Friday, September 27, 2013

Guest Post - Charlotte Hubbard Author of Winter of Wishes

Where Do I Get My Ideas?

            From the beginning, this Seasons of the Heart series has felt special—almost magical—to me. First, editor Alicia Condon at Kensington invited me to write this Amish series, which is so much easier than conjuring proposals and story lines, then sending them to your agent and editors on spec. Because Alicia had previously bought my Angels of Mercy series, she already knew I could write faith-and-family stories and I already knew I enjoyed writing for her. While she’s quick to say what ideas won’t work for her, she’s also very enthusiastic once I send in finished material. Her compliments inspire me to keep my rear in the chair even on days when writing two Amish series for two different publishers threatens my sanity!

            And when it came time to research the Amish in Missouri, where my series is set, I came across a magazine article that hooked me up with Jim Smith of Step Back In Time tours in Jamesport, a large Old Order Amish settlement. Happenstance? I don’t think so! Jim isn’t Amish, but he grew up in Jamesport and he knows all those Plain folks—takes his tour buses to their stores—so my time riding around the back roads of Jamesport with him gave me a bunch of great ideas and understanding of the Amish culture. And as I write, Jim is only an email away when I have questions about stuff like, how do they run the windshield wipers on their buggies? Or, what color apron would a young girl wear to church? Jim and I have become really good friends, and he promotes my books on his buses, so when his guests get to the Christian bookstore located in the Oak Ridge Furniture, they snap up copies to take home!

            Then, there’s the way ideas and characters have been coming at me from out of nowhere! When I proposed this series and began writing about Miriam Lantz and her three girls, I knew all these women would eventually find the loves of their lives—that’s a given, in romance—but I had no idea that Ben Hooley would blow in during a storm in AUTUMN WINDS and then bring his two maiden aunts, Jerusalem and Nazareth, to Willow Ridge, along with four little goats! I got that idea when I spotted a book on raising goats in Lowe’s, and I just knew I had to write about them! And while I knew the bishop, Hiram Knepp, was arrogant and determined to marry Miriam himself, I had no clue about how far he’d take his underhanded tactics. It was sheer joy to bring Hiram to justice in WINTER OF WISHES—although he’s by no means going to disappear. My readers, my editor, and I love to hate this man! Even though he gets tossed out of Willow Ridge, he’ll be plotting his revenge from afar, even into books 4 and 5.

            Another unexpected gift of writing this series has been the invitation to write a Christmas anthology featuring novellas by Charlotte Hubbard and Naomi King (the other me) which allow characters from both of my series to mix and mingle! AN AMISH COUNTRY CHRISTMAS comes out October 1, 2013—another ingenious idea of my editor. And just last week, she asked if I would participate in the Amish holiday anthology slated for 2014. While lying half-awake in the wee hours this morning, I got the idea for a Christmas pageant in Willow Ridge, again “out of nowhere” and by 1:00 this afternoon I had sent the synopsis for my story. The rabbits just seem to keep popping out of the hat without me having to tug very hard.

In reality, however, I believe the “ask and you shall receive” system is at work here. It is an act of faith to sit down and write a book. Even now that I’ve been published for nearly 30 years, there’s no guarantee that story lines and characters will show up when I need them, or that these fictional people and their activities will entertain my readers. As I continue to write the Seasons of the Heart series, however, I will keep asking God for help and I’ll keep believing He’ll bring it to me. He’s never failed me yet!

            I’d be delighted if you’d read WINTER OF WISHES and go to my website,, to check out my other books as well. You can Friend me as Charlotte Hubbard on Facebook, and you can also Like my Naomi C. King author page. I appreciate any comments or reviews you care to leave at places like, and other online bookstores, as well. Thanks so much for your interest in my stories! Together, we can keep this “magic” going!

Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Charlotte Hubbard (a.k.a. Naomi King) writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her new Seasons of the Heart series. Like her heroine, Miriam Lantz, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people—to share hearth and home. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle, and the foundation of her earlier Angels of Mercy series. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review - Fire and Ash by Jonathan Maberry

Benny Imura and his friends have made it to Sanctuary, they've found the jet and they've discovered that civilization is struggling to regain its foothold in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. Scientists are on the verge of finding a cure for the zombie plague. It should be time for celebration, but it's not. Benny's best friend, Chong, has been infected by an arrow dipped in the flesh of a zombie and he hovers between life and death and Dr McReady, a researcher who may have the critical formula for a cure, has gone missing. So Benny convinces Captain Ledger to mount a search and rescue mission to find the doctor and help Chong. But with the Reapers still pursuing their plan to turn all zombies into super-fast shock troops even if they can save Chong, can they save themselves? In the fourth book of the thrilling and emotionally charged Rot & Ruin series, the battle to end all battles is about to begin...
Sadly, Fire and Ash by Jonathan Maberry is the last in the Benny Imura series. I was so excited to read it that I could barely put it down. But then there was a part of me that was incredibly sad that the story was ending so I wanted to read it slowly. I couldn't. I tried, but I couldn't.

Benny, Lilah, Nix, Riot, and even Chong have come such a long way from the people they'd been at the beginning of the series. Well, Riot not so much the beginning. But you know what I mean.

Benny was an immature boy who idolized the wrong people, Chong was clueless, Nix was kind of just there... and Lilah, well, if you've read the story you know what Lilah was. In just the year since Benny started apprenticing with Tom they've all lost their childhood. They've all been through such unspeakable horrors that the part of them that should be dominant, the carefree-stupid-teenager part, is completely dead and gone. They won't ever get it back.

With the additions of Riot and Joe Ledger (along with his faithful, yet terrifying, companion Grimm), Benny and his crew seek to finally put an end to the war going on in the Ruin. The war between Sanctuary, the Reapers, the "Zoms", and whoever else comes along. It's time for it to just end. They think they've finally found a way to put a stop to it... but Brother Peter and Saint John have different ideas. Ideas that will completely rock their world, and not in a good way.

They've got to do it without Chong, though. Unfortunately Chong is more or less gone, kept in a cage in the bowels of Sanctuary, seemingly unable to remember who he is... what he is. Benny, Nix, and Lilah are desperate to find out if something can be done to save him, but no one will give them any answers.

I'm not gonna lie. I still miss Tom immensely. He was just such a calming force for the group and kind of their stability. Their rock. I think Benny was really able to fill his shoes the best he could this go around. I'm sure he would have made him proud. Joe Ledger made me mad for quite a while in this story. He was being just as evasive as the rest of the scientists and military personnel and irritating Benny to no end. I think he redeemed himself quite well, however. It was nice to see that Riot stuck around, not that she was really able to go anywhere. But I was glad she didn't try and separate herself from Benny and his friends.

The Night Church still makes my skin crawl. They're horrible and disgusting and just a complete and totally insane group of people. Stomach churning.

I will have to admit, one of my favorite parts was the allusion to The Walking Dead that was made later on in the book. I would tell you what it is, but.... Spoilers. You'll have to read to see it for yourself.

The book itself was incredibly long. I don't think that detracted from the story at all, though. On the contrary, it was an extremely exciting edition. Just when I thought things were over and done with, I realized there were still a hundred pages to go and so much more of the story to read. It was full of suspense and nailbiting battles. I highly recommend that you read it. Especially if you've read the others in the series. I don't think you'll be disappointed if you do.

It will be worth it for you to see Benny and Nix and how the realizations of who they have become change them for the better in Fire and Ash. It will be worth it to see all of the things that they find and the information that they learn from a completely unexpected source. And it will definitely be worth it to finally see how it all ends. Even though I hated to turn that last page and close the book... I was glad that I'd read the series. It was fantastic. Absolutely fantastic.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review - Winter of Wishes by Charlotte Hubbard

As another year draws to a close in Willow Ridge, life seems to be changing for everyone but Rhoda Lantz. Her widowed mother is about to remarry, her sister is a busy newlywed, and soon Rhoda will be alone in her cozy apartment above the blacksmith's shop. An ad posted by an Englischer looking for someone to help with his mother and children may offer just the companionship she's looking for, but if she falls for the caring single father, she may risk being shunned by her community. Certain she can only wish for things she cannot have, Rhoda must remember that all things are possible with God, and nothing is stronger than the power of love.
I don't read books like this often. I'm more of a fantasy/paranormal kind of person as evidenced by many of the reviews I have posted here. But every once in a while I'll review a book like Winter of Wishes by Charlotte Hubbard and it's a total breath of fresh air. There's no fantasy world to try and figure out or complex creatures to try and remember. It's just straightforward good writing.

Rhoda seems to be stuck in a rut. Everyone is moving on with their lives around her but she's at a stand still and doesn't think she's going to go anywhere any time soon. So she calls about a job taking care of a man's two children and his mother who is recovering from a stroke. She thinks it's just the thing she needs to follow everyone else's lead and push her life in the direction she wants it to go. The kids love her, the mom seems to be recuperating well when she's around. And... the man. Andy.

But she's not supposed to fall for him. He's English and she's Plain. She's already joined the church so there's no possible way for her to leave without being excommunicated from the faith and she doesn't want to do that to her family. Her wonderful family. Despite objections from the shunned bishop in Willow Ridge and the preacher she's confessed to, Rhoda finds herself falling quite hard for Andy. And he falls for her as well.

Rhoda's life kind of spirals from there. One simple act of affection snowballs in to this GIANT thing and plans are set in motion that neither of them could have ever dreamed of. But they're definitely met with their share of opposition... and support from unexpected places.

I loved the book. Absolutely loved it. Rhoda was kind and compassionate and just an overall wonderful person to read about and Andy goes from being this worn out, broken down man to a fierce protector and advocate of the Amish faith. Rhoda's mother Miriam may have just been my favorite character. Though she's Amish, she has little qualms with butting heads with the bishop (who is angry because she wouldn't marry him and likes to make trouble for the entire community in general) and finding loopholes in rules so that things turn out for the better rather than leaving everyone brokenhearted. She dearly loves her daughters and that is made 100% clear throughout the entire story, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Winter of Wishes was an absolutely uplifting story about the bond between family and friends and the strength of faith and love. I wish I could go run and grab the other books in the Seasons of the Heart series and read them right now.

Books like this always make me interested in learning about the culture and the customs behind them. And, for those of you who love to bake, there are a bunch of delicious sounding recipes in the back of the book for you to try once you've gotten your fill of reading about the happenings in the Sweet Seasons bakery.

Side note: I know the characters in the story are supposed to be speaking with a German accent, but I haven't heard one of those in about 6 months. So as I was reading, the German accent in my head kept switching to Irish for some reason. Haha.

I would definitely recommend this book as a read for anyone. It's heartwarming and will definitely leave you wanting to learn more of the Lantz family. It also teaches a lot of the Amish culture, which I find fascinating, and may even make you wonder what it would be like to be in their shoes. If nothing else, read this book because it will make you smile. And everyone could use a smile every now and then right?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review - Quantum Entanglement (Interchron Book 2) by Liesel K. Hill

Five months after traveling to a post-apocalyptic future where collectives reign supreme and individuals have been hunted to the verge of extinction, Maggie Harper was returned to her own time until the threat to her life could be neutralized. She thought Marcus and the others would return for her within a few weeks, and now she’s beginning to worry.

When travelers from the future finally show up to collect her, it’s not who she expected. With the return of her memories, she wants more than ever to see Marcus again, but a snake-like woman whose abilities are a perfect match for Maggie’s, an injured Traveler, and decades of civil unrest to wade through all stand in the way of their reunion.

Meanwhile, Marcus and Karl traipse through the countryside, trying to neutralize Colin, who’s promised to brutalize and murder Maggie if he can get his hands on her. When a collective woman is left for dead, Marcus heals her, hoping she’ll be the key to killing Colin and bringing Maggie back. But she may prove as much a hindrance as a help.

The team struggles to get their bearings, but things happen faster than they know. The collectives are coalescing, power is shifting, and the one called B is putting sinister plans into action. If the team can’t reunite and get a handle on the situation, their freedom and individuality—perhaps their very identity—will be ripped away before they can catch their breath.
To say that I haven't been dying to read this would have been a lie. I received Quantum Entanglement by Liesel K. Hill just a few days ago. At first I wasn't sure I'd be able to finish it in time to get this review up, but, then I remembered how much I loved the first installment and from there on out it wasn't a concern.

In part two of this series, we revisit Maggie 5 months after she's been deposited back in her time at her home with her brother to wait until it's safe enough for her to return to Interchron, her team, and Marcus. Only things don't work out quite the way any of them had planned.

Jonah, Maggie's brother, has a new girlfriend. Justine. She seems likeable enough and she gets along with Maggie, but, she's not who she seems to be. Instead of doting girlfriend she turns out to be a new kind of enemy that Maggie hasn't seen before with abilities that puzzle her completely. The pair can't seem to keep ahead of Justine long enough to get away from her until a blast from her past, or future depending on how you look at it, come in swinging to save her.

It didn't take me long to get completely and totally sucked in to this story. There was action from the word go and it was fantastic. There was barely enough time for me to catch a breath in between chapters before being caught up in something else. And I loved that in this installment we got a deeper look in to Marcus's and David's past before Interchron and before David joined the Collective through flashbacks that Marcus kept having.

Maggie is still the strong character we met in Persistence of Vision and in Quantum Entanglement we get to see a lot more of Jonah as well. It's really great to see the bond between the brother and sister and how they're so protective of each other. It's a complete contrast between how Marcus and David are which I find incredibly interesting. But I suppose it makes sense considering what we now know of how David ended up leaving Marcus behind to join the Collective.

Tenessa was a pretty good new character as well. I found myself extremely frustrated with her most times, but she definitely surprised me in the end. Salla and Kristee, though, may have been my favorite additions. Kristee because even though she's knew to Interchron, she runs off to help David and Lila find Maggie and bring her back. And Salla, because she knew the limits of her capabilities but was completely confident in what she could do.

In this book we get to see lots of different time periods which I absolutely love. Feels like I'm in an episode of Doctor Who with all of the time travel that's being done. And with the fact that they never quite end up where they mean to be. It kind of makes you wonder if our world could end up like the world in the book at some point in the future. And, I'm still jealous and wish that I had some kind of neurochemical abilities that would let me do the things these characters can do.

If you read book one, I absolutely recommend that you find this book as quickly as you possibly can and start reading it immediately. It's action packed, and, like its predecessor, gets the wheels in your brain turning but doesn't do all of the thinking for you.  If you didn't read book one, then you should. Now. Then, when you're done, get book two. If only book three were out already!

Buy The Book: Amazon
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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Quantum Entanglement by Liesel K. Hill

Quantum Entanglement

by Liesel K. Hill

Giveaway ends September 30, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
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Her scifi, fantasy and dystopian are written under Liesel K. Hill and her crime drama and historical fiction are written under L.K. Hill. She lives in northern Utah and comes from a large, tight-knit family. Loves to bake, read, and watch plenty of T.V. And plans to keep writing until they nail her coffin shut. Or the Second Coming happens. You know, whichever happens first. ;D

Monday, September 16, 2013

First Chapter Reveal - Winter of Wishes by Charlotte Hubbard

Chapter 1

As Rhoda Lantz stood gazing out the window of the Sweet Seasons Bakery Café, her mood matched the ominous gray clouds that shrouded the dark, pre-dawn sky. Here it was the day after Thanksgiving and she felt anything but thankful. Oh, she’d eaten Mamma’s wonderful dinner yesterday and smiled at all the right times during the gathering of family and friends around their extended kitchen table, but she’d been going through the motions. Feeling distanced . . . not liking it, but not knowing what to do about it, either.
“You all right, honey-bug? Ya seem a million miles away.”
Rhoda jumped. Mamma had slipped up behind her while she’d been lost in her thoughts. “Jah, jah. Fine and dandy,” she fibbed. “Just thinkin’ how it looks like we’re in for a winter storm, which most likely means we won’t have as many folks come to eat today and tomorrow. It’s just . . . well, things got really slow last year at this time.”
Her mother’s concerned gaze told Rhoda her little white lie hadn’t sounded very convincing. Mamma glanced toward the kitchen, where her partner, Naomi Brenneman, and Naomi’s daughter, Hannah, were frying sausage and bacon for the day’s breakfast buffet. “Tell ya what,” she said gently. “Lydia Zook left a phone message about a couple of fresh turkeys still bein’ in their meat case. Why not go to the market and fetch those, along with a case of eggs—and I’m thinkin’ it’s a perfect day for that wonderful-gut cream soup we make with the potatoes and carrots and cheese in the sauce. I’ll call in the order, and by the time ya get over there they’ll have everything all gathered up.”
Jah, Mamma, I can do that,” Rhoda murmured. It meant walking down the long lane with the wind whipping at her coat, and then hitching up a carriage, but it was something useful to do.
Useful. Why is it such a struggle lately to feel useful? I wish I knew what to do with my life.
Rhoda slipped her coat from the peg at the door, tied on her heavy black bonnet, and stepped outside with a gasp. The temperature had dropped several degrees since she’d come to the café an hour ago. The chill bit through her woolen stockings as she walked briskly along the gravel lane with her head lowered against the wind.
 “Hey there, Rhoda! Gut mornin’ to ya!” a voice sang out as she passed the smithy behind the Sweet Seasons.
Rhoda waved to Ben Hooley but didn’t stop to chat. Why did the farrier’s cheerfulness irritate her lately? She had gotten over her schoolgirl crush on him and was happy for Ben and Mamma both, but as their New Year’s Day wedding approached they seemed more public about their affections—their joy—and well, that irritated her, too! Across the road from the Sweet Seasons a new home was going up in record time, as Ben’s gift to her mother . . . yet another reminder of how Rhoda’s life would change when Mamma moved out of the apartment above the blacksmith shop, and she would be living there alone.
As she reached the white house she’d grown up in, Rhoda sighed. No lights glowed in the kitchen window and no one ate breakfast at the table: this holiday weekend, her twin sister Rachel and her new groom, Micah Brenneman, were on an extended trip around central Missouri to collect wedding presents as they visited aunts, uncles, and cousins of their two families. Rhoda missed working alongside Rachel at the café more than she could bear to admit, yet here again, she was happy for her sister. The newlyweds radiated a love and sense of satisfaction she could only dream of.
Rhoda hitched up the enclosed carriage and clapped the reins across Sadie’s broad back. If Thanksgiving had been so difficult yesterday, with so many signposts of the radical changes in all their lives, what would the upcoming Christmas season be like? Ordinarily she loved baking cookies, setting out the Nativity scene, and arranging evergreen branches and candles on the mantle and at the windowsills. Yet as thick, feathery flakes of snow blew across the yard, her heart thudded dully. It wasn’t her way to feel so blue, or to feel life was passing her by. But at twenty-one, she heard her clock ticking ever so loudly.
God, have Ya stopped listenin’ to my prayers for a husband and a family? Are Ya tellin’ me I’m fated to remain a maidel?
Rhoda winced at the thought. She gave the mare its head once they were on the county blacktop, and as they rolled across the single-lane bridge that spanned this narrow spot in the Missouri River, she glanced over toward the new gristmill. The huge wooden wheel was in place now, churning slowly as the current of the water propelled it. The first light of dawn revealed two male figures on the roof. Luke and Ira Hooley, Ben’s younger brothers, scrambled like monkeys as they checked their new machinery. The Mill at Willow Ridge would soon be open to tourists. In addition to regular wheat flour and cornmeal, the Hooley brothers would offer specialty grains that would sell to whole foods stores in Warrensburg and other nearby cities. Mamma was already gathering recipes to bake artisan breads at the Sweet Seasons, as an additional lure for healthy-conscious tourists.
But Rhoda’s one brief date with Ira had proven he was more interested in running the roads with Annie Mae Knepp than in settling down or joining the church any time soon. Ira and Luke were nearly thirty, seemingly happy to live in a state of eternal rumspringa. Rhoda considered herself as fun-loving as any young woman, but she’d long ago committed herself to the Amish faith. Was it too much to ask the same sort of maturity of the men she dated?
She pulled up alongside Zook’s Market. This grocery and dry goods store wouldn’t open for a couple of hours yet, but already Henry and Lydia Zook were preparing for their day. Rhoda put a determined smile on her face as the bell above the door jangled. “Happy day after Thanksgivin’ to ya!” she called out. “Mamm says you’ve got a couple turkeys for us today.”
Jah, Rhoda, we’re packin’ your boxes right this minute, too!” Lydia called out from behind the back counter. “Levi! Cyrus! You can be carryin’ those big bags of potatoes and carrots out to Rhoda’s rig, please and thank ya.”
From an aisle of the store, still shadowy in the low glow of the gas ceiling lights, two of the younger Zook boys stepped away from the shelves they had been restocking.  “Hey there, Rhoda,” ten-year-old Levi mumbled.
“Tell your mamm we could use more of those fine blackberry pies,” his younger brother Cyrus remarked as he hefted a fifty-pound bag of potatoes over his shoulder. “That’s my favorite, and they always sell out. Mamm won’t let us buy a pie unless they’re a day old—and most of ‘em don’t stay on the shelf that long.”
Rhoda smiled wryly. Cyrus Zook wasn’t the only fellow around Willow Ridge with a keen interest in her mother’s pies. “I’ll pass that along. Denki to you boys for loadin’ the carriage.”
“Levi’s fetchin’ your turkeys from the fridge,” their dat Henry said from behind his meat counter. “Won’t be but a minute. Say—it sounds like ya had half of Willow Ridge over to your place for dinner yesterday.”
Again Rhoda smiled to herself: word got around fast in a small town. “Jah, what with Ben and his two brothers and two aunts—and the fact that those aunts invited Tom Hostetler and Hiram and his whole tribe to join us—we had quite a houseful.”
“Awful nice of ya to look after Preacher Tom and the bishop’s bunch,” Lydia said with an approving nod. “Fellows without wives don’t always get to celebrate with a real Thanksgiving dinner when their married kids live at a distance.”
“Well, there was no telling Jerusalem and Nazareth Hooley they couldn’t invite Tom and the Knepps,” Rhoda replied with a chuckle. “So there ya have it. They brought half the meal, though, so that wasn’t so bad.”
“Tell your mamm we said hullo.” Henry turned back toward the big grinder on the back table, where he was making fresh hamburger.
Jah, I’ll do that. And denki for havin’ things all set to go.”
Jonah Zook stood behind his dat’s counter trimming roasts. Rhoda met his eye and nodded, but didn’t try to make small talk. Jonah was a couple years younger than she, and had driven her home from a few Sunday night singings, but he had about as much sparkle as a crushed cardboard box. And goodness, but she could use some sparkle about now . . .
Rhoda glanced out the store’s front window. Levi and Cyrus were taking their sweet time about loading her groceries, so she wandered over to the bulletin board where folks posted notices of upcoming auctions and other announcements. No sense in standing out in that wind while the boys joshed around.
The old corkboard was pitted from years of use, and except for the sale bills for upcoming household auctions in New Haven and Morning Star, the yellowed notices for herbal remedies, fresh eggs, and local fellows’ businesses had hung there for months. Rhoda sighed—and then caught sight of a note half-hidden by an auction flyer.
Need a compassionate, patient caretaker for my elderly mother, plus after-school supervision for two kids. New Haven, just a block off the county highway. Call Andy Leitner.
            Rhoda snatched the little notice from the board, her heart thumping. She knew nothing about this fellow except his phone number and that he had an ailing mother and two young children—and that he was surely English if he was advertising for help with family members. Yet something about his decisive block printing told her Mr. Leitner was a man who didn’t waffle over decisions or accept a half-hearted effort from anyone who would work for him. He apparently had no wife—
            Maybe she works away from home. Happens a lot amongst English families.
            —and if he had posted this advertisement in Zook’s Market, he surely realized a Plain woman would be most likely to respond. It was common for Amish and Mennonite gals to hire on for housework and caretaking in English homes, so if she gave him a call she could start working there, why—as soon as tomorrow!
            How many of these notices has he posted? Plenty of Plain bulk stores to advertise in around Morning Star, plus the big discount stores out past New Haven. And if he had run ads in the local papers, maybe he’d already had dozens of gals apply for this job. But what could it hurt to find out?
            Pulse pounding, Rhoda stepped outside. “You fellas got all my stuff loaded, jah?” she demanded. Levi and Cyrus were playing a rousing game of catch with a huge hard-packed snowball, paying no heed to the snow that was falling on their green shirt sleeves.
            Levi, the ornerier of the two, poked his head around the back of the buggy. “Got a train to catch, do ya? Busy day chasin’ after that Ira Hooley fella?” he teased. “Jonah, he says ya been tryin’ to catch yourself some of that Lancaster County money—”
            “And what if I have?” Rhoda shot back. “Your mamm won’t like it when I tell her you two have been lolligaggin’ out here instead of stockin’ your shelves, ain’t so?”
            Levi waited until she was stepping into the carriage before firing the snowball at her backside. But what would she accomplish by stepping out to confront him? Rhoda glanced at the two huge turkeys, the mesh sacks of potatoes, carrots, and onions, and the sturdy boxes loaded with other staples Mamma had ordered, and decided she was ready to go. “Back, Sadie,” she said in a low voice.
The mare whickered and obeyed immediately. Rhoda chuckled at the two boys’ outcry as she playfully backed the buggy toward them. Then she urged Sadie into a trot. All sorts of questions buzzed in her mind as she headed for the Sweet Seasons. What would Mamma say if she called Andy Leitner? What if a mild winter meant the breakfast and lunch shifts would remain busy, especially with Rachel off collecting wedding presents for a few more weekends? Hannah Brenneman had only been helping them since her sixteenth birthday last week—
            Jah, but she got her wish, to work in the café. And Rachel got her wish when she married Micah. And Mamma got more than she dared to wish for when Ben Hooley asked to marry her! So it’s about time for me to have a wish come true!
            Was that prideful, self-centered thinking? As Rhoda pulled up at the café, she didn’t much worry about the complications of religion or the Old Ways. She stepped into the dining room, spotted her cousins, Nate and Bram Kanagy, and caught them before they went back to the buffet for another round of biscuits and gravy. “Could I get you boys to carry in a couple of turkeys and some big bags of produce?” she asked sweetly. Then she nodded toward the kitchen, where Hannah was drizzling white icing on a fresh pan of Mamma’s sticky buns. “Ya might talk our new cook out of a mighty gut cinnamon roll, if ya smile at her real nice.”
            Nate rolled his eyes, but Bram’s handsome face lit up. “Jah, I noticed how the scenery in the kitchen had improved, cuz—not that it isn’t a treat to watch you and Rachel workin’,” he added quickly.
            “Jah, sure, ya say that after you’ve already stepped in it.” Rhoda widened her eyes at him playfully. “Here’s your chance to earn your breakfast—not to mention make a few points with Hannah.”
            Rhoda went back outside to grab one of the lighter boxes. Then, once Nate had followed her in with bags of onions and carrots, and he was chatting with Hannah and Mamma, she slipped out to the phone shanty before she lost her nerve. Common sense told her she should think out some answers to whatever questions Andy Leitner might ask, yet excitement overruled her usual practicality. Chances were good that she’d have to leave him a voice mail, anyway, so as her fingers danced over the phone number, her thoughts raced. Never in her life had she considered working in another family’s home, yet this seemed like the opportunity she’d been hoping for—praying for—of late. Surely Mamma would understand if—
            “Hello?” a male voice came over the phone. He sounded a little groggy.
            Rhoda gripped the receiver. It hadn’t occurred to her that while she’d already worked a couple of hours at the café, most of the world wasn’t out of bed yet. “I—sorry I called so early, but—”
            “Not a problem. Glad for the wake-up call, because it seems I fell back asleep,” he replied with a soft groan. “How can I help you?”
            Rhoda’s imagination ran wild. If this was Andy Leitner, he had a deep, mellow voice. Even though she’d awakened him and he was running late, he spoke pleasantly. “I, um, found the notice from an Andy Leitner on the board in Zook’s Market just now, and—” She closed her eyes, wondering where the words had disappeared to. She had to sound businesslike, or at least competent, or this man wouldn’t want to talk to her.
            “You’re interested in the position?” he asked with a hopeful upturn in his voice. “I was wondering if the store owners had taken my note down.”
            Rhoda’s heart raced. “Jah, I’d like to talk to you about it, for sure and for certain,” she gushed. “But ya should understand right out that I don’t have a car, on account of how we Amish don’t believe in ownin’—I mean, I’m not preachin’ at ya, or—”
She winced. “This is comin’ out all wrong. Sorry,” she rasped. “My name’s Rhoda Lantz, and I’m in Willow Ridge. I sure hope you don’t think I’m too ferhoodled to even be considered for the job.”
            “Ferhoodled?” The word rolled melodiously from the receiver and teased at her.
            “Crazy mixed-up,” she explained. “Confused, and—well, I’m keepin’ ya from whatever ya need to be doin’, so—”
             “Ah, but you’re a solution to my problem. The answer to a prayer,” he added quietly. “For that, I have time to listen, Rhoda. I need to make my shift at the hospital, but could I come by and chat with you when I get off? Say, around two this afternoon?”
            Rhoda grinned. “That would be wonderful-gut, Mr. Leitner! We’ll be closin’ up at two—my mamm runs the Sweet Seasons Bakery Café on the county blacktop. We can talk at a back table.”
            “Perfect. I’ll see you then—and thanks so much for calling, Rhoda.”
            “Jah, for sure and for certain!”
            As she placed the receiver back in its cradle, Rhoda held her breath. What would she tell Mamma? She felt scared and excited and yes, ferhoodled, because she now had an interview for a job! She had no idea about caring for that elderly mother . . . or what if the kids ran her so ragged she got nothing done except keeping them out of trouble? What if Andy Leitner’s family didn’t like her because she wore Plain clothing and kapps?
            What have ya gone and done, Rhoda Lantz?
            She inhaled to settle herself, and headed back to the café’s kitchen. There was no going back, no unsaying what she’d said over the phone. No matter what anyone else thought, she could only move forward.
And wasn’t that exactly what she’d been hoping to do for weeks now?

Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Charlotte Hubbard (a.k.a. Naomi King) writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her new Seasons of the Heart series. Like her heroine, Miriam Lantz, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people—to share hearth and home. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle, and the foundation of her earlier Angels of Mercy series. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Book Blast & Giveaway- The Sotweed Smuggler by Barbara A. Andrews


Join Barbara A. Andrews, author of the historical fiction novel, The Sotweed Smuggler, as she tours the blogosphere September 9 - September 20 on her first Book Blast with Pump Up Your Book! Barbara will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky winner! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form on the participating blogs below and good luck! If you would like to host Barbara, please email Tracee at tgleichner (at)


367487_Book Cover Image


The Sotweed Smuggler, the 2010 historical fiction winner of the Houston Writer’s Guild, tells a story of suspense. Will Sherewell, the son of a prosperous merchant marine captain, learns when his father’s will is read, that he has inherited his ship. Living with his pious mother, he has little knowledge of sailing and anticipates a majestic vessel. Instead, he finds The Emperor’s Dictum aka The King’s Dick, notorious for smuggling sotweed and whiskey between Devonshire and Scotland. Will yearns to be like his father and sails the Dick, enduring ridicule, fierce storms, pirate attacks, and curses of legendary fairies and ghosts, while finding companionship with his runaway brother and discovering the woman he wishes to marry. In spite of his father’s spying, treachery, murder, and Scottish border intrigue, Will learns he served Scotland with honor defeating the outlaw MacGregor Clan. With the new knowledge, he believes his father is their captive. He receives a Scottish certificate with a handwritten notation “dead.” Did he at last find the truth? Will must choose to accept the veracity of the document, or launch a futile one-man attack on a MacGregor stronghold. Reluctantly accepting his father’s death, he sails home to his new wife at Mothercombe Bay.

Purchase your copy:




Barbara Andrews, a graduate of the University of Nebraska has extensive experience in adult education administration, sales management, and technical writing. She has previously published the book, Dear Mama, Love Sarah, and maintains an active interest in American history--particularly the lives of those who came and lived in America during the colonial period. She and her husband live in Richmond, Texas.

Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins September 9 - September 20.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Saturday September 21, 2013.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


book blast schedule
Monday, September 9
Tuesday, September 10
Wednesday, September 11
Thursday, September 12
Friday, September 13
Monday, September 16
Tuesday, September 17
Wednesday, September 18
Thursday, September 19
Friday, September 20


Pump Up Your Book

Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Blast - Tara's Cross by G.J. Bachman


Join G.J. Bachmann, author of the 9/11 Memoir, Tara's Cross, as he tours the blogosphere September 9 - September 20 on his first Book Blast with Pump Up Your Book! G.J. will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card and 10 copies of the book in ebook format! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form on the participating blogs below and good luck! If you would like to host G.J., please email Tracee at tgleichner (at)


Tara's Cross


Rescuers pulled George Bachmann, a New York City firefighter from Ten House, from beneath the rubble of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. He survived the terrorist attacks, but somehow, his memory had been temporarily left behind. As Bachmann recuperated, he knew he needed to remember what had happened and he needed to confront his dreams, which was not an easy task. His mind was privy to an unknown piece of history that drove him to the brink. In this memoir, Tara’s Cross, Bachmann describes the unimaginable events at Ground Zero. He tells not only of his physical recovery, but also shares the return of his memory through a series of dreams. He reveals the details of the magnificent sighting on West Street where he witnessed the two highest ranking NYC officers saluting each other at the foot of the North Tower before they perished on 9/11. A tale of survival and salvation, Tara’s Cross is a testament to how the mind and soul heal themselves and how the spirits of the honored dead guide them home. This love story, set against the backdrop of the attacks on the World Trade Center, is also one of courage and recovery.

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G.J. Bachmann worked more than twenty-seven years as a New York City firefighter and survived the events of 9/11. He was awarded the World Trade Center Double Star Rescue/Recovery Citation. Bachmann and his wife Annie live in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York, with their daughter Tara Bridget.

Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins September 9 - September 20.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Saturday September 21, 2013.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


book blast schedule
Monday, September 9
Tuesday, September 10
Wednesday, September 11
Thursday, September 12
Friday, September 13
Monday, September 16
Tuesday, September 17
Wednesday, September 18
Thursday, September 19
Friday, September 20


Pump Up Your Book

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cover Reveal & Giveaway- Romancing the Million $$$ Ghost by Heide AW Kaminski, Pam Ryan, & Dorothy Thompson

Got a mysterious looking cover reveal today! What do you all think?

Eccentric tobacco tycoon Rodger Hawthorne III can have anything his heart desires except his dead wife, Sarah. Feeling responsible for the car crash that killed her twenty years earlier, he offers one million dollars to anyone who can find her spirit and bring it to him within one week or the money is forfeited. Six spiritually-challenged—but highly intuitive—women find his ad over the Internet and accept his challenge only to embark on a journey they didn’t quite expect that covers astral traveling, past life regressions and spiritual encounters of the unworldly kind.  While this book is lightly based on a true story of a real man who is offering one million dollars to anyone who can prove that spirits exist, this story is purely fictional. Or is it?
Coming October 2013! 

 About the Authors:
HEIDE AW KAMINSKI is the mom of three very successful children, and she lives in southeast Michigan with her partner, her son and her stepson. She teaches English in a high school for juvenile delinquent boys, as well as co-directs the Sunday school program for an Interfaith Center. She is also the editor-in-chief for the Interfaith Center’s monthly 16-page newsletter. She is currently the author of five books, ADHD and ME , Get Smart Through Art, The Ability Gang (a novel for upper elementary readers), Von Riesiggross bis Klitzeklein (a German children's book), and South of Eden (a not so serious novel about life in Heaven). She has also published stories in 15 anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Divorced Soul. Kaminski was born and raised in Germany, and after spending a year as an exchange student in the USA, she ended up marrying an American and has been a permanent resident in the U.S. since 1984, as well as a citizen of the U.S. since 2007. After dedicating many years to being there for her children first, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in English communications at the ripe age of 50 and her English teaching certificate two years later.
PAM RYAN is a writer and professional psychic from Northwestern Ohio. She is the mother of two and has been a widow for the last five years. Her writing career began back in high school where she wrote a column for the Sylvania Sentinel Newspaper in Sylvania, Ohio. Pam was also the first page editor of the high school newspaper as well as doing the public relations for the high school musicals At the University of Toledo she helped to create the Public Relations Department for the Department of Theatre and Speech, worked as a reporter for the college paper, The Collegian, and was assistant to the Public Relation Director of a local Toledo, Ohio, theatre group, Lynro Productions. After college Pam went to work for the United States Government and part of her duties were to write, and publisher a newspaper for the Migrant Opportunity Program in Phoenix, Arizona. Back in Ohio she lent her talents to the local Muscular Dystrophy Association, Make A Wish of Northwestern Ohio, worked on newsletters for Grace Lutheran Church and Christ the King Church, both in Toledo, and did public relations for the Parent Organization of Lake Elementary School. Pamela Ryan, as she is known professionally, began her professional psychic career in 1990. She presently does private readings and parties, and is also available at Lite the Way,Lambertville, Michigan, and The Healing Oasis in Clay Center, Ohio. Pam has recently completed classes and become a Certified Hypnotherapist and has completed the Master’s level for hypnotherapists. Publication is tentatively set for 2013, for her book, “My Dearest Children”, channeled by Mary Magdalene, and is presently working on a biography of world renowned journalist, Ruth Montgomery and a series of books about a fictional psychic medium. The first one is called, "The Macrame Cross".
DOROTHY THOMPSON is the owner/founder of Pump Up Your Book, an innovative public relations firm specializing in online book promotion and social media marketing for authors. Pump Up Your Book was voted #1 in the Preditor's and Editor's Readers Poll in 2012. She is also the co-author/compiler of Romancing the Soul, an anthology which proves soul mates exist and has appeared in USA Today, Chicago Times and other publications. Dorothy loves the paranormal and is spatial clairsentient. She lives on the beautiful island of Chincoteague, Virginia.
Together, they make the writing team of Romancing the Million $$$ Ghost. Visit the official book blog at or like them on Facebook at

Heide, Pam & Dorothy are giving away these fabulous prizes! 
-One Halloween party kit (valued at $49) or Paypal Cash! 
-Two $25 Amazon Gift Cards or Paypal Cash! 
-One FREE psychic phone reading from one of the authors, Pam Ryan! 
 -and One Romancing the Million $$$ Ghost ebook gifted from Amazon Kindle Store! 

 Terms & Conditions: 
  •  By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old 
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive a Halloween Party Pack for 18, an eBook copy of Romancing the Million $$$ Ghost gifted via Amazon only, one psychic phone reading from Pam Ryan and two winners will be chosen to receive $25 Amazon Gift Cards (or Paypal Cash)! 
  • This giveaway begins September 2 and ends September 27. 
  • Winner will be contacted via email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. EST September 27 2013. 
  • Winner has 24 hours to reply. Each blogger who participates in this promotion is eligible to win. 
  • Visit each “stop” daily for more entries. (Rafflecopter Code below)


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Review - Gemini Rising: Ethereal Fury by Jessica O'Gorek


Angry at the human race and its methodical destruction of her resources, Mother Earth recruits souls who have just left their bodies to serve Her, and turns them against humanity. Gemini, a clan of paranormal beings, picked from these possessed humans, emerges. A powerful, rising force proceeds to carry out Mother Nature’s plan to systematically destroy towns, cities, states… and eventually, the world. Amidst the chaos, a forbidden relationship between a human girl, Violette, and Onyx, a lead Gemini, begins. They will both find themselves in the middle of a revolutionary war that will either save, or destroy our world.
So Mother Earth is pretty ticked off at people in general. And can you blame her? We are destroying precious resources with no way to replenish them. So what does she do? From the looks of it, she takes the people who seem to be doing the most damage and, when they die, their souls are recruited in to her "army". An "army" that's sole purpose is to eradicate human existence and take back the planet. Only Onyx, previously an oil tycoon named Oliver Weldon, does something unthinkable to those he calls his family. He falls in love with a human.

When I first started to read Gemini Rising by Jessica O'Gorek, I was kind of disgusted at the Gemini and their purpose. Even more than I was disgusted at the fact that people like Oliver Weldon were causing seemingly more harm than good and not caring about it. I started out agreeing with the premise of the book and ended up shortly after beginning with a bad taste in my mouth because of Onyx's actions shortly after the first few pages. Because of that it took me a while to make it through the initial chapters of the book.

Once I'd done that though, it kind of did a 180 on me and I found myself sympathizing with the "demons", as the church called them, and feeling more disgusted with the people who were supposed to be trying to fight them off. I was really conflicted throughout the entire book. On the one hand, I did NOT like that the Gemini were just going to kill off everyone without any consideration for the good ones in the bunch. While the part in me that likes scary stories enjoyed the ones that were told by the church parishioners, the rational part of me was completely creeped out by the things the Gemini had the humans do when they possessed them. Totally horror movie material.

I liked Violette. And Slate. At first, Slate annoyed me. He seemed to be following Father Darius almost blindly, despite his objections to the actions an behaviors of his superiors. His character developed quite nicely though and he really grew on me. Violette was sweet and innocent. And she played the part perfectly. But she wasn't the sickly sweet kind of person that you want to slap because they're super annoying. She's incredibly kind and trusting and it makes you just want to hug her and be her friend.

Onyx... sometimes he made me angry, sometimes he made me wanna pat him on the back and say "Nice one". The more he uncovered about the goings on in the bowels of the church the more I was rooting for him, if not for the rest of the Gemini.

I enjoyed this story. Once I got past the first couple of chapters I flew through the rest of the book. I don't recommend it for younger readers as there are some mature situations that end up going on. But overall I'd recommend it for anyone who likes paranormal reads. Go check it out!


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