Monthly Archives: October 2013

Catching Serenity

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Welcome back, JoAnn!  Please tell us about Catching Serenity.

To give you a good idea of what the story’s about, here’s the back cover blurb:

A woman torn apart by secrets. A man held prisoner by the truth. Can the greatest love of all set them both free?

Serenity McClaren had it all before her life crumbled around her like the sand castles on her beloved beach, causing her to flee Croisette Shores and the only home she’d ever known. Nearly five years later and living in Atlanta, she receives a mysterious, unsigned note: Come home, Serenity. Things aren’t as they seem. Time to find your answers. Returning to South Carolina, she prepares to face her demons and the ailing father she left behind, hoping to make peace with both.

Child psychologist Jackson Ross is a man with a surprising past. He’s ready for the quiet life and  eager to establish his practice in the quaint, coastal village. After he hires Serenity to decorate his new office, he’s drawn to the beautiful and enigmatic woman yet sees she’s haunted by a past she can’t escape. Wanting to help her, he begins to suspect one of his young patients may hold the key to unlocking Serenity’s secrets. Jackson follows his instincts and discovers the shocking truth, but how can he tell the woman he’s grown to love what he knows—and set her free—without compromising his professional ethics and losing her forever?

Oh, that sounds like a fantastic story! Thanks for sharing. 🙂 What do you hope the readers will take away from Catching Serenity?

Psalm 18:2 says: The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (NASB)

Serenity takes heart and hope in this particular scripture verse. Before the tragedy in her life, she always adored sitting on her beloved beach and walking along the shore. It was there she felt closest to the Lord even though she didn’t understand that’s what it was. Now, coming back home as a new believer, she clings to the Lord and that verse as her stronghold to sustain her through the trials of life. I’ve never written a character as emotionally stretched as my heroine. The lowest point in her life was five years before the story begins. As fragile as she can be, she’s also one of the strongest characters I’ve ever written. She survives circumstances that would send many into a downward spiral of depression and then has the strength to return to the scene of the crime, so to speak. As you might imagine, trust and forgiveness are major issues with Serenity, like they are for many people. Because of her past, she’s afraid she’ll taint everyone and everything she loves. By keeping the hero, Jackson Ross, at arm’s length, she believes it’ll somehow protect him from harm. Likewise, her faith is new and fragile, and she clings to the promises of God and seeks His love as a refuge from the past. But I hope the reader will see that even when things seem insurmountable or impossible—like in Serenity’s circumstances—He is a God of everyday miracles and can give us the desires of our heart if we place our trust in Him. In Serenity’s case, things are not at all as they seem, and she finds that with the Lord, even the unimaginable are indeed possible.

I love that. Thanks, JoAnn. Many writers work full-time jobs as well as writing, including yourself. How do you find the time to do it all?

The simple answer is that I make time. I freely admit I don’t have the energy I did even a few years ago. We go through stages of life where our bodies crave at least six hours or more of sleep each night, and I’m in one of those stages. Four years ago, however, I could stay up writing until 2:00 a.m. every night and get up again at 6:00 a.m. If I did that now, I’d cringe to see the product of my writing! So, what’s a writer to do if she wants to continue to crank out novels on a consistent basis? The basic answer is that writing is one of my deepest passions. Because of that commitment, I carve out whatever free time I can grab here and there throughout the workday: before work, on my lunch hour, and after work. I try to get in as much writing/editing time as possible on the weekends. It’s a fine balance, but the Lord honors that time, and I’ve never suffered writer’s block (and hope I never do). I realize how blessed I am to say that, too. He sustains, as He always does.

I wish I could say I’ve never had writer’s block. I suppose you’re too busy to have time for that. 😀  Have you read a book recently that you would recommend?

I honestly don’t like to answer that question other than to say whatever version of the Holy Bible you prefer. Trust me when I say it’s not a cop-out; not enough people, Christians included, carve time out of their busy schedules to sit down, read, study and absorb God’s Word. In addition to that, a lot of my friends are Christian writers. I don’t like to single out one over the other because there are so many great books out there, both contemporary and historical. What I would encourage readers to do is also occasionally check out the small-publisher books and or the independently published books. They’re often overlooked in the shadow of the larger publishers, and they don’t get nearly the “fanfare” or the attention. Some very good independent books are being written that are inventive, well-done and prompt readers to think “outside the box” of the tried-and-true formulas. Interesting reading, indeed, and some are written by very “big” name authors, as well.

Well said. Thank you.

JoAnn has offered to give away a copy of Catching Serenity to one lucky commenter. You must answer the following question to be entered.

As a reader, what are the moments in a romance that you enjoy the most? For example, do you prefer the getting-to-know-you moments, the unspoken gestures (perhaps chivalrous on the part of the hero), the build-up to that first kiss, the actual kiss, a marriage proposal or a wedding?

Rules: Drawing is open until Sunday November 3rd to U.S. addresses only. The winner will be notified via email Monday November 11th. There must be at least 10 Qualifying comments for the drawing to take place. Void where prohibited by law.

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Catching Serenity is JoAnn Durgin’s fifth full-length novel. The author of The Lewis Legacy Series and Christmas novellas, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe and its sequel, Starlight, Star Bright (coming in November this year), she’s an estate administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky law firm and lives in southern Indiana. Visit her at www.joanndurgin.com or via her Author JoAnn Durgin page on Facebook. She’d love to hear from you!

The Lord is Faithful

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1 Chronicles 16:34

Even when things aren’t going the way we expect, He is in control. He loves his children and desires His best for us. We can’t see the full picture, but He is all knowing and does know what’s to come.

Sure I’d love to know what’s going to happen, with this or that aspect of my life or my children’s lives, but I rest in the fact that God loves his children and is faithful. He wants the best for me, just as I want the best for my children.

He wants the best for YOU.

Thank you, Lord for your faithfulness and for never giving up on us. Thank you for your encouragement and meeting us where we are.

Made to Last

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I’ve read Made to Last and really enjoyed it, so I’m especially thrilled to welcome Melissa Tagg this week.Please tell everyone about Made to Last.

Made to Last is a romantic comedy about figuring out who we are underneath the trappings of success—or lack thereof—and in the process finding a faith and love that’s made to last. Here’s the back cover blurb:

Miranda Woodruff has it all. At least, that’s how it looks when she’s starring in her homebuilding television show, From the Ground Up. So when her network begins to talk about making cuts, she’ll do anything to boost ratings and save her show–even if it means pretending to be married to a man who’s definitely not the fiancé who ran out on her three years ago.
When a handsome reporter starts shadowing Miranda’s every move, all his digging into her personal life brings him a little too close to the truth–and to her. Can the girl whose entire identity is wrapped up in her on-screen persona finally find the nerve to set the record straight? And if she does, will the life she’s built come crashing down just as she’s found a love to last?

I see in your bio that you are a former reporter, did an event in your “former life” inspire this story?

Yep, I’m a former newspaper reporter—loved that job. I’m convinced there’s no better job for an aspiring writer. I had sooo many fun and random experiences. There’s actually a reporter in my story, so I’m sure that was influenced by my former job. However, unlike my character, I never did break into a zoo in pursuit of a story…

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

Some good laughs and maybe a happy sigh or two at the romance. 🙂 But on a deeper level, my characters struggle with basing their identity and worth in the wrong things. One finds her worth in her career. The other sees only his mistakes when he looks at himself. They both have to discover where their true identity is found.

I think all of us, at some point or another, have struggled with finding our worth in our achievements or careers or relationships. A lot of times, it’s when those things are stripped away that we discover who we really are—loved and cherished by an amazing God. I hope readers take that away, maybe even look at their own lives, think about what they’re basing their identities on.

Do you have another book in the works?

I’m currently finishing up the rewrites for my second book, Here to Stay, which comes out in May 2014. This story features one of my faaavorite (and many readers’ favorite) characters from Made to Last—Blake “Blaze” Hunziker. He’s a total goofball in Made to Last, but in Here to Stay we get to see a little more of his serious side. (Though, don’t worry…he’s still loads of fun in my humble and oh-so-unbiased opinion!)

What is one thing that would surprise people about you?

Hmm, I think some people might be surprised by the fact that originally, I never really wanted to write romance. I had a somewhat skewed version of romance books (assumed they were all half-dressed Rambos on the cover and damsels in distress inside)…but I attended a My Book Therapy retreat during which Susan May Warren asked us about our favorite movies. And I realized all my favorites were these classic and witty romantic comedies starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. And so I wrote my first rom-com scene at that retreat…and new I’d found my niche.

Also…I’ve never mowed a lawn.

Thanks, Melissa. If you would like to enter for a chance to win a copy of Made to Love please answer the same question I asked Melissa per her request. 😀

What is one thing that would surprise people about YOU?

Rules: There must be at least 10 qualifying entries for the drawing to take place. You must have a U.S. address to win. The winner will be contacted on Oct. 28th and will then have until Nov. 3rd, 2013 to respond or forfeit the book. No alternate winner will be chosen. Void where prohibited by law.

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Melissa Tagg is a former newspaper reporter and total Iowa girl. Her first novel, Made to Last, releases from Bethany House in September 2013. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, Melissa is also the marketing/events coordinator for My BookTherapy. Melissa blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at www.melissatagg.com.

Rest

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For the second week in a row I’m writing this at the last-minute. Any one who knows me well is aware I am NOT a last-minute kind of person. I can’t stand having anything hanging over my head. Yes, I was the kid in class who always had the big assignment done a week before it was due.

But lately I’ve been really struggling with this aspect of my blog. Finding something to share every week has been a challenge. This morning I was reading the Jewels of Encouragement blog and the writer quoted Matthew 11:28.

My mind shouted “Yes” when I read that verse. I am weary! I need a great big Abba Father bear hug.

What about you? Are you tired, overwhelmed, don’t know what to do next because there’s too much to do? I encourage you to stop and take a deep breath then release it slowly. Instead of focusing on everything else spend some time with the Lord and allow Him to fill you up. Grab your Bible, listen to some worship music, or simply find a quiet place and be still. Rest. He will meet you where you are.

I hope you all have a blessed week.

Pioneer Christmas

Pioneer Christmas coverI’m excited to welcome Vickie McDonough. I discovered Vickie when I read her Texas Boarding House Bride series and have been a fan ever since. Please tell us about Pioneer Christmas.

Pioneer Christmas is a novella collection from 9 best-selling, award-winning authors, including Lauraine Snelling and Margaret Brownley. It’s the story of pioneers who live in unusual homes, such as a dugout, cave, and a tipi, who strive to survive in harsh weather or circumstances during the Christmas season.

Oh my goodness! I didn’t realize this is where your novella was published. FYI, Vickie is one of my critique partners, and I think this was the first project I of hers that I critiqued. It’s a great story! Who came up with the concept for this collection?

The series originated with Becky Germany, fiction editor at Barbour.

What Inspired your contribution?

My novella is titled Buckskin Bride. I searched for a unique type of home my heroine could live in, to fit the requirements of the collection, and decided on a tipi. With a home that was portable, it made sense that my heroine’s family was nomadic. I envisioned my heroine as more of a tomboy type who preferred buckskin to calico, and Maddie was birthed. I also wanted to set the story in Oklahoma, shortly after the first land rush.

What is the take-away from Buckskin Bride?

Maddie and her sisters endure tough times when their father doesn’t return from a hunting trip. They have to use their wits and skills to survive, but they also learn to trust others. The main take away is that no matter how tough things seem, God is always there to help you walk through them—if you’ll only call on him.

I really like that you added that we need to ask Him for help. 🙂 What are you currently working on?

I’m working on Song of the Prairie, which is the third and final book in my Pioneer Promises series from Whitaker House. The series is about the three Harper brothers who run a stage stop in rural Kansas in the 1870s. The first book is the series, Whispers on the Prairie, released in July and was a Romantic Times Recommended Read. Book 2, Call of the Prairie, releases in January.

Ah yes, another great series! Don’t miss out on this one–I believe I critiqued Call of the Prairie in this series and it’s another must read. Sorry for gushing, but when I really like someones writing I can’t help myself. J Now for a fun question. What is your idea of the perfect day?

That’s a tough question. Hmm…I think a perfect day would be hopping in the car with my husband and garage sailing for antiques and collectibles for my booth at an antique mall. Between stops, I’m sipping a Coke and reading a book. No cooking or laundry. Just having a nice time.

Thanks for sharing with us Vickie and for offering to give away a copy signed by all the authors to one lucky commenter. Please leave a comment for Vickie if you’d like to be entered into the giveaway.

Rules: There must be at least 10 qualifying comments for the drawing to take place. The drawing is open to U.S. addresses only. I will contact the winner Monday Oct. 21st and the winner will than have until Oct. 27th to reply or forfeit the book. No other winner will be drawn. Void where prohibited by law.

Vickie McDonough 3 small To learn more about Vickie and her books you can visit her website at www.vickiemcdonough.com

My Refuge

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Psalms 46:1&2

I love how the psalmist states so clearly his point. Or how about the Kimberly Rose Johnson version aka KRJV God is my refuge and my helper. Without Him I’m a mess.

I’m so thankful that the Lord is always there for His children. He loves us beyond our ability to understand–at least my ability.

Maybe you’ve had a lousy week or perhaps it’s been a rough year. Know that the Lord is there and He loves you. He will help you through those crazy hard times if you ask Him. The key–at least for me–is surrendering my problems to Him. I like to take control and giving things to Him is not always easy.

I pray you all feel the Lord’s love in your life.