Thursday, December 26, 2019


Have you ever been given a WORD TO CARRY WITH YOU FOR A YEAR?

I hadn't experienced that from the Lord, until September 2011. Sitting in a devotional time after breakfast one of the mornings at the ACFW SEPTEMBER 2011 CONFERENCE in St. Louis, MO.

We were asked to stand after the devotional given by one of our members. The gal asked us to close our eyes and empty our mind of any conflicting thoughts, because we were about to ask the Lord for something. That something? A word to carry us through until the next conference in 2012.

I closed my eyes, quiet before the Lord. Then, I asked Him to give me a word for the year. Something happened that I had never encountered before, and haven't since. Across the blackness behind my closed eyelids, in VIVID WHITE SCRIPT was the word "PEACE". I was astounded, but before I could as much as gasp, the verse found in ISAIAH ~ Chapter 26 ~ Verse 3 - "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee..." scrolled across, following the word PEACE. That verse hadn't come to my mind in a very long time, so it was such a shock to me to see it in white script across my eyelids, and it was also in the King James Version, which I hadn't used for over a decade, since I began using the New American Standard Bible.

Since that time, I've purposely asked the Lord for a WORD for the year, starting my request in November, rather than at conference time. Almost always, He has supplied a word before Christmas, affirming it in so many ways throughout the year. Although, it's not been given in such a dramatic way since that 2011 Conference, it's been made very real to me, and He often reminds me of it.

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Having been given the word PERSEVERANCE for 2019 in November of last year, I had no idea what was in store for me and my work. Closing out 2018, I was in the middle of my first ever (and I hope and pray my last ever) Thyroid Storm.

Also, in November of 2018, I asked the Lord for a unique idea for my journeystojoy blog. Within a very short time, a plan formulated in my mind about using CHARACTER BACK STORIES - FROM THE CHARACTERS' POV and in in their VOICES.

I invited those among the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) membership to take part. I thought I'd be able to eek out a post per month. NEVER DISCOUNT GOD'S AMAZING PROVISION - I had every week filled, with the exception of personal posting weeks - like this one and next week's - with a different author, different characters, ready to share Their Stories BEFORE The Story they came alive in. God provided an array of novellas and novels in a slew of genres, with few being the same genre in consecutive weeks.

I was blown away by the response to my invitation. I believe there have been at least 44 weeks of posts other than my own in 2019 - Beginning in February. Readers, though few in number this year, have shown an appreciation for getting to know the characters before they appear or speak the novel they're a part of.

In early December, God reaffirmed the word PERSEVERANCE in my life with Scripture, and in messages that others sent me, not having a clue they were passing on affirmations.

December 23rd, I took my 3-month old puppy, Bella, outside, at 4:30 am, going out through our sliding door off the dining room onto our deck. I had no idea that we'd had freezing rain in the night. She pulled me across that ice on the deck, made a sharp right turn to go down the steps into her doggy yard, and I couldn't move with the same speed. I took a header down the steps, barely missed the cement slab at the bottom when my head bounced on the frozen ground.

Each year, on Dec 23,  we celebrate both the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and my husband's birth with our children and our grands in the evening. That was a rough day, and I have little memory of the evening that transpired. With Jerry's expert help, I got the meal made, the tables set, and managed to celebrate, and no one seemed any wiser.

I don't have any recollection of the day before Christmas or Christmas eve. I only remember dealing with an extremely sore leg.

On Christmas day, I kept my leg elevated, using ice, while my dear hubby went to the Avery~Family Christmas gathering at my nephew's home.

December 26th, I learned at my regular dr's follow-up appt for my other conditions, I had a concussion. My leg was looked at, and I was told I was doing the best possible treatment for the contusions there that had resulted from my fall. I was banned from any devices, books, crocheting, knitting, writing, etc for a six weeks. Do you know how difficult that was for this writer? NOT PLEASANT.

I managed to PERSEVERE, though I have few memories of all that happened in that time. Memory has since become problematic, especially when under any level of stress.

By Feb 2019, my Thyroid Storm finally waned, according to the blood work, while some of the less pleasant side effects hung on.

In April, I commenced work on editing/revising my novel, Meant For Her. With editing expertise from one of my own editing clients, Dawn Turner, I PERSEVERED through some tough, long days, and longer nights until last September.

FINALLY, by October 2019, Dawn formatted the novel for both Ebook and Paperback formats and finalized the cover tweaks at KDP/AMAZON. Under her direction, I loaded the book in both formats to KDP. We set the release date for November 14th to coincide with both the beginning of the story and my daughter's birthday.

NOVEMBER 14th - MEANT FOR HER hit AMAZON.COM in both ebook and paperback, and the welcome by readers has been wonderful!



The last two weeks of November and the first two weeks of December have been full with scheduling and attending book signings -

I could not have done any of the book signings without the help of my friend, Karen Middaugh - she has been there from the beginning of seeking out venues - assisting a book signings, and tirelessly helping me with inspecting book shipments, and packing to go to the various libraries and coffee shops, and keeping record on spreadsheets. She has been praying me through a LOT of tough stuff!


I had one more 2019 book presentation and signing on December 21st - in the Vicksburg District Library - Vicksburg, MI - the village where Candi's story opens in Meant For Her.

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On a much sadder note, my family suffered a loss - a huge loss - of my big brother, Vernon Avery, to a liver disease in November.
The visitation and Memorial service, complete with military honors, were held December 13 and 14.
That was an extremely emotional time for me, even though I know without a single doubt, Vern is pain free and with our parents and Jesus! In that, I rejoice! He will be greatly missed at family events from now on.
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As we close out 2019, my prayer for each of you, my readers/followers, is that you will see God at work in your life, and that you'll draw closer and closer to Him in your personal journey. I also pray that if you read Meant For Her, it'll bless your socks off in a special way!

I haven't gotten my "word", yet, for 2020, yet, but my heart and mind are open to that special one He has for me for this next year.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

CHRISTMAS GATHERINGS~ How Do You Celebrate Our Lord's Birth?

I've lived enough years to come across many ways other families and individuals celebrate Christmas. Not everyone has family nearby with which to celebrate, some don't care to be among crowds, and many celebrate totally on their own.

What is your favorite Christmas memory?

What are your favorite foods associated with Christmas?

What is your favorite Christmas music?

How do you (if you do) decorate for Christmas?

How soon (if you do it at all) decorate before the Christmas holiday?

Do you ever take a driving tour to see neighborhood lighting?

What do you dislike MOST about Christmas?

What is your favorite Christmas Day tradition?

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Okay, in case you're somewhat shy; let me go first!

As for a favorite Christmas memory ~
I was very young - maybe four or so, if that. My elder siblings and parents surprised me with a doll - that doll was nearly as tall as me. I had never had anything that new - that very special. I was number six in line in our family with a brother yet to arrive on the scene. We were a family of dairy farmers, life was hard work and little money. As young as I was, I knew getting a brand new doll, with a doll buggy (it's what they called those four-wheeled beds on wheels back then - even had a collapsible canopy of sorts - it folded up flat, but I never had it in that position. My married sister and her husband gave me that toy for the doll. There were clothes, bottles, a diaper bag, and even a burp rag. That memory long stands as a favorite, because there was a sacrifice involved on the part of the givers.

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What are your favorite foods associated with Christmas? ~

Food for the holidays are special treats at our house, because there is so much tradition tied up with it. Swedish tea rings became one of our fave treats (shaped like a wreath, they are made with a sweet yeast dough, lots of cinnamon, sugar, brown sugar, and butter - cut into slices nearly all the way through to the center, 

When they are baked, they have a golden brown, slightly crisp outside with gooey goodness inside. Perfect with tea, coffee, or hot cocoa!

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What is my fave Christmas Music? ~

Easy peasy there - I LOVE the soft traditional Christmas carols - such as - SILENT NIGHT and THE FIRST NOEL, and O BEAUTIFUL STAR OF BETHLEHEM.

Then some of the secular tunes - SILVER BELLS and WHITE CHRISTMAS and JINGLE BELLS

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How do I decorate for Christmas?  ~

VERY SLOWLY - just have so much going on and I no longer go "all-out" like I once did.

I have a collection of Nativity Scenes that now more than fill the living room and have spilled into my library
I also have a collection of snow people - in Jan when Nativity scenes get put away, I spread out the snow people for the month of January - BRIGHTENING EVERY SPOT IN THE HOUSE with them, except bedrooms.
Lights are very important to me - garlands with lights on either side of the huge window in the living room and sliding glass door off dining room and around the top and down the sides of our china cabinet.
The tree has more colorful lights than it has ornaments. THE HOUSE SHINES during the grayest month of the year.

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How soon (if you do it at all) decorate before the Christmas holiday? ~

NEVER ever before Dec 1st in any given year. I LOVE FALL - I LOVE THANKSGIVING and I want to give it the honor it deserves by spending more time thanking the Lord for so very much than I spend decorating for Christmas.
This year - the very first Christmas decoration went up SUNDAY AFTERNOON - Dec 15th - rarely do we BEGIN the middle of the month - but - never do we begin before Dec 1st.

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Do you ever take a driving tour to see neighborhood lighting? ~

Jerry and I used to make a date night to go check out neighborhoods in Kalamazoo known for extensive holiday decorating - now we stay nearer to home, checking out Schoolcraft, driving slowly one street to another and sipping hot cocoa in insulated cups - enjoying the variety in lights and decor.

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What do you dislike MOST about Christmas? ~

A couple of things ~ 


COMMERCIALISM esp when it's so blatantly filled by greed before October 31st now.

What is your favorite Christmas Day tradition? ~

Time with our family ~ We have time with the Avery side of the family (It will be one less in membership this year as we lost my big brother to Heaven the Monday night before Thanksgiving 2019) we gather in one of the Avery's homes around EXCELLENT FOOD with GREATS AMOUNT OF LAUGHTER and LOTS OF LOVE EXPRESSED! I expect absolutely no difference this year, as it's exactly what Vern would have wanted for us ALL.

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Okay, my readers, it's YOUR turn! 

I can hardly wait to read your comments/answers here!
If we do not see one another before next WEDNESDAY - CHRISTMAS DAY - 

PLEASE leave a comment, and I will be sharing them on FB the day before Christmas - WITH NO NAMES MENTIONED.


Thursday, December 12, 2019

Our Story BEFORE The Story ~ Slade Jackson and Asia Stratton ~ SILENT NIGHT SUSPECT

My name is Slade Jackson and I’m here to share my story behind the story of Silent Night Suspect.

My roots are set in small town Iowa. Don’t live there anymore but it made me who I am. Our hometown is the kind of place that exists only in old black and white movies. Everyone knows everyone else’s business, people watch out for one another, and there’s no need for daycare when the whole neighborhood is watching your children.

It was a wonderful place to grow up. Safe. Never more than 800 people even during the fourth of July events. The favorite shindig of the year that brought even those who’d moved away home for that holiday.

I met the woman I knew I’d marry in kindergarten. Asia was the only one for me and I never doubted her love. It was like we were meant for each other. Destined to be together. Until Zander Stratton moved into town. The people I’d know all my life were cold. Unwelcoming toward him. So when Asia brought Zander’s lonely plight to my attention, I jumped into action. That’s me. The rescuer. Except I managed to rescue Asia right into Zander’s arms.

Maybe there’s no one to blame. Maybe I saw Zander infiltrating my territory and I was over confident. Thinking she’d never choose him over me. Until she did.

Our senior prom was our last night together. My sisters rallied around Asia acting like her personal ladies in waiting. Doting on her. And I could picture our future together. Our own huge family interacting with my siblings and their children.

And it might’ve happened except that I made the mistake of sharing my proposal plan with Zander.

Everything was magical. There with Asia, dancing under the fabricated stars (made by using old Christmas lights). Life was perfect. Until it wasn’t.

Zander had disappeared. Asia was worried since he’d seemed depressed that night. I went outside to find him. He always took off to smoke a cigarette. Sure enough, I found him.

Zander dropped an anvil on my head with his confession. He’d fallen in love with Asia. It bugged me but I figured he’d get over it because she didn’t feel the same way. Zander assured me she did. I didn’t believe him. Blew it off thinking it was lies. But when I asked Asia about it at the end of the night while we stood in front her house with the single bulb porchlight illuminating us, her eyes told me everything. She begged my forgiveness and said her feelings for Zander went beyond friendship. She asked me to set her free.

What could I do? Maybe I should’ve fought for her. Maybe I should’ve demanded Zander leave her alone. Instead, I gave in. If she didn’t want me, there was nothing left to say.

And with my heart shattered, I kissed her goodnight and agreed to let her go with one condition, she and I never stop being friends. If I couldn’t have her as my wife, I wanted her to have everything her heart desired. Even if her heart desired Zander. So long as I could be with her as a friend, I’d take it. Whatever it took to keep Asia in my life.

I'm Asia Stratton and Slade’s reminiscence isn’t wrong, but I viewed our teenage years somewhat differently. My name is Asia Stratton. Slade’s correct about how he describes our hometown. But where he saw it’s greatness, all I saw was boring. My whole life was boring. I didn’t realize at the time how beautiful boring can be. Everything was stable. I had a mom and dad still together, still in love. My life was easy. I had a steady boyfriend, and we’d talked about getting married someday. Slade and I had been a couple forever. We were inseparable. He was reliable and safe. He came from a large family. They were loud and loving. The Jackson home was a second family for me.

Until Zander Stratton moved into town our senior year of high school.

Zander turned our 1950s town upside down with his rugged good looks, too long hair, and leather jacket. His whole persona screamed bad boy. It was intriguing. At least I thought so, but our welcoming corner of the world suddenly went cold. Slade and I saw the way Zander was treated and felt bad for him. We befriended him and became the three musketeers.

I’m not sure exactly when it started but somewhere along the line, I viewed Zander differently. I told him nothing could happen between us until I talked to Slade. I wouldn’t do that to him. Breaking up would be hard enough. But he jumped the gun at prom and before I knew it, things had changed instantly.

Life with Zander was hard. He was the polar opposite of Slade. Where Slade was easy-going, reliable and secure, Zander was needy, impatient and sporadic. At first it was exciting, but our life quickly became harder to handle. Then Zander started doing drugs. He had affairs that broke my heart and with each one my heart died a little bit. I was so embarrassed about our life that I never told anyone. I slid into a lonely existence. Then Zander’s erratic behavior got stranger and before I knew it, he demanded I stop talking to Slade.

When he disappeared, I wasn’t too worried, because he’d done it before. Gone on binges and reappeared weeks later. But when weeks became months, I knew something was really wrong.

I never dreamed that I’d be on the run, fearing for my life. Never knew that Zander’s decisions would be the catalyst that changed my life. And that I’d be relying on Slade more than ever to unravel the mess that had consumed my life.

~ ~ ~ ~

My Story Title:   Silent Night Suspect

My Story Genre:  Romantic Suspense

My Story Released:   December 2019

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The Author of My Story:   Sharee Stover

Colorado native, Sharee Stover, lives in Nebraska with her real-life-hero husband, three too-good-to-be-true children, and two ridiculously spoiled dogs. A self-proclaimed word nerd, she loves the power of the written word to ignite, transform, and restore. She writes Christian romantic suspense combining heart-racing, nail-biting suspense and the delight of falling in love all in one. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, and Nebraska Writer’s Guild. Sharee is a three-time Daphne du Maurier finalist and the winner of the 2017 Wisconsin Fabulous Five Silver Quill Award. Her debut novel, Secret Past, was named Best First Book 2019 by the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards. When she isn’t writing, Sharee enjoys reading, crocheting and long walks with her obnoxiously lovable German Shepherd.

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Get Connected:

  • Instagram:

  • ~ ~ ~ ~

    WHERE can the book be purchased?

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    The author will be honored to gift a winner a signed copy of
    Silent Night Suspect to a winner within the U.S.

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


    Thursday, December 05, 2019

    Our Story BEFORE The Story ~ Michelle Hadley and Logan Emerson ~ Love In Pictures

    Hi! My name is Michelle Hadley. I’m a wedding photographer and hopeful romantic. Yes, I call myself hopeful instead of hopeless because well that’s just depressing! Though I do hope to be married one day, I’m not sure when that will happen because I’m so shy around men that I don’t really date. Instead, I focus like a camera on my clients and capture their love in pictures. I love what I do and I’m really good at it!

    I have my own photography studio in Annapolis, Md. It’s in a really picturesque location and I enjoy going to work every morning. But my work is not limited to the location of my studio; I travel near and far for my clients! Sometimes, capturing my clients’ love stories takes me on flights out of the United States of America to very romantic destinations! You’ll have to read my story to “get the picture.”

    My clients reflect my passion for diversity. As a woman of color who doesn’t always see people who look like her on mainstream bridal and wedding magazines, I endeavor to produce photography that shows the world that love comes in every color. I want all couples, especially my clients of color and ones who are mixed-race, to see themselves on the front covers of those popular magazines. I want my clients who feel marginalized or overlooked by the world, to feel like someone truly “sees” them and values their love.

    When you “meet” me in this story (Love in Pictures), you’ll see that I’m seated in my favorite café, focused on my work while also chatting via text with my best friend Juliana. I’m so busy that I don’t even notice a certain someone who may become a special someone who changes my own story in ways I never could have imagined! Again, you’ll have to read my story for more details! Hint: It takes a whole lot of listening to Juliana and talking to God through prayer, to help me see the man who is picture perfect for me!

    Without giving away all the details of my story, I can say that as you journey through the pages of Love in Pictures, you will see how God uses my family, friends, faith and photography skills to paint such a beautiful picture of His plan for my life! I hope that my story will encourage your heart, especially if you are a hopeful romantic like me!


    Hey! I’m Logan Emerson. You may recognize me from the evening news broadcast on TV (if you live in the DMV, you know, D.C./Maryland/Virginia)! I’ve been working my dream job as a broadcast journalist for years now and I’m good at what I do but that wasn’t always my story.

    When you first “meet” me on the pages of Love in Pictures, you’ll see that I’m still recovering from a brutal breakup. Long story short, my ex-fiance London broke off our engagement so that she could chase her career dreams. Yep. She chose a modeling career in Paris, France, over our plans for marriage and family. It broke my heart and I thought I’d never recover! In fact, I kept her photo on my office desk in my cubicle for months after our relationship ended. But one day, walking into my favorite local café helped me stumble (literally) onto another chapter of my life. Yes, I met a girl. Her name is Michelle and she is one fine woman. But it’s not only her beauty that drew me in hook, line and sinker; it was her heart of gold!

    Meeting Michelle was good for me but pursuing her almost broke my heart again. I entered into a world that I didn’t know existed; a world where people of color are treated differently – and not always in a good way – because of their race and skin tone. Seeing the hardships that Michelle had to go through made me both infuriated and confused. It also made me want to hold her close, protect her and bring happiness to her heart when these injustices turned her beautiful smile upside-down.

    Michelle’s brother! Have mercy. He was one of the most consistent roadblocks to our romance! You’ll have to read our story to find out why but I will say that I know (now) that he always had Michelle’s best interest at heart. Just like I wanted to protect Michelle from harm, her brother did too.

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    My Story Title:  Love In Pictures

    My Story Genre:  Contemporary Romance

    My Story Released:   June 12, 2018

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    The Author of My Story:    Alexis A.Goring

    Alexis A. Goring is a writer at heart who loves the arts!

    She enjoys the storytelling process from interviewing people for news media and faith-based publications to writing the story, editing the story and publishing the story.

    Alexis is an author of Inspirational Romance fiction stories and non-fiction devotionals that inspire the heart. She has written and published three fiction books and her devotionals have appeared in numerous faith-based publications. She is also a passionate blogger and founder of “God is Love” blog.

    Always up for a new adventure, Alexis traveled to Italy where she explored the culture, food and language with friends. She even moved to Montana (where the air is fresh and the land is beautiful) to take her first big break in Journalism as the Editor and Reporter for a county newspaper!

    Photography is another passion that’s close to her heart. She enjoys capturing people’s genuine emotions on joyous occasions with her camera. She’s experienced in natural light photography and photojournalism.

    A total foodie, Alexis enjoys eating delicious food at restaurants (new and old favorites). She loves celebrating special occasions with family and friends over food!

    At the end of the day, Alexis hopes that her passion for Jesus Christ will shine through all of her creative endeavors. She wants her writing to touch hearts for Jesus and lead people to Him.

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    Get Connected:

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    WHERE can the book be purchased?

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    The author will be honored to gift a winner an ebook of

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