24 September 2017

Depending Upon God by Carrie Fancett Pagels

I recently had the privilege of speaking at the Writing to Inspire conference in Frederick, Maryland. I spoke on "How to Interview Your Characters Like a Psychologist." But none of it would have happened without leaning into and fully depending upon God. I'd been in an autoimmune flare ever since we returned from our wonderful trip to Michigan in July to promote My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring. My "plan" had been to drive up to the event with another author, spend the night, and be at the event for maybe a couple of hours (I wasn't sure how long I could hold up). I was so miserable in the lead-up to planning to go, that I told my husband to never let me do anything like this again.

Well, you know how plans go. which is why we have to depend upon God. The other writer I'd hoped to drive with didn't work out. Which left me driving by myself. But, Praise the Lord, my handsome chauffeur husband agreed to come with me. And, when speaking with my precious aunt Wilda, I learned that she didn't live far from the venue (I thought it was much farther away.)

So, depending upon God to get us through, we left out later in the afternoon on Friday, during the weekend when people were evacuating from the hurricanes. Despite being quite a bit further north, we both suspected there would be heavy traffic on the main interstates (we later learned the roads were clogged with traffic, delaying some of our friends.) We took a route we'd never taken before. It was wide and crazy and included some rocky rutted roads, but we got there safely and in time to enjoy dinner with Rita and Paul Gerlach, and had a wonderful fellowship.

I never know if I'll be able to sleep well and I'd forgotten my medications! I left packing them to the end and didn't have any. Thankfully, I had a couple of them in my wallet for emergencies. And I trusted in God to get me through the seminar. Thankfully, I was able to come even for the morning sessions, which started later in the morning. It was wonderful to see some old friends and to meet some new ones!

In my upcoming release, "Love's Escape" in The Captive Brides Collection, Barbour, October, 2017, my heroine Letitia Burwell is relying upon God to get her North to freedom, on the Underground Railroad for part of the trip, and by transportation by friends. As I was writing this story last spring, I felt the weight of Lettie's dilemma. We all have to depend upon God -- from those who escaped to freedom, to people escaping the hurricanes' wrath, and to a lowly author simply trying to speak at a conference despite autoimmune issues.

Question: How about you? What are you depending upon God for today?

Giveaway: A Copy of The Captive Brides Collection or any one of Carrie's other books including Romantic Times Book Reviews Top Pick My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring.

21 September 2017

Giveaway - Freedom's Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli * Book Review by Guest Andrea Stephens

Book Review by Guest Andrea Stephens 
Freedom's Ring 
by Heidi Chiavaroli    

(Tyndale House, August 2017)

About the book:
Boston, 2015
Two years after nearly losing her life in the Boston Marathon bombing, Annie David is still far from “Boston strong.” Instead she remains isolated and defeated―plagued by guilt over her niece, crippled in the blast, and by an antique ring alongside a hazy hero’s face. But when she learns the identity of her rescuer, will he be the hero she’s imagined? And can the long-past history of the woman behind the ring set her free from the guilt and fears of the present?

Boston, 1770
As a woman alone in a rebellious town, Liberty Caldwell finds herself in a dangerous predicament. When a British lieutenant, Alexander Smythe, comes to her rescue and offers her employment, Liberty accepts. As months go by, Alexander not only begins to share his love of poetry with her, but protects Liberty from the advances of a lecherous captain living in the officers’ house where she works.

Mounting tensions explode in the Boston Massacre, and Liberty’s world is shattered as her brother, with whom she has just reunited, is killed in the fray. Desperate and alone, she returns home, only to be assaulted by the captain. Afraid and furious toward redcoats, Liberty leaves the officers’ home, taking with her a ring that belonged to Alexander.

Two women, separated by centuries, must learn to face their fears. And when they feel they must be strong, they learn that sometimes true strength is found in surrender.
Excellent debut by author Heidi Chiavaroli! This is a 10-Star book! 5 for each story!
Freedom's Ring has a bit of something for everyone. Very real, very believable characters.
The Boston Marathon bombing is treated with respect and not exploitative in any way. It is a fictional tale of a fictional person living with the aftermath of that horrific event.
 I highly recommend this book to everyone!

The ring is inscribed with “Qui fortis salitem tribute” which translates to “Victory belongs to the one who is strong.”  Important words to remember as you read through this wonderful book.

The contemporary story is a woman, Anaya or Annie as she is known throughout the book, that lets the “if only's” overtake her personal life and estrange her from her sister and niece. It has a bit of mystery surrounding the ring, and the search for its history.

The historical story has the beginnings of the Revolutionary War, an orphaned teenager, Liberty, doing what she must, without resorting to being a “camp girl” to survive.

I, as a reader, was able to fully immerse myself in both worlds. The stories are so expertly entwined by the author. Chapter headings of “Anaya” and “Liberty” made it very easy to know whose story I was in as I was reading. 

The search for the history of the ring and how it came to be passed down to Annie's rescuer Brad and the little romance that develops was quite intriguing. I could not wait for them to find each tidbit of information that drew them closer to the truth. I also loved how the author used the search to help Annie heal from her guilt and reunite with her family. It also showed Annie that there was a strength there waiting to help her, she just needed to reach out to Him. She had much to overcome. The journey to restoring the broken relationship with her family and with God. The struggle was gritty and very real, not easy. I felt privileged to be a witness to it.

I was particularly drawn to the historical story of Liberty Caldwell. My heart went out to this poor girl and the situation she found herself in. She chastised herself for allowing herself to fall for a man that wore a crimson coat, a kind man who saved her and protected her when he could. Yet, a life between them was never going to be possible. She was a Patriot, he was a man in the King's regiment, though, she never stopped loving him.
After the atrocities that Liberty went through, amazingly, she was able to move on with her life. She learns midwifery skills, medicinal herbs and how to use them. Eventually, even finding love with a gentle, understanding, but strong Hugh Gregory. They have plenty of ups and downs and many, many things to overcome.

In the middle of each of these stories, there is much to tell, I don't give spoilers so you, my fellow readers, must take this journey for yourself. It is one well worth taking.
 I will give you a couple of teasers. There are appearances of well known real life people. There is a time capsule found in the modern day and a letter and a deathbed promise on the historical side. Each of these are an integral part of the story and help bind them together.  I will also share the last line of the Epilogue, spoken by Annie but in my opinion, could have been said by either heroine.

“My past had been wiped clean by grace. And because of that, I could finally claim strength.”

Book Links:

Barnes & Noble

Giveaway: Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Heidi's debut novel!

17 September 2017

Heidi Chiavaroli -- Overcoming Fear With God's Help

Heidi Chiavaroli, welcome to Overcoming With God. We appreciate your willingness to share your testimony of overcoming with our readers. 
Thank you so much for having me, Carrie!

Would you tell us about the one of the most difficult things in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help?
 Definitely, definitely fear. I was the little girl who would run to my Mom every time I got the smallest scrape, fearing it would somehow prove fatal. I was the girl who clung to the side of the pool for the entire 4th of July party, missing out on all the fun, even though I had a perfectly dependable bubble strapped to my back.
By God’s grace, some of this lessened as I grew and then…I had kids of my own! Talk about knowing fear. How would I protect them, raise them right, keep my patience? Add to that a particularly trying time in the northeast when New England was shaken up by the Boston Marathon bombing, just months after the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. I totally reverted back to my old fearful ways. I didn’t want to send my kids to school, I even called the police on a tax assessor who came to our door in the days following the bombing because I was fearful one of the brothers stood at my door (to me, the assessor looked just like the pictures all over the news). Crazy, but I was scared, just realizing—really realizing—that anything could happen any time or any place. I was not an exception to the evil in the world.
BUT I was able to explore this fear in the writing of this novel, and even work out my own struggles through it.

What passages in the Bible have been most helpful to you in those times?
I’m so glad you asked this!
There are many, but here are two of my favorites:
Isaiah 41:10 – Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
This verse absolutely speaks to my heart. And I love that it’s one of those special prophecies, written about Jesus (my righteous right hand) hundreds of years before Jesus even showed up in Bethlehem. Love that.
The other is Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
I think we often go to this verse and think, “Okay, everything’s going to be good for me because I love God.” But that’s more of a health and wealth gospel, not the gospel Jesus died for. His gospel is so much bigger, bringing purpose out of pain and suffering. Though I often struggle with fear, this verse reminds me that no matter what, no matter how I see things, God has this, simply because I am his.

What helped you get through or helped you cope with this difficulty?
Marinating myself in God’s promises and the truth of His gospel. By realizing that belief isn’t just a one time thing. It’s an every second of every minute kind of thing. We need God for so much more than a one-moment-of-faith conversion. We need Him to sustain our own faith, even. At least I know I do!
Reading the writings of those strong in the faith also helped me, as well as attending a Bible study. Having sisters who sympathized with me and prayed for me made an absolute world of difference. And of course, my family. I don’t know what I’d do without their love, shown in tangible ways all the time.

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? 
I’m sorry—nothing yet! Hopefully down the line…
In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?  
Everyone has struggled with something they fear, or something in their past they would have done differently. This is both Annie’s and Liberty’s difficulty. Annie wonders how she will ever get past the day of the marathon bombing, and the subsequent choices she made. Liberty fears she will have to face the man she stole a ring from—a man who showed her nothing but kindness. She is also distraught over her brother’s death in the Boston Massacre.

Both these characters struggle with forms of PTSD (though certainly they didn’t label it such in colonial days!) Though we might or might not suffer from a similar disorder, we have all done things we regret. We struggle over our inability to have do-overs. We spend precious time fearing we will make the same mistakes, or fearing that we are simply not strong enough, not smart enough, not enough at all. And maybe we’re not. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a hope greater than us and our abilities.
Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, and grace-clinger who could spend hours exploring Boston's Freedom Trail. She writes Women's Fiction and won the 2014 ACFW Genesis contest in the historical category. She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle.
Heidi’s Links:

Question you’d like to ask readers:How have you struggled with fear in your life? How has God used this in your life?

GIVEAWAY: Heidi is generously giving away a copy of her book to one of our commenters! 

14 September 2017

My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley: Lily's Dilemma by Andrea Boeshaar -- Guest Review by Andrea Stephens

About the book:
Journey into the Shenandoah Valley of 1816 where...
With Very Little Left of the Family Farm, Lily May be Forced into a Loveless Marriage.

Captain McAlister “Mac” Albright has purchased land in the Shenandoah Valley. However, the land belongs to Lillyanna Laughlin—or so she erroneously thinks. Mac sets her straight and despite a poor start, the two become friends. .if only he were financially stable to offer her more. 

When Lily’s life is threatened and his whole future goes up in flames, Mac truly becomes a man without means, and Lily is forced to make the impossible choice between a loveless marriage with a man twice her age or the man who has shown her what true love could be. How can she choose between love and economic security? Her family is depending on her. Is her heart destined to break?
Journey into Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley of 1816 where a woman’s dreams and future happiness are on the line.

My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley: Lily's Dilemma (Barbour Publishing, September 2017)
Guest Review by Andrea Stephens

I have to say it took me about four pages to get hooked on this book. When handsome former Captian Mac hears the beautiful Lily singing. How they meet is quite a surprise, for both of them, I think. From that point on, I couldn't read fast enough. It quickly became a 5 Star book for me.

The writing was so descriptive I found myself walking through the orchards, tasting Aunt Hilda's food and sneering at the evil Silas Everett every time his black box carriage came down the lane.

There is so much heart woven into this story. Lily's love for her family home Haus am Bach and the memories it holds, her caring for her younger brothers and her Aunt. The dilemma she faces is unimaginable, being under the supposed care and protection of her late father's friend Silas Everett. A local Inn owner with gambling tables in the back room, and all around nasty scoundrel. He has sold off the family orchards and fields, how are they to survive?
I liked that Lily had a bit of spunk to her in certain situations, in others she demurred.

Lily and Mac did not expect to fall for each other, in fact, after much discussion of the matter they reach an agreement to “just be neighbors, and friends” I don't give spoilers but I will say that arrangement does not work out very well.

The other characters in the book are so good! I loved Mr. John Blake, an older man, and Mac's former first mate. He has a way with words and phrases, one of them being “...but I'm not a landlubber. I don't even like farm animals, unless they are roasted to perfection...” You have to read the book to find out where that line comes from. I liked the little side romance between Mr. Blake and Aunt Hilda too. It was nice to see two older folks find love.

There are a lot of fun moments and heart felt moments in the book but it is filled with drama and some suspense too. The faith elements are gently woven in throughout the book with forgiveness and redemption found in the pages as well.

I highly recommend this book to people who love Inspirational Historical Fiction, though I think there is a bit of something for everyone here.

I will leave you with another great piece of advice from the book, spoken by a friend in a tense situation. I think part of it applies to each of us:
“Never pick a fight with a blacksmith or the Almighty. You're sure to lose on both accounts.”

*After reading an ARC provided by the publishers and NetGalley, I bought a copy of the book to keep for myself.  

The My Heart Belongs Series from Barbour Publishing:



NOTE: My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley: Lily's Dilemma  is ON SALE on KINDLE for only 99 Cents as of this publication time (September 14th, 2017, 8:30 AM Eastern).  Click here 

THANK YOU to Andrea Stephens, our guest reviewer for the My Heart Belongs series!!!

GIVEAWAY: Any ONE of the five "My Heart Belongs" series from Barbour Publishing, that have already released (pictured above). More to come! Including Angie Dickens' book in November! 

12 September 2017

Bonnie Roof Reviews Julie Lessman's Four New Novella's

She longs to be the perfect mother. He just longs for his wife. Until they receive ... the best gift of all. Everyone knows Lizzie and John Brady have the perfect marriage. But when Lizzie’s desire to be a good mother eclipses her desire for her husband, the honeymoon is definitely over. Can the spirit of Christmas heal their hearts when Lizzie gives John the best gift of all?


The Best Gift of All features John and Lizzy Brady in an engaging romance that addresses a problem familiar to many marriages: balancing the roles of spouse and parent. The Best Gift of All will inspire, reveal dramatic surprises, entertain with its family's antics, bring both smiles and tears, warm the reader's heart, and endear them to its characters. It's story of faith could quite possibly heal some marriages!

He’s everybody’s lovable rogue. She’s nobody’s fool who hopes to steer clear. Until a thunderstorm sinks them both into a sea of love. Blake “The Rake” McClare has a notorious reputation as a womanizer, which is why soft-spoken Patience Peabody carefully avoids the lovable rogue attorney at the law firm in which they both work. Until a rare thunderstorm brings them together in a love soaked with the grace of God ... and sparked with a little lightning of its own


Attorney Blake "The Rake" McClare is a womanizer who lives up to his name - until his charms are lost on soft-spoken, professional, receptionist Patience Peabody (who wears her name well). Patience has a few tricks of her own - who will win the battle of the wills in this engrossing, sweet romance that will inspire, give you a laugh, some drama, spin a twist, and then steal your heart with it's warm, realistic characters? Only God knows!

She’s the Accident to His Prayers …Pastor Cole McCabe isn’t sure he’ll survive the holidays with his new housekeeper and nanny. She’s caught fire to the kitchen, dyed his long johns pink, and scorched nearly everything she cooks. But he’s desperate, and she’s as destitute as they come. Even though she’s no good with her hands, Grace sure has a way with her heart. She’s brought a warmth into Cole’s home, added color to his daughters’ lives, and broken down the wall he’s built up since his beloved wife died. But when Grace’s past threatens Cole’s family, she’s given one last chance to be home for Christmas . . . if she hasn’t burned it down yet.


When his aunt is injured, Pastor Cole McCabe is desperate for a housekeeper and nanny for his daughters. A friend of Cole's deceased wife, Grace O'Malley is destitute and desperate for a lifestyle change. What would appear to be the perfect answer to the problems of both - turns into a disaster when Cole finds Grace can't cook and has few housekeeping skills. When her secrets threaten to tear his family apart, Cole intervenes and reveals a few secrets of his own. Drama, twists, and suspense kept me glued to the pages of this beautiful romance; the endearing children, hilarious situations, and sweet romance brought me to tears. Forgiveness and redemption through a loving God are the healing factors making this story a winner.

She’s desperate for a baby. He’s desperate for an empty nest.
Love is desperate to surprise them both. With a husband dead set against adoption, Charity O’Connor Dennehy has barely a whisper of hope for more children, but if hope doesn’t disappoint … will it be enough to find a precious bundle under her tree?


Charity O'Connor Dennehy, mother of twins, desperately wants to adopt a child she has come to love while on visits to St. Mary's Home For Unwed-Mothers with her sister-in-law. Husband Mitch, 16 years Charity's senior, is deeply opposed - wanting to raise and provide their best for the two children they already have. Whose perspective will change?

Having worked in a home for abused and neglected children and being a parent myself, I could identify with both sides of the story and was deeply touched by it. Author Julie Lessman provided just enough warmth, laughs, and spiritual inspiration to balance out my reader tears.     

You may purchase these wonderful novellas by clicking on these links. 

GIVEAWAY: Ms. Lessman has graciously offered the gift of (3) Three e-books. Each Winner Has The Choice of Any (1) One of These Outstanding Novellas. 

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