Wednesday Writers–A Borrowed Dream by Amanda Cabot


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Today’s Wednesday Writers’ guest is bestselling author Amanda Cabot. Amanda will be talking about her book A Borrowed Dream, the second book in her Cimarron Creek historical trilogy. Welcome, Amanda.


The Promise of Spring


The first full day of spring – what a perfect day to talk about A Borrowed Dream. Though the story stretches over a longer period than one season (it begins in January 1881 and ends in July of that year), perhaps more than any book I’ve written, it embodies all that I love about spring.

Those of you who’ve read my interviews over the years know that when someone asks about favorite seasons, I answer without hesitation: spring. For me, spring is a season of rebirth, reawakening, and – most of all – hope. And, oh, do Austin and Catherine need hope! Though she’s found unexpected satisfaction in her position as Cimarron Creek’s schoolteacher, Catherine’s personal life is dismal. Her mother’s death at the hands of the town’s incompetent doctor has left her with a deep-seated distrust of all physicians, and the fact that the man she’d once expected to marry was so easily infatuated by another woman has caused her to believe that she’s not destined for marriage.

Austin has only one hope – that he can keep his daughter safe from a truly despicable man. That’s why he fled Philadelphia, put aside his rewarding career as a surgeon, and established himself as Cimarron Creek’s newest rancher. While his brain tells him that his daughter needs a mother, his heart won’t let him make the same mistake he did the first time. No, sirree, marriage is not for him.

But as spring comes to the Texas Hill Country and the bluebonnets carpet the countryside, both Austin and Catherine experience a reawakening. And when a woman with a mysterious past comes to town, their lives are changed in ways neither one of them could have imagined.

I really enjoyed writing this book, although I’ll admit that some of the scenes wrenched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. But even as I was putting those difficult scenes on paper, I kept reminding myself that hope would triumph, that hearts would reawaken, and that Austin and Catherine would find their happily-ever-after. That’s the promise of spring.

Now I’d like to hear from you. What’s your favorite season and why? When you’re choosing a book, does the season when it takes place affect your choices? Why or why not? Lastly, have I intrigued you with Catherine and Austin’s story? I hope so!


A Borrowed Dream

by Amanda Cabot

There is no such thing as an impossible dream . . .

Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the local doctor’s treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek’s dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life where dreams rarely come true.

Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He’s managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.

With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality.



About the Author:

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, the Texas Crossroads trilogy, A Stolen Heart, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages. Amanda is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming.


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Tuesday Wedding Tales–Cindy’s Perfect Dance by Bonnie Engstrom


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Welcome to Tuesday Wedding Tales blog series, where wedding themed stories are the fare.



Today’s guest is Bonnie Engstrom. She’ll be talking about Cindy’s Perfect Dance, one of the books in her Candy Cane Girls Series. Bonnie is giving a way a copy of Cindy’s Perfect Dance, either ebook or a print copy, to one lucky commentor. To be entered in the drawing, just leave a comment on her post. Welcome, Bonnie.




Thanks, Catherine.

What if your best friend is getting married to a gorgeous hunk who is rich? And you are the Maid of Honor? And his brother is the Best Man?

Cindy never planned to be attracted to Rob, but because he felt it was protocol he insisted they dance together. Neither really expected to feel the chemistry between them. And, dancing in the parking lot? What was that all about?

Cindy and Rob’s story of love captured my heart. It was so surprising, especially with all the problems attached to it. Rob’s alcoholism and his commitment to AA, as well as his physical problems seemed monumental . . . at first. Cindy believes she can overcome those, until Emily confronts Rob saying she believed he loved her.

Cindy is a strong woman, but her love for Rob is stronger.

This story grew out of the first of The Candy Cane Girls Series. The six girls have a strong bond formed in a former high school swim team. They stick together in prayer and support.

I started to write this series before I realized it could become a series. Suddenly, it became close to my heart. I hope you will explore the series, now in its sixth book, Melanie’s Blue Skirt. In Cindy you will see all my grandchildren and a beautiful wedding on the beach of Playa Hermosa Costa Rica. I think it will make you want to follow the Candy Cane Girls to learn what Noelle, Candy and Connie and Natalie and Melanie have in their future. Oops, Doreen, too. But her story may be last. She’s in love with the most gorgeous man of all, an international model.

All the Candy Cane Girls stories are set in Newport Beach. I use many actual places in each story. Cindy and Rob shop for her engagement ring in Fashion Island outdoor mall. I wanted them to finally purchase it at Traditional Jewelers for several reasons; the owner attended my church (Mariners, which is also the church that sponsors the couple to mission in Costa Rica) and he and his family lived in my community. I had the scene where Rob goes to pick up the ring all set up, then he learns the owner suddenly died a few days ago. That is what actually happened, so I wrote it into the book.

I had also been searching for a way to include my grandchildren in a book. Since our son and his two boys live in Costa Rica I decided to have Cindy and Rob’s wedding take place there on the beach. (Costa Rica is also the mission assignment for the couple). The Arizona grandchildren flew there to share a wedding adventure with their cousins. It was a fun scene to write, including Lucy the Costa Rican French bull dog.


Cindy’s Perfect Dance

By Bonnie Engstrom


The Candy Canes are a tight-knit group; the six girls are like sisters. They share everything from successes to secrets. Even marriage doesn’t keep them apart. Then …

Cindy caught the bridal bouquet, and Rob caught the blue garter. Neither of them believed in fate or tradition. But, something happened when she stepped on his toes dancing.

When Rob agreed to help his brother by working in the Love In Bloom Floral Shop while Braydon was on his honeymoon, he asked Cindy to join him. He didn’t know what to expect, especially over Christmas break. Would she take over with her promotional ideas and anger his mother, the owner?

Would their relationship flower? Could Cindy accept Rob’s secrets? How would that change her love for him? And, what about Emily, the woman who claimed Rob loved her?

Cindy has decisions to make. She is supposed to receive her unique engagement ring on Valentine’s Day. Should she accept it, or say no to Rob because of the secrets he recently shared? If she accepts, they will have a lifelong commitment. Is she strong enough to go through with the plan, or should she back out and be safe?





“You stepped on my toes.”

He said it so matter of factly that Cindy wondered if he was kidding. She looked down at his black patent shoes. Aw, oh. A scuff on the right one. Guess Rob was right. Question was … his fault for not being a good leader or hers for being a bad follower?


“S’okay.” He pulled her closer and she felt her body melt into the warmth of his.

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for a free copy, either ebook or print, of Bonnie’s book Cindy’s Perfect Dance. Winners will be chosen next Tuesday, March 27, 2018.


About the Author:

My husband Dave and I were blessed to raise our three children in Newport Beach, California. When our first grandchild, Miss Mookie, was born twelve years ago in Arizona we moved to Scottsdale to be near to her. Since then she has acquired three siblings, a younger sister, and twins, a boy and a girl. We don’t miss Newport at all, except for our wonderful friends and neighbors, and Bible study fellowships. Now, we spend many afternoons picking kids up after school and taking them to gymnastics, doctor appointments and chess tournaments. It’s a different life we thrive on.

We both thought we would retire. Didn’t happen. I am especially blessed to be multi-published by Forget Me Not Romances, a dream come true. You can see almost all my books at Dave quips he is the oldest new hire in the U.S. by accepting the position as a Core Counseling Faculty member at the University of Phoenix, for which he also teaches many online classes. He is on the staff at Honor Health Hospital in Scottsdale where he teaches pre-op and post-op classes for bariatric surgery. Honor Health is recognized in several of my books. Not a surprise!

Our grandparenting and our situations keep us busy.

To meet all of our grandchildren read Cindy’s Perfect Dance. They all play a part in Cindy and Rob’s wedding on the beach in Costa Rica. Or, visit my website at to see Dave and me with the crew. You can also sign up for my newsletter there and a chance to win great prizes. In the last contest I gave away a Kindle Fire!

I love connecting with my readers, so I hope you will write to me at and especially tell me what you want to see happen to Cindy and Rob in the future. Will they be successful in their church planting mission? Your ideas inspire me. I feed on them.

Thank you for reading my books. Writing them for you is a privilege and a blessing.















Wednesday Writers–Trés Chic by Sherri Stewart


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Today’s Wednesday Writer’s guest author is Sherri Stewart. Sherri will be dishing the scoop on her own romance and how it relates to the romance in her book Trés Chic. Welcome, Sherri!



A Different Kind of Handsome

By Sherri Stewart

As I reflected on one of the lessons my main character, Nicole, deals with in my book Très Chic, I realized that some of my other books feature the same lesson. Simply put, Nicole, a flight attendant, judges a man based on outward appearance. How superficial, I thought. Don’t most people overcome that in their teenage years?

In Très Chic, Nicole is set up on a date with a scruffy-looking guy with bloodshot eyes. They enjoy a wonderful evening, but Nicole has planned her future around a debonair passenger who flies first class every Monday on her New York-to-Paris flight. Patrick—she knows his name because she checked the manifest—hasn’t given her a second glance, but she doesn’t give up and even enlists Scruffy-Guy’s help.

In two other books, the female characters make assumptions about the male leads based on their outward appearances. Of course, looks are deceiving, and the men’s inner strength, compassion, and convictions win the women over. Nothing original here. Turn on any Hallmark movie, lower the volume, and just by looking at the male characters, you can predict that the guy with stubble growing on his face will be the hero of the story, while the man in the Brook Brothers suit will make an involuntary exit.

So why did I choose that lesson? I didn’t; it chose me because I’ve had to deal with judging others on outward appearances. I’m a starer. You won’t find that word in the dictionary, but it describes a person who, like me, watches people. For some reason, starers believe that others won’t notice that they’re staring at them. But sometimes, they do. Then we starers glance away and look for the nearest exit. I’ve read that writers are great observers of life around them. I like that—it puts a better spin on the act of staring.

I married a scruffy-looking guy. We met in a diner. I taught French in a high school full time during the day but couldn’t make ends meet without working a night job. The first time I saw him I wasn’t impressed. He sat on a stool at the counter and showed me how to make a proper cup of tea. Not the kind where you float a teabag in a cup of hot water, but the kind where you steep the tea in a pot. He worked for a hockey team. I wasn’t impressed. I’d never liked hockey. But then he asked me out, but not only that, he told me I could pick any restaurant. I was in Hog Heaven. Imagine choosing a restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, when your diet consists of different flavors of Ramen Noodles. Bill Gates and Apple hadn’t been born yet, so I conferred with friends, students, faculty members, and finally chose Anthony’s—an Antebellum restaurant—très chic! Two years later, we had our wedding reception there.

It takes time to fall for a scruffy-looking guy. His clothes needed pressing and his car smelled like a locker room. It came by the smell honestly—the backseat was full of hockey skates. But I noticed things about him—the way he searched for a watering can for a Russian defenseman who was having trouble growing a houseplant. Or the way he always brought me back a candy bar or a keychain from whatever city they were playing in.

I learned to love hockey—I’ve been to over a thousand games—and we’ve been married for forty years. He still doesn’t care about a crease in his pants, and he leaves crumbs on the table, but my husband is a kind, thoughtful, sensitive, trustworthy, gentle, loving man.

Appearance can get in the way of sound judgment. In I Samuel 16:7, God warned Samuel about Saul. “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I’m so glad I wasn’t deceived by the polished, debonair Patricks of my youth, but gave the scruffy guy a second glance.


Trés Chic

By Sherri Stewart

Nicole has her eye on Patrick Duryea, the passenger in 3B on her weekly New York to Paris flights. He doesn’t know it yet, but she’s going to marry him someday. That is, if he can satisfy the requirements on her list of ten attributes of a perfect husband.

The other man in her life, her friend Sal whom she met on a blind date, sets out to prove that lists don’t work when it comes to love, and he’s willing to help her win over the elusive passenger in order to prove his point.

When push comes to shove onto a New York street, will the list prevail or fail?
Contains mild Christian references.

Want to see how the scruffy guy romance turns out in Très Chic? Check out the book on Amazon.


About the Author:

Sherri Stewart loves a great suspense novel, sprinkled with romance and a strong underlying message that challenges her faith. Her work as a freelance editor gives her the opportunity to read a lot of great books. Sherri lives in the Orlando area with her family. She’s a member of Word Weavers, ACFW, Christian Pen, and the California Bar. When not working, Sherri likes to visit potential settings for future books. Her next trip—Israel. Well-founded Fear of Death, Inn Danger, and Noah’s Rescue won Word Weaver’s Tapestry awards. Sherri would love to chat with readers about what interests them. Contact her at

Other Books by Sherri Stewart may be found on her Amazon Author Page


Tuesday Wedding Tales–A Heart’s Gift by Lena Nelson Dooley


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Welcome to Tuesday Wedding Tales blog series, where wedding themed stories are the fare.

Today’s guest is multi-published author Lena Nelson Dooley, who will be telling us about her historical Christian romance  book, A Heart’s Gift. The book is the winner of the 2017 Faith, Hope, and Love Reader’s Choice Award for Long Historicals.

Welcome, Lena.

Thanks, Catherine,

A Heart’s Gift is marriage-of-convenience novel set near the continental divide in Colorado in the 1890’s. Both the Franklin Vine and the Lorinda Sullivan have legitimate reasons for not wanting to allow another person into their hearts—deep hurts from the past. They were thrown together in the same house, complete with a housekeeper, and the household runs smoothly for quite a while.

A marriage in-name-only looks like the perfect solution for both of them. He wants an heir; she has a baby from her first marriage. She wonders how she’ll provide for her child; he owns a large successful ranch, so she’ll never have to worry about that again.

What could go wrong?

They don’t want anyone else to know the situation of their relationship, so they keep it a secret. Something happens at the wedding that puts each of them in a sudden and dramatic downturn … Or is it an upturn?

You, as the reader will need to decide for yourself. Events spiral out of their control until someone from the heroes past reappears in their lives and puts the heroine in mortal danger. The event from the wedding becomes the one thing both of them cling to in their minds and hearts.


A Heart’s Gift

By Lena Nelson Dooley

Because of an earlier betrayal, Franklin vows never to open his heart to another woman. But he desires an heir.

When Lorinda is finally out from under the control of men who made all the decisions in her life, she promises herself she will never allow a man to control her again. But how can she provide for her infant son?

A marriage of convenience seems like the perfect arrangement, until two people from Franklin’s past endanger Lorinda. How can he save her? And how will this affect the way they feel about each other?


Flames danced on the opposite side of the room from the cold black stove sitting on a slab of rock. The smoke didn’t come from the pot-belly. Flames? Her heart jumped into her throat and thrashed like a bird caught in a snare. She stared, fascinated at the macabre dance before her. The fire leapt, eating its way through the log wall and wooden floor. Wavering tongues of light took a bite from her curtains then raced up the fabric, consuming everything in their way.

Panic rose like a specter in her mind. The fear stole her breath away. She had to get out of here. Lorinda took a deep breath and held it. She quickly turned around and thrust her feet into the men’s boots beside her bed. Her breath swooshed out. She leaned over for a moment, light-headed. She’d never make it across the burning room if she couldn’t hold her breath any longer than that.

Her agitation reached the baby, and it squirmed and thumped inside her. She grabbed a handkerchief from the top drawer of the chest and held it tight over her nose before plunging into the mounting inferno. She pulled her garments close, trying to keep the flames from grabbing them as well.

Lorinda lumbered across the dwindling floor to the front door. The door stuck. Panic screamed inside her. The metal handle was almost too hot to hold. Using the hem of the robe, she grasped it again. She put her whole weight into wrenching the heavy door open and stumbled away from the intense heat melting an ever-widening circle in the dwindling snow. Tongues of fire burst after her, and she was barely able to stay out of their reach.

When the flames no longer scorched her, Lorinda stopped and took several deep breaths, trying to cleanse her lungs from the choking smoke, but the hacking coughs continued. She felt woozy, swaying a moment before straightening her spine. She walked around the log cabin, watching the fire that consumed everything she owned. Her hands clutched the hard pokes in her pockets. Everything, except the gold.

Want to read more? You can find A Heart’s Gift at Amazon.


About the Author:

Multi-published author Lena Nelson Dooley has had more than 875,000 copies of her books sold. She is a member of ACFW and the local chapter, ACFW – DFW. She’s a member of Christian Authors’ Network and Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

She has been on the ECPA and CBA Bestseller lists, Publisher’s Weekly bestseller list, and several Amazon Bestseller lists as well as a reviewers’ Top Ten Books of 2011. She has won a dozen awards.

She hosts “The Lena Nelson Dooley Show” on the Along Came a Writer blog radio network.

Connect with Lena at her

WebsiteOfficial Fan Page

Wednesday Writers–Bidding on the Bouquet by Catherine Castle


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How Small Can You Go?

A few months ago my husband read me a short sound bite about a fellow on the west coast who couldn’t afford an apartment, so he rented a friend’s closet for $600 a month, hung a hammock in it, and called it home.

That interesting tidbit stuck with me. So when the heroine in my contemporary inspirational romance, Bidding on the Bouquet, was bemoaning the fact that she wouldn’t be able to afford an apartment in New York, which was the city she wanted to live in after she finished grad school, the news clip about the “closet apartment” surfaced in the dialogue.

Now I’m pretty certain I couldn’t live in a closet. Neither could I live in a Tiny House on Wheels, aka a THOW, but both of these small spaces are mentioned in my book as alternative housing choices for the heroine.

In spite of the fact I know I could never survive in a THOW for any length of time, I am fascinated by them. Living in a lack of clutter—of which I have an abundance—and a mortgage that resembles that of a 1950’s home loan has a certain appeal. I’m also addicted to HGTV’s Tiny House series, so much so that my hubby groans when I ask him to switch to that channel.

Here are some of the things that I, and my heroine Marietta, love about Tiny Houses.

  • You can move them. I love to visit different places, but hate packing, unpacking, and checking hotel rooms for bed bugs—I’m a bit phobic about them. With a THOW all your possession go with you, minus buggy hitchhikers.
  • The low cost of a THOW. Having a paid off mortgage leaves lots of money for things you want to do. It’s also great for Marietta because she’s cash strapped, especially after she hocks everything she owns so she can bid on a bridesmaid spot in the wedding of an I-barely-know-her-acquaintance.
  • Less clutter means less time you spend cleaning. That’s great for me since I have a bad back and bad knees. Marietta loves the idea because it leaves more time for her volunteer work.
  • A THOW is full of double duty pieces and interesting storage solutions. Perfect for someone like Marietta who is used to living in a tiny 2 room apartment and doesn’t have a lot of possessions. They’re also great ideas for regular homes like mine. Check these ideas out. You can use them whether your home is tiny, smallish, or bigger.
  • And last, but not least, a THOW is so darn cute! Take a look at some of these THOW dwellings. Who doesn’t love cute? I know both Marietta and I do.

What about you? Do you like Tiny Houses on Wheels? Could you live in one?

And now, here’s a sound bite from Bidding on the Bouquet. I hope you enjoy it!


Bidding on the Bouquet

By Catherine Castle

The chance to catch a bridal bouquet containing a solid gold rose makes underprivileged, down-on-her-luck grad student Marietta Wilson pawn everything she owns to come up with a bid to win a bridesmaid spot in the most prestigious wedding of the season.

When he discovers his sister is auctioning off bridesmaid spots in her wedding party, wealthy, elitist Chip Vandermere is appalled. Not only is it in poor taste, but no self-respecting lady would stoop so low as to bid. Convinced Marietta is a gold digger, Chip sets out to thwart her plans.

A social climber and a social misfit. Can a bridal bouquet unite them?


Marietta Wilson dropped the mail and her one hundred and fifty dollar business marketing book on her desk, then sank onto the desk chair with a sigh. Two more months to graduation and she hadn’t scored an interview with her dream company, Branson and Filo Marketing Agency. Life in New York would be expensive. If she didn’t have a good paying job she’d never achieve her life-long goal of breaking her family’s chain of poverty. With all the drama happening at home no way would she go back there. She’d rather sleep in the soup kitchen where she volunteered.

Scooping up an envelope, she studied the glittery pink heart adorning the tip of the closure. Who would send her something encased in such fancy wrappings? Junk mail was the usual fare. Intrigued, she flipped over the envelope.

Her name and address, written in elaborate calligraphy, nearly filled the front side. Definitely not from a marketing company. A Love stamp hugged the right corner, with pinkish-gold flowers drawn all around the stamp’s edge. Flowers of the same hue also surrounded the return label. A wedding invitation? She didn’t even know any engaged couples.

Slipping the letter opener from the orange juice can she stored it in, Marietta slit the top of the envelope. A rose-gold interior glistened from the flap. Without a doubt, not junk mail. She withdrew a piece of flat cardstock. As she did, glossy flowers showered onto her lap. She turned the card in her hand. Rose-gold flowers bordered it as well. Shiny, embossed flowers.

“What the heck?” she muttered as she began reading the card.


You are invited to participate in the season’s most prestigious event.

Date: June 17

Time: 1:00 p.m.

Place: The Vandermere Estate

Event: The auction of bridesmaids’ positions for Chrissy Vandermere’s wedding

Light refreshments will be served

Chrissy is auctioning off a chance to be an attendant in her wedding.

Winners will be escorted down the aisle by New York’s finest bachelors,

and they will procure a bridesmaid-only spot at the tossing of the bride’s bouquet event.

Chrissy guarantees one of the bridesmaids will catch the bouquet,

containing a solid 14-carat rose-gold flower.

Opening bids begin at $100 and are non-refundable. Cash only.

You may make an opening bid higher than $100 if you choose.

Please RSVP by April 30

… Stunned, Marietta reread the invitation. Chrissy Vandermere? The only Vandermere she knew was her wealthy classmate Chip Vandermere, and they weren’t on real talking terms. Nor did they run in the same circles. They only had a few of the same classes and a couple of case studies together in which he had commandeered the group. The guy thought himself a born, or rather a privileged, leader. His attitude had driven her nuts, and, although he was one hot guy who knew he had undeniable sex appeal, she’d stayed away from him as much as she could. She was at the MBA program to learn and conquer, not be someone’s conquest.


Want to read more? Check out Bidding on the Bouquet on Amazon.

About the Author:

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. You can find her books The Nun and the Narc, A Groom for Mama, Bidding on the Bouquet and Trying Out for Love boxed set on Amazon.


Connect with Catherine at:

Catherine’s website:

Catherine’s blog:

Catherine’s Amazon author page:

Catherine’s Goodreads page:

Twitter:   @AuthorCCastle


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Wednesday Writers A Train Ride to Heartbreak by Donna Schlachter


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The Story Behind the Story . . . A Train Ride to Heartbreak

By Donna Schlachter


Today, I’m welcoming back Donna Schlachter to the blog with The Story Behind the Story of her book A Train Ride to Heartbreak, a novella in the Mail Order Brides Collection—nine historical stories where marriage precedes love. She’s also sharing an excerpt from the book with us. Welcome, Donna!


Thanks, Catherine.

The idea for this story came from a love of a movie and a friend with a great story to share.

The movie was “The Fugitive”, both the original series pilot and the more recent remake. I loved the idea of a train ride leading to a second chance.

My friend had recently taken a train ride from Denver to San Francisco, and she shared several delightful stories. I wondered if a train ride might be like a cruise in that it would provide an insulated environment where the travelers might do something they’d never done before. If so, this was perfect fodder for a romance, much like the old TV show, “The Love Boat”.

And then I saw “Murder on the Orient Express”, and as a lover of anything Agatha Christie, decided to incorporate a few of the details in my story.

The result? A chance meeting, two characters with integrity, and a way for God to reach both of them.




A Train Ride to Heartbreak

By Donna Schlachter

1895, Train to California

John Stewart needs a wife. Mary Johannson needs a home. On her way west, Mary falls in love with another. Now both must choose between commitment and true love.

October 1895

Mary Johannson has scars on her body that can’t compare with the scars on her heart. She is alone in the world, with no family, no prospects, and no home.

John Stewart is at his wit’s end. His wife of three years died in childbirth, leaving him with a toddler and an infant, both girls. Theirs was the love of fairy tales, and while he has no illusions about finding another like her, his children need a mother.

Though separated by thousands of miles, they commit to a mail-order marriage. But on their journey to Heartbreak, they meet another and realize the life they’d planned would be a lie. Can they find their way back from the precipice and into the love of God and each other, or are they destined to keep their word and deny their heart?



Groverton, Pennsylvania

September 1895

Chapter 1

Mary Johannson plunged reddened hands into the dishwater and scrubbed at a crusty spot on the chipped china plate.

In the yard, the vicar, shoulders slumped from the cares of his congregation, held a small child in his arms while two toddlers clutched his pants leg. And Matron Dominus, the imposing head of the Meadowvale Orphan’s Home, towered over the small group huddled before her.

Mary checked the plate. Satisfied it would pass muster, she dipped it into the rinse bucket and set the piece into the dish rack to air dry. Next she set a burnt oatmeal pot into the water to soak while she dried her hands on her apron and surveyed the scene outside.

The vicar nodded and turned to walk the gravel path he’d traversed just minutes before, the wee ones in tow as he hoisted the child to his other hip for the mile-long trip back. No doubt he was waiting for space to open in the orphanage.

Her space.

Mary would turn eighteen in two months. And despite her desire to escape the confines of the orphanage, she wasn’t excited about making her own way in the world. The last girl who aged out—as the other orphans called the act of turning eighteen—now worked at the saloon.

And everybody knew what kind of girls worked there.

Mary swiped at the scarred worktable set in the middle of the kitchen floor, her washrag sweeping crumbs into her hand. She still needed to finish the dishes and report to Matron Dominus for her next order for the day.

By the time she returned to the sink, the vicar and his charges were out of sight.

But Matron Dominus stood outside the tiny window staring in at her.

Checking up on her, no doubt. Making certain she wasn’t lollygagging. An activity all of the residents indulged in. According to Matron.

Mary hurried through the rest of the washing up. She swept the floor, put a pot of beans on to soak for supper, and shooed the cat out from under the stove. After checking the dampers to make certain the range wouldn’t needlessly heat the kitchen—another of Matron’s accusations—she hung her apron on a nail beside the back door.

Stepping out into the fresh air, Mary drew a deep breath and leaned against the clapboard siding.

Perhaps she could work at the seamstress shop. She was a fair hand with a needle and thread. Or maybe the general store.

“Mary Johannson.”

The screech like a rooster with its tail caught in a gate startled her, and she straightened. But in her haste, she overbalanced and stepped forward to catch herself, hooking her toe in the hem of her dress, which she’d just let down last week to a more respectable length.

The sound of rending cloth filled her ears as the ground slammed toward her. She got her hands out in front of her just in time to prevent mashing her nose into the soil. The toes of Matron Dominus’s boots filled her vision.

Mary pushed herself to her feet, wincing at an ache in her lower back not there a moment before. Tears blurred her vision when she checked her dress—she had a three-inch rip just above the hem.

“Are you lollygagging about? Sunbathing? Do you think you’re on the Riviera?”

Despite her imposing height and girth, the matron’s voice—particularly when she was irked—resembled the irksome peacock Mary had once seen in the zoo in Philadelphia. Why God would create such a beautiful bird with such a nasty voice was beyond her.

But if what Matron said was true, He’d created Mary, too, only to have her burned by the flames that killed the rest of her family. Angry red scars ran from her forearms to halfway up her neck, and a collar of white tissue, the result of an inept doctor sewing her back together again, ringed her neck and inched toward her ears.

No, if God really loved her, He wouldn’t have allowed that to happen.

Want to read more? You can find the book at Amazon



About the Author:

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid author who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime; facilitates a local critique group, and teaches writing classes and courses. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.

Connect with Donna at: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!



Other Books: Amazon: and Smashwords:



Wednesday Writers Welcomes Laurie Lucking Author of Common


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Today, it’s my pleasure to welcome Laurie Lucking to Wednesday Writers. Laurie writes YA fantasy fiction with a classic fairytale twists. She’ll be sharing the background of twist of her newest YA romance, Common, along with an excerpt. Welcome, Laurie!


Putting a Twist (or Three!) on a Classic Tale


Thanks, Catherine.

I have always loved a good fairy tale retelling. It started with Disney animated movies during my childhood: tales of far-off lands with heroes who boldly risked their lives fighting evil, romances that made butterflies flit about my ribcage, and happily-ever-afters that left me with a contented sigh. When I reached my teens, I enjoyed authors like Gail Carson Levine and Robin McKinley, who brought fairy tales to life on the written page with their unique voices and interpretations. I discovered Melanie Dickerson’s books as an adult, and you can guess how quickly I snatched them up!

When I delved into writing, I couldn’t wait to put my own spin on some classic tales! My first manuscript (which will hopefully be rewritten someday!) explored the premise of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, giving the older sister a back story that explained her cagey behavior and creating what I considered to be a more satisfying ending. In approaching Common, my debut novel that just released on Valentine’s Day, I began with a “Cinderella”-type setup of a servant girl in love with a prince. But rather than center the primary action around a ball, I wanted to explore the relationship and characters much further. I started with a childhood friendship between the maid, Leah, and the prince, Raphael. To increase the conflict, I added a surprise betrothal, a plot against the royal family, and a mysterious group of nuns. Though Leah is every bit as “common” as Cinderella when it comes to her skill set and station in life, she ends up on an adventure to save her country and her beloved prince. Her journey causes her to rise not only beyond her circumstances, but above challenges to her courage, confidence, and faith.

Other stories I have in the works draw inspiration from “Sleeping Beauty,” “Snow White,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and Peter Pan. I appreciate the opportunity to bring new life to the timeless themes and love stories of fairy tales and other classics, and I hope my readers will cherish their adventures in my imaginary lands, smiling with satisfaction when they reach the happily-ever-after at the end.



By Laurie Lucking


Only one person knows of the plot against the royal family and cares enough to try to stop it—the servant girl they banished.

Leah spends her days scrubbing floors, polishing silver, and meekly curtsying to nobility. Nothing distinguishes her from the other commoners serving at the palace, except her red hair.

And her secret friendship with Rafe, the Crown Prince of Imperia.

But Leah’s safe, ordinary world begins to splinter. Rafe’s parents announce his betrothal to a foreign princess, and she unearths a plot to overthrow the royal family. When she reports it without proof, her life shatters completely when the queen banishes her for treason.

Harbored by an unusual group of nuns, Leah must secure Rafe’s safety before it’s too late. But her quest reveals a villain far more sinister than an ambitious nobleman with his eye on the throne.

Can a common maidservant summon the courage to fight for her dearest friend


Rafe took my arm and steered me in the opposite direction, keeping silent until his friends’ footsteps retreated. “Are you really all right, Leah?”

I tried to pull away. He was whispering so close to my ear, I could feel his breath on my neck.

“What was going on back there? Who were those young men?”

“I’m fine, Rafe, truly. Those were two of the stable hands. I’ve known them all my life, and they’ve been teasing me almost as long. They get on my nerves, but I can assure you they’re harmless.”

His jaw remained set. “Even if they meant no harm, they need to learn the proper respect due to a lady.”

I laughed, then checked myself and lowered my voice. “A lady? I appreciate the thought, but you need to remember I’m merely a servant. As such, I don’t command quite the same level of gentility required for a noblewoman.”

“Well, perhaps you should.”

A lady’s maid stared at us as we passed, sending searing heat into my cheeks. “While we’re on the subject of my lowly status…are you sure this is a good idea?”

“What do you mean?” His brows knit.

“Walking through the corridors like this.” I waved my free hand at our linked arms.

Rafe puffed out his chest. “I’m the prince, aren’t I? How could I do any less than escort the maiden I rescued to safety?”

“I’m not sure that quite constituted a rescue.” I stole a glance at him. “Is it customary for you to attend to damsels in distress in such a manner, then?” I bristled at the idea of Rafe walking through the halls arm in arm with other young women, but I shook it off.

“Well, no. But I still don’t see how this could be objectionable.”

“I’m concerned what people might say…”

“Oh, Leah, will you cease your endless worrying? I’m trying to be your knight in shining armor, and you’re ruining it.”


Want to read more? You can find Common here.

About the Author:

An avid reader since birth (her parents claim she often kept them up late begging to hear just one more story), Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as an attorney to become a stay-at-home mom. She writes young adult fantasy with a strong thread of romance, and her debut novel, Common, released on February 14, 2018, from Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing. Laurie is the Secretary of her local ACFW chapter and a co-founder of Lands Uncharted, a blog for fans of clean young adult speculative fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and two young sons.

Connect with Laurie at these Social Media Links: Website, Blog, Facebook

And The Winners Are!


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The Trying Out for Love multi-author giveaway has ended and the winner have been chosen. For security, I’m only listing the winners’ first names and first initial of the last name. The author of the book you’ve won will contact you, via the email you gave Rafflecopter,  to find out where you want your Ebooks delivered.

Here are the results of the Rafflecopter drawing.

  • Linda O. —The Wedding Barter, by Alice Arenz

  • Karolyn G. — Bidding on the Bouquet, by Catherine Castle

  • Pauletta N. —The Matchmaking Wedding Planner, by Bonnie Engstrom

  • Rita S. — Marry Me, by Pamela Ferguson

  • Jayne C. — The Bridesmaid Got Waylaid, by Kassy Paris

  • Sharon L. — Exposing Love, by Christina Rich

  • Sandra H.– Trying Out for Love boxed set, containing all six books

Congrats to all the winners! Thank you for being part of our multi-author giveaway. We hope you’ll enjoy our stories as much as we’ve enjoyed sharing them with you.

Wednesday Writers–Embracing Hope by Janell Butler Wojtowicz


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Happy Valentine’s Day! And what better way to celebrate this romantic holiday than with a romance story. True love and happily-ever-after. What more could St. Valentine ask for?

Today, it’s my pleasure to introduce Janell Butler Wojtowicz to the Wednesday Writers blog.

She’ll be sharing how she came to be a fiction writer and we’ll get a glimpse of her contemporary Christian romantic fiction novel Embracing Hope. Welcome, Janell.


Thanks, Catherine.

I never set out to write a novel, let alone a romance novel. Why should I write fluff? I was a professional writer who for 35 years had written editorials, obituaries, city council news, sports stories, fundraising letters, annual reports. I had written a memoir 20 years ago for family but had no desire to pursue publication. I figured no one would care until I was dead and the era of the 1960s and 70s was ancient history.

But my goals changed while working for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Apparently, writing about emerald ash borer and milfoil (Google if you must know.) had suppressed my creative side and in 2007 it exploded. I had a vivid dream one night after watching a BBC version of “Jane Eyre” that eventually became “Embracing Hope.”

I have always liked pathetic male and strong female leads in drama. Enter Drew McKinley, a brooding lost soul like Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester, who on the outside is successful, intelligent, handsome and wealthy. Drew is a recent widower struggling in a new city and wrestling with a new job that is not what he thought it would be. Enter Allison Bennett, who mirrors her mother’s resilience and the formidable sauciness of “Pride and Prejudice” heroine Elizabeth Bennet. (Did you notice?) Even the bad boy in the novel, Chris, is at his core pathetic.

I won’t give away any spoilers, but there is a happy ending as hope transforms the pathetic into the strong—thanks to a woman, of course. The male and female leads in the sequels (unpublished) mirror Drew and Allison. I’m not sure why I’m drawn to that character combination, perhaps it’s the Scarlett O’Hara Factor. Maybe a psychologist could open my eyes—as long as it’s a woman.

Embracing Hope

by Janell Wojtowicz

Christian college dean Drew McKinley mourns his dead wife and still wears his wedding ring. He stumbles on a desperate journey to understand God’s motives for her tragic death. Crossing his perilous path is Allison, a graduate student who recognizes Drew’s unresolved grief from her own loss. Putting up a roadblock is Chris Whitney, the egotistical student senate president who carries the secret burden of a dysfunctional family. The road Drew must navigate is fraught with career upheaval, a reawakening heart, substance abuse, and the struggle for forgiveness. Will Drew finish his journey to embrace the hope God offers, the love Allison shares, and the guidance Chris needs, or will he turn his back on all three with catastrophic consequences?



Drew returned from lunch in the student dining hall to an empty office suite. A stack of mail sat on his desk, and he shuffled through it with disinterest. Seminars, invoices, the Chronicle of Higher Education. More junk. He dropped into the black high-back leather chair and reached for the phone to call the next person on his lengthy list, the athletic director.

“Excuse me, Mr. McKinley,” a smooth alto voice said from the doorway. “I’m Allison Bennett, the new communications specialist. I’m here to see Ms. Abbott, but she’s not in her office.”

Drew stood, motioned her in, and grasped her hand in welcome before he realized this was the girl—no, the woman—who caught his attention at chapel. He quickly let go of her hand and spoke with more enthusiasm than necessary, “Please, call me Drew!”

Lush chestnut hair cascaded in gentle waves to just below her shoulders. Wispy bangs brushed dark eyebrows that framed green eyes. A faint yet warm smile graced her lips. He had seen her before: in church, the dining hall, and with Sharon briefly last week. But she was among the dozens of students he had never formally met. Too many students. Never enough time.

“It looks like Sharon is literally out to lunch.” He gestured for her to take a seat.

She placed her worn blue backpack on the floor and eased into the guest chair in front of Drew’s desk, posture straight, chin high, confidence in her eyes.

“We’re happy to have you with us, uh, ….” What’s her name? Angela? Andrea?


“Yes, Allison. Sharon has been inundated since her last assistant left to get married. She’s relieved to have found you.”

“And I’m relieved she hired me,” Allison replied. “I almost gave up on grad school, but thanks to this job and the Hope Scholarship I got at the last minute, I’m here.”

A flutter in his heart at the mention of the scholarship distracted Drew for a moment, but he refocused on Allison. “The new one-year full-ride scholarship? Congratulations.”

“It’s a God Thing, that’s for sure. My goal is to get my master’s degree in three semesters, since this is my sixth year at Riley.”

“Six years? Then you must have attended part-time?” Drew asked.

Allison tucked a lock of hair behind her left ear displaying a small silver hoop earring. “Yes, I did. It’s hard for students like me to graduate in four years because we have to get jobs—sometimes more than one at a time—to avoid overwhelming student loans. Fortunately, I got a lot of scholarships, supplemented them with jobs, and had a full-time temp job at the Omaha World Herald this summer.”

Drew settled back in his chair and looked Allison square in the eyes. They were more than just green. They were a striking emerald reminding him of the necklace he had given Kendra for her twenty-fifth birthday. He gulped the memory away. Would the flashbacks ever end?


Want to read more? You can find Embracing Hope at Amazon.


About the Author

Janell Butler Wojtowicz, born and raised in Iowa, has spent her entire 35-year career in writing, including journalism, Christian higher education, nonprofit public relations, and local government. Much of her writing has been the “people stories” of trial, tragedy and triumph, which are reflected in her debut novel, “Embracing Hope.” Janell and her husband, Frank, live in New Brighton, Minnesota.


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