Gail's Book Nook

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Looking Out The Window: Julie Cosgrove Talks About Her Latest Book, Baby Bunco. Shares An Excerpt.




A Warm Welcome to Julie Cosgrove




Hi Julie, tell us about Baby Bunco, your latest book.

Janie Manson suspects a murder of a young woman at the convenience store across the highway and the abandoned newborn in a bathtub of a vacant garden home in Sunset Acres, her retirement community, are connected.

Now to convince her son-in-law, Chief Detective Blake Johnson…as soon as he calms down over her breaking into the morgue, that is.

This sounds like another Julie Cosgrove fun read.




Here are a couple reviews for Baby Bunco:

Cosgrove wove the story with such humor, I found myself laughing out loud at the antics these sleuths got themselves into as they went to great lengths to help in the investigation! Not only dishing out information with each other, but dishing up amazingly delicious comfort food...totally in character with the elderly. Christian Book Reviews

Cosgrove does an excellent job of leaving a breadcrumb trail of clues that leads you in circles right along with the characters. I laughed at and fell in love with the charming trio of women would-be-sleuths in their stubborn and relentless resolve to figure out who killed their neighbor. Sometimes authors shove a Christian message in between crime scenes and car chases. However, Cosgrove seamlessly threads her message throughout the book…the characters exemplify what it means to live a life of Christian love. Beautifully done! A
mazon reviewer

Buy on Amazon




Excerpt from Baby Bunco

Chapter 1


“Did you say she found a baby?” Janie stopped mid-roll, the pink and white dice warming in her clutched fist. “Here in Sunset Acres, a retirement community?”

Babs, seated to her left at the Bunco table, nodded. “That’s what Mildred told me as we were walking up to your front stoop tonight. Right, Mildred?”

“I went to collect a few more of my things since I’m staying with Ethel, and no more than three minutes later the leasing agent pounded on my door. ‘Come see,’ she motioned to me. Her eyes grew as wide as those mega donuts at the Crusty Baker.” She thumped her pencil against her score pad and groaned. “It took every ounce of gumption to follow her into that—ugh!—place next door.” She quivered her shoulders.

Janie shifted her gaze to the woman sitting across from her. “Ethel, you knew about this?”
“I did.”

“And you didn’t tell me?” Her voice elevated to echo-off –the-ceiling volume. She humphed and pivoted to face the storyteller. “Mildred. What happened?”

The other eight ladies halted their Bunco round. Each swiveled to listen in, their eyes fixated on the first card table.

Mildred leaned. “I paused at the steps, determined to not go inside. Only peek in from the front door. Then high-pitched, frantic cries came from the direction of the bathroom. Well, I had to rush to its aid. Every motherly fiber in my being dictated it.”

Murmurs and head bobs filtered through Janie’s living room.

 Mildred sniffled. “Poor little thing. Alone, scared and red as a beet from wailing so hard. That house is cursed, I tell you.”

Janie patted her hand. “Now, dear. Just because someone murdered Edwin soon after he moved in there doesn’t mean...”

Mildred shot from her seat and paced, her arms flaying in circles, resembling the duck windmill on top of the antiques barn down the road. “Ever since I relocated into Sunset Acres it’s been one thing after another. Edwin murdered, then my nephew Bobby arrested, and now an abandoned newborn in a bathtub? This is supposed to be a quiet retirement community.”

“Maybe because you live on Solar Boulevard.” Annie huffed. “Nothing weird ever happens on my street, Sunrise Court, except for an occasional stray golf ball. Then again, if you kept your nose out of everyone’s business...” Her voice trailed off with a smug cock of her head.

“My nose?”

The other ladies mumbled to each other.

Ethel blew a whistle through her teeth. “Okay, everyone calm down. We all lived through the ruckus of one of our neighbor’s brutal murder last month. It’s not Mildred’s fault. Nor mine or Janie’s that this happened...”

Betsy Ann raised her hand, as if her legs once again dangled from under her desk in Ms. Everett’s kindergarten classroom.

Janie rolled her eyes. “What?”

“Well, it is sort of our fault.” She pointed to Janie, Ethel and herself. “We helped solve the case and Bobby did wind up in the middle of all of the commotion. That’s why he threatened you and tried to break into your house.” She folded her hands and gazed down at them. “I’m just saying...”

“Duly noted.” Janie felt the healing, pinkish wound on her neck where his knife grazed her skin. “I must add, my dear son-in-law, Chief Detective Blake Johnson, appreciated all of our...” her hands encircled the room...”research, sleuthing and cunningness. He told me so.”A smile curled along the edges of her mouth. “Besides, it did beat back the doldrums a while, right?’

A few silvery head bounced in agreement as the condo sprinkled with giggles. Annie crossed her arms and harumphed.

Janie eased over to Mildred and led her back to her designated chair. She patted her on the shoulders and scanned the room, making certain every slightly glaucoma-pressed or cataract-corrected eye fixated on her. “Now we must figure out who placed a newborn baby in a vacant garden home bathtub and why?”

Babs cocked an eyebrow. “We do?”

“Absolutely. Let’s face facts. Someone put the little thing in a home in our community so she would be discovered. Therefore it is our responsibility...”

“Well, now. I’m not sure...” Mildred frowned.

“We are all over fifty-five, correct? The child certainly doesn’t belong to one of us. If so, we should be renamed Sarah after Abraham’s elderly wife in Genesis.”

“Or Elizabeth in the New Testament.” Betsy Ann added, this time with a forefinger, not a full hand, aloft.

“Exactly. Therefore, unless one of you wants to confess...”

Cackles ensued.

Janie allowed the cacophony to settle, her eyes glimmering with escalating excitement. “I, for one, do not think this is a coincidence that this wee one ended up in Edwin’s old garden home. There may be a connection we overlooked. Blake never discovered who left long, black hairs in that comb or ruby red lipstick on those empty beer cans when the police searched his place for clues.”

Ethel scoffed. “Pffft. We all can guess what she was, even if we don’t know who.”

The women eyed each other and chuckled.

Annie shook her head. “But the officials only released him from prison a couple of days before he died, right? Last I heard it takes nine months to make a baby.”

Mildred arched her eyebrow. “I thought it only took one night.”

Several of the elderly ladies laughed so loud Janie’s china tea service jiggled.

Janie pumped her hand toward the floor. “All right. All right. Even so, someone knew that home remained unoccupied.”

Babs flipped up her palms. “His demise dominated the local news for several weeks.  Which means thousands of readers learned it.”

Roseanne Rodriguez spoke up. “More than that. Hundreds of thousands. It was all over the news, too.”

Mildred flayed her arms. “That narrows it down a bunch.”

More laughter.

Janie tapped her fist to the card table. The hum of comments faded. “True, Roseanne. However, I don’t recall them specifically giving out the address, even if everyone heard Betsy Ann and I discovered him in the community dumpster here at Sunset Acres.”

“So, whoever dropped the baby girl off cased the joint and determined no one lived there anymore.” Ethel, the one with the massive catalogues mystery paperback collection, offered the proverbial gumshoe response.

“Which means they planned to leave her at that garden home.” Janie snapped her fingers. “Yes, that has to be it. So a person or persons unknown, who wouldn’t attract attention as they wandered around our senior retirement village, knew about this pregnancy and somehow persuaded the mother to give up the poor thing.”

Babs clucked her teeth. “Well, it does happen.”

“Yes, but what gets me is they figured someone would find the infant fairly quickly.”

“A ‘For Lease or Sale’ sign is planted plain as day on the front lawn.” Annie shoved the last bite of butterscotch brownie into her mouth.

Janie gave her a nod. “Good point. Still, there must be homes all over this area for sale or rent. Why our little corner of the world? A fifty-five plus community. Why not a neighborhood with young families? That’s what we must discover. Something tells me the answer might be the key to the whole dilemma.”

Ethel leaned into Betsy Ann. “Get a load of Janie. Proud as a peacock and giddy as a school girl. She’s in her element. A new game’s afoot.”

Betsy Ann lowered her auburn, curly head into her hands. “Here we go again. Bunco Biddies to the rescue whether anyone wants us involved or not.”

To learn more about Julie's books and devotionals visit her website

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Looking Out the Window: Second Chances, A Love Anthology Featuring Five Sweet Romances and a Rafflecopter Giveaway


A Warm Welcome to the Second Chances Authors

E.A. West

Pravina Maharaj

Patricia Kiyono

Kathy Bosman

Leenna Naidoo




Two Book Bundles will be given away. Enter the Rafflecopter drawing below to win!




When a couple falls in love, sometimes their relationship doesn’t work out and they part ways. One day they may meet up again. The sparks fly. The hurtful memories rise to the surface. Is it possible for them to heal the rift between them and start all over again? Can they have a second chance at love? Or is it too late? Find out in this feel-good anthology of five unique, sweet romances. All proceeds go to charity: HIC Children's Home, Newcastle, South Africa.




True love never dies, but can it overcome mistakes of the past?

When Felicia Coronado’s soon-to-be ex-husband kidnaps her daughter on a remote mountain road, she must rely on the assistance of a group of soldiers in the area for a training exercise. She’s stunned to discover the soldier in charge is the high school sweetheart she never thought she would see again. Lieutenant Mark Benson never stopped loving Felicia, even after she dumped him before their senior prom. Now, six years later, he learns the truth behind why she left him. Can he forgive her for the past and give her a chance for the future once her divorce is final, or will he help find her missing daughter and leave Felicia behind?



E. A. West Writer 
Author of sweet and inspirational romance.





Giovanni’s Christmas Bride:

Mistletoe Magic: Two Passionate Hearts. A Christmas Wedding to Remember.

Italian billionaire Giovanni Ferruccio had sworn never to forgive Brennan Shaw for breaking off their engagement and marrying his cousin Anthony.

Five years later, when fate delivers a widowed Brennan and her young son Luca to Giovanni's door, he is determined to discover the reason for Brennan's betrayal. But after one too many kisses under the mistletoe, Giovanni realises he can’t let go off Brennan and wants to make her his Christmas bride.




Pravina Maharaj

 Writer of: Passionate, contemporary romances.




Flowers for Maddy

Sometimes the roadblocks in your life aren’t as high as they seem.

Maddy Benning’s life has been full of missed opportunities. She’s had to settle for commuting to local colleges rather than attending the school she and her high school boyfriend had chosen, and spend all her time either working or taking care of her mother. She’s resigned herself to a life void of excitement and love. Meeting Jake again opens new hurts—but can it lead to new joys?

Jake Warner gave up his teaching position to return to his Lake Michigan hometown and care for his father. But it looks like the job is more than he can handle on his own. While looking for appropriate care, he runs into a girl from his past. Years ago, their parting had been painful. But was there more to the story than he’d realized?



Patricia Kiyono

Writer of both contemporary and historical sweet romance. She likes to incorporate the lakeside setting of her West Michigan home in her contemporary works.





What Treasure from the past will Dale find?

Bridget is the new chairlady for the Treasure Hunter’s Club, a hobby she’s taken up to fill the loneliness after breaking up with her boyfriend Dale. The magic has left her life too, or so it seems, because the magic matchmaking photo album told her Dale was the right man for her. So when her ex-boyfriend walks into the club meeting, she’s barely able to make her speech. Dale can’t believe he’s in the same room as the woman who broke his heart and made him lose interest in dating. Being together for a night might be too painful to bear.




Kathy Bosman

Writer of sweet contemporary and fantasy romances and occasionally other genres like fantasy or women’s fiction.




 3 Million eyes, 2 desperate hearts, 1 second chance.


Munro Calliston needs to win a few million. Vivian Francis needs to win back Munro. The TV reality show Treasure Seekers seems the perfect route to a win-win situation...But can two so very wrongs ever make things right?




Leenna Naidoo

Writer of contemporary suspense with a dash of fantasy and romance. She also dabbles in science-fiction and fantasy, and blogs at www.leennanaidoo.wordpress.com


Story Excerpts:


Escaping the Past
by EA West

Rain poured from the dark clouds, making the winding mountain road slick. Felicia Coronado’s hands tightened on the steering wheel as she fought back panic. Ramon’s truck hugged the rear bumper of her car. Speeding up didn’t increase the distance between them; it only made the car harder to control. She glanced in the rearview mirror, meeting her five-year-old daughter’s frightened brown eyes.

“Mama, why is Papa chasing us?” Raquel’s quivering voice sent an arrow straight through Felicia’s heart. Her daughter had already endured far too much fear in her young life.

“I don’t know, mi hija.” Yes, you do! He wants to kill you and take your daughter to Venezuela for who knows what horrible reasons. She would never let that happen. No matter what it took, she would protect her daughter from Ramon’s cruelty.

Felicia slowed to round a curve, and Ramon fell back. Her relief was short-lived as the road straightened again. She glanced back in time to see his pickup truck shoot forward.

“Hold on, Raquel!”

She barely had time to brace herself before the truck connected with the back of her car. Raquel screamed as the car lurched forward, but Felicia couldn’t reassure her. She had all she could do to keep the car on the road. Ramon rammed the back of her car again, sending it sliding across the wet pavement. A huge tree loomed ahead. She fought the wheel, but it was no use. The car slammed into the tree, crushing the right front corner. A second impact from behind smacked her head against the steering wheel, and blackness crept into the edges of her vision.

“Mama!” Raquel’s shrill voice penetrated the fog in Felicia’s mind.

Before her sluggish thoughts could form into any kind of reassurance, Ramon had wrenched open Raquel’s door and was pulling the girl out of her booster seat. Felicia tried to protest, but Raquel’s screams drowned out anything she said. Adrenaline rushed through her veins, and she forced her way out of the car as Ramon carried her daughter away.

“Ramon! Let her go!” Felicia shouted into the storm. “You have no right to take her from me!”

He turned his cold eyes on her. “This child is my daughter. I have every right to take her.”

“You’re breaking the restraining order! Give Raquel back to me or you’ll face more charges.”
Ramon laughed, his expression full of hate. “Stupid woman. You think a piece of paper and empty threats will stop me from taking my daughter with me? You are a bigger fool than I thought.” He picked up his pace as he headed for the woods.

“Ramon!” Felicia’s scream didn’t stop him, and she watched helplessly as he disappeared into the forest with her daughter in his arms.


Giovanni’s Christmas Bride
by Pravina Maharaj

She looked up, stunned to see the man she’d never thought to face again. Not after five bitter years.

Giovanni Ferruccio. Italian billionaire, philanthropist and jet-setting playboy.

At thirty-five, Giovanni was one of the most eligible bachelors in New York. Brennan had followed his life and career through the media. She knew he was never short of female company—often seen with actresses, models, and wealthy heiresses.

As Giovanni’s dark gaze locked with hers, Brennan forgot to breathe. Her mind flew to ten years ago when they’d first met. She’d been a twenty-year-old waitress, paying her way through college. Giovanni had been twenty-five with a steely determination to succeed in the world of business. He’d just launched his first Information Technology Company and was in the process of expanding his business when they’d met.

Brennan’s life changed forever when Giovanni had stepped into the café where she worked. It was five days before Christmas on a snowy Saturday afternoon. Giovanni had insisted she sit with him while he had a coffee and pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream. Her boss at the café was shocked when Giovanni laid down a bundle of notes.

“I’m buying more than your food and drink. I’m also buying the company of your pretty waitress,” Giovanni had told the man, with an air of arrogance.
If it were any other customer, Brennan would have been incensed by such audacious behaviour but immediately there was something about Giovanni that tugged at her. It was more than his darkly handsome features or his Italian accent. She’d served many handsome men at the upmarket Manhattan café, but none had made her pulse race.

Intrigued by the stranger, Brennan agreed to sit down with him, and thereafter Giovanni began visiting the café often, always paying a small fortune for Brennan to sit with him. Their encounters fed the gossip mill of the restaurant staff and had the female staff mooning over Giovanni’s sex appeal.

Soon Giovanni began seeing Brennan away from the café. Brennan suddenly in a relationship with Giovanni discovered she was helplessly in love. She graduated from college and Giovanni was blazing his way through the business world. Then one Christmas Eve, Giovanni stunned her by proposing. It had been the happiest moment of Brennan’s life. But her happiness was short-lived because ten months later she broke off their engagement. Her world had come crashing down around her ears. Giovanni was left gutted by their breakup and Brennan’s heart broke into a million tiny pieces.

“Brennan Shaw,” Giovanni said, the deep timbre of his voice sending a shiver down Brennan’s spine and jerking her back to the present.

“Welcome to my home,” he added, sounding anything but welcoming.

“I didn’t know you lived here.” Brennan dragged her gaze away from Giovanni’s face. Luca stared at his mother with wide, dark eyes, sensing the tension in the room.

Giovanni entered the room, his gaze never wavering from Brennan.

She bit her lip self-consciously. She knew she looked a mess. Her usually lustrous honey-blond hair hung limp and damp, her woollen dress smudged with mud was molded to her thin frame, and her face lined with exhaustion.

Drawing breath, Brennan met Giovanni’s obsidian gaze. “Please, can I use your phone? I’d like to call a taxi,” she said, grateful that her voice was steady.

“I insist you stay the night,” Giovanni said like the spider might have said to the fly.

Brennan gritted her teeth. “Thank you but I’d rather go home.”

“It’s not a night to be out with a child,” Giovanni pointed out, glancing at Luca.

Brennan wanted to scream with frustration. How could fate be so cruel to deliver her on the doorstep of the man who hated her most?


Flowers For Maddy
by Patricia Kiyono

Jake nearly stumbled. He’d just been thinking about needing someone who’d understand, and now Maddy was here, going through the same struggles. Someone had been listening.

She turned her soft gaze to him. “What about you? I heard you and your choirs have been winning all sorts of awards. I even saw you and your group perform on one of the morning news shows.” She frowned. “Is your school on break now, or did you retire already?”

“I resigned. Dad’s got health problems, and someone had to take care of him, now that both Mom and Sarah are gone. In fact, he’s in Rest Haven, too.”

Those expressive eyes glistened. “I’m so sorry, Jake. That had to be so hard, losing half your family in an instant.”

He nodded. “Dad hasn’t been the same since then. I didn’t realize until I came back how much it affected him. It’s like he has no will to live and sees no reason to care for anyone, including himself.”

“I’m so sorry. Your dad was always such a strong man.”

“Yes. I used to hate that about him. Now I miss that strength.”

She opened her mouth, and Jake expected she would say something about her mother, but she clamped her mouth shut and nodded. He decided to change the subject away from parents. “How’s Jeff?”

She frowned then, and he wondered why the question would bother her. “Jeff died eighteen years ago,” she told him.

He stopped in his tracks. “I-I’m so sorry. What happened?”

“Cancer. We were going through fertility tests when they found it. He was gone two months later.”

“Maddy, I’m so sorry.” She’d been a widow all this time?

She nodded her acceptance of his sympathy, and they continued their walk. “Thanks. It was rough, but he made me promise I’d get my degree. He knew how much I’d wanted to go, and he made that possible.”

Jake digested that. “I always thought you’d changed your mind and didn’t want to go to school.”

“Never! I cried for days each time mom told me I hadn’t been accepted.”

“Each time? How many schools did you apply to?”

“U of M, Eastern, and MSU, as well as several private schools. Actually, I was accepted at a few of them, but I couldn’t get any financial help, so I couldn’t afford it. That’s why I went to Community College, and then commuted to Grand Valley.”

He walked in silence for a few moments. What she said didn’t match with his memory of events, but he wasn’t about to argue. “Why didn’t you tell me about any of this?”

Her eyes narrowed. “I did. I wrote to you.”

“I never got any letters from you.”

“Never? I wrote almost every day. Mom said we couldn’t afford that much postage, so I’d put a week’s worth of letters in an envelope. I wrote for weeks before I finally gave up. “

He ran his free hand through his hair. “I swear I never got those letters. If I had, I would have called you. I could have transferred or taken some time off until we could find a place to go together.”

She pursed her lips together. Did she doubt his sincerity? “I guess it doesn’t matter now. We can’t change what happened, and eventually we both got what we wanted.”

Maybe you did. I settled, and my poor wife knew it.


His Treasure
by Kathy Bosman

Since Bridget had told him it was over, he’d turned into some kind of Cookie Monster with women. He chewed them and spat them out within weeks of their first date. Could it be something to do with the gnawing feeling of being not good enough? If Bridget didn’t want him, there must be something intrinsically wrong with him. They’d grown so close in a space of a few months, and then she’d told him “enough.” Her reasons still didn’t make sense. He’d bared his soul to the woman, but she didn’t seem to care.

Swallowing a sudden lump in his throat, he closed his eyes for a moment, feeling the tension release out of his clenched fists and jaw. He needed to forget her. He’d always been outgoing, had plenty of friends, been rather popular. Some quiet, studious, poetry-obsessed college student shouldn’t destroy his self-esteem so easily. Nope, she wouldn’t. He’d forget about her. He wouldn’t give her the joy of making him miserable.

“Why did you think I’d help you, though?” he couldn’t help asking Ebon. “You know I don’t talk much nowadays.”

“You’re still a chick magnet despite often acting like a forty-year old with six kids and no time for fun.”

He pursed his lips. He didn’t want to be a chick magnet anymore. Why did he have to be born with such good genetics—broad shoulders, tall, good hair, flat abs, “sparkling blue eyes” as the girls would say, and a charming, dimpled smile?

For once, he wished he could be like Ebon, plain and ordinary, medium-height, skinny arms, bit of a paunch, ash-brown hair. He looked at his friend and punched him in the arm.
“Hey, why did you wear that stupid golf shirt again?”

Ebon picked up speed and glared at the traffic in his way. “You don’t look any better in that stupid white T-shirt. What, you think you’re Adonis or something?”

Dale laughed and his mood picked up as Ebon joined him in cackling.

They soon arrived outside a chapel which seemed to be teeming with life. Several women had gathered by the entrance, all young and hip-looking with their skinny jeans, sleeked hair, and shiny lipstick. He sighed inwardly. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, after all.

“Too many chicks,” he muttered, but Ebon didn’t hear him. Instead, he headed for the entrance with a confident stride. The guy had suddenly grown in boldness. He’d hide behind Ebon, then.

He desperately tried to spot some male company in the crowd, but nothing. Maybe the guys were inside. How to weave through the crowd of girls? He saw a path and headed straight for it, for once not caring about introducing Ebon to everyone as he usually did. Once inside, he could breathe again and sucked in several calming breaths while looking for a place to sit. He found seating near the back. If Ebon complained, he’d say it was to get a good vantage point to see all the women. The plastic seat wasn’t too comfortable and the buzz from the doorway made his heart-rate climb again, especially seeing that buzz heading inside. He tried to take in the traditional décor of the chapel and imagine he lived in medieval times and had chosen to be a monk. A smile filled his face at the thought. His thirst for adventure wouldn’t make him a good monk, though. But the thought calmed him. Phew, he really had developed a dislike for girls.

The swarm came down the aisle and hovered around, giggling over their seat choices. One of the bees headed for the front and fiddled with the projector set-up. Fuzzy, dark-brown curls at the back of her head caught his eye and his palms grew sweaty. She looked a lot like Bridget. Great. Now the leader of the club was a Bridget look-a-like. Turning around, she scanned the room with all seriousness.

He blinked.

No-o-o!


Three Million’s A Crowd
by Leenna Naidoo

Before the reunion of Team Academia was complete, another car hurried down the drive and into the car park. Munro took a deep breath and steeled himself. This was Vivian, he knew. The car door took almost a minute to open, Munro imagining Vivian frantically searching for something she’d deemed vital and had forgotten. Or was she losing her nerve and on the verge of thumping the chauffeur on the back and screaming at him to, “Drive! Just drive!” He held his breath. She’d done that before, and Vivian was nothing if not predictable emotionally.

The door opened too fast, swung back alarmingly, and was pushed back again. She was still curvy, her skin that natural olive, looking respectable in her glasses as she stepped out in Capri cargoes, a cotton shirt, and hiking boots. Then she stumbled as a familiar backpack tumbled out behind her. She stuck her head back in the car, and emerged a few moments later with a shawl, closed the door, opened it, then slammed it shut again. She looked nervously around as the car pulled away, before hefting the backpack onto her shoulders, balancing precariously as she did so.

Munro breathed in, not realising he’d been holding his breath, then shook his head. That Woman hadn’t changed a bit. His grin was pure wickedness. He wouldn’t have to create any drama, it still followed her around like a dog on a leash. All he would have to do was drag her along and make sure they were always in the Top Three. He glanced at the other four teams and the sixth team’s lone member – a dumpy man with veldskoene boots who looked liked a miner. He could do it, he had to.

I’d only just arrived and my nerves were shot. Where was Munro? Already breaking out in a sweat, I walked along the burning beige walk towards the odd-shaped tower of Maropeng’s entrance. I’d never visited this museum and discovery centre celebrating palaeontology and astronomy. All the other contestants were standing in the shade of the entrance, making their faces hard to distinguish. I should have worn my sunglasses.

And there he stood, feet apart, arms crossed with his sun-bleached, tousled hair making it appear like he’d just left the beach. He’d always made me feel safe and protected before—my rock in a crazy, unpredictable world. He’d been the one who’d always caught me when I fell, the one person in the world who’d thought I’d been more than enough for him, who’d loved me just as I’d been, though I’d known I was far from perfect ‘cos everyone else told me so.
I couldn’t breathe. My stomach lurched and crashed like an alien trying to birth itself. I gulped in air as I met his smile and brilliant eyes with their hostile expression.

Who was I kidding? I had absolutely zero chance of winning Munro back, not after what I’d done. So why had he agreed to Audrey’s suggestion, even welcomed it?

“You made it,” he said. “No change of mind?”

I cleared my dry throat and tried to unwind my hands from my shawl. “No, of course not.” My voice was a croak. I cleared my throat again. “How are you?”

“Never better.” His eyes were as feral as his grin though his voice was as smooth as ever.

My stomach heaved. I couldn’t figure out if it was fear, lust, or nerves. I dropped my bag and ran off to the ladies, certain my breakfast wasn’t going to make it to the starting line.


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Friday, January 13, 2017

Looking Out the Window: Behind the Scenes of Shoba Sadler's CHILD OF DUST



http://clashofthetitles.com

Today we'll sit down to chat with Shoba Sadler, author of the contemporary title Child of Dust. Shoba will take us behind the scenes of her unique new novel and give us a glimpse into her writing.

Shoba, why did you choose to write this type of novel?

Social status and cultural barriers makes for great conflict. Child of Dust is like a modern-day classic of Romeo and Juliet only instead of opposing families, these lovers, Kim and Bryan have cultural and social barriers to contend with.

Kim, the rich and spoilt socialite who loses her money is taken under the wing of her reluctant chauffeur, Bryan, who has his own struggles to deal with. They find love under the most unexpected circumstances.

Can you tell us why you started with an Asian setting for your first two novels?

I was founder of Agape Christian magazine in Malaysia. I also freelanced for the leading English, secular newspaper in Malaysia, The Star. My feature stories forThe Star were several page write-ups with gorgeous photos. Many of my stories were selected by the features editor to be cover stories as well.

As I interviewed people all over the world for Agape, I saw God moving powerfully in Asia and yet there were so few stories coming from there especially in the Christian romance genre.

In Asia, Christianity is seen very much as a Western culture. Yet so many Asians have had powerful encounters with Jesus Christ. Then there is the struggle to validate their faith in the midst of culture, tradition, loss of identity, social stigma and so on.

There alone you have so much material for backdrop, tension, drama, conflict and final resolution.

An example of what I mean can be seen in my short story Finding Enlightenment that was awarded second place at faithwriters.com. It can be read here:http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article-level3-previous.php?id=54362

Talk a little about your unique setting.
When I read novels I am drawn to the backdrop and setting. A great description of the setting subtly woven into the story is what makes the difference between being a narrator who takes a person on a journey through his "telling" and a facilitator who steps out of the way altogether to allow the reader to explore the journey on his own. The writer should aim to be the facilitator and not the narrator.

There is nothing like a great setting to make the reader feel like they are there with the characters. It is like the difference between watching a 2D and 3D movie.

Unfortunately, many formulaic romance novels that are churned out in quick production-line succession fails to capture this allure of setting because it takes research and time. It is also not easy to write setting discreetly in the background and that is the only way to write it. Otherwise it will seem like reading lecture notes instead of a story.

I read one review of a multi-cultural romance set in an Asian country where the reviewer said she felt like she was reading a tour company's brochure and that is the wrong emotion to invoke.

So another reason I wrote Child of Dust was to give romance readers a chance to explore unique settings and backdrops not normally experienced by a reader in the current trend of romance novels available out there.

We'd love to hear a little about the historical background for your novel. Will you talk about that?

The main character, Bryan, Kim's chauffeur has been deeply affected by the Vietnam war in the sense that he is the illegitimate child of an American GI and a Vietnamese woman. This historical background sets a different dimension to the story and adds intrigue and authenticity.

Who would you say is the audience for this novel?

Child of Dust is an appealing read for anyone. As I have also written for the secular press, I am able to write in a manner that appeals to all walks of life both Christian and non-Christian. I have had non-Christians tell me they were so engrossed in the story that they didn't not notice the message of the gospel woven into the story. Yet that message is undoubtedly there.

I am an inspirational writer and everyone loves a good inspirational story just as they love watching a Hallmark movie.

What readers have to say about the novel:

"Make sure when getting ready to read Child of Dust that you don't have anything else planned for the day, you won't be able to put this book down. I could go on and on about this book. Highly and strongly recommend it. Is it possible to give a book 10 stars?" --- Debra Dunson, reviewer at The Edgier Christian Fiction Fan

"I found the writing of this story to be close to excellent.... I found this book to be one of the most enjoyable books I have read in a long time. It was interesting, the story kept moving along, and I learned a lot as I read this story. I found myself intrigued with the constant difficulties faced by the protagonists – and their stories were presented so much more like real life stories than any other book I have read in a long, long time." --- Marina, Community Writer, California

"This novel has a consistent rhythm, adding surprise after surprise, twisting our emotions at each new difficulty Kim faces. I couldn't put this book down, waiting to see if any or all the ends would be tired up. I would actually like to see the novel transcend into a movie. An amazing read." --- Brices Mice Christian Book Reviews

About Child of Dust: 

Beautiful but spoilt Vietnamese socialite, Cao Kim Lye, learns of her parents shocking death from the dashing Amerasian family chauffeur, Bryan Nguyen.

Kim steps out of a world of crystal and chandelier to enter the dust and chaos of working-class Hanoi. She finds herself living under the roof of a shop cum living quarters with Bryan and his adoptive family.

Ever conscious of the privileged class, Kim struggles against the emotional ties she forms towards Bryan, the reluctant saviour, who considers her an unnecessary hitch to his already complicated life.

He still bears the scars of abandonment by his mother and his American GI father when U.S. troops pulled out of Vietnam.

Eventually Bryan and Kim's powerful attraction to each other begins to break down the wall between them.



About the author: 

Shoba Sadler has been a journalist for 20 years and founder of Agape magazine in Malaysia. She is a versatile inspirational author that likes to write in multiple genres. She has pioneered a new genre in Christian multi-cultural writing with her novel Child of Dust and her many award-winning short stories can be read here http://shobasadler.com/?page_id=250

Her passion for writing is matched only by her passion for cooking with farm fresh produce. She lives a healthy lifestyle on a farm with her husband, Kevin, a talented musician, who also loves to surf and ski. They grow their own vegetables and fruits and share their home with a multitude of animals and wildlife. They are passionate about buying directly from local farmers who practice organic farming.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Looking Out the Window: Start Off The New Year With A New Release from American Christian Fiction Writers


January 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley by Valerie Comer, Mary Jane Hathaway, Elizabeth Maddrey, Danica Favorite, Lee Tobin McClain and Annalisa Daughety -- Is love possible for a makeshift mom and a handsome widower? What about a bed and breakfast owner and the farmer next door? A curvy jilted bride and a mysterious, handsome chef? Then there's the real estate consultant and the grandson of her elderly client; a high-powered lawyer and a woman farmer, and a formerly engaged couple. Can love make a difference in their lives? Exploring food, friends, and family in Arcadia Valley, each of these novellas kicks off a three-book series, intertwined with the works of the other authors. This collection is only the beginning of your adventure! (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Restoring Love by Jennifer Slattery -- Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. As Mitch struggles to keep his business afloat, and Angela works to correct the mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends discover they have something unexpected in common--a young mom fighting to give her children a better life after her husband's incarceration. While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back from redemption and true love? (Contemporary Romance from New Hope Publishers)


Historical Mystery:

Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering -- Drew and Madeline Farthering visit the Yorkshire moor to catch a killer and solve a mystery that involves an old feud, a new rivalry and a huge, spectral hound that may or may not be a harbinger of death. (Historical Mystery from Bethany House [Baker])


Historical Romance:

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander -- A master violinist trained in Vienna, Rebekah Carrington manages to get an audition at the newly-formed Nashville Philharmonic. But the conductor--determined to leave his mark on the world of classical music--bows to public opinion. Women are "far too fragile and frail" for the rigors of an orchestra, he says, and Rebekah's hopes are swiftly dashed. Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville's new orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse--and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head--he must finish composing his symphony before the new opera hall opens. But far more pressing, he must finish it for his dying father, who inspired his love of music. Then Tate's ailment worsens. Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how do you win back a woman's trust when you've robbed her of her dream? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

The American Heiress Brides Collection by Lisa Carter, Mary Eileen Davis, Susanne Dietze, Anita Mae Draper, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Lisa Karon Richardson, Lynette Sowell and Kimberley Woodhouse -- Meet nine young women in America between 1880 and 1911 who have been blessed by fortunes made in gold, silver, industry, ranching, and banking. But when it comes to love, each woman struggles to find true love within a society where "first comes money, second comes marriage." What kind of man can they trust with their greatest treasure—their hearts? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Two Suitors for Anna by Molly Jebber -- In 1903 Ohio, a young Amish woman must choose between the life she has long planned for with her beloved Noah Schwartz, and a new, very different future… But Noah has a surprise for Anna: once they're married, he wants them to travel and live in other communities. Anna, who loves her home and her job at the quilt shop, is distraught when he takes her hesitation as rejection—and leaves. Daniel Bontrager's arrival adds to Anna's confusion. Since taking over his late brother's farm, the handsome roofer has offered friendship and gentle attentions. Yet the pull of first love is strong and deep, especially when Noah returns. Through each revelation, Anna must search her faith for guidance, knowing she is choosing not just a husband, but a life to nurture and to share… (Historical Romance from Kensington)

My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas by Erica Vetsch -- Journey to Fort Bliss, Texas, where a battle of emotions versus ideals is about to be waged. When a high-steppin' eastern fashion artist, Priscilla Hutchens, swoops down on the fort to gain custody of her twin niece and nephew she is met with resistance by their uncle, post surgeon Major Elliot Ryder, who thinks he knows what is best for them. Who will win the battle? Or will a truce be called for the sake of love and family? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


Romantic Suspense:

Dead Run by Jodie Bailey -- Kristin James's morning run turns deadly when she's attacked by a stranger who's after something her deceased soldier brother stole overseas. Her neighbor Sergeant First Class Lucas Murphy steps in to help her and won't let her brush the attack under the rug. He'll do everything he can to keep Kristin alive, but he can't tell her that he's under orders to investigate her link to her brother's misdeeds. Kristin has no idea what the bad guy is after and doesn't want to believe that her brother wasn't on the straight and narrow. But as evidence against him piles up, can they catch the criminals without becoming the next casualties? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley -- It's been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister's sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn't actually do it, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, the person who confessed to the crime is Will's cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in one week--including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [Baker])

Undercover Protector by Elizabeth Goddard -- Undercover at a tiger sanctuary, Special Agent Grayson Wilde is convinced the owner's involved in a wildlife trafficking ring--until someone tries to kill her. Gemma's determined to rebuild the tiger oasis she lost when her family died, but someone wants her out of the way, and she's starting to wonder if her parents' and uncle's deaths were really accidental. Grayson says he'll do anything to protect Gemma, but she can't shake the feeling that her alluring new volunteer might not be all that he seems. With a vicious criminal closing in, though, she has to trust Grayson…because she won't survive without him. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Buried Memories by Carol J. Post -- A soldier hero suffering from PTSD and a young woman struggling to overcome a traumatic childhood fight for their lives and find healing together. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Still Life by Dani Pettrey -- Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright--and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart. Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead--and the photographer insists he didn't take the shot. Worse, her friend can't be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])


Supernatural Thriller:

Fatal Accusation by Rachel Dylan -- Attorney Olivia Murray hopes her life in Windy Ridge will get back to normal after a hard-fought trial. But she soon finds out that the forces of evil have not given up. An embezzling scandal rocks the community church to its core. The New Age groups are ready to declare victory when a high-profile prosecutor files criminal charges against the local pastor. However, Olivia is not willing to give up on the community she's come to love. She takes on the defense pro bono knowing it could destroy her career, but it's a case she is called to defend. The battle will be fierce, but she's not fighting it alone. Her friend and fellow attorney Grant Baxter is by her side. Olivia must use all the tools in her arsenal to combat those who seek to destroy the believers in the community. If Olivia can't prove the pastor's innocence, more than her career is on the line. The entire community of Windy Ridge could fall to the forces of darkness. (Supernatural Thriller, Independently Published)


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!!

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS — CHOOSE KINDNESS



Brief Moments Make Memories on the Heart

Several weeks ago my husband and I visited one of our favorite restaurants. The petite, young waitress in a black skirt and matching blouse took our orders for turkey burgers and fries. As usual Mandy’s sparkling blue eyes and bubbly personality brightened our day.




Not long after she served our food, a man with salt and pepper colored hair and a pudgy face plopped down in front of us. A gray-haired woman with tired brown eyes slid in next to him.

Mandy strolled over and gave them her infectious smile. “Hi, how are you today?”

“I want the steak.” The man spoke in a harsh tone.

“Sure, which one would you like?”

“Don’t put it in the microwave. That makes it tough. Do you understand?” He emphasized the word understand in a loud, condescending tone.

“Yes sir.” Intimidation lined Mandy’s soft voice.

“I want it medium rare with no blood oozing out of it. Cook it right.”

“Yes sir, which steak do you prefer?”

“I think I’ll take the rib eye. And, I want a glass of water with five lemons in it.”

I assumed he meant lemon slices, and knowing Mandy, I’m sure she interpreted his demand that way also.

“Yes sir.” Wrinkles creased Mandy’s brow.

“Oh, and fill the glass to one inch from the top. Don’t put too much water in it.”

“Yes sir.” Mandy spoke in a near whisper.

As soon as she left I leaned across the table. “Did you hear that grouch?” I mumbled under my breath.

My husband nodded.



Later Mandy trekked out of the kitchen, carrying the grouse’s entree, her facial muscles taut. She pressed her lips tight as she set down the plate. “Does everything look all right?” Her voice cracked. Was she going to burst into tears?

Anticipating the worst, in my head I heard a drum roll. What would happen next? But, the man said, “Yes.”

Thank goodness. I took a sigh of relief for Mandy.

She padded back and forth with her shoulders slumped as she met the grumbler’s demands. Perhaps, he was the type person who wants to make sure he takes care of everything in the beginning to avoid problems later. Maybe nothing had gone right in his life for some time, and he just wanted to know that this lunch would. It’s possible the man didn’t feel well, even though he looked fine. There could be many reasons why he sounded so unpleasant. But someone once told me, “There’s never a good reason to be rude.”

At first my heart ached for Mandy, but I heard her laughing and talking to another customer. Hmmm, she only has to contend with him for about an hour, and he’ll be out of her life. I wanted to get up, walk over to the woman with him and say, “Good luck, lady.”

***

Today, we returned to the restaurant. We weren’t in Mandy’s section, but she came by our table to say "hello." We chatted for a moment, and I mentioned the cranky customer. In an instant she remembered him. “Oh yes, that was horrible. The whole time I waited on him I was so nervous. I was afraid he might explode any minute.”

Even though I may only enter someone’s life for a moment, I have a brief opportunity to brighten that person’s day or put that person under a strain and create stress. In 2017 and onward, I choose kindness.

Galatians 5: 22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Photos courtesy of Pixabay