Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

My new year started off with a pleasant surprise when Julie Arduini nominated me and other bloggers with the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award.

Here are the rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Put the Award logo on your blog.
3. Answer 10 questions you’ve been sent.
4. Make up 10 new questions for your nominees to answer.

Here are the questions I was sent and my answers:
1. What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned?
I believe it was letting go and letting God. For years I worried, fretted, and tried to control my life. When I realized that God was the one in control the worries melted away. There are still trials and troubles but now I pray first and trust in God’s wisdom.
2. What temptation is hard to resist?
Chocolate. I made a pan of chocolate walnut fudge for Christmas.  I’m pretty sure I ate most of it.
3. If you weren’t doing what you do weekdays, what would your life look like?
I work in an academic library as the technical services manager. When I retire I’d love to be a full time writer.
4. What book could you read over and over?                                              
For years I read Sue Hubbell’s A Country Year: Living the Questions every spring.  I’m thinking about reading it again this spring. I also love to read the Bible over and over.
5. What motivates you?
God motivates me. If I am doing something for Him, I don’t give up.
6. What are your pet peeves?
I don’t like it when cabinet doors or drawers are left open.
7. What are your goals for 2015?
I hope to complete the novel I started this month. It is a story set on an island in Lake Erie that features a young woman who needs to find peace. What she doesn’t expect is to find love.
8.  If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
I’ve wanted to travel to Maine since I was in sixth grade. Last year my husband and I took a trip to Kelleys Island, Ohio. We fell in love with the island and the mainland around Marblehead. We plan to go back this year.
9. Would you rather stay in a five star hotel, a bed and breakfast, or a cabin?
A cabin would give us more privacy and autonomy. When I go on vacation I don’t want to be busy and trying to get from place to place. I want to relax and enjoy the journey. But then again, a bed and breakfast would be delightful.
10. What’s your favorite season? Why?
I love winter. The snow gives such a peaceful atmosphere. Winter is quiet and gives me a chance to reflect and regenerate. I love the way the snow sparkles and gives the earth a fresh, clean appearance.

Here are the questions for my nominees:
  1. Do you have a favorite Bible verse you lean on? If so what is it?
  2. What’s your favorite chapter book from childhood?
  3. Do you enjoy cooking or would you rather eat out, order in, or nuke a microwave dinner?
  4. Were you called to write or do you write as an offering to God?
  5. What’s your favorite thing about blogging?
  6. How long have you blogged and why did you start?
  7. If you could have any pet, what would it be?
  8. What’s your greatest accomplishment in the writing world?
  9. What’s the best and worst about using social media?
  10. Are you a country or city kind of girl?

I’m nominating Ane Mulligan, Sharon Srock, Nike Chillemi, and Kathleen Friesen! I enjoy your blogging!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Librarians, Just for Fun

Is anyone else watching the TNT series, The Librarians?

The series spun off of the movies starring Noah Wyle, Bob Newhart and Jane Curtain. In the new series, four hand-picked, miss-matched people work together to defend the world against too much magic. Rebecca Romijn as Eve Baird is a love interest for Wyle, who appears occassionally. The rest of the time, she's protecting her underlings while they solve puzzles and chase monsters. John Larroquette holds down the fort, or the lab in this case, while the others roam about, drop through portals, and get into all kinds of trouble. Christian Booth, Lindy Cain and John Kim round out the ragamuffin group as an art history expert, math genius, and thief.

For me, the show is pure entertainment. I've heard a few people say they didn't like it because the librarians weren't doing library work. But I don't think that's the point. I don't know too many librarians who chase fairytale characters, dragons, or evil villains. Instead, the characters use resources, history, and a little magic to save the world.

If you want light entertainment for an hour before you start your workweek, sit back and watch The Librarians. Just for fun.

If you watch the show, what do you like about it?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Into the Woods

From time to time ‘once upon a time’ rises to the top of the storytelling genres. From Storybrooke to Arendelle tales of fairies, magic beans, beautiful princesses and charming princes have come to the forefront of books, television, and the movies. Into the Woods is the latest to join the ranks of fairytale retellings. My daughter and I watched the story unfold as four fairytales intertwined deep in the magical forest. As in all tales of good and evil, the drama plays out and just when you think it has ended a twist takes you down a different path.

When we arrived at the theater, I had no idea what the movie was about, except for the magical elements of the fairytale. To my surprise, the characters voices joined in song. A musical. Now there’s a different telling. Not only did the music add to the fun, the comedy was well placed and laugh-out-loud funny. Along with the drama, the characters stories played out in unexpected ways. Overall, I enjoyed Into the Woods. Especially the two young actors who stole the show as Jack and Red Riding Hood. If you like musicals, fairytales, humor and a bit of drama, oh and don’t forget handsome princes, you might want to give it a try. May not be appropriate for under twelve.

What’s your favorite fairytale retelling?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

An Open Book-2015

What do you think about between Christmas and New Year’s?
  • Blessings of the past year
  • What the New Year will bring
  • People you met
  • Resolutions or goals

I count my blessings and contemplate changes. With that come prayers of thanksgiving and the memories of lessons learned in 2014.

This year I’ve chosen the word ‘follow’ for 2015 because I want to intently listen to God’s direction. On a different note, I need to be more intentional in what I read. As much as I enjoy reading light-hearted romance and mystery, I need to up the game this year and add more meat to my book diet. And I plan to continue a practice I started mid-year 2014. Jot down notes at church during the sermon and communion devotion, and then record them in a notebook throughout the following week. The scriptures and any good quotes hit the page. By doing this through the week, I experience the message again. I hope to pass the book on some day.

I don’t consider these resolutions, but more life enhancers for the open book of 2015. I pray I keep my focus and follow. It will require me to read my Bible more, pray more and be still more. Maybe I should adopt the word ‘more’, too. Here’s hoping for a fantastic year!

What are your thoughts for 2015?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Adirondack Interview with Julie Arduini, author of Entrusted

1. What made you write a romance based in the Adirondack Mountains?

The idea for Entrusted started to form nearly 20 years 

ago when I first visited the real Speculator, New York, the 

village I based the fictional Speculator Falls on. My friend 

from college invited me there and I instantly fell in love. 

As I walked around I could see the characters coming to 

life. The area is too beautiful not to share.

As a reader, I also noted there are very few stories based 

in Upstate NY, and none that I know of in the Christian contemporary romance category 

set in the Adirondacks. This is my tip of the hat to an area I love so much.

2. Where exactly are the Adirondack Mountains?

The Adirondack Mountains are a 6 million acre park, the largest in the lower 48 

states, according to They are about 4 hours north of NYC, two 

hours northeast of Syracuse, five hours from Boston and minutes from Quebec. It was 

fascinating to see signs in French and English the further north I traveled.

3. When you think of the Adirondacks, what comes to mind?

Peace. There is something in the air that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. I can be 

stressed and burned out as I travel and the minute I get out of the car, it melts away. I 

also think of kind people. Everyone is welcoming. It’s also rural. When I wrote in 

Entrusted that the county was the only one without a traffic light, which was true when I 

visited.  I’ve driven so deep into the mountains that there weren’t even telephone poles 

or gas stations. Yet, I have to say, my GPS delivered me straight to the destination right 

to the inch, which for my heroine in Entrusted, Jenna, was not the case.

4. What do you want readers to take away regarding the Adirondacks?

I’m already seeing it---readers want to live there, or at the very least visit, and that’s 

just from looking at the cover, which is authentic Adirondack. Once they start reading, 

they’re making new friends with the characters. I hope reading Entrusted gives people 

vacation ideas. It truly is a wonderful area.

5. What in Speculator Falls is real, if anything?

The village itself is not real. I based it on Speculator, NY, which is real. JB’s grocery 

store is not real, but it’s based on Charlie Johns, which is. The senior citizens at the 

center have things about them that I experienced having an office at a senior center 

years ago. One was a Rockette back in her day, but she wasn’t like Roxy in Entrusted. I 

also mention a nice family with a maple syrup business. They are real and are the family 

that first invited me to the area all those years ago.

6. Tell readers about Entrusted.

Entrusted is about Jenna Anderson, sassy city-girl, who plows–literally–into Adirondack 

village, Speculator Falls with a busted GPS. She gets a warning from the sheriff but has 

ideas for the senior center to prove she belongs in town as their director. Town 

councilman Ben Regan is as broken as the flower box Jenna demolished. He’s grieving 

and wants to shut down the center before there’s too much change and heartbreak. They 

work on community projects and build a slow relationship, but the council needs to vote 

on the senior center’s future. Can Jenna show Ben both her and the center are worth 


7. Will we see more Adirondack romances from you?

Yes. Next up is Entangled, Carla’s story. After that is Engaged, Trish’s story. What I love 

about the Adirondack Surrender romance series is that the characters readers meet in 

Entrusted stick around. You’ll still read about Jenna, Ben, Will, Kyle, Sara and the others.

8. What else are you working on?

The Love Boat Bachelor will release in early 2015 and features the authors from Write 

Integrity Press and is a sequel to last year’s Valentine’s novella, A Dozen Apologies. This 

time it is cruise themed and readers choose who the hero proposes to. I can’t wait!

Also, in April, Chalfont House Publishing will release A Walk Through the Valley. This is an 

infertility devotional with Heidi Glick, Elizabeth Maddrey, Kym McNabney, Paula Mowery 

and Donna Winters. We share our own experiences with transparency, but also with hope 

that comes from the Bible. This is the book I wish I’d had when I was going through 

infertility issues and miscarriage.

9. How can we find you?

My website is and if you click on the 

“books” page, you can learn how to purchase Entrusted and much 

more. I also have a newsletter where for 2014 I’m 

sending subscribers my Upstate NY Finger Lakes romance, Match 

Made in Heaven. I’m active across social media, everything from 

Facebook to Goodreads. I can be found @JulieArduini.

Thank you, Julie, for sharing your love for the Adirondacks with us today.

My pleasure!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Looking for Christmas Reads...or Gifts?

Laura V.Hilton writes both Amish and contemporary stories that touch the heart. I have to admit, I never enjoyed Amish fiction until I read Laura's. She has three new books out, two Amish Christmas and one contemporary. 

The Snow Globe

Victor Petersheim has left the Amish and works on a river boat on the Mississippi River, spending three months on the river then having three months off. During his off-work months he returns home to his Amish community and helps out on his grandparents’ farm. When he returns home after his most recent absence, he discovers his grossmammi has developed health problems and they’ve hired Esther Beachy to be a “mother’s helper.” Victor is unsettled by this woman living in their home, but has to accept it. Esther loves listening to Victor’s grandmother’s stories and while puttering around in a store while the grossmammi’s in the hospital, she discovers a snow globe that depicts an area where the Petersheims used to live. She buys it as a gift for the grossmammi to cheer her up during her hospitalization. Victor is touched by Esther’s gift and her care for his grossmammi, and strives to be friendlier. Will Esther’s gentle heart draw him back to the community? Or will he return to the river once again? 

A White Christmas in Webster County   

Wanting to relocate from Shipshewana to somewhere new, Mercy Lapp answered an ad in The Budget to work as a mother’s helper for Matthew and Shanna Yoder in Seymour, Missouri. Mercy relocated from Shipshewana to give herself space and time to heal after the death of her beau in a fishing trip on Lake Michigan. Abner Hilty fled Shipshewana to Montana to work on a ranch after he and his twin brother witnessed a murder. Now that the killer is safely behind bars, Abner decides to visit his brother Abram in Missouri where he’d settled with his bride of one month. Mercy is surprised to see Abner there, and equally surprised by how much he’d changed physically since she’d last seen him. Even though the two live in different districts they occasionally see each other in town and form a fledging friendship. As Christmas approaches, an unexpected heavy snow lets Abner and Mercy spend a lot of time together in wintertime fun. Abner hopes to interest Mercy in a more permanent relationship. But then Mercy has a potentially life changing discovery. Will she return to Shipshewana to answer the summons of the past? Or settle in a new place?
Swept Away
He survived a life-altering event. She is facing one.

Sara Jane Morgan is trying to balance teaching with caring for her grandmother who doesn’t want to be cared for. When school lets out for the summer, the plans are for Grandma to teach Sara Jane to quilt as they finish up the Appalachian Ballad quilt Grandma started as a teenager. But things don’t always go as planned.

Andrew Stevenson is hiding from his past—and his future. He works as a handyman to pay the bills, but also as an artisan, designing homemade brooms. When Sara Jane’s grandmother hires him to renovate her home, sparks fly between him and his new employer’s granddaughter.

It doesn’t take Sara Jane long to see Drew isn’t what he seems. Questions arise, and she starts online researching him. What she discovers could change her life—and her heart—forever. 

Purchase Laura's books:

Read More About Laura:

How has being published changed your life?   It has made life a lot busier, but has also made me more organized.

What are you reading right now?   I read fast, so what I’m reading today probably won’t be what I’m reading when I post this, but right now I’m reading The Christmas Star Bride by Amanda Cabot.

What would be your dream vacation?   My dream vacation would be an all expense paid trip to Michigan.  I’d like to take my family to all my favorite places throughout the state.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?  Sometimes, it is being able to focus. Like right now. Life is hitting and I am having a hard time thinking of much else.  I am praying a lot, mostly about the situation because I’m not on a deadline at the moment.  If I was on deadline, I’d be praying for my writing, too.
Where do you like to write?  In the living room, surrounded by my family.

If someone else were sitting at your desk right now, what would they see?  A mess. My son has rearranged the living room so I have my own “office.” He has the loveseat in front of my computer desk, a bookcase with the homeschool books and supplies beside me on one side, another desk with a printer and paper supplies on the other side. My computer desk is loaded down with newspaper clippings my aunt sent, a book review calendar, pens, and other miscellaneous junk.

Has there been a time in your own life where you could really sense God was putting you in a situation for a reason?   Yes. I think it’s because the rough situations cause me to grow as a person, as a writer, and as a Christian.
What’s on the horizon for you?  What will you be writing next? 
Right now I have started working on a proposal for another Amish series, also set in Jamesport. I have written about 200 words. I asked my husband to read over them to see if it “grabbed” him and he said “Can I read the synopsis first?” And I said “No. There isn’t a synopsis.”  He said, “Isn’t that supposed to come first?” And I laughed.  He did read my 200 words. And then went out to try an experiment to see if what I wrote actually worked.

How do you choose between ideas you’d like to write about?  I do have some ideas written down in a file, but for this particular series I came up with three new ones.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?   My family. Spending time with them, however. We have Monopoly tournaments that I usually lose, Scrabble tournaments where I can usually hold my own (depending on the letters I draw) and other things. 

Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and three of their children make their home in Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor. Laura also  has two adult children.

twitter: @Laura_V_Hilton

Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts (winner of the 2012 Clash of the Titles Award in two categories), and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love (finalist for the 2013 Christian Retail Awards). Surrendered Love and Awakened Love followed by her first Christmas novel, A White Christmas in Webster County, as well as a three book Amish series with Whitaker House, The Amish of Jamesport series, The Snow Globe, The Postcard in April 2015, and The Bird House in September 2015. Other credits include Swept Away from Abingdon Press. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer.

Friday, December 5, 2014

At First I Panic

I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar every month.   
–Harlan Miller

It happens every year. About mid-November a switch flips inside me. At first I panic.

So much to do:
  • decorate
  • make gifts
  • buy gifts
  • wrap gifts
  • bake
  • send cards, etc.
Christmas lurks around Thanksgiving’s corner.

How do I handle the panic?
  • focus and pray
  • stop and enjoy Thanksgiving
  • remember the reason for the season
  • make lists
  • enlist help
  • listen to Christmas music or whatever music brings joy
  • read a Christmas book
  • read the Christmas story
  • simplify
  • enjoy the people I love
  • give things away
  • give to a good cause
  • cherish the memories created
Have a Happy Christmas season!