Friday, December 30, 2016

Words of Faith: Positivity Inspires shares her story on trusting God's plan

A Test of My Faith
A Words of Faith story by
 Positivity Inspires 

Talking the talk and walking the walk are two very different things. I can say I have faith all day, but if I do not act on it, what good is that?

A Test of Faith

My faith has been tested at many points in my life – many, many, many times. And there was one time I distinctly remember when my faith was really tested. I was fresh out of graduate school and was planning to stay in the same city and state in which I graduated. Little did I know that in just a few months, the Lord would instead lead me to an area that was clearly out of my comfort zone. This area was new territory (literally). It was far from family and friends, and I knew no one there. What’s more is that although I knew God was guiding me to this new place, I did not know how I was going to get there because I was working with limited funds. When I considered the amount of money it would take for me to move (and then looked at the amount of money I had in my bank account at the time), what I had would not be enough to cover the expenses of relocating.

Departing from the Familiar

Whenever I tell this story, I think of two people and two stories in the Bible – Abraham and of course, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In Genesis 12:1, God told Abraham to leave his father’s country and make his way to an area that He (God) had appointed so the Lord can “make of thee a great nation”. Abraham had to leave what was familiar to him because God had set up his (Abraham’s) blessings in a different area. In other words, Abraham had to leave his comfort zone. Abraham was obedient to God’s instructions, and because of his obedience, he was blessed.

Insufficient to the Normal Eye, More than Sufficient in God’s Eyes

Another story that comes to mind is the one in which Jesus feeds the multitude (approximately five thousand people according to what is recorded in the Gospels) with as little as five loaves of bread and two fishes. Although this story is recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, I will refer to Mark 6:31-44 in this blog. In Mark 6, one can read how Jesus took what seemed to be an insufficient amount of food and fed a very large crowd.

Sometimes we look at what we currently have, thinking it is not enough to accomplish something. We make the mistake of looking at it with natural eyes verses our spiritual eyes. Sometimes we fail to realize that whatever God has given us (no matter how small of an amount we consider it to be), He can multiply it. He can turn what we consider to be a shortage into a surplus.

Walking the Walk…of Faith

Now, back to my story, it was time for me to step out on faith. I made plans to make the big move, despite how my bank account was looking and despite the fact that I was traveling to unknown territory (remember, new place, no family, and no friends). Now, if you read carefully, you will notice that I went ahead and made plans to move before I received the money required to make that move.

Okay, I must admit that I experienced a few moments of uneasiness prior to that move. There were a couple of times when I was thinking of how I was going to get to the place God was leading me with a very small amount of money. Our “flesh” will act that way at times, and we must pray, remember God’s promises, and be obedient to Him, regardless. So although I had a couple of “moments”, in my spirit, I was confident the Lord was going to provide for me, and He did. God made a way. He opened a door, just in time. I acted on faith. I walked the walked, and everything worked out wonderfully for me.

Now, you may be wondering what the significance of this “new territory” I often referred to in this blog is. Well, it was there where my relationship with Christ thrived and my ministry began. As with Abraham, I had to leave what was familiar to me and travel to an unknown land to receive my spiritual blessing (my ministry). I walked the walk of faith, despite how my finances looked. I was obedient to God, despite the few moments of fear I experienced, and because I did these things, I was blessed.

Author bio:  

Better known by her pen name, Positivity Inspires (trademarked) is a writer, speaker, and servant of the Lord. 

She was introduced to Christ at a very early age and was raised in the church. Her ministry focuses on encouraging Christians to continually strengthen their bond with Christ, study His Word, and live His Word daily. 

Although Positivity Inspires writes in more than one genre, she is best known for her Christian/Inspirational works. Her blogs can be found on several websites, including the “The Christian Post”, a major online Christian newspaper based in Washington D.C. She also is currently writing a couple of books with the hope of publishing them soon. 

Positivity Inspires has spoken at several churches and has been interviewed by the hosts of the “Morning Show” on Missions Radio. 

As a successful career woman who has earned a doctorate in her field, she also greatly understands the importance of placing God first and cherishes her relationship with Him. She is one who is appreciative of her career and passionate about her ministry, and she possesses a strong love for Christ and for others.

Connect with Positivity Inspires:
Twitter -
Instagram -
Facebook -

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas, dear blog readers! :)

Christmas Day book giveaway!

Merry Christmas, dear hearts! I hope you enjoyed my holiday book promotional series, "A Prelude to Christmas" which ended on Christmas Eve. Just when you may have thought that this holiday cheer and giving free books away was over, I have news for you: it's not! 

Today, I'd like to give you a Christmas present: A chance to spend time with a fabulous indie author and win a copy of her Christmas story, Wrapped in Red.

Here's the blurb for Wrapped in Red
A Steel City holiday romance sure to melt your heart. The holidays haven't been the easiest for Merry Grainger. Five years ago, she lost her grandfather and got dumped by her boyfriend right before Christmas. Each season since sees her determined to avoid getting hurt again, and so she keeps a steel-like grip on her hopeless romantic heart.

Music used to soothe Sam Shepard’s soul until the death of his biggest cheerleader broke his heart, family, and dreams into pieces. Now he’s focused on thriving in the city, and with the people, he’s grown to love—all to keep the hole in his heart from opening anew with every passing holiday season.

Thrown together by a church play and meddlesome family armed with mistletoe, will Merry and Sam unwrap their guarded hearts to let in the true hope of Christmas—and each other?

Enter the book giveaway contest by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway ~*~
Interview with Meghan M. Gorecki, author of Wrapped in Red:

Alexis: Tell me about your story title, “Wrapped in Red.” What’s the significance of it?

Meghan: Long answer? The best present of all is Jesus—and all we have to do is accept, aka “unwrap” Himself into our lives. And His is the greatest love we will ever experience that is mirrored in the way we love others and the way others love us. Such a love colors all we do, is a thread not unlike a ribbon around a Christmas present!

Short answer? The Kelly Clarkson song by the same name inspired this whole roundabout train of thought surrounding my novel. LOL

Alexis: Is Steel City an actual place in the real world or did you create it just for this novel? Explain. Use words to paint a picture of Steel City. 

Meghan: The Steel City—Pittsburgh, PA—is my hometown. While it is now known for healthcare and technology and business, the core of this city is its industry. Charles Dickens when he visited here in the 1800’s actually described it as “Hell with its lid off” due to all the factories and mills and barges that went up and down all three rivers. Today towering skyscrapers of glass and steel pierce the sky above older (pre-Victorian era) architecture, surrounded by so many varied districts with colorful pasts like Polish Hill, the South Side Slopes, Lawrenceville, and so many more even I’ve yet to truly explore despite living here all my life.

Alexis: What is it about Wrapped in Red that you believe will melt the hearts of your readers?

Meghan: My hope is that readers will not only enjoy the Hallmark-movie-like cheesy romantic comedy that fits so very well with this time of year—but also come away reminded of the Greatest Love and all that He is capable of.

Alexis: Why did you name your story’s heroine “Merry”? Is there a special meaning behind her name?

Meghan: Oh I love this question! I named her Merry for a few reasons. Reason #1: It’s Christmas-y. Reason #2: It’s my middle name (except mine is spelled traditionally) Reason #3: Mary was my great-grandmother’s name. Reason #4: It’s always been one of my favorites.

Alexis: Tell us about Merry Grainger. What makes her the heroine of your story? What are her likes and dislikes? Describe her looks and heart. 

Meghan: Merry Grainger is a word-loving girl with a huge heart—with a fair share of scars from past hurts and dreams/hopes deferred. She likes coffee, old movies and books. Dislikes include snow, traffic (that Pittsburgh has in utter abundance), and people assuming.

Alexis: Why does Merry, as your book blurb says, keep a “steel-like grip on her hopeless romantic heart”?

Meghan: Merry has been hurt in the past, but despite all her efforts to not let it happen again—she has yet to totally kill the romantic in her as she struggles to keep her heart open. The short answer is is that she’s a lovable control freak in this department.

Alexis: Tell us about Sam Shepard. What makes him the hero of this story? Why is he passionate about music? What breaks his heart and what gives him hope?

Oh Sam. He is the hero of this story because he has an immensely caring soul—and he is a guy that pursues. A rare breed. He used to be passionate about music—piano specifically—and he was proficient in it. A shared love with his mother who was taken from this life when Sam was at a hard age. What gives him hope is a new dream he is uncovering—and the opportunity to do good and be there for the people in his life.

Alexis: Is Sam new to Steel City? Describe his journey. Tell us how he got there and what he loves most about it.

Meghan: Sam is relatively new to Pittsburgh for sure, and loves it for all the many layers of history just the architecture of the city tells. He ended up finishing college there and obtaining a degree in architectural design after a few years of leading a messy life that had him hit rock bottom before he could rise up and find a new dream.

Alexis: What can you tell us about the way Merry and Sam feel about each other without giving away your story’s plot? Do they like each other at first? Or did it take time for their hearts to grow fond of each other? Share a few details. 

Meghan: Sam liked Merry right off the bat. And she was decidedly against him. On principle because her family thought he’d be perfect for her. She had to warm up, and his pursuit touched her soul in a place she hadn’t realized she’d needed before.

Alexis: What do you, as the author, think that the “true hope of Christmas” will mean to your readers? What’s the moral of the story?

Meghan: The true hope of Christmas is that we are covered in Love. Wrapped in the arms of God, first and foremost—and called to love others as He loves us. Sacrificially. And sometimes that means letting go, and letting Him—realizing, as much as we may care for someone, we can’t fix them or make them better. And we must sacrifice our own wants and ideas for God’s will above all else. That is a huge part of the heart of this story—and something Merry and Sam come to learn in the course of the story.

Alexis: What did you, as the author, enjoy the most about creating your characters for this story and watching them live and breathe on the pages of your book?

Meghan: With the exception of Sam, I created the characters within these pages based on real life. Me and my family. The five best people I know—who put up with a lot from me. So I took those already living and breathing people, a few things God’s taken me through in my life, a good dose of imagination and creativity and turned it into a fictional story. Writing what I know is a joy and privilege for me—hence why I call this a novella of my heart. 

Alexis: How did you feel after writing "The End" to this lovely holiday romance story?

Meghan: When I wrote “The End”, I’ll be honest—it took me an hour of tweaking to be completely happy with it. Then I felt elation, exhaustion, relief and utter peace. That this was the story God wanted me to tell—and He alone enabled me to finish it. In the midst of a brand new day job and the holiday season with a big, busy family.

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

Meghan: Thank you so much for having me, Alexis! What a great time—and amazing questions, by the way. Such a joy to visit and share more about Wrapped in Red.

Author bio: 

Meghan M. Gorecki is an author of inspirational fiction, a blogger, book reviewer and voracious reader. 

Taking her life a day at a time as God leads, she is pursuing a career in the publishing industry as an editor in training and as a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. 

A hopeless romantic, history and Marvel nut, she's also a redhead (thanks to a box), who knows way too much trivia about movie musicals and the Civil War. 

Find her on social media and at her blog, A Northern Belle (

Buy Meghan's book, Wrapped in Red:
Amazon -
Connect with Meghan:
Facebook || Twitter || Instagram

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Prelude to Christmas: HIStory as told by Amber Schamel

We made it to Christmas Eve! Are you looking forward to Christmas Day? 

Today is the last official day of "A Prelude to Christmas" but there is a very special treat in store for you tomorrow. But for now, let's focus on today and welcome our special guest Amber Schamel! She's here to share an excerpt of her story, The Swaddling Clothes. Enjoy!

Review of Amber Schamel’s book written by Amber McCalister:

The Swaddling Clothes is a surprisingly sweet treasure that deftly weaves fiction and Scripture to create a compelling tale of love, hope, and promise. This story follows the tumultuous years from King David to the birth of Jesus Christ. We get a firsthand look at the heartbreak and despair that Israel finds itself in throughout this time. It’s not a history fill of ease and peace, but it is a time full of hope and humility. God uses this time to bring Israel back to Him. He chastises His people because He loves them, and He wants their hearts to turn back to Him in sincerity and love.

The idea that something as insignificant as swaddling clothes can be passed down from King Solomon to Jesus Christ is mind-boggling and yet something that I could see God using as a way to bind His people to Him in hope and promise. While this story is a work of fiction, its inception and execution is brilliant. Watching as this cloth is handed down through the generations of kings almost lost and its meaning all but forgotten, is both heartbreaking and beautiful. The research and detail put into this story is amazing and not without great passion and heart from the author.

I love the up close and personal feel that we receive from reading this amazing story. You feel like you are invading very private moments in the lives of significant people. This new feel of intimacy makes these stories come alive for me. I get so much more from a story if I can read it on a personal level. After all, we were created to be intimate beings in constant communication with the Creator of the Universe. That is a part of our nature that we can’t erase or escape from no matter what we do.

Amber Schamel knows how to reach down deep and touch your heart. With what seems like little effort, she is able to make you feel like you are sitting next to these amazing people of God and discover that there is a way that we can relate to them on some level. They were real people who feared, hoped, loved, and dreamed just like we all do. We are all vessels that God wants to use for His purpose, but the choice is ours to allow Him to use us. I pray that you will allow Him to use you for a greater purpose than you can ever imagine. If God can use Rahab, Ruth, and Mary to prove that His love can reach this far down from the Heavens, then why can’t he use us?

Excerpt from Chapter One of 
The Swaddling Clothes:

Maacah pressed her back against an olive trunk. Had she really heard right? All expected this new, young wife of David’s would soon be with child, but how could the child of a commoner—a wife acquired through murder and iniquity—possibly be named the successor to the throne above her own son? Absalom was a beautiful child, beloved of all who knew him, third born, and of royal blood. What disgrace and insolence for David to consider this woman’s son over Absalom. No, this could never be.

She peeked out from behind the tree as David led Bathsheba toward the palace. “Something must be done. That woman’s son will never reign over Absalom.”

Her thoughts raced like wild stallions as she darted toward her son’s chambers. She didn’t know how, but she would blight this plan to usurp Absalom’s throne. Starting with the swaddling clothes.


Absalom’s resolute step carried him swiftly toward the court. His long tresses, curly like his father’s, bounced against his broad shoulders. Could what Mother said be the truth? He refused to believe his father would plan to make Bathsheba’s child his heir. For twenty years he had worked to become his father’s favorite. She must have heard wrong. She did say she was a distance away as they spoke. He rounded the corner and entered the hall adjoining the throne room. A group of scribes stood in his way.

“You go in first. You’re the one who has served the king the longest.”

“He threw us out moments ago. Now he wants us back?”

Absalom rolled his eyes and brushed past them.

“I am going to be an abba! Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Absalom froze. The words unmistakably shouted in the king’s voice. His father’s voice.

He barely noticed the scribes bumping into him as they scurried through the doorway into the throne room. What could he mean by that? Was he not an abba already? Even with six sons?

Regaining his senses, Absalom peered around the door left ajar in the rush. King David’s chest swelled. His finger extended toward where Absalom stood obscured by the door.

“Let it be written and posted throughout every city in the land of Israel: every craftsman skillful in the art of weaving is summoned to the palace in Jerusalem. The king and queen desire to fashion swaddling clothes for the prince of the house of David. The cloths will be of the finest thread, created from the best of every land. The craftsman selected will be paid a royal wage. A decree from David, king of Israel.”

Swaddling clothes of the finest? Crafted from every land? Bile rose in Absalom’s throat. His mother had been right. His own father was conspiring against his reign, in complete disregard of his heritage. He could not allow this. Something must be done. Something—but what?

Author bio: 
Author of over half a dozen books, Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. 

She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest". 

She lives in Colorado and spends half her time volunteering in the Ozarks.
Buy Amber's book:
Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble
Connect with Amber:
Facebook -
Twitter -

Enter the book giveaway contest by filling out the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to WIN a copy of Amber's book: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 23, 2016

Words of Faith: A Pastor's Journey from Corporate America to Jesus

From Corporate to Clergy: “Yes, Lord!”
A Words of Faith story by Pastor CJ Cousins

I was a very reluctant recruit. My journey of faith in Christ and His call on my life was one of denying the obvious. Jesus made it evident that He had a special plan for my life from an early age, especially through a dream and a near death experience He miraculously spared me from. As a child I was occasionally found preaching to stuffed animals. This would come as no surprise to my mother, who was a singing evangelist, whom I often accompanied as she sang in evangelistic meetings domestically and internationally. Therefore I developed not only a love for singing and music, but a deep passion for Jesus and the Seventh-day Adventist message. As a youth and young adult I was very active in ministry; singing, youth ministry, preaching and public campus ministry.

It was while I was in college that Jesus placed a deep sense of calling on my heart. This was affirmed by several individuals who observed me in ministry. However I wrote off this calling since I was studying Business Administration, which I was being groomed for since high school in a special business program. I was enamored with the apparent prestigious life of the corporate world. I also wrote off this calling since I didn’t think pastors made much money and so I eventually started working at the bank. While witnessing to a co-worker at the bank, again the deep sense that I should be a pastor came over me, but again I ran from this calling and started doing my master's in Human Resource Management and becoming a recruiter for an international recruiting firm.

I ultimately found myself with a fairly large home and on my way to climbing the corporate ladder, when God dramatically pulled me out of my career. This was the biggest test in my journey of faith. While attempting to get back into my career, the Holy Spirit began to place a burden for souls on my heart, so I reasoned that I would start a ministry, called Living For Him, instead of going into pastoral ministry as a “half yes to the call of God.” However, the Lord mysteriously kept the door closed to all my attempts to returning to my career while subsequently enlarging everything I was doing in ministry. Preaching increased, bible studies became regular, small groups became a way of life and some people where baptized. The affirmation of church members and several pastors began to increase until the conference I served in was about to make me a lay pastor and church planter, when the call of God got louder than ever before! And after three years of wrestling with God and several providential events, I finally surrendered to the compelling, yet loving call of my Savior to go to the seminary and become a pastor.

Once surrendered to this call I had such a sense of peace and joy as I looked forward to the vision of ministry that Christ had given me. And I am happy to testify that not only has the vision been realized since coming to the Potomac Conference, but it is enlarging in ways that I could not have dreamed of myself. I am serving as an associate pastor at Restoration Praise Center SDA Church, a vibrant congregation full of young adults and young families. I oversee 24 small groups called Grow Groups and am the online pastor for our online campus, RPCtv. The Lord has used me to teach a baptismal Bible study class and to conduct several baptisms. I have had the opportunity to preach several times, not only in my local congregation, but also at other churches in the DMV area. I am seeing lives changed by the gospel, while my own is concurrently being transformed. I am humbled and honored that Jesus has called me to the pastoral ministry and am fully dependent on Him buy faith for what He wants to accomplish through me. I encourage you, when Jesus calls, do not delay. Just humbly respond in faith and say,“Yes Lord.”

Author bio: Claypole S. Cousins Jr., also known as “CJ," is simply a man who is in love with Jesus. His passion is to live, preach and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and equip “disciples making disciples”. 
He is married to the lovely Deedre Nicole Cousins, who is a wonderful support and partner in ministry. Together God has blessed them with beautiful baby boy, Thomas Alexander Cousins. 

He majored in Human Resource Management from at Florida International University and received a bachelor's degree in Business Administration. He also has a Master's of Human Resource Management from Keller Graduate School of Management of DeVry University. 

He has a Master 's of Divinity degree with an emphasis in Church Growth and Evangelism from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University. He has served as Intern Pastor at One Place and Graduate Assistant for grow Groups at Pioneer Memorial Church on the campus of Andrews University. 

CJ currently serves as Associate Pastor at Restoration Praise Center in Bowie, Md. He is the pastor for Grow Groups and RPCtv. He is passionate about sharing God’s love as seen through the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the context of Revelation 14:6-12

In addition to preaching and teaching, CJ also loves to sing and write about Jesus.

Connect with Pastor CJ:
Website -
Twitter -
Facebook -
YouTube -

A Prelude to Christmas: Beth's story about Christmastime by the seaside

Welcome Beth Wiseman to the blog. She's a former journalist who decided to become a full-time novelist. Her stories are so intriguing! Today, she's here to talk about her holiday novel, Christmas by the Sea. Enjoy!

Here's the book blurb for Christmas by the Sea: A short story introduction to the Surf's Up novella collection. Each Surf’s Up novella takes the reader to a beach locale, weaving romance and adventure into a soul-soothing journey of hope.

Parker McIntyre is late evacuating Galveston Island prior to a hurricane, despite advisement from local Texas authorities. When Parker becomes trapped in rising floodwaters, he is going to drown if help doesn’t arrive soon. Fearing death and questioning his faith, he thinks about the young son he’ll be leaving behind.

Alexandria Hanson is on her way off the island to escape the immediate storm threat, but she spots a person trapped in the water. Alex—as she’s called by friends and family— isn’t adventuresome by nature. Helping the man is going to require great personal risk, but she can’t leave him to die.

As Alex joins Parker in the murky Gulf waters, a dangerous situation becomes even more serious as they wait to be rescued. With only each other to lean on, they attempt to quell their fears by praying together and sharing stories.

If Parker and Alex leave the island alive, will they have a chance to explore their feelings during the holiday season? Or will the opportunity be lost forever?

Fill out the book giveaway contest entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to WIN a copy of Beth's book: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Enjoy the interview with Beth!
Interview with Beth Wiseman, author of Christmas by the Sea:

Alexis: What a whimsical title for a Christmas story! How did you create it? 

Beth: Our family is very traditional when it comes to Christmas, so eating tacos by the ocean on Christmas wouldn’t be something we would consider. But I kept having a vision of Alexandria (Alex) with her father on the ocean’s edge celebrating Christmas. And even though her father had passed, I wanted her to be able to carry on that tradition.

Alexis: Galveston Island is the setting for your story. Is it based on a real-life island or pure fiction? Paint a picture of the island with words. 

Beth: Galveston Island is a real place on the Texas Gulf Coast, located about fifty miles southeast of Houston. It’s the city and beach that I frequently visited while I was growing up in Houston. Galveston is a barrier island that is not only appealing to beach lovers, it is also rich with history and offers fine dining and lots of shops on ‘The Strand’.

Alexis: Your story is said to take the reader to a “beach locale, weaving romance and adventure into a soul-soothing journey of hope.” Do you feel that your book accomplishes that purpose? Why or why not? 

Beth: Each Surf’s Up novella is at a beach, and there is an adventure and/or mystery in each story. But ultimately, the journey is a learning experience for the characters, leading them onto the right path for their specific trek. In Christmas by the Sea, Alex must face the possibility of two deaths in one evening, the parallels of a stranger she just met and her father. Despite the potential for her to fall apart, she relies on prayer. Parker also turns to prayer when things become desperate. When we face something difficult, and God sees us through it, I think that these challenges make us stronger, better, and that yes—through the strength of Christ, we can do all things. When the Holy Spirit is present, our souls are soothed.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s hero Parker McIntyre. What makes him relatable to your readers? What are his strengths and character flaws? 

Beth: Without giving away too much of the plot, Parker suffers an injury that might make some people bitter and angry. But instead of allowing anger to rule, he embraces his situation, happy to be alive. I think Parker is relatable to readers because we see his vulnerability. He’s a real person in a perilous situation, fearing death.

Alexis: Why does Parker wait too late to evacuate the island prior to a hurricane despite being warned by the local Texas authorities? 

Beth: Folks who live on the Texas Gulf Coast are used to storms and hurricanes. And oftentimes, locals who have ridden out storms in the past don’t feel the sense of urgency that they should. Thus is the case with Parker. He made a mistake. But it’s that mistake that leads Alex to him. Otherwise, they might not have ever met.

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s heroine Alexandria Hanson. What are her strengths and character flaws? Describe her personality and include what moves her to help rescue Parker from the rising floodwaters. 

Beth: Alex is fearful that her father has died in the hospital while she is in the water with Parker. Even though grief threatens to consume her, she does what is necessary to keep Parker alive while they wait for help to arrive. Alex is stronger than she thinks, and when God pushes her to the limit, she learns this about herself.

Alexis: Leaving your hero and heroine surrounded by floodwater makes the story all the more interesting. Were these scenes difficult to write? Why or why not? 

Beth: I guess everyone has a fear of something, and I fear drowning, so it was particularly hard to write this story. But sometimes facing a fear is the best way not to let it get the best of you. And there was an important message here that I was trying to get across also.

Alexis: How much time do Alexandria and Parker spend in the floodwater? Hours? Days? What role does their faith in God play in this situation? 

Beth: Alex and Parker are in the floodwater for several hours. As two complete strangers, they cling to the one thing they are sure of—their faith.

Alexis: What lesson are you trying to teach your readers through this story? 

Beth: A couple of years ago, I had a severe reaction to an antibiotic. I was told I might die on the way to the hospital. Despite my strong faith, I was terrified. Later, when I was past the scare, it bothered me that I was as fearful as I was even though I completely believe in heaven and an afterlife. I wanted to show that through this story—that no matter how good of a Christian you might be, fear of death is still normal.

Alexis: If you could have Christmas dinner with Alexandria and Parker, what would be on the menu and what would be your talking points? 

Beth: Tacos would be on the menu, like in the story, and I would want Alex and Parker to explain to me how having Christmas tacos by the sea became a tradition for Alex and her father.

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

Beth: Many blessings to you also! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

Author bio: Beth Wiseman is the best-selling author of the Daughters of the Promise series and the Land of Canaan series. Having sold over 1.5 million books, her novels have held spots on the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) Bestseller List and the CBA (Christian Book Association) Bestseller List. She was the recipient of the prestigious Carol Award in 2011 and 2013. 

She is a three-time winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and an INSPY Award winner. In 2013 she took home the coveted Holt Medallion. Her first book in the Land of Canaan series—Seek Me With All Your Heart—was selected as the 2011 Women of Faith Book of the Year. Beth is contracted with HarperCollins Christian Publishing into the year 2018, and she has published thirteen novels and thirteen novellas to date.

As a former newspaper reporter, Beth was honored by her peers with eleven journalism awards, including first place news writing for The Texas Press Association. She has been a humor columnist for The 1960 Sun in Houston and published articles in various publications. However, writing novels is where her heart is. She left her job as a journalist in 2008 to write novels full-time.

Beth has a deep affection for the Amish and their simpler way of life, and while she plans to continue writing Amish love stories, she is also branching out into other areas. Her first non-Amish, contemporary—Need You Now—released in April 2012 and landed on the CBA Bestseller List. She enjoyed writing the story based in a town near where she lives, and she chose another small Texas town for her next non-Amish contemporary—The House that Love Built—which is based in Smithville, the same quaint town where movies such as Hope Floats and Tree of Life were filmed. 

Beth continued to spread her wings when she released The Promise in October 2014. Inspired by actual events, The Promise follows Beth’s characters all the way to Pakistan. Beth was involved in the real-life rescue when her friend was held captive in Pakistan. Beth is currently working on book #2 in her new Amish Secrets series. Book #1—Her Brother’s Keeper—recently released and was chosen as a Top Pick by RT Reviews Magazine.

Beth and her husband are empty nesters enjoying the country life in Texas with three dogs and a rooster. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel, paint, and enjoy time with friends and family. You can find Beth at Fans of Beth Wiseman on Facebook where she interacts with readers and on Twitter at

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Prelude to Christmas: Carole's story about taking a risk on love

Welcome Carole Towriss to the blog. She's here to talk about her holiday novel, Just Until Christmas and she's giving away a copy of her book too! 

Here's the blurb for Carole's book Just Until Christmas: Hope Aristov arrives in Brandon Beach to live in her former home for three months—just enough time to finish out a residency requirement so she can sell the house and not pay capital gains taxes. Then she’s going straight back to Bethesda, Maryland.

Ian MacKay owns the only grocery store in the one-square-mile beach town. When Hope blows into his store, he likes her looks, but not her attitude. As he gets to know her, he begins to like her, far too much when he finds out she’s only staying until Christmas.

As they spend more time together he fights to keep his feelings in check, especially when he learns of a job opening that would suit her perfectly. When her tells her about it, she accuses him of trying to control her life—like everyone else she’s known.

Can Hope take a risk, and open her heart to what God has in store for her? Can Ian do what's best for Hope, and let God take control, even if it means giving her up?

Fill out the book giveaway contest entry form on this Rafflecopter widget for your chance to WIN a copy of Carole's book: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Enjoy the interview with Carole! 
Interview with Carole Towriss, author of Just Until Christmas:

Alexis: Hope Aristov is the heroine of your story. Tell us about her. What’s she like personality-wise? What are her hopes and dreams?

Carole: Hope has given up on life. She’s been used by many people and now distrusts everyone, including God, and stays pretty much to herself.

Alexis: How did you create the setting of Brandon Beach? Is it purely fictional or inspired by a location in the real world? 

Carole: Brandon Beach is actually Bethany Beach, Delaware, although for story reasons I kept it in Maryland. My family used to visit there every summer. We haven’t been in a few years because it’s been hard to find a week when all mu high-schoolers have a free week in the summer. But my husband and I just went there for a weekend for my birthday. I love it—it reminds me of my home in San Diego.

Alexis: What is Hope’s career dream and how does meeting and falling in love with Ian MacKay affect her best-laid plans?

Carole: Hope at one time wanted to be a teacher, but has settled for writing technical manuals. He encourages her to reconsider teaching, which doesn’t sit well with her. Even though she’s miserable, change scares her.

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s hero Ian MacKay. What’s he like? What are his strengths and weaknesses? What would you say is his most prominent character flaw?

Carole: Ian is honest and hard-working and a hopeless romantic. His most prominent flaw is that he believes he can fix everything if he just tries hard enough, and sometime he tries a little too hard.

Alexis: Give us a glimpse of Hope and Ian’s meet-cute. What made it special?

Carole: Hope and Ian met when she came to his grocery store at the beach. Her attitude completely put him off when she insulted his store!

Alexis: What is it about Hope that makes Ian want to move past her attitude and get to know her better?

Carole: It’s obvious to him that’s she’s been hurt. He really just wants to get to know her better at first. She intrigues him.

Alexis: What is it about Ian that makes Hope’s heart warm?

Carole: His generosity and willingness to help without any expectation of repayment fascinates her, since so far in her life she’s met people who were only out for themselves.

Alexis: Hope is not a-risk taker by nature and staying in Brandon Beach to blossom her relationship with Ian would be a major risk, especially since she had her heart set on taking care of business then returning home to Bethesda, Md. But something about Ian makes her want to stay. How did you as the writer tackle these matters of the heart?

Carole: For specifics, you’ll have to read the story! But I’ll say that God’s Word had a good deal to do with it. 

Alexis: What did you find most challenging in writing this story? Why?

Carole: I'm not a risk-taker either, so I had to find something that would make me want to stay. And that was a tall order.

Alexis: How did your own faith in God affect your building the faith of your characters to a point where they trust God and His plans for their lives?

Carole: I drew on events in my own life that called for the most faith, or the growing of my faith, and tried to translate those feelings into writing. It’s hard to do that.

Alexis: What was your favorite scene to write in this book? Why? 

Carole: Kissing scenes! Because I making true love happen, even if only on the page.

Alexis: Complete this sentence: I am a writer because ______________and I like writing Christmas stories but sometimes I’d rather __________________. 

Carole: I am a writer because I have stories I have to tell and I like writing Christmas stories but sometimes I’d rather watch Hallmark movies and eat cookie dough.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Carole! Do you have any final comments?

Carole: I hope to have a sequel next Christmas, when we get to learn more about Ian’s roommate Rob. If your readers leave a comment and tell me about your favorite Christmas, we’ll pick one person to receive a free paperback copy of Just Until Christmas.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview! God bless you and Merry Christmas!

Author bio: 
Carole Towriss grew up in beautiful San Diego, California. Now she and her husband live just north of Washington, D.C. 

In between making tacos and telling her four children to pick up their shoes for the third time, she reads, watches chick flicks, writes and waits for summertime to return to the beach. 

Connect with Carole:
Facebook -
Pinterest -
Twitter -
E-mail -

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Book Review: Waiting for Wonder by Marlo Schalesky

Waiting on the Lord is Worth It
A book review by Alexis A. Goring

Waiting for Wonder: Learning to Live on God’s Timeline, written by Marlo Schalesky, is a delightful read. 

Schalesky illustrates her points with the Bible story of Sarah and Abraham. The author uncovers what she believes are the behind-the-scenes details about their faith journey concerning God’s promise to give them a son.

The author stresses the importance of the process that God puts us through as we’re waiting. A key quote about this is found on page 152. It reads, “The baby was not the answer to their hurts and flaws, disappointments, despair. He did not make Sarah into the person she was meant to be. It is the journey that did that. It was the God of the wait. It was the God who worked in the wait.”

What a powerful point! See, Waiting for Wonder, is not simply a story about waiting to have a child. It’s about waiting to trust that God’s promises will come true because Sarah was an old woman, way past her childbearing years. So it was highly unlikely by human standards that Sarah would be able to conceive and birth a baby. But throughout this book, Schalesky reminds the reader that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are above our own. He sees the complete picture and knows how to fulfill His promises to us as He works out the details.

Between telling the story about Abraham and Sarah’s faith journey, the author weaves in a few personal stories from her own life. These stories are relatable, especially to mothers of young children. Each story presents a problem and then shows how God can work out a solution and provide hope to any situation, no matter how hopeless it looks from our finite viewpoint.

As a reader, I got the impression that the author of this book wants to encourage the heart of her readers to embrace the wait and trust God’s perfect timing because He has good plans for us. The author also seeks to remind the reader that the only thing God cannot do is fail. So it is safe to trust Him and believe in His promises because He can do anything!

I think that the closing point from this book is summarized quite clearly in this quote from page 192: “The wait is hard. Sometimes it seemed hopeless. But they waited well. And their faith, their wait, changed the world.”

As a reader, I was inspired and encouraged to wait on the Lord for every desire of my heart. I was reminded of the fact that a steadfast faith in God and patience in waiting for His promises to come true can change my life and the world, for the better.

This book is very deserving of a four-star rating!

*I, Alexis A. Goring, voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book for Litfuse Publicity Group.

Because God’s timing is so rarely our own and we lose the wonder in the waiting of life, desperation strikes, plans backfire, and we begin to wonder why God does not fill the emptiness. Be encouraged to find strength and hope in Marlo Schalesky's new book, Waiting for Wonder. 

Journey into the heart of God where you will wrestle with personal questions, think deeply about God’s true character, and learn to appreciate His divine work as you discover your own path to the promised land. Recapture your hope, restore your soul, and renew your vision of a wondrous Savior when you learn to live on God’s time.

Learn the true purpose of waiting on God and living on His timeline and enter to win Marlo's giveaway.


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • Two copies of Waiting for Wonder (one for you and one to give to a friend)
  • A KEEP Collective watch set (with a band and watch)

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on December 23. The winner will be announced December 27 on Marlo's blog.


A Prelude to Christmas: Virginia's book about changes, disaster and hope

Welcome Virginia Smith to the blog. She's here to talk about her holiday novel, A Goose Creek Christmas and she's giving away a copy of it too! 

Here's the blurb for Virginia's book: Al's Goose Is Cooked!

Forced into early retirement, Al Richardson knows what his wife will say when she hears the terrible news. Millie will insist that they open their B&B early. Where will that leave him? Carrying luggage and waiting tables? No way! He needs time to come up with another plan. With the help of an unlikely accomplice, Al spends his days scanning want ads and frequenting out-of-town coffee shops in an effort to hide his secret from all of Goose Creek-including his wife.

Millie is too busy to notice Al's odd behavior. Between planning a huge Christmas party and holding tight to the reins of newcomer Lulu Thacker-whose tacky decorating schemes are sure to infuriate Main Street business owners-she has no time for anything else.

One thing is certain: In Goose Creek, no secret stays hidden for long. The most holy of holidays is swiftly approaching. Is Al in for a Merry Christmas or a Marriage Crisis?

Enter the book giveaway contest by filling out the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to WIN a copy of Virginia's book: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enjoy the interview with Virginia!
Interview with Virginia Smith, author of A Goose Creek Christmas:

Alexis: What a unique title for a Christmas story! Tell us how you chose it.

Virginia: To be honest, I didn’t choose the title. My publisher, Harvest House, chose it. My latest series is Tales from the Goose Creek B&B. The Christmas book is the fifth installment in the series, and I have a lot of fun with the small-town (and sometimes small-minded) residents of this town.

I hear the next question coming – what was my original title? Al’s Goose is Cooked at a Goose Creek Christmas. Yeah, a little wordy, but I like the humor of it! Still, anything with ‘Goose Creek’ in the title is fun.

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s hero Al Richardson. Describe his personality, family life, his heart and goals.

Virginia: Al is a stodgy, old-fashioned, perpetually scowling man in his early sixties. He and Millie have been married for almost forty years, and he loves her with a depth that sometimes takes his breath away. He is slightly OCD, and likes structure. Anything new introduced to his ritualistic, controlled life throws him for a loop.

Alexis: Where does Al work? Does he like his job? Why was he forced into early retirement?

Virginia: Al has worked as a computer analyst for the same company for nearly thirty years. Being an extremely logical thinker, computer programming is where he shines. When a new—and younger—boss forces him out, he’s beside himself. This is exactly the kind of change Al detests.

Alexis: Tell us about Al’s wife Millie. What is her role in this story? Describe her looks, heart, character strengths and flaws.

Virginia: Millie is everybody’s sweetheart, the kind of mother and grandmother we all hope to have and to be. She loves Al from the bottom of her heart, and is confident that she knows what’s best for him even when he doesn’t. Her current goal is to turn the charming Victorian-era home she convinced Al to buy last year into a B&B. That, and she needs to keep a tight hold on the reins of her friend, the overbearing and often tasteless Lulu Thacker.

Alexis: Why does Al want to keep his early retirement a secret from Millie?

Virginia: Al agreed to buy and renovate the Victorian-era house last year mostly to keep his wife happy. (Read their hilarious history in The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade and Renovating the Richardsons.) He conceded to her scheme to open a B&B, even though he would much prefer to spend his retirement years traveling the country in an RV. He is sure that his forced early retirement will cause Millie to accelerate her plans to open the B&B, and he can’t stand the thought of becoming a lackey, at the beck-and-call of his wife’s scheme. He sees himself reduced to carrying luggage and waiting tables, and is determined to do anything to avoid that fate.

Alexis: What role does Lulu Thacker play in this story? It looks like Lulu is the source of some major conflict. Tell us about it.

Virginia: Lulu is such a fun character! She’s blatantly tactless and completely unaware that she’s viewed as a crass loudmouth. She adores Millie, who stood up for her when she assumed the job of Goose Creek’s Main Street Manager. (See The Room with the Second-Best View.) But her lack of decorating taste causes a major rift among the town’s outspoken business owners.

Alexis: Who was the most fun character to create and write in this story? Why?

Virginia: I absolutely love Al. He’s an amazing character, and one of the few males I have felt entirely comfortable portraying in fiction. His struggles are so realistic, and so understandable and sympathetic to all of us. He’s my hero!

Alexis: Who was the most difficult character to portray? Why?

Virginia: Without a doubt the most difficult character over the course of the five Goose Creek books has been Frieda, the owner of the Freckled Frog Consignment Shop. She is everything I dislike in real life–opinionated, judgmental, loud-mouthed, and prejudiced against anyone who doesn’t think exactly as she does. But I have enjoyed putting her in situations that make her squirm. (Is that awful of me?)

Alexis: Tell us about Goose Creek as the setting for your story. Is it a city? A town? Paint a picture of it with your words.

Virginia: Goose Creek is based on Midway, Kentucky, a very small town not far from my birthplace. Like Midway, Goose Creek was one of those towns in the 1800’s that cropped up around the railroad, and to this day a railroad track runs down the middle of Main Street. All the buildings there are historic, and sadly half of them are crumbling and empty. But the residents are lively, fun, enthusiastic and dedicated to the preservation of their town.

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

Virginia: I’ve lived with the Goose Creek crew for a couple of years now, through five books. I love them all! Christmas is my favorite time of year, so how could I not want to spend that most holy of holidays with the people I love?!

Alexis: What’s the moral of this story?

Virginia: I didn’t set out to write a story with a moral. I never do. My goal in writing is primarily to entertain readers—and myself! But in the end, most of my stories do end up with a moral. I guess this one would be “honesty is the best policy.” Al resorts to deception in order to maintain his personal dignity, and in doing so almost damages the relationship he values most.

Alexis: Complete this sentence: I want my readers to ___________________ when they read this story because ________________________________.

Virginia: I want my readers to laugh out loud when they read this story because they fall in love with the characters and resonate with their hilarious but heart-touching circumstances.

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

Virginia: Just this–MERRY CHRISTMAS! May your holy day be filled with love and laughter!

Author bio:

Virginia Smith is the bestselling author of thirty-one novels (and counting), an illustrated children’s book, and over fifty articles and short stories. 

An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense. 

Her books have been finalists in many prestigious awards, and two of her novels received the prestigious Holt Medallion Award of Merit.

Buy Virginia's book:
Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble
Connect with Virginia:
Website -
Facebook -