Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Jo's story about God's Healing Power

Equipment for Valley Travel
by Jo Huddleston

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (John 14:27).

My bedside vigil stretched into days as I watched meningitis suck precious life from the still form of my college-age child. Sunday afternoon I sat alone with my daughter, watching the disease apparently winning its battle. Gone were the twinkle in her eyes and the ready smile on her lips. The nurse had just left, the same one who had been coming in every 15 minutes to take vital signs. Pained and discouraged, I watched when she recorded on her chart a blood pressure reading only half what it should be.

Alone again in the hospital room, each of us experienced our own unique agony. Lying curled in a fetal position, my daughter moved only her eyes. With them almost swollen shut, she looked up at me through her consuming torture. "Mother, this may be my time to die," she whispered. No panic or fear registered in her words or in her fevered eyes.

The same thought had been silently hammering inside my mind all afternoon. Holding her limp hand in mine, I leaned closer and said quietly, "Darling, it may be." She shared a labored smile with me and slowly closed her eyes.

Amazingly, I did not curse God or offer him any arguments or attempt to bargain with Him to spare her life. I knew without doubt that my daughter believed in God's Son and trusted Him for her salvation and eternal life.

As precious minutes slipped away in that lonely hospital room, I trusted God for his comfort and everlasting strength to support me (Isaiah 26:4). I rested in the assurance that my daughter also claimed these same promises. I saw peace on her swollen face when she closed her eyes. We both accepted God's will.

Our pastor and his wife came by after evening church services. They barely concealed their shock at seeing my daughter’s hands and face twice their normal size. After speaking encouragement to her, they prayed with us in that still, quiet hospital room.

Looking back, I can only believe the Holy Spirit influenced every medical move my daughter's doctors and nurses made. The next day, her health made an unbelievable change for the better. Since she was fully recovered by Wednesday morning, the doctors released her from their care.

On Wednesday evening when our pastor found my daughter's hospital bed empty, he asked about her at the nurses’ station. Later he told us how much the nurses had marveled about her unexplainable recovery. "It's just a miracle that she survived," one nurse told him. We all smile now, knowing what absolute truth that nurse spoke.

Does a Christian experience valleys between the mountaintop experiences? Yes. Those trying days when it was evident I might outlive my daughter was one of the deepest valleys I’ve traveled. God promises His buffering strength and calming peace for valley travel. We can always cling to His promises, "For he himself is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14).

Author Bio: 
Jo Huddleston is a multi-published author who writes novels inspired by her fascination with the 1950s and her love of her native American South. 

Novels in her endearing Caney Creek series, her West Virginia Mountains series, as well as her stand-alone release, Tidewater Summer, are sweet Southern romance novels. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN), and holds an M.Ed. degree from Mississippi State University. 

Visit Jo at

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Book Boyfriends: The Introduction

I'm delighted to introduce a new, Valentine's Day-inspired series for my blog taking place this February! The series is called "Book Boyfriends" and I think you're going to love it.

The feature "Book Boyfriends" is designed to promote pure romance stories that are written by Christian authors who feature fictional heroes that will captivate your heart!

A "book boyfriend" is simply a male character in a fictional story that you love. Since he exists in the book and not in the real world, female readers call him their "book boyfriend".

Every Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday from Feb. 1 through Feb. 18, you'll have a chance to "meet" and possibly "fall in love" with a NEW book boyfriend because on each of those days, I'll feature a new author and their story's hero. Each author has opened their story's hero up to you by asking seven questions in what we call a "character interview." So by the end of each interview, you should really "know" and "love" each of these amazing men (er, fictional men, mind you)!

I hope that you will enjoy this fun feature! :)

Take care and God bless you.



Monday, January 29, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Quanny's Question based on a Bible story

What Do You Have in Your House?
A devotional by Quantrilla Ard

“And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? Tell me what has thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil.” ~2 Kings 4:2 KJV

A few years back I was searching for something. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it kept me up at night, concerned me throughout the day and quite honestly had me in an overall sour mood. Now I tried to put a brave face on and cover up this discontentment through being busy. I was a wife, mom, student, and church secretary at the time so there was no shortage of tasks from which to choose. But there was a void of sorts. In trying to figure out my feelings, I came across a passage of scripture that changed the direction of my life forever.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know the story, I’m sure I had heard it before growing up. Yet this time, something clicked and came alive in my heart. It literally moved me to tears. In chapter 2 of 2 Kings, Elisha had just received the double portion of God’s spirit after Elijah was translated and he begins to do miracles. Two chapters later, we find a certain woman in a precarious situation, a woman who happened to be a widow of one of the sons of the prophets - the same group of men who trained under Elijah.

The Bible says that she cried to Elisha because the creditor had come to take her two sons to be servants, to pay off the debt they had no doubt accumulated since the passing of her husband. Elisha asked her, “What shall I do for you?” Then he follows up with another question, “What do you have in your house?” Now, this was interesting! I’m sure this woman had probably sold any and everything of value to pay what they owed. She replied that there was nothing, “save a pot of oil" (
2 Kings 4:2).

Next, Elisha told her to do something that stretched her way out of her comfort zone. It wasn’t that she lacked faith; she knew that Elisha through the power of God could help her. So what did she lack? Not sure. But what I know for sure is this - when you are down and in the depths of despair, you do not feel like going to anyone asking for anything. At all. And here it is that her salvation was dependent on her ability to set her pride aside and ask for help from people she had probably tried to hide her situation from the whole time. Mercy.

Let’s continue. Elisha told her to borrow empty vessels from all her neighbors, and not just a few. Can you imagine the stares and looks of confusion? Then, she was to come back home, shut herself and her sons in, and pour that leftover oil into all the vessels, setting the full ones to the side. While pouring out, she asked one of her sons to bring her another vessel, and he replied that there was not one left to fill. The oil remained. Hallelujah, the oil remained. She tells Elisha what she had done, and he responds with one last task. He says, “Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children off the rest.” The end.

When I think about this story and the pain and fear that were such large parts of it, I am brought to tears. Like the widow, I have often found myself in situations in which I am literally empty – situations in which I have sold everything in my “house” and cannot identify anything left of merit or value. I cry out to God asking Him to fix my destitute mess, and He asks me, “Beloved, what’s in your house?” This question urges me to look for my pot of oil, that thing I’ve overlooked because I’ve not assigned it much worth. God then instructs me to go to my neighbors, to tell my story, to ask them for vessels to pour my oil in. “What miracle can come from that?” you may ask. Dear friend, I’ll tell you. Full vessels of oil…plenty, supply, met need, overflow, and freedom from the surety of bondage! Thank you Jesus.

So did I ever find what it was I was searching for? Absolutely. God revealed to me through His word that what I needed was already in my purview. I didn’t need to look elsewhere to fill the void I was experiencing, I simply needed to take inventory of my house and find my oil. 

I guess all that’s left to ask is, “What’s in your house?”

Author Bio: 
Quantrilla (Quanny) Ard is a faith-based personal and spiritual development writer who lives in the DC Metro area with her husband and three littles. 

In addition to being a dedicated wife and mother, she is an entrepreneur, doctoral student, and curator of all things lovely. 

As a woman on her own quest of shining a light on the shadowy, hidden places in her life, she writes as the PhDMamma about things she knows to be true in hopes to encourage others to do the same. 

Her spiritual goals and her love for Christ propels her quest to share the journey with other women: to walk alongside them and encourage them with words, deeds, and wisdom. Quanny believes in the power that is within collective strength, community, and fellowship. 

You will find her wherever people are sharing stories of triumph.

Connect with Quanny:
Website -
Facebook -
Twitter -

Instagram - 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: God's Invitation for You

A devotional by Gail Kittleson

What a lovely word—come. This single syllable in the English language welcomes us, invites us to enter, to spend time with someone, to share another’s company. It also invites us to follow. 

In December, many of us have sung a favorite Christmas carol, “Oh come let us adore Him...” and I’ve been researching Biblical references with the word come

Psalm 100:4 (KJV) calls us to “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting...” 

Come and worship—this familiar call beckons us from our fears and daily trials, from our wanderings on life’s rugged byways. It provides an opportunity to lose ourselves in something bigger than us, something worthy, something that puts our sufferings into perspective. 

And then there’s Jesus’ call to follow him. He called men and women to do that throughout his ministry, and that following required a choice...many choices. As someone once said, “Lordship involves one big yes and a lot of little “Uh-huhs.”

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." ~Mark 8:34 (KJV)

Yes, this initial coming requires a choice. In choosing to come, we leave something behind at the same time. Sometimes this means—or at least feels like—sacrifice. But doesn’t every decision we make in life require choosing between alternatives? Why should this be any different? 

Jesus also issues another clear call to us. “Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28, KJV).

What a wonderful promise. But this call may actually lead to more focused activity. With our need for inner rest being met by Him, we enjoy more energy to attend to our vocation, our ministry to this hurting world. 

But even in this call, we are given a choice. When our children are young enough, we force them to rest, but our heavenly parent isn’t pushy or forceful. He makes his wishes known, offers us his gifts, and waits for us to respond. 

Who wouldn’t accept an offer of rest? Human beings, that’s who! Unfortunately, our desire to please people, or to maintain control gets in the way come unto him. Sometimes, it seems preferable to work ourselves into a lather rather than rest in our Savior’s love. 

It takes a lot of trying, trying, trying before we finally get the message of working together with God. It’s like pedaling a bicycle built for two—that’s why it’s sometimes called the tandem bike. It only makes sense to put the partner with the greatest power in the front. 

May we often lift up this prayer: “Please teach us Lord, to come when you call.”

Author bio: 
When Gail Kittleson's not steeped in World War II research, drafting scenes, or deep in an edit of her 1940’s novels, she does a limited amount of editing for other authors. 

She also facilitates writing and creativity workshops, both in Iowa and Arizona, where she and her husband spend part of the winter in the amazing Ponderosa pine forest under the Mogollon Rim. 

Favorites: spending time with grandchildren, walking, reading, meeting new people, and hearing from readers who fall in love with her characters.  

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Book Review about answering God's call and stepping out on faith

Erin R. Dooley, a movie maker/new author, reached out to me asking if I would write a review of her new book. After reading the blurb for her book and hearing her story, I said yes to promoting her book and her movie on my blog. 

Today's post is the first of exactly four features that will be published on my blog between now and next month because Erin has quite a story to share and I'm happy to assist in telling it. 

Enjoy today's feature which is my review of her book!

My Review of Erin R. Dooley’s book,  “You Want Me To Do What, God?!”

This true-life story by Erin R. Dooley is a great read!

God calls His faithful followers to do things for Him. For some, it may mean moving to another country and working in underserved communities. For others, it may mean becoming a missionary in a foreign country and telling the world about the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. Answering God’s call can mean a lot of things—and adventures—but for Erin, it meant making a movie without the help of a major studio or an established production company. Hesitant at first but then determined to be obedient to God, Erin decided to take that step of faith and do what God asked her to do. So she embarked on a journey that led the making of the award-winning Christian musical film, “Broken & Beautiful”.

The title of Erin’s book “You Want Me To Do What, God?!” is explained in the pages of her story. She takes the reader on her journey of stepping out on faith and doing what God asked of her to do. It was quite the journey filled with highs and lows, doubts and dreams come true! The author made her story detailed and digestible for her readers to consume. Erin’s book starts with a Foreword, followed by a Preface then she tells her story and wraps it up in exactly 10 chapters. Lesson points and questions for the reader conclude each chapter. This interactive feature encourages the reader to remember the highlights from each chapter and think about applying the concepts to their own real-life story. Every chapter opens with a Bible verse before diving into another scene from Erin’s journey of answering God’s call.

This book was insightful, filled with humor and hope. It inspired me as the reader and reminded me that great things happen when you answer God’s call.

About the book: You Want Me To Do What, God?! is a look at the faith of saying "yes" to God's call even when you don't understand what He is asking of you. Written in a conversational tone, author Erin R. Dooley takes the reader behind the scenes of making the faith-based film Broken & Beautiful. Part devotional, with scripture verses and reflection questions, and part testimonial, based on journal entries during filming, the book presents an approachable perspective to living out your faith.

Author Bio: 

Erin R. Dooley is an award-winning screenwriter, filmmaker, speaker, and author. 

Erin has produced two feature films, numerous short films, two comedy web series, a docu-series, and one feature documentary. 

Erin and her projects have been featured in 20 different media outlets, including Newsweek's "Guide Of What To Watch." "You Want Me to Do What, God?!" is her first book. 

She lives in Los Angeles County.

Connect with Erin:
Movie Page on Facebook -
Business Page on Facebook -
Movie Feed on Twitter -
Production Company Feed on Twitter -
Personal Feed on Twitter -

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Litfuse Publicity Group blog tour featuring "Sacred Rest" (book) by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith

Welcome to my blog's stop on the book tour for Sacred Rest!

It's a riveting read penned by a true expert with a heart for helping humankind. 

Read my review of this wonderful nonfiction book after you read the following information about the book and its awesome author!


About the book:

Staying busy is easy. Staying well rested— there’s a challenge.

How can you keep your energy, happiness, creativity, and relationships fresh and thriving in the midst of never-ending family demands, career pressures, and the stress of everyday life? In Sacred Rest, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, a board-certified internal medicine doctor, reveals why rest can no longer remain optional.

Dr. Dalton-Smith shares seven types of rest she has found lacking in the lives of those she encounters in her clinical practice and research-physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, sensory, social, creative—and why a deficiency in any one of these types of rest can have unfavorable effects on your health, happiness, relationships, creativity, and productivity. Sacred Rest combines the science of rest, the spirituality of rest, the gifts of rest, and the resulting fruit of rest. It shows rest as something sacred, valuable, and worthy of our respect.

By combining scientific research with personal stories, spiritual insight, and practical next steps, Sacred Rest gives the weary permission to embrace rest, set boundaries, and seek sanctuary without any guilt, shame, or fear.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

About the Author: Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith is an author, speaker, and board-certified physician. She has an active medical practice in Alabama (near the Birmingham area). She received her B.S. in Biochemistry at the University of Georgia and graduated with honors from Meharry Medical College in Nashville. She has been an adjunct faculty member at Baker College and Davenport University in Michigan teaching courses on health, nutrition, and disease progression. 

Dr. Dalton-Smith is a national and international media resource on the mind, body, spirit connection and has been featured in Women’s Day, Redbook, and First For Women magazine. She is the author of “Set Free to Live” and “Come Empty” (winner 2016 Golden Scroll Nonfiction Book of the Year and 2016 Illumination Award Gold medalist). She is a member of the Christian Medical and Dental Association and a repeat keynote speaker at their annual gathering. She has shared her tips on merging faith and medicine with over 16,000 health care professionals to encourage the current and next generation of doctors to treat the whole person.

Find out more about Saundra at

My Review of Sacred Rest:

This book was everything that I expected yet exactly what I did not expect!

With a title like "Sacred Rest" and an author with impressive credentials as a doctor and media favorite, I expected this book to be a well-informed, enlightening read with a spiritual thread. But I did not expect it to grab me by the hand at the first page and fully captivate my attention like a good fiction story as the author used the power of words, real-life stories, medical resources and Bible-based truth to help me discover the reason why we all (humankind) need to learn how to truly rest.

I loved everything about this book and did not find anything that I did not like! The author has an authoritative voice but it's not overbearing and it won't cause you to become bored. She uses her authority as a health professional to effectively guide you through the ins and outs of "rest" as a concept and gives you a well-thought-out guide how even the busiest of persons can make true "rest" a reality in their life.

I appreciated the author's transparency in sharing scenes from her real-life story to enhance the storytelling. Early on in this book, the author made me laugh when she mentioned how she'd written a "birthing plan" and made copies for her husband and the medical professionals in the delivery room. She noted their response to her handing the papers of the birthing plan to them (they were not impressed and pushed the papers to the side to prepare to help her birth her baby). Later on during her labor when the pain became unbearable and unexpected situations occurred, one of the nurses asked the author, "Now what does the plan say we do about this?" Hilarious! But clearly at the time the author who was the expectant first-time mommy-to-be in the situation was not amused.

My heart softened and sympathized with one of the people the author mentioned who she was treating, a young lady who cut her wrists. The author noted that she could not heal the girl's pain, she could only suture the skin back together. The author touched on how medical professionals are trained to detach themselves from the patient in a professional manner as to not get emotional or draw into the intensity of what they're facing. She also talked about a conference in which she was the keynote speaker to a room filled with medical professionals and the first thing she realized is that she had to break the ice and teach them how to open up emotionally so that they could get the most of the healing experience she was there to facilitate.

There are many more wonderful examples in this book that spoke to my heart and enlightened my mind. But in the interest of time and keeping your attention along with not giving away the whole message in this book, I'll only mention a few more highlights...

Favorite line: "I'm convinced heaven must smell like hazelnut coffee" (page 7).

Most interesting interactive tool: The self-diagnosis that used several questions and a checklist to help the reader determine if you're experiencing a "mental rest deficit" or several other types of deficits such as "emotional rest deficit".

Most helpful feature: The section starting on page 129 that outlined and explored "Sacred Rest Boundaries" all the while emphasizing the importance of drawing and maintaining healthy boundaries.

Best Bible-based advice: "Cease fighting to have your way" (page 143). It's advice that's based on Romans 9:20 which is a Bible verse and it spoke most profoundly to me because that's a real-life struggle for me. The author said: "When we don't understand what God is doing, we journey into the battlefield of the mind and wage a war against our circumstances in the hopes that if we try hard enough and fight long enough, we will overcome the difficulty. But this is not the gift of freedom. Freedom is this: Instead of trying harder, trust more. Cease fighting, and with hands raised, bow your will to His. Assume a position of peace even in the midst of unfavorable circumstances or unknown outcomes. One way you know you've surrendered and ceased fighting is when you don't immediately react to adversity or challenging circumstances with fear and anxiety. You let go of your need to struggle and allow God to fight on your behalf. Some battles were never yours to fight standing, but the Lord's to fight while you rest."

...And the author could "drop the mic" right there and end the book on that note! But no, there are almost 100 more pages after that section to enjoy and explore!

If I could give this book a rating higher than five stars on, I totally would. It's worth its weight in gold and star power! If you have not read this book, you should.

*Litfuse Publicity Group provided me (Alexis A. Goring) with a complimentary copy of "Sacred Rest". My opinions in this book review are my own.

Devotionals for the Heart: On Anger and Righteousness

Is Your Anger Useful?
A devotional by Ginger Solomon

"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." 
~James 1:19-20 (ESV) 

I’m a verse-mapper. I love words and finding out their original meanings. When I did these verses, I found some things that I want to share with you. I know these are familiar verses. If you’ve been in church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard them. Bear with me for a moment.

Quick - in the Greek language, it means to do something without a time lapse.
Hear - listen; to pay attention to what is being said.

When my children were little, I used to tell them that obedience meant they needed to do what I said right away. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Here, we see that God is instructing us to be “quick to hear.” But what does that mean?

I think it means we must put away our thoughts, our responses, our phones, and LISTEN to what the person is saying, not only with their words but their tone and body language.

Imagine for a moment…

A little girl says, “I don’t want to go.”

It’s a simple statement. It could be taken many different ways. Without context, it is impossible to know WHY the child doesn’t want to go.

If then she stomps her foot and crosses her arms, then we know she’s angry.

If her lip trembles and tears appear, she could be sad.

If she withdraws within herself and barely whispers the words, she might be scared.

Without paying attention, without LISTENING, the hearer would miss important clues. Sometimes it matters why she doesn’t want to go. A LOT.

Let’s move on… I think I’ve made my point.

Slow - deliberate, unhurried — moving forward after considering the facts
Anger - comes from a position of being steadfastly opposed to someone; not a sudden outburst.

“Slow to speak” is self-explanatory. We need to consider what has been said, what has happened BEFORE we open our mouths to spout our opinions. We have to engage our brains in the process.

“Slow to anger” — this one caught me a little off guard. I’ve always considered anger to be something that spouts forth quickly like a geyser. But this word doesn’t mean that. It’s like the trickle of water that wears away the rocks and dirt to become a raging river. It grows over time. Not in hours or days, but in weeks, months, or years.

Produce - work, accomplish a trade/job; acquire by trade
Righteousness - justice; approved of God; what is deemed right by the Lord

“The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (vs. 20, ESV) Ouch!

God doesn’t need our anger, righteous or otherwise.

This anger is the same word as above. It’s not explosive. It’s built up. Even justified.

I’ve been there. I’ve been angry enough to know that if the person on the other end of my wrath had been in the room, or even within driving distance, I might have taken matters into my own hands. I would have done harm to the person. And yet, Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” (ESV)

God doesn’t want or need our anger. It doesn’t produce the results He’s aiming for. Not in us, and not in the other person’s life. As hard as it is, God wants us to forgive and let Him deal with it. In one day. Before the sun goes down. But maybe you’re like me and it requires doing it over and over again, day after day, until one day it happens. I’ve forgiven the person, and the anger is gone.

Until we let God take care of it, nothing positive will happen, not underneath the surface, anyway. Not in the heart. And God is ALWAYS more concerned with a person’s heart than He is with their outward actions.

I pray your heart and actions align with the will of God today and every day. May you see everyone through His eyes of love.



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 and at

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Author Interview featuring Amanda Barratt and her new novel

Let's welcome Amanda Barratt to the blog today! She's here to talk about her new novel, My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York: Adele's Journey

I'm on the launch team for this new release (book) and I'm super excited to share this lovely story with you via this author interview with Amanda. Enjoy! 


Interview with Amanda Barratt, author of 
My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York: Adele's Journey

Alexis: What inspired you to write this book? 

Amanda: We’d planned a family vacation to Niagara Falls. Before the trip, I was reading up on the history of the area, because that’s just what history nerds do. I read quite a bit about the stunts and daredevils, and as I was walking along, looking at the Falls, the idea of a daredevil falling in love with a woman who feared risk, came to me. When Barbour put the word out that they were looking for authors to submit to a destination romance line, my sister suggested I do Niagara Falls and make the hero a tightrope walker. Sisters always know best!

Alexis: Why did you choose Niagara Falls, NY as the backdrop for this story? 

Amanda: Because the location had to be near the Falls, where all the tightrope stunts were performed.

Alexis: Why did you set this story in 1870 and not another era? 

Amanda: The most famous funambulist in the Victorian era was undoubtedly Charles Blondin, who performed at Niagara Falls in the late 1850s. I wanted my hero’s stunts to take place later than that, and not around the time of the Civil War. So 1870 it was!

Alexis: Who is Adele and why is her journey so important in this story? 

Amanda: Adele Linley is basically a Victorian Scarlett O’Hara, though not as feisty, perhaps. She loves her family home in England and needs money to keep it from being sold to pay for family financial difficulties, so she travels to England on the hunt for a wealthy American husband who will provide her the capital she seeks. Ultimately, though, her journey is more than a trip across the ocean, but a deeply emotional and spiritual transformation.

Alexis: How does Adele’s cautious behavior interact with Drew’s reckless abandon? 

Amanda: Adele and Drew have quite a bit of conflict, due to their differing views on danger and risk. Eventually, that conflict reaches a climax…which basically equals lots of fun scenes for me as the author.

Alexis: Drew Dawson is the hero of this story. Describe him. What makes him special and significant to this story? 

Amanda: Drew is driven to take risks due to his need for income to provide for his wheelchair-bound sister. Despite his own lack, he’s kind and generous. He loves the Lord and puts his future into God’s hands.

Alexis: Describe Adele’s relationship with her family. Does she like being the daughter of an English aristocrat? Why or why not? 

Amanda: When the story opens, the family are aristocrats in name only. Adele travels to England with costume jewelry and made-over dresses. Her mother is not a strong person, and her brother a chronic drinker and gambler.

Alexis: How did Drew’s childhood as an orphan affect his drive to succeed? 

Amanda: Drew has known what it is to go to bed on an empty stomach, to fall asleep in a back alley, to struggle and strive. His sister is an invalid, and he seeks to provide her a better life. He’s driven, as it were, by necessity.

Alexis: Who is Franklin Conway and how does he affect Adele’s affections? 

Amanda: Franklin Conway was SUCH a fun character to write! Those who have read the story are cringing right about now. He’s a man rich in capital, but without the social polish required to enter the highest echelons of society. Adele sees in him an answer to her problems—she will provide him the class and propriety of a British wife, and he will use his capital to help her family. It’s a practical solution, but the closer Adele gets to making a final decision, the more she begins to doubt herself.

Alexis: What endears Adele’s heart to Drew? 

Amanda: Drew is the first man who takes the time to truly care about Adele. She’s accustomed to doing for herself and bearing emotional burdens alone; he comes alongside her and takes time to listen and understand. He makes her laugh, shows her she’s special and unlocks a part of her heart she didn’t know existed.

Alexis: What makes Drew want to fight for Adele? 

Amanda: Adele is different than anyone Drew has ever met. She’s a lady living in a world of affluence but has a rare heart of compassion. She challenges him with her questions and encourages him in his quest to care for his sister. She’s both sweet and stubborn and sets him to dreaming of a future with her.

Alexis: What do you want your readers to remember most about this story? 

Amanda: That we can only find peace when we trust and truly surrender to God. Trying to maneuver circumstances and people to get a desired outcome causes stress and bad choices, whereas a true “handing over the reins” to Jesus, brings the greatest security we can hope to have.

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

Amanda: Thanks so much for having me! I hope you enjoyed this peek into My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York. If this interview has piqued your interest, and you’re looking to discover more about the novel and characters, I’d love it if you followed my Facebook page (

Over the next few weeks, I’ll continue to share more about the story, characters, and history behind the novel’s setting.

Author bio: 
ECPA bestselling author Amanda Barratt fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story – a spinoff of Jane Eyre. 

Now, Amanda writes inspirational historical romance, penning stories that transport readers to a variety of locales–from the sweeping coastline of Newport, Rhode Island, to the rugged landscape of Central Texas. Her novella, The Truest Heartfinaled in the 2017 FHL Reader’s Choice Awards.

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she lives in the woods of Michigan with her fabulous family, who kindly put up with the invisible people she calls characters.

These days, Amanda can be found reading way too many books, watching an eclectic mix of BBC dramas and romantic chick flicks, and trying to figure out a way to get on the first possible flight to England.

Book Blurb: Journey to Niagara Falls, New York, 1870

She avoids danger at all costs. He makes his living by rushing headlong into it.

Outwardly, Adele Linley’s trip to visit her American cousins is nothing more than a summer vacation. In reality, she’s the daughter of an English aristocrat with barely a penny to her name seeking a rich American husband.

Having grown up in an overcrowded orphanage, Drew Dawson is determined to make a name for himself. He’ll take any honest job to provide for his sister—even crossing Niagara Falls by tightrope.

Adele meets incredibly wealthy and pompous Franklin Conway who takes an immediate fancy to her. But she would truly like to marry for love. When she encounters the mysterious Drew in the garden, Adele is confused by her feelings for someone who is everything she is NOT looking for. Will they both stay the course they have chosen for themselves?

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Celebrate Lit Tour featuring JoAnn Durgin's novel "The Valentine Verse"

Welcome to my blog's stop on JoAnn Durgin's book tour! She's here to share insights about her new novel "The Valentine Verse". I've included my review of JoAnn's book. 

I hope that you will enjoy this fun feature!

My Review of The Valentine Verse:

"The Valentine Verse" is a creative, heart-touching, lovely story written by JoAnn Durgin.

The characters are complex and likable. The author drives the reader deep into the characterization of Thornton (the hero) and Vara (the heroine). It was impressive to see how the author gently peeled back the multilayered backstories of her main characters and used their experiences, joy, and pain to weave a beautiful love story.

I thought that the way Thorton and Vara met in the cafe was unique, mysterious and sweet. The scene made me curious to know more about Thorton and it made me wonder if Vara would ever let her guard down enough to let a man like Thorton woo her heart. 

Thorton's grandmother was a true gem. I liked the role she played in bringing Thornton and Vara together. The author also weaved the grandmother's backstory into the plot in a way that was not distracting from the main plot but just enough to satisfy the reader's curiosity.

The pacing of this plot was perfect. The dialogue was clever and refreshing. 

I think that this book deserves a solid 4-star rating on!

*Celebrate Lit provided me (Alexis A. Goring) with a complimentary copy of The Valentine Verse. My opinions in this book review are my own.

About the Book:

Author: JoAnn Durgin 
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 5, 2017

Valentine’s Day isn’t just for February 14th anymore! Love should be celebrated every day of the year. That’s Thornton Fielding’s philosophy. In spite of a few false starts in the arena of love, he holds out hope he’ll eventually find the woman of his dreams. The problem? He loves his job, and there’s no end in sight to his travels. But when Thornton returns to his tiny hometown of Cherish, Minnesota, he meets a beautiful and intriguing woman he believes might be God’s answer to ending his bachelor status—permanently. 

Vara Alexandris is soured on love and scoffs at the notion of soul mates. But soon after meeting the handsome and unconventional Thornton, the speech and language pathologist suspects he might be the perfect ally to help jump-start her stroke patient’s recovery—if only Vara can keep Thornton grounded in Cherish long enough. This man who spouts romanticized and idealistic ideas about love seems all too eager to resume his world travels. 

Could it be Thornton actually prefers globetrotting in order to avoid a romantic relationship? Is it time for Vara to call the dreamer’s bluff? And can Thornton convince Vara to put past heartache behind her and trust in God’s plan for her heart? 

Join Thornton and Vara in USA Today bestselling author JoAnn Durgin’s latest release full of her trademark humor, romance, and lively, small-town characters in a story of God’s fierce passion and loving guidance for His children—if only they pay attention!

The Valentine Verse is sure to warm your soul during any season of the year. 

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author:

JoAnn Durgin is the USA Today bestselling author of the beloved Lewis Legacy Series as well as Prelude, the prequel to the series. Her other works include the Amazon bestselling Catching Serenity, Heart’s Design and its sequel, Gentle Like the Rain, The Wondrous Love Series, Echoes of Edinburgh, Perchance to Dream, Whisper to My Heart, Thee Will I Cherish, The Christmas Challenge, and the popular Starlight Christmas Series. 

A former estate administration paralegal, JoAnn now writes contemporary Christian romance full-time and lives with her family in her native southern Indiana. Writing Christian fiction is her passion, and she loves nothing more than sharing the hope to be found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.


Guest Post from JoAnn Durgin

A Little More about The Valentine Verse from JoAnn Durgin (author):

I adore writing and reading contemporary Christian romance, but I’ve noticed very few novels in the genre have an actual Valentine’s Day theme and/or title. Perhaps authors believe it would limit the “shelf life” of their book. 

The way I see it, if Christmas novels (and Hallmark Christmas movies) can be popular year-round, why not Valentine’s Day books? I’ve always been somewhat of a rebel in my writing career. Don’t tell me I can’t do something or I might just try it (within reason)! After a Christmas release last year followed closely by the eighth installment (500 pages) of my longest-running series, I knew I couldn’t possibly release a Valentine’s Day book. That’s when one of the primary themes of The Valentine Verse “hit” me—Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be reserved only for February 14th. Expressing our love to one another should be celebrated throughout the year! This concept became the philosophy of the hero, Thornton Fielding, and the book released in early May. 

Let me tell you a little more about the idea for Thornton…I dedicated The Valentine Verse to my uncle, Mr. Thornton, and named my hero after him. My uncle was instrumental in my being able to quit my full-time paralegal job in mid-August 2014. Without going into specific details, there were three things that took place (“signs,” if you will) beginning earlier that same year, which seemed to clearly indicate I should try to make writing my full-time career. 

My debut novel released in late 2010 and the story of my road to publication can be found on my website at By early 2014, my books were beginning to find faithful readers, and I was blessed with decent sales. The third and final “sign” and blessing came from Mr. Thornton. Truly, it was as if God were saying, “JoAnn, what more will it take for you to step out in faith?” I promised the Lord and myself that I’d take a year and see how it went…and I haven’t looked back since! I took the leap of faith, but I’m also doing what I feel the Lord has called me to do. 

Almost three years to the day of quitting my day job, I released my 24th novel. God is so good, and it is my great honor and privilege to write for His glory. Thank you to Celebrate Lit for the gracious opportunity for this blog tour. The Valentine Verse features fun characters (how can you miss with a small Minnesota town named Cherish?), heartwarming lessons, *sightings* of two of my most popular heroes from another series, and even a surprising twist at the end! 

I hope you’ll enjoy The Valentine Verse

Blessings, friends!



*Matthew 5:16*

Blog Stops

Mommynificent, January 10
Power of Words, January 10 (Spotlight)
Karen Sue HadleyJanuary 11
Reading is my Super Power, January 11 (Interview)
Quiet Quilter, January 12
RemembrancyJanuary 13
Bibliophile Reviews, January 15
Texas Book-aholic, January 16
Janices book reviewsJanuary 18
Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 19
Carpe Diem, January 20
Simple Harvest Reads, January 21 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
God is Love, January 22
A Greater YesJanuary 23
margaret kazmierczak, January 23 (Interview)
Pursuing StacieJanuary 24
BigreadersiteJanuary 24


To celebrate her tour, JoAnn is giving away a grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!