Welcome Laura Conner Kestner

Please join me in welcoming my friend, Laura Conner Kestner!

pic.jpg After 25 years in community journalism, Laura Conner Kestner embarked on a career in inspirational fiction. Laura is a proud seventh-generation Texan. Born in Fort Worth, she now lives in central Texas. She is happily married to the “boy next door” and they have two daughters, two wonderful sons-in-law, and five grandchildren. She’s thankful for God’s grace, her family, and an opportunity to do the work she loves. Laura is a 2016 ACFW Genesis Award winner, 2016 ACFW First Impressions winner, 2016 SWFRW/RWA Joyce Henderson Contest winner, a 2016 NWH/RWA Lone Star Writer’s Contest finalist (second place), a 2016 SARA Emma Merritt contest winner, a winner in the RWA/KOD 2017 Daphne du Maurier award for excellence in mystery suspense, a 2017 Maggie finalist, and winner in the inspirational category of the 2017 RWA Southern Magic Linda Howard contest. Laura was also a 2017 GOLDEN HEART® finalist, and a double finalist in 2018. Her novel Remember Texas was published in October.

Today, we’re talking about Laura’s debut novel, Remember Texas.

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Abigail Horton’s life is turned upside down during the last night of a week-long revival when her father—believed dead—shows up in the custody of a Texas Ranger. Abby is thrilled to see him, and equally devastated to learn he’s been living the life of an outlaw.                                    

Texas Ranger Caleb Calhoun stops in Moccasin Rock to let his prisoner, Bob Horton, visit briefly with family before transporting him to Austin for trial. Caleb takes a room at the family’s boarding house, planning to be in and out of the small town by morning. But within hours he’s kissed Abby Horton, made an enemy of her naïve suitor, and let his prisoner escape.  

As Caleb searches for the missing outlaw, and Abby struggles to keep the man’s whereabouts a secret, they also battle a growing attraction to each other. 

Throw in a Calhoun family mystery, an elderly preacher on a mission, an old flame of Caleb’s, a secretive spinster, a team of surveyors, and Abby’s mother and brother—and you have a compelling story of faith, family and forgiveness.

Friends, grab a chair and hang with us as Laura shares insights about Remember Texas.

Laura, First thank you for visiting!!

Thank you, Sharee! I’m thrilled to be here!

  1. Okay, before we begin, your debut Remember Texas has the most fascinating cover! Did you have any input on the design?

Yes, I had several images in mind for my cover, including a church, a Texas Ranger badge, a gun, and a train, and I was thrilled when the designer worked each of them in. I fell in love at first sight.

  1. You have a background in journalism? Tell us about that.

For twenty-five years I worked in community journalism, which just means I worked for several small town newspapers doing a variety of tasks including writing and photography. It was never boring. I’ve photographed everything from drug busts to structure fires, to kindergarten programs and record-setting produce (biggest melon, etc.) Okay, so sometimes it was boring. But I definitely benefitted from the experience. And I also wrote historical features about Texas, which included outlaws, gun-toting preachers, floods and fires. I loved every minute of it. But through it all, I wanted to write a novel. I had about a dozen partially finished manuscripts when I finally got serious about fiction in 2015.

  1. You have so many amazing accolades and awards. Are they all for Remember Texas?

No, many of them are for Fair Haven, a contemporary romantic suspense. That book is scheduled for release in 2020. And one award is for middle grade fiction. I love to write in different genres.

  1. Did you start with that title?

In a way. I wrote the first part of Remember Texas years and years ago, then put it in a drawer and moved on to other things. At that time, I was owner/publisher of a (small) regional magazine which had a similar name. It was a publication featuring historical tidbits, photos and stories from my home state. When I started working on this novel again I referred back to my own magazine often for research, and that name just seemed to fit.

  1. What’s been the biggest surprise since becoming a published author?

The biggest surprise is something that I became aware of before publication (but it’s definitely carried through, post publication) and that’s how incredibly supportive other authors are with advice, inspiration and encouragement. I’m so very grateful, and I’m trying to pay it forward.

  1. You’ve done book signings? What was the most memorable and why?

I’ve done only one official signing, at a nearby library. It was memorable because so many of my friends and family showed up, and I made some new friends. One of the local ladies clubs provided finger foods, and several people brought roses. I was so touched. It was truly a magical day.

  1. What do you hope your readers discover in Remember Texas

That even though God doesn’t promise believers a trouble free life, He does promise to walk through trouble with us. Also, don’t decide you know everything about a person before you get a chance to really know them. Sometimes things are just not what they seem.

  1. Is this a standalone or a series?

It can be enjoyed as a standalone, but there are other books about the Calhoun family. In fact, I started writing the second book in the series before Remember Texas, but then Caleb and Abby’s story just didn’t want to wait. The second one should be out in the next few months.

I’m so grateful Laura stopped by today. Please grab your own copy of Remember Texas. Friends, if you have questions or comments for Laura, please post them below. She’s an amazing lady and we’d love to have you join in our discussion!

 

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I tried to stop…

I never wanted the book to end! The Curse of Misty Wayfair is riveting!

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ISBN-13: 9780764230301 Publisher: Bethany House

Wow. That one word sums up The Curse of Misty Wayfair, the third book by Jaime Jo Wright. This book had me up at night, invaded my dreams, and kept me transfixed within the story.

We’re taken into 1908 and the tale of Thea Reed, a young photographer who specializes in memento mori. When Thea takes pictures for the Coyle family, she finds herself drawn into their sad existence and is mystified to learn about the curse of Misty Wayfair, a ghost said to haunt anyone who gets close to the Coyles.

Present day, Heidi Lane has returned to Pleasant Valley at the behest of her mother and it means facing an overly critical sister and secrets Heidi didn’t know existed. But someone else has been waiting for Heidi’s arrival. Strange occurrences and notes about Heidi’s sanity exceed bothersome and delve into terrifying.

Thea and Heidi search for answers to their own questions while unraveling a legend and trying to survive The Curse of Misty Wayfair.

One more word to describe this book. Outstanding. Worth every second of reading, this book tops my all-time favorites.

New Releases for NOVEMBER

November 2018 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Christmas in Jingle Junction by Tabitha Bouldin — In the small town of Jingle Junction, Holly Winters owns the local coffee shop, Jolly Java. It’s here that she meets Patrick Cooper and promptly throws coffee everywhere. Not only does Patrick not like coffee, he also despises Christmas! It’s up to Holly to show Patrick that Christmas is worth giving a second chance, just as Patrick himself deserves a second chance when he is accused of robbing a local convenience store. In a town full of Christmas spirit, lively debates over the best superhero and riding in a sleigh pulled by actual reindeer is just a normal day. Will Holly be able to prove to Patrick that Christmas is more than a holiday that has to be endured? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

A Picture Perfect Christmas by Candee Fick — Freelance photographers Liz Foster and Ryan Callahan are finally making plans for their future. And what better time to get married than during the festive holiday season that brought them together? If only Liz’s parents weren’t standing in the way of a picture-perfect wedding. Spurred on by the ghosts of Christmases past, Dan Foster has already written Liz out of his will, so even attending the wedding—let alone walking his daughter down the aisle—is out of the question. However, this is the season for miracles and Ryan will do anything to make his bride smile. What will it take to bring this family back together in time for the wedding? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter — When his secret crush joins a dating website, Jack takes a leap of faith and soon becomes Daisy’s online suitor. But when they begin growing closer in real life also, Jack finds himself with an unexpected dilemma. Is Daisy falling for the real Jack or for the online version of himself? And how is she going to respond when she finds out they’re one and the same? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

A Merry Miracle in Romance by Melanie D. Snitker — Baxter Reid returns to his hometown of Romance, eager to see his childhood crush. Unfortunately, Savannah hasn’t forgotten all the ways he used to tease her back then. He’s got his work cut out for him if he’s going to get a second chance. Savannah Miller avoids Baxter and the embarrassing childhood memories he evokes…until he apologizes and suggests a truce. Now what is she supposed to do? Only time will tell whether the spirit of Christmas in Romance is enough to transform a grudging relationship into true love. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

I Still Do by Melanie D. Snitker — What’s worse than running into your ex-husband? Becoming snowbound with him and an avalanche of memories you can’t escape. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Contemporary/Women’s Fiction:

A Southern Season by Eva Marie Everson, Claire Fullerton, Ane Mulligan, and Linda Yezak — Four seasons. Four stories. Each one set in the enchanting world of the South. These are the kinds of stories your grandmother told you from a front porch swing. (Women’s Fiction from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Historical:

Second Chances by Carol Ashby — A widowed father, still grieving the loss of his wife and child, and a devoted mother, who leaves behind everything she’s ever known to rescue her daughter from the ex-husband who would hurt her, are first drawn together by their love for her little girl, but God has much more for them than either could have imagined. (Historical, Cerrillo Press)

Historical Mystery:

Murder of Convenience by Linda Shenton Matchett — May 1942: Geneva Alexander flees Philadelphia and joins the USO to escape the engagement her parents have arranged for her, only to wind up as the number one suspect in her betrothed’s murder investigation. Diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, she must find the real killer before she loses her sight…or is convicted for a crime she didn’t commit. (Historical Mystery, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection by Lena Nelson Dooley, Rebecca Jepson, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Candice Sue Patterson, Kathleen Rouser, Pegg Thomas, and Marilyn Turk — Along the Great Lakes, America’s inland seas, lighthouses played a vital role in the growth of our nation. They shepherded settlers traveling by water to places that had no roads. These beacons of light required constant tending even in remote and often dangerous places. Brave men and women battled the elements and loneliness to keep the lights shining. Their sacrifice kept goods and immigrants moving. Seven romances set between 1883 and 1911 at Great Lakes Lighthouses bring hope to the lonely lighthouse keepers and love to weary hearts. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Musket in My Hands by Sandra Merville Hart — Two sisters have no choice but to disguise themselves as men to muster into the Confederate army in the fall of 1864–just in time for things to go very badly for the Southerners at the Battle of Franklin. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Uncharted Journey by Keely Brooke Keith — Young widow Eva Vestal assumes loneliness is God’s permanent plan for her life. She keeps busy by raising her son and co-managing the Inn at Falls Creek with her elderly father, but her heart yearns for more. Solomon “Solo” Cotter has spent his life working with horses, but he secretly wants to write a book of the children’s stories his grandfather told him as a boy. He barters with Eva’s father for a 40-night stay at the inn, a needed respite from work to get his stories on paper. Once Eva discovers the barter, she believes Solo is taking advantage of her father’s failing memory. But when tragedy strikes and Solo works hard to save the inn, Eva sees his true nature. As her heart stirs with feelings for Solo, she wrestles with the guilt of loving someone new. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Snow Angel by Davalynn Spencer — Lena Carver works as her physician brother’s medical assistant, housekeeper, and cook. Maimed in a childhood accident at Christmas, she believes she is beyond love’s reach—until a dark-eyed cowboy arrives broken, bruised, and bent on changing her mind. Wil Bergman wakes in a stranger’s home with a busted leg and a bullet-creased scalp. Trail-weary, robbed, and penniless, he is at the mercy of a country doctor whose sister’s healing touch has power to stitch up his heart and open his eyes to the impossible. (Historical Romance from Wilson Creek Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Tell Her No Lies by Kelly Irvin — After Nina Fischer is accused of murdering her uncle and adopted father, she must unlock deadly family secrets in order to clear her name and learn to trust love again. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

North by Starlight by Diane and David Munson — Attorney Madison Stone hurries to help her client Jordan Star defeat a mysterious relative who claims a share in his inheritance, and during the Christmas season Maddie learns to leave past regrets behind her, embrace the warmhearted people of Starlight, and dig deep to find her true heart. (Romantic Suspense from Micah House Media)

Her Deadly Reunion by Beth Ann Ziarnik — What will it cost an estranged daughter when she meets her birth father at his home and discovers it’s a dangerous place to mix past and present? (Romantic Suspense from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Speculative:

Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse — When the new Lady of Ravenwood inherits her family’s secret gift of dreamwalking, she discovers a dark history. Women in her family have been wielding the gift to preserve her family’s legacy—through assassinations. She’s determined to find the true reason behind the gift, convinced there must be a more noble purpose. But she’s torn about upholding her family’s legacy–a legacy that supports her people. What will she do when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations–but who is also prophesied to bring about the downfall of her own house? One path holds glory and power and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and likely death. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen? (High Fantasy from Bethany House [Baker])

Thriller/Suspense:

Stratagem by Robin Caroll — Psychologist Grayson Thibodeaux creates mind-bending adventure games for businesses as team-building explorations. When his ex-wife’s company hires Grayson’s for their executive retreat, he doesn’t see how things can get worse. Until she dies during the course of the game he created…making him the prime suspect for murder. (Suspense from Barbour Publishing)

February New Releases

February 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Amish Romance:

Convenient Amish Proposal by Jan Drexler — When Bethany Zook’s childhood friend returns to Indiana Amish country a widower, with an adorable little girl in tow, she’s willing to aid him in any way. But there’s just one thing Andrew Yoder needs – a mother for little Mari. And he seems convinced Bethany is the answer, just as she’s sure any union between them would be one strictly of convenience… Andrew thought Bethany had married another. Now, determined to keep Mari despite his mother-in-law’s interference, he offers Bethany marriage in name only. But she’s quickly becoming more than a housekeeper and a mamm. Can he leave the past behind to claim a family of the heart? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Contemporary Romance:

Ocean’s Edge by Cindy M. Amos — Tired of Kansas, Wynn Yardley places her wish to touch the ocean into Dreams Come True Director Teague Montgomery’s hands, and then launches into an adventure to the seashore with him to discover the tidal zone–and affections for her companion. (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)

Home Another Way by Brenda S. Anderson — Can a senator’s daughter and convict’s son overcome their differences and learn what it really means to love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Love, Lies, and Homemade Pie by Sally Bayless — Cara Smith has a whole new life planned in Abundance, Missouri. If she can just avoid questions from that intriguing guy at the newspaper, no one will ever find out about her past. Will Hamlin, local editor, desperately needs a big story to keep his newspaper afloat, and Cara Smith is clearly hiding something. But after Will’s initial inquiries fail to turn up anything, he grows less interested in Cara’s past and more interested in winning her heart with slices of pie and stolen kisses. When a crime is uncovered at city hall just as Will unearths Cara’s dark secret, the repercussions shatter their romance. Has Cara really left her past behind? Can Will finally find a way to save the paper? And can they each place their trust in God and together find freedom in the truth and overcome the obstacles to their love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Their Family Blessing by Lorraine Beatty — She owns the lodge but he owns the land. When single mom Carly Hughes the Longleaf Lodge, she gains a heap of trouble – her teenage crush Deputy MacKenzie Bridges. Her father left Mack the land around the lodge. While Carly wants to sell for her daughter’s sake. Mack wants to stay for his niece’s. and if they can’t work together, they’ll both lose everything… including the renewed spark between them. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Courting Calla by Hallee Bridgeman — Calla Vaughn is trying to get her life in order so she can go back to culinary school. No matter how hard she works, though, she feels like she is just treading water and can’t see any way out of the hole dug for her by a con artist who stole her identity. When flowers she sends to her best friend with a dinner invitation accidentally get delivered to Ian Jones, she decides to cook him the best meal he’s ever had. By the time she admits that the flowers were never for him, he is as convinced as she is that God orchestrated the mistake in the first place. All that’s left is to tell him the dark secret about her father’s widow. She waits a little too long, though, and is carted off to jail for questioning on felony charges before she gets a chance. Will Ian understand her situation, or will the deception surrounding Calla destroy any trust he has in her? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

A Different Season by Jennifer Heeren — How do you go on when your heart is broken? Twenty-two-year-old Lisette Carter is grief-stricken over her husband’s death—which occurred before she knew she was pregnant. Now in her last trimester, she meets David Baranski, who has a tragic past of his own. He seems to care for Lisette, but she’s not sure she can trust him. Besides, her sorrow and survivor guilt are all she can handle. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

One Thing I Know by Kara Isaac — Rachel Somers, ghost writer for America’s #1 relationship expert, is running out of ideas, but it’s keep up the charade or lose the income required to care for her father. The last thing she needs is her boss’s publicist concocting a scheme to pair her with some radio star in hopes it will spark the next book idea. Lucas Grant didn’t expect his fame on a late-night sports show to come with constant calls from women wanting relationship advice. Which means he has to waste hours on the phone with an expert like Dr. Donna Somerville talking about feelings when he’d rather be talking about his first love: football. Then a deal opens up with a big-time producer who suspects Dr. Somerville isn’t what she seems, and he wants Lucas to discover her secret. To do that, he needs to win over her tight-lipped assistant who holds the key to his success and—he begins to suspect—his heart. Can love find a way through the lies that force them apart? (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

Season of Hope by Lisa Jordan — His dreams can all come true…but only if his ex-wife will agree! Jake Holland’s peaceful dairy farm is a sanctuary—one he wants to share with other worn and weary veterans. He just needs one more piece of land to start his program…and it belongs to Tori Lerner, his ex-wife. A collaboration could benefit them both, but with a past full of secrets between them, is there any hope for renewed love? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Carolina Grace by Regina Rudd Merrick — She knows about God’s grace for her life, but pushes it away. He hasn’t experienced it, but finds grace in a way he never expected. First-year Special Education teacher Charly Livingston demonstrates God’s love on the outside, but is resentful that God allowed back-to-back tragedies in her family. Rance Butler is a top-notch medical intern. He’s on his way to the top, and when he meets Charly, he knows things will only get better. When he discovers family secrets and a dying father he never knew, his easy, carefree life seems to disintegrate. Even in the idyllic ocean breezes and South Carolina sunshine, contentment turns to bitterness and confusion except for God’s amazing grace. (Contemporary Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)

The Street Singer by Kathleen Neely — While planning her own wedding, a law student works to help her favorite recording artist who has fallen on hard times. She finds an attorney who will work pro bono, but will her growing friendship with him come between her and her fiancé? (Contemporary Romance from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Historical Romance:

A Love Most Worthy by Sandra Ardoin — During the Nome, Alaska gold rush of 1900, a merchant sends for a serious-minded bride to help him raise his young nephews but welcomes a cheery and adventuresome woman who tests his determination to hold her at arm’s length. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

When Valleys Bloom Again by Pat Jeanne Davis — After fleeing impending war in England, nineteen-year-old Abby Stapleton works to correct her stammer and to become a teacher in America, only to discover this conflict has no boundaries and that a rejected suitor is intent on destroying her name, fiancé, and fragile faith. (Historical Romance from Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.)

Ladies of Intrigue by Michelle GriepThe Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady, Cornish Coast, 1815: When a prim and proper governess returns to England from abroad, she expects to comfort her dying father—not fall in love with a smuggler. Will Helen Fletcher keep Isaac Seaton’s unusual secret? The Doctor’s Woman (A Carol Award Winner) Dakota Territory, 1862: Emmy Nelson, daughter of a missionary doctor, and Dr. James Clark, city doctor aspiring to teach, find themselves working side by side at Fort Snelling during the Dakota Uprising. That is when the real clash of ideals begins. A House of Secrets, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1890: Ladies Aide Chairman, Amanda Carston resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, starting with the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house that’s secretly owned by her beau—a home that’s his only means of helping brothel girls escape from the hands of the city’s most infamous madam. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Love’s Rescue by Linda Shenton Matchett — Sold by her parents to settle a debt, Rolande Bisset is forced into prostitution. Years later, shunned by her family and most of society, it’s the only way she knows how to subsist. When the Germans overrun Paris, she decides she’s had enough of evil men controlling her life and uses her wiles to obtain information for the Allied forces. Branded a collaborator, her life hangs in the balance. Then an American spy stumbles onto her doorstep. Is redemption within her grasp? Simon Harlow is one of an elite corps of American soldiers. Regularly chosen for dangerous covert missions, he is tasked with infiltrating Paris to ascertain the Axis’s defenses. Nearly caught by German forces moments after arriving, he owes his life to the beautiful prostitute who claims she’s been waiting for the Allies to arrive. Her lifestyle goes against everything he believes in, but will she steal his heart during his quest to liberate her city? Inspired by the biblical story of Rahab, Love’s Rescue is a tale of faith and hope during one of history’s darkest periods. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin — Numbed by grief and harboring shameful secrets, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group in late 1943. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe in treacherous dogfights over France as the Allies struggle for control of the air before the D-day invasion. Violet Lindstrom wants to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment and refreshments for the men of the 357th in the base Aeroclub and sets up programs for local children. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her work and urges him to reconnect with his family after a long estrangement. Despite himself, Adler finds his defenses crumbling when it comes to Violet. But D-day draws near. And secrets can’t stay buried forever. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Mystery:

The Watch On the Fencepost by Kay DiBianca — In a deserted park on a cold winter day, twenty-seven-year-old Kathryn Frasier discovers a gold watch on a fencepost, and she has an ominous sense that it was deliberately left for her to find. But when she identifies the owner of the watch, she uncovers a dark family secret and a suspicion that her parents’ recent deaths may not have been an accident. (Cozy Mystery from CrossLink Christian Publishing)

Coffee Club Mysteries by Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Elizabeth Ludwig, Dana Mentink, Candice Prentice, and Janice Thompson — The coffee shop on the corner of First and Main in Oak Grove, Kansas, seems to attract a series of mysterious events. Or perhaps it is the six women who frequent the shop for book club who are the magnets for trouble. . . . Morgan Butler, owner of the Coffee Perk, finds a project worker hanged at her shop. Evelyn Kliff discovers a church meal organizer dead. Harper Daggett is being stalked for an antique jade owl she bought. Baker Jeanine Gransbury’s charity event money goes missing. Jo Anderson shares hazelnut coffee creamer, sending a man into anaphylaxis shock. Penny Parson finds a gun in one of her beehives. Join them as they unravel six unexplained events that have the potential to ruin business and spoil friendships if not handled with care. (Cozy Mystery from Barbour Publishing)

The Sleuth’s Dilemma by Kimberly Rose Johnson — A high school English teacher’s life is turned upside down when she becomes the object of someone’s anger. (Romantic Mystery from Mountain Brook Ink)

Romantic Suspense:

Restoration of the Heart by June Foster — Leaving his beautiful fiancé’s world of alcohol, parties, and nights at her apartment, Luke Chamberlain returns to his Christian values, rededicates his life to the Lord, and vows never to fall into the lifestyle again. When the state of Idaho’s Tourism Department offers his construction company the contract to renovate Silver Cliff, an 1890’s silver mining ghost town, he accepts. Janie Littleton, project historian at the restoration of Silver Cliff, Idaho–an 1890’s silver mining ghost town–believes no man would find her attractive, with her extra pounds, eye glasses, and mousy brown hair. So when contractor Luke Chamberlain shows an interest in her, she doubts his sincerity. But strange turns to worse when someone claiming to be the miner who founded Silver Cliff in 1890 intimidates her with frightening midnight visits. Can Luke convince Janie he’s in love with the godly woman she is? Can Janie hold onto her faith as she’s harassed by frightening appearances of old Ezra Barclay who died a hundred years ago? (Romantic Suspense from Forget Me Not Romance)

Innocence Denied by Mike Garrett — Derrick Walton, to atone for past sins, helps an Arizona socialite hide out in Alabama while a nation-wide manhunt ensues. Can he help Larissa see the need for her soul’s salvation in time? (Romantic Suspense from CrossLink Publishing)

Speculative:

The Soul Searcher by Erin R. Howard — Elnora’s parents gave her one rule: Stay hidden away at all costs. Elnora Scott is used to her survival depending on the decisions of others. Locked away in her safe house, it is easy to follow her parents’ dying wishes until an angel, demon, and seer show up on her doorstep. Now, waking up in a dirty cell, she wishes she would have gone with them when she had the chance, because the very ones who unknowingly ushered the kidnapper to her location may be the only ones who can save her now. When Thea learns that Elnora may be in danger, she doesn’t hesitate to go find her. Thea thought stepping through the portal would be her greatest obstacle, but it only reveals a more sinister threat. (Urban Fantasy from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Women’s Fiction:

A Vow to Cherish by Deborah Raney — When his precious wife receives a devastating diagnosis, John Brighton feels his world has fallen apart. As Ellen slips away from him day by day, their love is tested as never before. Desperately needing someone to confide in, John meets Julia Sinclair, a young widow who seems to understand his pain as no one else can. Torn between doing what he knows to be right and what his heart tells him surely can’t be wrong, John soon discovers that the heart cannot be trusted where true love is concerned. (Women’s Fiction from Raney Day Press)

Young Adult:

You’re Amazing by Julie Arduini and Hannah Arduini – Middle schooler Jazmin’s a natural at dance until a series of changes make her wonder if she should even keep up with her favorite hobby. Lena’s a mom with young children overwhelmed with her schedule when a woman remarks that what Lena does isn’t even important. Both Jazmin and Lena belong to Linked, a mentoring ministry where all ages encourage each other and build friendships. Can these two surrender the lies they are believing and realize they are amazing? (Young Adult from Surrendered Scribe Media)

Jaime Jo Wright is in the HOUSE!

Friends, I’m beyond excited to share with you that Jaime Jo Wright is in the WordyNerdyBlog house today! Her latest release, The Curse of Misty Wayfair was so outstandingly, fabulously great I might break my rule of “never read the same book more than once” just to read it again! I will add the warning that there were times I had to make sure all the lights in the house were on. Yes, it’s THAT good! I could ramble for hours about this book. But, suffice it to say it has skyrocketed to my Best Top 10 EVER Reads. And if you’re still unsure, here’s my review and an excerpt .

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About The Curse of Misty Wayfair:

Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother—who is battling dementia—compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns—and with it, Heidi’s fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, can they overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined?

READY?? LET’S DO THIS!

Now onto the good stuff. Grab a cup of coffee, hot cocoa, tea…whatever you love best and follow me! You’re not going to want to miss a word of my interview with her.

JaimeJoWrightSHAREE:  Jaime Jo, welcome welcome!!!! I’m so grateful for the chance to talk with you today. The last time I hosted you was during the launch for The House on Foster Hill back in November 2017. So, I’m guessing a lot has happened since that first book. Can you tell us what some of the highs and lows have been since the release of The House on Foster Hill?

JAIME JO: Oh gosh!! There’s so many!! Most of life is filled with highs because, really, in the midst of trial, God has a way of plopping blessing after blessing into your path. Since the release of my first novel, I’ve written three more, I’ve gone on about six different trips throughout the nation, I watched my son graduate Kindergarten, I taught my daughter how to make a latte, we adopted a little rescue kitten who turned out to be a Flamepoint Siamese and my “therapy” cat during a super hard summer of illness, and we made strides in my autoimmune struggles and managed to keep hospital visits to simply visits and not stays!

SHAREE: I’m nodding my head emphatically. I love God’s faithfulness in those trials. He shows up on time, every time and his shoulders are so broad. What a compassionate Savior we have! Friends, you’ve got to see this beautiful kitty that Jaime Jo is talking about. Check out her Facebook page!

SHAREE: The Curse of Misty Wayfair is book three (and no spoilers here) but friends I’ve gotta tell you, it’s…wowzers! It’s fantabulous! I was pleased to see your quote from Nellie Bly as the book opens. I find her fascinating, but for those who may not know a lot about Nellie Bly, could you share a little bit about what attracted you to her story?

JAIME JO: For sure! Nellie Bly was truly a woman not of her time. She was a journalist in the late 1800’s which in and of itself, would technically be enough to raise brows. But she also had suspicions of the abuse that went on behind closed doors in asylums, so she took it on herself to be admitted to an institution for 10 days. It was a breakthrough, undercover investigation from which she narrowly escaped not being rescued from. As sane as she was, the doctors and nurses firmly believed she suffered from a mental illness (all without Nellie acting!). After her release, Nellie wrote an expose titled “Ten Days in a Madhouse”, and while not 21st century politically correct terminology today, it was taken very seriously (as it should have been) then. It was after her expose, that things began to change in asylums. Slowly. But change, they did.

SHAREE: She was an amazing lady with lion-like courage. Just goes to prove it only takes one person to start change. May we all be so bold to help those hurting.

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SHAREE: I loved that you addressed depression which is much more common today than it was in poor Thea’s time, but still an area of misconceptions. What is the message you hope readers gain from The Curse of Misty Wayfair in respect to depression?

JAIME JO: This is a sticky-wicket of a conversation for me. For some reason, it seems to be a point of contention, specifically in the world of faith. I think often, those of us struggling with depression or anxiety are challenged to pray more, read the Bible more, increase our faith more, etc. While those elements are ridiculously important, they’re that way for anyone–not just someone with a mental illness. There’s a stigma of weakness–mental weakness–that surrounds depression and/or anxiety, when in fact, there’s much to prove it can be chemical, hormonal, genetic, etc. I know not everyone will agree with me, but I firmly believe that while God allows some of us to bear that thorn in the side, He also provides relief to us through the miracle of modern medicine and psychology. As fellow friends, family, and Believers, showing grace and not challenging the authenticity of the sufferer’s faith, is so critical!!

SHAREE: You’ve got my AMEN, and I’m so glad you’re boldly speaking out on the matter. There is no shame in depression. I love that God uses everything, even those thorns to help others.

SHAREE: Memento mori is another interesting topic and you wove it into the story with great finesse. To the modern reader, this is something that might be morbid. What would you say to that person to explain the logic behind Memento Mori?

JAIME JO: The logic behind these types of photographs truly was to freeze in time the last memory of a loved one. It was never meant to be morbid or “gothic”, but rather a keepsake–a treasure! Many held it dear to themselves much like they would a lock of hair or a piece of clothing. To remember, to feel close to, and to never forget the ones who had gone before.

SHAREE: In a world of social media and selfies, this actually makes a lot of sense.

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SHAREE: As a new writer, I still struggle to balance home (family, household things, etc.) with work and writing. What advice would you give to someone like me who is still trying to juggle everything and write?

JAIME JO: Best piece of advice I can give is to stop looking for ideal time to write. There’s something in every writer that wants stretches of time to ponder, type, edit, ponder, type, and ponder some more. But in reality, if you wait for those times between the normalcy of life, you’re going to maybe get one chance a month to write. If you’re lucky! So, as a writer who works full time, has two kids in school, juggles church responsibilities, and has an autoimmune disease, I’ve learned to “sprint write”. Writing in 10-15 chunks of time, maybe 4-6 times a day. Lunch break, on my phone while I’m waiting in a parking lot for school to let out, etc. It’s not ideal, but if you truly have a passion to write and tell stories, you’ll push forward with whatever time you have. Waiting for inspiration, a perfect setting, silence . . . it’s not typically realistic. I wince, because I love it. LOL! But it’s just not realistic. LOL.

SHAREE: I think that’s great advice. For all or nothing thinkers like me, it lets us off the hook of believing we have to have entire days to write. Do what you can, WHENEVER you can and get those words in. Love it!

SHAREE: Do you struggle to find topics to write about or are you bubbling over with story ideas all of the time?

JAIME JO: Oh gosh. I think I have at least twenty more books in my head as we speak!

SHAREE: Well as a huge fan of your books, I can’t tell you how relieved I am to know I’ll be reading more Jaime Jo Wright books for years to come!

SHAREE: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about The Curse of Misty Wayfair?

JAIME JO: That’s it’s not your typical “ghost” story. I know some readers are very hesitant because of the “ghostly” elements, but I encourage you to pick it up anyway. You may find that it’s very easy to reconcile your beliefs to the curse that is Misty Wayfair. 😉

SHAREE: OOOOH yes! (she says grinning conspiratorially). The Curse of Misty Wayfair DOES NOT disappoint.

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ISBN-13: 9780764230301 Publisher: Bethany House

Jaime Jo, thank you so much for joining me today! Friends grab a copy and leave a comment if you’d like to be entered in the drawing for ONE copy of The Curse of Misty Wayfair. (US ONLY)

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FOLLOW JAIME JO:

Web site: www.jaimejowright.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jaimejowright

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaimejowright

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/jaimejowright

Instagram: www.Instagram.com/jaimejowright

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/13916081.Jaime_Jo_Wright

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Jaime-Jo-Wright/e/B01421H0JQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

 

Interview with Author Laurie Wood

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Publisher: Anaiah Press ASIN: B07K8SLZVS

Thank you so much for joining us today! I can’t wait for you to meet my friend, Laurie Wood as she talks to us about her romantic suspense debut Northern Exposure.

Here’s the book blurb:

Reunions can be deadly.

 After a savage attack in university, Kira Summers fled to the safety of northern Canada and her work as a polar bear scientist. But when her whistleblower brother dies in a mysterious car crash, she must return home to bury him and pack his belongings. Unaware she’s carrying explosive evidence someone’s willing to kill for, she has no choice but to rely on the one person she never thought she’d see again. 

Lukas Tanner, a widowed single father of a special needs toddler, moved to Churchill five years ago. As the proud owner of Guiding Star Enterprises, a wilderness tour company, he and his daughter lead a simple life. But when Kira comes crashing back into his world, he realizes God has other plans. Now, Lukas and Kira must confront a merciless killer as their past and present collide in a deadly race—a race they must win if they have any hope of a future together.

 

Please welcome Laurie Wood:laurie-wood-for-screen-1211

SHAREE This book has some wonderful information about polar bears. Being an animal lover it immediately caught my attention. I don’t want to give any spoilers but I’ve gotta ask…How did you know about polar bear jail? Are there really attacks in town? Have you seen polar bears in the wild?

LAURIE These are all great questions! I learned a lot about polar bears researching for this book. They’re fascinating creatures. The “Polar Bear Jail” is what the people of Churchill call the facility. Its official title is the “Polar Bear Holding Facility” and they keep the bears locked up there with water but no food until they’re released back into the wild. They don’t want the bears to associate food with humans in any way. The bears are either airlifted miles north via helicopter, like in my book, or out onto the sea ice once it’s solid on Hudson Bay, so they can’t return to town.

The most well-known attack in town was November 1, 2013 when a woman was attacked by a male polar bear around 5 a.m. when she and some friends were walking home from a Halloween party. The bear had her by the head and was throwing her around like a rag doll. A 69-year-old man saw it happening from his front window and rushed outside with his shovel to help. The bear then turned on him and attacked him as well. The two of them survived but were gravely injured and had to be airlifted down to Winnipeg. They awarded the man the Canadian Star of Courage for his bravery in saving the 30-year-old woman. Other attacks have been less injurious, but the town is built on the bear’s migratory path and in the middle of their territory so it’s a tenuous human-animal relationship.

The town follows a rigorous “Polar Bear Alert Program” where everyone is encouraged to call a phone number to report any bear seen near town or in town 24/7. It’s an emergency line and is staffed that way. Staff with go out to check on the bear and its location. Natural Resources Officers follow up as well. People use air horns, paint balls, rubber bullets, cracker shells, pepper spray, etc. when dealing with bears they encounter. But the best thing is to avoid them entirely. A polar bear is bigger than a human, faster than a human, and unlike a black bear or grizzly, they will kill you not just maul you if they get you down on the ground.

I’ve never seen one in the wild although we plan on going to Churchill together. My husband has been there several times with his military career, so I was working with his hundreds of photos for my reference. We have six Churchill polar bears here in our Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg though. They’ve been brought here because they were either orphaned or had human-animal encounters and it was decided that they wouldn’t be able to fend for themselves in the wild. Polar bears don’t mature until they’re about four years old. If they lose their mothers before that they won’t survive.

SHAREE You tackle the tough topic of rape in such a careful and considerate way. What was the hardest part of including such a delicate topic in your story?

LAURIE  It was important to me to balance out Kira and Lukas’s story and bring them both full circle. My publisher, Anaiah Press, liked the fact that I did the reveal through Lukas’s point of view. I wanted it to be part of his own character growth and his spiritual growth. I think the reality is that most men who are married to or are going out with anyone who’s been the victim of a sexual assault, struggle with it and hurt deeply, and as a society we don’t pay enough attention to that aspect of how rape culture affects us.

When I was a police officer, I dealt with a horrendous case of a woman who suffered a rape through a home invasion. Her husband was away on a business trip and her teenage son was tied up and gagged before her assailant trashed the house and then violently attacked her. And her biggest fear was how her husband would react to her being raped—that he would now reject her.

She wasn’t the only sexual assault victim I dealt with and that was a common theme. So, when I made this Kira’s deep secret I knew her shame of not being perfect for Lukas anymore would tie in just right with him needing to learn that his shallow, materialistic view of life as a rich kid wasn’t what God wanted from him either.

My goal in writing this story was to write a high-action suspense story with a good love story. But I also wanted to write about an issue that many women share and to say: “God’s got you. You are safe now. If this happened to you, it wasn’t your fault.”

SHAREE  Will we see Kira, Sophie and Lukas in book two?

LAURIE  Book 2 is the story of Ben Koper, who’s mauled by the polar bear and he and Lukas are best friends, so I think they’ll make an appearance. I’m not sure how much will remain in the book once final edits are done, so I can’t promise anything!

SHAREE Tell us about book two and when does it release?

LAURIE I don’t want to give out too many spoilers, but Ben has to deal with PTSD after his attack and the uncertainty of whether he will be able to recover and use his right arm again. His life revolves around being a police officer, and he doesn’t want to do anything else. His past will catch up to him as well. When it will release, I have no idea but I’m hoping next year!

SHAREE I loved the way you addressed Kira’s uncertainty about how to treat and talk to Sophie. I have an adult niece who has Down Syndrome, so this was a touching part of your story for me as well. What advice would you give to someone meeting a child with Down’s versus meeting an adult with Down’s?

LAURIE Whenever you meet anyone with a disability, I’d say the best thing to do is look them in the eye, smile at them, and talk to them directly. Don’t raise your voice as if they’re deaf (you’d be amazed at how often people do that!) and don’t talk down to them. A child with Down’s is just that—a child—so speak to them as a child. When you meet an adult with Down’s then introduce yourself by first name and ask them what their name is… you’ll be able to tell by how they respond to you verbally how well they can speak, but that won’t tell you anything about them cognitively.

My son and daughter both have Down Syndrome. And they speak much less than they can understand. We don’t “discuss” important things around them because they have the memories of elephants! But if you judged them on how they put a five word sentence together, you’d never know that they can memorize twelve months of birthdays, travel vacations, and Mom’s weekend retreats!

 

LAURIE THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING HERE TODAY!!!

Thank you so much for having me, Sharee! It’s been wonderful visiting your blog.

 

Friends, don’t delay! Get your copy of Northern Deception!

About the Author:

Laurie Wood is a military wife who’s lived across Canada and visited six of its ten provinces. She and her husband have raised two wonderful children with Down Syndrome to adulthood, and their son and daughter are a wonderful blessing to their lives. Over the years, Laurie’s books have finaled in prestigious contests such as the Daphne du Maurier (twice), the TARA, the Jasmine, and the Genesis. Her family lives in central Canada with a menagerie of rescue dogs and cats. If the house were bigger, no doubt they’d have more.

Website:  https://www.lauriewoodauthor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lauriewoodreadersgroup

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/LaurieJeanWood

 

 

 

January 2019 New Releases

January 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Amish Romance:

Seasons of an Amish Garden by Amy Clipston — Enjoy a year of beautiful seasons in this new story collection, as young Amish couples manage a community garden and harvest friendships and love along the way. (Amish Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Courting Her Prodigal Heart by Mary Davis — Pregnant and alone, Dori Bontrager is sure her Amish kin won’t welcome her—or the child she’s carrying—into the community. And she’s determined that her return won’t be permanent. As soon as she finds work, she’ll leave again. But with her childhood friend Eli Hochstetler insisting she and her baby belong here, will Dori’s path lead back to the Englisher world…or into Eli’s arms? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Contemporary Romance:

Her Hope Discovered by Cynthia Herron — Charla Winthrop, a savvy business woman seeking a permanent lifestyle change in small-town Ruby, Missouri, learns that things aren’t always what they appear when she takes up residence in a house steeped in charm and a hint of mystery. Rumor has it that Sam Packard the town carpenter is her go-to guy for home remodeling, but can Charla convince him to help her—with no strings attached, of course? Alone far too long, Sam’s prayed that God would send him a wife and a mother for his daughters. However, the new Ruby resident is hardly what he imagined. A new place to call “home,” the possibility of what might be, and the answer to someone’s prayers unite this unlikely pair with the help of the town’s residents. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Cozy Mystery:

Murderous Heart by Lynne Waite Chapman — Freelance writer, Lauren Halloren pens popular magazine articles extoling the comfort and security of small town America. And Evelynton, Indiana treasures its wholesome small town values. Ask anyone. Streets are safe to walk. People look out for one another. Marriage vows are treasured. Murders are solved. In this third volume of the Evelynton Murder series, Lauren, along with friends, Clair and Anita stumble over another body. The partially mummified remains turn out to be an Evelynton resident. But how, in this close knit community, could a woman be deceased for over six months without being missed? (Cozy Mystery from Winged Publications)

Historical Romance:

My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream by Pepper Basham — Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins is uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Homeward Journey by Misty M. Beller — Finally free from her dead husband’s addicted lifestyle, Rachel Gray and her young son set out for a new life in the wilderness of the Canadian territories. She is reluctant to accept help from another man, but after a bear threatens her son’s life, she agrees to accompany two God-fearing brothers who are traveling to the same area. Slowly, she begins to trust the one named Seth. Despite Rachel’s best efforts, she can’t seem to fight her attraction to Seth—until a secret from his past proves he had more in common with her husband than she thought. When a new peril threatens her son’s life, she must choose between trusting in what she can control, or the man who her heart says is trustworthy, no matter his previous sins. The path she chooses just may determine whether she can step into the new life God has in store for them all. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Stepping into the Light by Candee Fick — With war looming and a madwoman in their midst, the only hope for a peaceful future may lie in a marriage alliance between a disfigured recluse of the Gunn clan and the overlooked second son of Clan Sinclair. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Under the Midnight Sun by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse — Tayler Hale is ahead of her time as one of the first women naturalists. She has always loved adventure and the great outdoors, and her remote job location also helps keep her away from the clutches of the man to whom she once made a foolish promise. It seems she must keep running, however, and in secret, her boss from Yellowstone arranges for a new job . . . in Alaska. The popular Curry Hotel continues to thrive in 1929 as more visitors come to Alaska and venture into the massive national park surrounding Denali. Recent graduate Thomas Smith has returned to the hotel and the people he considers family. But when a woman naturalist comes to fill the open position and he must work with her, everything becomes complicated. The summer brings unexpected guests and trouble to Curry. With his reputation at stake, will Thomas be able to protect Tayler from the danger that follows? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Devotion by Olivia Rae — Injured and unable to make his living by the sword, Sir Theo de Born needs to secure his keep by becoming an educated man. As he finds himself falling for his reluctant teacher, he learns of her plan to leave England before the winter sets in. How can he convince her to stay and fulfill her promise while protecting his heart? Denied her true love and sent away to a convent, Lady Rose de Payne has no choice but to accept to become Sir Theo’s teacher. However, she has a plan to escape the confines of her new prison and start fresh in a different country. As the chilly winds blow, her resolve begins to waver. Will she abandon Sir Theo to a miserable fate or will she give up her dreams to make his come true? (Historical Romance from HopeKnight Press)

 

Northern Deception

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Publisher: Anaiah Press ASIN: B07K8SLZVS

Debut author, Laurie Wood captured my attention from page one of Northern Deception. The story is packed with suspense and had me flipping pages long into the night. Set in Canada and filled with polar bears, snow, dog sled teams and adventure Northern Deception swept me into an entire world that I knew nothing about. As Kira searches for answers and battles her own fears and brokenness, she finds that the man she ran from is exactly the man she needs now. Single parent, Lukas has a heart of gold and the strength of a quintessential hero. Together, they team up to take down the worst kinds of predators and solve a mystery—but they must first stay alive to do so. I loved Northern Deception and would highly recommend it. Laurie Wood has a lot to offer and I look forward to her next book.