Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Comfort


The Comfort of Jesus
A devotional by Melissa Henderson

“Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.” 
~Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)

Have you ever paused to consider the Scripture listed above? Have you ever thought about the blessing of Jesus staying the same yesterday and today and forever? What a wonderful comfort to know Jesus is always with us. He never leaves us. He loves us forever. In a world full of changes, the love of Jesus brings blessings to all.

Our days may be full of activities, rushing here and there, trying to complete everything on the “to do” list. Or our days may be lonely and filled with uncertainty. Each of us has a unique path in life and special gifts given to us by God. Knowing He is with us brings comfort and peace.

As we experience daily schedules, sometimes things are the same and sometimes different. The schedule may include a different time or place. A new appointment, lunch date, play date, or our work hours may change. Births, deaths, illness and more. How we adapt to those changes shows others how we rely on God.

Even if our lives are filled with happiness or sadness, calm or stress, rest or rush, there is one constant in our lives. Jesus. Forever. Even if we become weary and lose hope, He never leaves us. We can always return to Him.

Friendships may come and go. New friendships may be formed. The hours change, the days change, lives change daily. Change is evident everywhere, from the ocean tide to the rising and setting sun. Changes come in the seasons and the weather. Warm temperatures to cold winds, God’s creations are full of changes.

When we feel overwhelmed, Jesus is there, waiting for us to go to Him. When we are filled with joy and happiness, Jesus is there, waiting for us to go to Him. From prayers of anguish to prayers of thanksgiving, His attention to us never wavers. He never turns His back on us.

His arms are always open, waiting for us. His love is always evident. We are forever His.

Jesus is always the same. We never have to worry about losing His love or Him not caring for us.

Jesus loved us yesterday, Jesus loves us today. Jesus loves us forever.

Can you share the good news with others? Have you showed His love to others today? Find someone and remind them of Hebrews 13:8. Have a conversation about the peace Jesus provides.

There may be someone waiting to hear about the love of Jesus. Don’t assume everyone knows the comfort of Jesus. Share His love through your words and actions.

What a glorious day to show people that “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Blessings,

Melissa Henderson

~*~
Author Bio:
Melissa Henderson and her husband Alan live in South Carolina.

Married for over 38 years, they have one son (Mike) who is married to daughter-in-love (Christine) and now are blessed by a precious grandson (Rowan).

Melissa was taught the love of reading and writing at an early age from her parents. She is now working on her first inspirational fiction novel.

Her passions are volunteering, Bible Studies, reading and writing. Connect with Melissa online, https://mimionlife.wordpress.com.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Christmas on My Heart: A Cinderella Christmas by Amanda Tru


Interview with Amanda Tru about her book, A Cinderella Christmas:

Alexis: What inspired you to write this story?

Amanda: I was in a car accident a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, I was at fault. After the accident was cleaned up, the cars were towed, and the police were gone, I sat on the curb waiting for my husband to come pick me up. Feeling very traumatized and upset, I cried while people walked by, not a single person bothering to look my direction or ask what was wrong. Because of that moment, I wondered how often I don’t see others in need on the sidelines of my own life. Dealing with the trauma from my accident and capturing the significance of that moment became the inspiration for A Cinderella Christmas.

Alexis: What does your story’s title, A Cinderella Christmas, mean?

Amanda: It’s an unexpected twist on the fairytale. In the story, Grant Dillon must find a mysterious woman who inspires his life to change after just one meeting. It is definitely a Cinderella story, but in the end, it also presents a challenge for us all to be the Cinderella this Christmas.

Alexis: A Cinderella Christmas is book two in your Christmas Card series. Tell us about this book and the series.

Amanda: A couple of years ago, I wrote the first book in the series with the idea of writing a book that could be used as an inspirational Christmas card. It’s amazing to realize that gifting an e-book could be less expensive than sending a card, but it’s often true! I wanted to tell a beautiful story that also communicated a Christmas inspirational message that would make the world a better place. It is a different genre than I typically write, and yet readers found it deeply meaningful. I wanted to write a second book, but I had no idea what it would be until I dealt with my own trauma from the accident. This series is my most personal, based on my own experiences, and I love to think that God has been able to use the tough things in my own life to now create two beautiful Christmas stories to inspire others.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine Emily Jansen. What is she like? What drives her to succeed? What hinders her success? What are her dreams?

Amanda: Emily’s life is on pause after an accident in which she is at fault. She is an elementary teacher and a Christian. She’s a good girl who hasn’t ever purposely hurt anyone. Now, with the guilt of knowing the other driver was injured because of her and the uncertainty of whether she will be sued because of it, she’s paralyzed in every area of her life. Her current dreams consist of driving from point A to point B without a panic attack, putting one foot in front of the other to get through each day, getting through the next two years without being sued, somehow allowing God to show her how to help others so that no one else has to be ignored on the sidelines. Emily is a writer and has a heart for others but has trouble trusting God enough to put one foot in front of the other when she doesn’t know how her story will end.

Alexis: Why does Emily struggle with guilt and anxiety?


Amanda: Emily is the type of person who would never knowingly hurt someone and the fact that someone was hurt because she caused an accident is very difficult for her to deal with. She identifies herself as the bad guy in the scenario, and it completely rewrites how she views herself. She no longer trusts herself as a driver or a person of intelligence and can’t forgive herself for making a mistake. Driving is extremely difficult for her, and she has extreme flashbacks and anxiety every time she gets behind the wheel. It is a constant struggle for her to keep moving forward when she doesn’t know that she can trust herself or God.

Alexis: What does Emily’s special notebook look like and how does writing in it help her process everything?

Amanda: Emily’s notebook is a simple, bound pad with lined paper like one might find for a dollar or even 88 cents on a back-to-school special. I picture it as a black composition notebook, probably because that’s the current variety I use! Emily is a writer, though not professionally so. She writes as a way of dealing with the trauma of what she’s been through. If she writes something out, it is far less confusing and more understandable in the form of words on a page. Swirling, random thoughts become three dimensional when writing on lined, two-dimensional paper. Emily very much borrows this habit from her creator who really doesn’t know what she thinks until she reads what she’s written on a page!

Alexis: 
Let’s talk about your hero Grant Dillon. What does he look like? What does he sound like? What is his passion? What breaks his heart?

Amanda:
Grant is a bit of a local celebrity, in part because of his writing talent and his good looks. He’s in his mid to late thirties and is tall and masculine with a strong jaw, warm brown eyes, and dark brown hair that falls across his forehead at just the right angle. He’s quite charming when he’s interviewing and on the job, but he sees the deeper emotion behind what casual observers see as a superficial story. Writing stories that matter is his passion, but that is trumped by his love for his daughter. Grant’s heart was broken with the loss of his wife, and though he tries his best, his heart breaks a little more each day he feels inadequate to connect with his daughter in the way she needs.

Alexis: At the start of your story, Grant has been a widower for five years. How is he coping with the loss of his wife?

Amanda: 
Grant is similar to Emily in that the trauma of losing his wife has paralyzed him. He hasn’t been able to write like he used to, and he feels way over his head with trying to raise his daughter by himself. The intense grief has passed, but the day-to-day loss is what he can’t seem to get beyond.

Alexis:
What does Grant consider to be the challenges of raising his daughter alone?

Amanda: 
Grant’s daughter, Mila, is fourteen. As she gets older, he realizes their relationship has changed. He can no longer make everything better with a kiss to an owie. He has trouble understanding the girl drama and doesn’t know how to relate to her. He feels that she’s moving away from him and connecting less, but he has no idea how to stop it and how a dad can also fulfill the role of a mom in her life.

Alexis: How did the death of Grant’s wife affect his successful journalism career?

Amanda: Before his wife’s death, Grant was a successful journalist who spent considerable time traveling to write prize-winning stories. He scaled back his career when he needed to stay with Mila, and the newspaper he works for agreed to let him stay local. He hasn’t had a big story since he became a widower, and the newspaper is getting anxious. Grant doesn’t seem to have the drive to do what he used to do, and his writing and career has been paralyzed since the day he said goodbye to Kristi.

Alexis: Why does Grant’s boss pressure him to write a prize-winning article?

Amanda: 
She doesn’t give him a choice. He needs to prove that he is still a valuable asset to the newspaper, or he will be fired. His boss has a very hard edge to her personality and assigns him a seemingly impossible task. Then she attaches a deadline.

Alexis: How does a visit to a vet’s office inspire Grant and change his outlook?

Amanda: Grant witnesses a heartbreaking situation, and when he sees the brave way in which a young woman responds, he is touched and inspired. Then, when he finds a notebook that is left behind, he reads her writing and realizes he’s just witnessed her living out the beautiful, personal message she’d written. He is inspired to do the same and to share her message with others.

Alexis: What is it about Emily that inspires Grant and helps to heal his heart?

Amanda: Because Grant is a writer, he understands that the words in Emily’s notebook aren’t casually written. They are birthed from experience and pain. Grant is inspired because he recognizes that there is a story behind the notebook and that the pain behind the words has created something beautiful that is meant to become alive and be shared. Likewise, he wants to be brave beyond his own pain to see those around him in need. It is that sight beyond his own pain and the inspiration of Emily’s message that awakens his heart to live life differently and share that inspiration with others.

Alexis: What is it about Grant that makes Emily want to open her heart to him?

Amanda:
Grant’s belief in her when she has lost all confidence in herself unfreezes Emily’s heart. He sees strength in her weakness and beauty in her pain in a way that she can’t see herself. He knows her faults and all she’s done, and he deems her valuable still. It is the echo of God’s love in Grant that reaches Emily’s heart and causes her to trust that the One who loves her most intends to use her for something worthwhile.

Alexis: What life lessons are you trying to teach through Grant and Emily’s story?

Amanda: I don’t think my objective is to teach as much as it is to share. This is a message that is meaningful to me personally, and I hope it’s meaningful to others as well. I think everyone has felt both extremes at some point in their lives. Sometimes you’re the person sitting on the curb and crying while nobody notices. Sometimes you’re the person walking by oblivious or not brave enough to help someone on the sidelines of your life. I’ve been both. Since I wrote this book, the message has changed my own life. 

My prayer is the same as Emily’s: Give me eyes to see what isn’t shown, ears to hear what isn’t said, hands to do what You want, and the courage to not walk away.

My hope is that those who read this book might be inspired as well, and if just one person chooses to not walk away because of it, I consider that a success.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about A Cinderella Christmas?

Amanda
: Every person who reads this book will connect in a different way or extract something different that they find most profound or meaningful. Whatever message God uses to touch you, that’s what I want you to hold on to. Capture that split second of inspiration, savor it and allow God to use it to write your own beautiful story.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Amanda! Do you have closing comments?

Amanda: If you read A Cinderella Christmas and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review and sharing it with others. I believe word of mouth is still the best publicity, and the highest compliment you can give an author is to recommend her book. Also, I love to hear from readers. If you loved this story or felt inspired, it would truly make my day to know about it.

~*~
Author Bio:
Amanda Tru loves to write page-turning books that inspire real-life Christianity while providing plenty of unexpected twists. She figures she loses so much sleep writing the things, it’s only fair she makes readers lose sleep with books they can’t put down! 

Amanda's current book list includes everything from historical, to action-packed suspense, to inspirational romance, to a Christian time travel/romance series. She is also the author and organizer behind the unique, multi-author Crossroads collection series.

Amanda is a former elementary school teacher who now spends her days being mommy to her four young children and her nights furiously writing. Amanda and her family live in a small Idaho town where the number of cows outnumbers the number of people.

~*~
Blurb for Amanda's book (A Cinderella Christmas
):

A notebook meant to heal one heart, inspires the hearts of many. 

Entirely at fault after a traumatic accident, Emily Jansen struggles with feelings of guilt, anxiety, and the desire to prevent others from experiencing something similar. To help work through her issues, she writes in a notebook and prays for God to open her eyes to see others in need. 

After Grant Dillon’s wife passed away, he scaled back his successful journalism career to better raise his daughter. Now his boss wants him back in the game. He must either produce a prize-winning article or find a new job. At a chance encounter at a vet’s office, Grant finds a notebook a woman left behind. Knowing that she will be the source for his story, Grant searches for someone he knows only by her inspirational writing.

Though just a simple notebook, the message inside could change the world. Its message both inspires Grant to act differently and produces a chain of events that changes lives forever. 

Will Emily's own very personal message heal her heart and allow God to use her pain for good? 

Will Grant’s search for the author of the notebook end with him finding his true Cinderella?

~*~
Connect with Amanda:
Website: www.amandatru.com
Newsletter (sign-up): http://eepurl.com/ZQdw9
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amandatru.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TruAmanda
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/truamanda/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5374686.Amanda_Tru

~*~
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, December 10, 2018

GOD is "My Everything!" Hallelujah!

Devotionals for the Heart: The Reason for the Christmas season


A Beautiful Tree
A devotional by Tammy Karasek

"But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord." ~Luke 2:10-11 (NIV)

I’m sure we all have a memory or two that is special to us around Christmas. I’d like to share with you a particular memory that taught ME a lesson about Christmas from a three-year-old!

I must confess that I’m a recovering perfectionist. I say recovering because until the Christmas of 1989, I really had a problem with being an extreme perfectionist.

It was the beginning of December and I was sick on the couch. Our three-year-old daughter was very excited for the holiday and it was fun to watch. This year was the year she was more aware of what was going on with all of the festivities of the holiday.

My husband had put up the tree for us and we were going to be decorating but . . . I just didn’t have any energy. Each day our daughter would say, “Mommy, is dis da day? Mommy, do we decorate today?”

I’d say, “Maybe later.”

So finally, about the 4th day she informed me that she was going to decorate. Yes, three years old and sassy through and through!

Without the energy to really argue I thought she would probably put on one or two ornaments and we’d be done with it.

Well, she pulled the lid off (I still don’t know how she got it off, it’s a pretty tight lid on those containers). And one by one she pulled out the ornaments. She would say, “I be berry careful, Mommy! I be berry careful wif da ormanents.”

Sure enough, she would gingerly walk to the tree and carefully place the ornaments on the tree. I was impressed for sure.

This went on for 45 minutes or so, as she kept going at it. At one point, I glanced over at the tree and noticed that all the ornaments were about 18 inches up from the bottom branches on the tree and the other three or four feet up the tree was empty.

The perfectionist in me immediately thought, “Oh I’m going to have so much extra work to do. I’m going to have to move all of them because they are all kind of clustered right there in the front.”

As I was thinking about all of this in my mind I heard a gasp from the container. She looked like she was about to fall in but that’s not the reason she gasped.

All of a sudden she said, “I found it Mommy! I found it! And I will be berry berry careful.”

She got out and she cradled an ornament in her hand. She walked very slowly to the couch and as she got close to the couch she bent her little knees down and presented this ornament to me and, “I got the most important ormanent, Mommy! It’s dis one. Dis is why we have a Kismas twee. It’s all about da baby Jesus. Dis is da one, Mommy.”

And like now as I’m typing this, I teared up and said, “You know, little girl. You understand it. You are right. That is the most important ornament and you are right, that is why we have a Christmas tree. It is all about baby Jesus.”

And at that moment I looked at the tree and realized it was the most beautiful tree I’d ever seen. All 18 inches of those ornaments.

And so as we prepare for Christmas this year, wherever someone puts that particular ornament on our tree, that’s perfect to me because it’s their joy and they know why they are putting it on that tree in our family.

I pray that you also have a Christ filled Christmas in your home and that your family, whoever that may be that gathers with you, know why you are decorating that tree and Who we have that Christmas tree for. It is all about Baby Jesus.

By the way, a little P.S. to the story… When my husband came home later that day, he walked into the room and looked at the tree. Then looked at me and looked back at the tree.

I put my finger to my mouth and said, “Someone special wanted to decorate the tree today and I think it looks beautiful, don’t you?”

My daughter looked at him and said, “I decorated it today, Daddy! Because dis tree is all about da Baby Jesus and dis Kismas Tree is pitty. Very pitty.”

And to this day this ornament stays front and center of our Christmas tree because it really is all about the Baby Jesus.

Merry Christmas.

~*~
Author Bio:
You’ll find Tammy seeing humor and causing laughter in every aspect of life.

Her past, filled with bullying and criticism from family, is the driving force of her passion to always encourage others and give them The Reason to smile.

She’s been married to her college sweetheart, Larry, for 37 years, a mom to their grown daughter, Kristen and wrapped around the paw of a little dog named Hattie. Born and raised in Ohio, her family now resides in South Carolina.

She is the President of Word Weavers Upstate SC, member of ACFW and member of My Book Therapy/Novel Academy.

She’s the Blog Coordinator/Editor for Florida Christian Writers Conference, a contributor in the 2018 Divine Moments Compilation Book—Cool-inary Moments, a monthly contributor for HeartWingsblog.com and God is Love (capturingtheidea.blogspot.com).

~*~
Connect with Tammy:
Blog: http://www.tammykarasek.com
Email: tickledpinktammy@gmail.com

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Christmas on My Heart: On Angels’ Wings by Ginger Solomon


The story behind the story On Angels’ Wings by Ginger Solomon:

One day as I was surfing through my social media, I saw a person standing in front of a drawing of white angel wings on a black wall. I liked the picture.

My son is a decent artist on his tablet, so I asked him to duplicate the picture for me (his wings are behind my characters on the cover). Then I had to decide how I would incorporate those wings into my story. Yes, I had my cover design almost before I started the story. That rarely happens.

Sadly, that meant killing a few people—my heroine’s family—before the story started. From their deaths, Jenna Wing, my heroine, received enough money to start her own business, Angels’ Wings Bakery. But it also meant moving away from her childhood home.

Fast forward several months to her first Thanksgiving without her family. Her former neighbor, a woman who had been like a second mom to her, asks her adult son to invite Jenna to dinner, but he forgot. On Thanksgiving Day, he shows up unannounced and refuses to take no for an answer, well, his mother does.

And that’s where Jenna is reunited with Thomas, my hero. Sparks ignite within her when he’s anywhere close. They had since she was a teen and had a huge crush on him. A crush that rushed back the moment he walked in her bakery.

The story just took off from there. I don’t want to give too much away, but Jenna and Thomas deal with the repercussions of an attempted suicide, grief, and the urge to protect themselves from additional pain of loving someone.

This story touched me in so many ways. Every time I reread one of the lines I highlighted as one that affected me, I remember God’s rebuke. And yes, He rebukes ME through my stories. Sometimes it’s very gentle, and sometimes it’s like a slap in the face.

One of the gentler ones came with this statement made by Jenna, “I have to remember it doesn't matter what other people think of me. All that matters is how God sees me.”

I’m a people pleaser. I always have been. I care what others think of me. Too much at times. But in this story, God reminded me that the world (in general) will not accept me and may even persecute me because of my beliefs. But I have to remember and be reminded that God’s view of me is all that matters.

Am I doing what He has asked of me? Am I writing the stories He puts on my heart? Have I raised my kids to love Him? Do I live the life I say I live? Is my heart focused on Him?

And so many other things I ask myself. I always say that I write for His glory and not for the monetary rewards (good thing, ‘cuz those are very limited) or accolades (those are limited as well). But do I really write for His glory? In my heart, yes. In my mind, sometimes I want the money and the pats on the back. Yep, I’m human. But at the end of the day, I come back to the 3x5 card I have posted beside my monitor. It says, “Write for God alone.”

With On Angels’ Wings, I think I did. I wrote a story that touched me in so many ways. It taught me valuable lessons about my lack of belief, lack of trust, and people-pleasing problems.

I pray it touches others in a similar way. But God has control of that. And if He’s pleased with me, with the words I put on paper, then I’m a success—no matter what the world thinks of me.

~*~
Author Bio:

Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer—in that order (mostly). 

She writes or reads inspirational romance of any genre, and if she’s busy homeschooling, doing laundry, or fixing dinner, books are on her mind. 

She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, president of her local writing group, and blogs regularly for InspyRomance.com and at gingersolomon.com.

~*~
Book Blurb for
On Angels’ Wings:

Bakery owner, Jenna Wing prepares to spend Thanksgiving alone—her first without her family. 


When her former neighbor, Thomas Hayes, invites her to dinner, she finds that she can’t say no. Their previous friendship turns to something more, but Thomas’s family issues threatens their new-found relationship. 

~*~
Book Ginger's book on Amazon

Ginger's book is part of a boxed set called, "The Heart of Christmas: A Romantic Christmas Novella Collection." 


Here's the blurb for the entire boxed set: Announcing five new stories filled with faith, hope, forgiveness, and of course happily-ever-afters. Each story focuses on an element of the Nativity, from the angels to the wise men. Be swept up in the love of the season and the promise of forever that the Christ child, the true Heart of Christmas, brings.

~*~
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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Falling for Books: Courtney's book


Interview with Courtney Walsh about her book, Just Look Up:

Alexis: 
What is your book about and why did you title it “Just Look Up?"

Courtney: I actually thought of the title for this book before I even had an inkling of a story. On a trip to NYC after years of being away, I noticed walking down the street that everyone had their heads buried in their phones. I, being completely enamored with New York, could not believe all people were missing. I kept thinking, “Look up! You’re missing it all!” And then I realized we do that with our lives. We keep our heads down in our phones and we miss all the life happening around us. I took that idea and turned it into this story. 

Alexis: Describe the setting for your book. How did you choose it? Where is it located?

Courtney: I’m from the Midwest, and I’ve long loved Michigan and all the small cottage towns along the lake, so I created Harbor Pointe, which is a fictitious town that pulls in some of my favorite elements of a variety of real (and imagined!) places. 

Alexis: Lane Kelley is your story’s heroine. She’s an interior designer based in Chicago. How did you research her character and decide on the details that make Lane, “Lane?”

Courtney: Honestly, Lake is the most autobiographical character I’ve ever written, so I didn’t have to do a lot of research to figure her out. She works too much—to the point of making herself sick—and she’s incredibly hard on herself. She always feels like she has something to prove. She’s struggled with her weight in the past, and the teasing/bullying that went on when she was younger still have a slight hold on her today. I think there’s something in Lane most women will relate to as her issues are largely universal. 

Alexis: Early on in your story, Lane is at a crossroads: Pitch successfully to a big client that will advance her career, or travel home to address a family emergency. Has she always felt torn between her dreams and her family’s needs? Explain.

Courtney: I think so. I think when you’re a driven, ambitious person, it’s hard to put work aside, even when you know it’s better to do so, and even (sadly) at the loss of really important relationships. Work has such a hold on us these days—it makes it difficult to rest, to spend time on what really matters, to step away even for a few days. 

Alexis: Describe Lane’s hometown. What makes it special? Why did she want to leave?

Courtney: Harbor Pointe is a charming lakeside town that depends on tourism. There’s a “summer crowd” and then “locals”, who are as quirky and eclectic as the cotton candy-colored buildings that make up its downtown. But, as is the case for many of us, Lane’s hometown, while a respite for so many, has too many secrets and taunts from the past. This makes it difficult for her to stay. 

Alexis: Why do you say that Lane’s family is eclectic? Have they always seen life differently?

Courtney: I’ve always viewed the Kelley family as boisterous, the kind of people who only have outside voices. They aren’t the same kind of driven and ambitious that Lane is—they are perfectly content to run their cheese shop in this small town and live a simple life. That makes Lane feel like the odd man out. They are the type of people who would embarrass someone like Lane simply by being themselves, and she has to come to terms with the fact that it might be her—not them—who needs to change. 

Alexis: Ryan Brooks is the hero of this story. He’s very adventurous. What are his positive points, flaws, strengths, and weaknesses?

Courtney: Ryan Brooks is one of my favorite heroes I’ve ever written. He’s flirtatious and forward, and while his life has not been all rosy, he still has a positive outlook. He’s a veteran, an unassuming hero, the kind of man who doesn’t like the spotlight, but he wants to build a good life for himself, and he’s doing that. Mostly, he wants to be sure he doesn’t end up like his dad, and I’d say one of his flaws is the unforgiveness he’s carrying toward his own father. 

Alexis: How long has Ryan “secretly loved” Lane? Why didn’t he tell her how he felt?

Courtney: I think Brooks has loved Lane forever. Even when she was heavy. Even when she thought she was ugly. He saw something in her that no one else did. He just loved her for who she was. BUT, he was her brother’s friend, and their lives never really allowed for a romance to blossom—she moved to Chicago, he joined the military. Now that she’s back, though, it’s hard for him to set those feelings aside. 

Alexis: Did (romantic) sparks fly when Ryan and Lane were reunited early on in this story? Why or why not?

Courtney: I think yes. Sort of. The kind of sparks that fly, but you maybe don’t admit are flying right away. Brooks always teases her, and he knows how to push her buttons, so their playful banter was fun to write. Lane arrives home with a chip on her shoulder, so he has a big job to try and break down that wall.

Alexis: Why is Lane closed off to Ryan and why is Ryan keeping secrets from his past?

Courtney: Lane is closed off to everyone, but especially to Ryan. He sees through her fa├žade, and she doesn’t like it. And as far as his secrets—I really think he’s embarrassed. He doesn’t like thinking about where he came from. He’s moved on and tried to make something of himself. He wants to be taken seriously, and his past makes that difficult for him. 

Alexis: How does your personal faith in God affect your storytelling?

Courtney: It’s just always there. It’s such a part of who I am at my core, there’s no way around it. It seeps in through the cracks, and I’m glad it does. I think faith provides a sort of hope and light in a very dark world. 

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember the most about Just Look Up? Why?

Courtney: I think the characters and the theme. I would love for more people to commit to looking up. Like with this holiday season…What if we thought less about ourselves and our goals and our plans and THINGS and focused instead on the people in our lives? Instead of piling gifts high, what if we created moments and memories? It’s so hard to unplug and just BE in the moment, but I think that would be my challenge to my readers (and myself)!

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Courtney! Would you like to share closing thoughts?

Courtney: Thank you so much for hosting me here! I really appreciate it!

~*~
Author Bio:
Courtney Walsh is a novelist, artist, theatre director, and playwright. 

Just Let Go will be her eighth inspirational romance novel. Her debut, A Sweethaven Summer, hit the New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller lists and was a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category.

A creative at heart, Courtney has also written two craft books and several full-length musicals. 

She lives in Illinois with her husband and three children.

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Book Blurb for Just Look Up:

After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home—a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget.

With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work—something her eclectic family doesn’t understand

Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.

Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. 

Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along—if only she’d just look up.

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Buy Courtney’s book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ChristianBook, or Tyndale

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Saturday, December 8, 2018

Christmas on My Heart: A Christmas Kiss by June Foster


Interview with June Foster about her book, A Christmas Kiss:

Alexis: 
Why did you write this book for a young adult audience?

June: I had never written a Young Adult (YA) book before, and I'm always ready to explore a new genre. I had plans to write a story about the heroine after she'd grown up, so I decided to first pen a story about when she was a teen. The story which features Haley Flannery all grown up and working as an RN is Someone to Call His Own. If anyone signs up for my newsletter on junefoster.com, I will send you a free PDF copy of that book!

Alexis: What inspired you to create this story?

June: Most of my stories contain difficult issues we encounter in our society today such as drug use, abortion, and uncontrolled anger. I decided to veer away from the heady problems my characters face and write a lighthearted story. 

Alexis: Tell us about Haley, your story’s heroine. What is she like? What does she not like? How does her personality affect how people interact with her?

June: Haley is a popular young woman who's active in her high school. She is raised in a Christian home but is not totally sold out to the Lord. In the story, she believes that the hero, Brett Sanford has a Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde personality. When she thinks he's lied to her, she wants nothing more to do with him. Her best friend loves Haley's enthusiasm about football and participation in the student council. Most people feel free to interact with Haley—all except Brett when he's in his Mr. Hyde mode.

Alexis: Tell us about Brett, your story’s hero. What is he like? What are his strengths, weakness, dreams and goals in life?

June: Brett is an unselfish, Godly young man who puts the Lord first in his life. He plays football and wants to help Haley when she asks him to play Santa Clause for the Christmas dance. Brett's primary strength is loyalty and unselfishness, but when he automatically assumes his brother will help him out, he's sadly mistaken. Brett wants nothing more than to serve God with his life.

Alexis: How does Brett being the quarterback for the school’s football team affect his relationship with Haley who is student council secretary? 

June: At first, Haley is afraid to ask him to help her with the student council dance. She's afraid he might tell her no because he's too busy with football and wouldn't have time for the likes of her. 

Alexis: Why does Haley ask Brett to play Santa for their school’s Christmas dance? 

June: She wants to get to know him better, and she believes this would be a good way.

Alexis: What is it about Brett that makes Haley want to kiss him? 

June: When Brett came to her house to pick up the Santa suit, he gave her a peck on the cheek. Later, Haley decides she's going to give Brett a real kiss—but it will be Santa she kisses, of course.

Alexis: How does Haley and Brett’s faith in God affect their outlook on life and interactions with each other? 

June: Brett is ready to forgive when others betray him. He's always ready to lend a helping hand, but when he does toward the end of the story, it gets him in trouble. Haley's faith is weak but when she witnesses Brett's Godly attitude, she's drawn closer to the Lord.

Alexis: If you could spend Christmas Eve with Haley and Brett talking over hot chocolate, what would the conversation center on and why? 

June: I'd love to ask Brett more about his faith and how he came to the Lord. I'd like to talk to Haley about her aspirations for the future since I wrote a book about what happens to her when she grows up.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about A Christmas Kiss

June: Wrapped in a good story, the tale about Brett and Haley reminds readers that a life surrendered to the Lord is most important.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, June! Do you have closing comments?

June: Thank you, Alexis, for allowing me to share about A Christmas Kiss. I'd like to remind readers it is a short story. So if your holidays are busy, you'll have time to read this book.

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Author Bio: 
June Foster is an award-winning author who began her writing career in an RV roaming around the USA with her husband, Joe. 

She brags about visiting a location before it becomes the setting in her contemporary romances. 

June's characters find themselves in precarious circumstances where only God can offer redemption and ultimately freedom. 

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Book Blurb for A Christmas Kiss:

When student council secretary Haley Flannery volunteers to find someone to play Santa for the school Christmas dance, she quickly decides to ask the football team's quarterback, Brett Sanford. 


But when he's Dr. Jekyll one minute and Mr. Hyde the next, she's supposed to believe his explanation that he has a twin brother. 

When Brett plays "Santa" at the school dance then shoves her away after she tries to kiss him, can she forget about the gorgeous guy and concentrate on the true meaning of Christmas?

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Buy June's book on Amazon

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Connect with June:
Website: junefoster.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/junefoster
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vjifoster
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjunefoster

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Friday, December 7, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Celebration


On Celebration

A devotional by Lisa Lickel


The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
~Luke 4:18-19 (ESV)

"Far and away the most important benefit of celebration is that it saves us from taking ourselves too seriously." ~Richard Foster, The Celebration of Discipline

Walking with Jesus should be a continual dance, leaping and shouting and rejoicing that we have been set free! Free! Free! Hallelujah! That’s how Jesus began his earthly ministry, remember? 
He went to church, took his place reading scripture from Isaiah about the Year of Jubilee which nobody since the time of Leviticus honestly held—like, ever—and, voila!, announced his purpose. In the writing world, writers recognize this as the supreme story-telling method. He stated the need, the conflict, and the resolution all at once. Subtle, hey?

The term "celebration" is used in many denominational parts of a worship service. The word probably brings up a different picture for everyone. What do you think when you hear it? What do you celebrate?

In the United States, the months of November, December, and January can be dreary with bad weather and darkness. They are also the months of a national Thanksgiving, the recognition of Christmas, and rejoicing in a New Year. However commercial we like to complain our society has become, we can’t change the origin of the celebrations. 

The heart of the national day of Thanksgiving is an appreciation for a (okay, brief) season of mutual interaction that helped a small group of determined religious refugees survive. They praised God for their new friendships which led to the first harvest. When Abraham Lincoln made the day a federal holiday, he made sure everyone knew we publicly party on behalf of the goodness of God. Recognizing the glad tidings of great joy in Christmas undergirds the spirit of Christ’s birth and what it means, and of course, a New Year is our chance to examine our hearts and redirect our faith journey.

What’s not to celebrate? Christianity is the practice of “do”: Do love the Lord, do love those around us. Jesus came to blast away the dourness of rules tacked on to grace and mercy. He came to remind us of who he is. God proclaims his love and the result of that love, the satisfaction of sin debt. He frees us from the ravages of that sin debt on each other and the world he built for us. He lifts us out of the pit we throw ourselves in; he makes the lame leap for the joy and turns mourning into laughter. He wishes we wouldn’t take ourselves so seriously that we forget to have honest, good, clean fun that helps keep our focus trained on Him; joy that glorifies his name and makes others want to join us.

What I’ve learned this year of renewal is that while I worried I’d taken a left when I should have veered right, I was still making progress. The rabbit trails weren’t in vain and The Holy Spirit always had my whole being wrapped in his embrace. I allowed the Great Physician to examine me and unclog my ears, remove the plank from my eye, and un-stuff my arteries. It’s not permanent, I know. That’s why the faith walk is a journey, a practice of disciplines—one to celebrate.

My Prayer: I will praise You 
(God) forever with my whole being, remembering with joy that you are the author and finisher of my faith.

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Author Bio:
Lisa Lickel lives in the rolling hills of western Wisconsin. 

A multi-published and award-winning novelist, she also writes short stories and radio theater, is an avid book reviewer, blogger, a freelance editor, and workshop leader. 

She is a member of Chicago Writers Association and part of Novel-in-Progress BookCamp and Writing Retreat, Inc., mentoring writers from across the United States and Canada.
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Connect with Lisa:
Website: http://www.LisaLickel.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lisalickelauthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/lisalickel
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lisajlickel
Amazon Author page: http://amzn.to/2bPxi2X