Thursday, October 17, 2019

My Story BEFORE The Story ~ Morgan James ~ A Magnolia Blooms in Winter

Hello! Or as we say in the South, Hey, y’all! Although as an actor—nobody says actress anymore— on Broadway, I’ve been working hard to eliminate my Southern accent. I’m Morgan James and I’ve been in New York for several years, striving for my big break and a starring role on Broadway.

Last year, I played the second lead in a Broadway show and got good reviews. Then, I recently auditioned for the lead in Bloom!, a new off-Broadway production. I’m was born for that part. I keep asking God, since He gave me my talent, to please give me favor with the director. I know it’s Off Broadway, but it’s the lead and one step closer to being a Broadway star. My old high school sweetheart, Andy Wayfield, always told me to reach for the stars.

Then my mother calls me. Y’all are going to love my mother. She is so funny. She talks all around a subject before she gets to the point. Drives me to distraction, but all my friends love her. Well, it seems she somehow squashed the music minister at church, and they need my help to put on the Christmas musical. I guess since I wrote it, they think I’m the best one to help out.

Do I need to tell you who that music minister is? You guessed old flame, Andy. Just saying his name still makes my heart flip over. But our lives are so far apart, what with him back home in Sugar Hill, Georgia and me in New York City. But, since it was my mama who broke his ankle, I can’t say no.

Then, I arrive home and see Andy. Oh my!

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My Story Title:  A Magnolia Blooms in Winter
A Southern Season:
 Four Stories From A Front Porch Swing

My Story Genre: Romance

My Story Released:   September 2018

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The Author of My Story:    Ane Mulligan

While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, Amazon bestselling author Ane Mulligan has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that's a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, and bestselling novelist. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. Ane resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler who thinks he’s a teddy bear.

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Get Connected:

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WHERE can the book be purchased?

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The author will be honored to gift a winner a signed copy of

Be sure to leave a comment with an email address where you can be reached should you win.


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Our Story BEFORE The Story ~ Rachel and Emily ~ The Trouble in Willow Falls

The day I spread a blanket on our foyer floor and invited Mom to join my audience of stuffed animals she applauded my five-year-old version of Aladdin and called me her darling, Rachel, a talented little actress. For six years she inspired me and my friends to create our own one-act performances. Her love and accolades gave my dream wings and made me believe I could fly.

Then cancer snatched her away and reduced my family of three to two. My father rarely watched my childhood performances. He was too busy building Streetman Enterprise into the South’s most successful real-estate-development firm. His vision for my future didn’t include acting. Thus, he began to groom me to follow in his footsteps, hoping one day I’d become his successor. For years I secretly held tight to my dreams, until my final performance as Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street at the University of Georgia. That’s the night my father presented me with a bouquet of roses and said, “Nice job, Strawberry Girl, but it’s time to grow up and take your place in the real world.” Which I did, for seven long years. Then I met Charlie Bricker and Emily Hayes and discovered Willow Falls.

Hello, I’m Emily. I live two hours north of Atlanta in Willow Falls, the little town where I grew up. Although as an only child I yearned, even begged for a sister, I had a happy childhood and a lot of friends. Some of my fondest memories include Scott. We often played hide-and-seek in his family’s store. He sparked my sixth-grade crush when he found me crouched behind a barrel of kitchen gadgets and kissed me for the first time. Little did I know he’d one day become my husband and inherit Hayes General Store.

Today I’m editor of the Willow Post and an aspiring novelist, motivated by Mom’s passion for reading and my parents’ love for Willow Falls. Most of our childhood friends moved away. The result of the town’s long painful path to failure triggered when Sadie Liles killed the town hero. She spent thirty years behind bars, before returning to scene of her crime.

The story of Willow Falls’ quest to transform itself into a tourist destination, and Rachel’s, Sadie’s, and my collision with truth and destiny began in The Secret of Willow Inn.

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Our Story Title:   THE TROUBLE IN WILLOW FALLS                                   Willow Falls Series - Book 2
Our Story Genre:  Contemporary Women's Fiction
Our Story Releases:   November 4, 2019

Readers: Mark that on your calendars!!!!

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The Author of Our Story:    Pat Nichols

Retired from a twenty-seven-year corporate career, Pat Nichols draws on her experience in seven different management positions working with hundreds of amazing women from all walks of life to create stories about women facing challenges in the pursuit of their dreams. Her debut novel, The Secret of Willow Inn, Willow Falls series book one, was released January, 2019. Book two in the series is scheduled for release November 2019. Pat received a 2018 NGCWC Georgia Peach Award for her short story, The Vet and Valentine’s Day and the 2017 CRW Woman of the Year Award. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers International.

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Get Connected:

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WHERE can the book be purchased?

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The author will be honored to gift a winner a signed copy of
The Trouble in Willow Falls.
Be sure to leave a comment with an email address where you can be reached should you win.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Our Story BEFORE The Story ~ Karina & Tristan ~ Sword of Soter

At a random inn, in a random town, right in the middle of Tzedek…

KARINA: (clothed in a purple dress for the first time in a while, her dark hair hanging in a long braid, sits on a platform next to Tristan) Greetings, great readers! Welcome to the Three Kingdoms. I apologize that I am not in Aletheia, where I could welcome you properly. For now, we shall have to endure this lesser hall as I endeavor to answer questions.

TRISTAN: (looks rather uncomfortable as he fidgets in his formal dark pants, forest green tunic, and golden sash, but the way he sits shows that he is protective of Karina) I don’t know why we had to dress up for this.

KARINA: You will have to forgive my friend, Tristan. Our journey has been long. We are wearied, and there is still so much we have yet to accomplish.

TRISTAN: Which is why we should not have stopped for this.

KARINA: (ignores him) You see, I am a Prophetess of the Creator and Queen of Aletheia—though neither is in the realm of what I expected or trained to be. I have been charged with collecting the sacred Armor of the Creator in order to defeat a most foul ancient evil who is using the Warlock King to infect this world.

TRISTAN: Why’d you have to go and mention my brother? (mutters) At least you didn’t marry him.

KARINA: (giving him a confused look) He is the whole reason we are on this quest! (looks back to the crowd) I see many of you are confused. Let me start at the beginning.

When I was just a small child, my father was exiled from Aletheia for betraying his brother—King Pistis of Aletheia. We retreated to Soter for a time, until my parents were both killed by men who are yet still unknown to me. I was placed on an orphan train where I traveled the Three Kingdoms, until they too came under attack.

After suffering for days in the northern forests of Soter, the royal healer of Aletheia found me, near death, and brought me back to the royal house. He nursed me back to health and then took me on as his apprentice. I enjoyed learning the healing arts, and the king—my uncle—never seemed the wiser.

Until he was on his deathbed.

While I cared from him in the absence of the royal healer, he revealed that he had known who I was for a while. And, since he had no children of his own, I was the only heir to his thrown! Talk about having the air sucked out of my lungs. I could not even respond!

Before I could even take on the mantle of queen, a servant of the Creator appeared and proclaimed me a prophetess and gave me a quest. The Three Kingdoms was being invaded by an ancient evil that wanted nothing more than to destroy all the Creator had done. I was to travel to the 3 temples to collect the sacred Armor of the Creator.

TRISTAN: At least she would try. Until I kidnapped her.

KARINA: (a small smirk adds humor to her smug expression) Indeed. You should share a bit of your history.

TRISTAN: (groans) No.

KARINA: I am sure these gentle readers would love to know why you would kidnap the Queen of Aletheia, haul her back to the Warlock King—your brother—and then end up helping her to escape and complete the first leg of the quest.

TRISTAN: See, now they know.

KARINA: (another sigh) Tristan Lemur is the second son of the former King of Tzedek. His brother, Faramos, killed their father and took his place. He rules the kingdom with an iron fist and the threat of the ancient evil. Tristan was his bounty hunter and assassin.

TRISTAN: I only took that position so that I could remain close to my brother in order to avenge the death of BOTH of my parents.

KARINA: (nods with wise understanding) But he came to realize that vengeance was not his to take.

TRISTAN: Not exactly.

KARINA: What do you mean?

TRISTAN: I originally followed after you only because I thought I would have a better chance of achieving my goal on your side. Had nothing to do with realizing anything other than my own incompetence.

KARINA: You are not incompetent. I think, well, Faramos was your brother, the last of your family in the Three Kingdoms. I imagine it was hard for you to comprehend removing that connection, no matter how evil he is.

TRISTAN: I don’t think you quite understand the depth of my hatred.

KARINA: (furrows her brow, but clears her throat) Regardless of his reasons, Tristan ended up helping me through the first part of the quest in Aletheia. Without him, I may not have survived! Now, we have just finished our harrowing journey through Soter. I cannot reveal more about that experience yet.

TRISTAN: I’m just glad to be done with the deception and pretense of that kingdom. At least Faramos is up front about his evil ways.

KARINA: He is not! He tried to garner a betrothal from me in order to take my kingdom! Under the name of peace.

TRISTAN: (grunts) Well, at least I know who Faramos is and what he is about. You just had to find out the hard way.

KARINA: It was not that hard.

TRISTAN: (looks to the back of the room as an elf with pale skin and raven hair flings the door open) Rashka says we need to go. Faramos’s scouts have been spotted in the area.

KARINA: (wavering smile) Well, thank you for listening to the story of how we got came to grace this town. Well, at least the story of how we came to be on this quest. The Honored Scribe says you can read the beginning of our actual journey in Armor of Aletheia and continue on with us in the latest story Sword of Soter, just out this week!

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Our Story Title:   SWORD OF SOTER
Sacred Armor Trilogy - Book 2

Our Story Genre:  YA Fantasy

Our Story Released:   SEPTEMBER 26, 2019


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The Author of Our Story:    RALENE BURKE

Whether she’s wielding a fantasy writer’s pen, a social media wand, or a freelance editor’s sword, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to help everyone #SHINEBeyond their circumstances! Her fantasy novels are available on Amazon.
When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their 3 kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all-around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . .

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Get Connected:

WHERE can the book be purchased?

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The author has offered to gift a winner a signed copy of
Be sure to leave a comment with an email address where you can be reached should you win.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Our Story BEFORE The Story ~ Malcolm MacGregor and Alanza Cantalamessa

Hello, I’m Malcolm MacGregor. My family members are direct descendents from a Laird in Scotland’s Clan MacGregor. My father is the current Laird for our part of the clan. In the 1700s, our part of the clan emigrated to the United States and settled in the hills that are in the state of North Carolina. During the 20th century, many of the clan members moved to various areas of the United States, and my family chose Texas for their new homes. I’m currently working for a company that creates portable hospitals for 3rd world countries. Although not many people know about, my family is involved in various philanthropic endeavors.

Hi, I’m Alanza Cantalamessa. I work in my family’s gourmet pizzeria near Fort Worth, Texas. My Poppa is Italian, and my mother is Brazilian. They met when he went to Brazil on Spring Break while in college. When he first saw her, He thought her as his “girl from Ipanema,” because was tall and tan and beautiful. People often tell me that I look like her, and she and I share a love of art. Both of us painted the murals on the walls of the restaurant. I paint more for fun, but she is a well-known artist. While working in the restaurant, I became fascinated by the tall, redheaded Scotsman who started coming for lunch very often.

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Our Story Title:   The 12 Gifts of Christmas

Our Story Genre:  Contemporary Romance ~
  Sweet Billionaire Romance

Our Story Released:   September 2018
     Happy Anniversary!

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The Author of My Story:    Lena Nelson Dooley

Multi-published author Lena Nelson Dooley has had more than 950,000 copies of her 50 books sold. She is a member of ACFW and the local chapter, ACFW - DFW. She’s a member of Christian Authors’ Network and Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.
She has been on the ECPA and CBA Bestseller lists, Publisher’s Weekly bestseller list, and several Amazon Bestseller lists as well as a reviewer’s Top Ten Books of 2011. She has won over a dozen major awards.

She hosts “The Lena Nelson Dooley Show” on the Along Came a Writer Blogtalk radio network.

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Get Connected:

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WHERE can the book be purchased?

  • Amazon Author page
  • Goodreads
  • Twitter
  • my Facebook profile
  • LinkedIn
  • Official Fan Page on Facebook

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The author will be honored to gift a winner a signed copy of
Sweet Billionaire Romance

Be sure to leave a comment with an email address where you can be reached should you win.


Thursday, September 19, 2019

My Story BEFORE The Story ~ Steve Gableman... Gainer? ~ The Other Neighbor

I'm Steve Gableman, but for now, I'm calling myself Steve Gainer. I'm an FBI agent, but I'm not sure for how much longer. A few months ago I was injured in the line of duty. I know it's always a risk, but no one really expects it to happen to them. I thought I was being realistic, knowing it could happen to me, but still, it wasn't like I expected. I always thought I'd have some down time, and I'd be back on duty.

But that's not what happened. I'm back on duty, but it's light duty. Not much better than sitting behind a desk. I hate it. But at the same time, I'm not sure I'm ready to jump back in and risk life and limb for the good of my country and its citizens. I almost died, but in the big picture, I don't know if it made much difference to win this one.

I still have time to figure things out. For now I've been assigned to surveillance. But I'm not pretending to be a drug addict or petty criminal. No. I've got a room full of top grade equipment, in a fully furnished house. Hot and cold running water. A full fridge. I can cook three meals a day. My team is close by, a cell-phone call away, twenty-four seven.

The tip line got a report about the owner of a hydroponics store making plans to build a bomb, and it's my team's job to discover the target, and arrest all the perps, not just the leader.

It's my assignment to do surveillance on the bomber's neighbor who lives on the other side of his duplex - every few days he gives her a bag, then quickly leaves. I need to find out if she's involved, and if she's not involved, use her to find something out, after all, they share a wall. I'm going to close my file soon, I'm sure she's clean. In fact, from what I've seen, she's so clean she probably squeaks.

I've never been so bored in my life.

But I have a feeling something's going to change...

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My Story Title:   The Other Neighbor

My Story Genre:  Romantic Suspense

My Story Released:  November 2018 ~ 
          coming up on an anniversary!

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The Author of My Story:    Gail Sattler

Gail Sattler lives in Vancouver BC Canada (eh!) where you don't have to shovel rain. When she's not madly writing (Gail Sattler has over 40 published novels and novellas, plus a few works of non-fiction) she plays bass for an Elton John tribute band as well as a community jazz band, plus she plays piano for a smaller private jazz band. When she's not writing or making music (or at her day job) Gail likes to sit back and read a book written by someone else, along with a good cup of hot coffee.

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Get Connected:

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WHERE can the book be purchased?

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journeystojoy will be honored to gift a drawing winner an Amazon gift card within the U.S.

Be sure to leave a comment with an email address where you can be reached should you win.


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Our Story BEFORE the Story ~ Claire Bennett & Patsy Kowalski ~ Chapel Hill Revival

Hey, there! I’m Claire Bennett, and this is my best friend since kindergarten Patsy Kowalski.


Patsy isn’t as outspoken as I am. In fact, when we were in Kindergarten, I always spoke for her. She’d whisper to me, and I’d tell the teacher whatever she wanted. If the teacher called on her, she’d cry. They finally tried to separate us into different classes. Ha! They didn’t count on her mama storming into the school to stop that nonsense.

“We’re the owners of The Painted Loon, our art gallery. I paint and Claire’s a potter.”

Patsy, do you remember the morning my Joel left without kissing me goodbye? He’s kissed me every morning before he leaves since we got married, but somewhere in twenty-seven years of marriage, I’d become a LazyBoy recliner. A steady, comfortable piece of furniture. How utterly humdrum.

“At least he wasn’t like Nathan. He was doing sixteen of the Twenty-One Signs of a Cheating Husband.”

True, but nobody likes to be taken for granted. So, we embarked on Operation Marriage Revival. At the same time, the new widow on the hill, Lydia, hesitantly mentioned how Chapel Springs had grown a little shabby and could use reviving.

“And she was right. Since Claire and I were already in ‘revival’ mode, she pulled everyone together and we began a town-wide campaign to freshen up Chapel Springs. Of course, we got a lot of flak from the mayor and his cronies. They’d prefer to leave us stuck in the 1950s and not enter the Twenty-first Century.”

That’s the truth. Then, in the midst of all of it, my son Charlie got engaged to Sandi, and she wanted to have the reception at our house. Her mama erroneously thought I was the cook in our family. I had to learn how fast, so I could cook the dinner she coerced me into. Sandi’s mother was a piece of work. But you’ll have to read the book to learn how I managed it. And the fire was not my fault!

“Our story has been out for 5 years now, and it has remained in the top 100 books in its category on Amazon that entire time. We’re pretty excited about that. Should we tell them what happened with Operation Marriage Revival?”

No way. They need to buy the book to find that out. They can go to Amazon and find it there.

“Or they can leave a comment to be entered into a drawing to win it.” (See below)

They can? Well, isn’t that nice!

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Our Story Title:   Chapel Hill Revival 1st Edition

Our Story Genre:  Southern Women's Fiction ~ Ane's brand - Southern Fried Fiction

Our Story Releases:    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY
            CHAPEL HILL REVIVAL 1st Edition !!!! ~ Sept. 2014

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The Author of Our Story: Ane Mulligan

Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet tea. She's an award-winning bestselling novelist, a multi-published playwright and contributor to the award-winning blog, The Write Conversation

She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler who thinks he’s a teddy bear.

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  Get Connected:

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WHERE can the book be purchased?

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The author will be honored to gift a winner a signed copy of
Chapel Hill Revival .
Be sure to leave a comment with an email address where you can be reached should you win.


Thursday, September 05, 2019

The Story Behind THE LADY & THE LAWMAN

Howdy y’all. The name’s Jodie Ross, but my big brother calls me “Jo.” Now don’t go getting the wrong idea about a gal like me sitting behind bars. Sure, I may be dressed like a man and not keep the best of company, but I can explain. What the handsome new greenhorn of a marshal doesn’t know is that I didn’t realize what I was getting into when I went to live with my brother after our folks died. I was only ten at the time after all.

You see, Jerry’s fourteen years older than me, so he’s seemed more of an uncle to me than a brother. We get along pretty well. He taught me lots of things Mama never would’ve allowed, like shootin’, ‘n’ trappin’, ‘n’ fishin’—things I really enjoyed. Only after I got good at it, he started takin’ trips for work. I hated it. He always left me behind. He said a neighbor would check on me, but they hardly ever did. He’d leave me alone in our cabin for days, then sometimes weeks at a time.

When he missed our first Christmas together without Mama and Papa, that was it. I’d had enough of being alone. I demanded he start taking me on his work trips. For a time, Jerry kept his line of work hidden from me, just asked me to mind the camp and occasionally hold the horses for him and his buddies.

Once I got used to having a full belly again, I started asking more questions. He said he did work like Robin Hood, taking from the rich to feed the poor. Considering the hard winter I’d endured alone, I didn’t want anyone, including myself, to ever have to go through such an experience again. I guess that’s why I never said anything. Although, I think deep down I knew my brother didn’t really care about helping other people, but he never complained when I’d share my portion of the spoils with those I saw who were down on their luck.

Lately, however, I’ve been rather longing to cut out on my own and put down some roots, instead of hopping around from abandoned shack to empty cavern or sleeping out under the stars, or cooking for slovenly men who only keep their hands off me because I’m better with a gun than they are and the fact my brother nearly killed the last guy who tried to get, shall we say, “fresh” with me.

Sigh. Maybe one day my life will get better, but from where I’m sitting, I don’t see how. Maybe the God my mama taught me about can help, but would He even hear a cry from a gal like me?

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My Story Title:   Mistaken Marshal
The Lady and the Lawman: 4 Historical Stories of Lawmen and the Ladies Who Love Them

My Story Genre:  Historical Romance

My Story Releases:   August 2019

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The Author of My Story:    Crystal L Barnes
Other Authors in the collection include: Vickie McDonough, Annette O’Hare, Kathleen Y’Barbo

A best-selling author, bona fide country girl, and former competitive gymnast, Crystal L Barnes tells stories of fun, faith, and friction that allow her to share her love of Texas, old-fashioned things, and the Lord—not necessarily in that order. When she's not writing, reading, or singing, Crystal enjoys spending time with family, exploring on road-trips, and watching old movies/sitcoms. I Love Lucy and Little House on the Prairie are two of her favorites. You can find out more and connect with Crystal at

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  Get Connected:

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WHERE can the book be purchased?

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The author will be honored to gift a winner a signed copy of
(Contiguous US Addresses only. Sorry.)
Be sure to leave a comment with an email address where you can be reached should you win.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

My Story BEFORE The Story ~ John Russell ~ THE SHENANDOAH ROAD ~ A Novel of the Great Awakening

I’m John Russell, and I’m pleased to meet ye. [inaudible] I dinna ken if there’s all that much to tell about myself and my life, except it be something about the grace of God in it all . . . but maybe I should go back to the beginning.

I willna forget the day . . . the day I lost my Janet. She went to the Cunninghams that day, I dinna remember why. I just remember her standing in the open door of their cabin in the dusk, the light from the hearth outlining her form. [inaudible] There were Indians, and Captain McDowell had led a bunch of us to guard the settlement, but what happened—it was an accident, no matter they call it a massacre. I dinna believe the Indians meant any harm myself.

Some of the Indians had muskets. One of them aimed at a Cunningham—father or son I couldna see in the smoke, ye may know how ’tis with muskets. Anyway, Cunningham galloped past not far from the cabin, and . . . [inaudible]

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I’d had a long rifle on that day. Ye ken the type? Jake Deckard makes fine rifles in Pennsylvania, they are much more accurate than a musket. Anyone can take down a buck at a hundred yards with it. And if ye’ve a keen eye, well, I’ve heard stories.

But no, I’ve wrestled with that long enough. The Lord knows the end from the beginning, and He’s in control of it all. Isaiah tells me that. The catechism tells me that. But it took a long time before my heart kent it.

Now I can look back and see that good has come out of it all, good that is much happier to tell. It all started when my father, who works as a bookkeeper in Philadelphia, meddled just a wee bit. I’d written of my plan to look for a wife there. I didna tell you about Susanna, did I? She was just a wee bairn at the time, needed a mother.

Anyway, there were some good families in Gilbert Tennent’s meetinghouse, and immigrants from Ulster tend to go there, being Presbyterian mostly. These “Irish” are actually Scots, if ye dinna ken that already.

That was the plan, but it didna work out exactly as I imagined . . .

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My Story Title:   THE SHENANDOAH ROAD ~ 
A novel of the Great Awakening

My Story Genre:  Historical Fiction

My Story Released:   July 2018

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The Author of My Story:    Lynne Basham Tawaga

Lynne Basham Tawaga is an author, editor, educator, and best of all, grandma to four. She loves to write quality fiction with solid gospel content. Her debut novel, A Twisted Strand, is contemporary romantic suspense, but she thinks
she’s found a true home in historical fiction.

Currently she’s writing the sequel to The Shenandoah Road: A Novel of the Great Awakening.

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  Get Connected:

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WHERE can the book be purchased?

  • A Kindle Unlimited selection
  • Can be purchased at Amazon, B&N, and Grace and Truth Books.

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The author will be honored to gift a winner 
a signed print copy ~ OR ~ Kindle copy of
The Shenandoah Road ~ A Novel of the Great Awakening.

Be sure to leave a comment with an email address - or - PM Joy  in Messenger - where you can be reached should you win.


Thursday, August 15, 2019

Our Stories BEFORE The Story ~ Linda Jensen & ?Jay? ~ AN UNPRESENTABLE GLORY

Welcome to my garden tour! I don’t believe we’ve met before. I’m Linda Jensen and am so happy you’ve come to enjoy my flowers! I must tell you up front, though, that much of the beauty you see here grew out of my parents’ sweat and dirt. Yes, they were wealthy and could have hired it done, but they were soil-born gardeners. As a child, I took being rich for granted. Didn’t everyone have two Mercedes, an acre of flowers, and give away scads of money?

Money, though, became a Big Deal for me. Measuring my life and wardrobe against my well-funded school friends, I felt deprived. They could buy anything they wanted. I got a weekly allowance. I could spend it any way I wanted, but when it was gone— “Oh, I’m sorry!” My parents’ voices dripped sympathy. “That’s too bad! Next week’s allowance is…what­…four days away?” I learned, by painful experience, to use money wisely. And, right after mastering 2 + 2 equals 4, the follow-up math was figuring a 10% tithe of my allowance—which, they made clear, needed to factor in human need in our church and around the world. My parents dug care into the soil of my heart, and that has served me well.

My dear friend Bonnie was definitely not one of the moneyed crowd, and when her husband died of cancer... Well, I felt we needed to explore some of the fine gardens in Scotland. Never mind that it was a Scottish person who later did me real damage. In this country, though; not there.

Jorge, my Hispanic gardener, was not in need—at least in his mind. To lure him, I dangled my garden as a potential showcase for his talents. He’s…um…difficult, but we get along. If you see him out there, please give him a good word. He may sniff at you, but that’s his way.

I was not prepared, though, for my big test of caring when Jay landed near my delphiniums. I had tended my dad when he was dying, but this stranger—helpless, insisting I call no one—what could I do for him? Jay was not his real name; I knew that. I knew also that in some way, he was an important person. All I could do was dump him in God’s lap. Lord, you put him here. Now help me care in this new, this dangerously unnerving way!

Jay here. No, that’s not my real name, but it’s the only safe one I could think of during that week with Linda. And what a week it was! We had talked about her garden tour, and I desperately wanted to show up as a surprise. I’d seen her display and knew it well, and just being there would have meant so much—to both of us. It could not be, though. It could not be. Life, unfortunately, often X’s out our deepest desires. I did send a gift, a small token….

Growing up, I learned a lot about life—especially playing hockey with other hot-bloods. Rough and tumble stuff. Money—or lack of it—didn’t matter on the ice. What did matter was keeping score—the internal score of hostility. Who do you rough up in retaliation? What attacks do you ignore? I thumped up one devil quite respectably, but he came back hard with a concussion-producing head shot. I never forgave that.

My dad was big into oil fracking, which, in some people’s eyes, made him filthy rich. We lived well. But he had rules and insisted that I keep them all. “Sure, you can play loose,” he’d say. “Everyone does, and most get away with it. But one slip—that’s all it takes—and your life goes down the tubes. Who wants to wear that necklace?” So we went to church, Rotary Club, supported good causes. Exemplary people—as planned.

And it worked. A good name and the power behind it get you places. It took me high and protected me at my most vulnerable point—that week in Linda’s garden—until a person of power who knew nothing of moral restraint played his “hockey” game with a body blow to my heart.

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Our Story Title:  An Unpresentable Glory

Our Story Genre:  Contemporary Literary Fiction

Our Story Released:   July 2018

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The Author of My Story:   Ellie Gustafson     
  • I grew up in Branchville NJ, 900 pop., in a county that had more cows than people.
  • Loved horses and the annual County Farm and Horse Show.
  • Went to Wheaton College IL as a music major.
  • Married, had 3 kids and 8 grandchildren, with 2 great-grands currently being hatched. Husband a pastor, college professor, tree farmer, organist, writer, etc.
  • Music dwindled away, so I tried on the cloak of writing and found it fit nicely.
  • God first touched me through a story, and he has molded and kneaded me all my life. I love Him passionately.

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  Get Connected:

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WHERE can the book be purchased?

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Ellie Gustafson will be happy to gift a winner an autographed copy of:
An Unpresentable Glory

Be sure to leave a comment to enter drawing ~ either PM Joy through Messenger ~ or ~ leave an email address here so you can be contacted if you win!

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Our Story BEFORE The Story ~ Coy Gentry Whittaker & Aimee Kaplan ~ BECOMING BRAVE

Howdy, everyone. My name is Coy Gentry Whittaker.   
I’m a cowhand with the Bar CT outfit. At least, that’s what I am now—thanks to my boss, Chet Tanner. If it weren’t for him, I’m not real sure what I’d have become. I was well on my way to life as a thief and a pickpocket when he came across me when I was twelve.

You see, I didn’t come from the best home. My ma, she was an angry woman, and she took a lot of her anger out on me. She had her reasons, I suppose, but all that anger aimed at my young heart left me scared, lost, and broken. It became real obvious she didn’t want me around much, so I’d disappear all day. When I’d get hungry, I’d steal an apple from the mercantile or a pie from someone’s window. Or I’d pick some fella’s pocket to get the money I needed to buy me something more filling. That’s how Chet Tanner found me. He caught me lifting his wallet. Rather than turning me in to the authorities, he took me home, asked my ma if he could put me to work on his ranch, and…that’s how I came to the Bar CT. It’s been my home now for the last eight years, and Mr. Tanner and his son, Mitch—well, they’re family. I’m grateful for them. Not only have they taught me a lot about hard work and right living, they taught me what it is to be accepted. I’m still learning that lesson some as you’ll see when you read Becoming Brave.

Hello! My name is Aimee Kaplan.
I had a much different upbringing than Coy’s. I came from a close-knit and loving family. It was an idyllic upbringing, really, full of happiness and fun. But all that ended with the War Between the States. Papa felt it was his duty to serve, and he went off to fight. He never came home. Mama tried to carry on as Papa would expect of her, but she died of a broken heart a year or so later.

My brothers—Edouard, Louis, Marc, and Paul—looked after me in the years since their deaths, and we were doing fun until…until that night. The one where Louis and Paul went to town and found some kind of trouble. I didn’t know at the time what it was, but whatever they’d gotten into brought about a heated discussion between my brothers. They were talking about moving further west. I don’t think any decisions were made until a week or so later, when someone came pounding on the door of our house, demanding my brothers return what they’d stolen from him or…he’d take me instead.

That’s how we wound up in Indian Territory. What happened next is too hard to talk about. Please read Becoming Brave in The Cowboys Collection to find out more.

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Our Story Title:   Becoming Brave

A novella included in the Smitten Historical Romance collection The Cowboys, with Jennifer Uhlarik, Cindy Ervin Huff, and Sandra Merville Hart

Our Story Genre:  Historical Romance

My Story Releases:   August 15, 2019

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Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list numerous times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers, Women Writing the West, and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.

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  Get Connected:

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WHERE can the book be purchased?

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Jennifer would like to gift a winner a signed copy of
Becoming Brave ~ The Cowboys Collection

Be sure to let Joy Avery Melville ( know where to reach you in case you win!

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Our Story BEFORE The Story ~ Eva Knowles & Cal Stephens ~ Loving a Harvey Girl

After Ma died, Pa took to his bed. Sick in his heart, he was. As the oldest, I reckoned I needed to take care of my younger brothers and sisters. “Eva Knowles,” I said to myself, “everyone is depending on you now. You need a job.” So I put my next sister in charge of running the household—two other sisters and two brothers—took what money Ma had kept hidden in her flour pot, and bought a train ticket to the first city it stopped at. Pa told me to go all the way to Austin, but I’ve never been to a big city before and the city where the trained stopped first was big enough.

Still, being on that train, watching the Texas landscape go by, made me realize one thing: I want to travel. And not just here in my home state, but every state. And maybe every country too. Why, I saw a travel magazine on the train that talked of truly wonderful places across the ocean. Castles in England, ruins in Rome, pyramids in Egypt—even places in Palestine where Jesus walked. I want to see it all, but I have to take care of my family first.

When I first stepped on the train, I just knew I’d find a marvelous job in a town this size. Why, they have two hotels here, and two saloons and even a library. But after carrying my bag all over town and getting turned down time after time for even the most menial labor—laundry! Who doesn’t need a laundress?—I decided to seek employment in one of the saloons. I was just about to enter the establishment when the handsomest man I’ve ever seen stepped out. Said his name was Cal Stephens. Best thing that ever happened to me, running into Cal Stephens . . .

First time I saw Miss Eva Knowles, her blond hair was already slippin’ from her bonnet, and she held on to her carpetbag like it were the onliest thing givin’ her life. I’d just come to town from the cattle drive and looked rougher’n a old hound dog, and prob’ly smelled just as bad when she barged right into me. I knew then she was special, but nobody’d look at a cattlebum fresh from the trial.

Lucky me, I got to run into her again soon after my Saturday bath. Silly girl was tryin’ to get a job at the saloon. Long story short, I bought her a meal at the Harvey House Restaurant and told her she oughta get a job with there. Them Harvey Girls get a good deal, you ask me. Room ’n’ board and wages to boot. Great howlin’ coyotes. Can’t pass up a job like that.

Eatin’ with her at a nice restaurant got me to thinkin’ I need a good woman in my life. I ain’t been much for sparkin’. Too busy tryin’ to earn enough money to go see the world. Ma and Pa left me and my two sisters a little money—enough to give us a stake in just ’bout anythin’ we’d want to do. But for me to do it all in style took a bit more. I been scrimpin’ and savin’ my wages from the Rolling Oak Ranch so long, I never thought how good it would be to have a wife at my side.

Miss Eva’s purtier’n any woman I ever seen, and she’s really sweet. But I reckon with her needin’ to take care of her family back home, she ain’t too interested in sparkin’ right now. That’s right fine, though. I can wait . . .

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Our Story Title:   Loving a Harvey Girl

A novella included in the Smitten Historical Romance collection The Cowboys, with Jennifer Uhlarik, Cindy Ervin Huff, and Sandra Merville Hart

Our Story Genre:  Historical Romance

Our Story Releases:   August 15, 2019

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The Author of Our Story:    Linda W. Yezak

Linda W. Yezak lives with her husband and their funky feline, PB, in a forest in deep East Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She has a deep and abiding love for her Lord, her family, and salted caramel. And coffee—with a caramel creamer. Author of award-winning books and short stories, she didn't begin writing professionally until she turned fifty. Taking on a new career every half century is a good thing.

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  Get Connected:

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WHERE can the book be purchased?

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Linda Yezak is willing to gift a winner a signed copy of
Loving a Harvey Girl ~ The Cowboys Collection

 They've just been ordered!

Be sure to let Joy Avery Melville ( know where you can be reached, should you win! 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Our Story BEFORE The Story ~ Waltz with Destiny - Esther Meir & Eric Edhardt

My name is Esther Meir. Insecurities haunted my every step. I wish I could feel the soft grass of my beloved Kentucky hills beneath my shoes instead of the impregnable sidewalks of Detroit. I hated school; I struggled to make good grades in high school while my brother did it easily.

My brother inherited our father’s photographic memory. That’s just about all I know of my father. He died when I was two months old. I was born in a little cabin on the prairies of Colorado. When my father was near death, Mother brought us back to her childhood home in Kentucky. Then we moved to Detroit to live with my aunt when she up and married her long-lost love. I lived there until I was ten. When the Great Depression struck, we moved back to Kentucky with my aunt, uncle, mother, and brother. Now that the Great Depression is behind us, 1941 looks promising for a girl with an education.

Brother had won a scholarship to University of Detroit, and Mother was confident that, “There was a rainbow with their name on it in Detroit.” We returned to Detroit where I work in my cousin’s hot dry cleaners alongside Mother and attend evening classes at the Detroit Business Institute.

The newsreel I saw last night at the Gala Theater showed Hitler’s Third Reich stomping their leather boots across the cobblestones of Rome. That worries me enough to not want to go to that ball Mother is so dead set on me attending. After all, I have two left feet and will spend most of my time blending into the wallpaper.

“When you meet the right man, you’ll have no trouble following, Esther,” my mother has told me countless times.

I’m not so sure I want to fall in love with any guy, not with a war looming on the horizon. I’m wasting my time looking for a guy that can weave me across the dance floor and not stumble over my feet. Besides, I have more important things on my to-do list. I need to study and get a good-paying job. I want to get Mother, my brother, and I into our own place.

I’m not planning to live out my life like my mother working in some hot cleaners. Nor can I rely on a man to lead me either, he could die. I’d be penniless, alone, and—pregnant. Or, be worst off like my mother; with a five-year-old toddler pulling on my skirt while holding a two-month-old baby in my arms, and relying on relatives to give them their next meal and a roof over their heads.

Hi, I’m Eric Erhardt. I knew Esther was different from the other girls the moment I met her. That didn’t daunt my determination to win her over. After all, I’m used to working for everything I have. During the Great Depression, I worked a paper route and sold applies to help my pa put food on the table for us five siblings. When I graduated from high school, I landed my first job being a jumper for a Detroit newspaper. Then I landed a job as a junior draftsman for Wood Industries and had enough money to entered night school at Lawrence Institute of Technology. I took more drafting and engineering courses. Pa always told me that with God on my side, I could accomplish anything I put my heart into. I hope to have my own engineering company someday. Well, maybe even a manufacturing company. Might as well dream big.

Now with Hitler and Japan knocking on our door, well, it is just a matter of time before I’ll have to fight in a war I don’t have time for. I heard that outsiders think American guys like me are soft, not much more than playboys. What’s wrong with playboys? I kind of enjoy that title.

Some people have the audacity to call my generation religious mama boys still wet behind the ears. Well, if Hitler or Japan tries to do anything to these old United States, we playboys just might have to put a few firecrackers down their pants and watch them dance the jitterbug, and it won’t be to any tune they ever heard of before! Yeah, we don’t care what you think about us; just don’t mess with the good old USA!

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Our Story Title:   Waltz with Destiny

Our Story Genre:  A historical romance; however, it took three generations of faith-in-creating the vivid characters of Waltz with Destiny

Our Story Released:  Officially released on the 75th celebration of D-Day 2019

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The Author of Our Story:    Catherine Ulrich Brakefield

Catherine Ulrich Brakefield  is an award-winning author of the inspirational historical romance Wilted Dandelions. Her faith-based Destiny series includes Swept into Destiny, Destiny’s Whirlwind, Destiny of Heart, and Waltz into Destiny, which released on June 6.
Catherine has written two pictorial history books. Images of America: The Lapeer Area, and Images of America: Eastern Lapeer County
Her short stories have been published in Guidepost Books True Stories of Extraordinary Answers to Prayer, Unexpected Answers and Desires of Your Heart; Baker Books, Revell, The Dog Next Door, Horse of my Heart, Second-Chance Dogs, The Horse of my Dreams (releases on September 17) CrossRiver Media Publishers, The Benefit Package and Abba’s Promise; Bethany House Publishers, Jesus Talked to Me Today. Catherine is a longtime Michigan resident and live with my husband of 45 years and our Arabian horses in the picturesque hills of Addison Township. I love traveling the byroads across America and spoiling my two handsome grandsons and two beautiful granddaughters!

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  Get Connected:

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WHERE can the book be purchased?

Amazon, CrossRiverMedia, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and Faith Christian Stores in Flint

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Catherine is willing to give away Waltz with Destiny or any Destiny Saga book of your choice, e-book or a print. (Please note: for readers outside of the United States, she can only do an e-book.)


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Our Stories BEFORE The Story ~ Love's Belief ~ Pia and Dieter

My name is Pia Hertz, and I’m from Berlin, Germany. I wanted to be a doctor and attended university, but it became apparent rather quickly that I was swimming against the tide and would never be accepted to medical school. I finished my degree in biology and went into practice with my mother Sabine. It’s been just the two of us since Vati passed away when I was a young girl. It was hard to grow up without a father, but Mutti did her best, and we are very close. I decided I would never marry after my fiancé threw me over for another girl. Mutti and I have been helping women from all walks of life deliver their babies since long before Hitler came to power. But the Nuremburg Laws were enacted requiring us to report the birth of Jewish babies and infants who are born with defects, so the authorities can take them away. We cannot let that happen, so like the midwives in the Old Testament who saved the babies from Pharaoh, we are disobeying the mandates. We can only hope we are not caught, because the punishment is death.

I’m Dieter Fertig, and despite disagreeing with Hitler and his cronies, I was drafted into the German Army in 1939. As horrifying and painful as it was to lose my arm at the Battle of Drøbak Sound in April of 1940, the injury got me out of the military. I returned home to Berlin to my wife, and we opened a small shop that carries a little bit of everything. She became pregnant, but childbirth was difficult, and I lost both her and my son. They’ve been gone just over two years now, and I didn’t think I’d ever love again, but I met the most intriguing woman, who is determined to put herself at risk for the sake of mothers and their babies. Then she asked for my help. Life is now more dangerous than when I was carrying a rifle for the Führer.

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Our Story Title:   Love's Belief

Our Story Genre:  Christian Historical Romance

Our Story Releases:   May 15, 2019

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The Author of Our Story:    Linda Shenton Matchett

Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, speaker, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her life. Linda is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. She is a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII.

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  Get Connected:

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WHERE can the book be purchased?

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Linda Matchett will gift a winner an autographed copy of


Thursday, July 11, 2019


Mina Everheart:
I’m a princess. A lot of people, after they hear about the King’s generosity, think that everyone is a child of the King by default. But that isn’t true. You have to be chosen. You have to be adopted. You have to want to be adopted.

I wanted to be adopted … after all, I became an orphan at age 5. But don’t feel bad for me. Sure, it’s sad. Worse – maybe. I mean, who’s to judge really? – but, worse, my parents were murdered. In front of me.

Yeah, okay, that makes me a little sad when I think about it, so I don’t think about it too often. I think about how much my parents loved each other and Egyptian artifacts. How they hunted for the truth. I think about how the King gives everyone purpose.

So when the King came for me, I was ready to go, thank you very much. Of course, my friends from the Kingdom say that I’m always ready for my next adventure. And, perhaps I have been a bit of nag, bugging the King about sending me on a mission, but, come on, can you think of anything more exciting? Besides, I just turned 20. I’m ready. Ready for whatever the King has in mind.

Hawk: I’m the 436th pharaoh of Osaze Island. We have kept the traditions of our fathers for thousands of years. I understand duty. I understand maat. And I don’t like change. Unless it is change that gets us back to how things have been for thousands of years. Because I am willing to admit that Osaze Island isn’t what it used to be. We need rain. We need children. And this part I hate to admit, but we need a pharaoh who doesn’t question his own divinity. Is it any wonder that Aten doesn’t hear my petitions?

What I don’t need is a prophesied princess. I don’t mind that one has been foretold. That contains the Osaze women’s expectations of marrying me. But I don’t actually need a princess to appear….

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Our Story Title:   LOST IN BEAUTY

Our Story Genre:  Speculative Romance

Our Story Released: July 2018 - (Happy anniversary)

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The Author of My Story:    Gloria Clover

Gloria Clover writes speculative Christian romance in the Children of the King series about the Archipelago of Solmunus, islands that have been invisible to the rest of the world for centuries but inhabited by various people groups who have been deceived in one specific area of belief. Now is the time the King sends out his children to reclaim his lost lands.

Gloria shepherds American Heritage Girls Troop PA0031 and works in prayer ministry and teaching at Emmanuel Christian Church. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, participating in the ACFW book club and prayer groups.

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  Get Connected:

  • Website:

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WHERE can the book be purchased?

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Gloria will be honored to gift a winner a signed copy of
Lost In Beauty
~ Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing ~