Monday, April 30, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: He Laughs

The Last Laugh
A devotional by Quantrilla Ard

“But Abram said, “Lord God, what can you give me, since I am childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 
~Genesis 15:2 (HCSB)

One of my dear children loves to get the last laugh when things happen in our family. 

The words “That’s what you get, baby!” rang out loud and clear one day to my surprise as my two-year-old chided her brothers for something they had done. She is undoubtedly spirited and full of passion when identifying her brothers’ mishaps. Of course, she has a few challenges identifying her own. This, coupled with her comedic and ironic timing, makes laughter an everyday occurrence. With so many opportunities for giggles, I am reminded of the old adage, “He who laughs last, laughs best.” I’m so glad God has a sense of humor. Abraham and Sarah would probably agree.

Abraham and Sarah had waited, albeit not so patiently, for God to keep His promise to them through a son with whom He would establish His covenant. Sarah was long past childbearing age and well into her sunset years. Abraham was knocking on 100. God’s timing was then and is now often vastly different from our own.

In their story, the first laugh comes from Abraham, in his ninety-ninth year as God changes his name and again calls him to remember the promise He made years earlier as the story details in Genesis 17:17. The second laugh comes from Sarah, after a visit from three men, one of whom just happens to be God Himself (Genesis 18:12). They were hopeful yet equally despondent from the trials of waiting. One son Ishmael, through Sarah’s servant Hagar, had to be sent away because Sarah’s desperation and subsequent insecurity got the best of her. They are spent.

One question changes everything. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” God asks as He calls Sarah out for laughing. And I can imagine in my mind’s eye that God is laughing to Himself at the look on her face. Within the year, as God had promised and re-promised, Isaac was born. And guess what Isaac’s name means? Yep, you guessed it, “He laughs.”

Is there a place in your life that seems desolate and barren? A place that feels forgotten? Have you held out hope only to see another year pass without God fulfilling a promise in or to you? I know I have. I have laughed at reminders that God sent my way, thinking that my season has expired and it’s just too much to expect that things will turn out the way He said they would. And then I hear God ask me, thousands of years later just as He did Sarah, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?”

The answer is a resounding no. I see His promises come to pass in His timing, not my own. I wait sometimes patiently, sometimes not (thankful He loves me anyway). I can rejoice in my “Isaac” circumstances, and see that God indeed gets the last laugh.

Nothing is too hard for the Lord. Absolutely nothing.

Author Bio:

Quantrilla (Quanny) Ard is a faith-based personal and spiritual development writer who lives in the D.C. 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.

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Let Love Bloom: Lena's story

Interview with Lena Nelson Dooley about A Heart’s Gift:

Alexis: Congratulations on your book winning RWA’s Faith, Hope, and Love Reader’s Choice Award! Let’s talk about your award-winning story. What inspired you to write A Heart’s Gift?

Lena: I love "marriage of convenience" stories. This one percolated in my mind for quite some time before I wrote it.

Alexis: Who is Franklin? Describe his heart and his motivation.

Lena: He is in guarding his heart mode at the beginning of the book.

Alexis: Why is Franklin so guarded?

Lena: He had been engaged several years before, and she walked out on him not long before the wedding. This strong cowboy decided never to give his heart again.

Alexis: Franklin is torn between guarding his heart and wooing a woman because he wants an heir. Why?

Lena: Actually, he doesn’t plan to woo her. He plans to marry her to help her so she won’t have to worry about how she will take care of her newborn son.

Alexis: Who is Lorinda? Describe her personality and her motivation. 

Lena: Lorinda was mistreated by her father and uncle after her mother died when she was only 5 years old. The men were mean drunks, so they didn’t really have much since they drank away most of the money they made.

Alexis: What is Lorinda’s deepest desire and her greatest fear?

Lena: She really wanted to get away from their domination. 

Alexis: Give us a glimpse into Lorinda’s backstory. Who is her son’s father? What happened to him?

Lena: Her first husband rescued her in the middle of the night and took her to a parson in another town to marry him. He leaves to take the gold from their mine to Denver. He never returns.

Alexis: Why is Lorinda struggling to provide for her infant son? What or who gives her hope in her trying situation?

Lena: An arsonist burned the cabin where she lived while she was pregnant.

Alexis: What role does your characters’ faith in God play in their story?

Lena: When Lorinda spends much of the winter alone in the cabin, the only book she had to read was the Bible. That’s when she came to know the Lord.

Alexis: What attracts Franklin to Lorinda and what softens Lorinda’s heart to his?

Lena: I don’t want to give away that much of the story. I will tell you that while I was writing it, God turned the story into a suspense novel about 2/3 of the way through.

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

Lena: That God’s plans for you are always best and often far different from what you planned.

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

Lena: I love my readers. They are on my mind while I’m writing any book. I love to hear from fans. I really appreciate those who write reviews of my novels.

Author Bio:
Multi-published, award-winning author Lena Nelson Dooley has had more than 875,000 copies of her 40+ books sold. Her books have appeared on the CBA, Publisher’s Weekly, and ECPA bestseller lists, as well as Amazon bestseller lists. 

She has experience in screenwriting, acting, directing, and voice-overs. She is on the Board of Directors for Higher Ground Films and is one of the screenwriters for their upcoming film Abducted to Kill. She has been featured in articles in Christian Retailing, ACFW Journal, Charisma Magazine, and Christian Fiction Online Magazine. Her article in CFOM was the cover story.

In addition to her writing, Lena is a frequent speaker at women’s groups, writers groups, and at both regional and national conferences. She has spoken in six states and internationally. The Lena Nelson Dooley Show is on the "Along Came A Writer" Blogtalk Radio network.

Lena has an active web presence on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Linkedin and with her internationally connected blog where she interviews other authors and promotes their books. Her blog has a reach of over 65,000.

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFWand the local chapter, ACFW - DFW. Lena is a member of Christian Authors’ Network, and Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

Book Blurb for A Heart's Gift:

Because of an earlier betrayal, Franklin vows never to open his heart to another woman. But he desires an heir.

When Lorinda is finally out from under the control of men who made all the decisions in her life, she promises herself she will never allow a man to control her again. But how can she provide for her infant son?

Marriage seems like the perfect arrangement until two people from Franklin's past endanger Lorinda. How can he save her? And how will this affect the way they feel about each other?

Buy Lena's book on Amazon

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Be Brave

Heroism Unleashed
A devotional by Gail Kittleson

Many heroes stand out in a crowd as muscular, brash, and egotistical. They can do superhuman feats, it seems.

The Olympics, though, highlights true heroes and heroines who enter their race with integrity and humility. Their tears when they win—or when they don’t—testify that they’re in this for reasons of the heart.

A hero or heroine displays courage, bravery or self-sacrifice for some greater good in the face of danger or adversity.

Joseph, a wealthy man who had a great deal to lose by choosing to support Jesus, qualifies as an unobtrusive hero. This member of the Jewish Council and a secret disciple of Jesus, watched for the kingdom of God. He appears in all four Gospels, and his act of burying Jesus in the tomb he’d prepared for his own body garners our attention.

In order to accomplish this feat, Joseph “asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission.” (John 19:38 ESV) Nicodemus helped him, and we can imagine the two of them carrying their load to the tomb. They’d witnessed Jesus’ wise dealings with the Pharisees and Sadducees, heard His teachings, and in spite of their fear of retribution from the powers that be, they believed.

The burial of Jesus catapults them into heroism. They had every reason to slink into the shadows with the rest of Jesus’ disciples, every reason not to do what they did that night. The High Priest’s henchmen were about, scanning for followers of Jesus.

But in a quiet, thoughtful way, Joseph and Nicodemus completed their work of love. A few women paid attention, and risked their lives, too, revealing their devotion to the Savior.

Let's pray: Help us, Lord, in our everyday challenges, to display courage like your servants, Joseph and Nicodemus.

Author Bio: 

When Gail’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 like to 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.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Ginger's advice on how to find Jesus Christ

Do You Know How to Find Him?
A devotional by Ginger Solomon

“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 
~John 20:2 (ESV)

Can you imagine Mary’s consternation when she went to the tomb, saw the stone rolled away, and Jesus’ body gone? The man she’d loved and cared for was GONE! He wasn’t where He was supposed to be.

Have you ever gone looking for someone or something and not found it where you thought you left it?

I do it with my phone and or iPad all the time. Those times are bothersome, but I don’t get overwrought. It’ll eventually show up.

Once when my girls were five and six or seven, they followed their older brother and his friend into the woods behind the house where we lived at the time. The boys ran and dodged them until they were lost. My son came home but said nothing about his sisters. Not long after, we received a phone call from a stranger. My daughters asked her to call us because they were lost and couldn’t figure out how to get home.

My heart jumped into my throat. They’d wandered to a house nearly a half a mile away. I was devastated and frightened. Had they not called, I wouldn’t have known where to look.

Mary Magdalene didn’t know where to look either. She told whomever she saw her predicament. She wanted help in her search.

I think much of the world has the same problem. They search for something elusive to fill the Jesus-sized void in their hearts. They turn to drugs, sex, alcohol, work, money. The list could go on and on.

Sometimes as Christians, I think we think our “service” fills the void. We say things like:

· “I go to church every time the doors are open.”

· “I serve in the choir, as an usher, and on the finance committee.”

· “I go to nursing homes, prisons, and help feed the homeless.”

But we can’t find Jesus in those places or in those activities. Just as Mary didn’t find Him in that tomb.

Jesus reveals Himself to those with a searching heart.

Mary was searching. She knew what or rather whom she was searching for.

And she found Him. Or rather, He found her.

John 20:14-16 (ESV), “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, 'Mary.'"

She turned and said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher)

How glorious that must have been for her.

I know how relieved I felt when my husband drove up our driveway with my daughters firmly in tow.

One of those daughters recently wrote this monologue and performed it for our church. I’ve only included a snippet here, though the whole thing is powerful.

She said: “We can’t just build up a wall of fake smiles to keep God from seeing what He already saw and honestly, I can’t accept living life without Him because once you know what full feels like you cannot be satisfied with empty, and nothing else in this entire world can fill you like God does."

Click here to see the video of my daughter's performance.

Do you know how to find Jesus?

Honestly, it’s no further than your Bible. You will find Him there if you search for Him. Because Jeremiah 29:13 
 (NIV) says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Matthew 7:7-9 
(ESV) says it slightly differently, but the essence is the same. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” 

It sounds trite. I know. And yet, the truth stands. If you’re truly searching and not just paying lip service, He will find you. And what a glorious day that will be.

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 (ACFW), president of her local writing group, and blogs regularly for and at

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Book feature with Mary Marie Allen, women's fiction author

Let's welcome Mary Marie Allen to the blog today! 

She's an author who writes under the women's fiction category of books.

Mary is here to share an excerpt and review of her book, God's Love Most Gentle.

First, here are a few words from Mary:

God wrote, and is writing, the greatest love story day by day with each of us. It’s a love I (Mary Marie Allen) hope others be
come acquainted with through my writing. 

My primary goal is to encourage women believers who have experienced love and joy in life along with sadness, loss, failure, and guilt. Hurting women often need help remembering God forgives and His love is most gentle. Then they can find love and joy in life once again. 

This is what happens when a pregnant woman with a harmful secret returns from the missionary field.

Excerpt from God's Love Most Gentle:

Kim sat cross-legged on the bedroom floor with a basin of tepid water nestled in her lap. She dipped a wash cloth and without wringing it plastered it to her neck. Water drenched her blue cotton dress and pooled about her waist and hips. She prayed for rain. Secretly, of course, for Kurt counted each dry dawn as a gift from God and devoted most of each day to construction of the new church.

Nsia entered the room with the laundry basket on her hip.

Kim plunged the cloth again and raised it over her head. She lifted her face. Clumps of wet hair clung to her cheeks and neck. “They said September was the start of the cool rainy season, but this humidity is more oppressive than any Midwest-summer day I remember. I hate the heat.”

Beneath a red headscarf, round dark eyes studied Kim. “I do not think it is the weather that causes your problem, Mrs. Kim. I will ask Mrs. Thema about a drink to help with baby sickness.”

“Are you saying I’m pregnant? I’m not pregnant.” Kim gave a dismissive wave of her hand letting droplets from the soggy washcloth fling about the room. Nsia knelt and set about sponging Kim with the water. Kim sighed. “That feels so good. You’re a blessing, Nsia, and a good friend.”

Nsia said, “You cry. Yesterday you cry over a watermelon.”

“I was thinking of my father. We won a prize for our watermelons one year. He died five years ago. I miss him terribly.”

“You get sick every morning. Eat or not, you get sick.”

Kim bolted upright. Her mouth gaped.

Nsia laughed and covered her smile with her fingers, but her luminous eyes were big with mirth. “You should see your face. You will give Pastor Kurt a fine, fat baby.”

“But, I don’t know what to do. There weren’t any babies around when I was growing up.”

Nsia patted her hand. “Do not worry. I care for you and the baby. I am the oldest of six.”

She smiled at Nsia. “You are like a little mother.”

“Thank you.”

“I miss my mother.” Tears burned in Kim’s eyes. She pushed homesickness away and pressed her stomach through the thin cotton material of her dress. “I don’t feel pregnant.”

Nsia rolled her eyes. “That comes later.”

Kim stood and hugged herself. She giggled. “I’m going to be a mommy. Kurt’ll be thrilled.” She twirled around then nausea overwhelmed her. She grabbed a bucket near the bed and groaned.

Nsia laughed. “Maybe you should rest a bit. Will you tell Pastor Kurt tonight?”

“No. I can’t wait that long.”

“Mrs. Macomb! Mrs. Macomb! ” Uzachi’s urgent voice blasted through the open window. His face appeared and he saw her. “Kim!”

Nsia scurried to fling open the front door. Men carried Kurt into the room and Kim ran to him. “Kurt! Take him to the bed. What happened?”

Uzachi’s face twisted. “Heat stroke. He never complained. None of us noticed anything until he collapsed and fell off the roof.”

A short man with a scarred face snatched up a braided palm frond beside the bed and fanned Kurt. “He fell on his head.”

Kim whimpered at Kurt’s still form. Nsia pressed the dripping cloth into her hand. “Wet him.” She moistened Kurt’s head and worked down his flushed frame.

His body was hot and dry. His breathing rasped in and expelled with a ragged sigh as his chest rose and fell unevenly. Her own lungs seemed frozen and she gulped for air. Kim re-moistened the cloth and gripped Kurt’s wrist. His pulse surged against her fingers. She swallowed back the bile that rose in her throat as the stench of hard-working bodies thickened the air in the small room.

More men, speaking in low, worried tones gathered outside the open window. Soon their voices rose in a clamor of supplication to God.

“Bring the pills from the desk drawer, Nsia,” Uzachi ordered. Nsia hurried off and trotted back, her hand extended as if to get help to Pastor Kurt more quickly. He placed two salt tablets under Kurt’s tongue. “Keep doing what you’re doing, Kim. I’ll call for help on the ham radio.”

A short time later he returned. His face was grim. “The helicopter can’t come. It’s on a call up in the mountains. That's the other direction entirely. We’ll have to do the best we can and let God do the rest.”

Fear stole words from her mind; a coherent sentence wouldn’t come together. Kim sank onto the edge of the bed and stared at Kurt’s still, pale form. 

Blurb for God's Love Most Gentle:

When a pregnant widow returns from the mission field family and friends rally to help, but she harbors a secret that may lead to her spiritual downfall. Kim Macomb returns from Zaire, Africa where the 1995 coup has claimed her missionary husband’s life. 

Grief-stricken and pregnant, Kim is only a shadow of herself. Hoping to promote her daughter’s healing, Carol sends Kim, to the calm, godly man who once rescued her. 

Jack’s Montana ranch seems to have the desired effect, but as his son, Mitch, and bad boy Hank vie for Kim’s affections, an agonizing secret drives her further from God. 

Swept up in Kim’s search for peace and forgiveness, those around her face their own frailties and the sometimes unexpected, yet overwhelming truth – God’s love is most gentle.

Book Review of God's Love Most Gentle:

“I thoroughly enjoyed God’s Love Most Gentle and highly recommend this read! It captivates from the start and takes the reader through the gamut of emotions. I laughed, I cried, I held my breath anxiously waiting for resolution, and my heart warmed at the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father. Seeing the hand of God move in the lives of the characters as He holds them, protects them and carries them through the joys and trials of life. I felt as if the characters became friends of mine and I often wonder how they are doing now! Lol! I’d love to meet up with all of them in a sequel!!” – Myra's 5-star review on

Author Bio:
Women’s Fiction author Mary Marie Allen lives in northwest Indiana with her high school sweetheart husband, a feisty 97-year-old mother, and a rambunctious German Wirehair Pointer. 

She’s authored four books of poetry, including one children’s Bible story. 

After five surgeries in two years, she’s happy to continue the story of the characters first seen in “God’s Love Most Gentle”. 

She expects book two to release fall on 2018 as “God’s Love Most Faithful”.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Thoughts on Time and Eternity

An Intersection of Time and Eternity
A devotional by Dana McNeely

Note: This is the fourth post in a series on the prophet Elijah. To read previous posts, click the titles: Love in the Time of Drought, In the Waiting Room, and A Widow, a Prophet, and Provision from God.

After Elijah reached Zarephath and found shelter with the widow and her son, they lived under God’s blessings. Though the drought worsened, the never-ending jug of oil and jar of meal nourished them. It would have been reasonable to expect the good times to continue.

 some time later the widow’s son became ill. He grew worse and worse and finally stopped breathing. She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” (1 Kings 17:17-18 NIV)

I feel for this poor woman. One moment she ate the bread of life, the next she gagged on the stench of death. Anguished, she lashed out, but then secret guilt whispered. Did you come to remind me of my sin? Any mother would be devastated by her child’s death, but she’d already lost her husband. Now she was alone in the world.

I don’t know about you, but I want life to roll along smoothly. When it does, I often forget to thank God, taking everyday blessings for granted. But when trouble strikes, it’s easy to complain or blame others or myself.

I know this is unreasonable. We live in a fallen world, and God hasn’t promised immunity from its hardship, even to those who follow him. Think of Joseph, who ran from Potiphar’s wife but still ended up in prison. Or Daniel, who refused to quit praying and then faced lions.

Though I empathize with the widow’s reaction, what I find interesting is Elijah’s calm response to her remarks. Known for his somewhat hot temper, Elijah didn’t remind her of all he’d already done to help her and her son. In humility, he ignored her harsh words, and in faith, he took this problem to the Lord.

“Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. Then he cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!" (1 
Kings 17:19-24 NIV)

The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!"

Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.”

I believe the Lord prepared the widow’s heart with a whisper before Elijah even arrived. She must have heard the truth about God’s love and claims on her life during the time the prophet lived with her and her son. Yes, she reacted out of pain and confusion when her son suddenly died. Such a response doesn’t mean she had no faith … only that it faltered. In quietly asking the widow to give him her son, Elijah allowed her time to quiet her soul and consider. And the Lord, in his mercy, ignored her outburst and looked on her heart, where a tiny spark of faith burned.

In an intersection of time and eternity, God reached down and touched the widow’s son, restoring him to life. Yes, he was still subject to a fallen world; he would grow old and die again. But now, more than ever before, he was his mother’s comfort and a blazing example of God’s mercy and miraculous power. If the widow’s faith in God was a spark before, it was a sturdy flame now.

Do you believe in miracles? When Paul met with Agrippa, the apostle asked, "Why should it be thought a thing incredible that God should raise the dead?" (Acts 26:8 KJV)

Have you ever experienced that which only God can do? Perhaps your miracle was as soft as a whisper to the heart or as earth-shattering an event that, even now, you can hardly bring yourself to speak of. An intersection of time and eternity.

I leave you with this final thought from the great Bible scholar A.W. Pink: “Bring into the scene the living God, and no matter how drastic and desperate be the situation, all difficulties a once disappear, for nothing is impossible to him.”

*For further reading: Elijah by A.W. Pink

Author Bio: 
Inspired by the Bible story of Elijah and the widow’s son, Dana McNeely wondered why the prophet had come to stay with these two. Who were they? What was their life, before? And how did the boy change after dying, seeing the other world … and coming back? 

Dana began research for her novel, “Rain,” which tells the story of the three-and-a-half-year drought from the boy’s perspective.

No stranger to drought, Dana lives in an Arizona oasis with her hubby the constant gardener, two good dogs, an antisocial cat, and migrating butterflies. She writes biblical fiction, cozy mysteries, and has written for magazines and newspapers. Her short story “Death in the Butterfly Garden” appears in SoWest: Killer Nights (2017).

Connect with Dana on Facebook, Twitter, or

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Let Love Bloom: Safe Refuge

Interview with Pamela S. Meyers about her book “Safe Refuge”:

Alexis: Why do you call this book “Safe Refuge”?

Pamela: For my character, Anna, her new home in Wisconsin is a safe refuge for her. Many Bible verses also refer to the Lord as a safe refuge.

Alexis: Who is Anna Hartwell and why is she planning to marry a man that she loathes?

Pamela: Anna is the first-born daughter of a wealthy Chicago family and when she was an infant, her parents arranged a marriage for her with the son of friends they had known a long time. You’ll have to read the book to find out why going against her parents' wishes is so difficult for her.

Alexis: Why does Anna call Chicago home? What makes it special?

Pamela: Although Chicago is the only home she has known having been raised there, she has never felt totally comfortable with all the trappings of wealth that her parents enjoy, and after becoming a Christian, she has found solace in volunteering at a mission school as a teacher and attending Sunday night services at the Illinois Street Church (founded by D.L. Moody).

Who is Lyman Millard and why does he want an arranged marriage to Anna?

Pamela: Like Anna, he had no say in the marriage plans since he was a child when the plans were set. But he has no reason to not want it. It’s the custom in his family and what’s not to like about being married to a pretty woman that he can escort to social functions. To know more about this multi-layered character. You’ll have to read the book.

Alexis: What role does your characters’ faith in God play in this story?

Pamela: God sustains Anna through some very difficult times in the course of the story.

Alexis: How did the Great Chicago Fire impact the plot for this story?

Pamela: Two days before the arranged marriage is to take place, the fire erupts and totally consumes Anna’s family home and her father’s business property. The family moved north to what is now Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to live with friends until a new home on Geneva Lake can be built.

Alexis: Who is Rory Quinn and what role does he play in this story? How is he different from Lyman?

Pamela: Rory, an Irish immigrant, is the janitor/handyman at the mission school. He and Anna talk often about God and the issues they have with their respective families. He is everything positive that Lyman is not. And easy on the eyes too! Despite her being in an arranged marriage she’s attracted to Rory and knows she can’t marry him because of the arranged marriage and he’s attracted to her but knows he can’t have her because she is high-class and he is not.

Alexis: What is it about Anna that attracts Rory?

Pamela: Aside from her beauty, her faith in God, kindness, and humility, not putting on airs with those of a lower class than hers and never holding her status over them.

Alexis: If you were Anna’s Mom, what advice would you give her concerning her heart in the love triangle of sorts in this story?

Pamela: You will hear plenty from Mother when you read the story. I’m not going to reveal it all here, except to say she is not happy with Anna’s attraction to Rory pulls out all stops to get the marriage plans with Lyman back on track.

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

Pamela: That God is our refuge and strength and underneath are his everlasting arms. It’s a Bible promise found in Deuteronomy 33:27.

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

Pamela: Having grown up in Lake Geneva, WI next to beautiful spring-fed Geneva Lake, I was blessed to take for granted the beauty of the area and the wonderful mansions and estates that sit on much of the lake’s shoreline.

The newer homes are lovely, but a piece of Lake Geneva’s history has been lost in the process. I decided to write the Newport of the West series, starting with Safe Refuge to preserve some of that lost history. The reason for the series title is that when all the fancy large homes began appearing on the lakeshore, the area reminded people of Newport, Rhode Island where many of New York City’s wealthy built similar homes for a getaway. At the time Chicago was considered “the West” as the territories farther west hadn’t yet been established or heavily populated.

If you are ever in the area of Lake Geneva, check out the excursion boats that take passengers on a 26-mile tour of the entire lakeshore and announce the histories behind many of the homes as you pass by.

Author Bio:

Pam has written most of her life, beginning with her first diary at age eight. Most of her novels are set in or near her hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. They include Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and her newest release, Safe Refuge, the first of three novels in her Newport of the West series. Her novel, Second Chance Love, released last year, and her novella, If These Walls Could Talk, was published in the Coming Home collection. 

Future novels include Whatever is True (March 2019), Shelter Cove and Tranquility Point, both part of her current series.

Pam resides in northern Illinois with her two rescue cats. She’s an hour or so away from her hometown where she can often be found researching and nosing for new story ideas. 

Book blurb:

In two days, wealthy Chicagoan, Anna Hartwell, will wed a man she loathes. She would refuse this arranged marriage to Lyman Millard, but the Bible clearly says she is to honor her parents, and Anna would do most anything to please her father—even leaving her teaching job at a mission school and marrying a man she doesn't love. 

The Great Chicago Fire erupts, and Anna and her family escape with only the clothes on their backs and the wedding postponed. Father moves the family to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where Anna reconnects with Rory Quinn, a handsome immigrant who worked at the mission school. Realizing she is in love with Rory, Anna prepares to break the marriage arrangement with Lyman until she learns a dark family secret that changes her life forever. 

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