Sunday, May 28, 2017

Spring into Love: Character interview featuring Sloane Bradley


Interview with Sloane Bradley, heroine of the story, With No Reservations:

Alexis: What do you think of your author, Laurie Tomlinson? Did she tell your story well? Be honest!


Laurie: If anything, she exposed more than I was always comfortable with, but it was necessary. I could never write a novel like she does, though—too much chaos in her process for my liking! 

Alexis: How many years have you been blogging, Sloane? Tell us your blog’s name and describe its significance.

Laurie: I’m coming up on my blog’s ten-year anniversary! Can you believe it? It’s called Mise en Place, which is French for “everything in its place.” It’s a culinary term for getting all of your ingredients arranged before cooking, and I always include a photo of my own mise en place at the beginning of each post.

Alexis: What is the name of Cooper’s new restaurant and why were you wary about helping him to promote it?

Laurie: His new restaurant is called Simone, named after the woman who decided to sublet her upstairs to him when he lived in France. I was nervous about helping him promote it because I knew “the stories” about him. But it was mostly getting out of my routine. I have a little problem with control, but it’s getting better. 

Alexis: You and Cooper share a passionate love for food. In what ways has the kitchen (in the restaurant and at home) brought you together?

Laurie: We both speak the language of food, which gave us a common denominator when we thought we were nothing alike. Of course, we soon discovered we had much more in common with our pasts than we ever could have imagined.

Alexis: What is it about Cooper that makes your heart warmer than hot apple cider?

Laurie: He’s resilient. He’s been through so much and yet he’s constantly working behind the scenes and giving all he has. It doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes, too. And he’s a good kisser. Did I just say that out loud?

Alexis: What made you fall in love with Cooper and never want to leave his side? Where do you see your relationship with him five years from now? Details, please!

Laurie: I don’t know what it was that finally did it, but I do know that I’ve never felt safer with anyone else. He helped me realize that I couldn’t keep living the way I was living, and I’m so much stronger because of that. I don’t know what the next five years will hold, but I do know I want to be with him for the rest of my life!

Alexis: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious disability that people often think only affects American soldiers who are trying to transition back into civilian life. But clearly, it affects you. When were you first diagnosed with this disorder and how do you cope?

Laurie: Yes, PTSD is something that affects a lot more individuals than people think, but I’m so glad that veterans programs have created more awareness recently so more can get the help they need. I was diagnosed when I was 16 and had discouraging experiences with many therapists and counselors, so I sought help but didn’t really want to be helped, if that makes sense. While PTSD looks different for everyone, it looks like OCD in my case. Control is how I cope.

Alexis: Paint a picture of your home studio, with words. Describe the layout, paint color(s) that coat your walls and the aromas that radiate from your kitchen.

Laurie: There’s a lot of white and clean lines. I’m a little ashamed to admit I have expensive tastes, so there are a lot of minimalistic European influences in my décor. But I do like to have a few rustic and colorful accent pieces. My kitchen always smells like butter and either garlic or vanilla, depending on what I’m making in a given day. But real, Irish butter is a must in my home! 

Alexis: What are your thoughts about Cooper’s pet dog? What’s her name and how did her unconditional love help you heal?

Laurie: Maddie! I wasn’t really a dog person before I met her, but she has taught me the importance of playing. She is so warm and comforting and has this sense when her presence is needed. Do all dogs have that or just her? 

Alexis: Do you have a Starbucks habit? If so, what’s your favorite fix there and how often do you drink it?

Laurie: I usually get my morning coffee fix from my home espresso machine and all the fixings I have at home. The companies I’ve worked with have been so generous to send me fun coffee products to try. But on the go, I enjoy an almond milk latte from Starbucks every once in a while! 

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Sloane! Do you have any closing thoughts?

Laurie: Thank YOU so much for the kind and thoughtful interview, Alexis! It’s been my pleasure. I hope people are inspired by this story that they can have a full and healthy and meaningful life – no matter what they’ve been through!

~*~
Author bio:
Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author and cheerleader for creatives. 

She believes that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. 

Her novella "That’s When I Knew" was featured in the Love at First Laugh collection, and her debut novel, With No Reservations, is now available from Harlequin Heartwarming. 

You can connect with Laurie on her website, Facebook page, and Instagram.

~*~
Book Blurb for With No Reservations:

There can be more than comfort in food…

What could well-known and wealthy Graham Cooper Jr. have in common with a blogger like Sloane Bradley, a woman with secrets she's kept firmly out of the public eye? That is, besides a love of food. 

Sloane still can't believe Cooper's the chef at the restaurant she's been assigned to promote. But she's boiling to prove to him that her "little blog" can put his place on the map. 

She can also fall head over heels for the guy, who has secrets of his own, it turns out…except for one thing. She can't get past the post-traumatic stress disorder that keeps her walled up in her home studio.

Available for purchase on:

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Harlequin.com | Google Play | Goodreads

~*~
Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below:

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Spring into Love: Pegg's personal essay about a horse and true worth


A Worthy Steed

A guest post by Pegg Thomas

Writing for The Pony Express Romance Collection gave me a wonderful opportunity to combine my love of history and my love of horses. "Embattled Hearts", my story in the collection, includes a one-eyed horse named Cyclops. He’s a solid black thoroughbred with attitude.

When our son decided that he wanted to be a cowboy, we put obstacles in his way. You see, I’d had horses as a kid and I knew the expense and the work involved. We told him he couldn’t get a horse until he was 13 and able to do the work involved. He also had to take riding lessons first, which we weren’t going to paying for. And he’d have to purchase his own horse. That should have deterred any youngster, right?

Wrong.

He cleared the last hurdle just weeks before his 13th birthday, and had his money in the bank. It was time to horse shop. We knew our son was going to be tall—he’d passed me at age 12—so we went looking for a tall horse, something he wouldn’t outgrow. The market was high at the time and Quarter Horses over 15 hands were bringing a small fortune. Then we heard about off-track Thoroughbreds. Retired racehorses ready to take up a new career.

That led us to Jason.

Jason was a 16.2 hand solid black gelding with a been-there-done-that-got-the-tee-shirt kind of sanity that a mother appreciates. He was as smart and level-headed as any horse I’d ever been around. But he also had attitude. Did I mention our son was 13? One attitude deserves another.

Our son, who had been active in 4-H for years, was thrilled to take his horse to the fair. People proceeded to tell him that he should have bought a Quarter Horse. They told him that he couldn’t contest with a Thoroughbred. Never throw the gauntlet down before a pair with attitude. Within the year, our son and Jason were weaving between poles, circling barrels, sliding to a stop between chalked lines, and bringing home the ribbons to prove it.

The big black taught my son a lot of lessons along the way. He taught him patience. He taught him perseverance. He taught him trust. He taught him to overcome obstacles, some physical and some mental. He taught him to stand his ground. And he taught him that mom meant it when she said to unplug the electric fence before riding in the paddock.

I started writing "Embattled Hearts" almost a year to the day after we lost Jason at the ripe old age of 25. It seemed only fitting to capture his spirit in the story—which turned out to be my debut. I think Jason would have approved, although he may have given me some grief about the one-eyed thing, since he had both of his.

~*~
Author bio:

Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years.

A life-long history geek, she writes “History with a Touch of Humor.” 

When not working on her latest novel, Pegg can be found in her garden, in her kitchen, at her spinning wheel, or on her trusty old horse, Trooper.

~*~
Blurb for "Embattled Hearts": 
Alannah Fagan escaped from a battle she wouldn’t survive. Stewart McCann left behind a battle he couldn’t face. Thrown together at Horseshoe Station, can they find something worth fighting for?

~*~
Buy Pegg's story "Embattled Hearts" in The Pony Express Romance Collection, available now at Amazon and Christian Bookstores

~*~
Connect with Pegg:
Amazon Author Page

Twitter 
Goodreads
Website 
QuidProQuills 
ColonialQuills

~*~
Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below: 

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Thoughts on turkeys, life and God

Turkeys and Surprises from God
A guest post by Voni Harris

“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” 
~Job 5:9 (NIV)

There we were in HellHole Canyon—it’s a real place, a county preserve outside San Diego. You should go, and you should definitely take water. I mean, it is called HellHole for a reason.

If you walk down the canyon and back up the other side, you can see Mexico and Catalina and San Diego County. Rich and I weren’t prepared to go that long and decided to turn back once we reached the creek at the bottom.

But just after we got to the bottom, we heard a strange noise.

A rustling in the bushes.

“Uh, is that a turkey?” Rich ventured.

“A turkey? Here?” Why would there be a turkey in HellHole, right?

Another rustle. It was a turkey! Cool.

“Let’s follow it!” I wanted a cool picture. So we did follow it on the trail up the other side of the canyon for a few more minutes.

Never could get a good picture because it’s a wild turkey, duh. It knows how to hide.

It was sure fun trying.

...

Isn’t that just like God, though?

You set your limits. You decide how far to go.

And God sends a wild turkey—a spurt of joy, of curiosity—that tickles you to move just outside your comfort zone. You’re just doing life as usual when *poof* God reveals a bit of Himself to you, draws you closer to Him.

Like He did when he split the Red Sea in half in front of the entire nation of Israel.

Or how about His bit of humor about a camel and the eye of the needle?

Or when He raised Lazarus from the dead? Surprise! Joy!

I admit that a wild turkey isn’t always a “good” surprise. A “turkey” can be all-out painful: A rebellious teen, a bad diagnosis, a divorce. A Cross.

But these surprises also come from God. They also do God’s work in drawing us outside of our self-imposed comfort zones and closer to Him … if we let them.

It’s so easy to just go through life without being open to those wild turkeys God sends in your path.

Singing worship songs.

Listening to a sermon.

Sitting down with your Bible.

Raising a child.

In a doctor’s office.

Out and about in nature.


What wild turkeys has God sent lately? What wonders is He working in your life?

~*~
Author bio:  
Voni Harris writes from her family’s home on the beautiful Alaskan island of Kodiak, with a husband, a golden retriever and a wheaten terrier to keep her from sitting at the computer too long at a time. 

She holds a radio-TV degree from Drake University, and her short story “The Wedding” was published in Heart-Stirring Stories of Romance (edited by Linda Evans Shephard). 

Her Christian suspense manuscript Nothing Hidden won the 2015 Daphne du Maurier unpublished inspirational category. It was titled “Next of Kin” when it won ACFW’s 2013 First Impressions contest. Tutoring is the second love of her life (after writing)

Connect with Voni by visiting her blog at, http://vonildawrites.wordpress.com.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Litfuse Publicity Group blog tour for Lee Wolfe Blum's book about beauty

Book: Brave is the New Beautiful
Author: Lee Wolfe Blum
Reviewed by: Alexis A. Goring

Author Lee Wolfe Blum’s heart of love shows in the stories that she’s shared in this book as she tries to encourage women to embrace all God’s created them to be in this life.

Brave is the New Beautiful was not an easy read. The author shares perhaps too many stories from different women. While each story has inspirational and life-changing qualities, the overabundance of viewpoints and glimpses into a variety of real-life situations made the flow of this story a bit choppy and difficult to follow. The reader can become a bit lost between the pages of this book.

The read may have been easier to digest if the author focused on a few stories and elaborated her points for each instead of sharing so many and having takeaway points for each one. It was overwhelming for this reader and at times, confusing.

However, this book is still worth reading. It’s a good collection of stories that will make the reader think and evaluate their own life story. The messages in this book will encourage their heart because
 the author proves her point that in God’s eyes, women are valuable, they are worthy, they are brave and they are beautiful

*Litfuse Publicity Group provided Alexis A. Goring with a complimentary copy of "Brave is the New Beautiful" in exchange for an honest review.


~*~
Author bio:

Lee Wolfe Blum is an energetic and passionate speaker who loves to help women find hope in healing from perfectionism and addictions. She works as a mental health practitioner in the field of Eating Disorders and Chemical Dependency. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and three boys. Find out more about Lee Wolfe at leewolfeblum.com.

~*~
Book blurb for Brave is the New Beautiful
In a culture that bombards women with "thinspiration" messages and pressure to "do it all" while wearing the mask of perfection, women are left feeling alone and overwhelmed. How can they stop comparing themselves to others? How can they live out who they really are? 

Lee Wolfe Blum offers stories from everyday women who have answered these questions with their lives—and found true beauty in the process. 

In Brave Is the New Beautiful, Blum weaves reflections from her own journey with inspirational stories from everyday women who chose to take off their masks and live authentically. 

Through call-to-action questions and ideas, she encourages readers to be brave enough to be who they really are and the beloved that God knows they are.

~*~

Spring into Love: An Unlikely Hero


Interview with Mary Davis, author of “An Unlikely Hero”:

Alexis: What makes 1 Samuel 16:7 the focus of this story? Explain the significance.


Mary: This is the verse where God doesn’t look on a person’s outward appearance like people do. My hero in this story was always judged by his small size and deemed incapable. The Pony Express hired only small men and boys to have less weight on the horses so the horses could run faster. And like most other people, the heroine also misjudges the men at the station by outward appearance as to their ability to protect her.

Alexis: Your story is set at the Head of the Echo Canyon Pony Express Station in 1861. Would your book be a historical romance then? Explain what that means in this case.

Mary: Yes, “An Unlikely Hero” is a historical romance. People often get a historical romance mixed up with a historical with romantic elements. What’s the difference you might ask? A historical story is a story set in the past, in a historical setting and can encapsulate a variety of other genres with it and may or may not have romance. For instance, the TV series Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman is a historical with romance elements. The romance isn’t the main part of the story, but there is romance. A historical romance is a romance first and historical second. If you tried to take the romance out of a historical romance, the rest would fall apart and you wouldn’t have a story. It’s a story about a boy and girl falling in love that happens to be set in the past.

Alexis: BethAnn White is the heroine of your story. What does she look like? What are her life passions and goals? How does she act and why?

Mary: You wouldn’t think so, but this question gives me pause. It seems like a simple enough one, but I’ve written another novella and a novel as well as several proposals since finishing “An Unlikely Hero,” so let me think a minute. BethAnn has golden blond hair and blue eyes. Her current goal in the story is to keep herself and her sister safe. She is a helpful person. She treats all people kindly and doesn’t think of some people as better than others.

Alexis: What was the terrible mistake that BethAnn made and why is she in grief?

Mary: When BethAnn’s other sisters and parents got gravely ill with diphtheria, she mistakenly allowed the wrong sort of man to help her with medical expenses and then funeral costs. Her other sisters and parents died, thus the reason for her grieving. So now it is just herself and her little sister, Molly.

Alexis: How old are BethAnn and her younger sister? Why are they on the run?

Mary: Hold on a second while I look that up, BethAnn is in her early twenties. Her sister is twelve. They’re on the run because the man who gave BethAnn money to pay for medical treatment for her family is demanding repayment . . . in one form or another. He’s not a nice fellow.

Alexis: Why does BethAnn believe that she needs to find a strong man to protect she and her sister?

Mary: Because the man she owes money to is coming after her, and she mistakenly believes that only a “big, strong man” can protect her from this other man.

Alexis: Fox is the hero of this story. Tell us about his looks, personality, and heart. What makes him “An Unlikely Hero”?

Mary: He has red hair, “kind, gentle green eyes with flecks of gold,” and is small in stature. Think horse jockey. He has a quiet personality and the heart of a romantic. He has a knack for drawing and fills his sketchbook with secret drawings of BethAnn. What makes him “An Unlikely Hero”? His size, but not his heart.

Alexis: How did Fox start riding for the Pony Express and how long has he done that?

Mary: When the Pony Express first started looking for riders, Fox answered the recruiting poster asking for “Young, Skinny, Wiry Fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.” This was the one place that Fox’s smaller size was wanted and needed. There were riders over eighteen even up towards thirty, but most were teenaged boys. Fox joined at the beginning, so since April of 1860. The Pony Express ran for about eighteen months. My story takes place near the end of the Pony Express, which ended in October of 1861, so he’s been riding for them for over a year.

Alexis: Describe BethAnn and Fox’s meet-cute. What draws them together and what keeps them together?

Mary: BethAnn’s sister nearly gets run down by a speeding Pony Express horse and rider with the setting sun in his eyes. Fox swoops in from out of the shadows and gets her sister out of harm’s way and rolls her to safety. BethAnn approaches and thanks him profusely. This event draws them together, and both being at the station keeps them together.

Alexis: What is it about BethAnn that makes Fox fall in love with her?

Mary: Her appreciation for him. Because of his smaller size, no one had ever appreciated anything he did. Her kind heart and willingness to help others.

Alexis: What is it about Fox that BethAnn admires? Explain.

Mary: His quiet way and his willingness to risk his life for a stranger. His kind heart and helpfulness. His actions and sketches speak more than his words because he doesn’t do a lot of talking. When he isn’t on a ride, he’s near to BethAnn and her sister, helping them in various ways. He helps them in the garden and teaches Molly to sketch.

Alexis: What role does faith in God play in this story and how does it affect the ending?

Mary: Both BethAnn and Fox are Christians and believe the good things that happen are because of God. If they both didn’t believe in God, I don’t know that they would get together at the end. BethAnn might not have stayed as long as she did if the Lord didn’t make her feel safe at the station, and Fox would have left when he felt BethAnn thought poorly of him and wouldn’t likely fall in love with him.

Alexis: As the author, how does your faith in God in the real world affect your fictional storytelling?

Mary: Every story I write is through the filter of knowing a loving God who never gives up on me and sees more than what is on the outside.

Alexis: What was the most challenging aspect of writing this story?

Mary: Creating a believable hero from a jockey-sized man. But I believe I’ve succeeded in creating a man who measures up to hero status regardless of his height.

Alexis: What’s the moral of the story?

Mary: Don’t judge a book by its cover or, in this case, a hero by his size.

Alexis: If you were not a writer, what would you like to be? Why?

Mary: A craft teacher. I love to sew, quilt, and do various other crafts. Being able to help someone else create something wonderful out of this and that is quite rewarding.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Mary! God bless you. 

Mary: You’re welcome! I had fun!

~*~
Author bio: 
Award-winning novelist Mary Davis has over two dozen titles in both historical and contemporary themes. 

She is a member of ACFW and active in two critique groups. 

Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over thirty years and two cats. 

She has three adult children and one grandchild.

~*~
Book Blurb for Mary's story inside The Pony Express Romance Collection: 

In "An Unlikely Hero", BethAnn is running from a mistake and finds security at a Pony Express station and love in the quiet affection of a shy Pony Express rider known as the “Fox.”

~*~
Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below: 

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Celebrate Lit Blog Tour: A Spring of Weddings (book)


Welcome to my stop on Celebrate Lit's blog tour featuring the talented authors Toni Shiloh and Melissa Wardwell! 

Each author wrote a story for this book titled A Spring of Weddings. I thought that it was a great read! Read my review of both stories below.

I hope that you will enjoy getting to know Toni and Melissa as you read this post today. 


Continue reading to the end of this post for details on how you can WIN a Kindle!

Happy reading!


~*~
My Review of Toni's story:

“A Proxy Wedding” is a sweet novelette written by Toni Shiloh. I found her writing style to be fresh, captivating and engaging from start to finish.

The author starts the story with an interesting premise: Her best friend is asking her to be the bride in a proxy wedding and the hero’s best friend asks him to be the groom. There’s only one problem: The hero and heroine, though they both live in San Francisco (California), have never met.

It’s hilarious to see how the author brings the hero (Damien Nichols) and heroine (Carly James) together as they embark on a road trip to Montana to be “married”. The journey begins with timidity but laughter and shared viewpoints on the craziness of what they’ve agreed to do for their best friends breaks the ice, forming a friendship. The romance in this story was a bit rushed but that is expected for a novelette. However, the plot thickens as the story progresses and the author endears the reader to her characters.

I enjoyed seeing how Carly (the free spirit/art teacher) helped Damien (the “I wear a suit and go to work on Saturday” professional man) relax. The author also used Carly’s personal relationship with God to weave a thread of faith throughout this story and bring Damien to a closer relationship with God. But this romance while rushed is not short on conflict. The author skillfully places several roadblocks on Carly and Damien’s path to love.

After reading “A Proxy Wedding”, I definitely want to read more of Toni’s books! This was a beautifully written story that leaves the reader wanting more of Carly and Damien. Perhaps the author would consider writing a novella or novel-length sequel?

~*~
My Review of Melissa's story:

“Hope Beyond Savannah” is a sweet, short story that’s written by Melissa Wardwell.

The author paints a picture with her words and it’s as complex as it is simply beautiful. The relationship between the hero Nik and the heroine Lily is solid and strong. The reader can tell that they belong together. The storytelling style is intriguing and welcoming, making the reader root for Lily and Nik’s romance even in the face of complications. The face belongs to Nik’s mother. She doesn’t like Lily and isn’t scared to voice her strong, culture-related opinions against Nik’s fiancée.

The author does a great job in handling what can be a sensitive topic. Interracial and intercultural relationships even in this year (2017) are still frowned upon and couples in those situations may find their love challenged and feel like they have to answer to the world.

But in this story, Nik and Lily realize that the only One they need to answer to is God. The author makes it clear that her characters believe in God and want to follow His lead in life. She goes on to tell this story in a way that addresses relevant real-world issues and comfort the readers with the faith of her characters.

The conflict in this story isn’t major but it’s enough to keep the reader turning the pages to see what happens next.

This story is a quick read with an ending that may leave you breathless.

Now I want to read more books written by Melissa Wardwell!

*Celebrate Lit provided Alexis A. Goring with a complimentary copy of this book (“A Spring of Weddings”) in exchange for an honest review.



~*~
About the Authors:

Toni Shiloh
 is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness. 



Melissa Wardwell 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.

Her hope is that each story touches your heart, gives you hope, or just gives you a moment away from the chaos of life. 

~*~
About the Book

Book: A Spring of Weddings: A Contemporary Spring Weddings Collection

Authors: Toni Shiloh and Melissa Wardwell

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Release Date: March 30, 2017

Blurb for the stories within the book:

"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?

~*~
"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?


~*~
Guest posts from Toni and Melissa about their book:

A Proxy Wedding 
Written by Toni Shiloh

Spring is here! I love it because I always think of new beginnings as the flowers bud and then bloom. The trials and tribulation of the winter season are no longer on my mind. My hope that the winter season would not linger begins to become visible as new life takes shape on the bare trees. The seeds I planted in faith of God’s faithfulness sprout up in hope and promise.

When I sat down to write A Proxy Wedding, I had to imagine spring time, because the dreary, overcast skies outside my window were a constant reminder that I was in a season of sickness. One person would get sick, then the next, and the next. By the time the last person got sick, the round would start over. Visits to the doctor were made. Miserable kids were constantly whining in their discomfort.

It. Was. Rough.

It made perfect sense for me to throw my characters into a new situation. One that would make the stretch, take them out their comfort zone, and search for God’s goodness. I wanted to give them a hint of goodness and throw in a trial or two so they could make the decision that sometimes, risk is worth it. Just as we all react differently to new situations, so did my characters.

Carly was intent on making lemonade from her lemons. She tries to get the handsome broker, Damien, to see the importance of smelling roses and lingering over new adventures. Of course, Damien wasn’t partial to the frivolity. He’s so intent on becoming a success that he had no time to slow down.

In order for them to see God’s handiwork in their lives, I had to remind them that they were not products of their past. That in God, they’re a new creation with new opportunities available to them.

I hope you enjoy A Proxy Wedding. May you think of the Father’s love as you take time to stop and smell the roses.

~*~
Hope Beyond Savannah
Written by Melissa Wardwell

I hope you enjoy this story of love, acceptance and new beginnings. It was a joy to write because there is much more to it than the hope of marriage. It is about the blending of two families who are from two completely different cultures. Researching the island traditions, beliefs, and customs was not only fun, but enlightening. Being able to return to my background in bridal as well as the most beautiful city in the United States was just an added bonus.

With Nik and his family being from another country, I gave you a glossary of words and phrases used so you knew what was being said. I found the language to be rather beautiful and to not include it would take away from who these people are. I also give a small explanation as to what Rock-a- billy is. Lily is a funky chick who dresses in a fun and exciting way. When I saw this couple in my head, I knew it would be quite the uncommon match. As you will soon see, they fit together quite nicely.

My point in using a bi-racial couple for this story was based on what we have been seeing in the news lately. It is unlike anything I have ever done but after talking to friends in similar relationships, I knew I had to step out on this limb. I think it is time we begin to look at people through the eyes of God and not man, then we would see how beautiful we all are. It doesn’t matter what color our skin is or what our past contains, we are all God’s creation and we are beautifully and wonderfully made.
~*~
Blog Stops

April 25: Lighthouse Academy
April 28: Mary Hake
April 29: The Power of Words (Spotlight)
May 1: Quiet Quilter
May 4: A Greater Yes
May 5: Carpe Diem
May 7: God is Love
May 8: Autism mom
     ~*~
Giveaway details:
          

To celebrate the tour, Celebrate Lit Publishing is giving away a Kindle! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! Follow this link to enter the giveaway contest, https://promosimple.com/ps/b614.

Spring into Love: Melanie D. Snitker's story on "Finding Joy"


Interview with Melanie D. Snitker, author of Finding Joy: 

Alexis: When I started reading your book, I was drawn into the story from the start. You are a talented author! How long have you been writing books?

Melanie: You are so kind, thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’ve been writing stories since I was a child, but I didn’t start writing Christian romance until I was in college. I published my first book in August of 2014. 

Alexis: What was the inciting incident that made you want to become an author?

Melanie: Truthfully, I wanted to become an author since I was little. I remember watching some of my favorite shows (such as Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers) and wishing there were more episodes. So I’d create my own. Sometimes I wrote out the episodes in story form. Other times, I traced images from coloring books to create comic books. My need to create stories and share them with others grew from there. 

Alexis: What’s the significance of your book’s title, “Finding Joy”?

Melanie: Everyone goes through difficult times in their lives. We can let those define who we are and color everything we do. Or we can find the joy that makes everything else worthwhile. Ultimately, it is our choice. And that’s what I wanted to get across with the title and theme of Finding Joy.

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s hero Parker Wilson. What are his greatest fears? What brings joy to his heart? What made him into the man he is today?

Melanie: Parker has gone through a lot of loss in his life. First, the death of his father when Parker was a teenager caused him to flee the family business in search of something to keep his mind off his grief. Later, an accident not only scarred his face but ended his career, sending him back to the family’s farm where all of those memories of his father come flooding back. When the book begins, the only real joy he finds is in his faithful dog and visiting with sick children in the hospital. He’d rather hide out and avoid life than face it.

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s hero Chelsea Blake. What are her strengths? What is her most visible character flaw? Why does she want to work for Parker’s family on their ranch?

Melanie: Chelsea grew up in a cold family, raised by nannies and mostly ignored by her parents. They shaped her education, provided everything, and raised her to be a lawyer. When she finally realized her life wasn’t her own, she broke away from everything her parents arranged and struck out on her own. She is driven and determined.

But Chelsea is also focused on proving to her parents that she can make her life successful so that they’ll be proud of her. She allows herself to be stressed beyond what’s healthy worrying about what they might think or say the next time she speaks to them. Even though she’s broken away from that life, she still allows her parents to influence what she chooses to do.

She’s worked for a temp agency for a while, unsure of what she wants to focus on for the rest of her life. When she finds out her parents are coming for a visit, she takes the job at the ranch hoping she’ll get hired on permanently. Chelsea worries her mother may be unhappy with the choice of career, but it’s better than working for a temp agency.

Alexis: What are Parker’s first impressions of Chelsea? Are they lasting impressions as the story progresses? Why or why not?

Melanie: When Parker first meets Chelsea, he gets the impression she’s a woman who not only has never set foot on a ranch but has no business being there at all. The last thing he wants to do is deal with her as a new employee and he’s determined to make her quit. As the story progresses, he realizes he didn’t give her nearly enough credit.

Alexis: What are Chelsea’s first thoughts when she meets Parker? What about him makes her upset? What about him makes her heart smile?

Melanie: The first time Chelsea meets Parker, she spills tea and not only gets it on herself but Parker’s dog as well. Parker’s clearly upset. When she later finds out she’s going to be working for him, he’s not happy about it. It really bothers Chelsea that he seems to think she can’t do her job and she sets out to prove him wrong. As she gets to know him, she sees how thoughtful he is and how much he cares about his family. He has a way of making her smile.

Alexis: What do Chelsea and Parker have in common?

Melanie: Parker is so focused on his losses, that he has a hard time looking to the future. Chelsea is so worried about gaining her parents’ approval and respect that she’s working herself into the ground. They both struggle to find the true joy in their own lives.

Alexis: What does it take for Chelsea and Parker to find joy?

Melanie:
Surrender as they realize they can’t completely control their lives or the reactions of the people around them.

Alexis: If you could visit Parker’s family ranch, what would you say to his Mom?

Melanie:
I’d love to visit Parker’s ranch. If I could talk to his mom, I’d tell her she did an amazing job building up a legacy for her children and raising them after the death of her husband. I have a lot of respect for her. Even if she did hire Chelsea when Parker told her he didn’t need more help. lol

Alexis: What was your favorite part about writing this story? Why?

Melanie:
My favorite part about writing this story was the research. I was able to go to a local longhorn ranch and it was such an amazing experience! Not only did I get to feed a longhorn but I had the opportunity to witness the whole herd come running toward me like I write about in Finding Joy. It made Parker’s ranch very real to me.

Alexis: What is the moral of the story?

Melanie: 
No matter what kind of challenges you face in your life, you can make the choice to focus on the joy.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Melanie! God bless you.

Melanie:
Thank you, Alexis. I had a wonderful time visiting and appreciate the opportunity. God bless!

~*~
Author bio: 

Melanie D. Snitker has enjoyed writing for as long as she can remember. She started out writing episodes of cartoon shows that she wanted to see as a child and her love of writing grew from there. 

She and her husband live in Texas with their two children who keep their lives full of adventure, and two dogs who add a dash of mischief to the family dynamics. 

In her spare time, Melanie enjoys photography, reading, crochet, baking, archery, target shooting, and hanging out with family and friends.

~*~
Book Blurb for Finding Joy
Sometimes, what looks like a dead end, is really a new beginning. 

A horrific accident changed everything for Parker Wilson. The beautiful new employee his mom hires is the last thing he needs and he'll do whatever it takes to make the girl quit and regain the peace and quiet he prefers.

Nothing short of desperation would force Chelsea Blake to work on a local cattle ranch. She may not be cut out for ranch life, but her determination to succeed is stronger than her handsome employer’s efforts at forcing her to leave.

Unprepared to discover all they have in common, if they set aside their initial dislike, they might find joy beyond measure.

~*~
Buy Finding Joy on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NH3274U

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Connect with Melanie:
Website - http://www.melaniedsnitker.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/melaniedsnitker
Twitter - https://twitter.com/MelanieDSnitker
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/melaniedsnitker/
Newsletter - https://app.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/n4b3z2 

~*~
Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below:
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