Sunday, September 14, 2014

GIVEAWAY ~ Prelude for a Lord by Camille Elliot

An awkward young woman. A haunted young man. A forbidden instrument. Can the love of music bring them together . . . or will it tear them apart?

Bath, England—1810

At twenty-eight, Alethea Sutherton is past her prime for courtship; but social mores have never been her forté. She might be a lady, but she is first and foremost a musician.

In Regency England, however, the violin is considered an inappropriate instrument for a lady. Ostracized by society for her passion, Alethea practices in secret and waits for her chance to flee to the Continent, where she can play without scandal. 

But when a thief’s interest in her violin endangers her and her family, Alethea is determined to discover the enigmatic origins of her instrument . . . with the help of the dark, brooding Lord Dommick.

Scarred by war, Dommick finds solace only in playing his violin. He is persuaded to help Alethea, and discovers an entirely new yearning in his soul. 

Alethea finds her reluctant heart drawn to Dommick in the sweetest of duets
 . . .just as the thief’s desperation builds to a tragic crescendo . . .

"This very enjoyable book will appeal to fans of Jane Austen and Linore Rose Burkard." —CBA Retailers + Resources

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I'm waiting on my winners copy to arrive, which means I haven't read it yet. But it looks good and is in my favorite genre - Regency! Also, Austen and Burkard are two of my favorite authors, so how can it be anything but great with an endorsement like that. J 


The author, Camille Elliot, has offered a copy to one of my blog readers! 

How sweet is that?!

All you have to do is leave a comment, along with an email address below, to be entered. Be sure and thank Camille for her generosity.  

OPEN Internationally BUT Paperback copy only to US winner. 

Otherwise, it's ebook only from Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or iBooks.

For EXTRA entries:

GFC Follower
Bloglovin' Follower
Pinterest Follower
(all links are in sidebar)

Just let me know how you follow and I will throw your name in the hat twice! 

Ends Sept 19th.

Have a blessed day in the Lord,

Monday, September 8, 2014

Interview ~ Carrie Fancett Pagels, with Giveaway

Hi Carrie! Welcome back to Stuff & Nonsense. You have been a busy lady this year. What was your favorite activity during the summer?

Writing! I wrote “The Christmas Challenge” novella and worked with four different editors this summer on three different projects!

Traveling!!! I went to Michigan to do more research for The Christmas Challenge, to do a two day book signing event at the lumber museum where my great grandparents’ cabin is situated.

Researching !!!  I did research this summer, in Michigan, for another series (the first novel in the series is a finalist in the Maggie’s Award for Excellence, so prayers are appreciated!)

What are you reading?

Just finished Cynthia Hickey’s and Niki Turner’s lovely novellas and a new novel by Caryl McAdoo, whose writing voice is the closest to mine that I’ve seen yet. Loved her book “A Vow Unbroken.” I’m back to reading Jody Hedlund’s latest, which is also set on Mackinac Island, like my series, but eighty years earlier in time. I started reading it but had to take a break because it was interfering with my own writing. But I’m taking a little time off from the island (my story world!) while I promote “The Fruitcake Challenge” which is set outside Mackinaw City in 1890, and is just across the straits from Mackinac Island. And by the way, that is not a typo. Mackinac Island but Mackinaw City. Don’t ask!
Tell us a little bit about your novella and why you wrote it?

I was invited by my friend, Gina Welborn, to join this group of eight authors who wanted to publish a series for Christmas. It is called Christmas Traditions, and Cynthia Hickey has led off the series with her lovely novella, Handcarved Christmas. Niki Turner’s novella Sadie’s Gift released last week. My novella should release by September 15th.

I’d had the “What if?” of imagining a camp cook desperate to find her way out of the lumber camps but determined to do so and a former teacher, now a lumberjack, butting heads and falling in love. I wanted both of them to find hope in their situations. My inspiration song for my wring was Danny Gokey’s “Hope in Front of Me.” Here’s a link to the lyrics

The Fruitcake Challenge was a very fun project and inspired by my real-life lumber camp cook grandmother and my mother, who helped out in the cook shack as a girl. So writing the story of a cocky axman who challenge’s a camp cook to make a fruitcake “just as good as” his mother made, has been like taking a walk down memory lane.

I love my spunky heroine, Jo! And I did a “cheat”—I named her after Josephine March, one of my favorite heroines ever! And the hero, Tom, got his first name from my son’s friend who was bemoaning the fact that his name had some bad associations, e.g., Doubting Thomas. I’d told him there are lots of heroes named Tom and so I made mine one! My husband’s last name is Jeffrey and so Tom Jeffries was “born.”
This new novella is called “The Fruitcake Challenge.” 

What is your favorite dessert to make?

Well, you’d think after writing about so many different ways a fruitcake could be made that I’d say fruitcake but I like those quick chocolate lava cakes.  I made this recipe recently, substituting Colonial Williamsburg’s “Heritage Chocolate,” which has a lot of spices in it, for the regular chocolate.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written?  If so, why?

Yes, I have an as-yet-unpublished manuscript that is my favorite. It is currently titled “The Overseer’s Daughter” and I simply loved the heroine, the hero, and their story as well as the setting. The story made the rounds to most of the CBA publishing houses, except a few. Still praying it will be published traditionally.

I’m also very fond of my Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance novella because of the theme of obedience plus a cast which includes multi-racial characters—something you don’t see too much of in inspirational fiction.

I only write because God calls me to do so. Logically, I see no good reason for people to write Christian fiction—it has to be a calling. It’s very hard work with little return. God has encouraged me through people he’s put around me to lift me up on my journey. And when I’ve been ready to give up—He’s granted me awards or lovely reviews, etc., to urge me to keep writing.

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing?  The easiest?

The hardest thing is cutting a story while still maintaining the integrity of what you’ve written. Writing the story “Snowed In” for Guidepost Books was one of the easiest and most enjoyable things I’ve done (on the first draft). It was awesome “spending time” during 1945 at my great-grandparents’ log cabin (which is where it was set.) But when I had to trim 20% of the story down (which was within the guidelines of what was contracted for, so I’m not complaining, I’m simply stating the facts) that was so difficult that I had to enlist two freelance editor friends to help me do so. Lesson learned. I’d stay at the lower end of guidelines for future submissions.

Do you have a favorite character in this work?  If so, why?

My mother died four years ago. There’s a lot of Ruby in Jo Christy. She loved my husband and found him funny but rarely did she get to observe Jeffrey in his “I’m almost always right” mode—which is what my character Tom Jeffries stays in until his character arc changes. Mom started life out in Kentucky and was then dragged off to the North woods to lumber camps, by my grandfather but she found her way out of the camps by getting jobs in the last community where they’d lived. So I’d say Jo is my favorite character for her determination and spunk and because she reminds me of my mother!

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?

Don’t ever give up hope! God has a plan for you. It may not look like anything you wanted to do. In fact, it might look like the exact opposite of what you were aiming for. Trust God and He’ll bless you with a future better than you could have imagined for yourself!

Thanks for having me on your blog, Anne, and thanks for being part of the Christmas Traditions series Promo team!

Thank you for being here, Carrie! It's always fascinating to learn more about a favorite author. 

Links to purchase Carrie's books:

A Cup of Christmas Cheer, Guidepost Books

Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance 

God’s Provision in Tough Times

Author Bio

Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D. ( “Hearts Overcoming Through Time,” is an award-winning Christian historical romance author. Carrie’s novella, The Fruitcake Challenge, releases September, 2014. Her short story, “Snowed In,” appears in Guidepost Books’ A Christmas Cup of Cheer (2013). She’s the Amazon best-selling and top-rated author of Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance (2013). Her Historical Genre winning short story, “The Quilting Contest,” will appear in Family Fiction’s The Story 2014 anthology. Carrie is a finalist in the 2014 Maggie Awards for Excellence for her unpublished novel, Grand Exposé.

Contact Carrie:

Carrie is offering an E-book copy of “The Fruitcake Challenge” novella and an autographed paperback copy of  her novella, Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance
To be entered in the drawing, leave a comment telling us what you most look forward to at Christmas. Ends Sept 12th. Paperback to US ONLY.


Anne -  The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall. 
(has already received book from author)

SusanLulu - Winner #1 - Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon
(e-mailed and replied)

Tea Norman - Winner # 2 - Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon
(e-mailed and replied)

Karen R - Winner # 3 - Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon
 (e-mail sent, has NOT replied) 

Karen R, please respond within the next 24 hours or I will choose another winner.

New WINNER chosen is Rhonda! 
Congrats...sent you an email.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Interview with Cathy West, author of Yesterday's Tomorrow

Welcome back to Stuff & Nonsense, Cathy!

Catch us up on what’s been happening the past two years in your writing journey. 

Wow. Quite a bit. I've been writing a lot. Since the release of my last novel in 2012, my agent now has four books that we’re trying to find publishing homes for. Right now I’m not working on anything so it seemed like a good time to re-release Yesterday’s Tomorrow and hope lots more people discover the story!

What do you think makes a good story?

For me, romance of course! That needs to be an integral part of the story, but I want to see a character’s real-life journey. What are they struggling with? Where are they in their faith journey? What got them to this point? What do they want out of life and how do they go about getting it? I want to experience their journey with them and if I learn something along the way, all the better.

Where is your favorite place to write?

My office is usually where I go when I need to really knuckle down and get some serious writing done. If I’m editing or just free-writing, you’ll probably find me plopped on the couch in the family room.

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and just have to get up and write down a thought? If so, do you keep a tablet on your bedside table or go to the computer?

Ah! Well, unfortunately I do get those middle of the night ideas, but I don’t usually force myself out of bed to write them down! Since I ‘see’ my stories, kind of like a movie playing in my head, I usually remember a scene and I’m able to write it down pretty accurately the next day.

Do you talk to your characters? Keep story boards? Pictures?

More like yell. J Sometimes they just want to do their own thing, you know? It gets annoying after a while. LOL. I’ve never done a story board, and I’m not a great plotter, but I’ve learned to take a lot of notes as I go, when ideas come. I do use pictures. I like having a solid idea of what my characters look like, and it’s fun to create Pinterest boards for the books I’m working on.

Do you have a favorite book? What about it makes it stand out from others?

Well, that’s a tough one. I have so many books that have stuck with me over the years. I think I could read Pride & Prejudice a million times over and never get tired of it. Anything by Dickens is definitely on my list. Most recently I’ve discovered Jojo Moyes. Me Before You is just one of those heart-wrenching stories – I couldn’t stop reading it and I don’t think I’ve cried so much while reading a book in a very long time. Favorite books will be one where the characters won’t go away even after you’ve long since turned the last page. Those are the books I love to read, and what I hope to write.

What’s the one food item you can’t live without?

Hmm. Coffee. It’s a beverage, but seriously. Coffee. J But I am an avowed cheese lover. So I think I’d be very sad if I couldn’t eat cheese anymore.

What’s in store for you next? Are you working on another book?

I’m busy promoting Yesterday’s Tomorrow, and waiting to see what comes next for me as far as publishing. Having re-released YT as an Indie author, there’s lots to learn and navigating these waters is going to take time, but I’m excited about it. I think this is a great time for Indie authors, and I guess we’ll see whether my other books end up coming out this way too. I’m also determined to finish the sequel to Yesterday’s Tomorrow. I know it’s been a long time coming, but I’m working on it. J

Catherine West is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Her first novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released in 2011 and won the INSPY for Romance, a Silver Medal in the Reader’s Favorite Awards, and was a finalist in the Grace Awards. Catherine’s second novel, Hidden in the Heart, released in September 2012, was long listed in the 2012 INSPY’s and was a finalist in the 2013 Grace Awards.

When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at

Monday, September 1, 2014

GIVEAWAY ~ Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon

UPDATE: Please read carefully - I heard back from the publisher about opening the giveaway to International readers. I can offer THREE copies of the book. If you live OUTSIDE the US, you can get an eBook (digital copy) sent to you (no print). If you live INSIDE the US, you can CHOOSE print or digital. Sound good? I thought so J

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When I received an email from G. P. Putnam's Sons (Penguin Group) asking me if I would like to read and review Jan Karon's newest book, Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good, I was elated! I might have even done a little happy dance. Because we all want to go back to Mitford, right?!

They also offered a copy to one of my blog readers. Yeah. That's cool! (READ UPDATE ABOVE!)

But before I give you the details regarding the giveaway, I just want to share a little back story as to why I love the Mitford Series of books.

I was introduced to the charming and witty characters of Mitford back in 1996. I remember laying on our couch reading the first book, At Home in Mitford, laughing at some crazy antic of Uncle Billy's when my 11 year old daughter asked me what was so funny. I read an excerpt from the book and she chuckled. If you've read any of these books you know you don't just chuckle once. It's a repeated action, as well as shedding some tears. As soon as I put the book down to go do something, she grabbed it and started reading. From that point on, we were in a sort of book war. I didn't have empty hours back then to just read like I do now, so I had to read in short bursts. It became a race to see which one of us would get to the book first. Some mornings she would come out of her room, see me reading already, and say, "Rats, I thought I got up early enough to get the book. When will you be done?" Sometimes I would get a break from taking care of the little ones (naptime!!!) and go looking for the book only to find my daughter sequestered in her room with it. Nope. She didn't turn loose of it, even for me.

We became faithful followers of Ms. Karon's stories and read the whole series together. That is what endeared me to this author. The fact that she wrote a series of books that my daughter and I could both read, enjoy and discuss throughout the years. Not too many works of fiction have been able to accomplish that feat.

So that is why I am happy to be able to offer you a copy of Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good, compliments of G. P. Putnam's Sons (Penguin Group).

Putnam Adult (September 2, 2014)

You must be a follower of my blog, either through GFC or Email, to enter this giveaway. Leave a comment letting me know how you follow, and if you have read any of the Mitford books, who your favorite character is, what are you looking forward to in the new book, or anything Mitford related, if so. "Please enter me" won't get you entered. Don't forget to leave your email address in a format like this: you [at] here [dot] com. Giveaway ends Sept 6th. US winner gets to choose print or digital copy. International winner gets digital copy. Remember, I have THREE copies to give away, so share with your friends and book clubs!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

How Great Thou Art

Going back through my archived posts, I found this one from 2011 and thought I would share it again today. 

Arthur Rice sang a long time ago with The Payne Family from Candler, NC (my husband's family). I found this video of The Kingdom Heirs on YouTube...what a blessing to hear How Great Thou Art sung by this wonderfully gifted Christian man!

Have a blessed Sabbath,


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Author Inteview with Dawn Crandall & Giveaway

UPDATE: This is for an eBook ONLY!!!
But that means it is open INTERNATIONALLY!!!

I was supposed to post a book review but due to family stuff happening and putting me behind, Dawn graciously agreed to do an interview. Be sure and read to the end because there is an opportunity to enter to win some prizes.

Share with us a little of your writing journey. (Did you always want to be a writer?)

Ever since I was in 4th grade, the idea of writing a book has appealed to me. I remember my teacher had us choose some contact paper for the "cover" and then bound papers together for us—I thought that was so cool!! And I couldn't wait to fill it with a story!! Don't ask me what I ever wrote in that little book, but I do know that from then on my favorite time in school was when we were supposed to write something. :) I never thought of "being a writer" until I was in high school and (finally!) came across the kinds of books that thrilled me to read—Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott... and then later in college, books by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. I'd made up some stories for my friends at the time and wrote out synopsis-like drafts, but nothing beyond that. At that time it was still just a dream of mine that I didn't know when I'd ever get around to actually being serious about. It wasn't until I married my husband in my late twenties and he found out the hidden secret of my heart... and believed in me 110% more than I'd ever believed in myself. He eventually had me quit working to focus on writing, and in 2010 I began writing “Amaryllis.” It was pretty clear to me that I was on the right track when I had two offers of agent representation after attending my first ACFW conference in 2011 and then continued to either semi-final or final in the Genesis Contest with all three of my manuscripts in 2012 and 2013 while my series was on submission. Whitaker House held on to my manuscript for a year a half before offering me the three book contract. 

Have you visited the places you set your story in? What’s the one place you would love to visit above all others?

I have visited a few of the “hypothetical” places in The Hesitant Heiress. There
image credit
are some ruins near the Portland Head Lighthouse at Cape Elizabeth, Maine that inspired me to add that whole aspect of the story. I’ve been to Bar Harbor, Maine on Mount Desert Island twice and stayed at The Cleftstone Manor, which was once one of the glorious “summer cottages” built in the late nineteenth century. Acadia National Park is located on Mount Desert Island, and I had so much fun exploring the rocky coast that means so much to Amaryllis Brigham.

What do you think makes a good story?

My favorite books are ones that take readers on an emotional journey, as well as a physical one, with lots of twists and turns that make the characters uncomfortable enough to grow past the person they are at the beginning of the book.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I like to write at my desk in my study, usually with a very quiet house—which doesn’t happen much now that there’s a five month old in the house!

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and just have to get up and write down a thought? If so, do you keep a tablet on your bedside table or go to the computer?

I do sometimes have things I think up while I get up in the morning to feed the baby. I usually type them up in the notes on my phone and then email them to myself later.

Do you talk to your characters? Keep story boards? Pictures?

I don’t usually talk to my characters myself, but I do make them talk to each other. J I’ll give them something interesting to say or think and let it go from there. It’s really fun, because I usually get something really good to put into a scene, or sometimes I get a whole new scene out of the process!
And I definitely have story boards! Way before Pinterest was around, I would do Google image searches and save photographs that fit into my story into files on my laptop. I do now have a Pinterst Board dedicated to The Hesitant Heiress here:

Do you have a favorite book? What about it makes it stand out from others?

My favorite books ever are Jane Eyre, all of Jane Austen’s books, and Rececca by Daphne du Maurier.  But my favorite “modern” authors are Julie Lessman, Jody Hedlund, Elizabeth Camden and Lori Benton. I don’t think any of them write anywhere close to the same style that I do, but there is always something about their characters that feels deeper than characters in other books. None of them write first person like me, but I try very hard to write my characters as realistically as I possibly can, the way they do. I also like the way the plots of their stories go—I’ve never actually read a book on “How to Write a Book”, but from the very beginning, searched out books I loved and studied how they were constructed, and what it was about the characters exactly that made me love them so much.   

What’s the one food item you can’t live without?

Can my answer be dessert? Any and every kind of yummy sweet—cookies, pies, cakes… yeah, those are pretty much what I can’t live without food-wise. J

What’s in store for you next? Are you working on another book?

I’m finishing up the last revisions of book three of The Everstone Chronicles right now. After that, I’m free to work on whatever I like, but I haven’t decided what that will be. Here are the descriptions of the next two books in the series:
The Bound Heart [Book 2] releases this November! It's about Amaryllis's friend Meredyth Summercourt, from her first person POV as she struggles to choose between the two men in her life who want her. Lawry Hampton has loved her for years, and Vance Everstone, whom she’s thought she loved for just as long… one man who loves her in all the right ways, and the other who has a shameful grip on her from years past. 

The Captive Imposter [Book 3] releases next February! It follows Estella Everstone as she’s sent away from her family to live in anonymity as a lady’s companion at one her father’s mountain resorts. While there, she comes in close contact with Jay Crawford, an ex-love set on making her as uncomfortable as possible. While coming to terms with her lack of feelings for one man she’d thought she’d always love, she is simultaneously drawn to Dexter Blakeley, the one man she’s been forced to trust since setting foot in the hotel.   

Thanks so much for being here today, Dawn! I appreciate the time you took
from your busy schedule to answer these questions and share with my readers about your writing journey.

Okay Y'all...How about leaving an encouraging comment for a debut author and first time mom. If you do, Dawn is offering a copy of The Hesitant Heiress to one of my blog readers. Ends Sept 5th. eBook ONLY - OPEN INTERNATIONALLY!!!

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THE FOLLOWING GIVEAWAYS HAVE ENDED- Plus, as part of the book launch, she is giving away a prize pack every weekend for the six weeks of the blog tour, and then one larger prize pack at the end. Each of YOU who comments on any post will be entered into the drawing for that specific week, and then also for the end of the tour Grand Prize–all of which will be announced on this blog. Many of the blogger's posting in the blog tour are also giving away a digital copy of The Hesitant Heiress.

 THE FIVE WEEKLY PRIZE PACKS: a $10 Amazon Gift Card, an eBook of The Hesitant Heiress, a mug with all three book covers and a moleskin journal!

 THE GRAND PRIZE (at the end of week six): a Kindle Fire, PLUS a $10 Amazon Gift Card, an eBook of The Hesitant Heiress, a mug with all three book covers and a moleskin journal!

Then...Just click on the link below to get a teaser and then hop on over to your favorite bookseller and grab a copy. This is a great book!

READ THE FIRST CHAPTER FREE!!! {link for free chapter photo ß

{About The Hesitant Heiress}

After being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy disappearing before her very eyes. Now the only way to achieve her goal comes with high stakes for someone set on avoiding men as much as possible: marry within the year to inherit her grandmother’s fortune. Amaryllis reluctantly takes part in her aunt’s society, intent on getting to the west coast on her own… and without a husband.

Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself falling in love with the most unlikely of men, Nathan Everstone, whose father not only had a part in her expulsion, but whose ominous presence has haunted her dreams for a decade since her mother’s tragic death. Nathan turns out to be much more than he seems and everything she never knew she wanted. But just as everything Amaryllis has recently hoped for comes to fruition, it all falls apart when she finds that the real culprit who has been managing her life isn't who she thought at all.

{About Dawn Crandall}

A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming traditionally published, he encouraged her to quit working in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.

Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a pre-marriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.

The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013. 


Book Review Blog: 
Twitter: @dawnwritesfirst