A Writer’s Garden with Zoe M. McCarthy–Straw Bale Gardening


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Zoe M. McCarthy is guesting on today’s A Writer’s Garden. I just love the post she’s got, too. I saw this gardening method at Disney World last summer at their Flower and Garden Expo and was intrigued by it. It’s great to get the low down from someone’s who’s actually used it.

Straw Bale Gardens are Just Right for Us City Folks

 John and I are retired city folks transplanted to the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains. In this rural area, people have tractors to get their gardens ready for planting. We don’t have farm equipment, so we were attracted to the idea of straw bale gardening—no dirt, no plowing, and no squatting to harvest vegetables. This is the third year we’ve planted a straw bale garden following advice from Joel Karsten’s book, Straw Bale Gardens.

In straw bale gardens, the bales become ovens to germinate and grow fruits and vegetables. It’s important to use straw bales, not hay bales.

We knew our daily visitors would be problems, so we built an eight-foot fence that deer can’t jump and reinforced the lower fencing with smaller-holed chicken wire that bunnies can’t wiggle through. We laid landscaping fabric to discourage voles and moles.

Before we could complete the fencing, seven deer stopped by to sniff our bales and discuss among themselves what in the world we were doing. They seemed indignant at the chicken wire going up.

We performed a 10-day process to turn the bales into growing ovens. Fertilizing and watering. Again and again. Warm water only. On day five, we poked our fingers into the straw and felt the heat inside.

We ran soaker hoses on top of the bales. Timers attached to the hoses water the plants daily from our well. We can’t over water bales. It was nice to be able to travel and know that our plants would have plenty of water.

Then we planted seeds for cucumbers, radishes, lettuce, carrots, beans, edible sugar pumpkins, strawberries, and watermelons in a thin cover of potting mix (not soil—no dirt touches the roots) into thirty straw bales. We wrenched apart the straw a bit and inserted seedlings for some vegetables, such as peppers and tomatoes. We planted impatiens in the sides of the bales. All done.

Cabbages attracted worms, so we didn’t plant them again. Not a favorite anyway. This year slugs feasted on tender shoots, but they now drown in baby food jars filled with beer. Potatoes go in the sides of bales, but as yummy as they were, we only reaped a few. We harvested a few strawberries the first year so we didn’t plant them again, but they returned in washed down bale humps, and this year they came up again in those old humps and flourished!

We novices have been proud of our bountiful harvests. We make pumpkin soup, bread, and pies. The carrot cakes are to die for. I have fresh lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, and carrots for my salads every day. We’ve learned how to freeze and can. The most popular for us is the jars of hot salsa.

Straw bale gardens are great for city dwellers. A few bales installed on a patio and they have a garden.

Is planting in straw bales something you’d consider? Why or why not?

 About the Gardener/Writer:

A full-time writer and speaker, Zoe M. McCarthy, author of Gift of the Magpie and Calculated Risk, writes contemporary Christian romances involving tenderness and humor. Believing that opposites distract, Zoe creates heroes and heroines who learn to embrace their differences. When she’s not writing, Zoe enjoys her five grandchildren, teaching Bible studies, leading workshops on writing, knitting and crocheting shawls for a prayer shawl ministry, gardening, and canoeing. She lives with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Zoe blogs regularly at http://www.zoemmccarthy.com/ .

 Gift of the Magpie

Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, her heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high school Valentine’s Day date. He may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong.

Gift of the Magpie is a contemporary inspirational romance; it’s romantic with kisses.

Gift of the Magpie Buy Link




Wednesday Writers–Married by Mistake by Laura V. Hilton


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Laura V. Hilton is back on Wednesday Writers today, talking about the Story Behind the Story of Married by Mistake. Welcome, Laura. I can’t wait to hear about Married by Mistake. BTW, I love that title and Mackinac Island. I’ve always wanted to write a story set there.   

Thanks, Catherine.

When my agent asked me if I’d be willing to write a historical novella for a collection she was putting together for another author, I jumped at the chance. I usually write Amish romance (which I love) but I wanted to try my hand at historical. And a novel set in my home state of Michigan would be a dream come true. I had several ideas and I pitched them all to my street team to see which they liked best and the majority chose this idea.

upper peninsula Michigan

Then I went to my brainstorming group to help me figure out the hero’s story. And one lady in there, mentioned the Krump family in German and a war they provided weapons to the Boers in South Africa. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krupp – also http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/boer-war-begins-in-south-africa. The Upper peninsula in Michigan produced iron ore ( http://www.miningartifacts.org/Michigan-Iron-Mines.html) and what if….

The story was born from there.

Mackinac Island was a popular vacation destination in the Victorian era where the wealthy city residents went to escape the heat of the city. A perfect setting for a wounded hero to escape from gossip – at least until the socialites arrived – and then have to face his demons and come to terms with his past.

While writing this story, I also was homeschooling my two youngest children and my youngest daughter (a reluctant reader) was reading Alice in Wonderland out loud. Since that was a new book on the market at the time my story was set, it seemed fun to include bits and pieces of that story in mind, wrapped with the history of the island and the mess our hero and heroine would soon find themselves a part of.

I hope you enjoy reading Second Chance Brides Romance Collection – as well as my novella, Married by Mistake.

Here’s an excerpt:

Married by Mistake

by Laura V. Hilton

Chapter 1

Mackinac Island, 1902

A kiss.

The sea spray touched Bessie O’Hara’s face as gently as she imagined he—whoever he might be—would some day brush his lips across her cheeks.

She couldn’t wait.

If only she could skip all the tiresome courtship rituals like monotonous parlor visits and chaperoned strolls. She’d also eliminate the formal calling cards and fluttering fans society demanded and go straight to the happily-ever-after.

It wasn’t that easy. She glanced at her two cousins, giggling behind their fans, as they stepped off the ferry onto the dock leading to the island. They looked toward some gentlemen who’d come to meet the boat. Judging by their clothing, they were there for the summer season as well. They certainly weren’t employees hired to drive the buggies and wagons.

Bessie smoothed her hand over her dress. Splotches of water dampened the material under her touch. With a sigh, she looked around for her family’s carriage. Papa had wired ahead and told the driver when to meet the ferry. She didn’t see the carriage, but a large crowd blocked her view.

She didn’t want to do this. Not that she minded visiting her family’s vacation home on the island, or escaping the stifling August heat of Grand Rapids, or even spending time with her cousins. But this was so much more than a summer reprieve. Henrietta and Rosella were husband-hunting and dragging her along, completely against her will.

And worse? Her parents completely agreed with her cousins. It was time she got married. That was a woman’s highest calling—to manage a husband and a household.

Or so she’d been told.

She’d been looked over so many times before she was afraid of facing another rejection. Was she somehow defective because her hair wasn’t pale blond like Rosella’s or a deep, dark red like Henrietta’s? She dreaded being put on endless display in the “meat market” and found lacking over and over during the tiresome rituals.

If only she could have said husband handed to her, dropped in her lap, maybe even delivered, gift-wrapped with a ribbon and a card reading, “Here he is. Treat him well.” Instead she’d been forced to endure countless teas in stifling parlors from her usual place on the fringes.

Bessie stepped up her pace to catch up with her cousins who already neared the end of the dock. She didn’t want to be left behind. A gentleman wearing a plaid cap stood in her way, talking to someone, and she stepped to the side to keep from hitting him, but he turned sharply and bumped her in the side with his elbow. Her foot landed on the edge of the dock. She groped for something to grab onto but came up with nothing but air. She gulped a breath that emerged as a high-pitched squeal, and tumbled toward the water.

A strong hand grabbed her by the back of her dress, jerking the fabric up tight, and she flailed. Was this how a fish on a hook felt? She eyed the cold, fishy water she’d almost fell into. Seconds later, another hand closed around her elbow, the grip tightening as the hand on her dress released the material, slid around her waist and hauled her back against a firm chest.

Shocks raced through her body like the rise and fall of waves crashing against the shore during a storm. His arm firm against her, the man loosened his grip on her elbow. Then the arm wrapped around her waist slid away.

Slid—the fingers took a leisurely tour of the silky fabric covering her abdomen. There had to be something improper about this, but the touch set her senses on fire, charring her thoughts almost before they formed. She tried to take a deep breath and lightheadedness made her dizzy, overwhelmed with how quickly her situation had changed from impending bath to rescue.

“Watch where you’re going.” The voice was brusque, hardly matching the rest of the sensations. And with those harsh words, he released her. Her feet set firmly on the wood planks, free from his disturbing touch.

Bessie jerked her shoulders in an angry twitch as she turned carefully around and moved away from the edge of the dock. She didn’t want a repeat performance. “Watch where I’m going? Let’s try being more careful, Mr….”

Her voice trailed off as she stared into grayish-blue eyes, the color of the water on a winter day. Stubble shadowed the man’s chin, and his equally dark hair, a bit on the long side, peeked out from under a plaid cap.

He adjusted the brim as a muscle jerked in his jaw.

Wait. He was the man who’d stood on the opposite side of the ferry and stared at her during their ride over to the island, his gaze boring into her until she turned.

He’d quickly looked away.

Her fingers had itched to sketch his portrait. Strong. Dark. Handsome. And dangerous. She tried to memorize his features, but he’d glanced back at her and caught her staring.

Then it’d been her turn to look away and try to distract herself by listening to another half hour of her cousins giggling about potential prospects.

“You.” The single word sputtered out without warning. She resisted the urge to clamp her hand over her mouth. Maybe she should apologize for being so rude. But then she’d need an explanation for why she’d said it and she had none. Other than… well, he drew her and made her long to be his helpmeet. Not that she’d ever admit it to anyone.

He bowed at the waist, his lips twisting into something resembling a grimace, and he waved his hand. “Ladies first.”

Want to read more? Check her book out at http://www.amazon.com/Laura-V.-Hilton/e/B004IRSM5Q


About the Author:

Laura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with almost twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write and Putting on the New.


Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye. They currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children.

When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas.

Connect with Laura at:

visit my blogs: http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/  & http://lauravhilton.blogspot.com/ 

twitter: @Laura_V_Hilton

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Laura-V-Hilton/161478847242512

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/vernetlh/

 Purchase my books:

 Amazon   http://www.amazon.com/Laura-V.-Hilton/e/B004IRSM5Q 

CBD: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/easy_find?Ntt=laura+hilton&N=0&Ntk=keywords&action=Search&Ne=0&event=ESRCG&nav_search=1&cms=1

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/laura-hilton?store=allproducts&keyword=laura+hilton

Deeper Shopping http://www.deepershopping.com/index.php?query=laura+hilton&x=0&y=0&module=productsearch&_logmode=Y&querymodule=SPX



Cover Reveal for A Groom for Mama by Catherine Castle


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Whoo Hoo! It’s the beginning of busy week for me. I’m revealing the cover for my sweet romantic comedy A Groom for Mama here and over at Sloane Taylor’s blog today and getting ready for my month-long promo tour for the book. Oh, and I just got my pre-order link for A Groom for Mama on Amazon.

Rather than give you the blurb, which you can read on Sloane’s blog or on Amazon (please click on the links to read the blurb), I’m going to tease you with a hook and an excerpt from one of the heroine Allison’s disastrous dates. Mama and Jack, the ex-boyfriend who’s been roped into finding his old girlfriend a husband through his dating service, are eavesdropping on the couple.

I hope you’ll be interested enough to hop on over Amazon and click on the pre-order link. Only 3 weeks and 3 days until the book can be delivered right to your Kindle!


A Groom for Mama

By Catherine Castle


From their table at The Old Country Barn restaurant, Jack and Beverly spied on Allison and her date. It wasn’t his choice, but this whole dating fiasco hadn’t gone the way he wanted. Watching Allison flirt with Thurston Howell the Third had become uncomfortable. That’s what he’d nicknamed him. The idiot had shown up in a skipper’s hat, white slacks, deck shoes, and a royal blue blazer—an outfit straight from the set of the 60s television show Gilligan’s Island.

“Allison must feel underdressed,” Beverly whispered as she peered around her menu at her daughter seated three booths away. “I tried to get her to wear something snazzy. I just knew he’d come looking sharp.”

“How’d you know?”

“It’s a no-brainer. Anybody who says he likes long cruises on the family yacht is pretentious. Pretentious people show off. Honestly, who owns a yacht in Colorado? It’s a ski haven.”

In spite of himself, Jack cracked a smile.

Want to learn more about A Groom for Mama? Watch for my month-long blog tour information posted on this site beginning September 6.


About the Author:

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award. Her most recent release, A Groom for Mama, is a sweet romantic comedy from Soul Mate Publishing. Both books are available on Amazon.


Stitches Thru Time 4th Birthday Bash Giveaway!


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This month the Stitches Thru Time Blog, that I contribute to, is four years old. To celebrate we are giving away a $50 Amazon gift card and books by the blog’s great lineup of authors, including an e-book copy of my mutli-award-winning book, The Nun and the Narc.


All you have to do to be eligible to win is leave a comment on any of this month’s blog posts. You’ll have great content to read, too. Stop on by at Stitches Thru Time: http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/ and leave a comment on any post. Spread the word, please, and I hope to see you there! I’ll be posting this Friday at Stitches Thru Time.



A Writer’s Garden–Serendipity in the Garden with Morgan K. Wyatt


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Today Morgan K. Wyatt is visiting A Writer’s Garden talking about serendipity in her garden. I understand that, especially this year with all the rain we’ve had. I have tons of flowers that I didn’t plant popping up everywhere among the weeds. Can’t wait to see your serendipity, Morgan. Welcome!

Thanks, Catherine.

All winter long I dream of gardening, especially when it snows. In my dreams, everything goes right. Reality is an entirely different matter. Each year, I learn something different. Travel, weather, and online seeds challenged me this year.

Yes, I do use seeds for my annuals and some vegetables. My first mistake was ordering seeds online. I ordered dozens of seeds through a well-known company that starts with an A. Seeds are in general tiny and some of my tiny packages never showed. Other showed up late into the season, I still planted them. Still, others showed up in unlabeled plastic bags. Most did not germinate. It may have been the torrential rains that started in February and haven’t let up. It also could have been that items coming from abroad are often irradiated to kill harmful toxins and bacteria that could be traveling with them. This process started after the anthrax scare.

It became obvious that all my sunflower seeds were not growing, but something amazing happened. I usually keep four bird feeders filled with sunflower seeds and the birds were dropping seeds everywhere with the result being that sunflowers popped up. The cheap bird feed sunflower seed provided great flowers.

Travel chewed into my gardening plans too. In particular, I had to decide between going on a writers’ retreat or attending the annual master gardener sale where I usually buy a trunk load of plants. The writer retreat won out and I missed getting native plants. I resorted to buying plants at the chain gardening and home repair stores. I especially took all the plants that were placed on the clearance bin. Most did fairly well, although they all had to deal with constant rain and standing water. The winners in the weather category was the vegetables, wild flowers and elephant leaf bulbs.

Every year I also have a wild life visitor who appears to like my gardens as much as I do. Last year, it was a vole colony that I finally chased away with garlic. This year it is toads. They especially like the lemon balm bush that they hide underneath. Most gardeners try to attract toads to deal with insects. My secret is the marshy area of the yard that has never dried out due to the weather. The swampy bottom of our yard has also attracted blue dragon flies, which is always a plus too.

Every year teaches me something different. Be careful when planning trips around the prime growing season. Epsom salts can help any struggling plants. Make sure to use seeds that come from a reputable company within your country. Take a chance on discounted flowers and bulbs. Be on the lookout for new friends in the garden.

Make sure you get outside before the weather turns cold.

About the Gardener/Writer

Plants are both a mystery and a blessing. I can’t imagine what the world would be like without them, but when I’m not digging, weeding, or picking produce, I work in some writing. This summer I’ve released two cozy mysteries, Caribbean Catastrophe, which takes place on a cruise line, and A Bark in the Night, which takes place in my stomping grounds, Indianapolis, Indiana. They’re both available on iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.


Wednesday Writers–A New Inspy Historical Romance from Sandra Merville Hart


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Today Sandra Merville Hart is guest posting on Wednesday Writers talking about her newest Inspirational Historical Romance, A Rebel in My House. I had the privilege of reading an advanced copy of this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves Civil War history. Sandra put me in the middle of the battle, made me feel the anguish of the soldiers and the civilians, and even caused me to weep at one point. It’s a novel of love and sacrifice during one of our country’s most famous Civil War battles. So, without any further delay, I’ll let her tell you the story behind A Rebel in My House. Welcome, Sandra!


Thanks, Catherine.

Something drew me yet again to Gettysburg. I knew there was a story waiting for me. My husband and I walked the battlefields. Ideas stirred when I found Tennessee troops with the brigade who began the fighting on the first day. Nothing solidified so I kept digging. I visited the museums. I discovered fascinating history at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at the Gettysburg Seminary Ridge Museum. Surely my story touched this place. After spending several hours exploring the museum and surroundings, no ideas came. I trudged on.

I explored Gettysburg museums, spending hours at the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center, Gettysburg Museum of History, Gettysburg Railroad Station, General Lee’s Headquarters Museum, and The David Wills House where President Lincoln stayed. I learned captivating facts at the Jennie Wade House, Shriver House Museum, and “The Women of Gettysburg Tour,” an evening walking tour.

Ideas strengthened. My husband and I walked the town’s streets around the “Diamond” or the town square where the women and children suffered through a nightmare from which they didn’t awaken for many months. Then we spent another afternoon and evening at the battlefield.

Three Tennessee regiments fought the beginning battle on July 1st. They didn’t fight again until they joined in Pickett’s Charge.

The sun sank low on the horizon as I stood alone on Cemetery Ridge. The expansive field crossed by Pickett’s Charge on July 3, 1863, captured my imagination. Though the land is peaceful once more, it still tells a story. My imagination soared while the sun disappeared.

I had to tell what the townspeople endured. What if a Gettysburg woman fell in love with a Confederate soldier? What if they both made promises to loved ones? Some promises are impossible to keep …

I reluctantly left the ridge because I had a story to write.




A Rebel in My House

By Sandra Merville Hart

When the cannons roar beside Sarah Hubbard’s home outside of Gettysburg, she despairs of escaping the war that’s come to Pennsylvania. A wounded Confederate soldier on her doorstep leaves her with a heart-wrenching decision.

Separated from his unit and with a bullet in his back, Jesse Mitchell needs help. He seeks refuge at a house beside Willoughby Run. His future lies in the hands of a woman whose sympathies lay with the North.

Jesse has promised his sister-in-law he’d bring his brother home from the war. Sarah has promised her sister that she’d stay clear of the enemy. Can the two keep their promises amid a war bent on tearing their country apart?


Friday, June 26, 1863

Two miles outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Running feet on the dirt road outside quickened Sarah Hubbard’s heartbeat. Her fingers stiffened on her sewing machine and her back straightened.

Were they coming? Every conversation these days centered on the Confederate soldiers crossing into southern Pennsylvania.

“Miz Hubbard. Miz Hubbard, please let us in!”

Not soldiers but friends. Sarah’s body sagged at Elsie Craig’s voice, but why did she yell? Sarah dropped the gingham dress she’d been sewing and ran to throw open the front door. Alarmed at the fear lining Elsie’s dark face and eyes as she clutched the hand of her four-year-old daughter, Mae, Sarah scanned the horizon for Confederate soldiers. “Hurry inside.”

Elsie needed no second bidding. She guided Mae over the threshold and closed the door. “Miz Hubbard, you gotta hide us.” Her tall, thin body leaned against the door. “The Rebs are in town gathering up all the colored folks they can find. Someone said they’ll be taking them south as slaves and that they’re warning folks not to hide us.”

Sarah gasped. “Why do such a terrible thing?”

“Don’t make sense, does it? Some of us have lived in Gettysburg for years. Others like me have always been free, but it don’t seem to matter to the Southern army.” A long loaf of bread peeked out among jars and clothing in a well-laden basket Elsie set on the rug. She dropped to her knees and wrapped her arms around her trembling child. “I had to leave my house and most of my possessions, but I’ve got the most important thing right here.” She looked up at Sarah as she patted Mae’s shoulder. “Last week my Sam left for Pine Hill, the settlement up near Biglerville. With it being two miles off the main road to Carlisle, the Rebs won’t find him there. Sam never expected the army to come after women and children or he’d never have left us. I miss him something fierce. We’ll go to him when the soldiers get out of town.”

Tears etched tracks in a smudge on Mae’s cheek, tugging at Sarah’s heart as much as Elsie’s wide eyes and trembling hands. Sarah rushed to an open window and pushed aside the curtain a few inches. The Pennsylvania governor, Andrew Curtin, had declared a state of emergency two weeks earlier and called for local militia. Where was their help?

Want to read more? You can get Sandra’s book at Amazon


About the Author:

Sandra Merville Hart, Assistant Editor for DevoKids.com, loves to find unusual or little-known facts in her historical research to use in her stories. Her debut Civil War romance, A Stranger On My Land, was an IRCA Finalist 2015. Her second Civil War romance novel, A Rebel in My House, is set during the Battle of Gettysburg. It released on July 15, 2017. Visit Sandra on her blog at https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/.


Sandra’s Blog, Historical Nibbles: https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandra.m.hart.7

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sandra_M_Hart

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sandramhart7/

Sandra’s Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8445068.Sandra_Merville_Hart

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/100329215443000389705/posts

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Merville-Hart/e/B00OBSJ3PU/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0





A Writer’s Garden–Adventures in Gardening with Sandy Nadeau


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Sandy Nadeau is the featured gardener on today’s A Writer’s Garden blog. She’ll be talking about her garden adventures in several of the USA’s great states. Welcome, Sandy! And I have to say I love the field of Texas bluebonnets pictured below. Beautiful!

Adventures in gardening

By Sandy Nadeau

Being a native Minnesotan, I used to be able to grow anything. I spent the fall canning, freezing and admiring my bounty.

Then we moved to Colorado with all its magnificent beauty. We lived in the foothills and I foolishly thought I could still grow anything. I tried. Lord knows I tried. We tilled up an area behind the house that seemed to get most sun and planted everything from radishes to squash. Not even one little red wonder made it. And there was no way anything would grow from seed unless started in the house. Best to buy established plants, but even then at 7,000 feet in elevation, the growing season was short-lived.

I did have some luck with flowers. One just had to be picky about the variety. I had a beautiful forsythia bush, a gorgeous spread of Snow on the Mountain, irises, mint and daisies loved to make their home in my garden. Chives and table onions were successful every year as well.

Now I find myself living in Texas to be closer to our grandkids. I knew I was back in a place that could grow anything when the former owner of our new home showed up to see if I wanted “his guy” to till the garden plot. Dumbfounded, I reminded the elderly gentleman that it was February. February! That’s like winter.

He chuckled and said, “Yep. Gettin’ kind of late. You best hurry and get that garden in.”

Having only been here one month and hearing that bit of news, we thanked him and said clearly we had a lot to learn before taking on a huge garden like he used to have.

Now this February came along, and I needed to garden. I added some western charm to a garden ring around a tree with an old wagon wheel and driftwood and the pop of color of pansies. It turned out great. We’ll see how it holds up to the Texas heat.

We do enjoy a field full of bluebonnets that I don’t have to do a thing with.

I wasn’t quite ready for a full garden, but we dug some large pots out of the wooded area to the back of our property, filled them with dirt and planted some zucchini that I started from seed outdoors!

In February! I added some peas knowing how much my grandkids love peas. A basil plant and a red bell pepper. And then I planted some lettuce in some planter boxes. It’s pretty small-scale gardening, but still gets my hands dirty. Not finding good sweet pickles yet in the stores, I also planted cucumber in a back garden by the house. It’s all experimental so far.

Our purpose for moving here was to be a part of our grands lives and watch them grow. To be able to share with them the growth of veggies they’ll get to eat someday soon, is a real treat for this gardeners heart. I look forward to next February when maybe I’ll have a better plan to grow a bounty.

About the Gardener/Author

Sandy Nadeau has been writing for as long as she can remember. She’s also tried gardening in three different areas of the country. Minnesota, Colorado and Texas. All three providing interesting challenges. Sandy loves to write about adventurous things whether mystery or romance from a Christian perspective; good, clean stories with a Spiritual message. Enjoying life in Texas near her three grandchildren, she hopes to share her love of digging in the dirt with them. She has two published books out and can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Pelican Book Group.

Visit Sandy at her website http://www.sandynadeau.com/ 

See her books at:



Wednesday Writers–A Day in the Life of Romantic Suspense Author Leeann Betts


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Today, Wednesday Writers welcomes Leeann Betts to the blog. A romantic suspense writer, with book number 6 out in her By the Numbers suspense series, Leeann will be giving us a glimpse into her daily life as a romantic suspense writer. Welcome, Leeann.

Thanks, Catherine,

When I was growing up, I loved to watch movies where a writer was involved. I particularly enjoyed watching about women from small towns who made up stories about love and happily-ever-afters and handsome cowboys and men who were true heroes.

So when I grew up, it seemed only natural to write those kind of stories. And because of the support of the best gift God could give to me, my husband Patrick, I can do that.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself because I feel like I’m living out my dreams. And not because I live in a castle or have nothing to worry me.

I’m living my dream because I know I am right where I’m supposed to be. God has called me to be a writer. I’ve taken that calling seriously and “gone back to school” by attending a number of writer’s conferences, by being a member of several critique groups and applying feedback, and by writing.

That may seem like a strange thing to say, that as a writer, I write.

But how many people have you met who say they’re a writer, but you never see word one from them? Or who haven’t gone to a conference? Or won’t join a critique group? Or won’t even let you see what they’ve done?

As writers, we must be willing to be transparent to God, transparent to other writers, and transparent to our readers.

This dream life I live includes spending most of every day in the same room as the love of my love, my husband. Our marriage and our romance thrives on being in close contact. For the first five years we were married, we never went anywhere without the other. Friends used to tease us that we were joined at the lip and the hips.

Hubby and I spend time in devotions, prayer, and scripture reading every morning, in addition to our own individual quiet time. Then we work from home together, and often work together in ministry in the evenings.

My day, once we’re done with devotions, usually begins with writing something. Emails, blog posts, social media posts, perhaps a synopsis for a book proposal, and then actual words in a manuscript. On Mondays, I meet several writer friends at a coffee shop and we all write together. That time is a set-in-stone appointment in my calendar.

Do I write all day every day? No, I don’t. But even when I’m not sitting at my computer, I’m thinking about the story. Keeping the story in my head helps keep me anchored in the story, so I don’t have to spend so much time reconnecting before I write.

But here’s one thing I do before I start on my story: I pray. I thank God for letting me be the first person to see and hear this story. And I ask for faithfulness as I transcribe the story that He wants to tell.

Because I truly believe that without Him, no story is worth telling.

I write romantic suspense because I like justice. I want the good guys to win, and the bad guys to get what they deserve, always keeping love and compassion as my guides, of course. I also like mysteries, and I love answering the big What If? Questions, getting my characters into more trouble, and getting them out.

Because I know the trouble I got myself in, and what God had to do to get my attention. What Jesus had to do to redeem me. And what the Holy Spirit goes through in dealing with me day after day.

As I said at the beginning, my hubby is my biggest fan and supporter. He believed in me before I ever believed in myself, and he not only encourages me, he takes on tasks around the house when I’m under deadline. He supports me financially; I don’t have to work outside the home because he wants me to write. That doesn’t mean I don’t contribute to the household. I do. I work one day a week for a company that produces legal transcripts. I am the main cook, cleaner, grocery shopper.

But without his love and faith in me, I couldn’t do what I do.

Just as without God, I’d never be living my dreams.

Here’s the Blurb from Hidden Assets by Leann Betts


Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, responds to a call from her friend, Anne, who is in the middle of a nasty divorce, and travels to Wyoming to help find assets Anne thinks her husband has stolen. But the mystery begins before Carly even arrives when she sees a man thrown off a train. Except there’s no body. Husband Mike uncovers an illegal scam in a computer program he has been asked to upgrade, and then Anne is arrested for her ex’s murder. Can Carly figure out what’s going on, and why a strange couple is digging in Anne’s basement? Or will she disappear along with the artwork, coins, and money?


About the Author:

Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released five titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with Hidden Assets released the end of June. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at http://www.leeannbetts.com/ or follow Leeann at http://www.allbettsareoff.wordpress.com/ All books are available on Amazon.com in digital and print, and at Smashwords.com in digital format.

CONNECT WITH LEEANN ON: Facebook: http://bit.ly/1pQSOqV

Twitter: http://bit.ly/1qmqvB6

Books: http://amzn.to/2dHfgCE


Mystery, women sleuths, suspense,





A Writer’s Garden–Elle E. Kay Talks Gardens and Goats


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Elle E. Kay is the gardener author on today’s A Writer’s Garden, and she’ll be talking about her four-footed visitors who also love her garden. Welcome, Elle.

Gardening and Goats

by Elle E. Kay


The Rose of Sharon is in bloom. It is beyond beautiful. The blooms capture my attention every time I walk by on my way. Unfortunately, they attract the attention of our nine goats and three sheep too. As do most other attempts I’ve made to garden. I’ve tried hanging baskets, which they try their best to eat from. I’ve tried fenced area, which they’ve maneuvered their way into.

 This year, we’ve spent most of the summer house hunting. Looking for a house with large pastures where we can keep the animals closed in. As much as I like them visiting the porch and coming to the backdoor, I look forward to a new home where my gardens can once again flourish. I love watching the hummingbirds take a drink from the flowers in the hanging baskets on the porch. I love seeing the bees steal the nectar from the perennials out front. And I love the birds that make homes in the trees and come down to eat at the feeders. I loved my water garden with the blooming water lilies.

 My gardens are a comfort to me. I look forward to bringing them back to their former glory, without having to give up the simple companionable pleasure the goats bring. So, hopefully, we will find the property we’re searching for where we can strike the proper balance. I will dig up some of my favorite perennials to take with me, but the Rose of Sharon will probably have to stay.


About the Gardener Author:

 Elle E. Kay lives on a farmette in the Back Mountain region of Pennsylvania. She is a born-again Bible believing Christian.

She loves keeping perennial gardens. She enjoys the wildflowers strewn about her property as well.

Stella was her debut novel. Claudia, the next book in the Endless Mountain Series, is expected to be released later this year, with Sofie following shortly after. Elle writes children’s books under the pen name, Ellie Mae Kay.

 Her website is updated with the latest information about her upcoming books. http://www.elleekay.com/. She also has a blog, where she writes mostly devotional posts based on traditional hymns http://www.elleekay.com/blog/. Elle is on most social media platforms.



After an encounter that leaves her petrified, Stella faces her stark reality. Can she find the faith she needs to persevere? Jason is a complication she’d rather not deal with. Can she trust him? Something is awry in Stella’s world. When she is abducted will anyone hear her cries?

 A Christian romantic suspense about a young woman battling to find her faith in the midst of struggle. It deals with the heavy subjects of rape, pregnancy, and kidnapping through a lens of faith and hope.








Wednesday Writers–Darlene Franklin and A Taste for Honey


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Today Wednesday Writers is welcoming back best-selling author Darlene Franklin who will be talking about her book A Taste for Honey. A Taste for Honey is one of nine novellas in Blue Ribbon Brides Anthology. With summer’s state and county fairs in full swing this time of year, why not settle down with a fair-themed book as a summer read? After all, who doesn’t love homemade pies, preserves, and all those handmade goodies? With a title like A Taste for Honey, can you guess what Darlene will be talking about? Welcome, Darlene!



Old-Fashioned Beekeeping


Darlene Franklin

Thanks, Catherine.

Since the title of my book is A Taste for Honey¸ you might guess that my heroine harvests honey. But I wasn’t sure how beekeeping in 1896 differed from 2016. In fact, my heroine’s grandfather originally erected the equipment to catch the honey. So, I had to push back the style of beekeeping to the mid-nineteenth century.

I discovered several methods were used, but I chose the one that was easiest for me to understand, picture, and hopefully communicate in the story. I’m not as sure about the bee bonnet and heavy gloves I gave my heroine—but they moved the story forward. You see, my hero caused an accident and my heroine was stung. . .but that’s telling the story.

All the early equipment was designed as an artificial setting for bees to create their hives. I decided on the “log gum.” As the name suggests, it was made from a hollowed-out log. Bees preferred black gum wood when available, thus—a log gum.

Covers sealed the hollow log. Some used a “super” instead, which would collect the honey. That’s the kind my heroine’s family used, which allowed her easy access to the honey. The process disturbed the bees, so it could be an uncomfortable process.

 A Taste of Honey begins with Edith’s trip to the meadow:

Edith Grace checked her outfit, making sure she was prepared to garner as much honey as possible in one trip. Harvesting honey for free from her neighbor was a deal made in heaven, as far as she was concerned. At the fiftieth annual Rutland State Fair, she intended to make her mark as the best baker in all of Vermont, thanks to Mr. Oscar’s honey.

Edith had watched Mr. Oscar harvest honey a few times from the supers over the hollow logs, called log gums for some reason, before she tried it by herself. Today was the third time she had donned her veil and thick gloves to gather the liquid gold. She approached the log gums with caution. Experience had taught her that bees didn’t want to sting her. It cost them their lives, after all. But experience had also taught her some stings were inevitable. Although she wasn’t allergic, but they still hurt and itched. Another reason she harvested as much as possible at one time—so she could wait before returning.

About the Author:

Best-selling author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his family. She is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written over forty books and more than 250 devotionals.

A Taste for Honey is one of nine novellas in Blue Ribbon BridesMeet nine men and women whose competitive goals take them to state and county fairs between 1889 and 1930. From baking pie to polishing pigs, from sculpting butter to stitching quilts, everyone has something to prove to themselves and their communities. But in going for the blue ribbon, will nine women miss the greatest prize of all—the devoted heart of a godly man?

Blue Ribbons Purchase Link

Website and blog  Facebook  Amazon author page  Twitter: @darlenefranklin