A Groom for Mama is a Raven Award Finalist!

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WooHoo! I’m so excited! My sweet romantic comedy, A Groom for Mama, is a finalist in the contemporary category of the Raven Award Contest!

Books are automatically entered in this contest when they receive a 4 or 5 star review from UnCaged Books. Then the public gets to vote for their favorite book. I made the first cut! YEA!

I want to thank everyone who voted for me in the semi-finals. And now it’s time for the final votes.

To celebrate the book making it into the finals, I thought I’d share the book blurb and a never-before-seen excerpt from A Groom for Mama.

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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.

 

Excerpt:

As soon as they were out of the kitchen, Allison nudged off his grip. “Just because you can kiss Mama doesn’t mean you can be fresh with me.”

Her tone stung like a slap, and he stepped back. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to invade your space.”

“What do you want?”

“Any news on the medical front I should know?”

She sighed. “Dr. Kramer said he already got second opinions. And Mama doesn’t want to go see any doctors, because she thinks I can’t fulfill my promise to find a husband if we’re gallivanting across the country in search of a cure.”

“We can put that notion to rest. My database has connections to a nationwide search engine. I can find you a bridegroom anywhere in the USA.”

Grimacing, she said in a pinched voice, “Thanks a lot. I hoped we could skip the husband-hunting promise if I could get her out of town.”

“She’s not going to give up easily. I’ve already approached her about dropping the whole idea.”

Allison’s face brightened. “Really? How nice of you.”

A twinge of guilt pricked him. Nice had nothing to do with it. He just didn’t want to see her with anyone else.

“Anyway, it didn’t work. You’re stuck with finding a man.” As he reached for the front doorknob, she grabbed his hand.

“If I didn’t say it earlier, thanks for all you’ve done for Mama. Visiting her. Bringing her flowers. Offering to help with the medical bills.” She lowered her gaze to the floor. “After the way I treated you I’m surprised you’re willing to help me. You’ve gone above and beyond what most ex-boyfriends would do.”

He tipped Allison’s face until she gaze met his. “I love your mom and I’d do anything for her.”

“Including marry me off?”

“If Beverly wants.” He started to leave. Then he stopped. “Is it what you want?”

“No. But if dating these men will make her get a second or third or fourth opinion, it’s what I’ll do. Even if I have to get engaged to an oyster farmer from Shreveport, Louisiana.”

His mouth quirked into a grin. “I don’t think I have any of those in the database, but I can check if you want.”

“I’ll pass this time.”

“Might be a good idea considering the choices I just left with you.” The stunned expression on her face made him laugh. “They’re not all bad. Just remember, you’re the one who filled out the questionnaire, not me.”

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You can read more about A Groom for Mama on Amazon.

I hope you enjoyed this exclusive excerpt from A Groom for Mama. If you’d like to vote for my book you can go to http://uncagedbooks.com/raven-awards-voting-1/

There’s no registration required for voting and the site isn’t collecting emails, so it’s super easy to vote. One vote per category and your last chance to vote is Saturday, August 18.

Thanks, in advance, to anyone who votes for A Groom for Mama.

 

About Catherine Castle:

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 multi-award-winning inspirational romantic suspense), A Groom for Mama (a sweet romantic comedy), Bidding on the Bouquet (a contemporary inspirational romance, and Trying Out for Love boxed set on Amazon.

 

 

 

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A Writer’s Garden–Fruit of the Vine by Claire Gem

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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 Claire Gem. She’ll be talking about her grapevines.

 

Fruit of the Vine

By Claire Gem

At times my Italian heritage tells on me. I’ll admit it—I love wine. To Italians, wine is an integral part of our history, our tradition, and our culture. The country is one of the world’s leading producers of the stuff, so it’s not surprising that a great percentage of Italy’s soil is cultivated with grapevines.

But these climbing plants can do more than produce grapes.

When I decided to enclose our side yard for some seclusion from our somewhat busy street, my choice of fencing material surprised my husband.

“It will take years before the vines grow thick enough!” he said. “Why not just put up some privacy fence?”

“I want a natural fence. It will be worth the wait. This will be beautiful. And the vines will grow fast! Just you wait and see.”

Patiently, he helped me construct the L-shaped, lateral trellis, which consisted of four, 4 x 4 posts set in concrete, with three strands of heavy duty wire strung between. The six-foot height would provide the perfect amount of screen I was looking for.

Then I went online and ordered my vines: three varieties—red, and two kinds of white—simply because I couldn’t make up my mind. In the photos on the nursery website, the vines were thick and lush, the leaves bigger than my outspread hand, the grape clusters glistening with morning dew.

What I got in the mail two weeks later were three brown sticks, each about two feet long.

My son laughed at me as I carefully followed the planting instructions accompanying my dead-looking twigs.

“I think you got ripped off, Mom,” he chided. “Those things will never grow.”

But oh, how they did. By the end of the first summer, the vines had all but obscured the strands of wire between the posts. The following year, they grew furiously, crisscrossing and linking into an intricately woven tapestry.

In 2016, after two short years, the vines had not only cloaked the trellis we built, but were quickly threatening to take over the side of our house. This was the first year they yielded fruit—about a half-dozen clusters of tiny, tart grapes. But my goal had been accomplished: when the fat leaf buds opened into giant green fans, our little side yard was completely invisible from the street.

Last fall, I decided I wanted a real arbor—one that would allow the vines to continue spreading without consuming our home’s siding in the process. Also, I thought it would be nice to have some overhead shade during the heat of the day. Fortunately, with the help of a handyman neighbor and an indulgent husband, I now have my summer paradise.

In warm weather, we enjoy the beauty and seclusion of our secret garden. Birds flock to our space, helping themselves to some of the grapes when they visit. Even in winter, the vines are beautiful. The twisted, silvery bones sparkle with an icy mantle, and provide a wonderful backdrop for my lighted family of wire deer sculptures. They twinkle when draped with colored lights.

Now, it’s high summer. As I sit enjoying a glass of (what else?) crisp Pinot Grigio in the cool of the evening, I consider . . . There are so many grapes this year, why don’t I try my hand at making some homemade wine?

Wouldn’t my Italian daddy be proud?

 

About the Writer/Gardener

Claire Gem is a multi-published, award-winning author of six titles in the genres of contemporary romance, supernatural suspense, and women’s fiction. She also writes Author Resource guide books and presents seminars on writing craft and marketing.

Creating cross-genre fiction she calls “supernatural suspense,” Claire loves exploring the paranormal and the unexplained, and holds a certificate in Parapsychology from the Rhine Research Center of Duke University. Her latest release, Civil Hearts, is set in an abandoned antebellum home in rural Alabama, which is, of course, haunted.

A New York native, Claire has lived in five of the United States and held a variety of jobs, from waitress to bridal designer to research technician—but loves being an author best. She and her happily-ever-after hero, her husband of 39 years, now live in central Massachusetts.

You can connect with Claire at her Website:

Civil Hearts

by Claire Gem

He’s a sexy Southern gentleman–with epilepsy. She’s a widow scarred from her husband’s brain cancer. A Confederate soldier haunts her new home–and she’s a Yankee. Manhattan web designer Liv Larson yearns for big change. She has no family, and after all, she can work from anywhere. Why not throw a dart at the map? She heads out of the big city for the rural South and falls in love as soon as she arrives–with the Belle Bride, an abandoned antebellum mansion. Heath Barrow loves his country life, managing his antiques store in sleepy Camellia, Alabama. But he’s lonely, and his condition–epilepsy–makes life uncertain. It’s already cost him a marriage. A new medication and the new girl in town have his heart hopeful again. Sparks fly between them, but the first seizure Liv witnesses sends her into a tailspin. She watched her husband die that way . . . To make matters worse, Liv discovers she’s not living alone. Her challenge? Dealing with a Confederate soldier who clearly resents his Yankee roommate–even though he’s been dead for almost a hundred and fifty years.

WARNING TO READERS OF SWEET ROMANCE. Civil Hearts contains open door love scenes and strong language.

Wednesday Writers–Apocalypse TV by Thomas Allbaugh

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today we’ll be taking another departure from romance as my guest blogger Thomas Allbaugh talks about how he came to write his debut book, Apocalypse TV, which Thomas describes as a literary mystery that moves toward satire.

 

 

Finding the Right Combination for a Fiction About a Reality TV Show

by Thomas Allbaugh

The premise for Apocalypse TV came from two different images: first, a scene I imagined of a character named Walter, an English professor, reflecting one night that he has never shot a gun; second, a religious reality show on BBC from ten years ago about people walking around England and trying to compel others to go to church.

That was it. Those two strands led me to tell the story of an English professor from a private American college who tries to be taken seriously on an American reality show.

As Sam Knight has observed, writing in the New Yorker last fall, we can learn a great deal about a culture by its reality shows. That the BBC would air a reality show about getting people into church says something significant. In contrast, American reality TV seems focused on talent, schemers, bachelorettes, winners, and survivors. Our dreams move us toward individual success and failure, not spiritual questions or ambitions.

I was interested in how “games” can take on realities of their own. Thinking about that old BBC production first got me onto the idea of writing about a religious reality show on which things go wrong. I should add that I don’t really watch reality shows myself.

But in the crossroads of these two notions, Walter’s story began to emerge—a man takes himself seriously in an increasingly trivial reality show production. Through about six revisions, the story ironies grew and deepened. Walter Terry begins naively thinking that in traveling across the country on this show, he will be taken seriously and be influential. Instead, the reality show engages in trivial matters. For starters, at the Plymouth Colony re-enactment site, the site of the Pilgrims’ first colony, Walter hopes to talk about grace and sin in the founding of this historical setting. Instead, the show producers have him involved in a trivial game that leads to real contention between him and his fellow show travelers. From that point on, the ironies deepen as bad things happen.

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Apocalypse TV

By Thomas Allbaugh

 

When a reality TV scout “discovers” Walter in a diner near the hospice where his father has been placed, his life has reached a low point. His father is dying, his college teaching career is under threat, and his life is adrift. The scout wants him for a reality show about religion. In a more self-assured period of his life, Walter would have rejected her offer, but now he wavers and allows himself to be drawn in. Maybe this is the jolt of energy his life needs. Maybe, if the show succeeds, his university will be so impressed that they’ll finally treat him with respect. Maybe the show will even be what the producers promise it will be, a serious inquiry into faith. Maybe he’ll become famous.

The show brings Walter attention, but for all the wrong reasons. He is misquoted, misinterpreted, misunderstood, and then shot after he has been dragged across the country in an increasingly frustrating and absurd series of challenges. Will his career and reputation survive the publish protests? Will his marriage survive the hints of affairs on the road? Will any kind of “reality” emerge to restore his self-respect?

 

Excerpt:

Minutes before his sister texted that she had moved their father to a hospice, Walter Terry listened behind half-empty rows of chairs in the Haskins Room as the new writer-in-residence read from her work. It was an early draft, she had announced, and it concerned a bride-to-be hunting elk in Wyoming, a part of the country Walter had never seen. And it came to him with sudden finality: he could never write a great American novel; he had never shot a gun.

Nothing was more American. Faulkner, Hemingway certainly, both knew guns. And Walter had never felt one kick back and ruin his shoulder. He had never had the gunpowder residue spotting his hands, his face, and his clothes.

Those details? They came from TV.

The writer had to feel it, not just hear about it.

His colleague’s writing signaled that she knew guns, and Walter had never shot a beer can. He couldn’t tell a Smith and Wesson from a Remington. He wouldn’t know if they were names for handguns or rifles. Sure, he could Google them. But how many others wouldn’t have to?

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Want to read more? You can find Apocalypse TV here.

About the Author:

Thomas Allbaugh is an associate professor of English at Azusa Pacific University, where he has taught Composition and Creative Writing since 2001. Currently, he lives in Southern California with his wife and their four children.  Apocalypse TV is his first novel.

Connect with Thomas at: His website:  Facebook Page: Twitter: @tallbaugh1

 

A Writer’s Garden — Linda Bradley and Neighborhood Gardens

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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 writer/gardener is Linda Bradley—and her dog Maisey. Welcome!

 

Thanks, Catherine.

I haven’t been much of a gardener this year due to a move, the loss of a family member, and the grit of everyday life, but with the help of my dog Maisey we’ve discovered a world of gardens around every corner in our new neighborhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes when I’m tired and I don’t think I can go on, her cold nose is upon me, nudging me to move. Sighing, I lace up my walking shoes and look into her soulful brown eyes. It’s as if she’s saying, “Come on, see the world with me. I’ll show you the way.” Then she barks and wags her tail, her rump dancing to a beat I don’t feel because I’m drained from creative endeavors, family demands, working full time, or gray skies that dampen my mood.

As I write this blog, she sleeps beneath my office window. Her soft snores hum along with the tap, tap, tap of the keyboard beneath my fingertips. Her soft sighs remind me of where we’ve been and her canine wisdom. Her antics prod me to get outdoors and smell the flowers. Whether we’re strolling along a quiet sidewalk or wandering through the park, we’re together. She’s got her sniffs and I’ve got mine.

Summer will come and go, but I know when Spring comes I’ll have roses, peonies, and lilacs to look forward to. Maisey and I will continue to take our walks together, and we’ll smell the blooms along the way. We’ll be a bit more settled and our new routines will have become habit. We’ll be back in the garden, side by side.

Marcel Proust said, “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” In my case, it’s more than my family and the neighbors who’ve inspired me to get back into the garden. It’s my Maisey, rescue wonder dog. Most days I think she’s rescued me. She’s my charming gardener, who’s helped me to blossom.

 

 

About the writer/gardener:

Linda’s inspiration comes from her favorite authors and life itself. Her women’s fiction highlights characters that peel away outer layers of life to discover the heart of their dreams with some unexpected twists and turns along the way. Her writing integrates humor found in everyday situations, as well as touching moments that make readers connect with her characters.

Linda is a member of RWA, as well as the Greater Detroit Chapter of RWA and Capital City Writers Association in Lansing, Michigan. She’s a past finalist in the Booksellers’ Best Award and the Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice Award.

Linda has two grown sons, lives with her husband, and rescue dog in Royal Oak, Michigan. You can follow her on Twitter @LBradleyAuthor, Facebook, and http://www.lindabradleyauthor.com/.

 

Pedal

by Linda Bradley

Burdened by heartache, can a whisper from beyond give middle-aged Paula Murphy the courage to just pedal?

Coming back to her Bay View summer home in northern Michigan means more than planning picnics at the beach and working in her daughter-in-law’s bicycle shop. Her avoidance to embrace her grown son’s death isn’t the only tribulation weighing on this self-reliant social worker’s mind.

Reluctant to believe the unfathomable, Paula Murphy’s world is turned upside down when she’s reunited with the only man she’s ever loved.

Side note: I self-published this short-story. Tilly is a secondary character – the daughter-in-law mentioned in the blurb. She’s an avid gardener and knows her deceased husband is watching over when her dog brings her roses.

Pedal is available on Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Writers –Launch by Jason C. Joyner

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Today Wednesday Writers welcomes Jason C. Joyner to the blog as we introduce a new YA author and his book. Jason will be sharing the story behind his debut book Launch, a YA superhero story, and an excerpt today. Welcome to Wednesday Writers, Jason!

Thanks, Catherine.

Did you know that a lot of tourists visit the campus of Facebook and Google in Silicon Valley? I’m not aware of many companies that have interest like that.

I wrote a Young Adult superhero story with Biblically inspired powers and sent them to a social media conference. Because – why not let kids with Samson’s strength and the speed of Elijah (remember, he outran a chariot once) go to a conference with a ton of smart phones and a tech billionaire with an agenda?
The campuses of Facebook and Google did not disappoint in my research. Facebook has a huge billboard with the thumbs-up sign at 1 Facebook Way where many people (including my party) took pictures. There were tai chi classes being held outside. Bikes were conspicuously placed to allow workers to ride around. Electric cars and recycling bins dotted the landscape. I never found a rumored nap pod at Google. I was kinda disappointed with that.

Overall, there are neat things going on at these campuses. The creativity and engineering is pretty astounding. I hope that these technologies will be utilized for good – but in the meantime, I will gladly use them as the setting for my adventure story and let teens run amok there. Gotta get likes on my post somehow, right?

Hopefully my characters will learn and grow from this social media conference. They have gifts and they need to learn how to use them, but will it be for good or evil? That’s the fun part of writing.

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Launch

by Jason C. Joyner

Sixteen-year-olds Demarcus Bartlett and Lily Beausoliel are among a select group of youth invited to an exclusive, all-expenses-paid conference at social media giant Alturas’ California headquarters. Led by charismatic founder Simon Mazor, the world’s youngest billionaire, this isn’t the typical honors society. It seems that everyone here has some secret, untapped potential, some power that may not be entirely of this world. An ancient prophecy suggests that if these teens combine their abilities, they could change the course of history.

The only question is: Will it be for better or for worse?

Excerpt:

This might not be a great idea, but Demarcus Bartlett had to see if he could outrace a sports car.

He crouched behind a bush next to the on-ramp for the highway. His blue hoodie concealed his shoulder-length dreads, so it should be hard for any cars passing by on Santa Clara Street to see him. No Toyotas or Hondas would do. His prize would have some horses under the hood. He’d have to be patient. Not many cars out at 5 am would fit his needs.

He checked his shoelaces again, his fingers fumbling over the knots. Didn’t want to trip at highway speeds. That could get ugly. He glanced at his phone again. He had a job to go to, but the drive to see what he was capable of overwhelmed him.

Even with the risk of being discovered.

The light for the on-ramp turned red. In the soft rosy glow, a growling beast stopped at the white line. Its shiny black paint reflected the traffic light off of the hood. A rev of the Camaro’s engine. The owner was ready to try out his toy as well. The blinker flicked on, signaling a turn onto Highway 101.

This guy was the one.

Demarcus wiped his palms on his hoodie again and shook them out like a runner at the starter’s gate. His heart leapt at the thought of going through with this.

Mr. Camaro would blow right by his hiding place. A smile stretched across Demarcus’s face. Here’s hoping this guy knows how to use the accelerator.

Green light cut through the darkness, and the black car jumped forward, turning onto the ramp and surging by him. Demarcus gave him a few seconds’ head start to make it fair as he noted the time to track his speed.

Three. Two. One

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Want to read more? You can find Launch at Amazon

About the Author:

Jason C. Joyner is a physician assistant, a writer, a Jesus-lover, and a Star Wars geek. He’s traveled from the jungles of Thailand to the cities of Australia and the Bavarian Alps of Germany. He lives in Idaho with his lovely wife, three boys, and daughter managing the chaos of sports and superheroes in his own home. Launch, a YA superhero story, is his first published novel.

Social media links:
You can join my Facebook group, The Heroes’ Hangout

Or connect with Jason on: Twitter or Instagram

 

A Writer’s Garden-Ellie Gustafson Shares Her Garden Stories

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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 Ellie Gustafson, who will be sharing her gardening story and her newest book garden story, where the heroine, Linda, has an award-winning garden with an unexpected visitor. Welcome, Ellie!

 

Beginner garden

God planted a gardening seed in my soul–perhaps genetically. An aunt routinely won blue ribbons at the local flower show. When I showed interest in flowers, I was granted a small patch, perhaps two by three feet, to plant johnny jump ups and small marigolds. My tiny arrangements got only token ribbons, but I was hooked.

 First rose garden

As a teenager, I fell in love with roses. I dug a bed, maybe 6 x 6, in the middle of the lawn and planted some beauties. It was, however, a bittersweet experience. My parents were not getting on, and the little picket fence my father provided for the bed was frowned on by my mother. I didn’t know how to handle it, so after I left for college, the roses bit the dust.

Wedding flowers

Daughter Rachel planned an unusual wedding. The church was empty of flowers, with only a number of sheet-covered boxes up front. During the Pachelbel Canon processional, assorted friends carried in vased flowers and set them on boxes. Then came the wedding party, with Rachel carrying a large bouquet of just-picked flowers from my best-ever annual garden.

During the ceremony, one of the bridesmaids noted a spider exploring Rachel’s veil—making her spider-wed!

Shrinking gardens

As life went on, strength and energy dictated a slowdown of gardening. Today, after a frigid winter, even my beloved roses took a hit. The perennials are still there, but so are weeds. Thus, my focus has turned to………

Linda’s garden

Linda Jensen of Westchester County, New York, has a magnificent spread. She says, “I was born rich, and my parents loved flowers. My entire life centered on pulling weeds. My mother took me from the cradle and plunked me down with clear orders: ‘Pull this, but not this.’”

In one of her blogs, Linda focuses on weeds:

Go for a walk along a country road and search for plants we commonly call weeds. Note which ones like to hang out in your garden. Study them closely. They self-select their location, putting down roots in the most hospitable conditions. Your garden suits them well, and there they grow into sturdy little fellows that are neither fussy nor fragile—just happy to settle into your space. Dandelions, clover, assorted grasses—these guys are quick to flourish and tough to dislodge from our manicured beds.

What can we learn from these lowborn beauties? Maybe nothing. Maybe we just breathe in their simple charm and then go home and dutifully hold the hands of the elegant darlings we have chosen to showcase in our gardens. We pay a high price for our sort of beauty; weeds simply are.

Weeds simply are. We all must deal with weeds—in our gardens, in our lives. But a day is coming when weeds will be forever gone. Might we call Jesus the Good Gardener, as well as the Good Shepherd?

About the Writer/Gardener

  • Ellie Gustafson
  • *Born in a NJ county that had more cows than people.
  • *Went to Wheaton College IL.
  • *Married a multi-tasker, 3 kids, 8 grands.
  • *Tried on the cloak of writing; found it fit well.
  • *God first touched me through story, and he still speaks through story. I love Him passionately.

I write contemporary, literary fiction, and aside from the unpresentable theme of the novel, the heat level is pretty low. Heat, yes, but carefully contained.

Connect with Elli at her website: www.eleanorgustafson.com/

An Unpresentable Glory

By Ellie Gustafson

“I trusted you, and some day, you may know just how much you hold in your hands.”

Linda Jensen leads a relatively quiet life in Westchester County, New York, as the owner of a highly-acclaimed garden. Inherited from her parents, the garden is her pride and joy. What is not so joyful is finding a strange man sprawled near her delphiniums! The mysterious man is sick, unable to do anything more than drink water—and beg for secrecy. Ignoring all alarm bells, Linda sees to his needs, but her caring act takes on unexpected significance, an unpresentable glory.

Seeds of trust, and perhaps love, are planted in Linda’s garden haven. But as secrets are revealed and scandal hits the headlines, the act of caring for this man threatens to tarnish both of their reputations. Like weeds in Linda’s garden, circumstances threaten to choke out their fledgling relationship, and small moments prove to be the biggest influencers—on a national scale.

An Unpresentable Glory is available at Amazon

 

 

Wednesday Writers–Ty’s Journey by Ryan Jo Summers

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers. Today I’m taking a departure from romance to feature a non-fiction book about the journey of fellow writer Ryan Jo Summers and her rescued collie, Ty. Ryan Jo has been a frequent guest on Wednesday Writers, and I’m happy to showcase her non-fiction book Ty’s Journey. A portion of each sale of Ty’s Journey will go to the benefit of the Collie Rescue of the Carolinas. Welcome, Ryan Jo.

Thanks, Catherine.

Blame it on the Albert Payson Terhune books I read as a child, or Knight’s “Lassie”, or the tri-color farm collie called Champ I had as a childhood chum. Whatever the original source, while I liked all dogs, collies held a special place in my heart. When I married, I briefly exhibited them professionally and tinkered with some handling to pay my entry fees and even did some 4-H judging. Soon, I preferred rescuing the collies in need over trying to create the perfect one and became director of a collie rescue group for many years. After relocating in 2004 and having my last “old pups” slowly die off, I resolved to once more have a collie.

In 2015, I applied to the Collie Rescue of the Carolinas and was approved to adopt. It took time to find the right dog for me. In March, 2015, the rescue received nine feral collies from a hoarding situation in Tennessee. I made the three-hour drive to meet them. There was one blue merle in the group (one of four normal colors of collie) and I was drawn to him. Since it was unknown if the dogs even had names, they were all given baseball-themed names and his was ‘Ty Cobb’, and he was an emotional mess!

He sat in the corner of the enclosure, with a distant look in his dull eyes. He ignored every attempt I made to be friends, which is such a un-collie behavior. Like most members of his group, he was emotionally shut down. What trauma had these sensitive creatures been put through? We could only speculate.

Being at the rescue center reminded me of all the things I’d lost in my divorce years prior. It stung like a slap to the face. I knew I’d once been able to help dogs like Ty, but now I doubted whether I could. I wasn’t the same person I was before. I almost left in tears a number of times. Finally, hours later, I still wasn’t able to leash or touch him, but I agreed to adopt him. I recognized a survivor in his detached demeanor and so was I. It was the beginning of our common ground.

TY

It was also the start of a long journey. He knew nothing about being a normal dog. I frequently lamented about our one-step-forward-and-two-steps-back progress or celebrated our huge milestones on the rescue group’s Facebook page. Readers quickly followed our saga and suggested I write it all down. Thus the journal of Ty’s Journey began, shared on his own blog. Two years later I took the bones of the blog and the dozens of photographs and compiled them all into a full length book and published it on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. It has been a challenging ride with Ty, with high peaks and low valleys, but I would not have changed my choice in adopting him. None of the Baseball team is what would be called ‘normal collies’ but they are loved. And they are learning. And teaching their families.

Ty and Collin the cat

 

Ty’s Journey

by Ryan Jo Summers

March, 2015, nine collies were removed from a neglectful hoarding situation in Tennessee and transported to a North Carolina breed-specific collie rescue. Collectively, they were referred to as “The Baseball Team”, and individually they were given baseball-themed names. They were untrained and many had reverted to near-feral behaviors. A blue merle male called Ty Cobb was the first one of the Baseball Team to be adopted.

His new owner recorded the first two years of their journey, chronicling the challenges, doubts, setbacks, successes, surprises, and triumphs.

Written in diary style, this is the story of one collie who went from being a hoarding victim to belonging to a family who treasured him. Along the way, as he slowly healed, he brought healing to others as well.

*A portion of each sale of this book will go to the benefit of the Collie Rescue of the Carolinas.

 

EXCERPT

March 31st started like any day. And it ended with a huge step backward for poor Ty, erasing all the forward progress we’d laid in the last week. It was suddenly gone up in smoke in just a matter of moments. We headed out for our morning walk. We entered the courtyard and he froze.

There were men working on the roof of the house next door. There were trucks parked across the lawn, men shouting and shovels scraping old shingles down the roof to drop into truck beds. It was loud, scary and stimulation overload on a mammoth scale.

Ty. Freaked. Out. Oh my word, did he freak out. He could not pile himself into a small enough huddle fast enough. It was as if a thousand bombs were going off around him. If he could have dug a hole in the stone patio, he would have. Standing in stunned silence, I could see his heart beating like a runaway horse. And my heart just crumbled.

It took loads of patience and coaxing and a strong hand on his collar to lure him inside where he scrambled madly for his ‘cave of comfort’ and quivered in absolute terror. He refused all treats and even a lunchtime snack.

Heartsick at his pain and fright, I was at a total loss on how to deal with him, how to help him. His fear was palatable. What do you do when you’d rather die than face that again? Because I was sure he would have preferred death or anything over having to go back outside.

How long would it take for the roofers to complete their job and how much worse would it get for Ty before then?

Would you like to read more about Ty’s journey? You can find Ryan Jo’s book at Amazon

About the Author

 

Ryan Jo Summers writes romance stories, blending sub-genre elements of sweet, Christian, contemporary, fantasy, mystery, paranormal, shifters or suspense. She is a regular contributing writer for “The Asheville Pet Gazette” and her work has appeared in “WNC Woman Magazine”, “Critter”, “Vet Tech Journal”, “Journey Devotional”, and others.

She lives in a hundred-year-old mountain cottage with a menagerie of adopted animals. A lifelong animal admirer, she is passionate about animal welfare, care, education, and reform. She has worked in the field of animal care and advocacy since the late 1980’s in such capacities as veterinary technician and director of breed-specific rescue. She has served as board officer, foster home, and volunteer for many non-profit groups. She also operated a professional boarding kennel and worked in a horse stable. More recently, she pet sits and dog walks.

You can connect with Ryan Jo at her Website: http://www.ryanjosummers.com/

Blog: http://www.summersrye.wordpress.com/ and http://www.adogcalledty.wordpress.com/

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2tILSkf

A Writer’s Garden–A Writer’s Garden Designed by Another by Donna Schlachter

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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 Donna Schlachter with a garden devotional and some incredible flower pictures from Peru. Welcome, Donna!

 

A Writer’s Garden Designed by Another

By Donna Schlachter

I love gardens.

Or actually, I love flowers. And I could spend hours taking pictures of flowers. Everywhere I go, there are bound to be photos of plants and flowers and sometimes even insects and birds mixed in with my other landscape pictures that I take for setting inspiration, or jumbled in with the three museums I visited that day, or simply set off by themselves because that’s what I felt like doing.

Flowers make me happy. No matter if they are buds, or in full bloom, or torn by hail, or chewed by insects, or nibbled by deer, or droopy with heat, or ready to be dead-headed—I am fascinated by the broad spectrum of designs and colors evident in creation.

I figure only a truly creative God could have come up with all those kinds of flowers and plants.

Recently my husband and I joined nine others from our church on a missions trip to Peru.  While there, I took lots of pictures of flowers and other plants.

Some were breathtaking.

Some were extraordinary.

Some were weeds in the grass …

while others were trophy-winners.

All were created by the same God for a specific purpose. To feed a bird. To house a bug. To nourish the soil. To eat a pest.

Which reminds me of how creative and loving a God we serve. He designed all the beauty we see around us every day for a purpose. And He created you and me for a special purpose, too. He loved us and knew us before we were even conceived (Jeremiah 1:5). And not only did He know us, but He already had His plans for us, and He set us apart as special for His use.

Sometimes I have a difficult time imagining what God sees in me. I struggle with what His plans are for me. What His good plans for me might consist of.

But I trust His word. So I rest in His garden, enjoying His creativity, while I wait on Him.

 

About the Writer/Gardener

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime; facilitates a critique group, and teaches writing classes. Donna ghostwrites and edits, and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management. Connect with Donna at http://www.historythrutheages.wordpress.com/

Bouquet of Brides Romance Collection

Meet seven American women who were named for various flowers but struggle to bloom where God planted them. Can love help them grow to their full potential?

A rough-and-tumble cowgirl, “Cactus” Lil Duncan longs for true love, but is afraid to let down her prickly exterior when a city slicker from New York City, with less-than-honorable intentions, tries to win her heart and her hand.

You can find Bouquet of Brides Romance Collection, containing Donna’s novella A Prickly Affair, at Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Writers Welcomes Theresa Lynn Hall

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Today Wednesday Writers welcomes Theresa Lynn Hall to the blog. Theresa will be talking about her book Ransom in Rio and how it came about. She also has a cliffhanger excerpt, so be sure to read to the end. Welcome, Theresa!

 

Thanks, Catherine.

Ransom in Rio was so much fun to write that I hated to write “The End”. What started as a small idea rolling around in my head suddenly became Lexi’s story. My publisher, Pelican Book Group, put a request for submissions page on the website asking for novellas with international settings that include 3 items and a passport. The three items for Rio, Brazil were an emerald necklace, a formal event, and a family secret. As luck would have it, my husband had just returned on a business trip from Rio. He’d spent two weeks there completely immersed in the culture. He brought back a lot of pictures and many stories to tell. He also brought back coffee and chocolate—my favorites! I wish I had been able to accompany my husband on his trip, but one thing he did tell me was how scary the driving is! Apparently, I would fit very well in Brazil with my driving skills! He was also there on Easter Sunday and decided to rent a car to drive to visit Christ the Redeemer.

I had no idea how massive the statue really is. It’s an iconic symbol of Brazil that many tourists visit on Easter. I was so jealous but I loved that he was able to experience something so amazing. His pictures made me feel like I was able to be there with him.

With my husband’s help, a little internet research, and some brainstorming the story came to life. To my surprise, it won First Place in the 2017 International Digital Awards (IDA) Contest for the Oklahoma chapter of RWA! I hope you enjoy reading Ransom in Rio as much I enjoyed writing it.

 

 ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Ransom in Rio

By Theresa Lynn Hall

Private Investigator, Braden McCoy wants nothing more than to finish out the week doing a little fishing from his boat. The ex-special ops vet enjoys his peaceful life and loves his new career. He’s learned to put his past behind him and enjoy his blessings. Until a mourning redhead walks into his office and changes his plans.

Lexi Ramos always knew her family was dysfunctional. Until the sudden death of her brother, she never knew exactly how much. Consumed with questions surrounding his accident, she seeks the help of a private investigator. What starts out as a murder investigation in Cozumel, quickly crosses borders and escalates into a race against time to save them both from Brazilian kidnappers, who somehow know more about her family secrets than she does. Lexi soon realizes that life comes with a price.

 

Excerpt

Her worst nightmare had come to life.

Now, the fear of what she would do if it ever happened was over, but the loss of her brother came with a burden she hadn’t foreseen. It left her to deal with her family alone. To carry the legacy. To protect the empire. To convince everyone to believe the lies.

“He was always so careful,” she muttered to herself as she drove.

Snow had started falling as the last “Amen” was said at the cemetery. The heavy white powder made the pale yellow lines on the road fade in and out of sight. Lexi tugged her sweater tighter around her body with one hand and gripped the steering wheel with the other. The funeral had drained her of what little emotional strength she had left. It was crazy, but several times throughout the day she’d found herself picking up her phone to see if Jace had messaged her. He used to text or call every day. Silly stuff sometimes, like never walk the dog with no shoes on. Once he’d texted that he had the hiccups.

“I just can’t believe he’s gone.” Lexi glanced at her friend. She didn’t expect Kristy to say anything. Nothing she could say would make the pain go away.

Jace had been the perfect big brother, Lexi’s best friend. From an early age, they learned that sticking together in a dysfunctional family was their only hope. One thing Lexi knew for certain was that Jace wouldn’t leave her here alone. He would not have put himself in danger for a stupid fishing trip. His chance to break free of their crazy family was finally around the corner. He’d just bought his girlfriend an engagement ring. They had plans to move to New York as soon as the wedding was over. Now he was gone. None of it made any sense. Why was she the only person who could see that something was wrong with ruling the cause of death as accidental?

Lexi brushed at her red hair with a careless hand and caught a glimpse of her swollen, blue eyes in the rearview mirror. She hardly resembled her brother at all—a fact that had always bothered her, but she’d never questioned it the way Jace had. He had always asked where he’d gotten his blonde hair.

“Lexi, why don’t you stay with me tonight?”

The sound of Kristy’s voice startled her. “I’m sorry. I’m really out of it.” She smiled and wiped a stray tear from her cheek. “Thank you for everything. You’ve done more than enough for me over the past few days.”

“You know I’m always here.”

“I know.” She swallowed hard. “Kristy…”

“What’s wrong?”

“I can’t stop thinking…I just don’t think this was an accident. It couldn’t be. Jace didn’t even like to fish. He wouldn’t charter a boat to go fishing in Cozumel. He liked nice restaurants, museums, theaters. Not fishing. And then there’s the fact that he didn’t take Selena with him. He always had Selena with him. Why doesn’t anyone else seem to think this is odd?”

“I don’t know. Now that you bring it up, Jace wasn’t much of a risk-taker.”

“Exactly. The strangest thing is that Selena said he told her he would be back in an hour. He only left for one hour. Who charters a fishing boat for only an hour?”

“Did Selena tell you why he didn’t take her?”

“She didn’t say, and I didn’t want to ask her a lot of questions. Not yet.”

Kristy nodded. “I saw her today. She’s really not handling this well.”

“No one is.” She pulled into Kristy’s driveway. It was a relief to be off the snowy roads.

No matter how she looked at this, her brother’s death could not have been an accident. Somehow, she would prove that he didn’t drown on a fishing trip. She would prove Jace was murdered.

***

Going back to work hadn’t been easy. Jace’s empty office was a constant reminder of her loss. Somehow, she’d made it through the first day and knew her brother would be proud of her. Now that she was home, a hot bubble bath and early bedtime sounded like a great ending to a long day.

She stopped at the mailboxes. It had been days since she’d checked her mail. Unlocking the box, she frowned when a manila envelope fell to the concrete. She groaned as she bent to pick it up. All the stress and lack of working out was beginning to take its toll. As her eyes scanned the writing on the front of the envelope, a chill raced down her spine, and her free hand flew to her mouth to stifle the guttural sound working its way out. She stared at her name scribbled in blue ink.

In Jace’s handwriting.

Her keys fell from her hands and jingled against the sidewalk. She fought to steady herself as she studied the postmark. It was dated this Thursday. A day after his funeral.

Lexi scrambled to pick up her keys and unlock the door. She stumbled inside and fell into the nearest chair. Her vision blurry with tears, she studied the handwriting. Touching her name, she traced the L.

“Oh, Jace…” she whispered.

She pulled open the envelope, reached in, and pulled out a flash drive. Was that it? No note? No explanation?

A flash drive? She ran to the bedroom, slid into the black leather office chair at her desk, and flipped open her laptop. She stared at the small piece of plastic as she waited for the computer to boot up. Her hand shook as she plugged it in.

Ten minutes later, she stood staring into the bathroom mirror gripped by nausea. She covered her face with a cold, wet towel. Her worst fears were coming true. And she needed help.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Want to read more? Check Ransom in Rio out at

www.barnesandnoble.com

www.kobo.com

http://www.pelicanbookgroup.com/

www.amazon.com.

 About the Author:

As a native Texan, Theresa loves to write suspenseful stories that happen in small Texas towns with old fashioned Southern values. She’s an elementary teacher and mom to two boys—the oldest being in law enforcement, which comes in handy when she’s researching. When she’s not teaching kids or writing, she loves to cook, read a good suspense, and binge-watch episodes of Dateline. She is a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America) and ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). She actively promotes fellow Christian Fiction authors on her blog. She also loves to hear from readers who enjoy Christian Fiction and can be found at http://www.theresalynnhall.com,  Facebook, and @theresalynnhall.

 

 

 

www.barnesandnoble.com

www.kobo.com

www.pelicanbookgroup.com

 

 

A Writer’s Garden–A Work in Progress by June Foster

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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 June Foster. June will be sharing her new garden, currently in progress, with us. Welcome, June!

 

A Work in Progress

My husband and I moved into our new house in January, months from the growing season in Cullman, Alabama. Now that it’s summer, we’ve worked hard to get a yard started. In reality, I should say, my husband has worked hard in planning the landscape and getting the plants into the ground. I helped with the fun part—the trips to the nursery to pick out which flowers and trees I love.

Regretfully in the front yard near the house, all the bushes the builder planted died, and the straw molded. So we redid the area. We added a fountain and bench, a covering of lava rock, stepping stones, a Chinese maple, an azalea plant, and some leafy green bushes. I’m exciting about sharing the before and after pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My husband loves to create brick circles around the trees and mailbox. They look symmetrical and offer a great space to add flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The backyard was a challenge. The land sloped up, and the vacant lots on either side were filled with weeds.

First we put up a privacy fence. Then we got a surprise. The fencing guys had to drill down at about four feet to cut through rock on one side so they could install the posts. Who knew what was only a few feet underground.

Now we had a fence and grass and nothing else. A blank slate. My husband envisioned a garden of sorts along the back fence filled with bushes, crape myrtle, and pots of flowers. The end result looks simple, but it represents hours of work.

 

Our yard so far is only a beginning. Landscaping can cost a lot, even when we’re doing much of it without help. So, we’ll be content with what we have now. Next spring I’d love to add another row along the back, to provide the tiered effect, which will require more bricks and many more plants. Too, I’d love to add lots more trees in the backyard and some in the front.

I don’t mind the wait. It gives us opportunity to dream and plan. Happy gardening, all.

 

About the Writer/Gardener

June Foster writes contemporary Christian romance appropriate for ages eighteen to ninety. She writes with a Christian worldview in each story where characters overcome obstacles in their lives through the Lord and His Word.

Though June hasn’t done a lot of gardening through the years, working on the yard in her new house has kindled that interest.

June’s link: junefoster.com

Flawless

by June Foster

 

Though Jess Colton gave his life to the Lord, he held onto an old habit. Fueled by alcohol, he spent a night with a girl from his past, defying his Christian principles. When he quit drinking to honor God, he discovered another addiction. Now he can’t manage his own life as his weight soars and diabetes threatens to claim him. Jess is baffled when the beautiful Holly Harrison declares her love.

Holly Harrison lived to please herself. But everything caught up with her in one moment of time when a destructive motorcycle accident altered her life forever. Nowhere else to turn, she looked to God for answers. Now, she’s convinced no Christian man would be attracted to her. She doesn’t plan on falling in love with the handsome Jess Colton seeing past his bulk to the godly, tender man within. When Jess drives a wedge between them, she loses hope of a future together.

Can Holly overcome her handicap? Can Jess find control over his eating and his life? Only God has the answer.

Find Flawless at Amazon