Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: A Year of Firsts

What a year! 2015 will go down in (my) history as the year dreams came true. It was a year of many first-time experiences in my writing career.

In March, I joined Coffee Cups & Camisoles, a group blog with fellow historical authors Jaime Jo Wright, Anne Love, and Erica Vetsch.

In May, my first published story, Four Brides and a Bachelor in The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection released, and I happened to be with a group of Minnesota authors on release day! It was so much fun to celebrate with Erica Vetsch, Michelle Griep, Julie Klassen, and many other lovely ladies.

Erica and I are both in The Most Eligible Collection!

That's author Julie Klassen buying my book! :)

I also had my first book signing event in May!

Over the summer, I wrote my first story for Love Inspired Historical (an imprint of Harlequin Books) in their Blurb2Book Contest. I was one of seven people contracted during the contest and I signed my first contract with them. My story, A Mother in the Making, releases in September 2016.

In July, I became a "multi-published" author, when my second story released with Barbour. My novella, A Groom for Josette, released in The Convenient Bride Collection.

The moment my second book arrived on my doorstep!
In 2015, I wrote three complete novels. One has been contracted and the other two are sitting on editors desks under consideration. It was the first time I have written more than one novel over the course of a year.

On the home front, this was the year I took my daughters on their first airplane ride. We went to Washington, D.C. in May and saw so many wonderful things. In September, my twin boys went off to Kindergarten, and for the first time in eleven years, I didn't have preschoolers in my home. My oldest daughter had her tonsils removed and then a couple months later she got braces, my second daughter started homeschooling, and my husband took the girls on their first hunting trip.

My beautiful family!
2015 has been an exceptional year. I thank God that all of us are healthy and happy, and we've made some incredible memories. In 2016 we look forward to many more adventures to come.

Thank you so much for coming on this journey with me. In 2012, I started this blog as a way to document my journey to publication and it's been such a blessing to see my dream come true. My prayer is that my journey would encourage you to take one of your own. If God has placed a dream on your heart, go after it! You never know what blessings He has in store.

Your Turn: What are the highlights of your year? What are your hopes and dreams for 2016?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Interview with Andrea Boeshaar

Today I'd like to welcome historical author Andrea Boeshaar to my blog. Andrea is a fellow author in The Convenient Bride Collection and she has a brand new release titled A Thousand Shall Fall. I'm excited to have her stop by and tell us a little more about herself.

Hello, Andrea! I always love to know about an author's journey to publication. How and when did you begin writing?

When my sons were young, I did a lot of reading—mostly secular romances. I had always loved to write and decided to try my hand at writing a romance novel. I got my first rejection letter in 1984. I learned then writing novels is much more difficult than it seems.

Then 7 years later, I came to Christ. It wasn’t long after that when I felt odd about writing secular romances. I wasn’t published yet, but working on a manuscript that did not honor God in any way. After attending one of Dr. Dennis Hensley’s 1-day seminars in Oak Brook, IL, I decided to write fiction and nonfiction that honors the Lord Jesus Christ.

My first book was published in 1994!

I'm thrilled that you write fiction that honors Christ. Can you tell us about your salvation experience?

I was saved by grace in 1991, although I had been searching for quite some time. A coworker, one of those "Jesus freaks" shared the Good News with me and I felt God tugging on my heart. I'm so thankful she obeyed the Lord's prompting to share biblical truth with me. My husband and sons were born again within six months of my salvation.

If you're anything like me, you have more words inside you than you know what to do with! Do you have a speaking ministry? If so, tell us about that.

Yes! I actually teach workshops to writers groups and speak on various topics at women's groups. In addition, I'm a writing coach, although I don't advertise. I mentor writers and help them realize their goals. I have more information about my coaching (and editing) on my website:
Speaking of authors, if you were to plan a writing retreat in which you can only have four other authors. Who would they be and why?

Wow, that's a tough choice. I know so many fabulous authors!! But I think I'd make it a Ladies' Night and I'd ask Francine Rivers, Robin Lee Hatcher, Beth Moore and my daughter-in-law. I admire these ladies' service to Christ. Each have touched my life in a significant way and I know I would learn more from them.

I saw that you're a writing coach. People are always telling me that they’d like to write a book someday. I’m sure they do to you, too. What would you tell someone who came up to you and said that?

I tell them, "Go ahead and write it." Then I add, "If you want a coach, look me up."  J

As a writer, I'm sure you share many things from your own life and experiences. Can you reveal one thing about yourself that readers may not know?

I’m a college student. That’s right. I’m in my mid-fifties and I’m earning my bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Concordia University-Wisconsin via the school’s Adult Learning program (6 to 8 week courses). I plan to go on for my masters, but first things first: my BA. The class I’m presently enrolled in is Interpersonal Communications.

Congrats on going back to school! I'm sure that took a lot of courage.

Here's a fun question: what is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you and how did you handle it?

Several years ago, I spoke to a group at Country Memories Farm in Manitowoc, WI. I had looked over the schedule online but arrived there with no minutes to spare and didn't realize the schedule changed. I ended up talking into the other speaker's time. When I found out, I was so embarrassed; however, the other speaker was actually relieved. She hates speaking and was dreading it. So God worked it all out the way He always does!

I'm sure she was relieved!

Let's switch gears and have you tell us about A Thousand Shall Fall.

I'm very excited about this novel. I think it's the best historical romance I have ever penned! It's titled, A Thousand Shall Fall and it's about a young woman, Carrie Ann Bell, who goes searching for her runaway sister in the Shenandoah Valley. But instead of finding her, Carrie Ann finds trouble when she ends up in the middle of a skirmish outside of Front Royal, Virginia.

Where can we find your book, and how can we find you online?

The book is the first in my Shenandoah Valley Saga. You can go here to “Look Inside” and read a sample before purchasing the book.

Readers can find me online at the following:

My website at:

And Twitter: @AndreaBoeshaar

Also, there is a fabulous Kindle Fire HD 6” Giveaway to celebrate the release of A Thousand Shall Fall. You can find that here.

Thank you for visiting today, Andrea! It was fun to learn more about you.
Readers: I'd love to hear your most embarrassing moments!
About A Thousand Shall Fall
Nineteen-year-old Carrie Ann Bell is independent and spirited. The only thing she really fears are the Union soldiers fighting against her Confederate friends. When her youngest sister runs away from home, brave Carrie Ann is determined to find her and bring her back. Disguised as a soldier, she sets off--only to find she's fallen into the hands of the enemy.

Her childhood friend Confederate Major Joshua Blevins has warned her against these Yankees: they're all devils, ready to inflict evil on unsuspecting young women. When Colonel Peyton Collier arrests her for her impersonation of an officer, it seems to confirm all her fears.
Soon, though, she finds herself drawn to the handsome, gallant colonel. He rescued her, protected her, and has been every inch the gentleman. Carrie Ann discovers that her foe has become her ally--and more than that, someone she could love. But the arrival of Joshua in the Union camp as a spy will test her loyalties. Will she protect someone who has been like family or be loyal to this stranger to whom she wants to offer her heart? When her world is being torn apart around her, whom should she trust?
Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, A Thousand Shall Fall is framed around compelling characters and a very romantic setting in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Andrea Boeshaar’s extensive research guarantees historical accuracy and romance genre enthusiasts and Civil War buffs alike will enjoy the Christian perspectives on actual historical events.
About Andrea Boeshaar
Andrea Boeshaar has been married for nearly 40 years. She and her husband have 3 wonderful sons, 1 beautiful daughter-in-law, and 5 precious grandchildren.

Andrea's publishing career began in 1994 when her first novel was released by Heartsong Presents (Barbour Publishing). She went on to write numerous romances for the book club and was voted one of the line's "Favorite Authors" several times over.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Mistress of Tall Acre, by Laura Frantz

The Mistress of Tall Acre, a much anticipated novel by Laura Frantz, arrived in my mailbox on Saturday. To say I was excited would be an understatement. I have been waiting for this book since I finished Laura's last story, Love's Fortune, a year ago.
The moment I opened the package!
I don't squeal often, but I did then. :)
There is no question in my mind that Laura Frantz is one of the premiere historical voices in Christian Fiction today. Her books have a captivating quality that make you feel as if you are standing inside the story, watching it unfold from the best vantage point in the room. Intrigue, passion, and faith are artfully woven together with vibrant colors and textures. Her voice is stunning, her attention to historical detail is superb, and her characters are breathtakingly realistic. She brings early American history to life in a way few other authors achieve.
The very first scene of The Mistress of Tall Acre grabbed me by the heartstrings and I knew I was in for an emotional journey. As General Seamus Ogilvy, a hero of the American Revolution, meets his infant daughter for the first time, we fall in love with both the general, and the baby girl. This scene is a study in contrasts. Weakness and strength, protection and vulnerability, longing and satisfaction. I felt an instant bond with Seamus and I began to root for him, even before I knew who his enemies were. 
The second scene begins five years later, at the end of the Revolution, when we meet Sophie Menzies, General Ogilvy's neighbor. She is a woman broken in body and soul, but not in spirit. The war has taken almost everything from her, but it has not stolen her hope.
When Seamus comes home from the war, a widower with a young daughter to raise, he and Sophie agree to a marriage of convenience. Their neighborly friendship soon turns to something more--until a woman from Seamus's past arrives on his doorstep, and threatens the life they've built together.
As always, Laura's book mesmerized me. I read it in one day (thank you to my husband and children for the mini-vacation!).
I love so much about her stories--but I think it's the romance that enchants me so. I'm not exactly sure how she does it, but she makes me feel as if I'm falling in love right along with the characters--so when they rejoice, I rejoice, and when they mourn, I mourn. But there is always hope in the happily-ever-after, which Laura delivers with finesse.
I loved The Mistress of Tall Acre, and I highly recommend this book. But beware: you won't want to put it down. ;)
Happy Reading!
**I have a winner from my guest post with Karen Barnett! The winner of a copy of Beyond the Ashes is Edward Arrington! Congratulations, Edward. I'll be contacting you soon.**

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Historical Photos: Guest Post by Karen Barnett

Today I'm welcoming author Karen Barnett to my blog!! I had the pleasure of getting to know Karen better at our agency retreat last October in Monterey. Karen writes historical novels, so we had a lot in common. Today she's talking about finding inspiration in historical photos, something I'm fond of myself. My most recent novel, which I entered in the Blurb to Book Contest with Love Inspired Books, was inspired by a photo I found years ago of a father, his four children, and his wife who was in a coffin at their feet. It's an eerie picture, but one that inspired a whole story. Join me as we learn about a photo that inspired Karen!
~ ~ ~ ~
Karen: Sometimes readers are surprised to learn that even though I spend most of my time shaping words and chapters, I’m even more drawn to photographs. I love searching the Internet for interesting historical images. Every time I find a good one, my mind buzzes with story ideas.

I’m not unique, apparently. I’ve met several writers who have been inspired by photographs. Just this week, I met a woman at the Oregon Christian Writers conference who goes out and buys photos at antique shops so she can write stories about them. I love that! I always feel badly for the poor nameless pictures mixed in with the antiques. I want to know the people’s names and stories. Just recently I was able to reconnect a set of orphaned portraits with a ministry who desperately wanted them. It was a fun experience, and I’ll be writing about that Monday over at my own blog (

Have you ever been inspired by an image? Here’s one that got to me.

(Photo courtesy of Stanford Medical History Center)
When I was doing research on Cooper Medical College and Lane Hospital for my recent release, Beyond the Ashes, I stumbled over an image of their surgical amphitheater. I was stunned. The imagery moved me: the eager medical students leaning in to watch, the proud surgeon in white, the glossy wood paneling, and (eww!) the lack of gloves and surgical masks. I could almost smell the ether and the cigar smoke.

I knew I had to capture this imagery in my novel. My character wasn’t a surgeon—he was a doctor working with X-ray technology. No matter. I’d find a way to get him in that room with the scowling surgeon. I had to.

It became a turning point in the novel. The tension visible in the image fed into the scene, creating a make-or-break moment for my character. I loved the amphitheater setting so much, I had another character visit it later in the book—and receive news that would bring her to her knees. If you’ve read Beyond the Ashes, you know what I’m talking about. (Don’t spoil it for anyone else!)

(Photo courtesy of Stanford Medical History Center)
Gabrielle Here: Thank you, Karen! I love seeing the images that inspired you. I know exactly how you feel about finding nameless people in photographs. It's almost as if they're begging us to tell their story.

Karen has graciously offered a free copy of Beyond the Ashes to one lucky winner! Share in the comments what inspires you about this picture of Union Station in 1923. What kind of story do you see? We’d love to hear your thoughts! (Don't forget to fill out the Rafflecopter. Sorry, due to shipping costs, only US Citizens are eligible to win.)

(Free image courtesy of
**The winner of a Novella Collection (winner's choice), from Michelle Ule, is Connie Saunders! Congrats, Connie. I'll be in touch.**

About Karen

Inspired by God’s devotion to His people and her own passion for research and learning, author Karen Barnett creates historical romances that explore her characters’ faith and how their experiences impact the way they view God.

A graduate of Valparaiso University and Oregon State University, Barnett’s debut novel, Mistaken, was released in 2013 and earned her the Oregon Christian Writers “Writer of Promise” award. A former park ranger, she loves getting out into God’s creation. She spends her free time taking photographs, dragging her kids through dusty history museums, decorating crazy birthday cakes and watching movies.

Karen, her husband and their two children live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

To learn more about Karen Barnett, visit, become a fan on Facebook (KarenBarnettAuthor) or follow her on Twitter (KarenMBarnett).

About Beyond the Ashes
She’s had her love and lost it.
He’s still missing his heart’s desire.
Is it really better to have loved and lost 
than never to have loved at all? 

Where better to rebuild and face one’s fears than in 1906 San Francisco, a city rising from the ashes? Ruby Marshall, a young widow, is certain she’ll discover new purpose assisting her brother Robert with his cancer research, but she doesn’t anticipate finding new love.

Dr. Gerald Larkspur dreams of filling his empty home with family, but he’d always hoped it would be a wife and children. In the aftermath of the great earthquake, the rooms are overflowing with extended family and friends left homeless by the disaster. When Robert’s widowed sister arrives, the close quarters seem close indeed.

Ruby and Gerald’s fledgling romance is put at risk when Gerald develops symptoms of the very disease they’re striving to cure. Together they must ask—is it worth a second chance at love when time might be short?

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Guest Post by Michelle Ule

I've been looking forward to today's post for a long time! It's my pleasure to welcome author Michelle Ule to my blog. Michelle is a fellow author with Books & Such Literary Agency, as well as an assistant at the agency. Last year, when Dave and I traveled to San Francisco before the Books & Such retreat in Monterey, Michelle and her husband spent the day showing us around town. We had so much fun, and were so thankful for their time and expertise on the city. Please join me in welcoming Michelle!

Michelle, Agent Mary Keeley, and me with the Golden Gate
Bridge in the background last October.
~ ~ ~ ~
Writing to tell truth and wisdom, while fun and romance lead the way!

Like many writers, I’ve been writing and dreaming a long time. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to see stories as more than just an avenue to entertain—they’re a vehicle for portraying truth and “turning the prism,” of circumstance to look at life from a slightly different angle.

I’ve been writing Christian historical novellas since my first novella, The Dogtrot Christmas, was published in A Log Cabin Christmas Collection in 2011.
I’ve enjoyed the challenge of writing within the limitations of a shorter novel for the opportunity it’s given me to hone my skills while providing a spiritual message within a full story.

That means that while I write historical romances, I’ve also examined other issues in my five published novellas and one novel. (Books and descriptions can be found here.)

In particular, I’m interested in how God works in someone’s life to His glory, often in unexpected ways.

I believe readers deserve a full experience—that there should be more to my novellas besides boy meets girl, crisis intervenes, girl finds boy and they all live happily ever after.

That sweet life may happen to some people but in my experience as a Bible study leader and a lay counselor, life is far messier and as Oswald Chambers said in the July 28 My Utmost for His Highest: “What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself."

It’s been exciting to think through additional themes besides love and marriage as I’ve plotted my books. In The Dogtrot Christmas, a Mexican landowner in 1836 Texas is confronted by Anglos moving into his neighborhood and building their own log cabin. God has to work in his heart to show him the need to forgive in spite of his own rights, while a young woman must learn to stand on her own two feet despite her overbearing brother.

I use the dogtrot cabin as a metaphor: the two small cabins under one roof with a breezeway in between represent the two cultures in which the couple find themselves, bound together with the love/roof of Christ. It was fun to write and I included one of my ancestors as a character.

The Goldrush Christmas, part of A Pioneer Christmas Collection, which rereleases in September 2015, posed another challenging, yet exhilarating task in the writing. Midway through the research of this story of brother and sister twins hunting for their missionary father missing in Alaska, along with the bumbling preacher-wanna-be boy next door, I stumbled on a fantastic true story that had to go into my book.

I tell the whole adventure here, but suffice it to say that owing to that bungling preacher-wanna-be, the girl twin (who is masquerading as a boy to protect herself in 1897 Skagway) breaks free of an overbearing brother and 80% of the town prostitutes escape the brothels.

Hmm. The overbearing brother seems to appear in more than one of my stories . . .

My most recent projects are part of The 12 Brides of Christmas and its sequel The 12 Brides of Summer Collections. Set in the same 1870’s Nebraska town and featuring many of the same characters, The Yuletide Bride examines what it means for Kate to be a helpmeet and how God works in unexpected ways to provide the finances Ewan needed to earn his bride.

It also features bagpipes, which were beyond fun to learn to play!

The sequel, The Sunbonnet Bride, tells of Kate’s brother’s efforts to win the heart of a local seamstress, Sally, set against how the town responds to a tornado destroying the neighborhood.

Sally wants to own her own business, but is confused by the difference between profit and cash flow. I’ve seen many women start up small businesses with the same hopes, only to be dashed when it was time to actually manage the money. The Sunbonnet Bride touches on that, while at the same time asking an interesting question about the best way to use your gifts to the good of others, particularly in a crisis.

Story themes should not be obvious when a writer constructs their tale. Themes should work seamlessly to show truth while not hitting the reader over the head. I’ve worked hard to do that in my books.

The aim, of course, is to tell a story saturated with wisdom, truth, good humor and love.

Because no matter what kind of reader you are, those are the ingredients of a good book.

About Michelle

A retired Navy wife, Michelle has a terrific husband, four brilliant children, two perfect daughter-in-laws and five adorable grandchildren. She and her family have lived in all four corners of the United States and Hawai’i. They currently reside in northern California.

Michelle teaches Bible study to a group of precocious women, counsels women in crisis at a local pregnancy counseling center, and works at a landmark literary agency. She’s led retreats, served on a short-term eyeglass mission project in Nicaragua, and plays clarinet in a small musical ensemble. In her free time, she travels, writes and reads–all extensively. You can learn more about her at


Gabrielle here: Thank you, Michelle! I enjoyed learning more about your stories and the themes and questions behind them.

Michelle has graciously agreed to give away one copy of A Log Cabin Christmas, or Pioneer Christmas (winner's choice). Please fill out the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.

Your Turn Reader: Do you read novella collections? Do you enjoy books that are written with specific themes? Do you read romances specifically for the love story, or do you enjoy when a plot goes deeper than boys-meets-girl?

**We have a winner from Kim Fredrickson's visit to my blog. The winner of Give Yourself a Break is Abby Breuklander!**

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Give Yourself a Break! Guest Post by Kim Fredrickson

Today, I'm welcoming Kim Fredrickson to my blog. I met Kim last October at the Books & Such Agency retreat in Monterey, California. She is an inspiration to me, and I'm so happy to introduce you to her today.
~ ~ ~ ~
Thank you so much Gabrielle for the invitation to visit your blog. First let me tell you a little bit about myself, and how I began my writing journey. I have been a Marriage and Family Therapist in Northern California for 30 years. I have been creating content for workshops in my community (parenting, relationships, self-care and self-compassion) for 25 years, but did not pursue publication until recently.

In early 2013 I self-published a book on self-compassion and faith, and felt God’s strong prompting to go to the Mt. Hermon’s Writers Conference (March 2013) to see if any traditional publishers were interested. Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group asked me to submit a proposal, and I was offered a contract in January 2014.

Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend was just released one week ago on July 7th, and I’m delighted to say there is a lot of interest in this topic.  I first became interested in the transforming power of self-compassion integrated with our faith when I saw how helpful it was to my counseling clients. I did a lot of reading on self-compassion and found there were no books on self-compassion that approached this topic from a faith perspective. I still am in shock…how could this be? If anyone should write about this topic it is believers.

God is an overflowing source of love, compassion and grace. He wants us to show this love ourselves, and out of that flows to others (Mark 12:31, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’). For some reason, in the Christian world, little is taught about how to show the same type of compassion to ourselves that we readily show to others.  I was prompted to write this book as God kept saying to me over and over, ”You need to write all this down.”

Self-Compassion is applying Grace and Truth to yourself at the same time. Self-compassion is a balance of truth (yes I made a mistake) with grace (I have worth and value and will address this mistake directly). Self-compassion is the idea that we can be kind to ourselves when we fail, and treat ourselves with the caring support we would give another who is struggling. Extending kindness to ourselves means we see ourselves as human beings who are wonderfully made by God and valuable, yet who are imperfect and make mistakes.

These last two years have really given me the opportunity to practice self-compassion. Almost 2 years ago I was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer. That battle was 9 months of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, I was so looking forward to getting my life back…but that was not to be.

4 days after I finished all my treatment I noticed I couldn’t take a deep breath. After about 6 weeks of testing and biopsies it was determined that I developed pulmonary fibrosis, which is a very rare complication from the chemotherapy. Pulmonary fibrosis is a progressive lung disease that has a 3-5 years life expectancy. One year ago I went on supplemental oxygen (24/7) and in January had to close my counseling practice of 30 years. There are no words to express how difficult all of this has been.

I know all of us are going through very difficult life experiences. Some of these can’t be changed, but how we treat ourselves and care for ourselves while we are going through them can make a huge positive difference. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I said to myself, “I’m going to be a very good friend to myself as I go through treatment.” I continue to be a compassionate friend to myself.

I encourage all of you, whatever it is you are going through, learn and practice being a compassionate friend to yourself. Treating yourself with the compassion, understanding and kindness you would show another will make all the difference in the world.

About the Author

Kim is a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC 22635) in Northern California. Kim enjoys sharing about the transforming power of self-compassion from a faith perspective through her recently released book, Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend. Kim also writes a weekly blog, “Self-Compassion for Real Life” where she shares hope - grounded in our faith, practical tools with real life application, and heartfelt encouragement.

Connect with Kim on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and her website.

About the Book

Many people are used to showing compassion to others. What many of us have trouble with is showing that same compassion to ourselves. Too often we say things to ourselves that we would never say to a friend. All this negative self-talk can have a devastating effect on our lives.

Licensed marriage and family therapist Kim Fredrickson wants readers to stop beating themselves up. Grounding her advice in the Bible, she offers practical steps, specific exercises, and compassionate words to say in order to build a loving relationship with ourselves. Through inspiring stories of transformation, she helps us learn to show ourselves the kind of grace and understanding we offer to others--and to change our relationships, our outlook on life, and our view of ourselves in the process.

~ ~ ~ ~
Kim has graciously agreed to give away a copy of her book, Give Yourself a Break. Please enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.

We also have a winner for The Cactus Creek Challenge, by Erica Vetsch! The winner is Crystal Caudill! Congrats, Crystal.

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Convenient Bride Collection Blog Hop ~ Amanda Barratt

Interview with Grace McNair – Heroine of The Substitute Wife

How do you do, everyone! This is newspaperman Archie Davidson, reporting from Bristol, Connecticut. I’m here to tell you all about a rather alarming incident that occurred just the other day, at what was supposed to be the society wedding of the year. I attended the wedding with plans to write an article for the social columns, but something queer happened instead. The engagement notice printed in my fine newspaper read: Dr. Raymond McNair to wed Miss Audrey Whittaker. And we never make mistakes at the Bristol Times, you can be quite sure of that. Tell me then, why did Miss Audrey Whittaker disappear right before the big day, while her sister, young Miss Grace Whittaker, married the good doctor instead?
That ladies and gentleman, is the mystery at hand! But with my classic newspaperman’s nose, I’m going to sniff it out, starting by interviewing…the substitute wife herself.
Grace appears in the doorway, but doesn’t enter the room. She stands quietly, hands folded in front of her, eyes on the carpet.
Davidson – Come in, come in, won’t you? Have a seat. Care for some tea? I make quite deplorable tea, actually, but I’d be glad to share some with you.
Grace takes a seat on the edge of the settee. To Davidson’s cataloging eye, she seems to perch, like a hummingbird ready to take flight at the merest instant.
Grace – I make deplorable tea too. She fixes her wide-eyes on Davidson. She has rather pretty eyes, or so they seem to Davidson. Greyish-blue, fringed with thick, dark lashes.
Davidson – Really? I would’ve thought you’d be rather handy with housekeeping. Aren’t most girls?
Grace – Perhaps. But not me. You see, after Mother died, I spent so much time working in Father’s store, I never had a chance to learn. But now that I’m married, my kitchen skills are proving me a disgrace.
Davidson – (rather eager) Married, you say? I’d heard about that. Is it true that you took your sister’s place at the altar after she ran off with the traveling circus?
Grace – It wasn’t the traveling circus. It was a theatrical troupe. But please, don’t print that in your paper. My father wouldn’t wish the family name ruined any more than it already is.
Davidson – Off the record, then. Just to satisfy my own curiosity, how are you and your new husband enjoying married life?
Grace – (fidgeting with her clasped hands.) Is it possible to enjoy what was forced upon one? Dr. McNair only married me to save his own name from scandal. He is polite and civil, but he doesn’t love me. Not that I should expect him to. I’m not beautiful like Audrey. She could charm any man that came within ten miles of her. Father always said I’m plain, and he’s right. I don’t attract men. It’s just not in my nature to smile, flirt, and be charming. So you see, Mr. Davidson, a marriage cannot possibly succeed after such a rocky start.
Davidson – I don’t know about that. Dr. McNair is one of the most decent men around. And with his kindly manner and Irish charm, he could win over any girl if he set his mind to it.
Grace – (sighing softly) He is charming, like you say, and handsome too. And I do want so much to be happy with him.
Davidson – Just give it time, Mrs. McNair. As the old saying goes, “time heals all wounds.” And as I know from personal experience, love doesn’t always have to come in the grand, romantic way it does in novels. Sometimes it steals upon you quietly. And when it’s unexpected, it’s often all the sweeter.
Grace – (smiling now) Thank you, Mr. Davidson. You’re very kind.
Davidson – The pleasure is all mine, Mrs. McNair. I wish you both the very best.

About Amanda

Amanda Barratt is a historical romance author with two novellas releasing in 2015 with Barbour Publishing. She fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story - a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Since then, she's penned novels set in Regency and Victorian England, and the Gilded Age.

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she lives in the woods of Michigan with her fabulous family, who kindly put up with the invisible people she calls characters.

These days, Amanda can be found reading way too many books, watching an eclectic mix of BBC dramas and romantic chick flicks, and trying to figure out a way to get on the first possible flight to England.

You can connect with her at and on Facebook at:

Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a loaded 7" Kindle Fire from The Convenient Bride Collection authors!

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Walking a Mile in Another Man's Cowboy Books ~ Guest Post by Erica Vetsch

This week is all about celebrating new releases, and today we're celebrating a fun one!! My author friend, Erica Vetsch, is here today to talk about The Cactus Creek Challenge. I'm especially excited because Erica is a fellow Minnesotan, as well as one of the contributors of my group blog, Coffee Cups & Camisoles, and she's also an author in both of the novella collections I'm in this summer! Not only do we share all of this in common, we're also fellow history & museum lovers. Erica is a great blessing to me and so many who know her (she's also hilarious!). I hope you enjoy her guest post. :)

Erica and me on release day for The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection!

Being photobombed at the MN ACFW Writer's Retreat in May
Thank you so much, Gabrielle, for the invitation to visit your blog. I love that we’re fellow Minnesotans, history addicts, and friends.

Gabrielle asked me to choose one of the themes from my new release The Cactus Creek Challenge to talk about with you all here today, and the first theme that shot to my mind was that of experiencing life through someone else’s eyes, walking a mile in another man’s cowboy boots, so to speak. In The Cactus Creek Challenge, the schoolmarm Cassie and the sheriff Ben swap places for a month for charity, which leads to some interesting predicaments for each of them.
Both Cassie and Ben bring a wagonload of preconceived notions to their new job. Each has to let go of their hold of their previous job. And each has to give and receive grace when, in the end, they need each other to do the best job possible.
Ben’s preconceived notions are that teaching school isn’t that hard—after all, you just sit behind a desk and listen to recitations—and that no woman could keep the peace in his town, especially not one so young as Cassie.
For Cassie, she is sure she can do anything without help, especially something as simple as walking around town wearing a badge and chatting with people all day. There hasn’t been a speck of trouble in Cactus Creek in forever, and things aren’t likely to change.
Each of them has to face several challenges in the course of settling into their new jobs, and both are reluctant to accept the help, advice, or criticism of the other. Their stubbornness trips them up, and folks take advantage of their greenness.  They are each sure the other is messing up their job because they’re doing things differently. Ben decides to change the curriculum at the school to something more to his liking, and Cassie decides to prettify the jail. Ben lets the kids run free, and Cassie bites off more than she can chew in protecting a gold shipment.
In the end, each has to learn that they are better together than apart, that each brings strengths to the table that the other can utilize.
This makes me think of the body of Christ, His Church. Each of us is gifted and equipped for the edifying of the body. Each of us brings something different to the equation. And we are better together than apart. When we share the load, we lighten the load. When we give each other the grace to serve Christ according to our gifts, we are stronger. When we exercise our gifts to serve each other, even if it’s in a job we’ve never done before, we grow in our fellowship and our faith.  That’s what being part of the body of Christ is: service and grace.
YOUR TURN: Have you had the chance to walk a mile in another man’s cowboy boots?

 Anything he can do, I can do better. At least that was what Cassie Bucknell thought before she pinned on Ben Wilder’s badge and took to patrolling the streets of Cactus Creek, Texas. Cassie has been in love with Ben since primer school, but Ben treats her like a little sister. When they are picked to swap jobs for a month as part of the annual Cactus Creek Challenge in their Texas hometown, the schoolhouse is thrown into an uproar, the jail becomes a temporary bank vault, and Cassie and Ben square off in a battle of wills that becomes a battle for their hearts.


Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and romance, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical romances. Whenever she’s not immersed in fictional worlds, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.

Erica has agreed to give away a copy to one lucky winner! Enter the Reafflecopter below for your chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner of The Convenient Bride Collection from last week's drawing is Tammy Cordery! Congrats, Tammy.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Convenient Bride Collection Blog Hop Day #1

Today kicks off the start of a week-long blog tour to celebrate the release of The Convenient Bride Collection from Barbour Publishers! You could win a 7" Kindle Fire loaded with amazing Christian Fiction!! See below for all the details...but first, enjoy this sneak peek of my story, A Groom for Josette.
~ ~ ~ ~
Welcome to Little Falls, Minnesota Territory in the year 1855.

The town was growing quickly around the banks of the Mississippi River and the dam that many believed would make Little Falls one of the largest cities on the river.

The town was filled with eager men looking to make a fortune.

The only trouble was, there were over three hundred bachelors and no single women! The men took matters into their own hands and created an advertisement for brides. They made the bold claim that there were a hundred eligible bachelors for every lady who came to town.

Thus the setting for A Groom for Josette.

Meet Josette LeBlanc, the daughter of a French Fur Trader and a Chippewa Indian.

Her mother died when she was young and her father moved her to St. Louis where he quickly remarried and started a shipping industry. After his death, Josette learns her inheritance will go to her half-brother Stephen when he turns twenty-one...if she isn't married.

She only has three weeks to find a husband, or she will be turned out on the street.

Josette reads the advertisement and travels by steamboat up the Mississippi to find a husband.

She reserves a sitting room at the Northern Hotel in Little Falls to conduct interviews.

But the hotel proprietor doesn't bring her to a sitting room...he brings her to the ballroom where a hundred men stand waiting to meet her!

One man in the room has entered on accident and has no interest in finding a wife. Meet Alexandre Dugas.

Alexandre has just made a year-long pilgrimage up the Mississippi from New Orleans to take a pastoral position with the Indians and fur traders, fulfilling his greatest dream. When he meets Josette, he feels compelled to marry her, but a misunderstanding threatens both their plans.

Did they make the biggest mistake of their lives by marrying in haste? Or does God have other plans...?
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To celebrate the release of The Convenient Bride Collection, all nine authors are giving away a 7" Kindle Fire loaded with amazing Christian Fiction! Enter the Rafflectoper below for your chance to win and don't forget to visit these other authors to learn more about their novellas!

Monday, July 6th
Gabrielle Meyer & Mona Hodgson

Tuesday, July 7th
Renee Yancy

Wednesday, July 8th
Erica Vetsch at Coffee Cups & Camisoles blog
& Jennifer Uhlarik

Thursday, July 9th
Amanda Barratt

Friday, July 10th
Melissa Jagears

a Rafflecopter giveaway
**I have a winner from my blog post on release day! Bonnie Traher wins a copy of The Convenient Bride Collection, as well as my first release, The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection! Congrats, Bonnie.**

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Release Day for A Groom for Josette!

It's an exciting day in my little corner of the world! It's release day for my second published story, A Groom for Josette in The Convenient Bride Collection from Barbour Publishers!! (Insert hand-clapping, cheering, and foot-stomping!) 

The real celebration will begin next Monday, July 6th as all the authors in this collection kick off a week-long blog hop. I'll be sharing more about A Groom for Josette next week, with a look at the characters, the setting, and my inspiration for the story.

But best of all, at the end of the week, we're giving away an incredible gift to one lucky winner! A loaded 7" Kindle Fire.

But why wait to give something away??

In honor of Release Day, I'm giving away two books this week!! One lucky winner will receive a copy of both of my summer releases: The Convenient Bride Collection as well as The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection!! I'll pick a winner on Sunday, July 5th and announce the winner on Monday's blog post.

All you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter below!! Thanks for stopping by to celebrate!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway