Monday, August 26, 2013

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Pattern for Romance
Abingdon Press (August 20, 2013)
Carla Gade


Carla Olson Gade has been imaging stories most of her life. Her love for writing and eras gone by turned her attention to writing Inspirational Historical Romance. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Writers, and the Maine Fellowship of Christian Writers. She is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary.

Her publishing credits also include a variety of newspaper articles, newsletters, and web content. She also enjoys developing discipleship materials for women. She has been a book judge for the Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest (RWA), and ACFW's Genesis Contest.

In addition to writing, Carla is a freelance website designer and webhost and an advocate for adult literacy. An experienced event and program planner/promoter, Carla designs marketing materials for her writing group, women's ministry, and other functions. Carla has also spoken at several women's events and facilitated many workshops and classes through the years.

An autodidact, creative thinker, and avid reader, Carla also enjoys genealogy, web design, and photography. A native New Englander, she lives in beautiful rural Maine with her "hero" husband and two young adult sons, and a new grandson.


Honour Metcalf’s quilting needlework is admired by a wealthy customer of the Boston Mantua-maker for whom she works. In need of increasing her earnings, she agrees to create an elaborate white work bridal quilt for the dowager’s niece. A beautiful design emerges as she carefully stitches the intricate patterns and she begins to dream of fashioning a wedding quilt of her own. When Honour is falsely accused of thievery and finds herself in a perilous position, merchant tailor Joshua Sutton comes to her aid. As he risks his relationships, reputation, and livelihood to prove her innocence, the two discover a grander plan—a design for love.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Pattern for Romance, go HERE.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Into The Whirlwind

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Into the Whirlwind
Baker Publishing Group (August 15, 2013)
Elizabeth Camden

 I really enjoyed this book! There is a great story that places you right in the middle of history. While other books on the great Chicago fire seem to mention it in passing, Into the Whirlwind lets you feel the pain and hope of those whose homes and businesses were lost. So many things that we take for granted were suddenly swept away, and no one was truly safe for a long period of time after the fire.

As usual, Camden has created characters with depth and courage. I'm happy to recommend this book to those who love history, small business struggles, and romance.


A research librarian and associate professor, Elizabeth Camden has a master’s in history from the University of Virginia and a master’s in library science from Indiana University. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband in central Florida.


After her father's death, Mollie Knox takes over his watchmaking company and uses her head for business to solidify the good name of the 57th Illinois Watch Company. Her future looks bright until the night her beloved city is destroyed in the legendary Great Chicago Fire. With her world crumbling around her, Molly must do whatever it takes to save her company in the aftermath of the devastating fire.

Zack Kazmarek is an influential attorney with powerful ties to the political, mercantile, and ethnic roots of Chicago. His only weakness is Mollie Knox, a woman who has always been just beyond his reach. However, all bets are off after the fire destroys Chicago, and Mollie is in desperate need of assistance. Just as Zack finally begins to pursue the woman he loves, competition arises in the form of a hero from her past who can provide the help she needs to rise from the ashes.

While Mollie struggles to rebuild, the two men battle for her heart. One has always loved her, but the other has the power to save her. In the race to rebuild the city, can she survive with her business and her heart intact?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Into the Whirlwind, go HERE.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Cost of Clutter

I didn't get any cleaning of my office done yesterday because I was basically gone from 8:45 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. I know -- excuses, excuses. But it is what it is! At least it didn't leave any piles on my desk, which is what usually happens on days like that -- I run in, dump the things in my arms, grab another stack and go. After a couple of busy days I'm right back where I started. So at least I feel like I maintained the status quo!

Today I worked on my portable file cabinet. Yes, I said file cabinet. Remember how proud I was a day or so ago when I cleaned out my portable file BOXES? I justified the boxes because my desk doesn't have any place to put files. Well, guess why I bought a portable file cabinet several years ago! Well, DUH!

The top drawer was full of envelopes, stamps, and other mail paraphenalia. I pretty much just organized this so it was easier to manage.

In the bottom drawer I discovered a big pile of stuff that had obviously been placed there during a wild cleaning spree. You know the kind...people are coming to visit in 10 minutes and you have to make sure they don't call family services! That cleaning spree must have been in 2011! Among other useless things, I found a Visa rebate card worth $50....that expired 4/13. UGH...what a waste. At least I  know the three Bed Bath and Beyond coupons will still be good -- regardless of when they expired!

So I filled a trash can with the stuff and discovered that I have room for all my files AND filing supplies! Oh glorious day...I can now fit my trash can under my desk.
  I need to organize all those cords, but no one will see them except when they are on the floor, which had best not happen often!

So I didn't get the whole office clean, but I've made great progress! I'm not going to do any more for almost two weeks coz I get to go to Florida on Sunday to see my granddaughter! I'll jump back in when I get home. Hope I've motivated someone else to organize, too! Let me know.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


I didn't do a single thing to improve the organization of my desk yesterday. I could do what I usually do -- beat myself up because I don't seem to be able to finish a project (just ask my husband...he'll confirm both the beating and the seeming inability to finish).

I had set reasonable goals. In reality, I had plenty of time. Yes, my day got revised a bit yesterday as always happens, but I also spent some 'quality' time visiting friends on Facebook.And I accomplished almost everything else on my to do list. But for whatever reason I didn't clean out a drawer.

Guess what! Today is a new day, and God's mercies are new. I DIDN'T mess my desk up in any looks just like it did yesterday morning when I got up, and that in itself is a big accomplishment, given the number of things I was tempted to pile on it.

Today is busy, too, but I'm sure I can find 15 minutes to make some headway.

What are you tempted to beat yourself up for this morning? What didn't you accomplish yesterday that you intended to? It's a brand new day -- let yesterday go and make today count!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Two Days in a Row!

I've discovered I really have a problem with empty spaces. After clearing off the majority of the desk, I find I'm distracted by all that space. I have to get over this!

I decided to place my pretty tea pot and cup on a nice tray to set in the middle of the area. Then maybe I won't be so likely to pile things there. A tea pot might not be a typical office accoutrement, but it is a vital part of my life -- my granddaughter Sophie and I have regular tea parties over skype! That is also why I'll keep the hat and boa on my wall by my computer.
I finished clearing the top of my computer table and fought the urge to think I was done. I decided to work my way back around the underside of my desk top -- floors and drawers.

It is obvious to me that I need to redesign my organization strategy, because this one obviously doesn't work! So I took about an hour to restructure my 'active' filing (which will still go in a portable file box under my desk -- this desk doesn't have any file drawer). I created categories that work for me related to the organizations or major projects I work regularly and made those  hanging folders. Within each category, I created a file folders for subtopics or categories, so the idea is to just take out one folder when I work on a project, and then PUT IT BACK!

Throughout the day I realized that I have to clean my desk every time I walk in my office. I am always leaving something out once I'm finished with it, and it's going to take a while to fix that bad habit.

Since I know I'm a 'piler', and hiding a folder called 'action' is a good way to forget that something needs work, I gave myself permission to have one pile, but I contained it in a pretty in-box. This contains my calendar, the current book I'm researching or reading, and those things that have to get done soon. My goal is to review this box at least once each week (Monday morning works for me right now), and again whenever I have time. My phone is there, too, so MAYBE I won't lose it so often! I also got rid of a very large old printer that I keep for printing large things (it will print 12" wide!), especially since it hasn't worked for two years!That cleared up the space for this inbox. 

At the moment, the best place to keep a box of copier paper is under my computer table. I'm ok with it being there -- it's hidden and very convenient. However I also tend to stick a bunch of other stuff there. I decided for the moment to keep my portable file box there, but got rid of the things that didn't need to be there -- photo paper, tons of old files, etc.
 And, not wanting to waste time, I cleaned out a drawer while I was talking on the phone:

So, for the most part, the computer desk area is done. I need to work on a rolling cart I have underneath and some file containers hanging on the wall. That will be my goal for today. Hopefully I'll be able to turn the corner and work on the wonderful space that was designed to hold a printer:
It might be nice to put my printer there, but I imagine the rest of the family might resist, since I have the printer that everyone uses. It could be a good place to put my file box, though, and maybe even that printer paper. We'll see how it goes.

I have to admit that committing to post these photos on a daily basis is really helping -- I was tempted to stop yesterday because things looked so much better from the outside, but, whether anyone is reading this or not, I want to post every day. And heaven forbid I post that I didn't do anything!

On a side note, my mother-in-law was thrilled with my efforts, and was shocked to hear that I still had work to do. She suggested that my husband work on his office, too (which is on the other side of our entryway). I laughed and suggested that maybe she wasn't one to speak -- her desk has as many piles as mine did!

The Lost Medallion

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Lost Medallion
B&H Kids; Mti edition (June 1, 2013)
Bill Muir and Alex Kendrick

 Since this book is written for 'tweens', I shared it with my favorite 5th grader, Wyatt. This review is his perspective.

Wyatt loves action/adventure books, so he was anxious to get into this one. He may have been a bit hesitant when I first presented the book because he thought the cover made it look like an 'old' book, perhaps something that was a favorite of prior generations. He was a trooper, though, and agreed to read it for me.

He really enjoyed the story line, and how he never knew what was going to happen next. The writing made him feel like he was one of the background characters following Billy Stone and his friends around as they participated in this search. Wyatt finished the book with a sense that he should never give up, but always persevere.

He especially liked the photos in the middle of the book (from the movie). He and his mom discovered that the movie is at our local library, and they have reserved it (and were number 10 on the list).

The only thing Wyatt didn't care for was the ending...I don't want to share why, though, because it might give it away!

He recommends this book to anyone who likes adventure/action books, and he's looking forward to reading more Billy Stone adventures.


Bill Muir is a popular speaker, an international award winning film maker and a sought-after consultant.

Having completed his new novels The Lost Medallion and A Hidden Treasure, Bill has turned his creativity to his new Children’s novel, Howdy Neighbors.

When Bill isn’t writing a novel, he’s busy directing and producing movies. He recently spent four months in Thailand filming, The Lost Medallion: the adventures of Billy Stone. The movie will be in theaters this fall. When he isn’t working on movies, he’s having fun with his family working their farm.

Alex Kendrick is associate pastor of movie outreach for Sherwood Baptist Church. He is also an actor, writer, and director whose film credits include Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous. He and his wife, Christina, have six children.


Archaeologist Dr. Michael Stone looked for the lost medallion his entire life, and now his son Billy has taken up the search. Amazingly, the medallion ends up in Billy's hands and a spontaneous wish in a precarious situation takes Billy and his best friend Allie, back 200 years to what they realize is a very different Aumakua Island. When Billy and his friends are not jumping off waterfalls, avoiding animal traps, crossing the ocean, sneaking through caves or escaping a prison they're facing their nemesis Cobra, who wants nothing more than for them all to disappear. With no other way to get home, and the well being of the entire island resting on his shoulders, Billy must discover the key to reclaiming the medallion and its tremendous power. One way or another, this adventure will change Billy, and life on the island, forever. Best-selling author and film director Alex Kendrick (The Love Dare, Courageous) and Youth for Christ veteran Bill Muir bring us this exciting novelization of The Lost Medallion movie.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Lost Medallion, go HERE.

Thank you to  B&H Kids for a copy of this book to review. The in no way influenced my perspective of the book.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Can't Stop Now

Look at this!!!!
I spent my 15 minutes cleaning yesterday, and realized that the mess had just gotten bigger. There was no way I could stop, so I ended up spending about an hour getting things put away, thrown away, and even given away. I came into my office this morning and smiled.

Yesterday I donated three items through, a great yahoo group that links up people with excess stuff with those who need that stuff! No money changes hands, and everybody is happy -- including landfills that don't get new stuff. Check it out -- I've given away a ton of stuff  and gotten some really great things.

I also put a bunch of books that I had on my desk but only used occasionally back on bookshelves (where they'll get a little less dusty), freeing up a ton of space. And I filled up a paper grocery sack with recyclable old paper.

But I have to say, all that empty space worries me. I know myself, and when I'm rushing round I tend to stack things on any empty space that is available. I thought about getting something large and pretty to put on the far end of the desk that doesn't get used much, but I don't want to add something that is just clutter.  It made me think of the scripture from Luke 11:

24 “When an evil[h] spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, searching for rest. But when it finds none, it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ 25 So it returns and finds that its former home is all swept and in order. 26 Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before.” (NLT)

I'm not saying that my propensity to pile stuff is a demon, but I do know that an empty, horizontal space in my home is an invitation for even more piles that it had originally! So I decided to move the books I DO use regularly down to the end, making that space useable AND full. I need to train myself to enjoy the peace of an empty space.

But now I feel like 'I've done it' and I'm having trouble committing to my 15 minutes today. After all, it's SO much better, right? But look hard. there is one pile on the left side of my desk that is just waiting to grow/reproduce. And back by the wall is a letter holder that is overflowing. Gotta deal with those. And I haven't even started on the floor or drawers.

I have to fight that 'good enough' feeling and really get it all done, or I'll be right back where I started -- probably by the end of the day!at

Thanks for the kind words of support and the admissions that you, too, deal (or maybe DON'T deal) with clutter. It helps to know I'm not alone. So, anyone have any cleaning stories or pictures to share?

Monday, August 19, 2013

I Need to be Commited

Ok, I know some of you would agree that I should be committed to an asylum of some sort (hey, if they have sewing machines it might not be all bad -- a little peace and quiet, and lots of imaginary friends to talk to). However, this time I'm talking about being committed to make a change.

I have to come clean. Really clean -- and organized! And I need to be held publicly accountable. My office is a pit.

I admit it, I have a problem. I'm a 'piler'. I get really important stuff that needs to be taken care of, and I pile it on my desk so I can 'handle' it.

But I don't. I move the piles around, make new piles, and sometimes tower things up into a tall pile. Once in a while I go through a pile and am happy to reduce it's height by throwing away all the things that have expired or are no longer relevant.

We have turned our dining room, which we would never use, into a wonderful office where I can write and design quilts.

But mostly I've created piles.

I even have piles UNDER the desk. Some of this stuff has been here since we moved in almost 4 years ago. Inside the drawers are just as bad.

I use 1 - 2 things in each drawer on occasion, and all have become junk drawers in their own right. 
Yes, that is my secret stash of chocolate stuffed in this one!

I need your help. I need to go public with this (although anyone who  has entered our house knows my dirty little secret - this is the lovely view you get when you first walk in). I need to be held accountable for cleaning.

I'm going to use two of my favorite 'people' for help -- Fly Lady ( and Nony ( I want to spend 15 minutes a day decluttering and  organizing using Nony's rules: 1) If I needed this item, where would I look for it (and put it there), and 2) If I needed this item would it even occur to me that I have it already? At the end of the week, I want to show you how great my desk looks, and I want to show it again at the end of September to see how well I did at maintaining it.

When I'm done with my desk, I have about 217 other projects to work on, but hey, if I get one done per month I'll be doing SO much better than I am today!

Anyone want to join in?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Rules of Murder

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Rules of Murder
Bethany House Publishers (August 1, 2013)
Julianna Deering

I've not been able to finish this book yet, but here are reviews from a couple of other readers:



JULIANNA DEERING has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her new series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuts with Rules of Murder (Bethany House, 2013) and will be followed by Death by the Book (Bethany House, 2014).


Downton Abbey Meets Agatha Christie in This Sparkling Mystery

Drew Farthering loves a good mystery, although he generally expects to find it in the pages of a novel, not on the grounds of his country estate. When a weekend party at Farthering Place is ruined by murder and the police seem flummoxed, Drew decides to look into the crime himself. With the help of his best friend, Nick Dennison, an avid mystery reader, and Madeline Parker, a beautiful and whip-smart American debutante staying as a guest, the three try to solve the mystery as a lark, using the methods from their favorite novels.

Soon, financial irregularities at Drew's stepfather's company come to light and it's clear that all who remain at Farthering Place could be in danger. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer--and trying harder to impress Madeline--Drew must decide how far to take this game.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Rules of Murder, go HERE.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Women's Bible Study - This Means Love

This Means Love -- Bible Study for Women Who Want to Make a Difference

Group Publishing has created a wonderful new study that takes things one step further. Instead of just reading the Word, it incorporates loving actions to apply what is being studied.

This Means Love is a six session study which can be done weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. The study  allows groups of women to participate in practical, needed service projects as they meet. Included are twelve different, well prepared plans of action that can be done during a regular meeting or at a special time between meetings. They provide tangible, inexpensive, and easy ways to serve the elderly, children, the homeless, workers in the church, and the community in general.

Each project idea includes a comprehensive list of supplies, planning tips, discussion questions, clear instructions for the project, ways to 'take it up a notch' by providing even more service, implementation tips, and ways to close the session.

The Bible study sessions are not long, but they are thoroughly entrenched in Scripture and have wonderful discussion questions that could go deep if the group wants.

In addition, Group Publishing has included a great graphics CD which includes publicity items, note cards to include with the service projects, and aids for the different sessions of the study.

This is a perfect study for women who want to find ways to serve, as a first study for a new group of Christians, or even for a group of teens.

Thank you to Group Publishing and B&B Media Group for providing a copy of the study for this review. They in no way influenced my perspective on this study.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

More About The Promise Box

The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer

Such a wonderful book!

What is The Promise Box about?

The Promise Box is a story about a young woman who was adopted into an Amish family. Conceived by rape she always feels as if her life was a mistake. It's a story of finding love and finding freedom when she realizes God had a plan for her life and His promises are always true.

What key takeaway or message do you expect the reader to understand when they have finished your book?

God's promises are always true

Motive or purpose in writing your book:

I love everything Amish and I try to deal with “messier” and deeper issues within the Amish culture...but in a gentle a lovely way through heartwarming characters.

Describe how your personal background was involved in the writing of this book, if applicable.

Related to the theme, my life was unexpected and my mom got pregnant at a Halloween party. For years I felt like “a mistake” yet God showed me he had a plan for me. We also adopted a baby girl two years ago, and I know the joy of that experience! Yet I also know she'll have many questions as she grows. (We are currently in the process of adopting two more kids, too!)

Also, for fifteen years I lived in Northwestern Montana—about one hour from where this book took place. Even though I grew up in the mountains of California there was something wondrous about the Rockies. Not a day passed when I didn't appreciate the scenic mountains and the beauty of the place.

Also, three years ago I met Amish families from the community and they allowed me to interview them and experience their lives. Many moved from typical Amish communities to rural Montana.

I hope this book will open a new world to Amish readers.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Millie's Treasure

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Millie's Treasure
Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2013)
Kathleen Y'Barbo

This is a fun, fresh approach to a series. It's the first I've read where the books follow the life of the antagonist instead of the good guys. Millie's Treasure is actually the second book in the series, but you definitely don't have to read the first book, Flora's Wish, to enjoy this book.

Millie is a woman who is much more interested in science and literature than society balls, much to the chagrin of her father. Her position as the only remaining female in the family after the others die from yellow fever leads her to believe her father blames her for not dying with or instead of the others. Her interests are a source of embarrassment to him and have hampered the interest of men in society. She has agreed to marry a man of wealth to help her father's finances and to get away from him.

This is a fascinating book with lots of cutting edge inventions (for the 1880's), action, and drama. I highly recommend it for those interested in historic novels.


RITA and Carol award nominee Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than forty novels, novellas, and young adult books. In all, more than one million copies of her books are currently in print in the US and abroad, and her books have been translated into Dutch, German, and Spanish, to name a few.

Kathleen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She holds a BBA from Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School and a certification in Paralegal Studies, and is a former member of the Texas Bar Association’s Paralegal Division.

A tenth-generation Texan, Kathleen Y’Barbo has four children of her own as well as seven bonus kids she gladly inherited when she married her own hero in combat boots. Kathleen is proud to be a military wife, even if it did mean giving up her Texas drivers license.


From bestselling author Kathleen Y'Barbo comes Millie's Treasure, the second book in The Secret Lives of Will Tucker series, a new set of novels involving romance, adventure, and hidden identity.

Memphis 1890--Bookish heiress Millie Jean Cope is as clever as she is beautiful. Unfortunately, though adept at solving puzzles and cryptograms, she doesn't realize her new fiancé isn't who he claims to be, but instead is a charming scoundrel. The infamous Will Tucker is presenting himself as a British gentleman, Sir William Trueck, though in reality he is a crafty criminal looking for a hidden map to a secret treasure.

Pinkerton agent Kyle Russell has been on Tucker's trail for years. At last Kyle believes he has Tucker cornered, but he is uncertain whether the lovely woman on the con man's arm is an unsuspecting victim or willing accomplice. Finding reasons to spend time with Millie is easy. Keeping himself from falling in love with her is another issue entirely. A fun and entertaining story of how God can shine the light of truth on the most cryptic circumstances.

If you would like to read the first chapter of >Millie's Treasure, go HERE.