Bringing the Book Baby Home

Nothing like welcoming a debut author with her new release! Cheri Dargan, an IOWA author, is offering a paperback copy of THE GIFT to a commenter. (It’s a WWII story…and the beginning of a saga…you’ll like it!)

Cherie, here you go!

I’ve been waiting for the past six months for my novel to be published. There’s no nursery to paint or stacks of onesies to wash and arrange neatly in a bureau. No need to stock the freezer, buy several boxes of disposable diapers, arrange stuffed animals in a room, or assemble a new crib. However, the experience feels familiar from two pregnancies. 

When I got the word that I could order books, I was excited, but it didn’t seem real. I developed several presentations to give at book talks and put together my first newsletter. I was running errands when the baby arrived on Oct. 21st. My husband sent me a text with a picture of four medium-sized boxes stacked up on our bench outside the front door. 

When I got home, I brought the boxes in and opened one, my heart beating fast. I lifted out a book and examined it, smiling. My husband took pictures of me holding the book. I sent them out to friends and family in a text and my sister said, “it’s beautiful!” I agreed. It’s a girl! The Gift, born October 21st at 8 ½ by 5 ½ inches and weighing 12.83 ounces. A week later, the hardbound edition arrived, and we admired its beautiful cover like adoring parents.  

One of my daughter’s friends read the book and posted a review. “I just finished reading your book and I just thought it was wonderful! I loved all the Iowa and Midwest references, and I really enjoyed the characters and the story. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series! Congratulations!”

And I thought, “She likes it! She likes our book baby. She wants to read Book Two!” Book Two is ready for Beta readers, and I have a few lined up. Then, as I juggle book events for book One, and get Book Two ready for publication, I need to get back to Book Three, which needs more development. 

Suddenly, I feel like a busy young mother, wiping her hands on the apron from doing dishes, checking on the baby, refereeing a squabble between the twins, and patting her pregnant belly. So far, I’ve written Books one through Five for the Grandmother’s Treasures series. It’s going to be fun to bring home all the babies!

Stay in touch with Cherie here:

Cherie Dargan

cheriedargan@gmail.com

www.cheriedargan.com  Author’s Site.

www.facebook.com/CherieDarganAuthor

LIFE SHOULD BE AN ADVENTURE – Middle-Grade Fiction

Susan Thogerson Maas joins us today with her two Middle-Grade Fiction novels. Growing up in the rainy, green state of Oregon, she loved to wander through the woods, discovering new wildflowers and birds. Her second favorite place was lying on the front lawn, lost in a book about nature or faraway lands. She still loves camping, hiking, and photography, as well as traveling to places she’s never seen before–life should always be an adventure!

Susan is offering a copy of each of her books, readers’ choice of paperback or e-book, to two different commenters.

Why Adults Can Enjoy Middle Grade Fiction

By Susan Thogerson Maas

What books did you most love as an elementary child? Older folks like me might remember classics like Anne of Green Gablesby L.M. Montgomery or The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis or perhaps A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. For me, that list would also include the complete list of Black Stallion books by Walter Farley—even though they are not exactly classics.

More recent books liable to become classics might be Wonder by R.J. Palacio, The Giver by Lois Lowry, or Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. While these books vary greatly in subject matter, they all have thought-provoking situations and themes that run deep. And that makes them just as meaningful for adults as for children.

Reasons to Read Middle Grade Books

Why not just stick to adult books? Why should adults bother to read middle grade (MG) novels? Here are a few reasons.

1. They are faster reads. Usually MG books are shorter than books meant for adults. Some can be read in a day or two, perfect for a short vacation, a long plane ride, or a couple of days in bed with the flu. And the language level will be a bit lower so you can understand it easily, even in a noisy airplane or with illness-induced brain fog. It won’t require as much concentrated effort as, say, a James Michener saga.

2. They can help you see things from a kid’s point of view. MG books cover a wide range of topics and issues. Divorce, sibling rivalry, bullying, low self-image, disabilities, conservation, war and peace—the list goes on. My first book, Picture Imperfect, is about a girl trying to find her God-given gift while dealing with a difficult aunt. And the heroine of Abbie’s Woods: Defending the Nest struggles against a bully and has parents who constantly bicker. Reading about such issues in a middle grade book may help parents (or grandparents) understand how children feel when caught up in difficult situations. 

3. They can make you feel like a kid again. Childhood has its problems, to be sure, but it is also a time of innocence and wonder. Remember what it felt like to lie on your back on the grass and watch the stars come out overhead? Or to catch the season’s first snowflakes on your tongue? Anne of Green Gables is a great example of a book with joy and wonder—mixed in with other emotions, of course. When you feel depressed and jaded from life, pick up a children’s book and return to that time in your mind. Reread your childhood favorites and try out some new children’s authors, as well.

Actually, writing Abbie’s Woods took me back to my childhood. Although the book is fiction, the woods are real. We lived next to them when I was growing up. There I learned to identify birds and wildflowers and came to appreciate the wonder of God’s creation. I hope I captured a little of that magic in the book.

4. They can take you to new worlds. MG books, especially today, are incredibly diverse. They cover every time period, including the future, as well as varied cultures and countries.  Books by Jacqueline  Woodson show what it’s like to be a black child growing up in America. Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman shows an example of people from many cultures working together to improve their neighborhood. In All the Ways Home by Elsie Chapman, a boy is sent to live with his father in Japan and ponders the meaning of family. And of course, books like A Wrinkle in Time or the The Chronicles of Narnia take us to imaginary worlds—but with a Christian message.

5. They can rekindle hope. Books written for adults can sometimes be discouraging. They may have depressing or ambiguous endings. While that may be true to life—things certainly don’t always go as we would like, and our best-laid plans can fail—reading such a book may leave a bad taste in our mouth. Most middle grade books, however—even those that cover difficult subjects—end in hope. There will be a lesson learned, perhaps a new friend made, and a feeling that things will be okay. Bird, Horse, and Muffin by Susan D. Hill is an example of a book where everything possible goes wrong for the main character. And yet God works through her uncle to restore her faith and hope. 

My own books will always end in hope. In Picture Imperfect, JJ may not win the photo contest and her dream camera, but she begins to understand the faith of her great-grandmother and make it her own. In Abbie’s Woods, Abbie faces her parents’ possible divorce and the destruction in her wooded sanctuary. However, with the help of an older neighbor, she draws closer to God and learns the power of forgiveness.

So why not take a break from your usual genre and try something new—or revisit something from your childhood? Read some good middle grade books and share them with children you love. You will all be richer for the experience

Links:

Website: Adventures in Wonder:  http://www.susanmaas.com/

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/authorsusanmaas/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/susanmaas

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/maas1766/

Link to buy books: http://www.susanmaas.com/book-table/

Sign up for  Susan’s newsletter, with inspirational thoughts, nature photography, and activity ideas for kids/families. When you sign up, you receive a free pdf book entitled: “Hands On, Brains Active: Learning Adventures for Kids”. https://mailchi.mp/ba84e308796c/handsonbrainsactive .

My Brother Javi

Tracy Stopler’s story brought up lots of questions for me. Dog lovers out there may have already thought these through, but ponder is good. Here, she shares with us her perspective on human-animal relationships. If you love animals, you will really enjoy this book!

And what a unique giveaway she’s offering–your puppy could become famous! Read all about it!

If you are a book reader, dog lover, and interested in reading about dogs, I can add your puppy (or someone else’s) to My Brother Javi before you purchase the book. If interested, please send me (via Facebook PM) your puppy’s headshot photo, name and age, I will add him/her to the updated Thanksgiving paperback edition of My Brother Javi. It also makes a great gift for someone else’s pup. ???

Have to add that Tracy’s a nutritionist…and here’s a photo of a cookie from her culinary creations.

The depth of “human” emotions in canines…do they have a sense of humor? I would swear that my dogs laugh. Only a dog parent would understand. I can throw my little Bella up in the air, catch her, and believe I hear her say, “More, more.” With Binah, a bit older and a bit heavier, I play, “tickle, tickle,” and again, I hear her saying something like, “Oh, Mommy, you are so silly, ha, ha, ha!”  
The degree to which a human-pet relationship can bring healing? I can share first-hand that Javi was my first dog, and since then I have learned to take life less seriously. I have laughed more and cried less. I now share space with Binah (who is a ten-year-old Havanese) and Bella (who is a rambunctious two-year-old Aussie doodle) and I no longer look for material things to bring me joy, unless it’s toys or treats for my fur-kids. 
What motivated you to write this story? When Javi passed away in 2011 I didn’t know how to channel my grief. At the time I was writing my debut novel, The Ropes That Bind  and decided to weave Javi into the story. Doing that actually empowered me. After that book was published in 2016, I immediately started writing My Brother Javi: A Dog’s Tale. I wanted to tell this story in Javi’s voice. By this time Binah had joined the family and it felt right. I absolutley loved being in their heads, or at least pretending to be. I’m smiling now just thinking about that writing process. I had so much fun. 
Any obstacles encountered along the way?  I don’t know if I would call them obstacles, but there was that difficult-to-write-section where I couldn’t stop crying and then the ending, oh, geez. But I truly feel that my emotions made the editing process better. It made me feel connected to Javi, and write with him rather than about him.  
Do you see Javi/Binah making a difference in this old hurting world?   Well, for starters, Binah was a gift from Java. The dream in the story was true, but what was too unbelievable to write was that someone (a stranger) brought Binah (her name was Oreo at the time) to my home asking if I can rescue her. She was black and white the way she appeared in my dream. I took that as a sign. I changed her name to Binah because Binah means understanding in Hebrew, and that was exactly what I had been searching for.

So, Binah provided some understanding and immediately changed my life. Soon after Binah made herself at home, the two of us started visiting senior citizens. Any dog lover will tell you that dogs have the gift of magically erasing lonliness. During COVID I was fostering Bella. It was supposed to be a foster, I mean I was actively seeking a home for her, but, I, huh, guess I failed.

That little one has kept me on my toes, not to mention, contributed to my torn ACL two years ago, and my broken toe two days ago. She is lucky that she is so cute. LOL! Everyone in the neighborhood loves them and, so yes, my girls, and dog (pets) in general are here to help people heal so people can become their best and make their contribution to beautify this world. 

TRACY STOPLER, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, with a Master of Science in Nutrition from New York University, and the nutrition director at NUTRITION E.T.C. in Plainview, Long Island. Tracy has been an adjunct nutrition professor at Adelphi University for 25 years and teaches workshops on Mind/Body Medicine. Tracy is the author of two award-winning novels: The Ropes that Bind and My Brother Javi: A Dogs Tale. Look for her next novel, We All Fall Down in 2023. 


To watch the one-minute book trailer for My Brother Javi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4G0DeLhx2AYou are invited to watch the two-minute book trailer for The Ropes That Bind https://youtu.be/bXDSlQOUWIU
Tracy’s 14-minute TEDx talkhttps://youtu.be/IowLwYXdhR4

Connect with Tracy:

Tracy Stopler TracyStopler@gmail.com
Amazon Author Linkhttps://amazon.com/author/tracystopler

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/15633962.Tracy_Stopler

Facebook Author/Baker link https://www.facebook.com/Tracy-Stopler-Author-and-Baker-108944818574934/
LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/tracy-stopler-m-s-r-d-02a0626

Tracy Stopler, M.S.,R.D.President, NUTRITION ETC, Inc. Plainview, New York
Nutrition Professor, Adelphi UniversityGarden City, New York
Award-winning author, The Ropes That Bindwww.TheRopesThatBind.com

Award-winning author, My Brother Javi: A Dog’s Tale
www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4G0DeLhx2A

<Javi Book Award Feathered Quill.jpg><Tracy and Binah.jpg>

Writing Reviews and Poems and Novels, oh MY!

Authors love receiving reviews, that’s for sure! During the past two weeks, we’ve been delighted that so many of our ARC readers really enjoyed our new HILL COUNTRY CHRISTMAS.

One of our reviewers, Cathy Fiorello, came to my attention through an online writers’ workshop last summer and we kept corresponding. Since then, I’ve read some of her work, and recently, Cathy’s review of A H ill Country Christmas/Hope for Hardscrabble Times caught my attention, perhaps because I can relate to being an “outsider” and finding Texas history so intriguing.

See what you think:

A Hill Country Christmas – Amazon review

I’m not a Texan, y’all. I’m an East Coast, New England, city girl. I’m not a history buff, and I never knew what a topsy-turvy doll was. But I was sent a copy of A Hill Country Christmas – Hope for Hardscrabble Times, with the possibility of writing a review of it. Here’s my personal opinion of this book: it’s lovely. It made me feel wistful for something I’ve never known.

Most of the stories were written about a simpler time when people worked harder than I do and went through more random sorrow than I’ve gone through. But there was a dignity to their lives, their faith, and the way they loved. 

The book contains seventeen stories about happenings in the great land of Texas, arranged chronologically from 1835 to 2021. Reading them gave me a respite from the disillusionment of the post-modern age of information I live in.  I said respite instead of escape because a respite can produce growth instead of numb avoidance. The book made me want to change – slow down, appreciate nature, my family, savor a slow cup of coffee. It made me want to really listen to people – something that doesn’t always happen in my break-neck life. 

Favorite stories: A Castroville Christmas Eve, The Made-over Christmas, Christmas Conundrum, The Deer Hunters’ Ball, and Lo Nuestro.Read it for Christmas, or when it’s hot out. It will help you lean into kindness and simplicity.

Putting extra thought into these phrases…wistful for something I’ve never known…lean into kindness and simplicity…shows a literary writer at work. That word “literary” means delving a bit deeper by seeking unique phrases to clarify or define one’s meaning, thus creating vivid images for the reader.

Cathy also writes novels and poetry–a traditional publisher recently requested the full manuscript of her debut novel. I expect we’ll soon be hearing more from this Northeastern girl!

Connect with Cathy on FaceBook or at cathyfiorello.com.

Challenges of Chronic Illness

A few weeks ago, I met Hannah Wingert at the Preston, MN library and learned that besides being a mother of four and working at the library, she’s written a book published last year. After reading this non-fiction wealth of encouragement for those navigating debilitating illnesses, especially during their parenting years, I’m astounded Hannah found the time and energy to devote to writing.

Her story and suggestions about living with the emotional and physical challenges of chronic illness most likely have something to say to just about any reader, whether in their parenting years or not. I know I could relate as someone in recovery from a couple of accidents.

I learned a new term… Spoonie. Have some of you already heard of this? (Notice the spoons on the cover.)

Hannah agreed to an interview and is offering a paperback copy of her book, Yet Will I Praise Him to a commenter here. Perhaps her perspective ignites questions for you–please feel free to ask her, and also please share this post widely, as she desires to help as many readers as possible. Thanks!

Interview:

How is coping with a chronic disease different from other challenges you see people face?

It really isn’t. Most people face challenges at some point in their lives and the way we handle them boils down to “will I let this make me bitter or better?” The truths of God’s Word apply to all circumstances and struggles.

How did you decide your book would focus on moms?

After receiving my diagnosis of EDS, I decided to look for a book about being a mom with a chronic illness from a faith based perspective to help me deal with my new reality, but couldn’t find any. So, I decided to write one because I figured that if I was looking for something like that, other moms might be too.

What is the most practical, helpful daily advice you have been given along the way?

Honestly, I don’t even remember who told me this, but the most helpful advice I ever received was to take one step at a time and just get through the next thing in front of you. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and anxious about what’s coming, or the unknowns, or even how much I have on my to-do list and how little energy I have to accomplish it.

But if I focus on just getting through that difficult, pain-filled day, or that first thing on my to-do list, I can keep from falling apart. Shortly after someone gave me that advice, I happened to read Matthew 6 and the last verse in that chapter (verse 34) says “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” It cemented for me how good that advice really was!     


What would you say to someone who has just discovered they have a long road ahead of dealing w/a chronic illness?  


Allow yourself to go through the stages of grief. Learn as much as you can about your condition because often patients have to be the experts when the doctors are not. Connect with others going through similar struggles for support and give yourself grace on those bad days. 

 

What is it about chai lattes that has you hooked?

I’ve never liked coffee so quite a few years ago, when I was at a coffee shop with my mom, she urged me to try a chai latte. I took one sip and was hooked! Some people have to have their coffee everyday, but for me it’s a chai latte. 

The link to purchase Hannah’s book:  https://www.amazon.com/Yet-Will-Praise-Him-Parenting/dp/1649600119

LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE

Hope for Hardscrabble Times – A Hill Country Christmas

Let me introduce you to my new writer friend, Shannon Mcfarland. She’s a “born writer” contributing a story to our A Hill Country Texas–Hope for Hardscrabble Times collection. You’ll see here how her observations on a simple snail flow. LOVELY! Reprinted with permission, first published on FB page Hope For Hardscrabble Times, August 20, 2022.

Hey y’all, Shannon here! I recently recovered from Covid. Thankfully, my symptoms were mild and the worst side effect was the frustration of being quarantined at home. I found working from home to be terribly boring and was anxious to get back to my normal routine of nonstop movement. Now my morning routine was taking a Covid test, being hopeful for a negative response, and being disappointed when it would read positive.

One morning I was especially pouty over my positive test (although I did make myself feel a little better with the reminder that at least it wasn’t a positive pregnancy test.) and decided to go water the plants in my drought stricken yard. I had transplanted a jasmine from our old house and was doing my best to keep it alive in the brutal summer heat. Usually, this means I hurriedly dump water on it as I rush off to do something else.

This morning, I decided to take my coffee out with me and sit on the porch next to the Jasmine while watering it slowly. As I gently poured out the water, I noticed the ground next to the jasmine moving… right before a tiny snail popped his head above ground looking for water. I looked around for a leaf that would make a suitable cup.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO

https://www.facebook.com/109951648454008/posts/pfbid0pnKKc6AgKJL41qg7b54i4LaEVkq8uV82abXgK6DPTi2DKNeC8ja3iKCfS8GSCm7tl/?vh=e&extid=0&d=n

Then I carefully dripped water off of my finger tips into the curled underside of the leaf before positioning it close to the snail. I sat lost in the moment and watched captivated as the snail greedily drank the water from the leaf. The experience reminded me of a favorite childhood book about fairies and elves having picnics and dances with garden creatures under a full moon. I always wished I could join their fun.

Now here I was, sharing the morning with a snail. Me with my cup of coffee, him with his leaf of water. The snail was on his third leaf of water when it occurred to me to see if I could get a video. I have since sat on the porch with my coffee in hopes my snail friend might be enticed to come join me for a fresh leaf of water.

So far, Mr. Snail has declined. While I can’t say I am happy I had Covid, I can say that I will always be grateful one of the side effects was slowing down enough to enjoy a morning with a snail.

Gail here–hopefully, your end-of-summer is providing moments like this. Moments to reflect, to ponder, to connect! We have been having fun connecting over on the HOPE FOR HARDSCRABBLE TIMES FB page–come on over and join us for news of our Christmas Collection and the upcoming book tour!

Riding in A Covered Wagon– not all it’s cracked up to be!

Donna Schlachter, Author and Story Teller, visits us this week with her new novel, Calli. Words that paint pictures, pictures that tell stories, and stories that change hearts. Read on for information she learned researching her latest novel and a GIVEAWAY.

I love western movies. The long rides into the sunset. Horses that always do what you ask of them. People who help you out of a tough spot. The bad guy always gets what’s coming to him. And, of course, travel in a covered wagon–comfortable, convenient, and carefree.

What’s that? Wrong!?

But that’s the way movies show them, isn’t it? Rolling along across the flat prairie. Children skipping alongside. Butter churned by the end of the day. Complete dinners prepared over a campfire. Coffee always available.

As any of the hundreds of thousands of westward emigrants could attest—and often did, in their journals, letters home, and books—covered wagons and their journeys weren’t as easy a way to journey as we think.

In researching my recent book, Calli, I discovered the following facts which I found very interesting:

  • Although most movies show Conestoga wagons, they were rarely used in the west because they were too heavy to pull up and down mountains. Instead, the small and lighter wagon, often a simple farm or cargo wagon, was used.
  • Oxen were used even more often than horses. Oxen are stronger, can pull for more hours a day, and are more durable than horses.
  • Clambering into a covered wagon involves getting your body up at least five feet above the ground. Step stools were rare, so unless somebody stood on the bed and hauled you up, your path usually involved the wheel hub, the top rim of the wheel, then gripping the side of the wagon and hoisting your leg over. All in a skirt and several layers of petticoats that reached to your ankles, if you’re a woman. 

Giveaway: I will gift one lucky randomly-drawn winner with an ebook copy of Calli. Leave your answer to the following question AND include your email address cleverly disguised in this format: donna AT livebytheword DOT com  That way the spammers can’t find you, but we can!

Question: What’s the strangest vehicle or method of conveyance you’ve ridden/driven in. For me, the moto-taxis in Lima Peru. 

About Donna:

A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both. 

Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter! www.DonnaSchlachter.com

Anchored Hearts

Julie Arduini has visited DARE TO BLOOM before, but this time, she’s really been industrious! She’s introducing a the first novel in her six-book Surrendering Hearts series. She shares her unique plot idea with us, and is offering a choice of a paperback copy or an e-book to a commenter here.

I enjoy hearing the inspiration behind new things.  Couples and how they met. Employees and how they ended up in their career. Authors and how they came to the idea for their book. With my new release, Anchored Hearts, it’s quite the journey on how the book and series started.

 My new series, Surrendering Hearts, revolves around the question, what if a family with a unique birth story stayed in the national spotlight because of tragedy? It took a while to come to that question, but it all started with a chat one day I had with my sister. We were talking about unique birth stories and she encouraged me to write about it. One idea we tossed around was about donor siblings. We also talked about multiples.

I followed the McCaughey septuplets since their birth and looked forward to the annual interview Ann Curry would host showing the world how the family was doing. When that conversation came with my sister, I thought about a fictional family of multiples.

From there, I considered how inspired and challenged I was watching This is Us. The writing fascinated me. How did they create such complex characters and span those decades? When that drama started, I wondered could I even attempt writing anything with a big family at the center? 

It took years of starts and re-starts, but Surrendering Hearts is a fleshed-out six book series about the fictional Hart sextuplets from Upstate New York. Each sibling will get their own book to answer the question about the national spotlight. Each book will also show their quest to discover their own identity and find a love like the one their parents shared. 

First up is Jordyn, the oldest and the one having a hard time giving up control. What happens when she has a new job and colleague who is just like her?

Can two go-getters surrender their need to control and find a happily-ever-after?

Jordyn Bell Hart succeeds in most everything she does. Her promotion to morning show co-anchor blossoms her career in the same way her mother’s work did. Jordyn keeps tabs on her family and enjoys helping them grow. When life around Jordyn starts to change, can she surrender her desire to control?

Spencer Collins knows how to balance a busy life. He has his work as a reporter, his time caregiving for his grieving father, and looking out for his little brother. When he learns he’s the new co-anchor of a morning show with Jordyn Hart, can he handle working with a celebrity who brings a lot of challenges to life on and off the set?

Anchored Hearts

Genre: Christian/Clean & Wholesome romance

Ebook: https://www.amazon.com/Anchored-Hearts-Surrendering-Book-ebook/dp/B09XH1KVXD

Softcover: https://www.amazon.com/Anchored-Hearts-Julie-Arduini/dp/1733687645

Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to find freedom in Christ by surrendering the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—the chocolate. She’s the author of the new contemporary romance series SURRENDERING HEARTS (Anchored HeartsRepairing Hearts, +four more.) Her other romance series is SURRENDERING TIME (Entrusted, Entangled, Engaged.) She also co-wrote a YA series with her daughter, SURRENDERING STINKIN’ THINKIN’ (You’re Beautiful, You’re Amazing, You’re Brilliant.) Her stand-alone romances include MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN and RESTORING CHRISTMAS. Julie maintains a blog at juliearduini.com and participates in the team blog Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://linktr.ee/JulieArduini.

Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to find freedom in Christ by surrendering the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—the chocolate. She’s the author of the new contemporary romance series SURRENDERING HEARTS (Anchored HeartsRepairing Hearts, +four more.) Her other romance series is SURRENDERING TIME (Entrusted, Entangled, Engaged.) She also co-wrote a YA series with her daughter, SURRENDERING STINKIN’ THINKIN’ (You’re Beautiful, You’re Amazing, You’re Brilliant.) Her stand-alone romances include MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN and RESTORING CHRISTMAS. Julie maintains a blog at juliearduini.com and participates in the team blog Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://linktr.ee/JulieArduini.

A Heart To Cherish

I don’t often feature Romance authors here, but am happy to welcome Judith McNees, because the story behind her novel touches me. She’s out to make a difference in this old world! Hope you enjoy A HEART TO CHERISH. AND Judith is offering a free e-book to one commenter here.

The first seeds for the character Julia in A Heart to Cherish began to form in my mind back in 2011 when my husband and I went through foster parent training. In one of the classes, we listened to a panel of foster parents and former foster youth talk about different aspects of the foster care system. 

The thing that stuck out to me the most from that experience was hearing just how many children “age out” of foster care without being adopted. Perhaps I’d been naïve to think that, on the whole, the system was working. That day, my paradigm changed, and I realized that young people were leaving foster care by the thousands with no support system behind them.

Writing what I’m passionate about comes naturally, so when I got the stirring in my heart to write a novel last summer, having a character who was a former foster youth was an obvious choice for me. I wanted Julia to be a character who would show how heartbreaking it can be to grow up in this system but also leave my readers with a sense of hope. The love she experiences in her new “found family” helps her to grow beyond the loss and abandonment she went through many times over as an orphan and a foster child.

Just like Julia, it is very common for teens who “age out” of foster care to become homeless, and well over half of the girls become pregnant by the time they are twenty-one. Like Julia, more than half of them experience difficulties finding gainful employment by the time they are twenty-four. Though many of these teens report a desire to go on to college, as many as one quarter of them will fail to even graduate high school due to the number of times they have to switch schools as well as other problems that make it difficult to finish.

I’m very thankful for my own journey with foster care and adoption and the things I’ve learned along the way. It is my hope that, through Julia’s story, others will be encouraged to find their own ways to help as well. 

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Waiting for the Book (baby)

Cherie Dargan will soon be sharing her soon-to-be-released DEBUT NOVEL, The Gift. This Iowa tale with some surprises from family history marks the beginning of her Grandmother’s Treasures series. Like the Mama robin in our honeysuckle bush just outside my window, Cherie awaits the BIG MOMENT! If you’ve ever anticipated the arrival of either baby or book, I think you’ll appreciate her take on this season of life.

She’s offering a signed copy of THE GIFT to a commenter here. As you’ll see, there’s a very special person at the heart of Cherie’s story.

Every quilt has a story.” The Gift, 2022, WordCrafts Press.

So much energy goes into writing a novel–and then finding a publisher. We don’t talk enough about what happens after you sign the book contract, especially as a novice. I knew I needed to set up an author page on Facebook, create a website, order business cards, and open a new bank account. I made a list of what to do once the book arrives, but until then, I’m stuck waiting.  

A photographer took photos of me with some of the family “treasures” that inspired the series, including a chest built by my grandfather, filled with a dozen vintage quilts. I liked the photos, used them online, then began wondering what the book cover would look like–and will I like it? I looked at my friend Gail’s book covers and felt reassured because we have the same publisher. So, I work on editing the next book, wondering if this will be ‘the day’ that I hear something about my book’s publication or get a preview of the cover. 

Another friend’s new book, with the cover, page numbers and header formatted so nicely, stirred my emotions. I can’t wait for my book to come out! Then, it hits me. I’ve been nesting, something pregnant women do before the births of their babies. Expectant moms paint the nursery, buy a crib, clean, organize, and practice saying baby names out loud. They hope their babies will be healthy. They pat their tummies and stare at the ultrasound pictures in awe.

I don’t pat my tummy, but I worry–will people like my book? Read and review it? Will it help me launch my series? Did I pick a good title? Gail tells me ‌I’m having Braxton Hicks contractions and I’ll be fine once the “baby” is here. But it’s hard to be patient.

Aunt Jeanne in 1945 with her daughter

After all the hard work planning, researching, drafting, and revising the book, I imagine opening the first shipment. Holding my book. Presenting a copy to my Aunt Jeanne, 97, whose real-life experiences as a Rosie Riveter building bombers during WWII inspired me to create a character based on her. Just as I placed my babies in her arms, I can’t wait to sign my book and hand it to this lovely woman who has been like a mother to me.

Together, we’ll celebrate its ‘birth.’

Learn more about Cherie and how to contact her:

Cherie Dargan reinvented herself in retirement. She’s the President of her local League of Women Voters, manages several websites, and continues to research her family history, which goes back to the 1850s in Iowa. Her grandsons are the seventh generation to live in Iowa. 

She describes her writing as women’s fiction set in the Midwest, with a twist of history, mystery, faith, and love.

Grandmother’s Treasures, Book One, set in 2012, takes place in Jubilee Junction, Iowa—a frontier railroad town on the Jubilee River. Three big families—the Nelsons, O’Connors, and Carlsons—founded Jubilee Junction in the early 1850s. Each book in the series focuses on a quilt, a war, or an era in American history, and has dual timelines and narrators, starting with The Gift. 

Aunt Violet—one of the main characters—is based on Aunt Jeanne’s personality, faith, and enduring love for her family.


Retired Professor of Communications Author & Advocate/President, League of Women Voters of Black Hawk-Bremer Counties  

cheriedargan@gmail.com

www.cheriedargan.com
www.facebook.com/Cherie-Dargan-Writer-106756544789778