Women of Faith and Fiction – Lynnette Bonner

Good morning, dearest reader! I’m excited to start a new series I’ve titled Women of Faith and Fiction.

I don’t know about you, but I love to know the story behind the story or song. If I know the heart of the writer, I’m more likely to read or sing their story. I hope you will join me on the third Tuesday of each month to find out more about the authors who weave truth in the parables they write.

Let’s get started, shall we?

This morning I have the privilege to welcome author and cover designer, Lynnette Bonner. Lynnette has written a slew of books you can find here: Amazon Author Page

Thank you for joining us this morning, Lynnette! Tell us a little about yourself.

Lynnette BonnerI am the daughter of missionaries to Africa, so I was born and raised in the small country of Malawi, without electricity or TV. I was a reader from my very early years. I loved to immerse myself in the story and sometimes wouldn’t reemerge for hours. Eventually, my love of story turned the bend to me beginning to pen my own stories. I would read a book and think “it could have been so much better if they’d done it this way.” I started several books but never finished one until I was doing some research about the town I lived in at the time and found some fascinating facts from history that I knew had to be told. That research turned into my first published novel, Rocky Mountain Oasis. Find out more here

Wow! Malawi. Sounds like you had an exciting childhood! This month’s theme is hope. Please share your thoughts with our readers.

Hope is the heart of the good news Jesus came to earth to share with us. We are hopeless without Him. But with Him, there is nothing we can’t overcome. We can even rejoice when we are suffering because we know that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5:3-4)

Yes! Loved that. Life is a continual journey of learning, applying, and transforming. Have you ever experienced a season when you found it difficult to hope?

Oh, for sure. As a Christian mom, I’ve always told my kids, I don’t care what they “become” (as in do for a job/living), I just want them to serve the Lord, because I know that’s the only way they will ever find true happiness. I have one son in particular who challenged that hope of mine for several years. It was very hard to see the end of that tunnel. My heart hurt day after day after day. I fasted one day a week for him and cried out to God daily for his soul. One day as I was praying the Lord impressed on me this question, “Even if he never repents and serves me what will YOU do?” My knees nearly buckled. I knew my answer. “I will always serve you, Lord, even if those closest to me never decide the journey is worth it.” A great burden was lifted from me that day. God was reminding me that my hope was in Him, not in anything I could do to convince my son that faith was the best way to walk. I was able to release a little of my worry and anxiety, and trust that God loved that boy even more than I ever could. (And I’m happy to say all these years later that my son made it out the other side of that dark path, and is now starting on his own faith journey.)

Thank you for sharing that testimony with us. I’m sure it touched hearts, today. Now, tell us in what genre do you write and how does your faith influence your writing?

All of my writing is in the Christian Fiction genre, except for one devotional that my husband and I wrote together. Faith, for me, is actually a very big part of why I write. Jesus used stories to make points to those listening to him. I hope to bring His light into the world with each story I write. Each of my stories has a spiritual message in it, that I hope encourages the readers on their own faith journeys.

Your faith shines through in every story, Lynnette. I love the way you incorporate scriptures throughout your books. Not in a preachy way, but through the lives of your characters as they face the everyday struggles of life.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Lynnette’s latest book, Not A Sparrow Falls!!

Or click on the book to purchase the Kindle edition.

Click here to purchase paperback.

You can connect with Lynnette here:

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Making a List

Can you believe we begin counting down to Christmas tomorrow? Twenty-five days! Oh, how time flies when you’re having fun with family! To begin the holiday season, I want to share a few ideas for your reading and gift lists to get you in the mood. I’ll begin with the newest release available tomorrow.

  1. Mistletoe Mountain by Dora Hiers – 5 stars

mistletoe-mountain-dora-hiersBook Blurb: After college, Kane Kirkland returned home to Mistletoe Mountain a changed man, fifty pounds lighter and a new Christian. Six years later, with a successful real estate career and a fresh boost of confidence, all he wants for Christmas is a chance at love with longtime crush Sydney. Something happened to his friend while he was away. Something dark and life-altering ripped the joy from her spirit. And he intends to find out what…

After a disastrous relationship unraveled Sydney Camden’s life, broken and devastated, she gave up all hope for her happily-ever-after. Those silly fantasies belonged only in romance novels, not in real life. Besides, who has time for love? Her life is crazy busy caring for a disabled father and volunteering at Grace Nest, a home for pregnant teens. But then Kane turns up the heat. The gentle giant has always attracted her, but the idea of loving and losing her friend terrifies her. Because when he learns about her hidden sin, surely he’ll vanish from her life forever.

A snowstorm forces them together and unleashes their fears. Kane worries if Syd still sees him as the overweight kid from their past and questions whether a future together is God’s will or his most treasured dream. Syd wrestles the demon of lies as she relives horrendous memories.

Grace Nest…where broken hearts heal, chains are loosened, and hope is restored. Where love finds its way home during Christmas.

  1. Yuletide Angel by Sandra Ardoin -5 stars

yuletide-angelBook Blurb: It’s Christmastime in 1890s Meadowmead, and someone is venturing out at night to leave packages at the homes of the needy. Dubbed The Yuletide Angel, no one knows the identity of this mysterious benefactor.

No one, except Hugh Barnes, a confirmed bachelor who finds himself drawn to the outwardly shy but inwardly bold Violet Madison, a young woman who risks her safety to help others.

When Violet confesses her fear of eviction from her childhood home, Hugh longs to rescue her. His good intentions are thwarted, however, when Hugh’s estranged brother shows up in town … and in Violet’s company.

But Violet faces an even bigger threat. A phantom figure lurks in the shadows, prepared to clip the wings of The Yuletide Angel.

  1. Pieces On Earth by Cathy Bryant – 5 stars

pieces-on-earthBook Blurb: A young mother and wife of a naval aviator longs for a white Christmas, and she doesn’t mean yet another white Christmas beach near where her husband is stationed. Grateful for a recent promotion that should keep her man stateside, Liv eagerly anticipates the first family Christmas in several years with her husband, daughter, and extended family.

Then her military marriage undergoes trial by fire as her husband is deployed for an undetermined amount of time right before the holidays, leaving Liv and her little girl in pieces.

Can Liv find God’s peace in the midst of life’s pieces? Or will the anxiety and secret she’s harboring lead to tragedy?

  1. A Christmas Gift for Rose by Tricia Goyer – 5 stars

a-christmas-gift-for-roseBook Blurb: Rose turned her back on the man she loves after he assisted the Englisch during World War II―only to discover she’s an Englischer herself.

Born in the midst of the hardships of The Great Depression, Rose grew up in Berlin, Ohio, in the arms of a loving Amish family. But she is overwhelmed by self-doubt when she learns that she was born Englisch and abandoned when her family moved West in search of work.

Was she meant to be Amish or would she have been better off growing up with her own kind―Englischers? When the man she loves leaves her behind, Rose is certain he left for good. Yet Rose discovers sometimes our greatest gifts are the ones we fear.

  1. A Patchwork Christmas Collection by Judith Miller, Nancy Moser, Stephanie Grace Whitson – 5 stars

a-patchwork-christmas-collectionBook Blurb: Join three of today’s bestselling inspirational fiction authors in a collection of Christmas stories from Victorian-era America that are full of second-chance romances. Jilted by her fiancé, Karla packs away her wedding quilts and her plans for marriage. Widow Jane travels to marry a prosperous man she barely knows in order to give her daughter a better life—then is stranded in a winter storm. Victoria, a wealthy ingénue, inadvertently causes grave injury to a poor man she once considered quite a catch. Each must search her heart, change her plans. . .and patch together a tender, unexpected life filled with love.

  1. A Prairie Christmas Collection by Tracie Peterson, Tracey Bateman, Deborah Raney, Pamela Griffin, JoAnn A. Grote, Maryn Langer, Darlene Mindrup, Janet Spaeth, Jill Stengl – 5 stars

a-prairie-christmas-collectionBook Blurb: Experience Christmas on the historical American Great Plains as retold by nine different multi-published authors, including Tracie Peterson and Deborah Raney. Follow pioneers, immigrants, and orphans through their adventures, heartaches, challenges, victories, and romances. You are sure to find more than one favorite among the nine holiday romances in this unique collection to warm your heart and inspire your faith.

What is your favorite fictional story to read during the holidays?

Desire’s Promise ~ Karen Jurgens

Karen Jurgens is here today to tell us about her new novella, Desire’s Promise, available on Amazon! But first, here’s the book blurb.

desires-promise-ebook-1-1

Carlie Livingston is steering into her last year of college in Oxford, Ohio, confident that she and Lance Holloway are headed to the altar after graduation. Those plans are wrecked, however, by her dad’s infidelity, causing her parents to walk through a messy divorce. Will she have the same fate if she marries her college sweetheart who comes from a secular family? Her mother insists she will.

She tests God’s Word by letting Him take the wheel of her life. But if God is in control, why are all her close relationships crumbling?  Nothing makes sense.

Just when it appears hopeless, Clay McKinney two-steps into Carlie’s life, promising to provide everything she’s looking for. But if he’s God’s answer, why can’t her heart release Lance? Where will her final destination be on this journey of trust?

 

  1. Tell us about your novella.

My novella introduces Carlie, a Christian girl, who plans to marry her secular boyfriend, Lance. Those plans fall apart when her parents’ marriage fails due to her dad’s infidelity. Stressed by the pending divorce as well as her mom’s warnings about being unequally yoked, she decides to put her relationship with Lance on hold. Although Lance doesn’t understand why he’s being rejected, Carlie decides to put God’s Word to the test by trusting Him for her future mate. Just when it looks like she’s lost all her close friends, God answers her prayers in an unexpected way.

 

  1. Why did you feel there was a need for this book?

It is written out of a ministry I founded two years ago, Touched by Him Ministries. I had been praying for exactly how the Lord wished to use me, and He gave me the answer: Christian marriage. As a mother, I had a strong desire to see my daughters grow up to marry godly husbands. As a retired high-school teacher, I saw a great need for guiding and counseling teens during those vulnerable years. This evangelical story is for every teenager and young adult who is looking for a happily-ever-after marriage or for anyone who enjoys reading a romance with college-age characters.

 

  1. What marital advice would you offer a young girl looking for love? Especially one raised in church, but who is discouraged by so many failed Christian marriages?

I would encourage every young girl to pray daily for her Christian mate and to trust the Lord with her future. Especially be patient because meeting the right person isn’t magic, nor does it happen overnight. God works through the lives of many people to bring about the right circumstances for that special day to arrive. It’s like piecing together a patterned quilt or composing a symphony using many different instruments. Once it happens, you can look back and see how the Lord was working all along. Believe that God’s Word is true, memorize it, and stand on it. It will never fail, especially in this day when it appears that so many good people fail. A Christian marriage involves three: a husband, a wife, and Jesus Christ. And a strand of three cannot easily be torn apart.

 

  1. What’s next for you as an author?

 My current WIP is Desire’s Deception, and it’s a novel about Carlie’s parents, Steve and Gwen Livingston. As Book 2 of the Desire Series, it deals with how Steve’s infidelities almost destroyed his Christian marriage. Gwen deals with deep hurt along with forgiveness and trust issues, while Steve copes with turning away from his secret life that led to sin and away from God. Can their marriage be saved? So many couples face these same issues—with a variety of different circumstances. I hope the story will minister to all couples experiencing marital difficulties leading down the road to divorce. With God at the helm, rough waters can be crossed safely to shore, even when it may appear hopeless.

 

picmonkey-photoKaren Jurgens, a native Cincinnatian, has been a Texan transplant for thirty years and counting. Since retiring from teaching in 2014, she has begun a new career writing, blogging, and speaking through her new ministry.

Her first contemporary romance novella, A Christmas Mosaic, was published in October 2015, as part of a multi-novella anthology, Warm Mulled Kisses. Book 1 of The Desire Series, Desire’s Promise, was just published through Amazon in October 2016. Book 2, Desire’s Deception, will be published mid-2017. The series deals with Christian marriage principles and targets adults of all ages.

She is a Crew Member at https://writingpromptsthoughtsideas.wordpress.com and a member of ACFW. You can also find her ministry posts monthly at www.heartwingsblog.com  and can also follow her personal blog about scriptural answers to life’s trials at Touched by Him Ministries: www.karenjurgens.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah’s Smile ~ Dawn Kinzer

I have been waiting for this book for quite some time. And I can tell you it was worth every minute of the wait! Dawn Kinzer held nothing back in her first novel, Sarah’s Smile. Don’t you just love that cover? I do. Sarah’s Smile is available for pre-order. The release date is October 14. Thursday! Let me tell you about the story.

14671105_10209383243651205_4309553720707887664_nForsaken by her parents and Peter Caswell, Sarah McCall lives with a bitter grandmother in a town filled with nothing but bad memories she had no part in making. Desiring to leave it all behind, Sarah makes plans for a mission trip to Africa.

But when her childhood sweetheart and widower, Peter Caswell, comes back to town as the new pastor, Sarah begins to rethink her plans. When she receives a denial from the Mission Board, Sarah believes God is giving her another chance with Peter.

With hope renewed once more, Sarah sets her heart on a future with Peter but quickly finds the past isn’t the only thing between them when others in the town make plans to keep them apart. Will Sarah finally let go of the past and embrace a future with Peter? Will Peter finally man-up and fight for Sarah?

Of course, we know the real question isn’t will or if, but when and how.

My Thoughts

Where do I begin?

This story touched me on so many levels. The inner child in me empathized with Sarah’s pain. The reader lived the story. The woman of God experienced the Message, meticulously woven throughout the lives of the characters. And finally, the writer appreciated the author’s ability to make her forget it was only a story. And that is almost impossible to do!

Another thing I liked about this story is Sarah and Peter may have argued, but they didn’t allow misunderstandings to go all the way to the end of the book. And clarification of a simple misunderstanding wasn’t what brought these two together. Their relationship naturally grew out of their mutual love for helping others in their community.

I also liked the fact that I couldn’t figure out how on earth Peter and Sarah would get out of the mess created by a sanctimonious busybody. Would Peter, as the community leader, resolve the wrong done to Sarah? Could Sarah convince others of her innocence? The reveal was a complete surprise! Bravo!

Sarah’s Smile has it all: a heroine, a shepherd, an addicted lost soul, the tormented soul, the self-righteous saint, and the down-to-earth town folks. Who could ask for more? I couldn’t. Dawn Kinzer is now on my must-read list, and I’m looking forward to the next installment in the Riverton Series, Hope’s Design.

My rating:

  • One star for an exceptional plot.
  • One star for well-rounded characters.
  • One star for a charming setting.
  • One star for effortlessly sharing the gospel.
  • One star for the epilogue!

 

Note: I received a free copy of Sarah’s Smile for an honest review.

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A Tapestry of Secrets~Sarah Loudin Thomas

Book Blurb: What is the weight of a secret?

And what happens when that burden becomes almost too much to bear?

51XK+M2rnRL._AC_US300_QL65_For decades, Perla Phillips has hidden the truth of a decision that still fills her with guilt. But now, seeing her granddaughter, Ella, struggle in a similar way, she’s prepared to finally open the past to her family, no matter the consequences. But when the opportunity is snatched from her in a most unexpected manner, will she have waited too long?

Spanning generations, this moving family drama weaves together the interlocking stories of two women as they navigate relationships, family, faith, and the choices that will shape their lives. Heartwarming and nostalgic, the story explores the courage to share the wounds of the past and celebrates the legacy a family passes from one generation to the next.

My thoughts:

In her book, A Tapestry of Secrets, Sarah Loudin Thomas has written a realistic tale of Appalachian life. The dialogue and everyday lifestyle brought the story to life. I felt as if I were walking in Ella’s shoes. But…

I never felt that Ella was struggling with the problem in Perla’s past. For one thing, Ella wasn’t focused on one person long enough for the problem to occur. I did, however, like Ella’s creativeness, especially when creating a quilt. I also enjoyed the relationship between grandmother and granddaughter.

However, as stated above, the romance strand was almost like a contest with Ella being the prize. Yes. As a writer, you can have several men wanting to court one woman. But Miss Ella seemed a little flighty in her decisions as she vacillated in her affections. In some instances, I wanted to scream, “Hello!”

Nevertheless, I forgave Ella when she finally made her choice. And the scene that made her choice plausible was a wonderful surprise! I thought it fitting to have her discover the man’s natural talent in the last place Ella expected to find him. Bravo, Sarah Loudin Thomas!

All in all, I liked the story. If you like reading stories filled with hope and forgiveness, love and restoration, you will enjoy A Tapestry of Secrets!

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

 

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