Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Rose

My crushed and bleeding heart no longer gushes with a crimson flow but drips steadily, longing for the day when it only seeps. Until then, I will keep my eyes focused on the Beauty that surrounds me because it lives among this river of grief, if only I look.

~ Jeremiah 29:13 ~
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

*Photo taken at the JC Raulston Arboretum

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You won Stealing the Preacher! 

For all those who didn't win, you can order a copy through the buy widget below. When you do this, I make a small commission from the sale. If you choose not to, that's okay too :) 

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Emily Brontë and {Tuesday Muse}

Emily Brontë was born on this day in 1818. She was a writer and most well known for her novel, Wuthering Heights. In honor of her birthday, I am sharing a vintage edit I did of my husband with one of her quotes below :)

“I love the ground under his feet, and the air over his head, and everything he touches and every word he says. I love all his looks, and all his actions and him entirely and all together.” 
― Emily Brontë

Have you read Wuthering Heights? It's one of my favorite novels!  

Don't forget to enter to win a copy of Stealing the Preacher here.

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

GIVEAWAY & Review ~ Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer

~ Giveaway has ended ~

If you need a pick me up and a few hours of diversion from the stresses of life, grab a copy of Stealing the Preacher. You'll find plenty of humor laced with in-depth spiritual themes.

This is my favorite book by Karen so far. Crockett is a great character. I loved how his thoughts were communicated, showing his struggle to tame his tongue in obedience to the Lord. He sort of carried on a conversation with himself at times, and it was so real! I find myself often thinking I would like to say one thing but knowing I shouldn't and then apologizing to the Lord for thinking it.

Joanna wants to see their local church revived and has been praying for a preacher. Crockett is on his way to interview for a position as a Preacher in a town nearby. Silas, Joanna's daddy decides to resurrect an old profession to bring his baby girl a birthday present. Her daddy is hilarious! Along with his old gang members it was easy to picture them roping Crockett and dragging him around. There's this one part where he gets away and runs...oh wait. You'll have to read it and see what happens next. Belly laughs galore!

*texture for background from Brenda Clarke

Karen is a master storyteller and her ingenuity is incredible when it comes to dialogue. There is never a slow moment in this book. Her relationship and knowledge of spiritual concepts jumps right off the page but not at all in an offensive or overdone manner. This is a sweet, fast-paced, and funny romance that leaves me anxiously awaiting her next book.

Fans of Historical Fiction and Karen Witemeyer will love this story! Actually, I think anyone would love this story, it's that good :)

I was provided a copy of this book from the author for review purposes only. No other compensation was received. I was not required to write a positive review, only my honest thoughts about the book.

Bethany House is offering a copy to one of my blog readers. Answer the question below to be entered. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you are the winner. US ONLY!!! Ends July 30th.

What's your favorite Karen Witemeyer book?

Book Blurb

A cowboy who wants to be a preacher. An outlaw's daughter who wants to change his mind.

On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can't believe it when he's forced off the train by an outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the preacher she requested for her birthday. He's determined to escape--which would be much easier if he could stop thinking about Joanna Robbins and her unexpected request.

For months, Joanna had prayed for a minister. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. But just when it seems her prayers have been answered, it turns out the parson is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett he ended up right where he was supposed to be?

With her signature blend of humor, history, and lively western romance, two-time RITA Award finalist and bestselling author Karen Witemeyer delivers a Texas love story sure to steal your heart.

Author Bio

Two-time RITA finalist and winner of the coveted HOLT Medallion and ACFW Carol Award, CBA bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance because she believes that the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at


For some reason, the cover posted is one of the prototypes and not the final cover copy BUT it is still the correct book! If you use this purchase link, I make a small commission on the sale of the book.

Don't forget to leave an answer to the above question for a chance to win a copy from Bethany House!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Random 5 Friday

1. I reuse photos to create more graphics, especially when I have one that I really like. I love this one of the Black-eyed Susan. They've shown up in quite a few photo ops this summer. 

2. I've discovered a love of Earl Grey Tea with a squirt of lime and small packet of Stevia.

3. We raised our children right. They were introduced to Star Wars by age 5. The original, mind you, on VHS tape.

4. I'm looking for a pretty green Betta fish to go with my pretty red one. 
Then I will have Thor & Loki :)

5. I dislike automatic virus renewal.

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* I used nc 0031 texture on the photo twice and brushed it lightly.

Vintage Fire Truck


I love old vintage things. Especially firetrucks. This ladder truck was sitting out in the middle of a field in rural Morganton, NC. It reminds me of when I was little and I would get so excited to hear the sirens, not realizing that it usually meant a disaster was occurring. I think most children are oblivious and just like the flashing lights. I know my children always loved to see woo-woo's emergency vehicles flying down the road, and so do my grandchildren. Now I say a prayer for the personnel and victims when I hear a siren. 

I've a busy weekend coming up attending a writing workshop so I will be gone, gone, gone. I'll hop around and see your beautiful photos and respond to comments next week. Sorry!

Have a great weekend, Y'all!

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Rurality Blog Hop #24

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


You won a copy of God's Provision in Tough Times from Carrie Fancett Pagels!
I hope you enjoy the book!

Review ~ Whispers on the Prairie by Vickie McDonough

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Whitaker House (June 17, 2013)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***


 Vickie McDonough is an award-winning author of twenty-six books and novellas. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, she served as treasurer of the organization for three years and also was treasurer for her local chapter. Vickie lives with her husband, Robert, in Oklahoma. They have four grown sons and one daughter-in-law, and are grandparents to a precocious seven-year-old girl. When she isn’t writing, Vickie enjoys reading, shopping for antiques, watching movies, and traveling. Pioneer Promises Book Two, Call of the Prairie, is set for release in January 2014.

Visit the author's website.


The last thing Sarah Marshall wanted was to leave Chicago and travel the dusty Santa Fe Trail, but when her uncle demands she help her feeble aunt, she can’t refuse. Her aunt had taken Sarah in after her parents died. She becomes stranded at the Harper Stage Stop in Kansas, one of the first stops on Santa Fe Trail, and her presence causes a stir. Ethan Harper’s well-ordered life is thrown into turmoil with his two brothers and every unmarried male in the county lining up to woo Miss Sarah whom Ethan views as an uppity city girl.  Is it because she’s the wrong woman for his brother—or the right one for himself?

Product Details:

List Price: $8.76

Paperback: 272 pages

Publisher: Whitaker House (June 17, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1603748415

ISBN-13: 978-1603748414


Do you enjoy Janette Oke's books? If so, then Whispers on the Prairie by Vickie McDonough is the book for you! Seriously, I haven't read a 'prairie' romance that I have enjoyed more than this one. From the beginning, I was entranced by this story. I did not want to put it down. It's not a long book but it is overflowing with rich characters, deep spiritual themes, and lots of good old fashioned romance.

Emotionally captivating seems like such an inadequate way to describe how this story drew me in but I can't think of another description. I felt so sorry for the way that Sarah's uncle treated her and yet she remained a precious and devoted companion to her aunt. Ethan carried such a heavy burden about the death of his sister-in-law, even though it was misplaced. While these two come together under unusual circumstances, Vickie brings about the sweetest and most gentle of romances that totally warmed my soul, leaving me to imagine it might actually have happened.

Anyone who is a fan of top quality Historical Fiction will become fully enthralled with this story. It's a lovely beginning to a new series. I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes only. I was not required to write a positive review, only give my honest thoughts on the book.


March 1870
The toddler’s whimpers rose to an ear-splitting scream as the little girl pushed against the chest of the woman holding her captive.
“Here, let me have her, Abigail.” Sarah Marshall reached for Mary, and her friend handed over the fussy child. The girl persisted in her cries, so Sarah crooned to her, swaying in time to a waltz playing in her mind as she rubbed circles on the toddler’s back.
“I don’t see how you can have such patience with her. That obstinate child cries more than all the others in this orphanage combined.” Abigail bent down and reached for a handsome three-year-old boy, who came rushing toward her with a big smile that showed his dimples. “Personally,” Abigail raised her voice over Mary’s ruckus, “I prefer the quiet ones.”
Sarah smiled. “I prefer the needy ones.” She leaned her cheek against Mary’s head. “All is well, little one. All is well.” 
After a few more minutes, the wails finally subsided, and the girl began to relax. She sniffled, her whole body shaking as she finally fell into an exhausted sleep.
“Poor little one.” Sarah’s heart nearly broke for the child, recently orphaned by the death of her mother. At least, at such a young age, she stood a chance to adapt more easily than Sarah had when her parents died. Though the accident that claimed their lives had happened over a decade ago, she still missed her father’s big smile and her mother’s comforting arms.
“You’ll make a good mother one day.” Mrs. Rayburn leaned against the door frame, looking tired. “Are you sure you don’t want to move in here?”
Sarah smiled. “If my aunt was in better health, you know I would take you up on your offer. And I do hope to be a mother someday. If I’m good, as you say, it will be only because I learned from the best.”
Mrs. Rayburn swiped her hand in the air, but Sarah could tell the comment pleased her. If not for the generous care of the well-to-do widow, the six orphaned children who resided under her roof would most likely still be out on the cold Chicago streets, begging for scraps to eat, working for some cruel taskmaster—or worse.
Abigail glided to the center of the bedroom that had been converted into a nursery, holding Tommy on her hip, and pretended to dance with him. “Sarah may take a giant step in the direction of motherhood this very night.”
“Abigail!” Heat marched across Sarah’s cheeks as she thought of Walt and how he’d hinted at proposing—again—at her birthday dinner tonight. “I don’t want that news getting out.”
“Why not?” Abigail spun the boy in a circle, eliciting a giggle. “You aren’t going to turn the poor fellow down again, are you?”
Sarah glared at her best friend, wishing she would learn when to hush. She hoisted Mary higher on her chest and carried her to the adjoining bedroom. Stopping beside Mary’s bed, she rocked the girl from side to side to make sure she was asleep. Though she would never admit it to Abigail, the toddler’s wails did grate on her nerves from time to time, especially when she hadn’t slept well the night before. Holding her breath, she lowered Mary into her bed and then pulled the small quilt over her.
Sarah kept her hand ready to pat Mary’s back, should she stir. Thankfully, she didn’t. Straightening, Sarah checked on the two napping babies. She then tiptoed across the big room to adjust the blanket covering Ian, the six-month-old whose father had deposited him on Mrs. Rayburn’s doorstep last fall. The poor man had lost his wife and couldn’t care for an infant. Sarah’s heart ached for each one of the youngsters. She knew how hard life could be without parents. Still, she counted herself among the lucky ones—she’d been taken in by family, though she hadn’t lived in a house as fine as Mrs. Rayburn’s mansion.
Bending, Sarah filled her apron skirt with rag dolls, balls, and other toys, then deposited them in the toy basket as the mantel clock in the parlor chimed two o’clock. She tiptoed out of the nursery and back into the playroom.
“Time for you girls to head home.” Mrs. Rayburn crossed the room and clapped her hands. “Tommy, would you like to hear a story?”
The three-year-old lunged into the older woman’s arms. She hugged him and then set him down. “My, but you’re getting heavy.”
“Too much porridge, I imagine.” Grinning, Sarah turned to Abigail. “Are you leaving now, too?”
“Yes, Papa is sending his driver for me. See you tomorrow, Mrs. Rayburn.” Abigail waved good-bye as she walked from the room. She stopped in the doorway and faced Sarah. “Do you want a ride to your uncle’s shop?”
“Thank you, but I’ll walk.”
Tommy ran out of the nursery, lifted his little hand, and waved. Mrs. Rayburn followed him into the upstairs parlor and took hold of his hand. “I don’t know how I’d manage without you girls and your friends who volunteer in the evenings. I fear I’m getting too old to manage so many young children.”
Mrs. Rayburn had said the same thing for the past two years, and yet she hadn’t turned Mary away when a neighbor had brought her last week. Still, Sarah couldn’t help wondering if the day would come when the kind woman would feel it necessary to close her door to the orphans. What would happen to them then?
She and Abigail donned their cloaks and left the warmth of the cozy home behind as they stepped out into the blustery chill of March. The gusty wind off Lake Michigan whipped at Sarah’s skirts, and the gloomy sky released a light drizzle. Abigail’s driver stepped out from under the shelter of a nearby tree and opened the door of her carriage.
“Are you sure you won’t let us give you a ride? It’s a miserable day to be out.”
“Thank you, but I’ll be fine. I’m headed home, anyway, and that’s the opposite direction for you.”
“So, you’re not clerking for your uncle this afternoon?” Abigail accepted her driver’s hand and climbed into the buggy. “How did you get out of doing that?” She sat, leaning toward Sarah, her eyebrows lifted.
“I’m going home to help Aunt Emma get things ready for my birthday dinner.” Sarah turned so the wind was at her back and wrapped her fist around the edges of her cloak to hold it closed. “You’re still coming tonight?”
Abigail nodded, grinning. “I wouldn’t miss seeing Walt propose again. I don’t know why you don’t just accept. Your uncle will probably throw you out one of these days, and then where will you be?” She motioned to her driver, who closed the door and scurried up to his seat.
Sarah walked quickly toward State Street. She hadn’t missed how Abigail had poked her with her barbed comment about her uncle casting her out. That very possibility had been in the back of her mind. Uncle Harvey had barely tolerated her presence all these years. He’d never wanted children and wasn’t happy when his wife’s only sister died, leaving behind a daughter. It was a miracle the stingy man had agreed to let her live with them in the first place.
She blew out a sigh of relief at the sight of the horse-drawn trolley, just a block away. Hurrying to the middle of the street, she waited until it drew near, then grabbed the rail and stepped aboard. The sides of the carriage blocked the wind, to a degree, but the chilly air still seeped inside, bringing with it the aromas of baking bread and roasting meat.
The rain picked up, and she was glad she’d decided not to walk home. She stared out the window at the Chicago city streets, teeming with horses and buggies, fancy carriages, freight wagons, and even a man pulling a handcart. Busy people bustled up and down the boardwalks. She loved this town and hoped never to have to leave it.
If she married Walt, most likely she wouldn’t. Yet she struggled with the notion of being his wife. He was a good friend, yes, and she’d hate to disappoint him. Still, shouldn’t a woman have stronger feelings than friendship for the man she married?
Her uncle would be beside himself if she turned Walt down again. Maybe she should just say yes this time. At least then she’d be assured of having a home of her own—and of freeing herself from the heavy sense of owing her uncle. One would think the hours she’d spent doing chores in his home and clerking at his watch repair shop would be sufficient to cover any debt she owed, but she could never do enough to please Uncle Harvey. Still, she was grateful to have lived in his home these last twelve years. She should be satisfied and not wish for more.
And yet she did. She longed to marry a man who made her laugh like her papa had, one whose broad shoulders were strong enough to protect her. But she hadn’t yet met that man. Maybe she never would. Maybe she needed to give up on wishing and just be satisfied with Walt.
Sarah sat back and rested her hands in her lap, smiling in satisfaction with the meal. She stole a glance at the sideboard loaded with food she’d helped her aunt and the cook prepare—roast leg of mutton and currant jelly, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, fried parsnips, and glazed carrots. Just the thought of it all made her stomach ache, and they had not even served dessert yet.
Walt wagged a finger at the servant standing at attention.
The servant hurried to the table from his post in the corner of the room. “Sir?”
“Bring me some more of those parsnips.”
Sarah winced at his commanding tone, then looked to the head of the table. Uncle Harvey was seated next to a stranger—Mr. Gibbons—who’d appeared at the door just before they’d sat down to dinner. The two were having a private discussion, but Sarah had overheard enough to know it was about the benefits of living on the western frontier. She couldn’t imagine what anyone found interesting about the untamed prairie, with its wild Indians and abundance of dust.
At the other end of the table, Lizzie Monahan and Betty Phillips engaged her aunt in a lively chat about the latest styles in fashion, while Abigail sat infatuated with Howard Shibley, Walt’s best friend, who babbled on about a recent report that the population of Chicago had reached 300,000. Sarah nearly rolled her eyes.
“What was that look for?” Walt dabbed his lips with his napkin.
Sarah leaned closer to him, so not to be heard. “If Howard has any hope of winning Abigail’s heart, he should find a more interesting topic of conversation.”
“I doubt romance has even entered his mind.”
“Obviously.” Sarah shook her head.
Walt rested his chin in his palm and caught her gaze, his hazel eyes gleaming. His ash-blond hair had been slicked down and combed back from his forehead. “Speaking of romance, are you ever going to agree to marry me?”
She sucked in a sharp breath and glanced around the table once more. Nobody cast an odd look her way, so she assumed that no one had overheard the oh-so-unromantic proposal. She had pretty much made up her mind to say yes, but his casual manner of asking made her want to shake her head. Schooling her features and straightening her posture, she replied. “I don’t know.”
Walt blinked, obviously taken aback. Seconds later, he scowled, then glanced across the room and motioned to the servant again. The man rushed to his side. “I seem to be out of parsnips again.”
Why couldn’t Walt have just kept quiet? She liked him well enough, but his frequent proposals were producing the opposite of their intended effect; they made her more inclined to avoid him than marry him. She snuck a glance at Abigail, still trying so hard to get Howard to notice her, while the man, clearly oblivious, just kept spouting his knowledge.
Sarah peeked at Walt again. He wasn’t particularly handsome, but he wasn’t ugly, either. He would be a good provider, being the sole heir to his father’s shoe factory, but she had a feeling that life with him would be just as boring as their evenings together. She wanted to marry—to finally be free from her uncle’s overpowering presence and stern glare—but she wanted a man who thought she was the only woman in the world for him. Yes, Walt seemed to feel that way, but something held her back. Was there something wrong with her?
An hour later, she stood at the door to see Walt on his way. Everyone else had already gone.
Walt hung his head and twisted his hat in his hands. “I…uh, won’t ask you again.” He lifted his gaze to hers, pain evident in his eyes.
She’d hurt him, and that was the last thing she’d wanted to do.
“I’m twenty-nine, Sarah. I’m ready to marry and start a family. I need to know if there’s any hope that you’ll say yes one day.”
“And I just turned nineteen—today.”
He closed his eyes and exhaled a heavy sigh. “All right. I’ll give you a few more months to make up your mind.”
Sarah bristled. What if she still didn’t have an answer? “And then?”
He stared at her with a serious, no-nonsense expression she’d never seen before. “And then I’ll be forced to look elsewhere. I mean to be married before I turn thirty.” He slapped his hat on his head and stepped out into the blustery evening wind.
She watched him jog down the steps with more purpose than usual. He wanted to get away from her, and that was just fine, as far as she was concerned. She shut the door. Some birthday party that had been.
The sound of raised voices drew her to the parlor. Her aunt and uncle rarely argued, mainly because Aunt Emma’s chronic illness made her too weary to fuss over trifles.
“Harvey, please. You can’t be serious about this.”
Sarah held her breath, all manner of ideas racing through her mind.
“You might as well come in here, Sarah. I know you’re out there.”
She jumped at her uncle’s stern command and was tempted to slither away, but her curiosity forced her to do as bidden. “I was just saying good night to Walt,” she explained as she entered the room.
“Sit down. I have something to tell you.”
Aunt Emma didn’t look up from the sofa but anxiously wrung her hands.
Sarah sat next to her and laid a steadying hand over her aunt’s.
Her uncle paced in front of the fireplace, where a cozy blaze heated the front half of the room. Still, a shiver clawed its way down Sarah’s spine. Whatever news she was about to hear, it wouldn’t be good, from the looks of it.
Uncle Harvey stopped in front of the hearth, rested one hand atop the mantel, and stared into the flames. “You met Gibbons tonight.” He straightened and stared at her, an unreadable expression in his brown eyes. “He’s a wagon master. Been leading wagon trains down the Santa Fe Trail for the past twenty years.”
Sarah’s thoughts whirled. Again she wondered about her uncle’s interest in such a rugged man as Mr. Gibbons. He hadn’t even worn proper attire for a dinner party.
“Oh, dear. Oh, dear.” Aunt Emma fanned her face. “I fear I’m not feeling well.”
Sarah’s uncle narrowed his gaze at his wife. “You may be dismissed as soon as I’m done.”
Aunt Emma gave him a meek nod, keeping her head down.
Uncle Harvey cleared his throat, drawing Sarah’s gaze again. “The truth of the matter is that my brother has written me from Kansas City to inform me that he’s moving his family to the New Mexico Territory, by way of the Santa Fe Trail.”
“New Mexico?” Sarah pressed her lips closed, knowing her uncle wouldn’t appreciate her outburst. She sidled a glance at her aunt. Why was she so distraught? Turning her attention back to her uncle, she voiced the question that wouldn’t go away. “Why would your brother want to move to such an uncivilized place?”
Uncle Harvey’s nostrils flared, and Aunt Emma uttered a pitiful moan.
“Because there is great opportunity there,” her uncle insisted. “Bob says that one day, the New Mexico Territory will become a state. He has been to Santa Fe and plans to return to open a mercantile there.”
Sarah blinked as she absorbed the information. The truth finally dawned, and she gasped, staring wide-eyed at her uncle. “Surely, you don’t mean to go there, too.”
He lifted his chin, revealing his wrinkled, white neck from its hiding place beneath his beard. “I most certainly do. Chicago has dozens of watchmakers. According to Bob, Santa Fe doesn’t have a single one. I plan to set up shop next to his store. We’ll build a door between the two, so that we can assist each other when things get busy.”
Sarah could see her well-ordered life spiraling out of control. She’d already lost her parents. How could she stand to lose Aunt Emma, too? Sarah stood and started pacing the room. “You already have as much business as you can handle. And how could you expect Aunt Emma to endure such a difficult trip?”
“I’ve talked to the doctor, and he says the warmer climate will be much better for her. Lydia will be there to take care of her if she falls ill.”
Falls ill? Didn’t he realize his wife was nearly always unwell? She’d been sickly ever since she’d survived a bout of scarlet fever a year before Sarah had come to live with them. The sickness had left her frail and had robbed her of her hearing in her right ear.
Sarah doubted Aunt Emma could survive such a rugged journey. “Won’t you reconsider, Uncle?”
He shook his head. “My mind is made up.”
“And what about me?” Could she stay in this big house alone? He’d always expected her to pay her own way, and she could hardly afford a place as nice as this two-story brownstone.
He shrugged. “I expect you to marry Walt, and then you’ll be his responsibility. I’ve already sold the house, so you can’t stay here.”
Her aunt gasped and stood. “How could you do such a thing without consulting me?”
Sarah’s heart ached for her aunt. How could Uncle Harvey be so insensitive?
“Now, Emma. It’s my place to make such decisions. You’ll see once we arrive in Santa Fe that this move was for the best.”
Emma screeched a heart-wrenching sob and ran from the room, her dark green silk dress swishing loudly.
Sarah had never once stood up to her intimidating uncle before. This time, concern for her aunt stiffened her spine, and she turned on him. “How could you be so selfish? Such a trip will probably kill Aunt Emma! Is that what you want?”
His nostrils flared. “She is no concern of yours.” He walked to the dark window and stared out through the panes. “I never wanted you to come here, you know. I never wanted children. They’re nothing but a nuisance. I will concede that you’ve been good for Emma, but she needs to learn to get along without you.” He turned back to her, his eyes narrowed. “Marry Walt. He’s a decent fellow.”
She’d always known her uncle hadn’t wanted her, but hearing the words spoken out loud pained her as badly as if she’d been stabbed in the heart. Out of respect for her aunt, she didn’t lash out at him as she wanted to. “I’m not ready to marry yet.” Uncle Harvey may have housed her all these years, but that didn’t give him the right to force her to wed a man she didn’t love. “I…I can find a boardinghouse to stay in.”
He smirked. “And how do you intend to pay for it?”
A wave of panic washed over her. She had a few coins her aunt had given her—nowhere near enough to live on, even for a short time. “I’ll find another job. Since I’ve worked for you for so long, I’ve honed my office skills and have plenty of experience.”
“Hmpf. What employer would hire a female clerk when he can so easily find a man to do the task?”
Sarah dropped back onto the sofa, realizing the truth of his statement. What would she do? Where would she live? How could she manage without her aunt’s loving guidance? The last time she’d felt as empty and confused as she did now was when she’d learned that her parents had died.
Quick footsteps sounded outside the room, and Sarah and her uncle both looked to the door. Her aunt had returned, her eyes damp, her face red and splotchy. With a trembling hand, she held a handkerchief below her nose. Sarah longed to embrace her aunt, but she would wait until her uncle left them alone.
“I see it’s too late to change your mind,” she said, her voice quavering. “You’ve wounded me deeply, Harvey. I hope you know that.”
He started toward her, his expression softening, and took her hands. “Haven’t I always taken care of you, darling? Have you ever lacked for anything?”
Her aunt didn’t respond, but Sarah could tell by her expression that she didn’t share her husband’s perspective. Steeling her gaze, Emma stared up at him with rare determination in her eyes. “I won’t go without Sarah.”
“What?” Sarah and her uncle exclaimed at once.
“I won’t go unless she goes, too.” Emma hiked her chin.
Sarah didn’t know what to say. This was the first time she had seen Aunt Emma stand up to her husband, and she couldn’t bear to tell her that her efforts were wasted. But the last thing Sarah cared to do was leave Chicago and travel on a wagon train to Santa Fe.
Even marriage to Walt would be preferable to that.

Have you read any of Vickie's books? If so, which one is your favorite?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Press Release from ZONDERkidz

July 2013

A Celebrated Mystery Novelist Kicks Off a Brand New
Middle Grade Series with a Gripping First Book
INSPY and Agatha Award finalist Amanda Flower has penned an intriguing new mystery sure to please middle grade readers and budding sleuths.

ANDI UNEXPECTED (Zonderkidz; $10.99; October 2013), the first entry in the author's Andi Boggs series, is part history lesson and part fascinating puzzle that readers will enjoy helping to solve.

In the novel, 12-year-old Andi (short for Andora), has just moved with her sister, Bethany, to their young aunt Amelie's home in Ohio. Orphaned by the death of their parents, Andi often feels abandoned and alone, especially since Bethany has become increasingly withdrawn.

Fortunately, things begin to change for the better when Andi discovers a mysterious old chest hidden in Amelie's attic inscribed with the name 'Andora.'  Since no one in the family remembers this first Andora, Andi and her new friend, Colin, are captivated.  They are determined to find out who she was and to uncover the truth behind the fascinating, but startling, contents in the chest.

With the assistance of the town curator, the two kids delve deeper into Andora's story and find themselves entangled in a Boggs family mystery rooted in the Great Depression. They wonder what happened to Andora. Did she once live in the Boggs' home? Could she still be alive?

As more and more questions pile up, Andi and Colin need to crack the case while others in town try to exploit Andora's story for their own purposes. Will Andi and Colin find out who Andora was before someone else does?

In ANDI UNEXPECTED, Flower delivers a mesmerizing plot that will have readers guessing until the last page. While the book compels readers to put on their detective hats, Flower's sensitive portrayal of the titular young heroine offers someone with whom they can identify.

Inspired by her grandfather's stories of The Great Depression and the Second World War, Flower hopes the book will encourage readers to learn more about their own history by visiting local libraries and museums, just as Andi and Colin do.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amanda Flower a mystery author and Agatha Award finalist (Maid of Murder), who first caught the writing bug in elementary school. She is also the author of both the Appleseed Creek and India Hayes Series, and writes other mystery novels for Penguin/NAL under the pen name Isabella Alan. In addition, Flower is a librarian at Ursuline College near her hometown of Tallmadge, Ohio. Visit her online at 
To request an interview with Amanda Flower or to receive a review copy of
ANDI UNEXPECTED, please contact Candice Frederick at DJC Communications: 212-971-9707,  
Zonderkidz™, a division of Zondervan, inspires young lives through imagination and innovation. As the leader in Christian children's communications, it produces bestselling and award-winning Biblesbooksboard booksgraphic novelsaudiovideo and digital products that awaken the hearts and touch the souls of kids under 16 and the people who love them, from family members to educators. Zonderkidz is the publisher of the NIrV (New International Reader's Version) Bible translation, the 3rd-grade reading level edition of the NIV that is ideal for children and those who speak English as a second language. Visit Zonderkidz on the Internet

Zondervan, a HarperCollins company headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a world leader in Christian communications and the leading Christian publishing brand. For more than 75 years, Zondervan has delivered transformational Christian experiences through general and academic resources authored by influential leaders and emerging voices, and has been honored with more Christian Book Awards than any other publisher.
Candice Frederick
DJC Communications

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Baby Love is in the air...

My great nephew, Jackson, came for his first visit this weekend and I am utterly in love with him! But I don't have any photos of us together. Remiss of me, I know. But here he is with his mama & daddy :)

My niece Amanda with her husband Fabian and almost 4 month old son Jackson! LOVE THEM!!!

I haven't done any crafting in many months so I decided to make him a chipboard and fabric mini album for his newborn pictures. It might just be me but newborn boy conjures up pale blue, soft yellow, green and cream with some vintage brown thrown in for depth...soft & sweet because there is nothing as soft or sweet as a brand new baby. I mean, look at those precious cheeks!!! 

Paper pack is Anna Griffin 'Hannah' Collection for Boys.
Ribbon is from Mighty Dollar which means frugal but no brand name.
Material scraps are just that.  

This cream colored page is muslin fabric (I think) glued with Tombow onto some cardstock for stability. Scor tape was used to secure almost everything else. That stuff is awe. some.

I bought a couple of cute sticker sets from Hobby Lobby.  

The french script stamp always makes a nice background on fabric. I made some journaling tags from embossed paper in the Hannah collection for the little flocked pockets and cut out the ducky from another piece of paper from the collection.

Doilies may not seem standard for a baby boy album but combined with inking it created more of the vintage feel I was trying to achieve. And the little wire heart for holding a photo adds a nice touch along with roughing up the paper edges :)

A few more journaling tags...and another fabric page, this time in a blue paisley. It's actually lighter than it appears. Most of the photos were taken out in the sun and it really ended up being too bright. I didn't have enough time to go back and re-photograph.  I tried taking some inside on a black background but I was in a time crunch!

A little shabby flower made from the same material as the first fabric page with an adorable LOVE brad contributed by my daughter.

I found a whole package of these great little envelopes at Hobby Lobby.  For a lock of Jackson's hair, I inked the envelope with the french script and a silhouette from a set I bought from Michael's ages and ages ago. Wrapped some twine around it and put a little silver blue pearl on it.  

I love the pops of yellow on the blue. The silk flowers and ribbon make a nice compliment of color and style.

Journaling tags for mom and a key to her heart!

The End

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Sun{flowers} & Random 5 Friday

***Revised for Random 5 Friday**

 My daughter and I went to Hobby Lobby this week and the shelves are bursting with autumn decor. When I started playing around with this photo it began resembling what I saw in HL. I know it's dark but I think editing is a mood thing.
At least, it is for me.

Textures used are Nancy Claeys Organic Paper and Kim Klassen Anna,
edited in Picmonkey

I really should write down what order I edit my photos in. I'll never be able to replicate this one but while I'm editing I go back and forth, deleting then adding. All I remember is adjusting exposure levels, applying KK's texture, adjusting some more, then using the Dusk feature and applying NC's texture with brushing and more brushing, then back to the exposure tab. Confusing, right?

This one I kept simple. Adjusted the exposure and that was it. 

Do you keep a journal/log of how you edit photos? Any tips?

1. I have more energy after being on the Prednisone for 2 days than I've had in 2 years! I hope I get caught up on my house cleaning before the treatment is over :)

2. One of our roosters is beginning to make funky crowing sounds at thirteen weeks old. 

3. Did you notice I said ONE of our roosters? Murray's sent us two extras. Wasn't that sweet of them, when I only ordered ONE? Yes, there's a little sarcasm here.

4. I am excited to meet my niece's husband and newborn son today. I haven't seen her in several years and missed her wedding. Can't wait to hold that precious baby!

5. My bacon is about to burn so I'm outta here!

 Have a great weekend! 

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Random 5 Friday

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Rebecca's Summer Reading Fun

My Favorite Summer “Six-Pack” – Great Books from my Last Six Weeks of Reading!
Rebecca Maney

“It Happened at the Fair” – Deeanne Gist
Historical fiction doesn't get any better than this!

“Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales” – Randy Singer
Perhaps one of the best legal thrillers I have ever read!

“Congo Dawn” – Jeanette Windle
This international suspense novel was as good as its reviews!

“Once Upon a Prince” – Rachel Hauck
A “home run” in every sense of the word! I laughed and I cried; a fabulous contemporary romance!

“Undeniably Yours” – Becky Wade
What a great love story with a surprising fast-paced ending!

“Stealing the Preacher” - Karen Witemeyer
This book had one of the best first chapters ever! And the ending was pretty amazing too!

And I am almost finished reading  . . . . . . . . “Tangled Ashes” – Michele Phoenix
A surprisingly complex story line whose web of characters fit together beautifully! I am impressed!

Some great books . . . . and the summer is only half-way over!

Wow, Rebecca is a reading machine so far this summer! I'm pretty sure she's finished Tangled Ashes already too. I'm a little late getting this posted :) 

My tumbling over stack of books is about to get messier! A couple of these look right up my alley. Have you read any of these books? If not, what's on your summer reading list?