CONGRATULATIONS!

Congratulations to Alison (agboss) who won Susanne Dietze's The Reluctant Guardian!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Release Party and Virtual Ice Cream Social for Saguaro Sunset



Available now.  Buy Saguaro Sunset ebook from Amazon  99cents or free on Kindle Unlimited

Hola!
Saguaro Sunset was a successful test for me. This is my first contemporary novella and a quick break from my upcoming mystery novel due out this summer. It worked. I plotted and wrote it in record time. And--yay!--I love this story, and so have readers!


~~No ice cream sandwich is as sweet as a long-delayed sunset kiss~~

Friday night’s first phone call was the answer to Teresa Scott’s career dreams. Before she can celebrate, a second call informs her of her sister’s accident and puts Teresa in ‘the driver’s seat’ of Frosty Fingers Food Truck during the Tucson Festival of Books. Determined to keep her sister’s business out of the red, Teresa hides the painful disappointment of giving up her dream.

Fellow accountant Alan Davis sticks his do-gooder nose in, hanging around to help Teresa, the woman he’s adored since forever, not knowing the coveted board position he's just accepted is the one she had to give up. 

Nice Guy Alan isn’t really Teresa’s type, but she’s won over by his humor, adorable smile, and ice cream scooping skills. As his presence become irreplaceable, she sheds the hardened layers of her heart. Just when it’s clear she needs him in her life, Alan has to face his biggest regret and honor an old promise. Will losing this chivalrous knight in a snowman costume break Teresa’s vulnerable heart?



So, welcome to Tucson!  And visit Saguaro Sunset's Pinterest Page

Arizona, if you haven't noticed, is one of those places I talk about so much, I should receive recognition from the tourism board. Desert Duet, Starlight Serenade and Why Not--my last three novellas--are all set in this remarkable state.

Saguaro Sunset is part of the STATE FLOWER collection from Forget Me Not Romances, and takes place in Tucson during the Tucson Festival of Books and highlights Saguaro National Park. We just missed the book festival last weekend, but there's ice cream left over, so choose a flavor. Dish or waffle cone?

Minty Chip--our signature flavor. 

Wildcat Country--sugary, salty kettle-corn-flavor ice cream. Really.

Mountain Man--peanut butter crunch with white chocolate chunks

Old Pueblo Pistachio--we're nuts about this flavor

Cactus Crunch--strawberry with dark chocolate and walnuts

Arizona Gold--French vanilla only better

Cowboy Kisses--coffee flavored ice cream with swirls of chocolate wafer and coffee bean crunch

'Zona Zombie--dead right, our cappuccino and fudge combo is to die for

Desert Delight--toffee ice cream with brickle bits and prairie dog wishes

What's your favorite?

grab some ice cream, because here comes all those social media links I have to lug around with me...
Amazon Author Page -- a good way to keep up with new releases

Twitter --  entertaining you in 140 characters...but mostly retweeting...

Pinterest -- basically my quilting obsession and all the things I'll do when I retire...

Honest to Goodness. This is Me at the Saguaro National Park Risking My Backside for My Work
(no, I'm not really a redhead, this is the color of Sunset!)


And now for the giveaways -
For new subscribers to my emailed newsletter - I currently have a promotion (1 in  50)  for an Amazon Gift Card $25.00. Sign Up Here!



And of course, I'm giving away copies of Saguaro Sunset to readers with Kindle app or Kindle. Please note in the comments if you'd like to be in the drawing which ends April 10

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring has Sprung! Five Ways to Celebrate the First Day of Spring



Happy first day of Spring!
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16:
It's SMILING!!!!
Is it warm at your house yet? Here, my daffodils are blooming and the blossoms are already gone from my stone fruit trees. It's felt like spring for a few weeks already.

Today, however, marks the vernal equinox. On this day, day and night are equal in length because our planet reaches a turning point in its orbit, and neither the North or South poles are tilted toward the sun. Earth hits the turning point in its orbit where neither the North or the South poles are tilted towards the sun.

So let's celebrate!
Spring Baby Animals - baby animal photos - Woman And Home:
Because who doesn't love baby animals?
Here are some ways the first day of Spring is celebrated around the world.

  1. Plant seeds to honor someone. In ancient Rome, women planted seeds in the gardens of Adonis. The custom persists in Sicily today, but not in honor of Adonis. Instead, women plant flowers in baskets. When they sprout, the flowers are placed on graves of loved ones on Good Friday as a symbol of life triumphing over death. I like the idea of sharing flowers with friends and neighbors who have recently lost a loved one.
  2. Eat some eggs. Eggs represent new life and rebirth, after all (one of they reasons they are symbolic at Easter time). A Chinese tradition says you can balance an egg on the equinox. Is it true? I don't know, but if it breaks, no worries. You can scramble the egg, just like people in Bosnia do for the "Festival of Scrambled Eggs" where eggs are cooked in massive pans and distributed for free. I love the idea of feeding people. Maybe there's someone I can treat to a meal, or I can volunteer at my local shelter.
  3. Let go of old resentments. In India, a Hindu tradition welcomes spring with people gathering in the street and throwing colored powder at one another (sort of like the "Color Runs" we do in the US where you toss colored powder at joggers--and the joggers pay for it!). It's also a time to forgive, which is a great idea no matter where you are.
  4. Read, Write, and Encourage Reading and Writing. Did you know the vernal equinox is World Storytelling Day? Me neither! But what a fun idea! Celebrate literacy, read to a child, and thank God for His Word!
  5. Spring Clean. This isn't a vernal equinox tradition, like visiting Stonehenge or Chichén Itzá in Mexico, both of which were built thousands of years ago to map the movement of the sun. But it's a spring tradition, one I intend to tackle. My house desperately needs a good cleaning, but so does my heart. Why not use this time--which happens to be Lent, by the way--to take a good look at our hearts and pray for ways to better serve God?
<3:
AWWWWW!!!!
Easter is coming soon. Let's use the time to prepare our hearts, homes, and thoughts for the celebration of Jesus' Resurrection!

***

Susanne Dietze is the author of a dozen historical romances, including The Reluctant Guardian and My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho. You can learn more on her website, www.susannedietze.com.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Watching Waiting Wondering

by Anita Mae Draper

Raise your hand if you're waiting for April. 

Now wave if you know I'm NOT talking about a calendar month.

Good. I'm not the only one. 

For those of you who aren't one of the 134,203 people (as of this writing) who are tuned to the live cam feed at April the Giraffe's YouTube Channel, we are awaiting the birth of April's calf. 

I want to see the live birth of a baby giraffe. I tried to tell my mom about the live cam feed and she kept saying she saw a panda give birth to twins on the news. I told her it wasn't the same...that I was watching a live camera feed into the giraffe's pen. She repeated about seeing the panda birth. When I said it wasn't the same thing she said she thought I liked pandas. She reminded me that my teddy bear had been a panda. Didn't I remember him? I gave up. 

Granted, if I want to see any number of birds and animals giving birth, feeding their young, hatching, etc, I can take my pick of live camera feeds from the explore.org site. 

But April is a giraffe and this is a new experience for me, yet one that brings good memories.



April the Giraffe, taken from the Animal Adventure Park live cam feed

Just look at those huge doe-like eyes. 

I first heard about April on a Feb 24th newscast that said a New York giraffe would be giving birth soon. March crept in and when April didn't deliver, her handlers at Animal Adventure Park (AAP) explained that they may have missed a cycle. He said giraffe cycles are 17 days apart and so my quick figuring meant there was no rush. I settled in for the long haul.

Animal Adventure Park is not a non-profit organization. They run it to make money and they've taken full advantage of the social media publicity that April's pregnancy has given them by selling 2017 Giraffe Watch apparel, etc and even giraffe emojis to brighten up your social media posts. I can't fault them for that. 

Neither can I fault them for the care they take with their two giraffes which comprise of April and her mate, Oliver. I leave the cam feed on a low resolution so it doesn't take much internet usage and with a 4 hr window I can look back to see if I missed anything - like when April kicked the vet and everyone was talking about it on the live chat.



April the Giraffe, taken from the Animal Adventure Park live cam feed

Why do I watch? Because it reminds me of the time when the kids were at school and my day consisted of sitting in a lawn chair in a cold barn with a cup of hot coffee and waiting for our goats to deliver their kids. I never knew when I would be needed to jump into the stall and give a helping hand. Invariably, some of the goats would wait until I went up to the house for a refill and when I got back, they were already licking off their baby, or babies. But others needed help if it was a breech birth, or the kid had one leg forward and one back, etc. And during some blizzards, the does would get stressed and walk away leaving their newborns lying in their amniotic sacks on the straw. So I'd wait and be there if needed.

I enjoyed the bonding period of being a mother waiting with another mother for a miracle to happen.

I know some of the signs to watch for, like the tail flagging and raising, and the stargazing where they stop chewing their cud and stare into space for awhile. I've seen April do these. Oft times she'll stand beside the far wall motionless. I know she's having a contraction when she leans one way while her back foot comes off the floor and quivers. Or it taps the floor in quick succession.

From what the AAP staff say, giraffes have to hide their labor in the wild to keep predators from knowing until it's too late. So AAP won't announce that April is in active labor until they "see hooves". I respect them for that. They've already got us all on tenterhooks without giving us undue anxiety due to false contractions. As it stands, April has already sent everyone in a flurry a couple times, the latest being Sunday night when the vet stayed overnight due to the baby dropping and the blizzard oncoming. And it's been seventeen days since the news first hit social media.

For giraffes, lying down is labor-intensive. It's almost painful to watch their indecisive movements as they bend a knee, shuffle their back feet, bend again, and make the drop to the floor on both front knees, spreading their back legs out, rocking frontwards and backwards as they settle. 

Last night, April changed her mind after her first attempt at lying down although I could feel the exhaustion straining from her. Apparently giraffes only sleep a couple hours a day and supplement with catnaps. April needed rest. A couple minutes later, she tried again and oh, the way she protected her belly as she sunk to the floor, almost tipping head over knees in her attempt to protect her calf.

In this next image, April is lying on her knees and her back left leg stretched out toward the bottom left of the image. Her head is resting on her left hip and her eye(s) is closed.


April the Giraffe sleeping, taken from the Animal Adventure Park live cam feed

What you don't see in the above image is April bonding with her calf. Just minutes before I took the screenshot, I saw her calf kick out as it often does. This time, April turned to rest her head on her large belly. She then stroked her head back and forth several times, moving her head from side to side so that tender area of her throat rubbed against her skin. She stopped and rested her head as you see above. A tender moment of nurturing.

A couple of days ago a soul-searching moment came to mind as I thought of all the people watching April. We are all waiting for a momentous occasion. Sure, we can watch it on YouTube if we miss it, but it won't be the same as watching it live. It's like being there. We've been invited to witness the birth and only God can say what will happen when the time comes. 

Yet the thought that God is watching me watch April makes me wonder why I am not waiting with the same expectation for His son to return. I believe He will return, but I'm not filled with the same sense of eager anticipation that I have for April's calf to be born. 

I'm very much looking forward to both events. Both are cause for joyous celebrations. And they both have an element of danger because when Christ comes to take His believers home, confusion, regret, and violence will be left behind with the unbelievers and those too stubborn to have accepted him when they had their chance. 

I wonder if it's because I know April will deliver one of these days. After all, pregnancies do end.

Or is it because although I don't know when Christ will return, I feel safe because I have a personal relationship with him and I know I'm ready? Yet, have I used my time wisely while waiting? I've already admitted that I continue to work at my writing projects while glancing at April every once in awhile. Is my writing for Him the best I can do? 

A final thought... how will others know the urgency of Christ's return if I'm not showing it? 

Have you been watching April? 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anita Mae Draper's historical romances are woven under the western skies of the Saskatchewan prairie where her love of research and genealogy yield fascinating truths that layer her stories with rich historical details. Her Christian faith is reflected in her stories of forgiveness and redemption as her characters struggle to find their way to that place we call home. Anita loves to correspond with her readers through any of the social media links found at

Readers can enrich their reading experience by checking out Anita's Pinterest boards for a visual idea of her stories at www.pinterest.com/anitamaedraper.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Let's Chat

by Jennifer AlLee

It's my day to write the post. Problem is, I have no idea what to write. As you can imagine, this is frustrating for a writer. It's not writer's block. If it were, I would know what to do. When it comes down to it, non-fiction is hard, especially when the options are so broad. "Write anything" sounds liberating, but it's more like being thrown into the deep end of the pool and being told, "use whatever stroke you like."

If we met for the first time, at a party or a writers conference, we'd learn about each other by sharing stories and interesting facts. So why don't we try a little chit chat? I'll go first...

When I go to Taco Bell, I order a burrito supreme with no onions and extra cheese. Before I eat it, I open the tortilla, swirl the insides around with my finger, then fold it back up again. Why? Otherwise, you have a burrito with a lump of cheese at one end, a lump of sour cream at the other, and none of either in the middle. Swirling is required for maximum goodness.

I can use my tongue to tie a cherry stem into a knot. It's not at all pretty, as it requires a number of contortions to accomplish this feat. But I can do it.

I'm allergic to decongestants and gold injections (it's a long story).

Four generations - Grandma Marie, Mom (Rose-Marie),
Great-grandma Meta, and baby Jennifer
My grandfather was in a movie with Clark Gable. He was only in one scene, playing the violin, but he's right next to Clark.

When I was little, I lived with my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. I kept getting my grandmother and great-grandmother confused, so I called great-grandma "Grandma" and I called my grandmother "Great Marie." Eventually, I shortened it just to Marie. It wasn't until two years after my great-grandmother passed away that I finally called my grandmother "Grandma."

I was almost named Meta, after my great-grandmother. As much as I loved her, I really am glad my mom and dad decided to go with Jennifer.

Now you know a little more about me. Tell me something about yourself. I look forward to it!


****************

JENNIFER ALLEE was born in Hollywood, California, and spent her first ten years living above a mortuary one block away from the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine. Now she lives in the grace-filled city of Las Vegas, which just goes to prove she’s been blessed with a unique life. When she’s not busy spinning tales, she enjoys playing games with friends, attending live theater and movies, and singing at the top of her lungs to whatever happens to be playing on the car radio. Although she’s thrilled to be living out her lifelong dream of being a novelist, she considers raising her son to be her greatest creative accomplishment. To find out more about her novels, visit her website at http://www.jenniferallee.com

Monday, March 6, 2017

Can We Be Civil?

By Niki Turner

When I was a child and got emotional or argumentative with my mother, she used to tell me, “Go to your room and don’t come out until you can be civil.”

I complied for years before I finally understood the definition of “civil.” It’s a concept I think we all need to review in our daily interactions, and model for our own children and grandchildren. (By the way, when you correct your toddlers and young children, use words they know the definitions to.)

In its simplest definition, to be civil means to be “adequate in courtesy and politeness.” In other words, it means to have reasonably decent manners and treat other people the way we would like to be treated. From a Bible definition, it's the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." - Ephesians 4:32


Remember those things we were admonished not to do in grade school? Don’t call people names, even in jest. Don’t tell lies. Don’t cheat. Don’t spread rumors. Respect your elders. Say “please” and “thank you.” You know, the really basic stuff?

"Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs." - Proverbs 10:12


It’s easy to be rude. It’s easy to be negative and cranky and judgmental and unforgiving. And it's happening everywhere, as if someone took a lid off our self-control (a fruit of the Holy Spirit) and folks now have no boundaries. Don't believe me? Go check out some product reviews on Amazon, or the comments on a controversial post on social media. Even our elected and appointed officials are doing it, and their uncivil words and behavior seem to be trickling down to the general public.


"But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." - Psalm 86:15 


Well, it's a free country, and we have the right to speak our mind and say whatever we want about anyone. Sure, but all that rudeness and negativity is detrimental to our personal and societal health. The analogy has been made: words, like arrows, are easy to release from the bow of our mouth. They aren't so easy to remove from the hearts of our targets. And wounded people tend to become wounded people.

"But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked." - Luke 6:35


The word civil is also where we get the words civilized and civilization. When we begin to rationalize exchanging common courtesy and politeness for bad behavior to boost our egos, promote our opinions, or for some other selfish agenda, civilization begins to unravel at the edges.

" Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes form God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." - John 4:7 

Niki Turner is a novelist, journalist, blogger, and the co-owner and editor for the Rio Blanco Herald Times weekly newspaper. Niki is also the current president of the ACFW CO-Western Slope chapter. Married 26 years to her high school sweetheart, she is the mother of 4 adult children and "Mimi" to 4 grandchildren. She devotes lots of time to her two West Highland White Terriers now that she isn't homeschooling or being a pastor's wife. She's the author of seven novellas with an eighth on the way this spring. You can find her at www.nikiturner,net or at her Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2lwgfbF 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

CHOSEN



    Recently, I was offered a contract to write for a company I haven’t worked for before. I had been waiting to hear from them for a little while, was thrilled to know they wanted me, and immediately and happily accepted. After that, I was petrified.
    What had I just agreed to do?
    What if I couldn’t do it?
    What if they didn’t like me???

    Never mind that I have fourteen traditionally published books and three more coming out this year. Never mind that I’ve been writing professionally for more than twenty years. Never mind that this is something I very much want to do.
    Never mind.
    Never mind.
    Never mind.
    All I could hear was that accusing little voice in my ear telling me that I’m a fraud, and this time, this time, mind you, they were all going to realize it.
    By the time I went to bed that night, I had absolutely no joy in this wished-for news.
    How am I going to do this?
    What if something happens?
    Why would they want me?

    Before I went to sleep, I did my scheduled Bible reading. It’s something I do every night, and what I read was something I was quite familiar with, something I had read many, many times before:

Exodus 31:1-6

Then the Lord said to Moses,“See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you:

    When I read it this time, the words fairly shouted at me. God had chosen these men and fitted them to do what He had given them to do. God had chosen me and fitted me to do what He has given me to do.
    He, the Lord of Glory, the Immortal, Invisible God, the Alpha and Omega, had made me a writer, had called me to learn my craft and given me the ability to do what He made me for. No, what I do isn’t as grand and glorious as preparing His house of worship, but I wasn’t called to that. I wasn’t called to pastor a mega-church or have multi-million-selling gospel albums. I was called to do the work He sets before me to the best of my ability and in a way that brings Him glory.
    Just as we all are.
    I think my very favorite Bible verse in times like this is Isaiah 41:13: For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear. I will help you.”
    I went to sleep that night with a smile on my face, knowing He’s got this. And whatever you are called to do for Him, He’s got that, too.


Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® All rights reserved worldwide.