Gail's Book Nook

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Looking Out The Window: Julie Cosgrove Introduces The Third Book In Her Bunco Biddies Mysteries, Threes, Sixes & Thieves. Gives Away A Copy.

A Warm Welcome to Julie Cosgrove

A staff writer for Cru Canada's Power to Change Internet Ministry, Julie shares a devotional, Give It Up. She  also gives away a print copy of  Threes, Sixes and Thieves  (U.S. residents only). Enter to win by joining the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

Hi Julie, First, tell us a little about yourself.

I am a widow who lives in Fort Worth, Texas. I am a native Texan and write about Texas folks and places because it is not only what I know, it is what I love, deep in the heart…as the song goes.  I love words and play word games with friends and the computer.  I always have—from crosswords, to find the word to solving the jumbles in the daily paper. My mom was always my Scrabble partner and would cheer me on when I won. I do miss staring at that board of pink, tan, red, and blue squares with her.

Let's talk about your writing. Why do you do it? 

Why do you scratch an itch? Seriously, I have always loved to express myself through writing. I made up stories as a child and took creative writing in school. Then life got in the way, but I’d still find myself casting characters and plots while folding laundry or being stuck in traffic.

We moved a lot because of my husband’s career and I found that best way for me to make money was freelance writing. But my true desire was to write solely for One Person. I began tithing my writing day to Him, donating devotionals to several publications, and eventually being paid for a few.

Now, besides being a novelist, I am a digital missionary. I am on staff to write and edit devotionals and inspirational articles for Cru Canada’s Power to Change Internet ministry. Our websites touch 600,000 lives a month and lead many into conversations with confidential online mentors who plant the seeds of faith or help encourage those who are struggling with their faith. I also have my own devotional blog, Where Did You Find God Today, with readership in 51 countries.

Tell us about your latest series. 

I originally contracted for suspense romances, and then a few contemporary romances. But my love has always been whodunits. So my sister challenged me to write one. Long story short, my publisher took the chance and signed me for a three-book cozy mystery series called the Bunco Biddies Mysteries.

All of them are set in a fictitious 55 plus community in Central Texas where twelve active seniors play Bunco, and then when crime begins to seep into their neck of the woods, decide to help the police solve them. After all, they know the people and, being retired, have time on their hands. The fact the chief detective is the ringleader, Janie’s, son-in-law adds spice to the plots. The first, Dumpster Dicing, won Best Cozy in Texas 2017 by the Texas Association of Authors.
All of my books, fiction and nonfiction, can be perused on my website

About Threes, Sixes & Thieves

Sunset Acres isn't safe. Thieves are targeting homes with threes and sixes in their house numbers. Caught in the act, one robber is arrested, but later found hanged in his jail cell. The police claim it's a suicide. Janie and her Bunco Biddies worry there might be dirty cops in Alamoville...but who can they convince?

What inspired you to write Threes, Sixes & Thieves?  

Threes, Sixes & Thieves is the third in the series. Like Dumpster Dicing and Baby Bunco, it has a dice theme. When someone rolls three sixes, the game of Bunco ends. But to title a faith-based novel Three Sixes? Um, no. So my publisher changed the title.

I wrote it from a personal experience. I was working part-time at a church when, just down the road, a man shot a policeman who had pulled him over and ran away. That put the whole area on lockdown for six plus hours and the church became the police command center for the manhunt. So naturally I had to write about it, right?

Wow! What do you love about this book? And what do you hope readers will tell others about it? 

My characters are lovable seniors who still have a lot of life left in them. They love God, country, and each other. The series is mildly humorous and I hope the characters’ interactions and shenanigans make the novels enjoyable. At least that is what reviewers say so far. I also hope readers will tell others that these books are fun, have many twists and turns, and surprise endings which make each one worth their time to read.

Does your faith affect your writing? How? 

My faith is my life, and so it naturally influences my writings. Though I often don’t quote chapter and verse in my novels, my characters live out their lives according to their faith, and their struggles and circumstances are guided by it.

What are you working on right now? 

There is a fourth Bunco Biddies, entitled Until Dice Do We Part, in edits right now. I am also contracted to begin a new cozy series based on three thirty-something women who delve into genealogies and find skeletons in family closets others will do anything to keep closed.  Those will begin to emerge later in 2018-2019.

Julie's Devotional

Give It Up

I grew up in the tradition of giving up something during the six weeks before Easter known as Lent. In the early church, Lent was a time of discernment for people who considered giving up the ways of the world for the Christian life. Then, on Easter (Resurrection Sunday) they would be baptized, having truly thought about the decision they made. For many of them it would eventually mean giving up their lives. That makes the few weeks of chocolate or soda pops I grudgingly “sacrificed” as a youth pretty pale in comparison.

Now as an adult, I see that Lent is a practice session for what I am supposed to do all the time. It doesn’t work to give up pizza for a few weeks, and then the afternoon after Easter services order a large pepperoni to be delivered. Or to give up chocolate only to devour a candy bunny from our Easter basket on the way to church. No habit has changed. It’s only been postponed.

Jesus told his disciples, “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:33)  Seems harsh, but the Truth often is. As Scripture reveals, we can’t have two masters. Jesus preached that He would give up everything for his followers, and He did. He gave it up for me—and for you as well. What will we give up in return?

How about pride? Can you give up the idea that it is all your doing and instead give God the glory because He made you with the talents, beauty, or skills you have? Do you point to yourself or to Him when success shines on you?

What about envy? Can you set aside the green meanie that rises in your throat and begin to see the worth God sees in you?  He has a use for all of us, no matter our age, abilities, outward appearance, or intellect. Or will you waste time comparing yourself to others and feeling useless?

What if we gave up prejudice? That’s a tough one. As the song in the old movie South Pacific states, we are taught at a young age to distinguish them from us. It is human nature to dislike people who are different, to not trust them. It takes the love of Christ to break down the walls.

What about giving up other things such as time spent on social media or watching TV? Sure, diversions are fun and can take our mind off of things for a while. Honestly, as an author, I hope my books provide a bit of an escape for folks. But should even faith-based fiction take the place of prayer and Bible study? Nope.

Lent begins in about a month and goes until March 31st, the Saturday before Easter. But any day can be the beginning of your own personal Lent. Just remember when you give up something, you need to take on something to replace it. Take off the cloak of pride and pull on the gown of humility.

Remove envy and slip on hospitality. Slough off prejudice and drape yourself in compassion. Okay, do read books—please! But also take on some quiet “me and God” time each day.

This year, strive to give up something for the One who gave up everything for you. And seek His help in doing it. He will be glad you asked. It’s the reason He lived, and died, and rose again.

*Butterfly photo courtesy of Pixabay

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Monday, January 8, 2018

Looking Out the Window: Leeann Betts Discusses Her Latest Mystery, Petty Cash. Gives Away A Copy.

A Warm Welcome to Leeann Betts

Leeann will give away an ebook or print copy (U.S. residents only) of Petty Cash. Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

Hi Leeann, First, tell us a little about yourself. First of all, I am an alter ego, and I write cozy mysteries and contemporary suspense. My real life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical romantic suspense. “We” are Canadian by birth, American by choice, and Donna is married to Patrick, her first-line editor and most avid fan. I enjoy reading, movies, and traveling for research and fun.

Were you an avid reader as a child? If so, what did you read? I read all the time. Anything and everything, especially if there was a horse in the story or on the cover. One time, I was so engrossed in my book that I missed my bus stop and ended up in the boonies at the bus depot. I was only 7, and my mother had to come get me.

Tell us about your latest book.  In Petty Cash, Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, is headed off for another mystery. She and hubby Mike head to Cape Cod as emotional support for their daughter Denise and her dentist husband Don who finds himself in the middle of a potential practice dissolution. But when their host fails to make an appearance, and a tropical storm blows through the area, things are topsy-turvy. Then when their host’s body washes ashore, Don is suspected. After all, they’d had several arguments witnessed by a number of people. Can Carly figure out who the real killer is before her son-in-law is shanghaied into a life sentence?

What inspired you to write this particular book? I wanted to write this book in a place where I once spent a week’s vacation, somewhere close to Carly’s home but not at home. I love the ocean, the beach, and Cape Cod, so it was a natural fit.

What do you love about this book? And what do you hope readers will tell others about it? As a born-again believer, I write from a Biblical worldview. In the first book in this series, I introduced the subjects of God and faith. Since Carly is spending a week with the same characters who first brought this subject up, I thought it was a good time to bring it up again. I’d love for readers to see that faith in Christ isn’t a once-and-for-all decision, and it usually isn’t a choice made the first time a person hears about Him—it’s a process.

In three words describe your style of writing. Second chance stories.

How do you get to know your characters? Sometimes I write a chapter or two of the story until I get to the real beginning of the book. Then I know a lot more about my characters, and I simply delete the first chapter or two and jump in where the story really begins.

Are you a plotter or a pantzer? I am a plotter. I have tried a bunch of different methods and styles, and now I write a 2-4 page synopsis, scene by scene, that keeps me on track.

Does your faith affect your writing? How? My faith does affect my writing because it’s who I am, and I believe that in order to remain true to myself, true to my calling, and true to God, everything I write should point to God in some way. I like to use themes of justice, forgiveness, and second chances for damaged people—because we’re all damaged in some way.

Do you put yourself in your books? Sure—doesn’t everybody? (laugh) I am an accountant by training, as is Carly. Her husband is a computer programmer, and guess what? My hubby is a programmer. I use names of people I really know, and so I warn folks that if they don’t treat me nice, they’ll appear in my next book. And actually, sometimes I name bad characters after people I really love—so go figure.

What are you working on right now? Polishing some completed manuscripts, plus working on a proposal for Hallmark Publishing.

Buy Petty Cash on  Amazon  and Smashwords

About Leeann

Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released six titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with Petty Cash releasing in December. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. See below for details.

Receive a free ebook just for signing up for our quarterly newsletter at Leeann's website
Connect with Leeann on her Blog

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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Looking Out The Window: American Christian Fiction Writers January New Releases

January 2018 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

Her Handyman Hero by Lorraine Beatty -- Reid Blackthorn arrives in Dover on a personal mission—to make sure his terminally ill brother gets a chance to meet his daughter. Deceiving little Lily’s guardian isn’t his intention. Yet once Tori Montgomery mistakes Reid for her new handyman, he knows it’s the only way to be close to his niece. Tori is honoring her friend’s last wish by keeping Lily away from her father’s family. And once she learns who Reid truly is, she realizes there’s too much at stake—including custody of Lily—for her to fall for the former DEA agent. But in keeping a promise, is she losing out on her chance for a happily-ever-after? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Beneath the Summer Sun by Kelly Irvin -- It’s been four years since Jennie’s husband died in a farming accident. Long enough that the elders in her Amish community think it’s time to marry again for the sake of her seven children. What they don’t know is that grief isn’t holding her back from a new relationship. Fear is. A terrible secret in her past keeps her from moving forward. Meanwhile, Leo Graber nurtures a decades-long love for Jennie, but guilt plagues him—guilt for letting Jennie marry someone else and guilt for his father’s death on a hunting trip many years ago. How could anyone love him again—and how could he ever take a chance to love in return? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Ain’t Misbehaving by Marji Laine -- True, Annalee’s crime amounted to very little, but not in terms of community service hours. Her probation officer encouraged her with a promise of an easy job in an air-conditioned downtown environment. She didn’t expect her role to be little better than a janitor at an after-school daycare in the worst area of town. Carlton Whelen hides behind the nickname of CJ so people won’t treat him like the wealthy son of the Whelen Foundation director. Working at the foundation’s after-school program delights him and annoys his business-oriented father. When a gorgeous prima donna is assigned to his team, he not only cringes at her mistakes but also has to avoid the attraction that builds from the first time he sees her. (Contemporary Romance from Write Integrity Press)

Finding Grace by Melanie D. Snitker -- Single dad Tyler Martin can't be more grateful to the woman who finds his missing daughter. Even though he feels a spark between them, falling in love is a risk he shouldn't take. Too bad chance encounters and his stubborn heart keep trying to convince him otherwise. After escaping a nightmarish relationship, Beth Davenport is content with her safe and blessedly normal life. Yet something about Tyler and his adorable daughter makes her wish for more. With the walls around her heart finally starting to crumble, she's afraid of a future she can't predict. Can they let go of their fear and trust God to lead them to the love they desperately need? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Marrying Mandy by Melanie D. Snitker -- Mandy Hudson swore she'd never marry. Abandoned by her parents and raised by her grandparents, she has a hard time trusting that real love will last. When her grandmother dies, Mandy's shocked to discover a stipulation in the will. Considering marriage to her best friend may be the only way to keep her family's beloved bed-and-breakfast. The loss of his job threatens Preston Yarrow's shaky financial stability. Besides, he can't watch his best friend give up the only real home she's ever known. Frustrated by Mandy's stubborn refusal to let him help, he's certain they are stronger together than they are apart. A marriage of convenience might be crazy... or an answer to both their prayers. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


Son of Promise by Caryl McAdoo -- Can a wife find the grace to forgive when her husband’s withheld the truth? Travis Buckmeyer has a secret son, and the morning’s come to tell his sweet wife. He hates breaking Emma Lee’s heart. She promised him one ten years ago, but hasn’t been blessed to carry a baby to term. Every miscarriage made the telling harder, but now his clock’s run out. He’s going for his son, praying he won’t lose her.
Cody knows who his mother claims his father is, but he’s only interested in getting sprung from reform school then boosting enough from the do-gooder to bust out on his own.
Can Travis find redemption, Emma Lee forgiveness, or Cody the love he’s been longing for? (Historical, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

Hearts Entwined by Mary Connealy, Melissa Jagears, Regina Jennings, and Karen Witemeyer -- Four top historical romance novelists team up in this new collection to offer stories of love and romance with a twist of humor. In Karen Witemeyer's "The Love Knot," Claire Nevin gets the surprise of her life awaiting her sister's arrival by train. Mary Connealy's "The Tangled Ties That Bind" offers the story of two former best friends who are reunited while escaping a stampede. Regina Jennings offers "Bound and Determined," where a most unusual trip across barren Oklahoma plains is filled with adventure, romance, and . . . camels? And Melissa Jagears' "Tied and True" entertains with a tale of two hearts from different social classes who become entwined at a cotton thread factory. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Mary Davis, Kathleen E. Kovach, Paula Moldenhauer, Suzanne Norquist, Donita Kathleen Paul, Donna Schlachter, and Pegg Thomas -- For seven bachelors, this bouquet of brides means a happily ever after. Meet seven American women who were named for various flowers but struggle to bloom where God planted them. Can love help them grow to their full potential? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Mother For His Family by Susanne Dietze --
Lady Helena Stanhope’s reputation is in tatters…and she’s lost any hope for a “respectable” ton marriage. An arranged union is the only solution. But once Helena weds formidable Scottish widower John Gordon, Lord Ardoch, and encounters his four mischievous children, she’s determined to help her new, ever-surprising family. Even if she’s sure love is too much to ask for.
All John needs is someone to mother his admittedly unruly brood. He never imagined that beautiful Lady Helena would be a woman of irresistible spirit, caring and warmth. Or that facing down their pasts would give them so much in common. Now, as danger threatens, John will do whatever it takes to convince Helena their future together—and his love—are for always. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

His Forgotten Fiancee by Evelyn M. Hill -- Liza Fitzpatrick is stunned when her fiancĂ© finally arrives in Oregon City — with amnesia. Matthew Dean refuses to honor a marriage proposal he doesn’t recall making, but Liza needs his help now to bring in the harvest, and maybe she can help him remember… Matthew is attracted to the spirited Liza, and as she tries to help him regain his old memories, the new ones they’re creating together start to make him feel whole. Even as he falls for her again, though, someone’s determined to keep them apart. Will his memory return in time to save their future? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White -- Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a critical task at the outset of World War I--to secure a crucial cypher key from a famous violinist currently in Wales. Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he's won--until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father's work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only distraction he finds from his worry is in meeting the intriguing and talented Willa Forsythe. But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn't--that she must betray him and find that key, or her own family could pay the same price his surely has. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])


Surgeon's Choice by Richard L. Mabry, MD -- Dr. Ben Merrick thought his biggest problem was getting his fiancé's divorced parents into the same room for the wedding--and then, people started dying. (Mystery, Independently Published through White Glove)

Romantic Suspense:

Innocent Lies by Robin Patchen -- Desperate to be safe from the man who held her captive and ruined her life, Kelsey must ensure her child is protected before she can take her enemy on. But a string of bad luck gets her arrested and lands her face-to-face with the only man she’s ever loved—the only man who can destroy all her plans. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Cold Truth by Susan Sleeman -- When research chemist Kiera Underwood receives the cryptic phone call about her twin brother, she tries to contact him to no avail. Her twin sense tingles, warning her that something is wrong. Kiera’s not prepared when an attempt is made on her life and Blackwell Tactical operative Cooper Ashcroft delivers her second shock of the day. Someone killed the supervisor at the research lab where her brother works and stole a deadly biotoxin. The main suspect? Her brother, and Blackwell Tactical has been hired to bring him in. If that wasn’t shocking enough, she’s suspected of colluding with him. Setting out to prove herself and her brother is innocent, she is almost abducted before Ashcroft rescues her. He’s faced with the reality that she’s telling the truth and someone has likely abducted her brother—perhaps killed him—and now Kiera’s very life is in danger, too. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Friday, December 22, 2017

Merry Christmas

"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2: 10 - 11)

Some say Christ wasn’t born on December 25th. They claim Christians took the date from a Roman holiday to rival the pagan feasts that took place during the Winter Solstice. This occasion honored a new age brought by the sun. Depending on location, the Winter Solstice occurs on or around December 25th. However, it’s not the date we celebrate. It’s Christ’s life, His Gospel of love and sacrifice.

 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3: 16 – 17)

“…They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life.” (Matthew 20: 18 - 19)

Christ’s gift to us—eternal life!

“Where, O death, is thy victory... ’’(I Corinthians 15:55)

Christ lives today!

“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 20)

Christmas is when we open our hearts to Him.

Celebrate the birth!

Honor the name, CHRIST, our Savior!

Sing it! Say it! Praise it! Shout it!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Looking Out The Window: Award-Winning Author Carlene Havel Introduces Her New Novel, Song of the Shepherd Woman. Winner's Choice E-book Giveaway

A Warm Welcome to Carlene Havel

Congratulations on your wonderful new book, Song of the Shepherd Woman

Carlene will give away an eBook. The winner may choose from any of her romance or historical books. Make a selection from Carlene's Amazon Page then enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below.  Just click on Choose Your Own Option and leave an email address.


Carlene Shares her favorite Bible verse and a favorite recipe

Carlene’s favorite Bible verse (today) is John 3:17: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

Carlene admits her favorite verse seems to change fairly often, but usually comes either from John or Romans.

December is Carlene’s month to invade her husband’s domain, the kitchen.  She loves to make Christmas treats both to serve and to give away.  She loves quick, easy recipes that yield something cute as well as tasty.  One of her favorites is this simple, no-bake recipe for holiday mints.

Holiday Mints

Thoroughly blend one cup confectioner's sugar for each ounce of cream cheese. Mix and flavor with peppermint extract to taste (I use at least two tablespoons for a batch of 4 cups sugar/4 oz cheese, but I love mint.)

Shape into small balls and allow to dry for at least an hour or two, in the fridge if it’s a warm day.

Dip in melted white chocolate coating after drying. Sprinkle something festive from the cupboard on top, and your mints are both decorative and yummy.

About Song of the Shepherd Woman

In the first century, Channa’s stepfather gives her to her maternal great-uncle Avram to raise.  He is known to be a peculiar, perhaps dangerous, man with a wife who cannot speak.  Nevertheless, they are kind to Channah and teach her how to care for sheep. When her stepfather unexpectedly announces her betrothal to a Jerusalem tanner, the girl is forced to leave the only home she knows.

The ebook is available at an introductory price of 99 cents for a while, and it’s available just about everywhere.  Here are a couple of links.

Other Digital Stores

Bio: Carlene Havel writes historical stories set in Biblical times with her writing partner Sharon Faucheux.  The duo’s latest release is Song of the Shepherd Woman.

Connect with Carlene Havel on:

Her Website

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