Tag Archive | romance

Spatzle Speaks: Bratwurst & Bridges (Book Review)

My mom loves to write books and she write the rough draft of this one two years ago. She even asked for prayer for when she wrote it. I had to bark to get her attention so make sure I could get outside. Bratwurst & Bridges was a consuming story.

What surprises me is how much of my mom is in this story – her heart. I don’t think she even realized just how much of her is in there. But as her dog, I know.

Pastor Dan’s wife died, and along with losing his best friend, and partner in life, he lost his chance to be a father. His wife had and he had lost several babies due to miscarriages and they had just begun to consider adoption. But now she was gone. A year later, he still grieved but had buried himself in ministry. Finally his boss, Senior Pastor Andrew, forced Dan on a leave of absence to get help and focus on his grief.

It’s not easy for a helper to get help. It takes courage. Could Dan do this? Or would he quit and walk away from ministry?

He’d sold his house and associated memories and moved into a new apartment. A single mom with two rambunctious children lives across the hall. Skye knows about God but doesn’t believe He would be interested in her, but since the handsome pastor has moved across the hall, she finds that her art has changed and she starts to ask him questions.

Zumba, skiing and true love? Can a single mom help a grieving pastor heal? Guess you’ll have to read it to find out! I give it five bones because it’s an awesome story and the way she weaves grief and new life and love together is wonderful. Not that I’m biased because the author is my mom…

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

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Interview with Dan and Skye from Bratwurst & Bridges

With my latest installment in the Orchard Hill Romance series: Bratwurst & Bridges, due to release on the 28th, I thought it’d be fun to interview my two main characters in the story: Pastor Dan Wink and Skye O’Connell.

Dan, what did you first think about Skye when you met her? 

Dan: I admit she was a puzzle to me – the hair, the clothes, and those silly, fuzzy pink boots? Didn’t help that her son ran and hid in my apartment.

Same question for you, Skye? 

Skye: I confess I  watched him through the peephole in my door as he moved in. I was impressed by how good he looked. Imagine my shock when I found out he was a pastor. Really? I guess I unconsciously absorbed that beauty, even more, when I met him face to face. I was a mess and my kids were acting up…not the best, fuzzy booted foot to put forward in meeting a man, even if I wasn’t looking for a relationship.

Dan: Even though she irritated me that day, I do admit I found her kind of cute.

Skye: Really?

Dan: (blushes and nods)

What made you take a step further in the relationship beyond strangers living across the hall? 

Skye: I guess having gone through my own share of hard times, my heart went out to him when I saw how sad he often was. And strange things started happening since I first met him.

Dan: She kept asking questions and when I realized that first of all she had a tender, caring heart, and was lost as far as faith goes, I figured God had moved me there to be a light in her darkness in spite of the stifling grief that weighed me down.

Skye: I didn’t make it easy. I kept asking pesky questions.

Dan: And she never hesitated to call me out on my own hypocrisy. I gotta admit her compliments took me by surprise too.

Skye: Why? Surely you realize just how gorgeous you are?

Dan: (shrugs) I didn’t grow into my looks until I was out of high school and before that I was bullied because of my unusual eyes. I met Sharon and we were an item. I guess it was easier to just think she told me those things because she loved me. And I found it hard to embrace my appearance given how often people discounted my ability to minister effectively because of it.

Skye: Well, it certainly didn’t hurt where I was concerned.

Dan: (chuckling). You mean given that you couldn’t stop painting pictures of me?

Skye: (blushing) Well, you were a good subject for my art.

Skye, you mentioned that strange things started happening after you met Dan?

Skye: Yeah. Weird things. My paintings changed. And he was so nice to me. I’d never met any one who did nice things without some kind of ulterior motive.

Dan: She had a difficult time believing that God loved her and that was reason enough for me to be nice to her and help her when I was able.

It was a long time before you went on a date. Why?

Skye: Dan had these rules…

Dan: Principles or boundaries might be better words.

Skye: Fine. Initially, he wouldn’t talk to me in my apartment or his. So we’d have conversations in the hallway, or at the YMCA or sometimes over coffee at the local coffee shop. Always in public. Initially, I thought it was because he didn’t trust me. I finally realized he was not only protecting his reputation but me as well. It didn’t understand it all at first, but now I’m grateful because I know I can trust him. He’s a man of integrity and that was something new for me to encounter.

Dan: Well, Titus is as well.

Skye: True, but I wasn’t interested in Titus.

Dan: (grins and bumps her shoulder with his) I’m grateful for that.

How do you feel about your story releasing? 

Skye: I really love the cover.

Dan: You would. Why couldn’t you have put her on the cover? Fuzzy pink boots and all

Skye: Would you leave my boots out of this? I like them. They are warm and comfortable.

Dan: I’ve grown to like your boots. (eyebrows wiggle).

Skye: Good, because I’m not giving them up. Besides, you’re hot. I have to share you with an entire congregation so you can be on a book cover. Me? I kind of prefer being in your shadow.

Dan: Fair enough. If it makes you happy.

What did you learn most from your journey? 

Dan: That grief was keeping me from embracing all that life still had to offer me. And that I can move on and love and laugh and that is not a betrayal of the love I had for Sharon.

Skye: I learned about God’s grace and Dan was definitely Jesus with skin on as the saying goes. I’m grateful that God gave me far more than I had ever dreamed of for me and my children. I never expected God would use a handsome neighbor to shake my unbelief and transform my art and my heart by the power of His Holy Spirit. I’m sure glad He did.

 

Thanks for joining us! I hope you enjoyed getting to know Dan and Skye a little better without spoilers for their story releasing in a few days! 

Spatzle Speaks: A Match for Melissa (Book Review)

Mom has been busy writing and editing for others and hasn’t snuggled up with me with a good book for some time. And yes, I write that to make her feel guilty. She’s always had a liking for Regency romances and to find good Christian ones is even harder. She stumbled upon A Match for Melissa by Susan Karsten and loved this sweet story.

Melissa Southwood is the daughter of an ambitious social-climbing father who wants to sell her off in exchange for a title. It’s his fondest dream. Melissa has dreams of her own, triggered even more so by finding a handsome man in a ditch. But before she could get to know him, she’s whisked back to London to be wooed by someone else.

She wants a man who is a believer and she’s not too sure about this one. When Mark, the man she rescued, shows up in town she finds herself drawn to him. Her father’s mind is set. One aristocrat desperate for money is soon pitted against another with a damaging past who has recently come to know God. Which one will win? How can she get her stubborn father to see reason?

Add in Mark’s aunt, a widow with charms of her own, and meddling relatives of Mark bent on acquiring a fortune by foul means, and you have a complicated but sweet romance that will leave you smiling with her happily-ever-after ending.

The great news is this is the first book in a series of three in the Honor’s Point Series, so we can look forward to more sweet, clean, Regencies from this fabulous new author.

I give this book five bones! Another inspirational Regency author on the scene is always to be celebrated.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Interview with Nikolos Acton from Feta & Freeways

uomoI’m excited. Feta & Freeways was the third book in my Orchard Hill Romance series but in a couple of weeks Root Beer & Roadblocks releases. I figured it would be nice for you to get to know my leading man, Nikolos Acton. He leads vocals and plays acoustic guitar for a band called Specific Gravity. Welcome, Niko!

Niko: Thanks for having me. I thought this was going to be an interview with the full band?

Susan: I decided to interview you alone.

FetaandFreewaysCover copyNiko: Alone. Hard to be that way traveling around the country with a bunch of guys.

Susan: Guys?

Niko: Oh, and Tia, she’s our manager.

Door opens. Johnny Marshall, Niko’s cousin Johnny peeks in.

Johnny: What’s  going on?

Susan: I’m interviewing Niko about the book Feta & Freeways .

Johnny: I really liked that story.

Niko: Only because you got me into trouble with Tia.

Johnny: You deserved it, being so blind to her all those years.

Niko: I will get you back.

Johnny: (laughing) I’m sure you’ll try.

Susan: Boys…interview?

Johnny: So Niko, what lesson did you learn in this story?

Susan: Johnny–

Johnny sits down next to Niko and nudges him in the shoulder. 

Niko: No. That’s okay. It’s a good question. I think I realized I was taking a lot for granted in my life. God had blessed me and I acted almost entitled to that. I didn’t really lack anything.

Johnny: And then you almost lost the most important thing.

Curly young woman portrait, outdoors, close-up, positive attitude, smiling.

Niko: She is amazing, isn’t she? I’m glad I had another chance. I’m glad that I got a happily ever after.

Johnny: For now… life does go on, you know, filled with ups and downs.

Niko: You know that better than anyone.

Johnny: Right, like your relationship with Tia was a walk in the park.

Niko: We took a few walks . . .

Johnny: Do you think we’ll get back to touring again?

Niko: Kind of depends on what happens with you.

Johnny :(frowns) Yeah, well I had my shot at happiness and blew it. I’ve given up on those dreams.

Niko: I don’t think God’s given up on you, though. Tia and I don’t plan to let you give up.

rootbeerandroadblocks_300Susan: When I finished Feta &  Freeways I was surprised at the curve ball that had come Johnny’s way so I was compelled to write him his own story. I called it Root Beer & Roadblocks. While Johnny goes through some difficulties I can promise He gets a happily ever after ending. Wanna see your book cover, Johnny? I thought my publisher did an awesome job.

Johnny: Sure. Why not? I look forward to hearing about what journey you took me on. Wow. I like that cover. I remember Tia giving me shades to wear and that stocking cap. She didn’t want me to outshine my cousin, Niko.

Niko: Give it up. She always loved me best anyway.

Johnny: Who? Tia or Susan?

Niko: Well, Tia of course, loved me best. But Susan? Susan, who do you love best?

bassista si esibisce al mare<Susan has left the room> 

Johnny: Obviously me. Had to be me.

Niko: I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

Johnny: Has to be – she saved the best story for last.

Niko: You do realize she’s written other books after this, right? And neither of us are the main characters?

Johnny: No way. Susan? Where did she go? Susan? Come on. You love me best, right?

Note: Burlap to Cashmere was the inspiration for the story – as were the lead singer Steven and his cousin Johnny (although Johnny usually plays guitar he does some keys in this video). You’ll also see Theodore here, their drummer. This is a song from them off their self-titled album where you can see – and hear the amazing vocals. 

 

Writer Wednesday: Cathe Swanson

cathesquareToday I want to introduce you to Cathe Swanson. She’s been a valuable member of our ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writer’s) group and just released her first novella! So proud of you Cathe!

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ?

I was a reader as a child, and being an author was my dream job. I wanted to create stories, preferably in series like Little House in the Big Woods, Anne of Green Gables or the Nancy Drew mysteries. But I didn’t; I just found more books to read. Later, when I was homeschooling my sons, I wanted to write better stories for boys. But I didn’t; I was too busy teaching them.  I wrote devotionals for ministry events and some articles for a boys’ magazine and newsletters for different organizations, but I never wrote fiction. Then, just after my youngest son graduated, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. I finished the 50,000 words in about a week, and I kept going. The story fell from my fingertips. It consumed me. I thought about my characters all the time. I wrote bits and pieces on scraps of paper while I was driving (even more dangerous than texting). I wrapped up that manuscript at about 175,000 words, and then I just kept writing more books.

What’s your pet peeve?

I object to man-bashing: memes or cartoons that mock men, implying that women are smarter than men, or television shows in which the men are portrayed as bunglers and the women are more intelligence. This is not sexual equality. It is sexism.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

My best friend is married to a chief of police in a small town out west. I called her one evening with a question about whether or not a woman could be compelled to testify against her husband in a criminal court case and then more specifically if that woman could be questioned by the police during the investigation and be pressured to answer their questions. She said her husband wasn’t home right then, but she thought it was best to avoid answering any questions without a lawyer there. I thanked her for that non-answer and went back to my story. She called back ten minutes later – she had called her husband out of a city council meeting to ask him what I should do. She thought my question was about ME! Oops.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

Self-discipline and avoiding the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” trap. I am easily distracted and have many things I enjoy doing, from gardening to cardmaking, so if I sit down to write and my character has an upcoming appointment, it reminds me that I need to check my planner for the time of my own upcoming appointment. Then I see that one of my grandchildren has a birthday coming up, so I open Amazon to do some shopping. Then I think about party ideas, which is even worse, because I open up Pinterest. Or I might decide to make her a card or go to the basement to get wrapping paper and see a box of Christmas fabric and bring that upstairs and see a piece with holly berries on it and decide to go outside and check on the boxwood tree and pick some branches to make a centerpiece… By then, my husband is home and I need to cook dinner. I love to write, but I am squirrelly.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

As a brand new author, I’ve been very blessed with encouraging reviews.  When the negative comments and reviews come, as I know they will, I might get discouraged for a while, but I usually bounce back quickly. I am pretty good at weighing the value of other people’s opinions and responding accordingly. I hope I will be humble enough to accept criticism.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

Um… Snow Angels? Actually, I think my best success is that I have pushed myself to become more open about my work. I’ve written for years without telling anyone or letting anyone read my stories. I tend to be a very private person, almost reclusive, and you just can’t do that as a modern author.

snowangels-bigcoverWhat would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors?

There aren’t many authors newer than me, but I would tell them:

1.  Find a supportive writing community. That doesn’t mean a group of people who will applaud everything you do, but they should be encouraging you in your efforts – just as you will encourage them – and celebrating your successes. I prefer a group with a Christian worldview because that defines me and my writing. I like online communities because I can engage from home when I have time to do so, but in-real-life groups are very beneficial.

2.  Never stop learning how to be a better writer. Attend workshops and seminars, read writing craft books, find beta readers and critique partners. I am a podcast junkie. I listen to writing and book marketing podcasts while I garden, clean house, drive, or work out (okay… that’s a lie. I haven’t worked out in months.) Most importantly, read good books.

3.  Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do – including writing books – glorify God. Before we are Christian authors, we are Christians. Not everything you write has to be evangelical, but remember that everything you write is a witness.

As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?

Like all Christian authors, I would like to lead others to salvation, bring attention to terrible social injustices, end hunger and bring about world peace. Those are impressive goals, but I think I am better at touching people’s hearts on a more personal level. In Snow Angels, I created characters like Hub, a Vietnam veteran. Instead of just showing his sad plight and having him sitting around being homeless, I wanted the reader to see him as a regular guy with his own personality, engaging in daily life in community with others.  I like to write entertaining stories that make readers laugh and maybe cry a little, but I hope that they will also be inspired to see other people more clearly – not as stereotypes, but as individuals, as God sees them.

What is your current work in process?

I am currently working on revisions for Baggage Claim, a book I wrote for NaNoWriMo a few years ago. It’s part of the Great Lakes collection, set about two years before Snow Angels, and will introduce Phoebe. It is scheduled to be released in mid-February.

Christmas Lights novella collection is going to be FREE From Dec 15 to Dec 19. Also, we are having a great giveaway: http://christmaslightscollection.com/christmas-stocking-mash/  The actual giveaway form is here: https://promosimple.com/ps/abb4  but it doesn’t list everything in the stocking.

My new book, Baggage Claim, is available for preorder at http://amzn.to/2gwfFnW It will be released – God willing – on February 14.

christmas-lights-boxLinks to social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CatheSwanson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CatheSwanson

Instagram: https://instagram.com/CatheSwanson

My blog: http://catheswanson.com/blog

My newsletter: http://catheswanson.com/newsletter/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/CatheSwan…

BookBub Author Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cathe-swanson

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/catheswans…

Latest Book Release :    Christmas Lights – a novella collection

 

Writer Wednesday: Liz Tolsma

liz-tolsma-headshot-2I’m happy to introduce you to author Liz Tolsma who I’ve been acquainted with for several years and has been part of starting up our local chapter of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). She writes, edits, speaks and has been a delight to know personally.

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to…

I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic and wanted to be an author. I got really serious about it after 9/11, because I realized then that my life wouldn’t last forever. I didn’t want to have any regrets, so I gave writing a shot.

What’s your pet peeve?

People who leave doors open.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

It just happened. I didn’t recognize one of my street team members right away when I met her in person. Thank goodness she had a nametag on!

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

Just finding time to write. With children to shuttle places, including one with special needs, and a house to run, and my editing business, it’s hard.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

I’ve really learned how to deal with them. For rejections, I trust God’s perfect timing. If He has meant for it to be published, he’ll send the right contract at the right time. And for negative reviews, I try to balance them against positive reviews. I just got a review for my first book that said the romance wasn’t very strong. The next review said they loved the romance! You can’t please all of the people all of the time.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

Definitely being a finalist for the Carol Award.

What would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors?

1. Read as much as a can, both inside and outside of your genre.

2. Write, write, write. Once you have words on a page, you have something to work with.

3. Find a really good critique partner or even an editor who can see things you can’t and who can help you learn and grow as an author.

As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?

That my books have touched many hearts for Christ.

railstolove_cover

Recently released!

What is your current work in process?

Right now, I’m writing The Song the Heart Sings. It’s the second book in my next WWII story. It’s set in Poland. What many people don’t know is that Hitler hated the Poles almost as much as the Jews. In fact, as many Polish Christians died as Polish Jews. So, the story takes place at a forced labor camp in southern Poland.

This is Liz’s latest release: Rails to Love

Circus costume designer Ellen Meyers rides the rails from city to city with the troupe, but when mystery and suspicion fall on her, can her newfound love with trainmaster Will Jorgenson and their faith in God survive?

BIOGRAPHY

Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels and prairie romance novellas. The Rails to Love collection released in October 2016. The Matchmaker Brides collection releases in February 2017, and her next WWII novel, The Melody of the Soul, is scheduled to release in April 2017. She is a popular and an editor. She has lived in Wisconsin most of her life, and she now resides next to a farm field with her husband and their two daughters. Her son proudly serves as a U.S. Marine. They adopted all of their children internationally, and one has special needs. When not busy putting words to paper, she enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family. Please visit her blog, The Story behind the Story, at http://www.liztolsma.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@LizTolsma), and LinkedIn. She is also a regular contributor to the Pencildancer blog and the Midwest Almanac blog.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liz.tolsma.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LizTolsma
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/liz-tolsma-64992ab7?trk=hp-identity-name
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/liztolsma/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorliztolsma/

Buy links for Rails to Love:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Christianbook.com