Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Book Release: Neta Jackson Stand By Me

Happy March!

Neta Jackson has a new novel, STAND BY ME. Here’s the details:

Sometimes you learn the most from the person least like you.

Avis Douglass and her husband, Peter, have dreamed of selling his software business to finance a two-year mission effort to South Africa. But when the economy crashes, they're suddenly faced with the real possibility of bankruptcy.

When one of the co-pastors of SouledOut Community Church passes away suddenly, Avis and Peter are asked to step in and assist with the leadership of the church in the interim. But that creates an all-black leadership, fanning some subtle racial issues in their multi-cultural church. As tensions mount, they wrestle with returning to a traditional church where things would be easier.

Meanwhile, Kate Blanchard arrives in urban Chicago with three friends. Their vision of radically following Jesus-from dressing in second-hand clothing to trying to live green-only adds to the unrest at SouledOut Community Church. When Kate attaches herself to Avis as a mentor, her good heart but lack of wisdom drives Avis nuts.

Before long, though, they'll both realize that the body of Christ needs all parts-and Avis will see that she needs Kate's joy in following Jesus as much as Kate needs Avis's wisdom.

Click here to own.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 7: Uncovering More of You


Psalm 45

My heart is stirred by a noble theme
   as I recite my verses for the king;
   my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.(1)


Thank you for waking me up. Thank you for waking me up on time. Thank you for rest, rejuvenation, prioritizing, and making room for you.

One of my Lent activities this year is to declutter my life. I made a list of five things I would clean out during lent:

  1. my car trunk
  2. my email inbox
  3. my closet
  4. my room
  5. my bathroom drawer

As I began to remove things that have no room in my life anymore I found myself removing obligations, associations, rules that shut love out…I began to declutter my soul.

Thank you.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Writing to God Day 4: Thanks for my Gift of Writing


“…my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”- Phil 4:10-20

Father, thank you for today. Thank you for my family taking care of me today and thank you for the gift of writing. Most times I forget that this is a gift. You could have given someone else this love to write. You could have given another author a publishing contract. This past year you gave me that gift. I thank you for it. The gifts that have come along with this gift have afforded me to be able to take care of many of my medical costs, my daughters birthdays, back to school supplies, her wants and needs. That would not have happened if it were not for this gift. I also thank you for putting people in my life who respect and champion this gift. I wanted to thank two of them personally today. I had big plans to do it. Yet, my body demanded more rest to heal. I felt bad about not doing all the things that I want to do and then I felt even worse for not being thankful for what I do have. You. All that is good is you. I know you took care of my friends for me today. That is another gift you do so well for me. I pray that writing to you will help someone else recognize the gifts You have given to them.

Again thanks. This year I will be a better writer.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Writing to God Day 3: Tribute




John 17:9-19

I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of[a] your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by[b] that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

When I read this scripture earlier today it made me cry, Lord. I’ve lost so many wonderful people in my life this past year. I’m still not over losing Maggie and I’m still in shock of Suzette’s death. It doesn’t make since, but I still feel sad about Whitney Houston. I didn’t know her personally. And then this morning I learned that another friend had gone on to be with You.

Natasha MunsonNatasha Munson.

That news hurt, because I’m still fighting battles against the disease that took her HOME. And I don’t know why I’m here and why she isn’t.

I’m thankful that I am here to see my daughter another day. I’m not so sure if anyone cares to read another book I write, whose life would be affected if I never wrote another word?Mom must have felt my pity, because she made her special deep dish pizza pie to make me feel better. Yet, I’m still weary. Probably more than yesterday. I dislike myself for sounding like a whining baby when so much work has yet to be done, when good people have gone and I know they had great plans to accomplish much.

So I reread these words Christ said to You, as he prepared for his death gave me a measure of peace with these losses. All is not lost. They are with you and I am with you. We are One. Perhaps I can carry on for them.  My spirit knows this. My spirit knows this. My spirit knows…

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 2 When It’s Just Not Fair



Hebrews 12:1-14

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Today was a day. When I was a child every day was a new adventure. The days didn’t last long enough. I had no cares in the world unless my brother or my best friends didn’t want to play with me.

But at a brand new 38 today I found myself not wanting to get out of bed. Tired before the day begun. Not filled with the fight I had yesterday. I needed a little more sunshine. God this day was hard for me.

As the day has turned to night, I became disappointed that I didn’t complete the many tasks I had planned for me. There are so many things I have to do. People are counting on me. Then I remembered why I loved childhood so much. Although I had plans, I didn’t knock myself for not trying. I believed I had another day. I believed that what happened in that day was enough and the best thing ever. If I couldn’t play with my friends that day, I could tomorrow.

Perhaps because I’m an adult and I live with serious health challenges, I can’t count on tomorrow working out for me. I don’t if you will give me tomorrow.

Reflecting on my Daily Scripture for this second day of advent I am reminded to lay down my burdens, even those I inflict on myself…even my fears about the future.

This is hard for me, so I’m clinging to you tonight. Hold me.

Thriller Thursday: Chris Holm’s RuleBook


by Chris F. Holm

One thing I've discovered in my writing life is I'm no good at predicting whether or not an opportunity is gonna prove worthwhile. But I've also learned I don't have to be. Over time, I've developed a few simple rules to guide me. They've helped me immensely; mayhap they'll do the same for you.

Read the Rules today at ITW’s THE THRILL BEGINS blog. He will also be on LIVE today to chat.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

43rd Annual GMA DOVE AWARDS & Kim Burrell

The Gospel Music Association (GMA) today announced the 43rd Annual GMA Dove Awards nominees at a press conference held at The Georgian Terrace Hotel in Atlanta, GA, which was streamed live at HearItFirst. Nominees were announced by GRAMMY nominated R&B artist Montell Jordan, known for his iconic hit “This is How We Do It,” BET “Lift Every Voice” host CoCo Brother, Daytime EMMY nominated comedian Chonda Pierce, and World Heavyweight Champion wrestler AJ Styles.

Atlanta will host the Dove Awards for a second time at the Fox Theatre on April 19, 2012, following a sold-out show in 2011 hosted by Sherri Shepherd which aired on the Gospel Music Channel and garnered 1.5 million viewers.

The 43rd Annual GMA Dove Awards nominees include:

Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Chris August
  • Chris Tomlin
  • Jason Crabb
  • Kirk Franklin
  • Steven Curtis Chapman

Female Vocalist of the Year:

  • Francesca Battistelli
  • Kari Jobe
  • Laura Story
  • Mandisa
  • Natalie Grant

Urban Song of the Year Recorded:

  • Kim Burrell for Sweeter
  • Windows; ; Canton Jones; ; ; CAJO International

Traditional Gospel Album of the Year:

  • How I Got Over; Smokie Norful; Jason Lyson; EMI Gospel
  • If you didn't know Now you Know; Norman Hutchins; Michael Bereal; co-producer, Vicki Lataillade; Sueekey  Entertainment/IR Music Group
  • Promises; Richard Smallwood; Steven Ford; Verity Gospel Music Group
  • The Legacy Project; John P. Kee; ; Verity
  • XV Live; Chicago Mass Choir; Percy Gray, Jr.; Jeral Gray, Sr.; New Haven Recor

Ash Wednesday: I am Ash


Lent 2012: 40 Days of Writing to God


Thank you for today. Thank you for another year.

Thank you for granting me the gift of full family. My mom and dad are still alive and in good health. My sister and brother are still alive and in good health. They are living in the way that makes them happy. We are not fighting. We enjoy each other’s company. I’m thankful for that, because I have friends and other family members who cannot say the same. I am most thankful for Selah. She is healthy, happy, all A student, sweet as can be and growing into the kind of woman you have entrusted in me to rear.

Forgive me for not writing to you sooner. Forgive me for putting my pen, my thoughts, my passion before you. You are always first. Thank you for reminding me. I am ash.

Thank you for my health and continued healing. At times when my body doesn’t want to cooperate with your will, it manages to get back into line. Thank you for doing that for me. I have lost dear friends and relatives this year, whose bodies had run their courses.

Thank you for Whitney Houston. Even in death you were glorified. She will rest in bliss with You. Her legacy—despite her stumbles and her struggles—end with Glorious You.

Her death reminded me of my struggle with Grandma. How sweet and how troubled; how despite the love we showered over her and the love she gave to us back, she couldn’t beat this shadow that wanted to step out of place. Grandma’s life made me understand that our soul’s are precious and there are things that we don’t or yet understand that our determined to take our unyielding joy, if we are not careful. And that we need the prayers of many and the presence of the Body of Christ to carry us when our soul’s are weak.  I thank You that I am in my right mind today. My today could easily be a tragedy, because I am ash, no different than she. I thank God  for the people who you have placed in my life for me to lean on and love me and shine your light to me when I can’t see you through my muck. I thank you.

I thank God for motherhood. It has taught me that life goes on and will go on when I’m gone. What I must do is to make the most of my life, to not squander this precious time. To leave a legacy that ends with Glorious you.

Psalm 103:8-14 (New International Version (NIV)

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
   so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
   he remembers that we are dust.

CHRISTIAN FICTION: Pat Simmons Guilty by Association


Bad boy Kidd Jamieson hates his last name because it reminds him of the father who abandoned him. But when his cousin Parke invites him to St. Louis, he accepts---and allows Parke to walk him through his royal heritage. Will his newfound knowledge of his background---and Eva Savoy's love---help him overcome his anger and resentment? (Feb, Lift Every Voice) Click here to purchase

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Trailer Park Tuesday: Julie Cantrell Into the Free

Millie Reynolds knows firsthand the shame of family secrets. With an abusive father and a “nothing mama,” she craves a place of true belonging. Over time, the gypsies that travel through town each spring offer acceptance. Then tragedy strikes and Millie leaves her world of poverty to join a prominent family on the other side of town. There, with the help of unlikely sources, Millie uncovers painful truths about her family’s past as she struggles to face a God she believes has abandoned her. When unconditional love is offered, Millie learns the power of forgiveness and finally discovers where she belongs.

Into the Free is now available. Simply click your favorite online retailer below.

Order Online

Plus, now you can read the first chapter online for free!

Lent for Kids: Writing to God

Writing to God: Kid's Edition

Writing to God – Kid’s’ Edition offers guidance to kids that parents can also appreciate: It invites them to speak to God creatively through their pens (or pencils, or crayons).
In 35 days, kids are invited to pray to God using their senses, reflecting on their feelings, in light of Bible verses, looking at nature, to understand the ordinary events of life, to use new words and pictures for God, and as a way to say “thank you.”
“Hackenberg’s book gives children permission to experience prayer as daily conversation with God. The freshness and honesty of her own prayers and her helpful prompts invite them to find and value their own words as offerings to a God who wants to be in relationship with them.”
-Anabel Proffitt, Associate Professor of Educational Ministries, Lancaster Theological Seminary

Click here to purchase

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Moment: Black History and Iola Leroy

"My dear child, I have not learned my Christianity from them [slave owners]. I have learned it at the foot of the cross, and from this book," she said, placing a New Testament in Iola's hands. "Some of the most beautiful lessons of faith and trust I have ever learned were from among our lowly people in their humble cabins."

Visit THE MASTER’s ARTIST today as I share a black history moment that also includes the first published Christian novel written by an African-American in 1892.

Click here for More.

Cindy Woodsmall The Scent of Cherry Blossoms


The Scent of Cherry Blossoms
Coming February 21, 2012!
Annie Martin loves the Plain ways of her Old Order Mennonite people, like those revered by her beloved grandfather. Retreating from a contentious relationship with her mother, Annie goes to live with her Daadi Moses in Apple Ridge.
But as spring moves into Pennsylvania and Annie spends time amongst the cherry trees with the handsome Aden Zook, she wishes she could forget how deeply the lines between the Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite are drawn.
Can Annie and Aden find a place for their love to bloom in the midst of the brewing storm? To read more, go here>>
Buy on: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Books-A-Million | CBD

Dove Awards Nominations Go Live

GRAMMY nominated R&B artist Montell Jordan, known for his iconic hit “This is How We Do It” joins BET “Lift Every Voice” host CoCo Brother, Daytime EMMY nominated comedian Chonda Pierce, and World Heavyweight Champion wrestler AJ Styles to announce the nominees for the 43rd Annual Gospel Music Association Dove Awards at a press conference on Wednesday, February 22 at 11AM ET at The Georgian Terrace Hotel, located at 659 Peachtree Street Northeast in Atlanta, GA..

Watch the nominations live at

Friday, February 17, 2012


Good Friday. FYI: Creston Mapes brilliant novel NOBODY is free to download today! Over 1,000 people have downloaded it. Here’s the link to join us.

Watch this fun interview with Creston as he discusses the freebie weekend of NOBODY.

When reporter Hudson Ambrose hears an early morning call on his police scanner about an injured person at a bus stop on Las Vegas Boulevard, he rushes to the scene to get the scoop. His world is blown off its axis when he discovers a murdered homeless man with a bankbook in his pocket showing a balance of almost one million dollars.

Creston has a new three book deal with David C. Cook. (So exciting!)


kirkKIRK FRANKLIN and his chart-topping album HELLO FEAR just went certified Gold, as reported by RIAA.  The announcement follows Franklin’s two GRAMMY® awards wins for Best Gospel Album (HELLO FEAR) and Best Gospel Song (“I Smile”) earlier this week at the 54th Annual GRAMMY® Awards celebration held on February 12 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  The legendary gospel artist on Verity Gospel Music Group, with these two new trophies, now has nine career GRAMMY® awards.  Franklin will also perform at this year’s live NBC Network NAACP Image award show this Friday, February 17 at 8:00 p.m. EST -- in which he is nominated for two awards – Outstanding Song (“I Smile”) and Outstanding Gospel Album (HELLO FEAR).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nina Simone Art Contest Celebrates 79th Birthday


Estate Provides Platform for Aspiring Artists, Friends and Fans to Submit Original

Nina Simone African Inspired Artwork

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – MIAMI, FL – February 21, 2012 will mark the 79th birthday and celebrated life of Dr. Nina Simone. As the only child of one of the most extraordinary artists of the twentieth century, SIMONE, re-launched last Mother’s Day, to honor the timeless treasures and milestones in her mother’s career.

In commemoration of Dr. Simone’s music and civil rights legacy, the Estate of Nina Simone is holding an African Inspired Nina Simone Art Contest for aspiring artists, friends and fans to pay homage to the musical icon during Black History Month. Original artwork can be submitted to the site’s gallery. Visit for additional information and contest rules.

As executor of The Estate of Nina Simone and her mother’s biggest fan, SIMONE is dedicated to continuing her mother’s legacy of liberation, empowerment and passion.

“It is my heart’s desire to build upon the foundation that my mother has already built as a legacy walking,” said SIMONE. “I embrace this obligation on behalf of future generations and lineages in commemoration of the undeniable contributions Mommy has made in music and culture as a whole.” explores the many nuances and flavors that made up the real Nina Simone. The website features a “blog,” whereby notable influencers have contributed personal Nina Simone experiences, encounters and memories. Posts to date include Dr. Maya Angelou, Dr. Bill Cosby, Ledisi, Nikki Giovanni and Dianne Reeves, with many more to come. The site also includes “Nina Simone Radio,” a 24 hour/7 day-a-week internet radio station that provides hundreds of recordings spanning over four decades, interviews and special guest commentary. Other features include: unreleased Nina recordings; archived video performances; and an expanded photo gallery with previously unpublished photos of Dr. Nina Simone behind the scenes and on-stage.

An icon of American music, Eunice Kathleen Waymon was born on February 21, 1933. She was a classically trained pianist and acknowledged as the consummate musical storyteller, a “griot,” as she would proudly proclaim on numerous occasions. Her remarkable talent and magnificent body of work earned her the moniker ‘High Priestess of Soul’ for she could weave a spell so seductive and hypnotic that the listener lost track of time and space as they became absorbed in the moment. When asked what genre she considered her music, without hesitation responded with two words, “Black Classical.”

Definition: Black Classical - a genre that bridges all races, cultures and walks of life; life gifts for everyone without boundaries; Freedom (which is what Dr. Nina Simone’ life epitomized).

As a classically trained pianist, Dr. Nina Simone influenced countless with her musical genius and uncompromising voice to civil unjust. She received numerous recognitions including two honorary degrees in music and humanities from the University of Massachusetts and Malcolm X College. She was also bestowed a diploma by the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, the very music school that denied her admittance at the beginning of her career due to her race. Additionally, Dr. Simone’s hometown of Tryon, NC erected a statute in her honor in 2010.

When Dr. Nina Simone died on April 21, 2003, she left a timeless treasure trove of musical magic spanning over 40 years from her first hit, the 1959 Top 10 classic I Loves You Porgy, to A Single Woman, the title cut from her one and only 1993 Elektra album. While 33 years separate those recordings, the element of honest emotion is the glue that binds the two together - it is that approach to every piece of work that became Dr. Simone’s uncompromising musical trademark.

Among other popular recordings are Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, I Put A Spell On You, Four Women (whereby SIMONE recorded a newer version of her mother’s original classic for the movie soundtrack “For Colored Girls), and Dr. Simone’s own anthems of empowerment -To Be Young, Gifted & Black and Feeling Good. Her trademark version of Feeling Good has become such a standard that it has been covered by Michael Buble, a popular choice for “American Idol” contestants and most recently pop diva Jennifer Hudson.

A multi-talented artist in her own right, SIMONE is very much her mother’s daughter - singer, songwriter and a highly praised performer. Her impressive resume includes starring roles on Broadway in such acclaimed musicals as AIDA, for which she received the National Broadway Theater Award for Best Actress in a Musical and RENT whereby she was nominated for both Helen Hayes and Jefferson Awards for her role as Mimi Marquez.

SIMONE has many exciting projects in development for release over the next year including a double Nina Simone CD, which SIMONE will produce; SIMONE’s own sophomore CD release; a Broadway play on the life and times of Dr. Nina Simone and the re-release of her mother's autobiography.

For additional information, on Nina Simone and African Inspired Art Contest, visit and on SIMONE, visit

Beststelling Author Dee Henderson Returns

 Bethany House signs Fiction Fan Favorite Dee Henderson!

“Dee has a remarkable talent, and an outstanding reputation among fiction readers and booksellers,” said David Horton, vice president of editorial at Bethany House. “She has helped to grow an entire genre, mentoring several other authors along the way.”

I became giddy when I received this news. Perhaps I very well could be a Dee Henderson super fan. She changed my view of Christian novels.So excited. The new novel releases October 2012.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


ljx120202webchristfeat3 Genre Spotlight | Christian Fiction: A Born Again Genre

CHRISTIAN FICTION BLOG is on a good roll. We’ve also been featured in Library Journal. This is a big birthday gift to me, because of my huge crush on libraries. Thank you all for hanging in there with me, as I’ve tried to adjust my time to continue to accommodate you, meet me writing obligations to my publisher, honor my client work, and have time for those that I love. I really appreciate you. Seven years. Right!

Here’s the link to read this great article about what Christian Fiction is NOW.

Christian Fiction Blog featured in RT Book Reviews


Good Wednesday! Great news RT Book Reviews Magazine featured Christian Fiction Blog in their feature Websites and Blogs for Inspirational Readers.

Where To Find News About Multicultural Inspirational Fiction

Author Miranda Parker’s wonderful blog Christian Fiction has guest blogs, industry updates and includes events that feature inspirational reads that have a multicultural focus. In addition to her diverse list of guest bloggers, we particularly adore Miranda's Thriller Thursday feature and the author’s announcements about what is going on in the world of Gospel music. This blog is also a good place to head for writing advice in a separate section in the site titled “How to Plot a Novel”.
How cool!

Book Sneak Peak: To Love and Cherish

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)
***Special thanks to Karri James, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Kelly Irvin is a Kansas native and has been writing professionally for 25 years. She and her husband, Tim, make their home in Texas. They have two children, three cats, and a tankful of fish. A public relations professional, Kelly is also the author of two romantic suspense novels and writes short stories in her spare time.

Visit the author's website.


In author Kelly Irvin’s first installment in the Bliss Creek Amish series, readers will find a charming, romantic story of how God works even in the darkest moments.

It’s been four years since Carl left. Four years since he left the safety of the small Amish community for the Englisch world. And in four years, Emma’s heart has only begun to heal.

Now, with the unexpected death of her parents, Emma is plunged back into a world of despair and confusion. It’s a confusion only compounded by Carl’s return. She’s supposed to be in love with why can’t she keep her mind off Thomas, the strong, quiet widower who always seems to be underfoot? Could the man she only knew as a friend be the one to help her to heal?

In a world that seems to be changing no matter how tightly she clings to the past, this one woman must see beyond her pain and open her heart to trust once again.

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736943714
ISBN-13: 978-0736943710



  The ripe aroma of wet earth filling the air around her, Emma Shirack shifted the basket of tomatoes on her hip and picked up her pace on the dirt road. Her bare feet sank down as the mud oozed between her toes.
      The sky was dark overhead as rain clouds gathered in the distance. She should’ve taken the buggy, but hitching the horse seemed a waste of time when it was such a short walk to the produce stand on the highway. “Come on, girls. We have to get these tomatoes to Catherine at the stand quickly or we’re going to get wet walking home.”
  Giggles met her urging. She glanced back to see the twins squatting in the middle of the road. Lillie had a small rock in her hand, and the two of them peered at it as if they’d found a great treasure. “Girls! Now!”
  She used her schoolteacher voice. At five her sisters hadn’t been to her school yet, but they recognized the authority in her tone. Lillie hopped to her feet, Mary right behind her. “See, it’s a pretty rock, schweschder.”
  Jah, very pretty, but right now we have work to do.” A fat drop of rain plopped right between Emma’s eyes. “As soon as we give the tomatoes to Catherine we’ll go back to the house to start the chicken and dumplings for tonight.”
  Mary dropped the rock and clapped her tiny hands. “Dumplings!”
  Her braids bouncing in glee, Lillie did the same. “Dumplings!”
  Two peas in a pod. Emma smiled and focused on the road ahead. The smile faded. It would be so easy to pretend the twins were hers. But that would be wrong. They were her little sisters. At twenty-three, she alone among her friends had no babies of her own. As Mudder liked to say, “In God’s time, not yours.” Emma clung to that thought.
  One more curve and they would be at the highway.
  “Schweschder, where do the clouds—”
  The shrieking of rubber on asphalt drowned out Lillie’s question. Emma stopped dead in her tracks. The sound of ripping metal tore the air. A horse’s fearful whinnies screamed and echoed against the glowering sky.
  Emma’s basket hit the ground. She’d spent enough time at the produce stand to know that sound. She lifted her long skirt, leaped across the spilled tomatoes, and ran. “Girls, go to the side of the road and sit down. Don’t move! I’ll send someone for you!” she shouted, not looking back. “Do as I say!”
  The sound of their childish voices whipped in the wind around her. If she was right about that sound she couldn’t let them see what lay ahead. For a few minutes, they were better off on the side of the less-traveled farm road with each other for company.
  Oh, God, let me be wrong. Let it be a near miss. Let it be an empty wagon. Let it be…anything but the worst. She stumbled on the rutted road and her heavy dress tangled around her legs. Sweat mingled with splashing raindrops. She fought to breathe in the heavy, humid air.
  The road straightened. Emma blinked against a sudden gust of moist, hot wind. Where dirt road met asphalt, where their way met the Englisch way, a buggy sprawled on its side, its metal wheels twisted and broken, the orange triangle-shaped symbol for slow still dangling from the back. A mammoth wheat truck, the black tarp that covered its load flapping in the wind, dwarfed the spindly remains.
  Emma jerked to a stop. No air filled her lungs, and black and purple dots danced on the periphery of her vision. She bent, hands on her knees, and gasped for oxygen. Nothing. Her lungs ached. Her heart pounded.
  The horse reared and screamed, its nostrils flaring, eyes frozen wide open, frantic with fear. Her sister Catherine had two hands on the reins, trying to calm the flailing horse. “Easy, girl, easy!” Catherine’s words didn’t match the heart-wrenching anguish of her tone as she fumbled with the harness. “Down, girl. It’s over. Easy!”
  Catherine. What was she doing here? Their horse. Their gray mare. Emma forced herself to think. Their horse. Her sister. Her gaze dropped to the figure on the dark, wet pavement. No. No. No.
  Her neighbor Thomas Brennaman knelt next to a twisted figure that lay motionless. Her brother Luke crouched down next to him, bending over the still, white face. Mudder’s face. Thomas raised his head and his fingers touched Mudder’s throat. Emma swallowed the bile in her throat. She tore her gaze from the picture, her heart pounding.
  A man in overalls and a John Deere hat held a cell phone to his ear. “Hurry. Tell them to hurry. They’re hurt bad,” he bellowed. “It’s them Amish people with their buggies. I think I…I think I killed them!”
  Killed them. No. Suddenly adrenaline overcame the paralyzing dread. She dashed forward. “Mudder! Daed!”
  With all the strength he could muster, Luke staggered to his feet. “Emma, help Catherine with the horse! Let it loose before it hurts someone.”
  What was Luke doing here? Why wasn’t he at his shop? She shook off her questions and his command and dropped to her knees next to her mother’s still body.
  But Thomas grabbed her arms and pulled her to her feet again. His broad frame served as a formidable barrier between Emma and her mother. “No, Emma. Do as Luke says.”
  “I can help her!”
  Thomas’s grip kept her from sinking to the ground again. Eyes the color of maple syrup held her tight in their gaze. Thomas, of all people, knew this kind of pain. “Your mudder is gone, Emma.”
  Still, she struggled. “Daed!”
  Luke’s strangled sob spoke for him. “No, Daed.” She ripped away from Thomas and dashed around the broken buggy. “Please!”
  Luke held up two bloody hands, palms flat in the air. Emma slammed to a halt. Her brother’s raw agony radiated from his sweet, plain features. His lips trembled over his long beard. “No. Don’t look. Don’t! I tried, but nothing.” His voice cracked. “He was already gone. Help Catherine. Help her!”
  Sirens, their shrill cry an alien sound in this Kansas farmland, cut the air. Emma backed away from Luke. The rough asphalt scraped her feet, but she welcomed pain—the only thing that could penetrate this kind of numbness. She shook her head. “No. No!”
  Catherine’s cries forced her back into the moment. Here was something Emma could do, something to ease the horrible, enormous sense that she should be doing something. She ran to Catherine’s side and together they loosened the horse’s restraints and led her to the grassy shoulder of the road. The mare, sides lathered with sweat, snorted and pranced but didn’t bolt. “Easy, girl, easy.” Emma patted her long, graceful neck. “It’s all right.”
  Words of comfort murmured where there was none.
  Catherine threw herself into Emma’s arms. “It was horrible. I saw the whole thing from the produce stand. Mudder waved to me and smiled as they slowed down to make the turn. Then the truck came…”
  Catherine’s voice faded. Her knees buckled.
  Emma struggled to hold her up. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
  Her poor sister would have the images burned on her brain forever. Catherine didn’t need to see any more of this horrific scene. Emma grasped her sister’s trembling shoulders. “I need you to do something for me.”
  Catherine’s face was white and wet with rain and tears. “I couldn’t help them. I can’t help anyone.”
  “Yes, you can.” Emma hugged her and then gave a gentle shove. “Lillie and Mary are down the road. Go get them. Take them home.”
  Catherine shook her head and sobbed. “I don’t want to tell them—”
  “Don’t. Don’t tell them anything.”
  Catherine wiped at her face with a sodden sleeve. “Are you sure you don’t want me to stay with you?”
  “Go. Make sure they’re safe. Take them home. Luke and I will come when we can.”
  “What about Annie and Mark? They’ll wonder why Mudder hasn’t come home from town yet.”
  “Tell them there’s been an accident. Then wait for Luke and me.”
  Catherine took off, her stride unsteady at first, then she picked up speed. Faster and faster, as if those horrifying images pursued her.
  Emma wanted to run after her, surpass her, and keep on running forever.
  “Miss? Miss!”
  She forced herself to turn and face the wreckage.
  “It was an accident.” The farmer, his craggy, sun-ravaged face wet—whether from rain or tears Emma couldn’t tell—moved closer. He crumpled the green John Deere cap in his huge hand, smoothed it, crumpled it again. “I’m sorry, so sorry. I was in a hurry to get to the mill in Bliss Creek before the rain came. I drove up over the bluff and they were right there. I guess they slowed down to make the turn. I tried to stop. I did, but the truck skidded into them.” He wiped his face with the backs of his stubby fingers. “It was an accident.”
  Luke strode toward them, his long legs eating up the road. Her bear-sized brother usually walked the road the way he walked life—in a calm, deliberate manner. Now the world had tilted, taking everything familiar with it. “I know, Mr. Cramer. Don’t worry. We forgive you.”
  The man’s mouth gaped wide, exposing crooked teeth. After a second, it closed. “Thank you,” he whispered. “Thank you.”
  Emma raised her head to the spattering of raindrops. Maybe they would wash away the anger in her heart. When Carl had left, she’d thought the worst thing that could ever happen to her was done. Over. Now this. Not an intentional abandoning, but an accidental one. In the end, the effect was the same.
  Luke was right to forgive. But sometimes right was too hard.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Women of FAITH 16 Intimate Events Planned


A brand new event with a more in-depth focus

image003 (1)As women search for inspiration and hope for their daily routines, a sense of empowerment is needed to start out on a new course.  On Saturday, February 18, 2012, Women of Faith®, the Christian-based live event will launch a new in-depth experience for women to receive strength and encouragement all in one day.

Kicking off the first of 16 Women of Faith® One Day events, this tour offers a new focus in a more intimate setting.  Carol Nygren, executive vice president and managing director of Live Event Management, Inc., the producers of Women of Faith® stated, “Today, women find themselves increasingly stretched for time, making it difficult to see the work God is doing in their lives.  We want this completely new experience to allow our guests the ability to leave their troubles at the door, for just one day.”

Feedback following last year’s events revealed that guests wanted the ability to connect to the speakers on a closer level.  Increased Biblical application, a more detailed look at the speaker’s personal Christian walk and more humor were among the most requested.  As a result, Women of Faith® One Day speakers such as Angie Smith, best-selling author Sheila Walsh and Women of Faith® newcomer Christine Caine bring never-been-told stories to the stage.  These women will be joined with new musical artists including “American Idol” finalist Scott MacIntyre and always loved comic-with-a-message guests Andy Andrews and Ken Davis.

“We want women to realize that their struggles are our struggles,” continues Nygren.  “Our guests come to Women of Faith® to experience grace, hope and encouragement.  At our events we not only want to deliver God’s Word, but we want these women to experience God’s love.  Women will leave the Women of Faith® One Day events feeling refreshed and ready to face life’s challenges!”

To find out more about the Women of Faith® One Day events and who will be at an event near you, please visit for more information.

Valentine Read: Smitten

Welcome to Smitten, Vermont.
With the help of four friends, it's about to become the most romantic town in America.
The proposed closing of the lumber mill comes as unwelcome news for the citizens of Smitten. How will the town survive without its main employer? A close-knit group of women think they've got just the plan to save Smitten. They'll capitalize on its name and turn it into a tourist destination for lovers-complete with sweet shops, a high-end spa, romantic music on the square, and cabins outfitted with fireplaces and hot tubs.
But is this manly town ready for an influx of romantically-minded guests?
Country music sensation Sawyer Smitten, the town's hometown hero, wants to help by holding his own wedding there on Valentine's Day. And little Mia's lavender wreaths hang all over town as a reminder that faith can work miracles. Along the way, four women spearheading the town's transformation-energetic Natalie, sophisticated Julia, graceful Shelby, and athletic Reese-get in the spirit by reviving their own love lives.

Join best-selling inspirational romance authors (and real-life BFFs) Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter for an inspiring stay at the (soon-to-be) most romantic town on the eastern seaboard.
One visit . . . and you'll be smitten too.

Click here to purchase

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012


God gave me a voice to sing with, and when you have that, what other gimmick is there?
Whitney Houston

One moment in time…

Friday, February 10, 2012

GoodReads Book Giveaway for Kensington Books Author Rhonda Bowen


One Way or Another

One Way or Another

by Rhonda Bowen

From the author of "Man Enough for Me" comes a witty, compelling novel about a woman who thinks she has her job, family, and friends under control until the night she meets a man who changes everything.

For the next 15 days readers can enter a chance to win a free autographed copy of the book at GoodReads by visiting this link:

Purchase a copy:


Monday, February 06, 2012

Rhonda McKnight Featured in February Christian Fiction Online Magazine

Rhonda McKnightLove is on the bookshelves in our favorite Christian bookstores; however, there is one author you may miss in LifeWay, Parable, or your local Family bookstore: best-selling Christian fiction author Rhonda McKnight. She writes for Urban Christian, an imprint of Urban Books, one of a growing number of Christian imprints owned by secular publishers.

Rhonda stopped by Christian Fiction Online Magazine to talk about her upcoming women’s fiction/romance hybrid What Kind of Fool and why love is sometimes hard to bloom.

Rhonda McKnight owns Legacy Editing, a freelance editing service for fiction writers, and Urban Christian Fiction Today ( ), a popular Internet site that highlights African-American Christian fiction. She’s also the vice president of the Faith Based Fiction Writers of Atlanta. Originally from a small coastal town in New Jersey, her home has been Atlanta, Georgia, for almost twelve years.

Christian Fiction Online Magazine

Click the pic or this link to read more


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