18 March 2018

Spring-ing Forward! By Carrie Fancett Pagels

Flowering Almond, in bud, by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Spring-ing Forward
Change is inevitable, isn't it? Nothing marks that more than springtime and Daylight Savings Time. Kids must adjust to the the change in school time as do teachers and other making their way to work an hour earlier than normal. But eventually we get adjusted to the time change.

About a week ago, my Flowering Almond was budding (see photo above) and now it is blooming (see below.) I can't stop that change and I enjoy seeing the pink buds become full blooms. This is my favorite season of the year. And, of course, pink is my favorite color!

But even good changes can be stressful. There's even a word for good stress -- eustress!  I have a new release, and am so delighted! Sadie Duvall's story is a sequel to My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island. She's Maude's best friend. Sadie's novella, "Love's Anchor" is in the First Love Forever Collection from Barbour, releasing April 1st! I just receive my author copies and are getting those out in the mail (that's a little stressful because I'm pretty slow in packing things up due to my arthritis.)
First Love Forever Romance Collection from Barbour Books
What beautiful covers and the green was very appropriate as they arrived right before St. Patrick's Day! A good change for me is that my broken ankle is healed and I am now dancing again, praise the Lord! My husband and I visited friends for their St. Patrick's Day party and then went out dancing afterwards and we celebrated my book's release with a family dinner out, too. Lots to celebrate! Speaking of which, my Five Year Celebration in Christian Fiction Party is coming up soon! And you're invited!  (Click here)

It's been FIVE years since Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance released! I can't believe it! I'll be celebrating on my Facebook Author page with lots of giveaways and I'll even try my first "Live" appearance on my FB page! After all, change is inevitable! And it's time I tried it. Could be fun!

Giveaway: A Copy of First Love Forever Romance Collection (or one of Carrie's other books). Answer this question: What about springtime do you find most stressful and what is most delightful?

11 March 2018

When You Can't -- God Can! By Carrie Fancett Pagels

Spring is coming! Daylight Savings Time adjustments are made today! Time moves on.  Forsythias and daffodils bloom and cherry trees blossom!

Just as those good things happen and unfold, sometimes bad things do, too. Friends ill with serious diseases worsen. Some may go on to heaven this next year. My own struggle with Rheumatoid Arthritis has worsened to the point that I'm about to try another Biologic after eight years since the last one almost killed me.

The beauty of Spring, the beauty of trusting in God, is the promise of an unfolding of His will. Regardless of what we do, Spring will come and progress. I have a friend who, like myself, has been restricted in her activities to the point of spending most of her days in a recliner. She's waiting on heaven. I'm waiting on improved health. Regardless, we're trusting God with our lives. I was given an extra eight years so far. None of us knows what God can do with our situations but we know He can do it! He can perform miracles. He can raise up dry bones.

Prayer: God bless those today too weak, ill, or discouraged to leave their homes. Give energy to those who need it to do Your will. Help us trust that when we can't, You can! In Jesus's precious name, Amen.

04 March 2018

Linda Brooks Davis -- Overcoming Family Difficulties

Author Linda Brooks Davis

Linda Brooks Davis, welcome to Overcoming With God. I truly enjoyed meeting you at the ACFW in Nashville in 2016! What a sweet lady you are! Would you tell us about the one of the most difficult things in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help?

The greatest trial of my 71 years is one our family is experiencing now. Minor children are involved, and the terrible case is still in the courts, so I’m not free to share details.However, I can “sew around the edges” a bit by sharing some ways in which the Lord has dealt with me. 

Once upon a time I believed I lived in a country blessed by the inalienable right of freedom of religion. I thought rearing children according to parents’ Christian principles wasn’t simply duty but a U.S. Constitution-guaranteed right. Naively, I believed Christian rearing was sacrosanct within the walls of a Christian home. Tragically, this isn’t necessarily so. Furthermore, I’ve learned godlessness has so invaded our institutions of government--even in a “conservative” state--that the agency and its arms tasked to protect children can become a Christian family’s worst nightmare.

I’ve learned the world’s ungodliness has so invaded this agency and the courts that right is labeled wrong and wrong is labeled right. I’ve learned testimonies of those who curse the name of Jesus are accepted as truth. And the testimonies of Christian parents--the father, a godly pastor/counselor--is not only suspect but declared a lie and the home’s teaching about the difference between “law and grace” labeled “abuse.”

And God has taught me some things about myself. I come from a long line of hard-charging women who wait for no one to act for them, double down when the way grows tough, and fight every ol’ demon in Hell for their children, as my mother said.

Recently, the Lord has shown me pride lurking in the shadows of self-sufficiency; bitterness and anger--better yet, rage--boiling in the teapot of my heart; and idolatry as I’ve gazed upon certain loved ones and grasped their hands before His.

What passages in the Bible have been most helpful to you in those times?

I’m reminded in Zechariah 2:13 (AMP) that the Lord is roused in my behalf, so I’d best settle down: “Be still before the LORD, all mankind; for He is roused from His holy habitation [in response to His persecuted people].”

What helped you get through or helped you cope with this difficulty?

As the Lord would have it, the theme verse for The Calling of Ella McFarland, 2 Corinthians 12:9, has become my life’s theme through this ordeal “… ‘My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough--always available--regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.’ Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.” (Amplified Version)

Pride and self-sufficiency have no place in the weakness in which Christ’s power is manifest; anger and bitterness exclude trust in God; and only open, empty hands can be filled with His.

Disability friendliness: Is this latest release available in audio format or do you have any other works available on audio?  Do your e-books have audio capability? Do you have any in large print?
My novel, TheCalling of Ella McFarland, and novella collection, A Rock Creek ChristmasCollection (A Christmas to Remember and A Christmas Measure of Love), will be available in audible form in the next few months.

In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?

I’ve just completed my second full-length novel. The working title, Where Healing Waters Flow, provides a clue to its theme. It picks up with Lily, one of the secondary characters in The Calling of Ella McFarland. The year is 1914, and this young woman who was horribly abused as a child finds a type of healing she hasn’t expected.
One of my favorite verses is Psalm 3:3 (KJV): “But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” It’s the perfect theme verse for Lily’s story.

1905 brings hope of Oklahoma statehood and the woman’s suffrage debate is raging, forcing Ella McFarland to make decisions about her faith, family, and aspirations. When she comes to the rescue of a young, abused sharecropper’s daughter, her calling takes shape in ways she never imagined. Education is Ella’s passion, but a new love is budding in her heart, and new purpose calls. Can she find God’s will amid the tumultuous storm that surrounds her?

CFP: I've been wanting to read this story for a long time, it sounds so good! And it's a multiple award-winning novel! Congrats, Linda!

Question you’d like to ask readers:
I would love to hear readers answer the questions I’ve been asked above. Sharing one another’s struggles and triumphs lightens loads while it strengthens for the road ahead.

Giveaway: The Calling of Ella McFarland Answer Linda's question, above, for a chance to win a copy.

22 February 2018

Once An Heiress by Renee Ryan -- Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Blurb: Boston society darling Gigi Wentworth leaves behind everything she holds dear for the sake of love - only to learn that the man with whom she'd planned to elope is nothing but a thieving scoundrel. Abandoned in New York City and saddled with debt, Gigi must sell a prized family heirloom, but even that sacrifice isn't enough to get her home. Her determination drives her to take on work as a lady's maid, keeping her identity a secret...until she's discovered by a former friend with a hidden agenda. 
Although dealing with his own serious family issue, Christopher "Fitz" Fitzpatrick sets out to return the missing heiress to her rightful place in society. But the more he interacts with this new Gigi, the more shocked he is to find her so changed. Gone is the frivolous beauty in expensive gowns. In her place is a woman he could grow to love. When secrets are revealed, will Gigi and Fitz find the trust they need to confront the past and open their hearts?

Worth the Wait!
Once An Heiress (Brilliance Audio)
Narrated by Karen Peakes

I was anxiously awaiting the release of this audible.com download, book 3 in the Gilded Promises series. I knew Gigi Wentworth would have a fascinating story to tell, and she does! This is a Prodigal Daughter story. Good spiritual arcs for both hero and heroine. Both needed to change in order for God to give them a chance to possibly make a new start. 

Make sure you read the first two books in this series before listening to book three in the series. They are all solid listens. I'll confess the first was my fave, but all are wonderful listens. I hadn't listened to any of Renee's books before and she's an impressive author--has it all with voice, characterization, and story. 

If you liked my novel, My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring, you will likely enjoy this series which is also set at the turn of the century.

Giveaway: This week, I'm giving away a box of books. Comment on this post for an extra entry. Comment on my Sunday post on "Just" for a second entry! 

18 February 2018

The Tyranny of the Word "Just"

The Tyranny of the Word "Just"
By Carrie Fancett Pagels

I've been wanting to post on this topic for a long time. When I was in a boot for many years, for my heel problems from my RA, I kept thinking I'd do a post. Then when I went back into a boot again for my recent broken ankle, I determined I had to finally write this up. What spurred me on, too, was coming across this topic on a work-related blog, in which they had a very different viewpoint than mine on the problem with using the word, "just." In that post, they made it sound like young people at work could make it clear that they knew what they were doing by specifying "just" in the instructions!
Here's one of my favorite (I'm being facetious) uses of the word. During a time when I couldn't even get down my home's hallway without excruciating pain in every step, I was told that I could "Just fill out the form and put it out in the mailbox!" Really?  My mailbox is across the road. At the time I'm not sure I could have crossed the road even if someone held a gun to my head. And who amongst us hasn't spoken with a tech person who has advised us, "If you'd just do (something they know because they are a specialist" with the inference that by not knowing this thing the person was ignorant.
The use of "just" infers that something is supposed to be easy. But its all POV. If someone, when I was twenty, had told me to "Just run/jog down the road a mile" that would have been easy. I was a runner. This word, "just", has become one of my least favorite words. I've tried to get more careful, myself, about using this word. When I start saying something can just be accomplished if, I try to back up and rephrase it. I've started changing it to, "If you do (first step, second step) then this other thing could possibly be accomplished." That usually opens the door a little better for the person to explain if step one or step two has an issue that has to be addressed. But to go in and tell someone "If they'll just do step one, step two" implies those two steps are easy. Furthermore, doesn't it seem like they are telling you that you should have figured out or done this simple thing?

Question: How about you? Have you been tyrannized by the word, just?

Giveaway: Box of books to one of my commenters this week.

15 February 2018

Review of Tracey J. Lyons "The Heart of an Agent" Audiobook

A Great Listen!!!
Review of Tracey J. Lyons The Heart of an Agent
Brilliance Audio (November 2017)

I listened to this audiobook via an Audible.com download. I have a membership. Click here for the link to audible purchase.

I had the privilege of meeting Tracey at the 2016 CFRR (Christian Fiction Readers Retreat) in Nashville. She's a delightful lady. We'd been social media friends prior to that. Check out Tracey's website www.TraceyLyons.com for a chance to meet up with her at one of her upcoming events!

This novel is book two in her Pinkerton series. I loved the first book, A Changed Agent, which I also reviewed here on the blog!  So I was really looking forward to this story. Both books were narrated by Lauren Ezzo, who did a good job.

I'd seen that another reviewer called this a "Beauty and the Beast" type of story and I'll be honest, I am not a fan of that trope. However, I really enjoyed the first book and went ahead and made the purchase. The first section of the book did end up being more that type of story with the bereaved hero an angry broken man stuck in his denial. But the sweet and feisty heroine, Lily Handland, becomes a balm to Owen Murphy's soul. I really got into the book after the point that Owen is less "beastly" for lack of a better word!

Once the story turns this corner, there is so much to love about the story. It's set in the Adirondacks at the turn of the century, Lily is a wonderful character who feels like a friend, and Owen finally settles down into the wonderful man he truly is. But can they both overcome their pasts? Can they save his lodge? Do yourself a huge favor, get the book and find out! It is a great listen!

08 February 2018

Giveaway and Review of A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green

A Refuge Assured (Bethany House, February 2018)

About the book:
Lacemaker Vivienne Rivard never imagined her craft could threaten her life. Yet in revolutionary France, it is a death sentence when the nobility, and those associated with them, are forced to the guillotine. Vivienne flees to Philadelphia but finds the same dangers lurking in the French Quarter, as revolutionary sympathizers threaten the life of a young boy left in her care, who some suspect to be the Dauphin. Can the French settlement, Azilum, offer permanent refuge?

Militiaman Liam Delaney proudly served in the American Revolution, but now that the new government has imposed an oppressive tax that impacts his family, he barely recognizes the democracy he fought for. He wants only to cultivate the land of his hard-won farm near Azilum, but soon finds himself drawn into the escalating tension of the Whiskey Rebellion. When he meets a beautiful young Frenchwoman recently arrived from Paris, they will be drawn together in surprising ways to fight for the peace and safety for which they long.

Andrea Stephens' Review

Wow. Just wow.
I'm a regular person that reads, then reviews from her gut reaction to books. 
A Refuge Assured leaves me searching for the right words to describe just how good it is. For starters, the history I learned from this book was just amazing. Yes, I learned a little bit about it in school ages ago but it was glossed over. In this book, I felt as if I was there watching it all play out. I did not know being a lace maker was cause to lose your head during the French Revolution.
To see how Vivienne was able to care for her birth mother after the cruel death of the aunt that raised her was so touching. After her mother's death, she was able to escape to America and put in situations that only the strongest of women could handle.

Vienne learns to work as a baker and grows close to the family she works for. Particularly her bosses brother, Liam Delaney. She ends up caring for an orphaned boy, Henri, who some think may be young King Louis-Charles in hiding. This puts them both in great danger. The gentle romance between Liam and Vienne tugged at my heart. He helps her escape to Azilum the French town in Pennsylvania for refugees. A town that he helped build. He is in for a great disappointment when he arrives back at his farm on the outskirts of the town.
I can't say anything else without giving spoilers. There's so much more to say though! 

I highly recommend this historical novel. It is full of richly drawn characters, drama, danger, intrigue, righting wrongs, forgiveness, and compassion. I know this is a work of fiction but the intensity and feeling are so real.  This is a book that will stay with you long after you've read the last page.

I will be a Jocelyn Green fan for life.

Giveaway: A paperback copy of this new novel by Jocelyn Green. Leave a comment here on Andrea's review for a chance to win.

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