Friday Friend–Laura V. Hilton

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 Laura V. Hilton is my Friday Friend (and yes, I know it’s Saturday!) and an award-winning, sought-after author with almost twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write and Putting on the New. Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye. They currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and home schools her two youngest children. When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas.

I’m excited to have Laura as my Friday Friend. I usually do a post or blog about their new book, but today we’re doing an interview with Laura about her Christmas novella, The Christmas Admirer.

Interview with Laura Hilton, author of The Christmas Admirer:

 

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What inspired you to write The Christmas Admirer?   My publisher was interested in another Christmas story, this one set in Jamesport. I had two characters left unclaimed at the singing after a wedding in The Amish Wanderer. One of them had her story told in Love by the Numbers, coming in February. I wondered at the other girl’s story and started writing it.

 

What is this story about? Paint a picture of the setting and explain why it’s special.  The story is set in Jamesport, Missouri, and it is a real life Amish community. My blurb is:

 Benaiah Troyer has loved Susanna King for as long as he can remember, but other than a lone summer filled with romantic buggy rides, marrying her remains an elusive dream. When his parents died in an accident a year ago, he broke up with her—for her own good. After all, they left him as the sole caregiver for his three younger sisters and his grandparents. What woman wants to step into a ready-made family like his? Still, he leaves her monthly gifts from “A Secret Admirer,” hoping she’ll know that someone loves her, even though he isn’t free to step forward.

Susanna has never gotten over losing Benaiah, and hopes he’s her secret admirer, but now the clock is ticking. Susanna’s father is remarrying in January and his wife-to-be doesn’t want to leave her Amish community and family in Iowa. So when Susanna’s daed sells his glass-blowing business to his right-hand man, Benaiah, she’s left with three options: 1) Go with Daed to his new home with a new frau and step-kinner, 2) Flush out her mysterious secret admirer, or 3) Resign herself to life as an old maid. She doesn’t want to follow Daed where his new frau is leading him. And number three isn’t happening. Marrying Benaiah is her greatest desire—but he broke her heart, and now he treats her like a pesky younger sister. Can she make him see her as a woman, one who could stand by his side as he cares for his family?

As Christmas approaches, Susanna and her friends start making gingerbread houses for select members of the community. Susanna plans for hers to go to Benaiah’s family. But while her gingerbread may find a home—will her heart?

Did you go on a research trip for writing this story? If not then describe what you did to make it believable.  I did go on research trips. I went to Jamesport initially when I researched for The Snow Globe and took pictures. And I went to a glassblowers shop in Springfield, Missouri to research that.

Benaiah Troyer is an interesting name for your story’s hero. How did you create it? Benaiah is a biblical hero who became King David’s bodyguard.  He has quite an interesting background and like King David has killed his own share of lions.

Describe Benaiah. What’s he like? Share his personality, passion and flaws.  Benaiah is the artistic type. Quiet, yet strong. He loves creating, he loves his family, but he doesn’t have enough faith that God will care for his needs—let alone everyone he’s responsible for. I know I can relate and I’m sure others can.

Susanna King is the heroine of your story. What’s she like? Describe her personality, looks and heart.  Susanna is driven. She wants what she wants and she will try to do it by hook or by crook. Which puts her and Benaiah and her father at odds because she’s butting heads with them.  She has honey blond hair, greenish-grey eyes and is average height.

Why does Benaiah love Susanna? Benaiah has loved Susanna since they were twelve and she helped him memorize lines for the Christmas play. They were best friends growing up which grew naturally into love.

What is it about Benaiah that draws Susanna into a relationship with him?  She admires how he always put her first, how he treated her and her grandmother, and like I said, their friendship grew naturally into love.

Why does marrying Susanna feel like “an elusive dream” to Benaiah?  His parents died, leaving him responsible for four younger sisters and his grandparents. He has a very limited income, little money for extras, and his home is a rundown rental. He doesn’t want to give up her life of ease and plenty to live in his reality of hardship. Not only that, but Susanna’s dad, a widower, is remarrying and moving him-and Susanna- to another state.

How has the pain of Benaiah’s past shaped his present?  It made him grow up and put the needs of his family before his own.

Why is Susanna’s “greatest desire” to marry Benaiah?  They’ve been together since they were twelve. They’ve courted since they were sixteen. They were promised to be married in the fall the year his parents died and changed it. Her love for him didn’t die. But she had to convince him she was willing to do whatever was necessary to win him.

What are the unique roadblocks that Benaiah and Susanna face on their journey to happily ever after?  Susanna’s dad is moving to Iowa , Benaiah is losing everything—including his job since he works for Susanna’s dad—and his home, and reality is scary.

What is the significance of gingerbread houses in this story?  I read a story once that included love potions and out of curiosity I looked up the ingredients. They are basically almost the same as for gingerbread. And since it is Christmas and a gingerbread house is a tradition in our family, that was a fun addition. It also worked into the faith message on Susanna’s part.

What was your favorite part of writing The Christmas Admirer? Why?  Benaiah and Susanna were such fun! Being madly in love but being forced apart yet together added tons of tension.

What do you want your readers to remember most about this story? The faith message is up to God, but what I came away with is God is bigger than the strongest lions you may face.

If you could spend Christmas Day with Benaiah and Susanna, what do you think that experience would include?  Tons of yummy food, laughter and family.

What is your favorite Christmas holiday treat (food or beverage)? Why?  My maternal grandma came from the Amish and she had these wonderful old fashioned sour cream cookies. I love them. We make some every year.

Do you have any closing comments?  Thank you for joining us, I hope you have the Merriest of Christmases with you and yours.

Thanks for the interview, Laura and Merry Christmas a few months early! Those cookies sound wonderful! Do you think you could share the recipe with my readers in the comment section?

GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

 

 

 

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Life is Like A Puzzle…

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So my new book, Puzzle House released a week ago. So I’ve been busy tweeting and posting and visiting blogs. Time to take a break and have some fun!

AMAZON LINK

A while back I asked my Facebook friends to finish this statement, life is like a puzzle because…. And here are a few of the answers in no particular order.

Life is like a puzzle because…

Francine Troyer: Because we look at the natural instead of at the Spirit.

Nancy Sonneman: the pieces don’t always fit

Keith Summers: it has a set border we can’t go beyond but the inside pieces though a jumble of different shapes, eventually fit together to make a beautiful picture.

Tina Leary Detweiler: Life is like a box of puzzle pieces, sometimes the pieces just seem to fall into place. Other pieces take a little work, sacrifice and faith. They will all come together to create a beautiful finished product. Makes me think of our creator. He is not done with me yet! My pieces have not all fallen into place but when they do, what a celebration of accomplishment it will be!

Amy Leigh Rohrer: Trying to make the puzzles fit is frustrating. I don’t like puzzles.

Linda Race Matye:  sometimes you think the piece you found fits but it’s the wrong one and you just have to keep looking.

 Amy Leigh Roher: Trying to make them fit is a lesson & that feeling of accomplishment is joyous

Joan Kiper: Because every day-like every piece-is different!

Blanche A. Rohrer: sooner or later, all the pieces fit

Joan Kiper: every day-like every piece –is different!

Carol Young: Life is like a puzzle because we can ponder over it for hours and yet, if we stap away from it for awhile the pieces come together…the same as our problems we face every day. Eventually, God sees us through. It all comes together.

Your turn to fill in the blank. Life is like a puzzle because….

 PS…Don’t forget to leave a comment so you’ll be entered in the drawing for Amazon Gift Card. To celebrate the release of PUZZLE HOUSE, I’m giving away a virtual basket of goodies! ONE lucky winner will win a $25 Amazon Gift Card plus their choice of one of my books (not Puzzle House) and an e-copy of Devotions from Puzzle House, the devotional companion book to Puzzle House. FIVE more lucky winners will receive their choice of one of my books (Not Puzzle House) and an e-copy of Devotions from Puzzle House. FIVE more lucky winners will receive an e-copy of Devotions from Puzzle House. That’s ELEVEN winners in all!

To enter, simply leave a comment on any of the posts that have the word PUZZLE in the title, including today’s post. The last day to enter the contest will be NOVEMBER 9!

PUZZLE HOUSE–A Different Sort of Book

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So PUZZLE HOUSE is completely different from the other books I’ve written. I classify it simply as a Christian story–a parable if you will. My definition of a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly message. I like to think that defines all my books, but certainly PUZZLE HOUSE.

AMAZON LINK

Here’s the blurb:

 

Life isn’t a box of candy—it’s a puzzle!

Rachel Summers is all about Rachel Summers…until the day she crashes headlong into a semi-truck. As her life hangs in the balance, she has a visitor who asks a very simple question.

Does she want to be healed or to be a healer?

She makes her choice, but the journey doesn’t go quite the way she expected.

And so Rachel now runs Puzzle House. Every guest is different and yet the same. They all come to the Puzzle House for one reason and one reason only—to be healed, usually from a life-threatening illness. Sometimes they receive their miracle, and sometimes they discover there’s more than one kind of healing.

Nia is a fifteen-year-old African-American girl who is dying. The doctors have told her there is nothing else to be done. No more treatments. No more hope. No more life. And she’s angry about that. Very angry. Against her wishes, Nia’s aunt brings her to The Puzzle House.

Together, Nia and Rachel will take a journey that will change both their lives.

 

PUZZLE HOUSE has a much deeper spiritual message than my suspense and mystery novels. And because of that, I’ve written a companion devotional book to go along with it–Devotions from PUZZLE HOUSE.

AMAZON LINK

DEVOTIONS from PUZZLE HOUSE takes the puzzle theme from the novel and delves deeper into God’s Word.

PUZZLE HOUSE GIVEAWAY!!

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It’s that time again! A new release for me means a giveaway for you!

PUZZLE HOUSE will be released today–October 6! To celebrate the release of PUZZLE HOUSE, I’m giving away a virtual basket of goodies! ONE lucky winner will win a $25 Amazon Gift Card plus their choice of one of my books (not Puzzle House) and an e-copy of Devotions from Puzzle House, the devotional companion book to Puzzle House. FIVE more lucky winners will receive their choice of one of my books (Not Puzzle House) and an e-copy of Devotions from Puzzle House. FIVE more lucky winners will receive an e-copy of Devotions from Puzzle House. That’s ELEVEN winners in all!

To enter, simply leave a comment on any of the posts that have PUZZLE HOUSE in the title, including today’s post. The last day to enter the contest will be NOVEMBER 9!

GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

 

 

My Friday Friend–Alexis A. Goring

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Alexis A. Goring is my Friday Friend today and is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ. She’s here to talk about her book, A Second Chance.

Buy links: Amazon (http://amzn.to/2f7waYL)

Barnes and Noble (http://bit.ly/2uguncU)

Book blurb: Newly single food critic and newspaper reporter Traci Hightower is done with dating. After the man of her dreams left her at the altar on their wedding day and ran off with the woman she thought was her best friend, Traci resolves to focus on work and resigns herself to being a bachelorette for life.  Marc Roberts is a political reporter who is known as Mr. Nice Guy, the one who always finishes last. However, Marc’s compassion and kindness are of invaluable help to his newly widowed sister Gina Braxton who is trying to raise her two kids in the wake of her firefighter husband’s death.  Traci and Marc may be the perfect match, but they don’t know it yet. With God’s guidance and the help of Gina’s matchmaking skills honed by her career as a bestselling romance novelist, there is hope for a happily ever after for these two broken hearts.

You can contact Alexis on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAlexisAGoring/ or her website at https://alexisagoring.jimdo.com. 

Thanks, Alexis, for stopping by.

GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

 

 

 

 

 

My Home–A Poem by Lillian Duncan

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MY HOME

My home—I love it.

Not because it’s perfect because I know it’s not. It has flaws and there’s much that needs to be fixed. That’s just the way it is with an older home—or most any home.

My home—I love it.

In spite of the flaws, most days it’s filled with smiles, kindness, and laughter. I feel safe and loved in my home—even if it’s not perfect. 

My home—I love it.

In spite of the flaws, it’s filled with history, tradition and culture. Some good and some bad—still I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. 

My home—I love it.

In spite of the flaws, it’s filled with opportunities and freedom. Freedom that many have given their lives to protect—a freedom that I cherish.

My home may not be perfect but I love it anyway.

God bless America!

How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?

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BOOK GIVEAWAY ALERT!

My Friday Friend is Michelle Griep. She’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Captured Bride, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest

For information on the book giveaway read to the bottom of the post!

She’s here to ask and answer the question:

 How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?

I’m frequently asked how long it takes me to write a book. That depends, of course, on how long the book is, but for an average 90-95k novel, I can do it in about 9 months. That includes my excessive editing and some research, assuming I have a basic knowledge of the era. If I don’t it takes longer. My newest release, however, is a gift book, meaning that it’s half the size of a regular novel, coming in at right around 45k words. That took me only 4 months to write.

So, now that you’ve got my numbers, how does that match up with other writers? Here are a some famous authors and their even more famous titles, along with the time it took them to write it.

GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell—–10 years

LES MISERABLES by Victor Hugo—-12 years

LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien—-16 years

A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens—-6 weeks

WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte—-9 months

TWILIGHT by Stephanie Meyere—3 months

THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald—-2 1/2 years

HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE by J.K. Rowling—-6 years

So, as you can see, there is no standard time for writing a novel. Nor is there a standard time for reading said novels. This is the perfect time of year to grab a hot drink and a blankie, then cozy up on a couch for a nice read . . .and have I got a read for you!

12 Days at Bleakly Manor

A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger…and love? England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane. Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love. Pour a cup of tea and settle in for Book 1 of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series–a page-turning Victorian-era holiday tale–by Michelle Griep, a reader and critic favorite.

 

Thanks, Michelle. I loved seeing the stats on those books. I’m in awe that it only took 6 weeks to write A Christmas Carol! What about you, readers? Which one did you find surprising? Michelle has so kindly offered to give a copy of 12 Days at Bleakly Manor to one reader–print or ebook–the winner’s choice. Thanks so much, Michelle.

If you want to be entered to win the book, leave a comment and you’re entered. Contest will end on September 22!

God Bless & Good Reading!