids get excited about picking out presents for our Angel Tree child.

I love it when I see my children’s sweet expressions as they sing about Jesus during the church’s Christmas play.

That’s not to say they can’t enjoy other traditions of the season. I love seeing their faces light up in excitement when they see Christmas lights. I love hearing them singing along to their favorite Christmas songs. I love when they get a present they’ve really been wishing for.

Trying to instill a selfless attitude in our children is difficult in a “me centered” society that wants to make Christmas about materialism. Seeing those moments when my kids “get” what Christmas is all about is amazing. This world and all that’s in it will pass away, but God’s word and truth remains forever.

I want my children’s memories of Christmas to not simply revolve around themselves. I want them to think of a little baby born in a manger. I want them to think about people who need some Christmas cheer. I want them to help make the Christmas memories of other people a little warmer.

Those are the best memories of all, and one of the best gifts I can give them.


Christy Barritt is an author, freelance writer and speaker who lives in Virginia. She's married to her Prince Charming, a man who thinks she's hilarious--but only when she's not trying to be. Christy's a self-proclaimed klutz, an avid music lover who's known for spontaneously bursting into song, and a road trip aficionado. She's only won one contest in her life--and her prize was kissing a pig (okay, okay... actually she did win the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Suspense and Mystery for her book Suspicious Minds also). Her current claim to fame is showing off her mother, who looks just like former First Lady Barbara Bush.

When she's not working or spending time with her family, she enjoys singing, playing the guitar, and exploring small, unsuspecting towns where people have no idea how accident prone she is.
For more information, visit her website at:
Purchase High-Stakes Holiday Reunion [here]

**Note from Emilie: I'll be putting my review of this book (High-Stakes Holiday Reunion) up soon but just an FYI - you'll definitely want to read it! It's fantastic ;)
I've got another fun gift bag to giveaway. No peeking on this one either but trust me, you'll love it! 

**Giveaway rules: To enter, comment on each the post (or posts) in the month of December that offer giveaway items you wish to win. One entry per person per giveaway item is permitted. All winners will be drawn in January (after the holiday craziness) and will be notified shortly thereafter.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Spread the Christmas Joy with Kelly Bridgewater | Day 22

Joy from Kelly Bridgewater
"Gifts for Life"

When I think of Christmas memories, they have changed recently. As a mother, Christmas has taken on a different meaning for me.

After a month plus of shopping, baking, decorating, and cleaning, Christmas morning has finally arrived. The alarm did not wake up the parents, instead the thundering beat of footsteps as they hurry down the stairs did. Then the silent and dark early morning hours rip open with squeals of delight. Lying in bed, I rolled over and nudged my husband.

“The kids are awake. It’s time to join them.”

My husband grunts, pulling up the blanket over his head. The red numbers of 3:55 shined like a siren across the bed. It was really too early, but I knew that if we did not join the children, we would miss the most important morning of the year. Excitement coursed through my veins. I had been waiting for Christmas to arrive too but for different reasons than my boys.

After wrapping my robe around myself, I stomped downstairs where the children had already dumped their Christmas supplies of candy, toothbrush, and toothpaste from their individually hand cross-stitched stockings, which I made when I carried each boy, preparing for their arrival. The floor littered with evidence of Hershey Kisses and Reese’s Cups, as the boys leaned over, comparing their stashes with each other.

I turned on the coffee pot and poured two mugs after the pot brimmed with ebony liquid. I crept into the living room, turned on the Christmas lights, and double-checked the camera battery, blinking green across the room, which would capture the shredding of the wrapped and decorated presents spilling out from the under the tree.

This was it! This was what the children were waiting for all December. Wanting to know what they received for Christmas.

One by one, the boys broke into their packages, wrapping paper flying through the air as each child is overcome with delight at the equally thought out presents are revealed.

The oldest boy enjoys building from Legos and Kinex’s, so I picked out Lego Ninjago kits and Kinex treasure chests teeming with straight and curved pieces to advance his building creativity.

The middle boy benefits from anything musical, so we purchased him a drum set because he’s been hinting at wanting to learn a musical instrument, which happened to be a drum. There goes the quiet in the house.

The youngest boy steals my smartphone whenever he can and beats Angry Birds all the time. Being fascinated with the latest electronics, we purchased a Nabi tablet to advance his learning skills while playing games to advance his reading and math skills.

As the next couple of days go by, I spied on the oldest, as he built a lawn mower that actually moved with a flick of a lever. The middle child banged away at the drums, drowning out the quiet in the house. The youngest sits for hours, playing with his tablet, learning with laughter ringing through the air. “I won, Mom.” He says, as he rushes over to show me his latest high score.

My heart jumps with excitement as I observe my children using their gifts for the intended purpose, improving their creative and learning abilities.

This year as I examined my children, it gave me a thought about our spirititual gifts. Our pastor, Ric May, just completed a three-week lesson on “The Calling.” He posed the question to our congregation, “are we doing what God has called us to do or are we allowing our gift to collect dust?’

Does God feel like me when I spend a whole month scrutinizing my boys for the perfect gift to bring out the most joy and their natural God-given talents? He has endowed every person with a gift to bring him glory, but how many of us walk around and ignore the gift that God wants us to use?

How would I feel as a mother if I spent the whole month of December hunting for the perfect present and the boys open the wrapped gift only to toss it in the closet, knowing it's there, but not actually doing anything with it? Maybe the boys do not want to break it. Maybe they do not want to be made fun of it if they bring the gift out into the opening for others to notice.

When God created each of us, he bestowed a gift on everyone to bring Him glory. Whether it is writing, teaching, serving, worshiping, helping, giving, or whatever God has given to you.

Even Paul knew how important the gift of God was to the church. He wrote in 1 Timothy 4:14, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you” and in 2 Timothy 1:6, he repeats, “Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you.” The urging from God provides us a deep satisfaction and longing as long as we use it to further God’s kingdom and do not hide the gift in the closet.

I imagine, like me, God smiles when we use His gift that He knew would be perfect for us and has planned to further His kingdom.

What are you doing with the gift that God has awarded to you? Is it on the shelf in the closet or are you trying to improve the gift by learning all you can to improve?

I pray your family has a nice, snowy Christmas and plenty of opportunities to use your gift during this season of our Lord’s birth.


Kelly Bridgewater has a Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Creative Writing and a Masters in English with an emphasis on Writing. For her creative thesis, she wrote six short stories in a collection entitled Fleeting Impressions. In addition, her short stories, “Moving On” and “Life Changing Second” were published in the Indiana State University Literary Journal. Similarly, during graduate school, one of her essays titled, “Northanger Abbey: Structurally a Gothic Novel” was presented at the Midwestern American Society of 18th Century Studies Conference. Being a mother of three boys takes up most of her time but she is currently working on two different novels in the Romantic Suspense genre. One entitled Betrayed and the other yet to be titled.

She can be found on the web at She will also be doing guest blogs at the ACFW Indiana blog titled, “Hoosier Ink” beginning in January 2014.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Spread the Christmas Joy with Karin Beery | Day 21

Joy from Karin Beery
Christmas 2006: my family had our first pictures taken with our newest member, five-month old Ella. You’d never know by looking at it, but those photos were the only thing we did as a family that entire holiday. Though I wouldn’t call 2006 my favorite Christmas memory, it’s easily the most memorable. Why? Ten adults, five cats, three bathrooms, two little girls, and one nasty stomach bug.

One month after our first wedding anniversary, my husband and I rendezvoused with my sisters at our parents’ house for Christmas. My younger sister’s friend was also staying there with her three cats. Matt and I brought two with us. My older sister came with a husband, a seven year-old, and the five month old. My aunt was there too, and so was my younger sister’s boyfriend.

There were literally people everywhere, filling every bed and couch. The five cats prowled, constantly spotting each other and growling. There was nothing peaceful about it, but it was family and it was the holidays. I loved sharing the familiar chaos with my new husband. Less than 24 hours after we all got together, however, the real chaos began.

My brother-in-law started it. A week before Christmas the human incubator carried a stomach bug across the country, through two airports, and into my parents’ house. As one would expect, his wife caught it first. She shared it with everyone else. For four days we took turns celebrating, feasting, and trying to avoid the sickies. The virus hit in waves, crashing into one person after another. We were never all together again as someone was always in the bathroom.

Too often in my adult life I find myself at home alone when I’m sick. It’s painful, tiring, and lonely. That year I had a house full of people to care for me, and I got to take care of them. I can think of a dozen ways I’d rather spend Christmas, but if I have to get sick, I’m glad it happened with the people I love the most.


A freelance writer/editor/coach, wife, care giver, and homemaker, Karin Beery has published over 350 articles in various periodicals, in addition to writing her novels. She is an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association, Evangelical Press Association, and Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or at her website,

Friday, December 20, 2013

Spread the Christmas Joy with Emily Ann Benedict and Giveaway | Day 20

Joy from Emily Ann Benedict

Though my family has many crazy traditions, from multiple trees to shortbread mania, I still think my favorite Christmas memories revolves around our lights. My mother decided if we were going to celebrate Jesus' birthday, we needed to get serious about it. So, we got together every light we could find and tackled the house. Lights, after all, became a part of Christmas to symbolize the coming of the "Light of the world."

We covered as much of the landscape and house as we could, including the roof line. For many years we were "that house" in the neighborhood, lighting up the entire block during the month of December. But the best part for me was how it brought people together. Neighbors we rarely got to talk to would come out to watch us put them up and end up talking with us for hours. People we'd never met would stop as they walked by to talk. Then it would start to get dark and cars would slow down as they passed by. It took some time and some effort, but how could we ever say it wasn't worth it?
Emily Ann Benedict specializes in mystery and comedic novels with a healthy dose of Hope mixed in. Sharing the power of reading, the art of writing, and the love of God with all generations is her passion. When she is not writing, you'll probably find her near a Starbucks somewhere in California with a Dalmatian by her side and a Kindle in hand.
Connect with her:
Purchase The Father Christmas Profession [here]

You can receive a free copy of her novel, The Moment Max Forgot Me by signing up for her newsletter!

 Calling all coffee addicts! This giveaway is for you ;) Yep, you guessed it. A $10 Starbucks gift card that will fulfill all of your caffeine addiction requirements.

**Giveaway rules: To enter, comment on each the post (or posts) in the month of December that offer giveaway items you wish to win. One entry per person per giveaway item is permitted. All winners will be drawn in January (after the holiday craziness) and will be notified shortly thereafter.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Spread the Christmas Joy with Elizabeth Maddrey | Day 19

Joy from Elizabeth Maddrey

When I was growing up, Christmas always started with the fifteen (or so) hour drive from where we lived to my grandparent’s house. This was back in the day before mandatory seat belts and car seats – so my sister and I spent the bulk of the drive reading and playing games in the far back of our full sized van in a nest of blankets and luggage. Once we arrived, it was a reunion of cousins and aunts and uncles and noise and exclamations of “Oh, look how you’ve grown!” And then before long, it was Christmas Eve.

Rather than going to church, we’d gather in the living room of my grandmother’s house (a room that had a piano and an organ and was so rarely used that if I ever walked through it I always felt like I needed to tiptoe) and someone would read the Christmas story out of Luke 2. Then my dad and his siblings (seven in total) would sing and there’d be little group ensembles of this or that duet or quartet or solos. Then the grandchildren would take turns on the piano or flute or whatever other instrument they’d brought. And then we’d all sing the Christmas hymns together. For the longest time, this is what I imagined a choir of angels would sound like.

My grandparents are gone now, but whenever I think of them, it’s most often in the context of our Christmas gatherings and the glorious music that would fill the room. It’s a tradition we’ve continued – though now my parents are the grandparents. And I hope that my boys will always remember that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus with a glorious and joyful song.

Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.
Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website or on Facebook:
Purchase her book here: Serenity to Accept

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Spread the Christmas Joy with JoAnn Durgin and Giveaway | Day 18

Joy from JoAnn Durgin

In the early 2000s, we lived in a Philadelphia suburb, and my husband, Jim, was an associate pastor for youth/music/worship. It was during the six-year period when I was a stay-at-home mom with three small children under the age of ten. Heavy snow was predicted for Christmas Eve, but that didn’t stop our excitement as we packed up the minivan and headed on our way to Grandma’s house in my native southern Indiana, across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky (where we now live). Stops included, driving straight through, we anticipated it would take about 12 to 14 hours.
The further we drove, however, the more treacherous the highway became. Trucks were skidding and sliding into ditches and guard rails, the roads were winding and narrow, and there were numerous fender benders and stalled cars everywhere. Did that stop the Durgins? No way! We were singing and happy as could be, and nothing could stop us! At one point, I started to get a little apprehensive because of the blinding snow and icy road conditions. I remember giving Jim one of those looks and mouthing to him so the kids wouldn’t hear, “Do you think we should pull over and stop?” His response was to grip the steering wheel that much harder with fierce determination.

Our rumbling tummies finally forced us stop at a truck stop (still in Pennsylvania; it’s a really long state). The warmth inside and the smells of a holiday buffet greeted us as we walked through the door. We knew we couldn’t stay long and needed to keep moving if we had a prayer to get to our destination before Christmas. As it was, we’d been delayed by creeping along at speeds of less than 20 miles per hour for several hours.

This is where it gets pretty wonderful. Our waitress came to our table with a radiant smile. Her name? Angel. She was sweet and as friendly as could be in spite of being hectic and busy with a number of customers. When Jim went to pay the bill, the cashier said, “Already taken care of. Merry Christmas.” We’ll never know who paid for our meal, but it was one of those random acts of kindness we’ll never forget.

Now, for the part that makes my eyes mist all these years later. When we walked outside to our van, we discovered a man—who’d been sitting at the counter when we walked in (and greeted the kids with candy canes and a warm smile)—had been hard at work shoveling around our van in order to make sure we’d be able to get out of the parking lot. The man told us his name was Chris (or was it Kris?). In a red plaid flannel shirt with jeans and a heavy overcoat, he had a long white beard, thick white hair, wire frame glasses and yes, I’m pretty certain there was a merry twinkle in those eyes. In case you think this is a case of an overactive writer’s imagination, I have witnesses (Jim and the three kids), and we all share this same marvelous memory.

The snow was falling and accumulating faster than I’d ever seen it. Spying a small motel a few miles down the highway, I exchanged a glance with Jim. He raised his brows and I shrugged. Then we both looked at each other a few seconds later and he said, “Indiana or bust.”

Nearly 18 hours after we started out, we finally made it to Indiana, and never was it so warm and welcoming. But the story’s not quite over yet… Jim had a mechanical problem with the van the day after Christmas. I can’t remember what it was, but we took the van to my mom’s mechanic (a lookalike for Larry Bird, a fact which thrilled my Celtics fanatic of a husband). Know what the mechanic said? “I don’t know how you made it that far, especially in the bad weather. This van should have broken down somewhere along the way.” I remember stopping somewhere in Ohio and filling a tire with air, but wow. I mean Wow! The Lord’s constant watch care and protection for us is amazing and awesome, isn’t it?

Psalm 46:1: God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.

Isaiah 41:10: Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

JoAnn Durgin is the author of The Lewis Legacy Series (Torn Veil Books) and Meet Me Under the Mistletoe (White Rose Publishers) which is currently only $3.99 on Kindle! An estate administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky law firm, JoAnn and her family live in southern Indiana. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Louisville Christian Writers, JoAnn’s prayer is that her contemporary romantic adventures will touch hearts and lives with the redeeming love of Jesus Christ.

For today's giveaway, JoAnn has graciously offered to give away a copy of Starlight Star Bright! How exciting! So, make sure you comment below for your chance to win this fun Christmas romance!

**Giveaway rules: To enter, comment on each the post (or posts) in the month of December that offer giveaway items you wish to win. One entry per person per giveaway item is permitted. All winners will be drawn in January (after the holiday craziness) and will be notified shortly thereafter.

Johnnie Alexander Donley {Writer Wednesday}

I don't know about you, but I've been loving the "Spread the Christmas Joy" posts!!! Talk about encouraging, funny, and heartwarming all around. And hey, what about those giveaways? Pretty fun, right? Well, I've made it just that much easier for you to find the giveaway posts and comment for your chance to WIN! You can follow [this link] or you can to go the tab at the top of the blog that says "Christmas Joy Giveaway" and see the giveaways there as well as find the links to each post. Leave a comment on the ones you'd like (yes, you can enter more than one!) by December 31st and you will be entered to win. I'll be announcing the winners the first week in January.

And now, to our first special guest of the day, Johnnie Alexander Donley. She has graciously offered an ebook giveaway of her novel, Where Treasure Hides. And make sure you check back later today to get some JOY from JoAnn Durgin with -- yes you guessed it -- another GIVEAWAY! Yep, that's TWO giveaways in ONE day. Talk about Christmas Joy ;)

A little bit about Johnnie...

Author Johnnie Alexander Donley writes inspirational stories about family legacies. Her debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, is an intriguing World War II romance that won the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest for Historical Fiction in 2011. A history enthusiast, Johnnie has also edited nonfiction manuscripts and textbooks. She is a founding member and current president of the ACFW Central Florida chapter. A longtime Florida resident, Johnnie treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, stacks of books, and her papillon Rugby.

How to connect with Johnnie...

Purchase her book: Where Treasure Hides [here]

Author Interview | Johnnie Alexander Donley

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I’ve imagined stories most of my life, but my first major fiction writing venture was for Nanowrimo in 2003. That project is hidden away. It’s not well-written at all. But the experience taught me I could create characters and write dialogue. Most of all, I learned how much I loved the creative process. I believed I had found my calling.

...However, I had a family and a full-time job, and I was working on my master’s degree. My next major milestone came in 2007 when I attended the Florida Christian Writing Conference and learned how much I didn’t know. Writing is a lifetime learning process—hard and fun at the same time.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...My sentimental favorite is the first manuscript I completed and polished. Though the opening pages have won a couple of conference awards and gained an editor’s interest, it’s also tucked away. The novel has gone through a few name changes, but I usually refer to it as Sparrow, the protagonist’s Allied code name.

...The writing and rewriting process taught me important lessons about character development and plotting—mainly to trust my characters and the story. They usually hold the answer to any difficult corners I get trapped in.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

 ...The hardest part, other than facing rejection, is the marketing. It’s a necessary part of the process, but I struggle with it.

...The easiest part is smiling way too big when something wonderful happens. My most recent happy dance was a couple of weeks ago when I learned a translation of Where Treasure Hides is being released by a Dutch publishing company in April 2014. The cover is absolutely beautiful (pictured to the right). I’m still smiling way too big about that.
Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book? Why did you write it? ...While researching another novel, I became fascinated with the extensive looting that occurred during World War II. Hitler and his minions turned art theft into a Nazi sport. At the same time, I learned about the experiences of Jewish children who spent the war in hiding. The two themes of hidden art and hidden children came together for Where Treasure Hides.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...I’m crazy about the three main characters. Alison Schuyler is a talented artist who cares deeply about protecting Dutch art and children. Theodor Scheidemann, a Nazi officer who is obsessed with Alison, would be surprised to learn he’s the antagonist in the story. Then there’s Ian Devlin, the handsome British captain who captures Alison’s heart before being captured at Dunkirk, escaping a German POW camp, and saving the life of a Jewish orphan.

...If I have to choose one favorite, I choose Ian because he is the reason Where Treasure Hides was written. Friends of mine who read the manuscript for Sparrow wanted a sequel, but the story’s ending made that difficult.

...Ian was a major secondary character in Sparrow, so instead of writing a sequel, I decided to write his love story. Voila! After months and months and months, I had Where Treasure Hides.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...Alison’s go-to Scripture is one of my favorites: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future” (Proverbs 31:25 NASB).


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...You know how sometimes you get that indescribable feeling that tingles in your heart? Those are the ideas and themes that grab me. It started with Sparrow, inspired by my fascination with German POW camps in the United States. As I said above, Treasure was inspired by my fascination with art thefts and hidden children.

...I don’t base characters on real people, but I’ve asked certain people what they would do in specific situations. For example, I called my son-in-law, a former Marine, and asked him what he would do if he was POW escapee and had killed a German soldier. That was a fun conversation.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I want to write thought-provoking stories that readers don’t want to put down and that will linger with them long after they close the last page.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...The 3Cs: critique groups, contests, and conferences. A good critique group helps with learning the craft. Contests provide invaluable feedback (and can help toughen fragile skin). Writing conferences are great educational and networking opportunities.

...Most importantly, pray and persevere.


What is your favorite snack to eat when writing?
...I go through snack phases. My current favorite is Good and Plenty, but I also like Smarties and Neccos (which I separate by color before eating). I also like popcorn.

What is your favorite Christmas song?
...“What Child is This?” is one of my very favorites. It’s also known as “Greensleeves,” and I used it as the tune played in a musical keepsake that Ian gives to Alison in Where Treasure Hides.

What is your favorite thing about the Christmas season?
...Being with my family as we celebrate Jesus’ birth. We have a great time cooking, eating, opening presents, and playing games. My three grandsons are close enough in age that they’ve played either Baby Jesus or Toddler Jesus for Nativity programs a few times. They’re too old for that now, but those memories are so special.

Thank you so much for sharing Johnnie! I gravitate to the history of WWII as well as anything vintage from that era. Your book sounds absolutely wonderful! I am excited for you as well for the release in Dutch - the cover is beautiful.

Don't forget to enter for a chance to win an ebook copy of Where Treasure Hides by commenting below by December 23rd. I'll announce the winner on Christmas Eve (December 24th). But, if you just can't wait that long, purchase a copy of Where Treasure Hides [here].