Wednesday, December 7, 2016

New Titles from the Best of Christian Authors!

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

Contemporary Romance:

bella-natale Bella Natale! by Marianne Evans -- An aspiring American artist and the widowed, Italian owner of a premier art gallery meet and fall in love in Florence when he champions her work, but there are her American family's expectations and his five-year-old son to consider. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

with-this-kissWith this Kiss by Marianne Evans -- A kiss stolen in a midnight snow. A jealous colleague at Jonathan's firm is bent on revenge...revenge that puts Isabella's store into legal peril. Will love be enough to see them through? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

mistletoe-daddyMistletoe Daddy by Deb Kastner -- Bubbly Vivian Grainger bids on gruff Nick McKenna at Serendipity Texas's annual Bachelors and Baskets for one reason--to help her build her hair salon; but once Nick finds out she's pregnant, he does his best to build a path to Vivian's heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

a-hero-for-heatherA Hero for Heather by Marion Ueckermann -- When a "homeless" man she's been helping rescues social worker Heather Blume from a vicious attack, she's so grateful she violates one of the most important rules in her profession--she takes him home to tend his wounds. But the mysterious Paxton Rathbone is no homeless man…he's a gentleman. When feelings grow, and Paxton's past beckons, both he and Heather discover there's a fine line between gratitude and love. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

a-husband-for-hollyA Husband for Holly by Marion Ueckermann -- Holly Blume loves decorating people's homes, but that doesn't mean she's ready to play house. Believing a house is not a home without a woman's touch, Reverend Christopher Stewart is in the market for a wife. What woman would consider him marriage material, though, with an aging widowed father to look after, especially one who suffers from Alzheimer's? Despite their differences, Holly resolves to finish her job of redesigning the Stewart home, while Christopher determines to re-form Holly's heart. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

rocky-mountain-cowboyRocky Mountain Cowboy by Tina Radcliffe -- Twelve years after she married another man, Rebecca Anshaw Simpson is back at Joe Gallagher's ranch as his physical therapist. But healing his body is nothing compared to guarding his heart from the woman he never forgot. Becca won't let regret and a surly rancher get in the way of her job and the chance to start over with her little girl. But Becca never expected she'd fall all over again for her first love. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Cozy Mystery:

christmas-cookie-mysteryChristmas Cookie Mystery by Naomi Miller -- With Christmas right around the corner, Katie Chupp and The Sweet Shop get involved in a mystery when a certain dear family finds an unexpected package at their door. (Cozy Mystery from S&G Publishing)


michelMichel: The Fourth Wise Man by Katheryn Maddox Haddad -- This descendant of Daniel, also a wise man, sacrifices everything - his wife, his father, his home - to do what he is convinced God needs him to do, then finds out he was wrong (Historical from Northern Lights Publishing House)

five-nights-with-pharaohFive Nights with Pharaoh by Kristen Reed -- Shortly after entering Egypt with her husband, Sarai is taken into Pharaoh’s harem as his newest, most favored concubine. The breathtaking, ageless beauty is forced to cling to her faith in God as she prays for the strength to accept her new position and endures a series of mysterious plagues that can only be indicative of a wrathful deity’s divine judgment. Discover a remarkable reimagining of Sarai’s plight in Egypt, where she humbly set aside her own honor to protect the man through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. (Historical - Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

seven-brides-for-seven-texansSeven Brides for Seven Texans Romance Collection by Amanda Barratt, Susan Page Davis, Keli Gwyn, Vickie McDonough, Gabrielle Meyer, Lorna Leslie Seilstad, Erica Vetsch -- Meet the seven Hart brothers of the 7-Heart ranch in central Texas. Each man is content in his independent life, without the responsibilities of a wife and children--until their father decides 1874 will be the year his grown sons finally marry, or they will be cut from his will. How will each man who values his freedom respond to the ultimatum? Can love develop on a timeline, or will it be sacrificed for the sake of an inheritance? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

a-pony-express-romanceA Pony Express Romance by Misty M. Beller -- Pony Express rider Josiah English and the station master's sister, Mara Reid, fall in love, but when the Express shuts down and Mara's family home is in peril, the danger looming over Mara's life may not be half as destructive as that threatening her heart. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Military Suspense:

conspiracy-of-silenceConspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig -- A former Green Beret is confronted by past mistakes as he and his team battle a centuries-old plague and the terrorists bent on rewriting history. (Military Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Romantic Suspense:

hazardous-holidayHazardous Holiday by Liz Johnson -- Just in time for the holidays, navy SEAL Zach McCloud returns home from deployment--and discovers someone wants his family dead. When he married his cousin's struggling widow, he vowed to help her and her seriously ill son, and now he'll risk everything to protect them. Even if their arrangement is only temporary. Kristi's certain an unhappy client from the law firm where she works is determined to hunt her down. But when a sniper bullet wildly misses its target, they begin to question whether it's really her someone wants dead. Working together, can they figure out why they've been attacked…and keep little Cody from the nefarious forces dead set on making this Christmas their last? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

christmas-conspiracyChristmas Conspiracy by Susan Sleeman -- When Commander Jake Marsh loses control of a hostage situation and Tessa Long is injured, guilt eats at him. He blurs the line between the professional and personal, and visits Tessa at the hospital. But when a man tries to kill her in her hospital room, Jake disregards all of the rules and regulations that have allowed him to control his world and vows to keep her safe no matter what. Trouble is, the situation brings back memories from his childhood of the loss of his entire family, and for the first time in twenty years, he fears he's no longer in charge of his life, and knows when he's out of control bad things happen. Very bad things. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Look Out Behind You! It's Your Past.

It's December, and we're now officially nearing the end of the year. You probably knew that. For many years I've used the twelfth month to look back at what I've accomplished and to look forward to the new year at all the wonderful things I will achieve. Ah, yes, it's that time again--time to review, re-evaluate, re-engage, and reinvent myself.

Inevitably, I find myself somewhere between disappointed and revolted at my accomplishments (or lack thereof) of the previous eleven months, yet thrilled to the point of giggling at the possibilities that lie before me in the great unknown, that wonderfully hazy, fascinatingly clean slate of the coming twelve months. While I didn't achieve The New York Times bestsellers status (again) this year, I'm optimistic that next year I will not only get on that list, but top it. For months on end. Heck, for the whole year. And then again, perhaps this is my year for the Pulitzer Prize. The way I look at it, every year that passes while I lose out to some other ridiculously-talented, deserving, or unknown (to me) author is a year closer to when I will. Win, that is. I might have to live for another century or two (or eight), but hey, its getting closer. I can feel it.

Even as I make excuses for my poor performance during the past year, I also compile a list of goals for the months ahead of me. At this point, the sky's the limit. Typically, it  looks something like this:

1.     Write 5000 (edited) words per day, seven days a week.
2.     Complete two full novels (100,000 words each) and their proposals, back cover copy, cover ideas, synopses, marketing ideas, etc.
3.     Submit those proposals to my agent, who will be thrilled (as always)
4.     Start taking notes on my next novel (the one my agent and readers begged me to begin)
5.     Conduct no fewer than five book signings every three months
6.     Research and enter no fewer than 12 contests
7.     Attend no fewer than four writers' conferences
8.     Consider tackling some speaking engagements
9.     Develop topics for speaking engagements
10.   Hire an assistant to handle the flood of speaking engagement and book signing requests
11.   Tweet 120 times per day
12.   Write a blog post every twenty minutes, post, then tweet about the post
13.   Answer the flood of positive comments on my blog posts
14.   Thank my retweeters of the 120+ tweets, as well as my too-numerous-to-count new followers

Okay then. That's nice, isn't it? So productive, so optimistic, so not-going-to-happen. Here's what really occurs:

1.     Write no fewer than 10 words per day (more like eight)
2.     Complete ... something
3.     Submit ... something
4.     Start ... something (anything)
5.     Read about other authors' book signings
6.     Read about writing contests (and the authors who win them)
7.     Think about writing conferences (and the writers who actually attended them)
8.     Consider ... something
9.     Develop ... something
10.   Dream about hiring an assistant
11.   Tweet about something at least one time per week
12.   Try to remember I have two blogs on which to post every .... once in a while
13.   Check to see if anyone--anyone at all--has commented on my blog posts
14.   Forget I even have a Twitter account

There. That's more like it. The way I look at it, if I keep my goals to a rock bottom minimum, I can hardly avoid achieving them! Well, one or two of them, at least. And therein lies the solution to my problems. The reason I never seem to accomplish anything is because I set my standards too high. If I lower those standards, I'll be able to reach them easily. And lowering my standards is the proper thing to do, right? Don't want to get above my raising, you know.

On the other hand, perhaps I should rein in my disappointment with myself over my perceived failures during the previous eleven months. After all, looking at my past accomplishments through the same lens I use to view the upcoming year and its dazzling array of victories is just asking for trouble. Better to view my past with as much optimism as I do my future. That's probably better than admitting to myself that the coming twelve months will soon be my past twelve months--when it starts all over again.

I think I need professional help.

How about you? How do you evaluate your past accomplishments and jumpstart your new ones?
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Friday, December 2, 2016

Review: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates


By Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger

            Years ago, military historian Brig. Gen. S.L.A. Marshall wrote that a wartime battlefield bears little resemblance to the ordered mayhem of football behemoths competing in the Rose Bowl. Instead, it bears closer resemblance to recess time in a schoolyard in a tough neighborhood. Marshall's comparison is borne out in Kilmeade and Yaeger's account of the ragged succession of failures and victories in President Jefferson's war with the Barbary Pirates.
            In 1785, Algerian pirates seized the American merchant ship Dauphin and enslaved its crew and Captain Richard O'Brien. Thomas Jefferson, then U.S. envoy to France, recognized the pirates as a serious threat to commerce and personal liberties. He and John Adams, then U.S. envoy to England, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdrahaman, about the problem and possibly buying peace through paying tribute, as the European nations were doing. But the price was too high, and would buy peace with only one of the four pirate states.  Abdrahaman stated further that what Americans called piracy was justified by the Islamic religion: "It was written in our Qur'an."
            In 1797, the U.S. did buy freedom for O'Brien and his surviving crew. It also bought peace with tribute for some years, and at least one of the tribute-bearing ships was forced to carry the Algerian pirates' gifts to Constantinople. But when Jefferson became president, he persuaded Congress to build a navy.  He also received a threat from the bashaw of Tripoli: increase the tribute, or the bashaw would declare war on the U.S. Jefferson therefore sent three naval ships to the Mediterranean as a show of force. Thus began Jefferson's transition from paying tribute to taking military action.
            From that point, the authors trace the intricate interweaving of diplomacy and force, the raged pattern of failures and successes that ultimately won a tenuous peace with all of the pirate kingdoms and established the United States as a power to be reckoned with.
            The strength of the authors' book is its detail of research and its recording events in their chronological order. It also gives the readers an appreciation of the difficulties commanders experienced in those days of little communication. Naval commanders also had to be diplomats, and they had to make diplomatic decisions without help from higher headquarters. Readers will not find this book to be a page turner, but will be gratified by the amount of historical detail it provides about the newly constituted America's emergence as a power on the world scene. It is recommended for its information rather than its writing style.
Review by Donn Taylor
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