Narrowing Your Focus (Guest Post)

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Narrowing Your Focus

by Steph Beth Nickel

Despite the craziness that is 2020, many of you have even more balls in the air at this time.

  • Working from home or in the community.
  • Learning new tech, like Zoom.
  • Diving into a new entrepreneurial endeavour.
  • Fulfilling volunteer responsibilities.
  • Facilitating your children’s schooling like never before.
  • Juggling your budget.
  • Getting used to being together with the same people day in and day out.
  • Trying to figure out how to stay in touch with friends and family you can’t visit.
  • Obeying the protocols when you do get together.
  • Figuring out what Sunday worship looks like.
  • Figuring out what the holidays will look like.
  • Arranging drive-by celebrations.
  • And on and on the list goes.

For months (years?) I’ve been thinking of setting aside specific days of the week for each of my many eclectic pursuits. Well, I finally did so. Mondays are for fulfilling my intern responsibilities and developing my Nurture and Inspire brand. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are for editing, which, for now, will be my primary source of income. Thursdays are for writing. Fridays are for fulfilling my doula recertification responsibilities. Saturdays are for creative endeavours (writing poetry, practicing modern calligraphy, learning to create poured paintings). Sundays are for worship, reading, and resting.

This isn’t a rigid schedule, but it does assure me that I will be able to get more done when I’m not trying to do a little of this and a little of that each day.

Here are nine things to consider if you want to set up a schedule that will help you accomplish more by paring down your To Do List:

  • Consider what you truly need to do every day.
  • Remember that you’ll get more done if you don’t switch from one responsibility to the next to the next.
  • Ask for help. You don’t have to do it all on your own.
  • Create a flexible and achievable schedule, leaving margins of time for those things beyond your control.
  • If at all possible, focus on 1-3 main things each day.
  • Leave time in your schedule for adequate sleep, meal prep, etc.
  • Offer yourself grace and permission to make changes to your schedule as needed.
  • Make time for rejuvenation, possibly something as simple as closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths.
  • Do something fun every week. Every day?

So, how about you? Do you have a daily schedule? A weekly schedule? I’d love to hear what works for you.

Tweetables

Despite the craziness that is 2020, many of you have even more balls in the air. (click to tweet)

A weekly schedule assures you you’ll be able to get more done when you’re not trying to do a little of this and a little of that each day. (click to tweet)

Make time in your schedule for rejuvenation, possibly something as simple as closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. (click to tweet)

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is eclectically interested and eclectically involved. She is an author, blogger, a regular contributor to the HopeStreamRadio online radio station, a freelance editor, and birth doula. Steph brings her interests together under the Nurture and Inspire umbrella. Ladies, you’re invited to join her Facebook group by the same name: Nurture and Inspire

99-cent Ebook Sale (ends Sept. 27/20)

Without Proof: Romantic suspense... identity... faith.
Buy links: click here: https://books2read.com/without-proof or click the image above.
Follow me on BookBub

New Releases in Christian Fiction (September 2020)

September 2020 New Releases from Members of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW)

 

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

 
Contemporary Romance:

 

Until I Met You by Tari Faris — Libby Kingsley dreams of a new life and a new library for the charming small town of Heritage, MI. Things get complicated when her big ideas threaten Austin Williams’ blueprints and his plan to leave town unattached. (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

 

A Love Redeemed by Lisa Jordan — They agreed to help each other out. No one mentioned falling in love. Back home after losing her job, Isabella Bradley plans to stay only long enough to save her father’s diner, but she can’t do it alone. Her childhood friend Tucker Holland has the perfect solution—he will renovate the diner if she’ll be a nanny for his twins. But as Isabella and Tucker reconnect, their arrangement begins to feel a lot less temporary… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

 


Contemporary:
 

 

 
 
The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox — When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee an estate sale, she soon discovers that her grandmother left behind more than trinkets and photo frames–she provided a path to the truth behind Ivy’s adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing. Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he’s ever loved. In this dual-time story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truth–both the search for it and the desire to keep it from others–takes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go. (Contemporary from Revell [Baker])

 

 

 
Finding Wings by Deborah Raney — Taking care of her family is a blessing, but Britt thought there would be more to life–like falling in love . . . (Contemporary from Kregel Publications) 

 

 


Historical:
 

 

A Christmas Tale for Little Women by Linda Brooks Davis — Broadview is attired for Christmas. Adelaide Fitzgerald must provide two girls a Christmas like no other. Has she thought of everything? Has she accomplished enough? What would top off this Christmas in an extraordinary way? Addie’s answer lies just the other side of Rock Creek. What will it take for her to recognize it as the Christmas topper she’s been seeking? (Historical, Independently Published)


 
The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow by Kim Vogel Sawyer — During the Great Depression, city-dweller Addie Cowherd dreams of becoming a novelist and offering readers the escape that books had given her during her tragic childhood. When her father loses his job, she is forced to take the only employment she can find—delivering books on horseback to poor coal-mining families in the hills of Kentucky. But turning a new page will be nearly impossible in Boone’s Hollow, where residents are steeped in superstitions and deeply suspicious of outsiders. Even local Emmett Tharp feels the sting of rejection after returning to the tiny mountain hamlet as the first in his family to graduate college. And as the crippled economy leaves many men jobless, he fears his degree won’t be worth much in a place where most men either work the coal mine or run moonshine. As Addie also struggles to find her place, she’ll unearth the truth about a decades-old rivalry. But when someone sets out to sabotage the town’s library program, will the culprit chase Addie away or straight into the arms of the only person who can help her put a broken community back together? (Historical from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])
 

Under the Tulip Tree by Michelle Shocklee — Sixteen-year-old Lorena Leland’s dreams of a rich and fulfilling life as a writer are dashed when the stock market crashes in 1929. Seven years into the Great Depression, Rena’s banker father has retreated into the bottle, her sister is married to a lazy charlatan and gambler, and Rena is an unemployed newspaper reporter. Eager for any writing job, Rena accepts a position interviewing former slaves for the Federal Writers’ Project. There, she meets Frankie Washington, a 101-year-old woman whose honest yet tragic past captivates Rena. As Frankie recounts her life as a slave, Rena is horrified to learn of all the older woman has endured—especially because Rena’s ancestors owned slaves. While Frankie’s story challenges Rena’s preconceptions about slavery, it also connects the two women whose lives are otherwise separated by age, race, and circumstances. But will this bond of respect, admiration, and friendship be broken by a revelation neither woman sees coming? (Historical from Tyndale House)

 

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright — In 1928, the Bonaventure Circus has become a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby and is no longer content to leave the reason for that rejection unquestioned. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the “Watchman,” she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa’s search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer. Decades later, an old circus train depot’s future hangs in the balance–it will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its fate rests on Realtor Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend. (Historical from Bethany House [Baker])
 

 


Historical Romance:
 

 

 

Enduring Dreams by Sandra Ardoin — Claire Kingsley once dared to assert herself into the male world of 1890s architecture. It cost her husband both his life and an heir. Now fear controls her choices and her dreams. When offered a chance to create another design, she fights against the pull, afraid of further disaster. But disturbing news ignites a fierce loyalty to her past love and a powerful attraction to a new one—an attraction she resists…for his sake. Mark Gregory’s first architectural project in town comes with the proviso that he works with a female. He balks, even though Claire stirs his heart like no other woman. Yet, with a loan payment looming, risking his business on someone of unknown talent invites failure, a word he’s struck from his vocabulary. When bigotry and Claire’s fears threaten an important commission, will she summon the courage to help Mark succeed, or will she destroy another man’s dream? (Historical Romance from Corner Room Books)

 

Light in the Mountain Sky by Misty M. Beller — Determined to prove her worth, Meksem fiercely fought to earn her place among the warriors in her Nez Perce camp. When her half-sister is captured by an enemy tribe, she refuses to trust the rescue to anyone else. But her new friends insist on joining her mission, and she battles between relief and frustration at their presence. Especially the white man who peers at her as if he can see through the face of the warrior she struggles so hard to maintain. Spaniard Adam Vargas thrives on adventure wherever his travels take him. He’s fallen in love with this Rocky Mountain wilderness, as well as the spotted horses the Nez Perce tribe raise. His fascination with this Indian maiden-turned-warrior catches him off guard though, including the way she seems to be fighting for more than her sister’s safe return. The journey proves more perilous than any of the group expects, and the secret Meksem hides becomes impossible to conceal. If they live through this mission, the life they knew will never be the same again. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
 

A Joyful Christmas by Cynthia Hickey, Liz Johnson, Vickie McDonough, Liz Tolsma, Carrie Turansky, and Erica Vetsch — A Christmas Collection to Warm the Heart Grab a warm cup of tea and watch as romance is kindled and joy is restored to broken lives during six bygone era Christmas celebrations. (Historical from Barbour Publishing)

 

Love’s Pure Light by Susanne Dietze, Shannon McNear, Deborah Raney, and Janine Rosche — Be transported to unique time periods as you follow a treasured family nativity set through four generations of the Shepherd family. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
 

Palmer Girl by Dawn Klinge — When insurance tycoon, Cornelius Nordeman, is recruited to work for the Exposition Corporation, the New Yorker brings his family to live at the Palmer House Hotel, far away from any reminders of a recent tragedy. He’s hopeful this move will offer respite from his family’s grief. Elizabeth Nordeman, his daughter, has something to prove, which leads her to seek work as a florist at Marshall Field’s, Chicago’s finest department store. John Lewis knows something is different and intriguing about the new florist he hired. When his boss, Marshall Field, informs him that Elizabeth is the Nordeman heiress, his job suddenly becomes more complicated–especially when he finds himself falling for her. On the eve of the Columbian Exposition of 1893, Chicago prepares to prove that it’s a first-class city, and the brightest minds from around the country will plan the most spectacular fair the world has seen. The World’s Fair will bring change and innovation into a society bound tightly by class and tradition. Elizabeth’s heart longs to push against those boundaries, so what’s holding her back? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Love at First Flight by Linda Shenton Matchett — Evelyn Reid would rather fly than do anything else, so when war engulfs the U.S., she joins the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. One of the program’s top pilots, she is tapped for pursuit plane training…the dream of a lifetime until she discovers the instructor is her ex-fiancé, Jasper MacPherson. Collecting enough points to rotate stateside, fighter pilot Jasper MacPherson is assigned to teach the WAFS how to fly the army way. Bad enough to be training women, but things take a turn for the worse when his former fiancée shows up as one of his students. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
 

 

 


Mystery:
 

 

 
The Sleuth’s Surprise by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Mary Daley has been the sheriff of Tipton County for more than two decades, but someone wants her job. When it seems circumstances can’t get more complicated, a murder happens on her watch. Had she been the intended victim? Deputy Chief Lyle Griffin only wants Mary to be happy, but when he asks her if she’d consider retiring, it sets off a string of events and emotions that muddy their friendship. Nancy Daley-Malone can’t believe anyone would run for sheriff against her mom. She is onboard to help run the best campaign Tipton County has ever seen until the sheriff’s opponent is murdered and Nancy’s husband joins the race. On top of that, it appears someone is out to kill her mother as well. Can Nancy, along with the sheriff’s department, find the murderer before it’s too late? Will Lyle and Mary be able to admit their feelings for one another or will the status quo remain? (Mystery from Mountain Brook Ink)

 

 

Romantic Suspense:
 

 

Airborne by DiAnn Mills — A female FBI agent boards an international flight, and two hours into the flight, a deadly virus spreads through the aircraft. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)

 

Speculative:
 

 

Forsaken Island by Sharon Hinck — The people of Meriel have long believed their island world floats alone in the vast ocean universe, so they are astonished when another island drifts into view. With resources becoming scarce, Carya and Brantley quickly volunteer to search the new land for supplies. After navigating a barrier of menacing trees, the pair encounter a culture of perpetually happy people who readily share their talents and their possessions. But all is not what it seems. At the core of the island is a horror that threatens everyone, including Brantley and Carya. Freeing the villagers of the bondage they’ve chosen may cost Carya and Brantley more than they could have imagined. Even if the two succeed, they’ll have to find a way to return to Meriel quickly … or be cut off from their home forever. (Speculative from Enclave Publishing)

 

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

 

Holiday Hitches at Mustang Pass by Cindy M. Amos, A deputy falls in love with a judge’s daughter while racing to build a new church building in time for his three friends’ weddings. (Historical Romance)

 

All I Ever Needed by D. L. Lane, He’s the beast lurking within the shadows. She’s the beauty living in the light. (Contemporary Romance)

 

Sown in Peace by Joy Avery Melville, How much can one wounded soul take? (General Contemporary)

 

Puppy Ciao by Annette O’Hare, In the small town of Kerrville, Texas, thirteen-year-old Jeannie McKay rescues two purebred Weimaraner puppies found drowning in Johnson Creek and vows to find out who is responsible. (Children’s)
 
Follow me on BookBub

Facing the Storms (Guest Post)

Photo credit: Pixabay

Facing the Storms

by Steph Beth Nickel

Sitting on the patio at a restaurant in Grand Bend, Ontario, we watched the sky grow dark and the storm roll in. (They moved us inside as they battened down the hatches, so to speak.)

It was fascinating. A sunny day at the beach turned into a thunderstorm with torrential rainfall. Not to mention a power outage that had us wondering if we could slip under the arm across the parking lot. It had stopped halfway down. (We made it with lots of room to spare.)

The drive home was uneventful. The power was out in much of St. Thomas, but hey, no biggie. I couldn’t help but think of my friends and others living in California, dealing with raging fires, and Texas, being bombarded by Hurricane Laura.

You may not be facing thunderstorms, forest fires, or hurricanes, but you are facing storms. We all are, here in the anomaly called 2020.

I can almost guarantee you’ve heard all the suggestions below before, but in case you need a reminder, as I often do …

When you’re facing a storm, consider the following:

  1. As they say these days, give yourself permission to feel all the feels. Accusing God of wrongdoing is dangerous. Feeling what we’ve labeled “negative feelings” is 100 percent acceptable.
  2. Give yourself a break. Sometimes we do get overwhelmed. We simply have to acknowledge that there comes a point when this becomes an excuse, rather than a legitimate reason, for not getting busy crossing things off our To Do list.
  3. Begin a Gratitude Journal. Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts got us thinking about listing 1,000 things we’re thankful for. Whether we do this or not, keeping track each day of something we’re thankful for can go a long way to reassuring us there is beauty even in the midst of the wildest of storms.
  4. Rest and recharge. Go for a photowalk. Curl up with a good book. Watch a movie. Take a nap. Play a boardgame or put together a puzzle. There are countless ways to refresh.
  5. Get together with a friend. Proximity or social distancing protocols may make this a challenge, but Zoom and FB Rooms, etc. can be the next best thing to getting together in person.
  6. Fellowship with other believers. Some congregations have begun to meet in person. Others are live-streaming their services. Attending church (or watching the broadcast) are important, but so is genuine, interactive fellowship, with lots of back and forth. Participating in a Bible study in-person or online can build us up and help us face what comes at us.
  7. Spend time in God’s Word and prayer. Of course, this is important no matter what “the weather.” However, the temptation is to succumb to the weight of overwhelm and let important disciplines slip away. It may not be the time to sign up for a theology course. (But who knows? It may be.) No matter what, spending time developing our relationship with the Lord is of prime importance.

How about you? How are you facing the storm? What do you do to get you through these difficult days?

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is eclectically interested and eclectically involved. She is an author, blogger, a regular contributor to the HopeStreamRadio online radio station, a freelance editor, and birth doula. Steph brings her interests together under the Nurture and Inspire umbrella. Ladies, you’re invited to join her Facebook group by the same name: Nurture and Inspire

Review: Get Out of Your Head, by Jennie Allen

Get out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts, by Jennie Allen

Get Out of Your Head, by Jennie Allen (Waterbrook, 2020)

Subtitle: “Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts”

In Get Out of Your Head, Jennie Allen declares that “The greatest spiritual battle of our generation is being fought between our ears.” [Chapter 1] The thrust of this book is that we have a choice to control out thoughts—even when it’s hard, repetitive work.

She’s quick to warn that we can’t “think our way out of mental illness.” But even there, learning to redirect our thoughts can work with the medication.

The principle of this book is that toxic thought spirals can be interrupted and redirected, and that they begin with wrong beliefs about God or with not internalizing what we know to be true about God. In offering strategies, she lays out some common lies, their opposing truth, a Scripture to hold onto, and a stated choice we can make. These choices make up a number of chapters.

The writing style is candid, informal, and personal, as if the author were speaking to an intimate group of listeners. She uses her own experience as the main source of examples, so readers know she’s lived what she’s teaching.

I came to the book after the Get Out of Your Head teaching series through Right Now Media, which I almost didn’t listen to. The opening anecdotes and peppy delivery were not what I relate to. I’m of a different generation, temperament, and have different interests. However, it didn’t take long to recognize helpful teaching. After listening to the full series, I found the book through my local library’s Hoopla app.

If negative emotions and toxic thoughts are familiar battlegrounds for you, or even if you feel like you’ve lost that fight a long time ago, Get Out of Your Head may be just the resource you need to regain mental ground.

I love how it focuses on truth about who God is and how it equips us to recognize the lie at the root of our feelings and then to choose to focus on the truth instead.

Jennie Allen’s website says she’s a “Bible teacher, author, and the founder and visionary of IF:gathering.” For more about the author and her ministry, and for a free “Get Out of Your Head Toolkit,” visit jennieallen.com.

[Review copy from the public library.]

Follow me on BookBub

Review: Acceptable Risk, by Lynette Eason

Acceptable Risk, by Lynette Eason

Acceptable Risk, by Lynette Eason (Revell, 2020)

Captured in a Taliban raid on a girls’ school, American military journalist Sarah Denning is injured in a nick-of-time rescue mission. Not until she’s flown home to the US against her will does she learn that her high-ranking father has arranged to have her discharged as a suicide risk.

Sarah’s been fighting her father since her mother died, and she’s not about to give up now. But before she can prove herself fit for duty, she must heal from her wounds—and from the devastating loss of her brother.

Former Army Ranger Gavin Black, who led the rescue mission in Afghanistan, runs a security organization based in the US. Now Sarah’s father hires him to guard her—but if she finds out, she’ll refuse the protection out of spite.

And she needs the protection. Threats on her father’s life could extend to his family. Plus, Sarah is pushing for answers about a missing patient she encountered in the hospital—who staff deny was ever there.

Like book 1 in the series, Collateral Damage, this is romantic suspense where the violence and trauma of serving in Afghanistan follows the hero and heroine home to civilian life. Sarah and Gavin are strong people carrying PTSD and other wounds, needing time to heal but finding they’re still in danger in a conflict where they don’t know how to identify the enemy.

I like Sarah and Gavin, and the solid friendships they’ve developed with a small core of people they’ve served with in the past. And I like how Sarah, even when injured or overpowered, keeps her head and plays an active part in her own rescue. Gavin may be there to defend her, but there are times she defends him.

Acceptable Risk is Book 2 in the Danger Never Sleeps series. Book 3, Active Defense, releases in early 2021. For more about award-winning author Lynette Eason, visit lynetteeason.com.

[Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley. Opinions are my own.]

Follow me on BookBub

Review: Calm Before the Storm, by Janice L. Dick

Calm Before the Storm, by Janice L. Dick (Tansy & Thistle Press, 2020)

Family dynamics, faith, coming-of-age, and gentle romance, all set in the turbulent days leading up to the Russian Revolution.

From a haven-like estate in Crimea to impoverished rooms on the wrong side of town in St. Petersburg, from starving soldiers near the front lines of World War 1 to a private hospital for the mentally ill, and with other settings along the way, Calm Before the Storm evokes 1914-1916 Russia as experienced by the Hildebrandt family and their friends.

The Hildebrandts are Russian Mennonites, people of German heritage whose ties to this land only go back a hundred or so years. As the poorer classes grow more desperate for political reform, hostility also brews toward these “German” Russians.

Katarina Hidebrandt is a young woman who sees the best in everyone, yet she must acknowledge the growing tension and the sense that life is about to change. As her family separates and the young teacher she loves is sent to serve in the hopeless war effort, she learns to rely on her faith and to make what difference she can in her world.

What could be a depressingly heavy tale is instead told with a careful touch, beautiful descriptions, and traces of humour. The characters are honest in their questions and their choices, and somehow despite the pain they find hope (most of them).

As well as providing a fascinating glimpse into this period of history, the novel resonates particularly well with the brooding uncertainty of 2020. Katarina’s struggles in the face of unwanted change and trouble can help readers who are feeling the same concerns even if our situations are different.

It’s not a preachy story, but Katarina’s and others’ examples of living out their faith give us clues we may take to heart. I feel a bit better-equipped to face my own doubts when they sneak up on me again.

Some favourite lines:

The Juschanlee River wandered westward over the Russian steppes, collecting little villages on its meandering way… (Chapter 1)

“The air is so clean and clear, like it’s been washed and left to dry in the sun.” (Johann, in Chapter 5)

“In political crises people cease to view others as people, and instead consider them merely a means toward an end or, in this case, an obstacle to a desired end.” (Heinrich, Chapter 6… timely, no?)

“Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow is in God’s hands. No regrets, no worries. I can put all my energies into this day.” (Katarina, Chapter 8, but this peace was not easily won)

Calm Before the Storm is book 1 in Janice L. Dick’s Storm series. Book 2, Eye of the Storm, is expected to release in December 2020. The series was originally published by Herald Press and is now out of print. I’m glad to see new editions being released in print and ebooks as part of The Mosaic Collection. For more about the author and her work, visit her website.

[Advance review copy provided by the author. My opinions are my own.]

Follow me on BookBub

New Releases in Christian Fiction (August 2020)

August 2020 New Releases from Members of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). 

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

 


Contemporary Romance:

 

The Price of Dreams by Toni Shiloh — Ballet has always been my life, but one terrible moment may have destroyed everything I’ve worked so hard for—especially my title of Octavia Ricci, principal ballerina. I thought for sure my physical therapist, Dr. Noah Wright, could help me obtain my dream once more, but he wants more than I’m prepared to give. I’ve seen firsthand the trials of interracial relationships. I’m a product of one myself and promised I’d never put my hopefully-someday kids through that drama. Everyone keeps telling me to let go of other people’s expectations, but I’m just not sure I can. Besides, if my dreams of returning to ballet are futile, what hope is there in seeking unconditional love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Peace in the Valley by Kelly Irvin — After a devastating wildfire sweeps through her town, one young Amish woman is shown a different way to practice her faith . . . but pursuing it could cost her everything she holds dear, including the man she loves. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

 


Contemporary:

 

The Plans We Made by Kathryn Cushman and Lauren Beccue — Caroline Chapman is reeling from a broken engagement. Determined to start again, she moves cross-country for her dream job of planning events in the historical mansions of Newport, Rhode Island. Just as her life is getting back on track, she gets an email that shakes her very foundations. Linda Riley’s life looks picture perfect – a wonderful husband, two great kids, involved in church and the community. Then comes the diagnosis that shatters the facade. In order to save her son’s life, she must reveal secrets that can rip everything apart. Connected by more than painful circumstances, these two women discover a sacred bond. In this beautiful story of love, loss, and the fight for life, Caroline and Linda experience the reality that things don’t always go according to The Plans We Made. (Women’s Fiction from White Glove)

 


Historical:

 

In High Cotton by Ane Mulligan — While the rest of the world has been roaring through the 1920s, times are hardscrabble in rural South Georgia. Widow Maggie Parker is barely surviving while raising her young son alone. Then as banks begin to fail, her father-in-law threatens to take her son and sell off her livelihood—the grocery store her husband left her. Can five Southern women band together, using their wisdom and wiles to stop him and survive the Great Depression? (Historical from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

The Heart of Courage by Lynne Basham Tagawa — In 1753, troubling news comes to Russell’s Ridge… Susanna Russell longs to escape her valley home. When war breaks out, she gets her wish to study in fabulous Williamsburg. But she realizes she’s lost something important along the way. Something—and someone. James Paxton is studying for the ministry. But when violence threatens the valley, his path becomes clouded. What is God’s will for his life? The answer is alarming—and impossible. Red Hawk spies white surveyors near his home, a harbinger of trouble to come. Shawnee chiefs go to Philadelphia to treat for peace, but the unthinkable happens, and Red Hawk loses all he once held dear. Then he has a strange dream. What can it mean? (Historical from Blue Rock Press)

 

 


Historical Romance:

 

Heart of a Warrior by Angela K. Couch — All Christina Astle wants is to reach Oregon before her baby is born, but the wagon train is attacked, and her husband killed, stranding her in a mountain labyrinth. Raised in the East, within civilization’s embrace, survival is not a skill she’s learned. Neither is evading the lone warrior dogging her trail. Disgusted by the greed and cruelty of men like his white father, Towan has turned to the simpler existence of his mother’s tribal people. He is not prepared for the fiery woman who threatens to upturn his entire life … and his heart. (Historical Romance from Prism [Pelican Book Group])

The Shopkeeper’s Widow by Izzy James — When the love of her life returns with a load of smuggled firearms, she must discover a new way to happiness. (Historical Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

Dinah’s Dilemma by Linda Shenton Matchett — Dinah Simpkins has no chance of making a good marriage. Her outlaw brothers and her father’s gambling addiction have ruined the family’s reputation. Then the Westward Home and Hearts Matrimonial Agency provides an opportunity for a fresh start. After Dinah arrives in Nebraska, she discovers her brothers played a part in the death of her prospective groom’s first wife. As a former Pinkerton detective Nathan Childs knows when someone is lying. The bride sent by the matrimonial agency may be beautiful, but she’s definitely hiding something, and he has no intention of marrying her until he uncovers the truth. But an easier solution may be to send her packing. Then his young daughter goes missing. He and Dinah must put aside their mutual hurt and mistrust to find her. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

Katherine’s Arrangement by Blossom Turner — Marrying him is her only choice to save her family, but Josiah Richardson isn’t at all the man she expected. A marriage of convenience is the last thing she wants, but there doesn’t seem to be a better option for her family or herself. Meanwhile, Josiah works hard to befriend Katherine, to earn her trust and win her love. And Katherine is pleasantly surprised to find herself drawn to Josiah, until an unexpected friendship tears apart all they’ve worked for. Where once the promise of love had budded between Josiah and Katherine, now they wonder what to do with their so-called marriage. Is love strong enough to weave its healing power through two broken hearts? (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

The Black Midnight by Kathleen Y’Barbo — Called to London by her great grandmother Queen Victoria, former Pinkerton agent Alice Anne von Wettin goes undercover to assist Scotland Yard in catching Jack the Ripper after working a similar case in Austin, Texas. (Suspenseful Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

 


Romantic Suspense:

 

Accidental Target by Theresa Hall — Allison Moore can’t deny what she sees—a lifeless hand sticking out of a tarp in the back of a crashed pickup truck. Seconds later, she’s on the run with a murderer on her heels. Nowhere is safe and no one can be trusted…except police sergeant Jackson Archer. But with someone set on silencing her, can Jackson keep his promise of protection? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Minutes to Die by Susan Sleeman — It’s the intel every agent fears—terrorists have been smuggled into the country intent on unleashing the most deadly attack since 9/11. With the threat imminent, FBI Agent Kiley Dawson and ICE Agent Evan Bowers are charged with taking down this terrorist cell. Only problem is, Kiley blames Evan for the death of her former partner, and she can barely be in a room with him. But with millions of lives on the line, she has no choice. If it wasn’t for a bad call Evan made, Kiley’s former partner would still be alive, and Evan has to live with that guilt for the rest of his life. When he starts falling for her, the agent’s death seems an impossible obstacle—but it’s also the last thing he needs to think about. As the terrorist plot veers toward targeting Kiley’s family, the two are pushed to the breaking point in a race to save countless lives. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

 

Speculative:

 

Kokopelli’s Song by Suzanne J Bratcher — Seventeen-year-old twins Amy Adams and Mahu Sekatewa team up with Mahu’s friend Diego James to stop ancient evil from tipping our universe into chaos. (Speculative from Scrivenings Press)

 
Rose in the Desert by K.M. Daughters — Anna Babic Robbins, dubbed “The Rose Of The Adriatic” by pilgrims to her village, leaves her home bound for America. She is to deliver secrets concerning the fate of the world to a Chicago priest who will shepherd mankind to prepare to hear God speak. Four women travel to Las Vegas, and while there, snow begins to fall during triple digit heat. They soon learn that the non-accumulating snowfall is a worldwide phenomenon—a universal sign from God preceding the gift of a permanent sign inexplicable by earthly standards. With the culmination of these miraculous events, all their paths intersect, and God will reveal His plans to each soul on earth. Will mankind listen? (Speculative from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

Song of Mercy by Brenda S. Anderson, When a vlogger spots a man stalking young children, she’s spreads it on social media only to learn she may be mistaken–the man might be innocent. (Contemporary Romance)

Faith and Hope by Amy R. Anguish, Two sisters. One summer. Multiple problems. (Contemporary Romance)

Grace in the Desert by Christine Dillon, Must yesterday’s pain strangle tomorrow’s hope? (General Contemporary)

When Heaven Sighs by Susan Guinn, Angels, death and mysticism surround the arrival of a Dead Sea Scroll in Nashville, Tennessee as a dedicated homicide detective and a local pastor struggle to capture the murderers of two young men brave enough to believe in the scroll’s unique message. (Mystery)

Where She Belongs by Pamela Harstad, A Hawaiian woman desires love and struggles to belong, but a murder changes everything. (Romantic Suspense)

Two Hearts by Ruth Kyser, Tory Hendricks visits a guest ranch in the Hill Country of Texas where she meets the owner, Reed Montgomery. Even though they’ve both decided to remain single, they become good friends. The question is, does God have something more in store for them than just friendship? (Contemporary Romance)

Legacy Redeemed by Robin Patchen, Vanessa will fight to rescue her sister. Caleb will fight to protect Vanessa. But Abbas has evil plans for them all. (Romantic Suspense)

No Secrets No Lies by Tamara Tilley, Charlie lives in hiding. Hunter lives in the limelight. She is afraid to be a part of his world. He cannot imagine her not being in it. (Contemporary Romance)

Devil’s Cauldron by Michael Jack Webb, The FBI asks an ex-Special Forces Ranger once accused of domestic terrorism to investigate a Black Swan event in Antarctica. He must battle interdimensional, supernatural enemies attempting to regain power over humanity after ten-thousand years. (Supernatural Thriller)

I’ll Be Yours for Christmas by Dalyn Weller, Christmas magic in the Cascade Mountains. (Contemporary Romance)

Follow me on BookBub

Love One Another (Guest Post)

Photo credit: Pixabay

Love One Another

by Steph Beth Nickel

A simple walk through Walmart. That’s when it hit her. I don’t think I can do this mask thing for the long haul.

Deep breath. You’ll be okay.

Thankfully, with God’s help, she talked herself off the ledge. But it was scary. It was the first time she could, in a small way, empathize with those who deal with full-fledged panic attacks.

This isn’t a post about the benefits and drawbacks of wearing masks. It’s about something far more important. It’s about love and respect.

Years ago, our former pastor said we can’t know for sure what motivates a person to speak and act the way they do. We may have our suspicions, but two people can do exactly the same thing for entirely different reasons.

It breaks my heart to read how people are attacking one another on social media. Like many people, I find conflict upsetting—even when I’m not directly involved.

While some conflict is inevitable, much is avoidable—especially when it stems from the assumption that we know why people are choosing to respond to COVID-19 in the way they are.

This situation isn’t going away anytime soon—barring divine intervention. How can we love one another well?

Here are nine ideas:

  1. Draw close to the Lord. We can only love others well if His love becomes a wellspring in us, bubbling up and overflowing to those around us.
  2. Be kind to yourself. It’s especially important these days to take care of ourselves. It’s not selfish; it’s vital.
  3. Admit it when you’re struggling in one way or another. We all need at least one confidante in our life who will actively listen as we pour out our heart, someone who won’t simply spout platitudes and expect us to “get over it.”
  4. Become a good listener. Stephen Covey said, “Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.” I prefer the simpler version: listen to learn, not to respond.
  5. Begin a Gratitude Journal. While the situation can be overwhelming, when we deliberately examine our life for things to be grateful for, it changes our attitude—and that splashes over onto the people around us.
  6. Plan fun activities. Instead of grieving what we can’t do—at least for prolonged periods—it’s important to make the best of the situation. We are created for community. It’s important to enjoy time with family and friends, whether in person or online.
  7. Look for an opportunity to reach out to someone who is lonely. Even pre-COVID it was easy to neglect those who are isolated and on their own. It’s even harder for them these days. While we can’t necessarily go for a visit, we can write them a letter or give them a call. A simple act can brighten someone’s day more than we realize.
  8. Fellowship with other believers. The Lord used the analogy of a body for good reason. We truly need one another. Whether we get together in person or learn to use Zoom, it’s crucial to our spiritual wellbeing to spend time with other Christians. While watching a church service online can be beneficial, it isn’t the same as interacting with one another.
  9. Pray for one another. We see throughout the Scriptures that prayer is a command and an invitation. One of the most incredible things someone can do for us is pray. Why not let someone know today that you are praying for them—and don’t forget to do just that.

This list could be much longer, but these ideas provide a good jumping off point.

I’d love to hear how you are loving others in the midst of these challenging times.

Tags and Keywords

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is eclectically interested and eclectically involved. She is an author, blogger, a regular contributor to the HopeStreamRadio online radio station, a freelance editor, and birth doula. Steph brings her interests together under the Nurture and Inspire umbrella. Ladies, you’re invited to join her Facebook group by the same name: Nurture and Inspire

Review: Iced Over, by Heather Day Gilbert

Iced Over, Barks & Beans Cafe Mystery Series book 2, by Heather Day Gilbert

Iced Over, by Heather Day Gilbert (WoodHaven Press, 2020)

An accident on an icy road leaves one armoured car driver dead and the other in a coma—and a surprising amount of people looking for money stolen from the scene.

Macy Hatfield, co-owner of Barks & Beans with her brother Bo, discovers the injured man is uncle to one of their employees at the café and brother to one of her friends from church. Macy’s protective streak kicks in, and her curiosity isn’t far behind.

This is a light-hearted series, with no graphic scenes or profanity. The characters attend church, but that’s the only overt faith content you’ll see.

Being light doesn’t mean fluffy, though. While on the one hand we have Waffles, the adorable-but-clueless shelter dog who can’t behave, on the other we have teenaged Ethan (the injured man’s nephew) on regular dialysis and needing a kidney transplant. And we have stolen cash in West Virginia, but also international criminals with a wider agenda.

I enjoy being able to read mystery and suspense without getting tense or worried. The Barks & Beans series fits that bill nicely, and I like the characters—both human and animal. For the cat-lovers among us, Bo has a delightful kitten named Stormy.

Dog-wise, we have Coal, Macy’s Great Dane, and the various shelter dogs delivered to the café each day in hopes of finding a café patron who’ll adopt them. The food and drinks that come out of this café make it a place I’d definitely like to visit, and I’d like to visit with the dogs too.

Favourite lines:

Sometimes, in the empty spaces, it was almost like my heart was beating too loudly, shouting for someone else to hear it. [Macy thinking about living alone in a large house, Kindle location353]

I was about to raise his interest in buzzing off from Barks & Beans for good. “I understand,” I said, offering that honeyed smile of the South that meant you had another thing coming. [Macy again (the whole book is in her point of view), Kindle location 779]

Heather Day Gilbert writes cozy mysteries, romantic suspense, and Viking historical fiction, both clean mainstream and Christian. Iced Over is book 2 in The Barks and Beans Café Mystery Series. Book 3, Fair Trade, releases fall 2020. For more about the author and her work, visit heatherdaygilbert.com.

[Review copy provided by the author. My opinions are my own.]

Follow me on BookBub