Thursday, December 29, 2011

Leigh Bale's Parents Get an Offer

Have you ever felt strongly that you needed to do something very difficult, but it’s like trying to start a dead car to make it happen? It just seems so difficult and like everything is out of sync? Nothing works right. And then, maybe one, two or more years later, it all falls into place? It all works perfectly. That’s how it’s been for over two years while my parents have tried to sell their home and relocate to my city, a ten hour drive away from where they currently live. They just have not been able to sell their home. But then, something miraculous happened last week.

I am thrilled to say my parents have finally sold their house. And they actually have equity! The sale took us completely off guard. It happened so fast. Last Wednesday, an offer was made and accepted on their house. On Friday, they drove to my home for Christmas and informed me that they needed to go house hunting in my city. I immediately found them a realtor, scheduled a meeting for them with a funding company, got them in for pre-approval, and today they found and made an offer on a house only five miles away from my home. (See the picture of their new house.) It’ll be hectic and very difficult for them to move at their age, but within six to ten weeks, they’ll be living here in my city. I’m planning to take time off work next month to go in and help them move, but we’re all so happy that things have finally fallen into place. As my parents get older, having them nearby so I can care for them is truly an answer to our prayers.

How about you? Do you live near your family members? Do you get together often to enjoy one another’s company? I sure hope so.

Wishing you a joyous and prosperous New Year!

Leigh Bale
The Forest Ranger’s Husband – Now available
The Forest Ranger’s Child – Available June 2012

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Carolyne Aarsen

Looking Beyond the Present.
Christmas is past us and I know some of us are breathing a sigh of relief. Relief because when life is hard, Christmas only seems to underline the difficulties. When you're in a valley, it seems that Christmas is a light we'd just as soon not spend much time looking at because it seems so far away.

The picture I have attached to this blog is of my mother's family. I got this picture in a collection of old family photos for heritage scrapbooks I am putting together for each of my children. I am working on the fourth scrapbook now for the fourth child, but each time I pasted this particular picture in the scrapbook, I would look at it and wonder why everyone looked so sombre. Especially my Oma who loved a laugh and was always smiling. In other family pictures everyone looked so happy. I asked my mother about that picture and she gave a melancholy smile. That picture, she told me, was taken only a few months after Holland, where my mother's family lived, was invaded by enemy forces. Knowing that, I looked more carefully at my Oma and wondered what was going through her mind when this picture was taken. How many worries and concerns did she have for this family that she and my Opa were in charge of. I'm sure she wondered what kind of future awaited them? What would happen to her children, to the grandchild one of her children was expecting in this picture? Huge thoughts for parents to have to deal with. She didn't know what awaited her in the valley she knew they were going down into. She didn't know if they would come out the other side.

I grew up hearing stories of the hardships, they faced. The people they hid, the risks they took. The privations they endured. The losses they suffered. I'm sure there were many times during those long dark years that my Oma felt as if her prayers went nowhere and I'm sure she wondered many times, How long oh, Lord?

However, we know how the story ended. We know they made it through so we look at it differently and with assurance that they managed.

Many people I know are in a valley right now, we've gone through many ourselves. But when you're in the dark and lonely places, you don't know how to find your way out. I just want to encourage you that valleys do have an end. That things change. That other people have gone through sorrows and valleys and have come out. I pray the same for you.

Monday, December 26, 2011


Hello there! Dana Corbit here...coming to you from our Christmas roadtrip to Kokomo, Indiana, my hometown. Our family did the whole "Over the river and through the wood to grandfather's house" thing this week, and I can tell you it didn't seem as romantic as the songwriter described. But then Lydia Maria Child probably wasn't envisioning three mostly grown children, two parents (one with a laptop), a body pillow, a Pillow Pet named Gingy, and a collection of books and electronic gadgets, all crammed into a mid-size Ford for four hours of leg-cramping delight. Okay, it wasn't really that bad. We arrived in one piece, and any hits anyone sustained didn't leave a mark...well, except for the friendly notes penned on one unfortunate napper.

All kidding aside and forgetting my longing for the old minivan, I have to smile when I think about this trip. These days are precious. The memories will be dear. We have each other. Whining or not, all three of our children are here with us. We have the car that will get us to grandma's, and all of the grandparents, even my Grandma, are still here for us to visit. We're in a nice hotel instead of crammed in with all of the guests at the house. We are blessed!

I don't know about you all, but I sometimes need a reminder to count my blessings. God has given us so many blessings during the Christmas season and all year long. These moments are here only once, and whether the perfect ones we imagine or the imperfect ones that are our reality, we need to step back, recognize the gifts and cherish them.

As I sit here at the hotel desk, writing my last few words, I am reminded of an additional blessing on this trip: free wireless. Since there's only dial-up at the house - almost as much of a blast from the past as the horse-drawn sleigh in Child's song - that is certainly among my favorite blessings of the day.

Enjoy the rest of this Christmas season, and be looking for the blessings all around you. I know I plan to.


Philippians 4:4

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Greetings

Charlotte Carter here wishing you a lovely Christmas with your loved ones, far and near.

If you have experienced a personal loss this year, I wish you relief from your grief and peace. May your memories bring you moments of joy and happiness.

Crayton the Christmas Cat

Trust cats to find the perfecting hiding spots. Here's Crayton, whom we adopted from the local shelter 3 years ago. He's a cream-point mix with beautiful powder blue eyes.

Funny, I haven't had a cat in any of my stories lately. Must make a note to include one...
Here's wishing all our Love Inspired readers a blessed and joyous Christmas season, and a good things in the new year!


Ruth Axtell Morren
Hometown Cinderella, 
Love Inspired Historical, February 2012

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Carrie Turansky here, stopping by to say hello and wish you all a Merry Christmas! Here at the Turanskys we are enjoying a quieter Christmas this year with only two of our five young adult kids home for the holiday. Our younger son was married earlier this month, and all the family was together for the they've all flown back home now. But what a fun time we had at the wedding! I headed up the flower and decorating team, and we put it all together in a three-day marathon.

I am excited about my new books coming out in 2012 - A Man to Trust in March and Snowflake Sweethearts in December. So be looking for those titles. In the meantime I would love to stay in touch with you! I offer an email newsletter every other month with book news, encouraging articles, recipes and lots of photos. The sign up box is on my website home page I hope you will stop by and sign up to receive the newsletter. If you do, drop me an email, and I will send you a free download for my eBook Surrendered Hearts. Here's my email: carrie (at) carrieturansky (dot) com.

My your heart be filled with the peace and joy of Christ this Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

FOCUSING ON CHRISTMAS with Gail Gaymer Martin

The air of Christmas sweeps around us when we eat the last leftovers of our Thanksgiving turkeys. It's a special time of year for Christians as we prepare for the celebration of our Savior's birth in the lowly stable in Bethlehem.

But our focus can stray with the pressures of our prepreations for the blessed celebration. Decorating, gift buying and wrapping, Christmas cards, cookie baking, party planning, and keeping our calendar schedule straight when real life forces us to doctor appointments, grocery shopping and laundry.

Most of us realize that life's responsibilities can dull the excitement that we feel as we anticipate this special season. No matter how many sweatshirts we wear proclaiming Jesus is the Reason for the Season, sadly it's easy to let it slip away under the debris of life.

One way I keep focused on Christmas is my music involvement. Christmas music wraps my heart in emotions of the past, present and the future, reminding me of the Savior's birth, His sacrifice for us, and it folds me in memories of family and friends. Playing handbells, singing with the praise team and the choir at my church is one way I'm imbedded with Christmas. I also sing with the Detroit Lutheran Singers a renown Christian chorale in the Detroit area and one of the finest in MIchigan.

I also love to read novels that draw me to Christmas. I download them to my Kindle and then carry them with me as I wait for appointments, eat meals alone while my  husband is running errands, and sometimes at the end of a busy day. I was blessed this year to have a new Christmas release--on Kindle and also mass market release. Small Town Christmas appears in the Love Inspired duet novel  CHRISTMAS GIFTS with Brenda Minton.
Click to Review or Purchase

The story relates when the new second grade teacher, Amy Carroll, meets the precocious twin sisters, she knows she has her hands full, but when she learns they live on the street where she is staying with her grandmother and they have a single father who is handsome and needs help, Amy’s hands are beyond full. But Amy’s from Chicago and falling in love with a small town man is not part of her plan. Can God waylay Amy’s desire to return to the big city? Can Mike Russett open his heart to love?

Two of my past Christmas novels were released again from Harlequin Love Inspired by direct mail. Both of these novels were national award-winners and favorites among my readers. If you'd like to learn more about these novels, follow these links:

A woman whose past has nearly destroyed her finds life and love while caring for a child who no longer speaks and the little girl's father who is bound by his past. Secrets, once opened, can bind hearts and reveal a new life filled with forgiveness and love at Christmas time.

This novel is set on Mackinac Island in the Straits of Mackinac, Michigan. Two people from different worlds find what life and love really mean in this the unique and amazing setting. With no motorized vehicles on the island, the setting introduces a quieter, gentler life focused on what's important and celebrates Christmas in a special way.

Wishing you a joyous Christmas and blessings in the new year.

Gail Gaymer Martin at
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Traditions

Christmas greetings from Sandra Robbins!!

I can hardly believe that Christmas is less than a week away. I hope you are closer to being prepared than I am. Every year I promise myself that I will not wait until the last minute, but it seems the time gets away from me before I know it.

I'm excited, though, because all my children will be home for Christmas this year. For the first time in quite a few years the whole family will be here, and I can't wait. My daughter and her husband will arrive from Texas, my grandsons from Holland and New York, and my granddaughter from California. Added to them will be our three children, their spouses, and five children who live nearby. Also in the mix will be aunts, uncles, and cousins. It promises to be a hectic, but happy, time, and we plan to carry out the traditions that have marked our holiday season for many years.

My sister who is a middle school teacher recently asked her students to write a short paragraph about a tradition in their family. It didn't necessarily have to be Christmas. She was shocked at how many students couldn't come up with one thing that their family does together as a tradition. This struck me as very sad.

One of my most beloved traditions has been reading the story of Jesus's birth before we opened presents. I don't know when this practice was started by my father, but I don't remember a Christmas when it wasn't done. My father has been gone for eleven years now, and my elderly mother is in a nursing facility. However, we still carry on the tradition they started many years ago. As my family gathers to celebrate, we will remember their faith and how it has served as the foundation for our family.

If you don't have a Christmas tradition, this would be a good year to start one. If you do have one in your family, leave a comment and let me know what it is.

I hope you have a blessed Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lyn Cote Reviews Janet Tronstad's Classic A Dropped Stitches Christmas

A Dropped Stitches Christmas (Sisterhood Series #2) (Love Inspired #423)A Dropped Stitches Christmas (Sisterhood Series #2) by Janet Tronstad

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Janet Tronstad's 2007 A Dropped Stitches Christmas surprised me. I didn't think I'd want to read a book about young women who had survived cancer. The BIG C can be depressing. But not so in this book of honesty and triumph. With the advent of ereaders, it becomes possible to resurrect books that have disappeared from store shelves. I've read Janet Tronstad's Dry Creek romances and yes, this story is definitely her flavor of romance. But I was enchanted by the first person narrative from the heroine and her friends. Chicklit may have died down but this author shows she can handle the subgenre with elegance and style. I loved her scrumptious hero and the beautiful but hesitant heroine. If you want a really touching Christmas read, this one's for you! Loved it!

AND don't forget TODAY-- Leave a comment about a Christmas story you've enjoyed or love and be entered into the drawing for my slightly used copy of Janet's book. BTW, offering an Amish Christmas book giveaway on my blog today

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas

Homemade ornament
Greetings from Ruth Axtell Morren 

What a lovely time of year. Even though we don't have snow yet this year (unusual for Maine), it's still feeling a lot like Christmas. Wreathing season is starting to wind down as the wreaths made with balsam fir have been shipped to all corners of the U.S. Now, you see pick-up trucks loaded with trees. My daughter cut one down from the edge of our forest. A little uneven but wonderfully scented.
These are a couple of ornaments we've collected over the years.
Partridge in a Pear Tree?

Balsam fir tree

Feb. 1012 release

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What a Cutie.

I want to update everyone on Ollie who I blogged about in Oct. Here he is by his Christmas tree. My son showed me this picture when we went to a Christmas concert together. He's taller and a little heavier than the last time I saw him. When he's running in the backyard and brushes by you, it's like a bowling ball brushing by a pin--you're going down. If he stands on your toes--which I've experienced, there's no moving him. But can you resist that wonderful face?

I hope you smiled, because I know that for some of you this is the first Christmas that you've had since you lost a loved one, or gotten a bad diagnosis, or had some tragedy in your life. You're feeling the pain and loneliness. This Jesus who birth we celebrate is still with you and the same as He was in your joy. Allow Him to comfort you. You are in my prayers.

Monday, December 12, 2011

God is everywhere this Christmas Season

Jenna Mindel here, wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.
I love the Holidays and this year I'm finding God in surprising places. For instance, the bank where I work has a drawing contest for the bank's official Christmas card. Kids 12 and under who are related to employees can enter and there's a commitee that votes for the artwork to be used. Well, the day the winning picture was announced, I broke into tears. I still get choked up thinking about how one child's artwork has moved me.

Every time I look at this Christmas Card, I see awe in the deer's face as he gazes at the star on the tree. For me, that star is Jesus. I'm humbled by what God has done fo us. Especially, what He's done for me.

God appears in His creations, and I believe He shows up in our creations too. I'm reminded of working for Him in all that I do. But lately, I'm learning to let go when it comes to how I write. Sure, I fall short of the mark and wrestle with control issues. But like the deer in the card above, I must go to the Lord for direction with a spirit of thankfulness and awe. Who knows what He might do with my work, but I can trust Him. I'm finally getting it. It's all His, in His time.

Please share how God shows up for you this Season.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tis the Season for Giving...

I have always enjoyed making gifts for friends, family and neighbors for Christmas. Although admittedly, I’ve slowed down quite a bit as my children have gotten older…nothing to do with me getting older, you understand. ~grin~

Each year, I used to craft a new Christmas ornament for my children with the idea that by the time they married and moved out, they’d have a special collection to take with them. This is a picture of a few of the ornaments I’ve made over the years.

This year, I’m working on a very special gift, a flannel Christmas quilt for my grand daughter’s FIRST Christmas, and… I’m running out of time!!!

So far I’ve only got the squares cut out!

But that’s because I’ve been working on some new kinds of Christmas gifts this year—gifts for my readers.

My debut novel Deep Cover came out in September, and a few days ago, I posted fun “Novel Extras” on my website.

Think “DVD Extras” except for novels.

I’ve included things like: deleted scenes, bloopers, location pictures, character interviews, and editor’s cut with commentary.


Links to download two free recipe books.


Because I often finish reading a story and wish I could read more about the characters once they’re together, I’ve written a story about Rick and Ginny’s first Christmas. (i.e. the hero and heroine of Deep Cover)

I’m emailing the story to my newsletter subscribers next week, so if you’d like to receive it, there’s still time to subscribe 

In the meantime, please hop over and check out the Novel Extras. I'd love to hear what you think.

I wish you all a joyous Christmas season, filled with family and friends, as we celebrate the greatest love of all. 

Your Turn: Do you have a Christmas ornament or decoration that is extra special? 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Favorite Christmas

Hi all, Charlotte Carter here.

I suppose everyone has a favorite Christmas memory. The year they got the bike they had so wanted. Or maybe a Chatty Cathy doll when those were popular.

My favorite Christmas was the year my daughter Carolyn was born.

My husband and I moved to Anchorage, Alaska when we were first married. He was a civilian engineer assigned to help the Air Force keep their missiles operating. For me, a native Californian who had rarely seen snow much less lived in a snowy climate, it was all quite exciting. And truly beautiful.

I was pregnant as our second Christmas approached. (Which, by the way, gave me an excuse not to tramp through the woods through a foot of snow to cut down our own tree and freeze my feet in the process as I had the previous Christmas.)

As I walked through town doing my Christmas shopping, I admired the decorations draped from lamp poles and the store windows painted with holiday themes. Like most first-time moms-to-be, I wanted to shout to everyone that I would soon have a baby! And thank them for decorating the whole town in honor of her upcoming arrival.

On the evening of December 23rd, my water broke. Off to the hospital we went, which was no easy trick. We’d had a Chinook, a warm spell that melted the snow during the day and turned it to ice at night. Newly-built Providence hospital was at the end of a long, dirt road, not uncommon in Anchorage at the time, and was glazed over with ice. Driving no more than 5-miles an hour, my husband managed to keep us on the road instead of in the ditch. I was so grateful we, and the baby, were in no hurry.

Baby Carolyn definitely wasn’t in a hurry. She didn’t make her grand entrance until the afternoon of December 24th. It is not possible to describe the surge of love I felt the moment I saw her. Wow! I was a mother. A scary and wonderful feeling.

And the best Christmas present ever!

What is your favorite Christmas memory?

Wishing you a lovely Christmas and many happy memories.

Books that leave you Charlotte Carter

Big Sky Family, Love Inspired, available now

Montana Love Letter, Love Inspired, 10/2012

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

We Love Christmas Stories--Lenora Worth

Hello, everyone. It's beginning to look like Christmas. Well, everywhere but at my house. As usual, I am way behind. But I intend to get busy next week and clean my house to make it festive. In the meantime, I've been getting in the spirit by watching Christmas movies on Lifetime and the Hallmark Channel. What is it about Christmas and falling in love? These movies always have a happy ending, so I know how they will end. Most of them have two souls searching for some meaning in life and maybe someone to love in the process. Sigh. You'd think I'd get tired of watching the same ones every year, but I don't. I can't even remember the titles but I know the stories. We all do. There is something about falling in love while snow is falling and jingle bells are tinkling and Santa is smiling in the background. I even got an idea for a Christmas story (while I was watching Hawaii Five-O.) Yes, that is how my mind works. We all know the power of Christmas--we know about love and sacrifice and ... the birth of Christ. So in spite of all the hype that happens this time of year, there is still something heartwarming and awe inspiring about stories set during Christmas. I say bring 'em on, sappy and weepy and happy and wonderful. We always need a little Christmas, no matter what time of year.
So readers, what do you love about Christmas stories?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Memories

Susan Sleeman here wishing you a wonderful upcoming holiday season and a blessed New Year.

This month I have a romantic suspense book releasing with Love Inspired Suspense called The Christmas Witness. So my mind has been on Christmas much longer this year than in past years as I anticipated the release of the book. All of this got me to thinking about Christmas’s past and some of my favorite memories as a child. So I’d like to share some of them with you going way back to my toddler days.

This picture is of my family before going to Christmas Eve service at church. I’m the one on the right. Both of my parents passed away in the last few years so this picture of all of us together is very special to me. Also special in the photo are our hats. My aunt who lived cross country from us in fashionable Beverly Hills sent beautiful hats to us each year. At this age, I don’t remember enjoying them but as I got older, I really did. Especially the ones she sent at Easter time time with the gloves like my sister is holding in this picture.

Here I am on Christmas Eve after church with all of the kids in our jammies. Our church always did the Christmas pageant presented by the children at Christmas Eve service then we would head home and Santa had visited while we were at church. I’m on the left side in this photo. It was late in the evening after we’d opened a few presents and we were tired, but hanging in there. If you look real hard on the right side you can see a doll I got that year.

As I look at all of these pictures there is one thing in common. Christmas though first and foremost to me is about the birth of our Savior, it's about family to me. I start baking, sending out cards, shopping and all the other busy things of the season early, but it’s only when my daughter comes home from college that Christmas begins in my heart.

What about you? When does Christmas start for you and what are your favorite memories?

SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of inspirational romantic suspense and mystery novels. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town where she spent her summers reading Nancy Drew and developing a love of mystery and suspense books. Today, she channels this enthusiasm into writing romantic suspense and mystery novels and hosting the popular internet website Susan currently lives in Florida, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law and an adorable grandson. To learn more about Susan visit:

Her website

Facebook page

or join her on Twitter

Monday, December 5, 2011

Top Ten Books of 2011

Pamela Tracy here, and it’s that time again. Time when the Top Ten Books of 2011 start popping up on various blogs and magazine places. Early this morning (think 5:50 a.m. EEK) I found Amazon’s offerings first.

The Art of Fielding (baseball)
IQ84 (I had trouble even typing it. It’s about two people who need to meet each other.
What It Is Like to Go to War (by a marine and what it is like in brutal jungles)
In the Garden of Beasts (I think this is faction about the life and times of the past ambassador to Nazi Germany)
The Marriage Plot (Three women, 1980’s, their lives)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone (YA, magical world, heartache, choices)
Before I go to Sleep (Suspense with amnesia)
Steve Jobs (‘nuff said)
Lost in Shangri-La (WWII, another military in the jungle)
The Tiger’s Wife (Quest for answers after a relative’s death).

At about 5:30, I found Publisher Weekly's life.

The Marriage Plot (see above)
The Devil All the Time (American rural life – albeit sensationalize - )
State of Wonder (Two females, both questing. Sounds like the movie Medicine Man with Sean Connery)
After the Apocalypse (An anthology with various offerings)
Bossy Pants (Tina Fey’s story)
Catherine the Great (Catherine the Great’s story)
There But For The (man comes for the party but refuses to go home. The blurb reminded me of Bartleby)
Hemingway’s Boat (Hemingway’s story)
One Day I will Write About this Place (Coming of age in Kenya)
Arguably: Essay ( Anthology by a political critic)

Usually, I’ve read one or two (once I managed three) of the choices. This year: none. Of Amazon’s list, the only one that even crossed my mind was Steve Jobs, and that’s because he’s been in the news so often.

Of Publisher Weekly’s, I’d considered BossyPants and probably will read it. Since the only book to appear on both lists is The Marriage Plot, I might seek it out. Then, too, I like biographies from the past. Catherine the Great is a possibility.

So, what about you? Looking at the above two lists, have you read any of them? Which ones appeal to you?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy Holidays!

My greetings are perhaps a bit  early, but I won't be on the schedule again until after the holidays are over, so I just didn't want to miss a chance to wish everyone all the best, and to extend my thanks to all of the readers who visit this blog.  You're the best!  :)

I had a Thanksgiving themed book out last month (The Loner's Thanksgiving Wish) and have a book out this month as well--Duty To Protect,  which is a Love Inspired Suspense set during a very snowy winter in Colorado and Montana.  Brrrrrr!  I'm glad it was Emma and not me,  trapped in a frigid horse trailer crossing Nebraska!

Early forecasts for the Upper Midwest indicated that we were going to have an unusually cold and snowy winter,  just as I wrote in the book, but so far we're still having lovely forty degree days (far nicer than thirty below!) and have had just a single whisper of snowflakes one day.   But even though the weather is still lovely, I've got our Christmas decorations up and now need to start baking. How about you--are you set for the holidays?

I'd like to share the best recipe I've ever found for cut-out cookies, one especially great for when you're baking with small kids.  As much as you work with it, reforming the odd bits and pieces into a ball and rolling it out again, it still stays nice to work with.   I've used this since the early 1980's.  Once, while reaching for the nutmeg, I knocked a container of chili powder into the bowl, the lid came off and the entire container emptied over the cookie dough.  I removed what I could, then added ample cocoa powder to cover the taste--and everyone still loved them.  Now, this is one very forgiving recipe!  :)

Super Easy Roll-out Cookies    --The Rustands
1 cup shortening           1 ½  tsp cream of tartar
1 ½ cups sugar              1 tsp soda
2 eggs                           ½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla                  4 cups flour
2 Tbsp milk                       

optional: 1 tsp cinnamon  and/or  1 tsp nutmeg
You can drop these on a  cookie sheet and flatten with a fork, or use for cut-out cookies.  We like to double the recipe, and roll them out  quite thin.  350 degrees, 8-10 minutes.  My favorites are the ones liberally decorated with cinnamon red hots candy!

Roxanne Rustand