A Writer’s Garden–Catherine Castle’s Garden Anticipations

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Welcome to A Writer’s Garden where writers who are gardeners or just love gardens will be sharing their garden and flower stories, as well as a bit about their writing gardens—aka their books.

Today’s guest is me, Catherine Castle, and I’m going to share my garden adventures and pictures from this season, with a peek at past years.

 

“If you would be happy, plant a garden.” Chinese Proverb

 Garden Anticipations

 

As I write this post, it’s supposed to be fall in our gardens, but here in Southern Ohio the weather has been more summer-like than fall-like. This past week is the first where it has actually felt like fall. The most fall-ish thing I see outside my kitchen window is my sedum, whose tops have turned maroon. I’ve never seen them quite this dark. I’m wondering if it’s because we had a nice amount of rain this year.

I’m anxiously awaiting the flaming red leaves of my burning bush to appear. If I’m lucky I’ll just be able to see it over the no-longer-dwarf mugo pines. The landscaper didn’t tell me I needed to trim them to keep them dwarf and now they block everything behind them.

Picture of red flaming bush when it was young

 

Since the temps have finally dropped below 40 degrees so I—and when I say I, I mean my dear hubby—can dig up some daylilies and wayward black-eyed Susans in a chigger-infested bed and make the bed more tidy. I can’t do heavy labor any more. I get the sit-on-the-garden-stool-and-sort jobs now. While weeding the bed this spring I was eaten alive by the no-see-em bugs, so all gardening stopped in that spot. If you’ve ever had a bunch of chigger bites you know how miserable that can be. I did discover that ice packs held on the bites until you can’t feel your legs kill the sting and itch.

North deck beds that has the chiggers

 

Another fall job we need to do is in the front day lily bed. This bed is full of weedy runner grass, also known as quack grass or snake grass. For three years we’ve sprayed and dug the three tiers back in this corner in an attempt to kill the grass. The grass is gone from the back and we’re ready tackle the last patch of pesky grass. We started the big job this Tuesday, and I think I’m going to have more day lilies than I have bare areas to replant them in. We may have to drop some back in the same place and just keep fighting the weedy grass by hand.

Weedy Day lilies

 

Because of my back issue, we had landscapers come in and do the heavy work this spring. They tore out most of my Shasta Daisies in the front beds. They had become puny and full of clover, which is extremely hard to eradicate or pull. I will be dividing my Stella D’Oro daylilies to fill the empty spaces in the picture on the left below. This is what the beds looked like in their heyday. They haven’t looked as nice recently as the clumps had begun to thin out and bloom sparsely. More weedy than lovely.

 

 

 

 

Old shasta bed (L) and cleared shasta bed (R)

 

Garden Gymnastics

Oh, and I must share the lovely beds my husband built me this spring along the front stairs and the gard. He leveled the slope out so I can stand in the beds or sit on the walls to weed. Slopes are harder and harder for me to navigate.

 

 

 

 

new beds to replace shasta daisies

 

I wasn’t much help with the building as he started. I was recovering from a severe sciatic attack that put me on crutches for a month. I mostly sat on the edge of the front wall and supervised. Great job if you can get it. J

By the time he’d completed the top layer, I had improved enough to work in the garden for short periods of time. My back still hurt, but I could function on a daily basis. So, one morning I grabbed a hoe and started smoothing out the top layer of dirt and compost. One step backward tumbled me over two bags of compost lying in the yard. I flipped heels-over-head backward and then the downward slope of the front yard turned me sideways. I completed the backward roll and ended up sitting, legs stretched out in front of me, facing the opposite direction.

In a very calm voice, my husband said, “Are you all right?”

Confused that I was now looking south, instead of north, I just stared at him, thankful that the compost had broken my fall and amazed that I hadn’t hit the flowerbed wall just above me and broken my neck. “I think so,” I said. Then I asked, “Why didn’t you help or call out my name?”

“I couldn’t get up in time,” he replied. “It happened so fast, yet you were rolling in slow motion. It was crazy.”

He offered to help me up, but I started laughing hysterically—the stomach crunching kind of laughs that put you in tears. After a couple of minutes, when I could breathe again, I inch-wormed my way to my feet—an acrobatic move that in itself would have been video worthy. Upon standing, I discovered my garden gymnastics had adjusted the last piece of my spine that was out-of-place. I had no back pain! And I felt as if I stood fully erect for the first time in months.

Unfortunately, my husband didn’t have his camera with him. If he had we’d have won America’s Funniest Home Videos and could have been $10,000 richer. The story made for weeks of giggles as I recounted it to friends. When I told the chiropractor he was amazed, but recommended I not use that particular adjustment method on a regular basis. I wholeheartedly agreed, although it was the best my back had felt in months.

Currently the new beds next to the stairs are empty, as I can’t make up my mind what I want to plant in them. It needs to be something easy to clean in the spring. At first I was leaning toward filling the beds with the day lilies I separate this fall. It’s been 14 years since my day lilies have been separated, and I’m sure I’d have enough to fill the new beds. But now I’m considering peonies. They die back in the fall and would be easy to clean up. I also love the heady smell of blooming peonies, but I hate the ants that accompany the plants. I know they’re necessary to help the blooms open, but I really hate ants. If you have any suggestions on other plants, I love to hear them. I need easy to clean and easy to care for.

I want to thank all readers who stopped by and spread the word about the blog and the lovely authors who have helped make this blog series a success this year. It’s been so much fun seeing all your gardens—both green and living and those stitched between the covers of your books. I hope you’ve all enjoyed visiting with me as much as I’ve enjoyed having you. At present, I’m planning to repeat A Writer’s Garden next spring, so keep snapping those garden pictures in anticipation of a new gardening year.

Here’s wishing you all Happy Gardening,

wherever you live.

 

About the writer/gardener

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, theatre, and quilting. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances and both of her books have won awards. You can find her award-winning books The Nun and the Narc and A Groom for Mama on Amazon. Follow her here on her blog or on Catherine’s Amazon author page.

 

 

A Groom for Mama

By Catherine Castle

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

A Groom for Mama won in the Contemporary Category this year in the Raven Awards!

Buy Link

 

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Wednesday Writers–Joan Deppa and her Season of Love series

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Today I’m welcoming Joan Deppa to the blog. Joan will be talking about her Seasons of Love series and has included an excerpt of the first book in the series, Whiter than Snow, for your reading pleasure. Welcome, Joan.

 

Hi, my name is Joan Deppa. I have been a wife, mother and pastor’s wife for many years, but have started a new adventure.  I am now an author.  They say you should write about what you know, so that’s what I have done in my series, “Seasons of Love.”  When I came home from my dad’s funeral, and after a March snow storm that left everything white and clean, Whiter than Snow was born.  It’s based on some of my dad’s past, as well as my husband’s, his salvation experience and how it brought about the release of the pain and bitterness of his past, and then the wonderful results it brought. It takes place in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan, as that’s where we were living when I began writing it.  Throughout our ministry, we have counseled many people who have been hurt by the pain of divorce, as well as experienced it ourselves when my parents, as well as one of our sons went through a divorce.  It causes a lot of feelings of rejection, insecurities and fears that only Christ can heal, so that is the theme for my second book, Summer Dreams. I am currently writing the third book entitled, Autumn Discoveries. It will deal with the issue of high expectations that we, as well as others, place on us.

My books are for women of all ages, are a fun-read, inspirational and share wonderful sights and activities to enjoy in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

WHITER THAN SNOW

by Joan Deppa

Bonnie Turner has recently moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and is enamored by its beauty in the winter time. While enjoying the beauty, Brad Jorgenson “bumps” into her and takes it upon himself to show her the sights and how to enjoy Winter in the Upper Peninsula. But will Bonnie be able to show him how to release the anger and bitterness he’s carried since childhood and introduce him to the Creator of the beauty he enjoys? Can God’s love and forgiveness really make him, “whiter than snow?”

 

 

Excerpt of Whiter than Snow:

The snow was gently falling from the sky, kissing Bonnie’s face as she looked up. The snow covered the branches on the trees like a soft blanket and made a thick white carpet on the ground. It was a beautiful, winter wonderland. Bonnie loved being out in the woods on a day like this, just her, God, and nature.

“Hey, look out!” screamed a voice from behind Bonnie, but too late to stop her from landing on her backside as she tried to get out of the way. She looked around to find the person responsible for the outcry and saw that he also was on the ground with his skis pointing to the sky, ski poles on either side of him and his back toward her. But not for long. As he turned around, she knew he was very angry, and she braced herself to hear about the trouble she had caused.

“What do you think you’re doing, standing in the middle of the ski trail like that?” He reached to take off his skis and stood up.

“I’m sorry,” Bonnie said, as she awkwardly tried to get up. But the snow on the side of the trail was softer, and she was having a hard time in the deep snow.

Then a hand reached down to help her. As she looked up into his face, it looked less angry and more concerned for her welfare. “Here, let me help you up. Are you hurt anywhere?”

“No. Thankfully I had the snow to cushion my fall. How about you? Are you all right?”

“Yes, although I’m sure we’ll both have some bruises we didn’t have before. Don’t you know you’re not supposed to walk on the groomed trails? It ruins it for cross-country skiers, and coming down this hill it’s hard to stop. I didn’t see you until I came around that turn. What were you doing here?”

“I was enjoying the beautiful day, just like you…”

 

 

SUMMER DREAMS

April Phillips is a 6th grade teacher who loves children but feels she should never marry due to the history of divorce in her family. So instead, she pursues her dream to learn to Kayak and buys an older house that she can make into the home of her dreams. However, Aaron Matthews has his own dreams – to marry April and have a family of their own. But first he needs to help her realize that God is able to break her chains of fear and give her a love that paddles through the storms and difficulties of life and thrives. Whose dreams will be realized? Can they both win?

 

 

About the Author:

My husband and I have been in church ministry for over 30 years and have counseled many hurting people. I have always loved to read and now write inspirational fiction, sharing God’s love, forgiveness, wisdom and ability to change lives yielded to Him, in a way that people can relate to. My hope is that my readers will find true joy, guidance and forgiveness in Christ from their past and present challenges in life. We have four adult children, eleven grandchildren and have lived mostly in the Midwest. We enjoy seeing all the beauty of God’s creation wherever we are, and I share some of our favorites in my stories. I am a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers.

Where to Buy My Books:

Books may be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or my website: http://www.joandeppa.com/.

Social Media sites:

Facebook – JoanDeppa

Twitter – @JoanDeppa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excerpts:

Summer Dreams:

A Writer’s Garden–HL Carpenter shares Green Thumb Moments

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Welcome to A Writer’s Garden where writers who are gardeners or just love gardens will be sharing their garden and flower stories, as well as a bit about their writing gardens—aka their books.

Today’s guest is mother and daughter writing team HL Carpenter sharing some of their favorite Green Thumb Moments. Welcome, HL!

 

Green Thumb Moments

by HL Carpenter

 

 

Our gardening friends are scattered like seeds in the wind. North. South. East. West.

 

 

When we get together, the day feels sunnier as we discuss all things gardening and marvel at each other’s glorious flowers.

 

And we exchange gifts.

The gift might be a stick with a leaf and a root attached. Replanted, the little sprig grows into a healthy plant. We call that experience a green thumb moment.

Last fall a relative arrived with four blueberry bushes and a pear tree. This year tasty treats fresh from the garden grace our table, providing more green thumb moments.

 

 

Other gifts are less practical but no less appreciated, like the whimsical solar paneled turtle we recently received. Not for any special occasion. Just a wonderful surprise from a fellow gardener. The cheerful turtle now resides on a sunny spot of ground near an unruly tangle of flame lilies. By day, Mosey the Turtle smiles as we pass by. At night she lights our way. Occasionally, we tell her about our latest book-in-progress and she winks at us.

 

Okay, the winking part might not be true. Sometimes we’re more fanciful than Mosey the Turtle. But whether she winks or not, each time we see her, we think of the friend who sent her.

Yes, gardeners make the day brighter. They also make us realize we can never have too many flowers or too many gardening friends.

And that’s the best green thumb moment of all.

About the writers/gardeners

Mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit HLCarpenter.com to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

 Walled In

 A young adult, sweet novel by HL Carpenter.

When her father is accused of fraud, seventeen year old Vandy Spencer discovers her entire life has been built on a heart-shattering deception.

Amazon buy link for Walled In

 

 

 

Wednesday Writers–Carole Brown on Capturing A Man: Toby’s Troubles, Romantic Mystery

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Today I’m welcoming Carole Brown back to the blog with a post on Capturing A Man, something all our romance heroines do at some point in our books, and something the heroine in her book, Toby’s Troubles, wants desperately to do. So, without any further delay, here’s Carole!

 

Capturing a Man

by Carole Brown

 

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

Or so it’s said.

In Toby’s Troubles, the fourth book in the Appleton, WV Romantic Mystery series, Amy Sanderson, next door business neighbor of Toby Gibson, has loved him forever. But being declared “like a sister” or a “best friend” doesn’t cut it. At all.

He’s just not interested.

But when she joins forces with him to capture the “ghost” that is breaking into his shop, she has this one chance to prove to him she’s worth loving. They visit the local cafe for lunch regularly. They even go on picnics with their favorite foods. But nothing is working.

What can a woman do?

Let me list some ways that she can help herself in “capturing” a man:

  • Be true to herself. Don’t let down your standards in behavior and belief regardless of the consequences.
  • Follow God’s leading. Once you know God’s will for your life, follow how, what and when as God leads in those areas.
  • Be positive. Be friendly. Be loyal. Be confident. Your value in these areas are important.
  • Don’t be too available. A little competition never hurts, and it might just open a man’s eyes to your value, what he’s missing, and what God wants.

Examples from the book: Toby’s Troubles:

  • In some of the scenes in the book, Amy goes with Toby to auctions and outbids him on certain items he is interested in. Of course, he doesn’t like it, but she has a very special reason besides capturing his attention.
  • A casual date with others sometimes shows the other person that she is desirable in others’ eyes. That’s not a bad thing, and it worked on Toby.
  • Although I don’t bring in a lot of spiritual scenes in this book, I do allude to the fact that they both are faithful and loyal Christians. When Toby allows himself to get carried away with denouncing interest in Amy, the hurt on her face convicts him that he’s done wrong. This not only helps in showing him he was being unkind and thoughtless, but pulls out hidden emotions about Amy that he wanted no one, including himself, to see. It was a decided turning point in opening his eyes. Be steadfast in your pursuit.

Or as I’ve written in Toby’s Troubles about Amy:

She can be just as stubborn as the man who’s determined to ignore her love.

Whatever you want to call it, follow the suggestions above, then go for it.

Happy hunting!

 

Toby’s Troubles

by Carole Brown

Everyone loves Toby Gibson. A co-owner of Undiscovered Treasures, a unique shop of antiques, collectibles, and junk, Toby is friendly, generous to a fault, the director of the local plays in Appleton and supports his church’s youth functions. But the minute his sister, Caroline and her new husband, take off for their honeymoon, a “ghost” begins to haunt the shop—or maybe it’s just an intruder. If so, Toby has no idea for what the thing is looking. To add to his troubles, he suspects Amy, not only is bidding for the property he’s wanted forever but is in love with him. And he’s not interested.

Amy Sanderson who owns the only flower shop in Appleton—Bloomin’ Life—is drawn into capturing Toby’s “ghost” when her own business is damaged by a destructive intruder. Having loved Toby since a teenager, she’s more than willing to join forces with him. But she has no interest in being his best friend or a sister to him. And if she has to resort to schemes of outbidding him at his frequent auction attendances to get his attention, then so be it. She can be just as stubborn as the man who’s determined to ignore her love.

In between the break-ins, destruction of property, thefts and personal competitions against each other, Amy and Toby work together to find the thief who seems so determined to find a valuable item, he’ll stop at nothing.

Buy link for Toby’s Troubles

 

 

About the Author:

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. An author of ten books, she loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Connect with Carol on her Personal blog: Facebook: Amazon Author Page

 

Wednesday Writers—Can’t Live Without You by Ginger Solomon

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Today it’s my pleasure to welcome Ginger Solomon back to the blog. Ginger will be talking betrayal and her Contemporary Christian Romance Can’t Live Without You, her story in the boxed set A Christmas to Remember. Welcome, Ginger.

 

Forgiveness After Betrayal

by Ginger Solomon

The other day, I was having lunch with a friend. We started talking about my books, and I gave her the run-down on each of the stories. I talked too much, but during our talk, I realized God works on ME when I write my books. It may not be the main aspect of the story, but somewhere in there, God speaks to an issue I’m dealing with.

In Can’t Live Without You, a novella in the boxed set A Christmas to Remember, Clarissa feels betrayed by her best friend, Sawyer. When a friend read it for me, she said, “I have dealt with betrayal and Ginger described it very well, and the process of getting past that and forgiving and still loving is so adequately described and detailed in this awesome book.”

Some of my books deal with things I’ve never had to experience. Sadly, with this one, I was and am acutely aware of what betrayal feels like. It’s hard—hard to accept, hard to forgive, and hard to get over, but we must do all of those. And yet, many times we can’t do it alone. We need help from loving friends or family with whom we can talk and not worry about them sharing with others. And it takes help from God. We must allow him to work in our hearts to forgive.

And it may not happen overnight. I like to think of forgiveness as an onion. One layer at a time, we forgive. When the next layer is revealed (and sometimes it takes days, weeks, or months to happen), then we have to forgive again. Or we have to remind ourselves that we have forgiven.

In Clarissa’s case, she had a hard-nosed, spiritual Momma come alongside her and give her sound advice: Spend time in the Word and listen to what God wants to tell you about the situation. And what He says may not be easy, but it will give you peace. And that is the most wonderful feeling in the world.

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Can’t Live Without You

By Ginger Solomon

Clarissa Harding’s upcoming marriage is a business arrangement. When he dies and his secret comes out, she’s hurt. When she finds out her best friend, Sawyer Chasin, knew his brother’s secret and didn’t tell her, she’s devastated. Feeling betrayed, she walks away from God, her family, Sawyer, and their newly-discovered love.

Sawyer Chasin hated keeping secrets from Clarissa, and now he may have lost the only person his heart wants. Recovering from the same car accident that killed his brother can wait. He needs to find her and make her understand the choice he had to make.

Love covers a multitude of sins, but betrayal stretches its boundaries.

Excerpt:

“Rissa, it’s temporary. A year, two at most. And both of our families benefit.” He reached for her hand.

She nodded but didn’t look at him as she tucked her hand under her leg to avoid his. The ticking of the clock seemed to mimic a time bomb. The expressions passing across her face cut him deeply.

He hadn’t expected his agreement with the plan to cause her so much pain.

After several minutes, she spoke, “I’ll do it. For you. I hope everything I’m giving up is worth it.” She sniffed as tears trickled down her cheeks. Without looking at him again, she stood and left his study.

Sawyer felt like an idiot. His decision hurt Rissa, and maybe even ruined their friendship, but Chas Inc. needed the cash to survive. He hoped she’d forgive him.

He didn’t want to choose between the welfare of his family and disappointing his best friend, but he didn’t have much choice.

Want to read more? You can find Can’t Live Without You at  Amazon

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About the Author:

Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer—in that order (mostly). She writes or reads inspirational romance of any genre, and if she’s busy homeschooling, doing laundry, or fixing dinner, books are on her mind. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, president of her local writing group, and blogs regularly for InspyRomance.com and at gingersolomon.com.

Author Links:

Website

Facebook Author Page

Twitter @GingerS219

 

The Writer’s Garden–The Accidental Gardener by Cathy Elliott

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Welcome to A Writer’s Garden where writers who are gardeners or just love gardens will be sharing their garden and flower stories, as well as a bit about their writing gardens—aka their books.

Today’s guest is Cathy Elliott who will be sharing some pictures and stories about her roses and a garden devotional thought. Welcome, Cathy!

 

The Accidental Gardener

By Cathy Elliott

C.Elliott.Red Roses Ground Cover

My mother loved roses more than any other flower. An elegant bouquet received from my dad or the sight of rose bushes along the roadside, laden with blooms, sent her into a state of bliss. Lush roses cut from the garden often decorated our home, casting a sweet aroma to every corner.

Along the way, I caught her love of roses and carried it into my own sphere. While Mother loved deep red, I preferred a softer shade of yellow. Edged with a blush of pink.

Years ago, I was surprised to learn the house I purchased had both Mother’s and my favorite roses in place. A red, climbing rose embraced the Ash tree in my front yard. The bush reached high and bloomed profusely all summer long, its branches covered with lacy blossoms opening wide, displaying pom-pom-yellow centers.

C.Elliott.Red Climbing Roses

Though the red climber exploded with color, I preferred a floribunda rose bush tucked against the house. As if dipped in pink paint, the yellow blossoms turned almost to salmon. With a little research, I came to know it as a Peace rose. The combination of color and calling – peace – made me love it best.

C.Elliott.Pink PEACE Rosebud

Rose-puttering is a great pleasure in the spring. I give both bushes all the attention they deserve: watering, fertilizing, dead-heading flowers past their glory, and spraying the leaves with soapy water I mix myself so aphids will not dare settle in.

But when the punishing summer heat assaults our valley, I no longer want to go outside and pamper my posies. Not in the morning, not in the evening. My watering turns sporadic…until I barely remember. Yet the roses survive and bravely try to flower on, with little help from the gardener to whom they are entrusted.

When the brutal summer ends, I venture out and apologize to my reliable roses. They say nothing. They are too tired to emit their fragrance anymore. Attending to them then is futile. But I do my best. This time I’m sure they won’t come back in the spring. It is my fault. It is what I deserve.

But their roots are deep and they do return, steadfast in spite of my absence when they need me most. Spring after spring, the roses burst forth, anxious to grace my yard with their splendor. When I see this miracle, I’m reminded of the faithfulness of God. Always loving, always providing, always keeping His promises, surrounding me with His beauty, steadfast in all things, though I do not deserve it.

And I give thanks….

Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You have established the earth, and it stands fast.    Psalms 119:90 ESV

About the Writer/Gardener:

Cathy Elliott enjoys touring beautiful gardens, created and maintained by others. But her current interest is planning and producing mini-container-gardens. And adding ideas to her Pinterest boards on the subject. She’s also a cozy mystery author with plot-twisting works including: A Vase of Mistaken Identity, Medals in the Attic, and A Stitch in Crime. She’s a contributing author to Guidepost’s recently released devotional, Every Day with Jesus and the upcoming, All God’s Creatures.

Social Media Link – Visit Cathy on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cathyelliottbooks

A Stitch in Crime

by Cathy Elliott 

Assault, larceny, anonymous threats. Who knew quilt shows could be this dangerous?

Check out A Stitch in Crime on Amazon:

 

Wednesday Writers–Camp Hope: Journey to Hope by Sara L. Foust

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Today’s Wednesday Writers is welcoming back Sara L. Foust, a multi-published, award-winning author of Inspirational Romantic Suspense. She’ll be talking about hope and her book Camp Hope: Journey to Hope. She also has an excerpt of the book, so be sure to read to the bottom of the post.

 

Real Hope

Sara L. Foust

Hope. It’s a simple word we often overuse. “I hope I get to go out to eat on Friday.” “I hope it doesn’t rain.” “I hope we can make it.” We use the word hope in a lot of casual ways. My newest release is Camp Hope: Journey to Hope, and I hope (hehe) that I’ve done a good job projecting the truth of God’s hope, not the flippant, passing-by kind, with the words I’ve written.

The story’s faith journey is about two people, Amy and Jack, who have terrible scars from abusive childhoods. As grown-ups, Jack has found his faith in God, but Amy is still struggling to believe He cares for her. I wrote the storyline with some of my own struggles to find Jesus in the forefront of my mind. Though I had an idyllic childhood, I still struggled to believe Jesus would want a personal relationship with me. It wasn’t until nineteen I finally allowed His love to permeate and give me a new hope.

I think it’s easy to cling to “pretty” hopes sometimes. The ones we picture for our futures, with the shuttered house and the manicured lawn. Or the successful raising and flying the coop of our children. But sometimes it’s hard to look at the hope of death in a pleasant light. However, that’s exactly what we born-again Christians get to do. Yes, dying is scary and not something I want to do any time soon. But I know where my hope lies, in heaven with my Father. Amy and Jack’s stories aren’t always pretty. There’s some brutal ugliness in their pasts, but their futures are bright because of God, just like mine.

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Camp Hope

By Sara L. Foust

AMY DAWSON directs a summer camp for foster children near Briceville, Tennessee. A foster mom for the first time, her responsibilities as mother to a traumatized child bring a whole new set of challenges and joys.

But when Amy’s four-year-old foster daughter is dragged into the mountains of Royal Blue by a former employee, parenting challenges are overshadowed by a new nightmare. The Sheriff’s department fails to procure viable leads, and Amy can’t sit idle. Her childhood friend and first love, JACK EVANS, returns to lend his skills as tracker. Problem is, he also stirs up romantic memories Amy would rather leave buried.

Jack struggles to let go of his past failures and prove his reliability by bringing Mattie home, but fears when he left camp nineteen years ago and failed to keep a promise to Amy he permanently lost her confidence.

As Amy plunges into the wilderness on horseback to search for Mattie, she must decide who she trusts, let go of her childhood traumas, and learn to rely on hope in God. Facing dehydration, starvation, and a convoluted kidnapper, will she succeed in recovering her precious foster daughter or get lost in the vast wilderness forever?

 

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

The long awaited call came in the pre-dawn hours. When the farmhouse sagged and dared not breathe. Amy Dawson dug herself out of a deep sleep to answer. “Hello?”

“This is Diane with Child Protective Services. Would you like to take a placement?”

She bolted upright. This was it. After all the terrifying training classes, the long weeknights worrying about her decision, the moment was finally here. What was she supposed to ask? Amy took a breath to calm her shaking hands. “Can you tell me about the child, please?”

“Mattie is a nonverbal four-year-old. She’ll be coming from another foster placement. They’ve decided they can no longer keep her.”

“In the middle of the night?”

Diane clicked her tongue. “It’s complicated. Would you like to take her?”

Amy took another deep breath. “Why doesn’t she talk?”

“Doctors believe she can speak but chooses not to. Oh, and one more thing. She’s a type I diabetic, so she needs a strict diet and insulin. Are you familiar with the disease?”

Was she ever. Memories like dark photographs flashed in her mind. Injections twice a day, every day, whether her mother was conscious or not. “I’m familiar with it. Anything else I should know?” Could she handle caring for a child with diabetes? The memories that would barrage her?

“There isn’t much information to go on.”

Amy expected that. They’d taught her as much in classes. Especially with a middle-of-the-night placement. What if she couldn’t keep Mattie safe once the summer campers arrived? What if she couldn’t adhere to a strict schedule with the medicine?

“Ms. Dawson?”

None of it mattered really. Not if she listened to what her flying heart was telling her. “How soon can you get here?”

“Great. Give me an hour.” A long pause and Diane shuffled papers. “Maybe longer considering where you live.”

Amy chuckled. “That’s what everyone says. I’ll be ready.”

How her life was about to change. The solitude she’d been fighting to build all these years was about to be penetrated by a sweet child in need of help. Though she was the same age as most of the other people in the Parents as Tender Healers classes, they had been mostly young couples with experience raising children of their own. She knew how to be a good camp counselor. She’d been doing that half her life. What if she failed miserably as an actual parent?

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Want to read more? You can find Camp Hope at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

About the Author:

Sara is a multi-published, award-winning author who writes Inspirational Romantic Suspense from a mini-farm in East Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and their five homeschooled children. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Callum’s Compass won second place in Deep River Books’ 2017 Writer’s Contest.  Sara also has a story, “Leap of Faith,” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone. Gain access to a FREE digital scrapbook detailing some real-life places from Callum’s Compass by signing up for her newsletter: www.saralfoust.com.

Connect with Sara on her social media links.

 

 

 

Wednesday Writers–The Shenandoah Road by Lynne Tagawa

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Today Wednesday Writers welcome Lynne Tagawa to the blog. To pique your curiosity, she’ll be interviewing a character from her historical novel The Shenandoah Road: A Novel of the Great Awakening. She’s also sharing an excerpt from the story, so keep reading to the end. Welcome, Lynne!

The Shenandoah Road: A Novel of the Great Awakening

 

An Interview with John Russell

 

Q: Mr. Russell, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about yourself. What brings you to Philadelphia? I understand it’s a long trip from the Shenandoah Valley.

A: Aye, it’s a good distance. We need supplies. For good linen, flour, molasses and such, ye need to come—at least as far as Lancaster. Or east over Rockfish Gap. And I have family here.

Q: Oh?

A: My father and my brother and his family. And . . . well, I wrote Da about a wife.

Q: You mean to marry?

A: [clears throat] Aye, I need to marry. My wife . . . died. Was killed. It were an accident, ye see? Not a massacre, not really. A stray musket ball. The valley is not as dangerous as some make out. The Indians rarely trouble us.

Q: I am sorry for your loss. You mean to marry again?

A: Aye. My daughter, Susanna, is four. [pause] She needs a mother.

Q: Your father is going to help you?

A: He wants me to meet the daughter of the chandler he does the books for. He says they are godly folk, but they’re New Englanders, ye ken? So we’ll see. I had hoped to meet a young woman at the Reverend Tennent’s meetinghouse, but they all know how Janet died. The mothers aren’t quite sure about me.

Q: Tennent? Is he the Presbyterian minister who supports George Whitefield’s ministry?

A: Oh, aye—ye’ll know of Whitefield’s preaching? I’ve not heard him in person myself, but Mr. Franklin carries his sermons. And have ye seen that huge meetinghouse they built for him? Philadelphia is a changed place since I’ve been here last.

Q: I do hope you find what you’re looking for, Mr. Russell.

A: Thank ye kindly.

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The Shenandoah Road: A Novel of the Great Awakening

By Lynne Tagawa

John Russell’s heart aches from the loss of his wife, but the Shenandoah Valley frontiersman needs to marry again for his daughter’s sake. At first he believes he has found the right young woman, despite their differences in background, but his faith falters when time reveals she isn’t quite what she seemed. Can he truly love her? And what about his own failings?

Unlike her disgraced sister, Abigail Williams obeys the Commandments. At least, she thinks herself a Christian until a buckskin-clad newcomer courts her. He treats her kindly but also introduces her to a sermon by the controversial preacher, George Whitefield. Her self-righteousness is shattered, and she wonders about their relationship. If she confesses her lack of faith, will John continue to love her?

“Lynne Tagawa transports readers into the faith and hope, and sorrows and fears of 18th century colonial America. While other books feature the raw grit of frontier colonial life, this book goes deeper and reveals the heart.” —Douglas Bond, author of numerous books, including War in the Wasteland and Hostage Lands.

“Raw, realistic, and historically packed, this story will make you think. If you enjoy stories with deep theological themes, you will enjoy this.” —Amber Schamel, author of Solve by Christmas, winner of the 2018 Christian Indie Award

 

Excerpt:

She almost didn’t recognize him. Blinking against the brightness of the sunlight, Abigail stood in the doorway, paralyzed.

An Indian. No, the face was wrong. Blue eyes gazed down at her under concerned brows. John’s face, but he was wearing Indian clothes. A button-less buckskin jacket, belted in place, fell to mid-thigh, where long leggings covered his breeches.

“Abigail, you may sit in the keeping room.” Her mother’s voice seemed far away.

“Yes, Mother.”

Stepping back, Abigail motioned for John to enter. The smell of herbal salve and new sweat accompanied his strong presence as she led him toward the hearth. An object hung from his belt. Some sort of axe?

She settled on her stool and found her voice. “Welcome.”

Incongruous against the backdrop of buckskin and gleaming steel, a large book nestled easily in John’s broad hand.

Noticing her gaze, he stood and stepped toward her, book in hand. “For you.”

Abigail scanned the front of the leather-bound volume. The title was in Latin. Pharmacopoeia extemporanea. What did that mean?

“My father told me ye like botany. Plants and such.”

She nodded, opening the beautifully embossed cover. “Oh,” she murmured. This was wonderful. She turned a page, transfixed. Some plants she knew, but now she had instructions on their practical uses. Grind finely, steep in hot water …

The sturdy pages crackled slightly as she turned them. Sassafras. Jesuit’s bark. Finally she looked up. “Thank you. I don’t know what happened to my manners.”

“Ye like it?”

“Oh yes. What does the title mean?”

“How to make medicine.”

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Want to read more? You can find The Shenandoah Road: A Novel of the Great Awakening at Amazon , Grace and Truth Books and other major book sellers.

 

About the Author:

Lynne Tagawa is married with four grown sons and three marvelous grandbabies. A biology teacher by trade, she teaches part-time, writes, and edits. She’s written a Texas history curriculum in narrative form, Sam Houston’s Republic, and two novels, A Twisted Strand and The Shenandoah Road. Lynne lives with her husband in South Texas.

Connect with Lynne at her website and Goodreads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Writer’s Garden-Christa MacDonald’s New England Garden

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Welcome to A Writer’s Garden where writers who are gardeners or just love gardens will be sharing their garden and flower stories, as well as a bit about their writing gardens—aka their books.

This week’s guest is Christa MacDonald, who’ll be sharing a bit about her New England garden. Welcome, Christa!

Lettuce

I love this season of the garden. The days are getting shorter and after dark there’s a bit of a nip in the air. Summer is drawing to a close. It’s time to reflect on which plants were successful this year, what worked and what didn’t. Right off I know that I started too late. I thought I could get the seeds going at eight weeks prior to last frost and be fine, but it was late in August before I had a ripe tomato crop. That’s not what I had in mind when I decided to grow from seed this year. I’m asking for a portable greenhouse as a Christmas present and I plan to make good use of it next Spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunflower bed                                                                   Tomato

After watching my clematis underperform for the third year in a row I’ve decided to move it. The oak tree in the front yard was small when I first planted the clematis, but now it towers above, shading it completely. The plant is not happy and neither am I, so it’s got to be moved. I’m not going to tackle that until Spring though. I want to give it the best chance possible and even though it’s possible to move it in late Autumn, it’s not the best time.

  Zapotec Tomato

September and October in New England have a special kind of urgency. It’s harvest time and we all know winter is coming. For now we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor while storing what we can for the cold months ahead. The farmers markets are full and every meal has garden goodness in it. I wish I was better at canning so I could take advantage of all the bounty available. It’s not in my skill set, instead I’ve made batches of sauce, pies, and have frozen the fruits that can take it.

Writing has its seasons just like gardening. In August the final installment of my contemporary Christian romance series was published. The fruit of my labor is now out there for people to read. It’s time for me to sit back and assess what worked and what didn’t and plan the next book. This series was the debut of my first full-length novel which went on to be a finalist in the ACFW’s Carol award for contemporary fiction. I learned a lot about myself as an author and about the publishing world. There were times I struggled with meeting deadlines, with learning how to promote a book, with figuring out the balance between life’s demands and my writing career.

I don’t have it all figured out. Just like gardening, I try new things and hope they work. And also like gardening, I’m taking what I’ve learned and plotting out the road ahead. Spring is coming and I’m excited to see what I can create. There’s fertile ground and I can’t wait to make use of it.

 

About the Writer/Gardener:

Christa MacDonald is a lifelong gardener and writer living in New England despite its terribly short growing season. She’s the author of the Sweet River Redemption contemporary Christian romance series. The final book in the series, The Redemption Road, is now available. Connect with Christa at  www.christamacdonald.com

 

The Redemption Road

by Christa MacDonald

It’s redemption that he needs, and she’ll pay any price to help him find it.

As the new game warden in Sweet River, Alex Moretti is focused on enforcing Maine’s wildlife laws and little else. Moving from tragedy to a fresh start, all he wants is a way to fix his life in the tranquility of the north woods. Until he meets Annie Caldwell at Coffee by the Book. But his own bitter, dark life is a threat to Annie’s sweetness and light. It’s better for him to stay away.

Annie doesn’t know how to label her relationship with Alex, but she is determined to figure it out. After a few false starts and a kiss under the Christmas lights, their romance goes from fiction to fact. Annie has fallen hard. Then trouble shows up. Someone is stalking Alex, seeking to punish him for a mistake which ended in deadly consequences. When Annie becomes a target, he tries to push her away, but she won’t abandon him. Alex is desperate to keep Annie safe while he attempts to reconcile the past, but what he really needs is redemption. And she will risk her life to help him find it.

Look for The Redemption Road at Amazon

Wednesday Writers–To Claim Her Heart by Jodie Wolfe

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers. Today’s guest is Jodie Wolfe with a great story about how she wove some family history into her new historical romance release To Claim Her Heart. So, without further ado, I give you Jodie!

 

Thanks, Catherine.

 

September 16th will mark the 125th anniversary of the Cherokee Strip Land Run which took place in Oklahoma Territory in 1893. There were nine different starting places along the Kansas and Oklahoma Territory. Over 115,000 people showed up to race for only 42,000 packets of land. I can well imagine the fierce competition that took place.

While researching my new release, To Claim Her Heart, I discovered some interesting things about those who claimed the same parcel of land. Some waited until the courts decided for them, others went back to their original starting places and re-raced to see who won the second time, and of course some of the disputes were bloody in nature by one person shooting the other.

This book is especially meaningful for me because I was able to use some of the stories from my husband’s family who participated in the land run. The photo here  is taken of the original land that was claimed. The house was built in 1894.

Come journey back in history with me to a rough and rugged land.

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To Claim Her Heart

by Jodie Wolfe

In 1893, on the eve of the great race for land, Benjamin David prays for God to guide him to his ‘Promised Land. Finding property and preaching to the lost are his only ways of honoring his deceased fiancée. He hasn’t counted on Elmer (Elsie) Smith claiming the same plot and refusing to leave. Not only is she a burr in his side, but she is full of the homesteading know-how he is sadly lacking.

Obtaining a claim in the Cherokee Strip Land Run is Elsie Smith’s only hope for survival, and not just any plot, she has a specific one in mind. The land’s not only a way to honor her pa and his life, but also to provide a livelihood for herself. She’s willing to put in whatever it takes to get that piece of property, and Elsie’s determined to keep it.

Her bitterness is what protects her, and she has no intentions of allowing that preacher to lay claim to her land . . . or her heart.

 

Excerpt

Chapter One

Competition should be relegated to the male species. Proper young ladies should avoid a situation which permits rivalry, particularly involving the male species. If unavoidable, allow the gentleman to win. Be above reproach in this manner.

Mrs. Wigglesworth’s Essential Guide to Proper Etiquette and Manners of Refined Society

 

September 15, 1893, Kiowa, Kansas—Border of the Cherokee Strip

“Elmer Smith?”

For once in all of her days, Elsie welcomed the name Pa had insisted on when her life began and Ma’s had ended.

“Is that you, son?”

“Ain’t your son.” Ain’t no one’s son. Elsie shifted her Stetson lower to ward off the man’s scrutiny.

“There’s no need to get your prickles up. Do you testify you’re at least twenty-one years of age and head of your household?”

Elsie nodded and bit back a retort.

“Then sign here.” The man shoved a paper across the makeshift desk. Beads of moisture dotted his upper lip.

She scrawled her name on the line. The page crinkled when she folded and shoved it into her shirt pocket, along with the copy of The Homestead Laws and Pa’s hand-drawn map.

“Get out of the way, kid.” A scraggly looking fellow jabbed into her shoulder.

Elsie stepped out of line, glaring at him. He ignored her and turned his attention to the clerk.

She elbowed through a crowd of men. How had her small town swelled to so many folks? Thankfully there were few she recognized, or, more so, who could recognize her. The less who knew her gender, the better. She certainly didn’t need no man to help her get the land she and Pa had dreamed about.

Elsie scooted her hat up and swiped at the sweat on her forehead before dropping it back into place, scrunching the thick braid she’d pinned up three days prior. Hefting her saddlebags to her opposite shoulder, she hiked the short distance to the livery and retrieved Buster. A short ride would clear her head and prepare her for what lay ahead.

Dust swirled and nearly choked Elsie as she rode in the opposite direction of the throngs, to see the old farm one last time.

Acrid smoke filled her lungs. Nearby fires, to deter Sooners from entering the strip before the race began, burned in the west, but not out of control.

Elsie urged Buster, careful not to tire him. Everything hinged on finding the land tomorrow.

Everything.

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Want to read more? Check out Jodie’s book To Claim Her Heart at Amazon

 

About the Author:

Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA) and has been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests. A former columnist for Home School Enrichment magazine, her articles can be found online at: Crosswalk, Christian Devotions, and Heirloom Audio. She’s a contributor and co-founder of Stitches Thru Time blog. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at Jodie’s website.

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