Monday, February 8, 2016

The Winner of A Reluctant Melody



The winner is...

Congratulations, Sonja!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Looking Out the Window: Sandra Ardoin Talks about A Reluctant Melody, Shares a Recipe Great for Super Bowl Watching

A Warm Welcome to Sandra Ardoin

Sandra will give away an e-book of A Reluctant Melody. To enter to win leave an e-mail address and a comment below.

Sandra shares her favorite Bible verses and a favorite recipe.

She says, "I have two favorite verses (technically, three). Together, they remind me of the power, compassion, and mercy of God."

The first is Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the thoughts I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (KJV)

Also, Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (KJV)

A Favorite Recipe:

My mom used to make this regularly. In fact, she made it for my wedding reception twenty-eight years ago. I can’t say where she got the recipe, but when I was young, we lived near Chicago where Italian Beef sandwiches are Mmmm! I suspect she mostly made it up. This isn’t true Chicago-style Italian Beef, but it’s good!

Italian Beef

4 or 5 pound rump or sirloin tip roast
1 tsp. each of oregano, garlic powder, parsley flakes
½ cup of cooking sherry
2 bell peppers and 2 large onions—slivered, not chopped
Salt and pepper to taste (My mom did most of her seasoning by taste.)
Beef bouillon

Place the roast in a baking pan and sprinkle it with oregano, parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, then add the cooking sherry. The meat is baked at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half. Add the peppers and onion around the sides of the roast halfway through the baking time. Mix the beef bouillon with enough water to cover the onions and peppers and pour it over the roast. Baste occasionally until done.

The keys to this recipe are the thinly sliced beef (Mom would take it back to the store where she bought the meat and have them slice it), the broth, and the bread. You want the broth to soak into the bread aus ju style, so use a softly-textured, sub-type roll and spoon the broth onto the sandwich. After slicing the meat, put it back into the broth to heat through. This is one of those “the longer it sits, the better it is” recipes.

Thank you for sharing! That sounds absolutely delicious, and what a treat it would make for Super Bowl watching!

About A Reluctant Melody:

Kit Barnes’ alcoholism ruined more lives than his own. Now sober, he wants to make amends by opening a mission for drunkards. But the most suitable location belongs to Joanna Cranston Stewart, a love from his sordid past.

Friends of her late husband blame Joanna for his death. Although eager to flee from the rumors, she will let the walls of her rundown property crumble around her before she allows Kit back into her life.

When a blackmailer threatens to reveal Joanna’s long-held secret, will she risk losing everything she owns to Kit … including her heart?

Purchase A Reluctant Melody on Amazon

Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, antique store prowler. Visit her at and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, GoodReads, and Pinterest. Join her email community to receive occasional updates and a free short story.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Looking Out the Window: Jennifer Slattery Introduces When Dawn Breaks, Her New Book, Shares a Devotional and An Excerpt

A Warm Welcome to Jennifer Slattery

A Personal Story by Jennifer

Sometimes my heart and mouth get ahead of my brain. And sometimes what I thought was a great thing, a God-thing, leaves me scratching my head. And hitting my knees. Fast.

As I was writing my novel, When Dawn Breaks, I thought of one situation in particular, one where I encountered a mother similar, in many ways, to the one my heroine, Jacqueline Dunn encountered.
It was the spring of 2002. I was a new mom with a passion to change the world. Young and overwhelmed with the whole parenting thing, I joined a women’s Bible study.  We met to discuss Scripture, parenting ideas and problems, and what God’s Word had to say on those matters. We shared out fears and our tears, along with steady doses of hugs and chocolate.

One morning, a new woman joined our group. She seemed so quiet, so meek, so… vulnerable. Broken. You see, her husband had left her and their three young boys, all under the age of six. Worse, she had no job and nowhere to go. Images of these precious children sleeping in her car rushed to my mind, expelling the words that rose from my heart before they had a chance to swirl through my brain. “You can stay with me.”

Most women talk with their husband before opening their home to a stranger. And I’m pretty sure, most Christian couples pray about such a thing.

Yeah, I did neither. 

Long story short, the month that followed was one of the most difficult I’ve experienced in some time. The woman was abusive, filling our once peaceful home with screaming, shrieking, and hateful words no mother should ever say to her children. Worse, raised in abuse, her kids were equally violent, pounding each other with brooms, toys, whatever they could find. I did what I could to create positive change, but I felt like my words and prayers fell on deaf, hardened ears.  Worse, I began to realize how incredibly harmful the environment was for our daughter.

Needless to say, by week two, I was spent and broken.  And I mean broken. You can’t watch a mother destroy her children without having a part of your heart shattered.

I cried out to God, “Help me! Show me what to do.”

That day, I received a card from one of the women in our Bible study. In the card, she’d written a verse: “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV).
Those were the exact words I needed, and they did give me strength. And hope. With a simple card, this sweet woman who knew nothing of what I’d been enduring, raised my spirits and centered me in Christ, the only place where I could withstand the storm.

A card she might have put off writing, or maybe considered not writing at all. Because she took the time, I received the clear message from God, “I see you, I’m with you, and I’ll carry you through.” And that was enough.

Friends can offer such much-needed support. When facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, Jacqueline received strength and encouragement from a longtime bestie who lived far away and from a newly-made friend in Willow Valley. These women kept her grounded and continually pointed her to Christ, the only One truly able to help her navigate the confusing situations she found herself in.
Deep, authentic friendships are such gifts. Can you share a time when someone reached out to you at a time when you desperately needed encouragement?

About When Dawn Breaks

A hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, and her need for purpose and restitution propel her north to her estranged and embittered daughter and into the arms of a handsome new friend. However, he’s dealing with issues of his own, including a potential conspiracy at work that could cost him everything, and Jacqueline’s not sure she’ll be able to lean on him in the difficult days ahead. Then there are the three orphans to consider, especially Gavin. Must she relinquish her chance at having love to find restitution and embrace her purpose?

Read a free, 36-page excerpt here

You can buy a copy here:
 On Amazon
On Barnes and Noble

Jennifer Slattery writes for New Hope Publishers contemporary fiction line; Christian living articles for; devotions for Internet Café Devotions, the group blog, Faith-filled Friends and her personal blog JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. She also does content editing for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas Firefly Imprint. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her teenage daughter and coffee dates with her handsome railroader husband.
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Winner of Bloom in the Dark and the T-shirt

And the winner is...

Hats, Horns...

Congratulations, Lisa Lickel!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Looking Out the Window: Paula Mosher Wallace Shares New Year's Advice and Talks about Her New Book, Bloom in the Dark

A Warm Welcome to Paula Mosher Wallace
Paula will give away a print book and a t-shirt. To enter to win leave a comment and an e-mail address below. (U.S. residents only)

About Bloom in the Dark
Have you ever experienced a hurt that didn't qualify for a sympathy card? Did embarrassment or shame keep you from getting help or support? Do you have a loved one who's been abused?
Many women face trauma and abuse. In these pages, you will read 30 stories, poems, and letters that tell these testimonies. Without sugarcoating her situation, each woman shares her pain, how she made it through, and how God met her. Our journeys to healing are different. Your story may not be reflected in the pages of this book, but you will see that you are not alone. We can all reach out to the same God who helped each of these women. Christ will meet you, carry you, hold you, and heal you, too! Warning: best when read with tissues and a box of chocolates.

What readers are saying about Bloom in the Dark
“No other book has impacted me with emotion more strongly.”
L. G., Special Education

“I could NOT put it down. Gripping and encouraging.”
M. B., Christian Counselor

“Very heartbreaking and inspirational all in one.”
J. H., President of Career Women’s Network

Through the ministry of Bloom in The Dark, Paula focuses on writing and speaking to female abuse victims—raising awareness about abuse, bringing hope to victims, and partnering with ministries to help victims recover.

“Incredible speaker.”
Martha, business executive

“Stunning presentation. Thank you.”
M. T., business owner, artist

Buy Bloom in the Dark on Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Paula's New Year's Advice

The "Easy Button" does not Teleport you to the top of Mt. Everest!

As 2015 comes to an end, we start assessing what goals and successes or failures we've had this year. Maybe it has been an amazing year of goals reached, health reclaimed and relationships healed. Maybe it has been your year to conquer Mt. Everest. Maybe you are thrilled with your personal, spiritual and professional development. Or, maybe not....

Will your New Year’s resolutions work any better in 2016 than they did in 2015, 2014, 2013.....? So many of us have pushed the “Easy Button” and wondered why it hasn’t worked. We want different results without the pain of change. We create a wish list rather than structured goals with accountability. We dream of success without the plan, team, tools, and discipline needed to make it happen. We boast about how we’ll climb Mt. Everest--without applying for a passport, without checking transportation costs, without buying climbing gear, without training, and without even finding out if we’re healthy enough to climb.

Do you even know what you really want to accomplish? Do you know what your Mt. Everest is? Do you know why it is worth the effort? Do you have a purpose and motivation? I spent a lot of years getting nowhere because I didn’t have any goals I was passionate about reaching. At 42, I’ve finally identified my Mt. Everest. I am passionate about reaching it. I’m willing to change. I’m willing to sacrifice. I will overcome the obstacles. I will reach the top, or die trying!

Instead of continuing to push the “Easy Button,” I’ve found my reset button. I'm changing my approach. I’m finding the people who have already climbed Mt. Everest. I'm asking them what is involved. Pros and cons. Skills and tools. Abilities and training. Sacrifices and rewards. I’m recruiting my team to cheer me on. Then, I’ll set a date to arrive at Mt. Everest and start climbing. I’ll announce it. I’ll lay out my timeline for reaching the top and finally putting my flag in the snow. I’ll quit talking about how I want to climb Mt. Everest, and actually climb it.

What is your Mt. Everest? What is the one thing you want to achieve, but have never been successful in doing? My Mt. Everest is spreading a message that inspires broken women to become vessels of honor. I will do this through a successful writing and speaking career. God has called me to this mission. Broken women are my purpose. My boys are my motivation. The One who's chosen me to do this will empower me to succeed.

I’m taking the B.L.A.S.T. Mentoring class with Shannon Ethridge, an extremely successful Christian author and speaker. I’m investing in Michael Hyatt’s “Five Days to your Best Year Ever.” I’m gathering a team of experts in the field who have courses, tools, and skills to help me. I am surrounding myself with Christian executive women who truly want to make a difference. I am using the damage and healing in my life to bring glory to God by helping others achieve the same hope and healing. My first book, Bloom in the Dark:True Stories of Hope and Redemption, was my first step in 2015 toward reaching the top of my Mt. Everest.

Find your reset button. It will never be easy to make all the changes you will have to make to be successful at reaching your mountain top, but you can do it. Start a fresh journey. Make sure you have the experts you need guiding you on your way. Make sure you've counted the cost and are prepared. With purpose, move forward and accomplish your God given mission. Don’t let your past failures stop you. Push your reset button and start succeeding today!

About Paula
Author, Speaker, Blogger, and Advocate
Born in the jungles of Peru to missionary parents, Paula’s beginning in life was anything but typical.
Raped at the age of 5, Paula was caught in a cycle of damage and abuse which lasted into her thirties. From sexual abuse to later mental, emotional and even spiritual abuse, Paula developed a victim mentality, which fueled decades of continued abuse. The trauma she experienced caused her to develop a variety of psychosomatic illnesses which, at times, left her bed-ridden.

Broken beyond endurance and suicidal, Paula cried out to God for help. He miraculously intervened, faithfully walking with her through a dramatic healing process. Along the way, Paula learned to stand up to her abusers and stop attracting predators. She now knows, from personal experience, the healing, deliverance, and hope that only God can bring.

As an ex-victim, Paula’s passion to help others resulted in her writing Bloom in the Dark, a compilation of true stories shared by women who have walked through personal darkness and abuse. Each story tells how God met, healed, and restored an ex-victim. Readers discover that they are not alone and that there is lasting hope and healing!

A single mom living in Nashville, Paula homeschools her three sons, ranging in age from six to fourteen. The boys are a key part of Paula’s support team and her biggest fans. Together they enjoy swimming, hiking and roller skating.

Read more about Paula and Bloom in the Dark at

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Looking in the Window: When Is Christmas?

Some say that Christ wasn’t born on December 25th. They claim that Christians took the date from a Roman holiday honoring the sun or a sun god. The Britannica Encyclopedia says Christians took the date to rival pagan feasts taking place during the Winter Solstice, which honored a new age brought by the sun. Depending on location, the Winter Solstice occurs on or around December 25th. Even though it lasts only an instant in time, many cultures have held festivals marking it as midwinter. According to some, Christmas simply grew to be one of the most popular events.

Nonetheless, every year by the time we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving, festive decorations acknowledging the birth of Christ appear in overwhelming numbers across the American landscape. A majority of homes have wreaths on their doors, candles in their windows, lights in the yards. And jolly old Santa Claus sits in the middle of the mall to greet youngsters. And this country’s biggest celebration continues until after December 25th, so when is Christmas?

While many open their presents on Christmas Day, we open ours on Christmas Eve after we stuff ourselves with turkey. Usually I rush to put away the dishes and clean up our great room so we can make the midnight service at church. Then, we hurry out the door into the brisk, cold night. After a short drive I see the church lit up like a beacon in the still, quiet darkness. We park and walk quickly inside to find three seats on the back pew.

I settle myself and try to hush the thoughts of shopping, baking and wrapping that linger in my head by gazing at the green wreaths, poinsettias and brilliantly lit Christmas tree around the altar. When I turn in my hymnal to “O Come All Ye Faithful” and the choir and congregation start singing, the loud, joyous sound of the season captures my heart. After a family lights the Christ candle on the Advent wreath, which symbolizes Jesus as the light of the world, the minister reads the story of Jesus’ birth and proclaims once again his gospel of love.

At the end of the service the ushers dim the lights, give each parishioner a candle and light the first candle on each row. One by one we tip our flames to the candle of the person beside us and sing “Silent Night.” The flickering lights gradually illuminate the sanctuary and the sweet melody takes me back to the first Christmas, when the angels announced Christ’s birth, the shepherds left their flocks and the wise men started their journey to the manger. After we blow out our candles the service ends with the powerful sound of the choir singing Handel’s "Messiah," and it is Christmas.

Sadly, someone had to crucify Christ to atone for the sins of all of us, but triumphantly he rose to give us salvation. And he lives today. Christmas is when we open our hearts to him.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Winner of Rising Darkness

Hats, horns...

Congratulations to Mary Preston!