Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Amish Groom

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Amish Groom
Harvest House Publishers (April 1, 2014)
Mindy Starns Clark
Susan Meissner


Mindy Starns Clark Mindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of the inspirational Million Dollar Mysteries, the Smart Chick Mysteries, and three standalone mysteries, as well as the nonfiction books The House That Cleans Itself and A Pocket Guide to Amish Life. Her novels include A Penny for Your Thoughts, Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels, A Dime a Dozen, A Quarter for a Kiss, The Buck Stops Here, The Trouble with Tulip, Blind Dates Can Be Murder, Elementary, My Dear Watkins, Whispers of the Bayou, Shadows of Lancaster County, and Under the Cajun Moon, plus other books!

Mindy is also the author of numerous plays and musicals which have been performed all over the United States. She has written textbooks, articles, short stories, and more than 75 computer software manuals. A former singer and stand-up comedian, Mindy lives with her husband and two teenage daughters near Valley Forge, PA. She enjoys speaking to churches, civic groups, and libraries across the country. Her unique blend of humor and insight make her an audience favorite.

Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker, and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008 and a Carol Award winner. She is a pastor’s wife and the mother of four young adults. When she's not writing, Susan writes small group curriculum for her San Diego church. Visit Susan at her website:, on Twitter at @SusanMeissner, or at


New from bestselling authors Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner, The Amish Groom (Book 1 in The Men of Lancaster County series) explores the men of an Amish community in Lancaster County, how their Amish beliefs play out in their unique roles, and the women who change their lives.

Born to an ex-Amish mother and an Englisch father, 23-year-old Tyler Anderson was raised as a military kid until the age of 6, when his mom passed away. His dad, shipping off to yet another overseas post, placed Tyler in the care of his Amish grandparents, an arrangement that was supposed to be temporary. It lasted a lifetime.

Rachel Hoeck is the young woman waiting for Tyler’s proposal. She senses that though he loves her and wishes to make a commitment to her and his Amish beliefs, part of him still wonders whether an Amish lifestyle is truly for him.
When an opportunity to connect with his father unexpectedly arises, a visit to California causes Tyler to question everything, including a future with Rachel. Will the new girl in his life, Lark, cause him to remain in the Englisch world? Or will he choose to be an Amish groom after all?

A poignant novel of hoping for romance and searching for identity, set in a beloved Amish community.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Amish Groom, go HERE.


I was intrigued when Susan Meissner told me at a conference last year that she would be collaborating with Mindy Starns Clark on an Amish novel. Although it seemed to start off a bit slowly, I attribute most of that to my being tired when I began reading it. It didn't take long to become immersed in the story and fascinated by the characters in this tale of a young man with one foot in the Englisch world, where he lived the first six years of his life, and one in the Amish world, where his grandparents raised him. This solid and compelling novel contains food for thought applicable to all walks of life as Tyler endeavors to find just where he belongs.


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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An Earth-Shattering Hodgepodge

Yay! The Hodgepodge is back after taking a week off for Spring Break last week!

1. April 22nd is Earth Day. Are you inspired by nature? In what way?

I'm inspired to praise God when I see the beauty of His creation. How anyone can doubt His existence or His love boggles my mind. I love Romans 1:20 - For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

2. Down to earth, four corners of the earth, move heaven and earth, not have an earthly chance, or salt of the earth...which earthly idiom have you most recently encountered? Explain.

Can't say that I've encountered any of them, but I'm pretty down-to-earth so I'll go with that one.

3. Share one piece of advice you might give a newly engaged couple.

The best way to get over feeling irritated with the little things is to do something for the other person.

4. When did you last engage someone to perform a job, task, service, home repair, or improvement? On a scale of 1-10 (ten being the best) how would you rate their work and/or your satisfaction with the job or service provided?

We had some flooring put in last fall. They did a great job.

5. When did you last find yourself engaged in small talk? Are you awkward or an expert or somewhere in between?

There's usually a bit of small talk every day at work. I'm fine one-on-one with someone I know, but awful in situations with strangers, such as parties.

6. What was the last historic place you visited?

Last summer we were in Memphis and visited several historic places, including Beale Street.

7. The world would be a better place if we just__________________________.

...put God first in our lives.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Have I mentioned that I love spring?!

Leave me a comment then head on over to Joyce's blog and join the fun!


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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Promise in Pieces

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Promise in Pieces
Abingdon Press (April 15, 2014)
Emily T. Wierenga


A Word from the Author:

I’m Emily, and I’m honored and humbled to meet you, friend.

We’re all stumbling along on this journey and you can approach me about anything okay? I’m an open book, with dog-eared pages and a worn cover.

I’m mama to two boys, ages two and four, and married to a farm-boy-turned-math-teacher. We live in a small Dutch hamlet with three churches, one Co-Op and no stop lights. There are a lot of fields out here, there’s a lot of space and sky for breathing and running and writing.

We foster two boys in addition to our own two, and before I had kids, I took care of my Mum who had brain cancer. She fought back and has recovered, all glory to God, and my pastor-father still holds her hand while they go for daily walks.

I battled anorexia nervosa as a child, and then again as a newly married woman, and I write a lot about body image now and have a passion for women to learn to love themselves.

My husband and I have battled infertility and are currently trying to adopt our third child through the local Alberta government.

I hurt for the church, and believe in it, and pray for it, as I’ve grown up inside its walls and have heard its groanings.

I have a heart for Africa, particularly Uganda, and went there in January on a bloggers’ trip with World Help.

My favorite things to do are read literary novels, play guitar, snowboard, paint with oil and acrylics and hug my babies.

I am the author of two books on eating disorders, a novel releasing this spring, and a memoir coming out this summer.

I hope you’ll connect with me on FB:, or if you prefer, Twitter: @emily_wierenga. I’d love to have a virtual glass of wine, or cup of coffee, with you.

Peace to you friends,



After the end of World War II, Clara Kirkpatrick returns from the Women’s Army Corp to deliver a dying soldier’s last wishes: convey his love to his young widow, Mattie, with apologies for the missed life they had planned to share.

Struggling with her own post-war trauma, Clara thinks she’s not prepared to handle the grief of this broken family. Yet upon meeting Mattie, and receiving a baby quilt that will never cuddle the soldier’s baby, Clara vows to honor the sacrifices that family made.

Now a labor and delivery nurse in her rural hometown, Clara wraps each new babe in the gifted quilt and later stitches the child’s name into the cloth. As each new child is welcomed by the quilt, Clara begins to wonder whatever
happened to Mattie—and if her own life would ever experience the love of a newborn. Little does she know that she will have the opportunity to re-gift the special quilt—years later and carrying even greater significance than when it was first bestowed.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Promise in Pieces, go HERE.


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Monday, April 21, 2014

Celebrate 100 Books!

A Sensible Arrangement
Lone Star Brides
Tracie Peterson
(Bethany House Publishers)
ISBN: 978-0764211881
April 2014/336 pages/$19.99

Marty Dandridge Olson is ready to leave behind the pain of the past.

Answering an advertisement for a “Lone Star bride,” she leaves her Texas ranch and heads to Denver to marry a man she doesn’t know.

Jake Wythe is the man waiting for her.

Burned by love, he marries now simply to satisfy the board of Morgan Bank, which believes a man of his standing in society should be wed. Together Jake and Marty agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience.

When missing money and a collapsing economy threaten his job, Jake’s yearning to return to ranching grows ever stronger, much to Marty’s dismay. But a fondness has grown between them, as well, further complicating matters.

What will happen when their relationship shifts in unexpected ways… and dreams and secrets collide?


Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of one hundred novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana series and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana.

Find out more about Tracie at


First of all, I have to extend my congratulations to Tracie Peterson on her centennial release! Publishing one hundred books is quite an accomplishment. I've enjoyed many of her previous books and eagerly curled up with this one. I was not disappointed. Peterson has taken the common scenario of the "mail order bride" and infused fresh life into it with the story of Marty Olson and Jake Wythe. While this is a brand-new series, I was delighted to realize that Marty was the five-year-old sister of Hannah in Taming the Sun, the first book in Peterson's 2012 Land of the Lone Star Series. (My review of that book is here.) Marty is all grown up now and so desperate to leave Texas that she travels to Denver to marry a man she's never met. Marty and Jake immediately endeared themselves to me. The rest of the town--not so much! LOL The snobbery and class distinction is well-portrayed, and while I shudder to think it was really that way, I suspect it was all too realistic. I particularly like how Peterson wove faith naturally into the story, using Marty's own struggles. A thoroughly satisfying historical romance, A Sensible Arrangement is, of course, a sensible addition to your reading list!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers & Litfuse Publicity Group as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Welcome to the campaign launch for Tracie Peterson's 100th book! A Sensible Arrangement launches Tracie's new Texas-based series, Lone Star Brides, that’s sure to please. As a special treat, devoted fans will be able to catch a glimpse of several popular characters from previous series.

Tracie is celebrating by giving away an iPad Mini and hosting a LIVE webcast event on 4/29.
One winner will receive:
  • An iPad Mini
  • A Sensible Arrangement by Tracie Peterson
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 29th. Winner will be announced at the A Sensible Arrangement Live Webcast Event on April 29th. Connect with Tracie for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Tracie will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books, fun prizes, and gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of A Sensible Arrangement and join Tracie and friends on the evening of April 29th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via
 FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.
Hope to see you on the 29th!


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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Don't Miss Lip Reading!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Lip Reading
David C. Cook (March 1, 2014)
Harry Kraus


A Word from Harry:

I started writing my first novel during my last year of surgery training at UK. I was a chief resident, and started writing Stainless Steal Hearts in a call room at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Lexington. It was a crazy time to write! I had a very demanding schedule, often spending days and nights in the hospital. I had two sons at that time, and I recognized the wisdom in my wife's urging: "Now doesn't seem the right time for this dream."

My experience as a writer is far from typical. Having received my formal training in biology and chemistry and medicine, my only preparation for a writing career was a love for reading. The longest thing I'd written before my first novel was a term paper in undergraduate school. My first novel was accepted by Crossway Books and published in 1994, and it wasn't until after I had FOUR published novels that I even opened a book of instruction about the craft of writing fiction. This is not what I recommend to others! Yes, I was successful, but I was bending the "rules" without knowing it. I had a natural talent for plotting, but I realize my initial success may have stunted my growth as a writer. I'd have made faster progress if I'd have gone to the fiction teachers sooner.

I have three sons: Joel, Evan, and Samuel. Look closely in all of my books and you'll see them there. My lovely wife, Kris, provides the basic composition for all those beautiful, athletic, dedicated women in my novels.


She Could Save Millions, or Save Herself

She just needs a little longer. She’s really close. Dr. Rebecca Jackson, a medical researcher, stands on the verge of a breakthrough that will transform medicine. But she soon discovers the reason behind the miraculous progress in her research, and it leaves her with a nearly impossible choice . . . and little time to decide. More than her research is at stake. And more threatens it than this latest revelation. Something she’s tried hard to cover up. There is a high cost to some things in medicine and it’s not always the patient who pays. Can Rebecca find the faith and wisdom she needs to make the right call? The clock is ticking and the pressure is on.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Lip Reading, go HERE.


Harry Kraus solidifies his long-held spot on my list of must-read authors with this latest release. Realistic fiction which features believably flawed characters and conflicts, Lip Reading deeply touches the heart while providing a thoroughly satisfying read. The novel provides a fascinating peek into the conflicted nature of some within the pharmaceutical research industry--competitive and even predatory while simultaneously seeking to discover solutions to medical mysteries--and the opening scenes will forever change how I view "success rates." Uniquely and highly gifted as both a physician and author, Kraus has crafted a story so authentic that at one point I grabbed my nursing handbook to look up a pharmaceutical central to the story, convinced the medication was real! Dr. Rebecca Jackson's emotional, physical and professional struggles stirred my heart and kept me turning pages long into the night. Kraus's strongest gift, however, lies in his ability to weave in a subtle yet strong message of grace that gives the reader much to ponder. More than a riveting tale or an entertaining way to spend a few hours, Lip Reading will stay with you long after you turn the final pages. Another highly recommended offering from Harry Kraus MD!

[On a lighter note, the title and cover are exceptional, and the graphic used for the section breaks within chapters is so clever! And I'd love to ask Dr. Kraus about his research of the very specific lipstick varieties he mentions Dr. Rebecca Jackson using throughout the book! (Grin!)]


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Wednesday, April 16, 2014


It is always an exciting day when the Christy Award Finalists are announced! I know I say it every year but this year there is an especially wonderful selection of books nominated. And although I thought that work would preclude my attending this year, it looks like I will get to be at ICRS and the Christy Award banquet in Atlanta in June! I am sooo excited! Here is the list of finalists from the Christy Award website. The hyperlinked titles will lead you to my reviews.


The 15th annual Christy Awards for excellence in Christian fiction will be presented June, 23 2014 in Atlanta.

The Christy Advisory Board is pleased to announce finalists for the 2014 Christy Awards honoring Christian fiction.

Every Waking Moment
by Chris Fabry (Tyndale House Publishers)

The Prayer Box
by Lisa Wingate (Tyndale House Publishers)

Stones for Bread
by Christa Parrish (Thomas Nelson, Harper Collins Christian Publishing)

(I don't even know what to do with this category - I loved Every. Single. One. of these books! Apparently, the judges are just as conflicted because the reason there are four nominees is because two of them tied! I wish they could all win!)

Dangerous Passage
by Lisa Harris (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Once Upon a Prince
by Rachel Hauck (Zondervan, Harper Collins Christian Publishing)

Rosemary Cottage
by Colleen Coble (Thomas Nelson, Harper Collins Christian Publishing)

by Irene Hannon (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
*This category includes four nominees due to a tie in scoring.

Firefly Island
by Lisa Wingate (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel
by Melody Carlson (B&H Publishing Group)

Take a Chance on Me
by Susan May Warren (Tyndale House Publishers)

Burning Sky
by Lori Benton (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)

A Cast of Stones
by Patrick W. Carr (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Dear Mr. Knightly
by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, Harper Collins Christian Publishing)

All for a Story
by Allison Pittman (Tyndale House Publishers)
(I thought I reviewed this book; I remember reading it and loving it and I'm embarrassed that I never published my thoughts. I love Allison's writing!)

Burning Sky
by Lori Benton(WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)

Sweet Mercy
by Ann Tatlock (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Harvest of Gold
by Tessa Afshar (River North, from Moody Publishing)

Stealing the Preacher
by Karen Witemeyer (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Under a Blackberry Moon
by Serena B. Miller (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Dark Justice
by Brandilyn Collins (B&H Publishing Group)
(This is the only category that I am going to tip my hand on. I really hope Brandilyn Collins wins. She is a phenomenal suspense author, and Dark Justice is her most chilling book yet.)

by Ted Dekker (FaithWords, a division of Hachette Book Group)

by Steven James (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

A Cast of Stones
by Patrick W. Carr (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

by John W. Otte (Marcher Lord Press)


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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Beauty So Rare - The Seamstress & the Cover Photo Shoot

Meet the Woman Behind the Cover Dress
by Tamera Alexander

Dear friends,

Have you ever wanted to meet the woman who sewed the dress on a novel cover? Then please allow me to introduce you to Beth Schoenherr, the ever-so-talented seamstress who sewed Eleanor Braddock’s dress for the cover of A Beauty So Rare.

I’m thrilled that Beth was willing to share about her experience in making the dress, and I love the behind-the-scenes glimpses she shares. I hope you will, too!

Tamera: Where did inspiration for the dress for A Beauty So Rare come from (both the style and color)?

Beth: The style, of course, was determined by the post–Civil War timing of the story.

I believe the cover designer and editors talked about a garden setting and felt pink would look lovely against the backdrop of the green foliage and other flowers, which it does! I then had the fun of finding the right shade of pink to keep it a believable color for the time. Hot pink or neon pink, of course, would never do!

Tamera: Um, no. LOL! Not even Adelicia Acklen could have coerced Eleanor into neon pink! ; )

Tamera: Have you made dresses for photo shoots before?

Beth: I started doing period costumes for men, women, and children in amateur theater in 1999 and then had opportunities in the following years to progress to working in the costume shop of a professional theater. This is my first costume for a photo shoot, however.

Tamera: How cool, Beth. I’m so grateful for your work on this dress. Well done!

Tamera: Do you have an appreciation for period clothing? And if yes, what’s your favorite style of women’s dresses from history?

Beth: I do enjoy period clothing. I don’t think I can pick one favorite style though. I just enjoy the various and changing silhouettes and fabrics throughout the history of fashion.

Tamera: Understandable. I have many "favorites," too!

Tamera: What’s the most challenging dress you’ve created for a cover (and what was most challenging about it)? Also, what has been your most challenging sewing project in general?

Beth: As I mentioned, this is the first dress I have made for a cover. It has been really fun and exciting to create this dress from scratch and then see it on the cover of this book. A new experience I had when making this dress was the cartridge pleats at the back of the skirt. The pattern called for the front and side pieces of the skirt to be pleated to fit into the waistband and left only a five-inch opening in the back of the waistband. Then I had to fit the 50-inch-wide piece of fabric for the back part of the skirt into that five-inch opening. I thought, “There is no way I’m going to get that much fabric into that little space.” But the cartridge pleats worked fabulously at neatly pleating 50” down to 5”.

The most challenging costume I worked on was a waistcoat designed and then cut out by someone else and given to me to sew. Not a single piece matched up in size to its coordinating piece. There was no extra fabric to work with so I had to just rework the pieces I had while making sure the finished garment would still fit the actor it was designed for. Definitely a “make it work” project!

Finally, probably the most thrilling dress I got to make was the first complete dress for a play at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Many of my costumes prior to that had to be remakes of existing dresses or costumes due to tight budgets. But I was graciously given the opportunity to sew, from start to finish, the schoolteacher dress in Little House on the Prairie: The Musical, which premiered at the Guthrie and then went on to tour nationally. It was so exciting to see the professionally-designed dress come together step-by-step and then to see it on stage.

Tamera: Wow, Beth, I bet that was a rewarding experience with Little House on the Prairie: the Musical. Congratulations! I’ve always admired people who know how to sew, and sew well!

Thank you for sharing your talent and time with us––and with the cover of my latest novel.


And now, here are a few pictures Tamera has shared of the cover photo shoot!

Be sure to enter my giveaway to win a copy of this wonderful novel!


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