Friday, November 30, 2018



πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’• 12 Days of Clean Romance πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•

December 2018
  • During the month of December, we will be featuring 12 authors who write clean romance!
  • There will be $400 worth of giveaways plus great deals on books!
  • You are invited to come join the fun, learn about these great authors, and find your next favorite book!

~There will be FREE ebooks, awesome sales & great giveaways!~
****Check out this great list of featured authors who are sponsoring this event!****

Never miss a giveaway, freebie or sale by signing up for Clean Wholesome Romance's Reader Newsletter!

Are you a blogger or reader who would be willing to post about this event on your blog or social media? Sign up here.

Are you an author who writes clean romance? Learn more about CWR upcoming events here, or Sign up for my Author Newsletter.

πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’— To start things off we have a $100 Giveaway! πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—

Giveaway Details $100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 1/1/19 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner may be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, BookBub, Instagram, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader & Clean Wholesome Romance and is sponsored by the participating authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway 

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Thursday, November 29, 2018


~Post Includes:  Book Spotlight,
Author Bio, Author Interview &

Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for When the Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


When the Heart Sings-FINAL-front_cover_020518a-HR Title: When the Heart Sings  
Series: Music of Hope #2  
Author: Liz Tolsma  
Publisher: Gilead Publishing  
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance  

Natia has a secret, and she’s hiding him right beneath her captor’s nose...

The Nazis have forced Natia and Teodor from their Polish farm to a labor camp. When the couple is separated, Natia is chosen to be the housekeeper for the camp’s overseer, and Teodor is sent to work in the factory. Despite the strict camp rules—and the consequences for disobeying them—Natia finds a way to communicate with Teodor by sending messages through song as she passes Teodor’s dormitory.

The stakes get higher when Natia finds a Jewish orphan on the overseer’s doorstep. She is determined to protect the boy and raise him as the child she and her husband were unable to bear— but if her German captors discover how much she’s hiding, both she and Teodor may pay the ultimate price.  

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Christian Book | Book Depository


liz tolsma

Passionate might best describe Liz Tolsma. She loves writing, research, and editing. Her passion shone through in her first novel which was a double award finalist. On any given day, you might find her pulling weeds in her perennial garden, walking her hyperactive dog, or curled up with a good book. Nothing means more to her than her family. She's married her high-school sweetheart twenty-eight years ago. Get her talking about international adoption, and you might never get her to stop. She and her husband adopted three children, including a son who is a U.S. Marine, and two daughters.

CONNECT WITH LIZ: website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

JUNE: Welcome to 'Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic', Liz. I'm pleased to have you as my guest here. 'When the Heart Sings' is Book Two in your 'Music of Hope' World War II series. Congratulations on having both of these books released in 2018!

JUNE: Please tell us how you created your setting and developed the characters for this book, 'When the Heart Sings'. Since this is an historical novel set in Europe during World War II, what types of research did you perform prior to or while working on the story?

LIZ: The labor camp is a compilation of several different labor camps I read about. The research was very difficult, because once the Soviets came into Poland, they didn’t allow WWII to be taught or talked about. There is very little out there to draw from. While I wanted to use a true camp, there wasn’t enough information to do that.

My characters end up coming to me. As I write, they reveal themselves to me, and I get to know them better as you get to know them. That’s one of the most fun things about writing – the surprises your characters have for you.

JUNE: Who is your favorite character in the story? Why is this person your favorite? Without spoiling the story, is there anyone in the story who you do not like? Why not?

LIZ: I really identify with Natia, but Elfriede was a character that I came to really like. She started out as someone I didn’t want to like, but the more I got to know her and the more she showed me about who she was, the more I liked her.

Without giving anything away, I do not like her husband. I’m sure you won’t either, but every story has to have a villain 😊

JUNE: I recently read the chapter one preview from 'When the Heart Sings' offered on your website. {Thank you!} The story is set in 1943 in war-ravaged Poland. I was struck by the kindness and compassion of the reverend, Pastor Jankowski, who visits the home of Teodor and Natia Palinska. {I don't want to spoil the story for those who have not yet read it so I won't say anything more about why he visited the young couple.} Was Pastor Jankowski's character based on a minister you have known in your life? Please explain how you were led to include him in this book.

LIZ: My father was a pastor, and he is one of the most compassionate men I know. He has a true heart for people and loved each member of his flock. Still does. Everyone who has been a member of a church he has pastored who speaks to me speaks so highly of him. He was my inspiration for Pastor Jankowski.

JUNE: Your books stretch across several genres--historical World War II novels, an Amish novel, and prairie romance novellas. I read on your website that you are now working on a romantic suspense story. What versatility! If you were not writing in those genres, what other fictional genre might you try? Would you ever consider writing non-fiction? If so, what subject(s) would you like to write about?

LIZ: Another genre??? Haha! I’m always up for it. I would like to try a time slip. Other then my Amish, I haven’t written contemporary, and it would be fun to try. If I would write nonfiction, I would write about marriage and adoption and raising children. Yes, I do have a couple of ideas in my head. Just not enough time to write them all!

JUNE: When you write a book, do you outline the entire story, or do you have a different way of organizing your plot, characters, etc.? Do you always know the ending of your story before you begin putting things down on paper, or into your computer?

LIZ: Plotting makes me break out in hives!! I get to know my characters and have a basic sketch of where I’m going, but that’s it. I use a writing program that helps me keep everything organized, so I can look up my characters or setting or plot ideas very easily. I do usually know the ending of my story before I start. The fun is getting there.

JUNE: Two of your three children are away from home. Your son is serving in the military and your eldest daughter is studying at college. With the hope that you'll all be able to gather together for this holiday season, please share some of your family's favorite Christmas traditions, recipes, church activities, decorations, etc., with us.

LIZ: We LOVE Christmas in our house. My husband was born on Christmas day, our oldest daughter was born on December 17th, and we were married on December 23rd. And yes, it was full-on Christmas-themed wedding. If I were to go into every tradition, I would need a month’s worth of blog posts LOL! When we open our gifts, we go from youngest to oldest, all taking turns opening. It can take us hours to get them done. But that’s a great way to savor the holiday.

For Christmas day dessert, my mom always makes grasshopper pie. She’s known for this dessert.

~ Grasshopper Pie Recipe~

24 Oreo cookies, crushed
1/4 c. melted butter

Combine these and press them into the bottom of an 8” springform pan.

1 jar marshmallow cream
2 cups heavy cream, whipped
1/4 c. crème de menthe
3 T. crème de cocoa

Add crème de menthe and crème de cocoa to the marshmallow cream. For a non-alcoholic version, start with a teaspoon of peppermint extract and taste until you have the mint flavor you want. Fold in the whipped cream and freeze.

JUNE: Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Liz. Your Grasshopper Pie recipe looks delicious. I appreciate your sharing it with my readers. Wishing you continued success in your writing!

when the heart sings blog giveaway


(1) winner will receive (US only)
  • a print copy of When the Heart Sings
  • 'Just One More Chapter' throw pillow seen HERE
Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight November 26, 2018 and last through 11:59pm December 3, 2018. US only. Winners will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018


~Post Includes:  Book Spotlight,
Excerpt & Giveaway~

'My Brother’s Bride' by Rachael Anderson 

Abigail Nash leads a lonely existence. Her mother died giving birth to her, her father’s business dealings took him away more often than not, and her ailing great-aunt, unable to provide much in the way of companionship, was a lack-luster guardian at best. So when her dear friends offered to launch her into London society, it appeared Abby’s life was taking a turn for the better, with suitors and social engagements aplenty. 

When she marries a proclaimed darling of the ton, it seems she will at last settle into the life of her dreams. But appearances aren’t always what they seem, and dreams often become disappointments. Just months into her marriage, Abby finds herself widowed, penniless, increasing, and determined to never hope again. But when her late husband’s brother, the Earl of Brigston, attempts to thaw the numbness surrounding her heart, Abby must decide if she has it in her to risk another chance at happiness, knowing the odds are not in her favor. 

When Brigston entered the kitchen, Abby’s back was partially to him, so she didn’t immediately see him. Her brow was furrowed in concentration as she whipped something in a bowl. She paused to lift the spoon, only to frown at the white liquid dripping from it.

“Are you certain this will thicken into a cream?” she asked.

A flash of irritation crossed Monsieur Roch's face until he spotted Morgan and seemed to think better of it. He managed a patient tone in his accented French. “It takes time, my lady.”

Morgan stifled a chuckle as Abby examined another spoonful of the liquid. 

“I’ve been whipping it for several minutes, but it doesn’t seem even a little thicker to me. Have I forgotten to add something?”

“No,” said the cook in clipped tones.

Morgan stepped forward and leaned in close. “If your arm is tired—”

Abby jumped, and what liquid remained on the spoon splattered across Morgan’s face. She spun around, her eyes growing wide with horror when she saw what she’d done.

He wiped a dab from his nose and tasted it. “A little more sugar, perhaps?”

“Brigston! I’m so dreadfully sorry.” She dropped the spoon into the bowl and grabbed a rag from a nearby wash basin, dabbing it across his face.

“Not that rag!” cried the cook. “It was only just used to mop the floors.”

Abby dropped it as though it had burned her, and Morgan tried not to cringe at the thought of filthy water coating his face. Monsieur Roch retrieved a clean rag and held it out to him, appearing apologetic. He flicked another irritated glance at Abby before returning to his work.

As Morgan wiped the cream from his face, he wondered what Abby would do or say next. Offer another fumbled apology? Make her excuses and flee? Pretend the incident never happened and return to her labors? He never knew what to expect from her.

Her face scarlet, she cleared her throat and lifted her adorably determined chin. “You are most welcome, my lord.”

He raised a brow. “For what, my lady?”

“I have heard that cream does wonders for one’s complexion, and it seems the rumors are correct. Your skin appears much . . . creamier.”


Praise for 'My Brother's Bride':
I found this book to be completely unexpected. I have read all the historical novels by this author and they have all been fun and delightful reads and even though this book had those elements as well, it was definitely more emotional than I was expecting... I loved Abby’s quiet strength and Morgan’s protectiveness. These two were great together. ~Melanie   

 My to-read list is long but Rachael is one author I always bump to the top and put all other books on hold for. She never disappoints so it's no surprise that this is another top-notch offering from Rachael. I loved these characters and cheered for them as they overcame obstacles and circumstances that tried to keep them apart. My Brother's Bride is an awesome and needed addition to the clean romance genre. So many authors pump out books so fast that often I find the quality of their work is lacking. Since I read for entertainment I'm able to forgive a lot and typically just overlook the shortcomings that are prevalent with so many books in this genre. Thankfully that is not the case with Rachael's books. I'm grateful for the time she takes to ensure she offers her readers quality books with original storylines that won't disappoint. ~Kathy      

Giveaway Details $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/16/18 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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***************GOOD LUCK!******************

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Monday, November 26, 2018



**New Growth Press’s Spirit of Giving 
Youth Book Giveaway**

Last week, I shared about books from New Growth Press for the youngest members of the family. Maybe your kids have outgrown that stage and are now preteens or teens.

Books are a great gift for everyone in the family, by the way!

Even if there aren’t kids in your own house, I’m sure you know some young people who would enjoy these books. Maybe you are a youth leader or teacher with young people on your Christmas list.

This week, New Growth Press is giving away THREE gift boxes of books for tweens and teens. From November 26-December 2, you can enter to win one of three gift boxes of books (retail value of $114).

Each gift box includes the following titles for youth: 
Written by J. A. Myhre, a doctor living and working in East Africa, this adventure series teaches readers of all ages important truths about justice, overcoming evil, and the courage to make a difference. The latest release is A Fever, a Flight, and a Fight for the World, a compelling African adventure story that will enthrall eight- to fourteen-year-old youth who love adventure and learning about faraway places. In the exciting fourth and final book in the Rwendigo Tales Series, readers will be inspired by ordinary people who make the extraordinary choice to stand against great evil. 
An angry teen, a desperate mother, a missing father, and a shadow lurking in the background. Things were going from bad to worse for Nick and his family. Tempted to run away after yet another argument with his mom, Nick receives a handwritten, leather-bound copy of an old book—a family legend passed down to him from his great grandfather. The book, called Dragon Seed, leads Nick deep into his family’s history and introduces him to another angry young man who lived in the shadows (the shadows of the tombs). Like Nick, you’ll be shocked to discover where he fits in this story of epic proportions!  
The Biggest Win gives athletes and sports fans of all ages a unique, insider's look into the lives and faith of six Christian NFL players from the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl team. Through the ups and downs of their experiences, author Joshua Cooley shows how these high-profile athletes remain committed to God's Word, genuine Christian discipleship, and sharing their faith. Using their voices and stories, The Biggest Win gives sports-minded readers hope and direction for living out their faith while competing.  See your youth athletes' faith grow as they hear and learn from the amazing stories of these Super Bowl Champions. 
Between Us Girls was written for mothers with daughters between the ages of seven and fourteen. These twenty-six gospel-driven talks are a fun and easy guide for mothers who want to disciple their daughters but don’t know where to start. In each short chapter, moms and daughters read God’s Word, ask one another questions about their thoughts and experiences, get honest about their struggles with sin, brainstorm ways to live out their faith, and build genuine fellowship into their relationship.

(Between Us Guys for dads and sons will be available in May 2019!)

In case you don’t win the prize pack, sign-up for New Growth Press’s e-news at to receive information about their Countdown to Christmas discounts so that you can order copies. Be sure to follow them on social media as well where they will be sharing daily deals throughout the Christmas season:

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***************GOOD LUCK!******************

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Sunday, November 25, 2018


~Post Includes:  Book Spotlight & Review~


ABOUT THE BOOK {from Goodreads}:
It's up, up, and away with the Tuskegee Airmen, a heroic group of African American military pilots who helped the United States win World War II.

During World War II, black Americans were fighting for their country and for freedom in Europe, yet they had to endure a totally segregated military in the United States, where they weren't considered smart enough to become military pilots.

After acquiring government funding for aviation training, civil rights activists were able to kickstart the first African American military flight program in the US at Tuskegee University in Alabama.

While this book details thrilling flight missions and the grueling training sessions the Tuskegee Airmen underwent, it also shines a light on the lives of these brave men who helped pave the way for the integration of the US armed forces.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR {from Goodreads}:
Sherri L. Smith is the award-winning author of YA novels LUCY THE GIANT, SPARROW, HOT SOUR SALTY SWEET, FLYGIRL and ORLEANS. In October 2015, she made her middle grade debut with THE TOYMAKER’S APPRENTICE from G.P. Putnam and Sons for Penguin Random House.

Sherri has worked in film, animation, comic books and construction. Her books have been listed as Amelia Bloomer, American Library Association Best Books for Young People, and Junior Library Guild Selections. FLYGIRL was the 2009 California Book Awards Gold Medalist.

She loves her family, travel, chocolate chip cookies, reading, and a really good cup of tea.

I have read several books in this 'WHO HQ' series before, so I chose this gem for my final November MMGM book featuring World War I and II fiction and non-fiction titles.

I had heard about the Tuskegee Airmen before, but I had no idea of the depth of the history behind this program until I read this book. This group of brave and skilled African American men were the first airplane pilots of color to ever serve in the United States military.

In May, 1939, two African American men, Chauncey Spencer and Dale White, flew from Chicago to Washington, D.C., to meet with then US Senator Harry S. Truman. The pilots asked Senator Truman to help them encourage other black people to become pilots. The senator agreed to help, and later that year the United States Congress approved six Civilian Pilot Training Programs {CPTP} for black people. This book is about the most famous of these programs--the one held at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. 

Booker T. Washington had founded a black college, Tuskegee Institute, in 1881 in the town of Tuskegee, Alabama. A tremendous amount of work and construction was necessary before the CPTP could be launched. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited the site in March, 1941, and was vocal about the program needing more money for a better airfield and newer airplanes. Her intevention resulted in a charitable fund lending Tuskegee Institute $175,000 to build a bigger airfield.

The author does not mince words about the rampant segregation in the United States military at this time. As the result of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, the country needed more troops, so minorities and women were called on to help out. However, the military still did not want to integrate its forces. So the Army agreed on January 16, 1942, to form an all-black squadron in their Army air force.

This first class in the Tuskegee Institute began with thirteen cadets but only five of the cadets graduated in March, 1942. These were the first African Americans to become Army Air Force pilots. The book follows this unit through their training and heroic combat missions in Europe and the Mediterranean.  A total of 352 Tuskegee Airmen served overseas during World War II. Sixty-eight of these brave soldiers died in combat or went missing in action.

Unfortunately, when these war heroes returned to the United States they found that the nation had not improved its treatment of black soldiers in the least. The bases were still segregated. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman passed a law which desegregated the US Army. Soldiers of all races trained and served together, but it would take years and years before all branches of the military were fully integrated.

A highlight of this book for me was an interesting spotlight presented on Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., 1912-2002. His father, Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., was the first African American general ever in the US Army. In June, 1936, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., became the first black man ever to graduate from the West Point Military Academy. He later became the commander of the Tuskegee Airmen and was the first African American general in the US Air Force. Eventually, he became a four-star general which is the highest rank in the US Air Force.

The final pages of the book list the awards and honors earned by these brave Tuskegee Airmen. There is also a detailed Timeline and Bibliography to aid young readers in their study of this subject.

This book is highly-recommended for middle-grade readers studying Civil Rights, United States history, United States twentieth-century history, United States military history, African-American history, aeronautic history, and for adults who wish to learn more about these subjects, too.

I borrowed this book from the New Book non-fiction shelf in the Children's section of the local public library.


Find the links to read more great Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts from middle-grade authors and bloggers at Greg Pattridge's 'Always in the Middle' Blog.


***************GOOD LUCK!******************

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018


--  'VIOLIN WORDS'  --
~Post Includes:  Book Spotlight, Author
Bio, Excerpt & Giveaway~ 

'Violin Words' by Taylor Dean:

WHO IS THE AUTHOR? When Jade Lockwood begins to receive anonymous love letters, she becomes a woman on a mission. She’s determined to figure out who wrote the flowery, over-the-top letters filled with the sweetest violin words she’s ever heard. She’s neglected her love life, concentrating on Lockwood Cabins, the business her father built from the ground up. But her sweet letters have awakened something inside of her, something that can’t be ignored. Facing Christmas alone this year, her emotions are already fragile. Add in a mysterious burglary, a handsome stranger, and a little deceit, and it just might be the most eventful Christmas she’s ever endured. Will Jade find her happy ending? Or will her love letters prove to be nothing more than a sinister ploy? Find out in this charming Christmas novel.  

Praise for 'Violin Words': 

 Don’t miss this fun, perfect holiday read by a master storyteller! -Mylissa Demeyere, Author of The Songs of You and Me and The Songs that Brought Me Back

A sweet, heartwarming romance with a twist of mystery and suspense, all wrapped up in Christmas magic that makes this one hard to put down. -Charissa Stastny, Author of The Ruled Out Romance Series   


I have no clue whatsoever as to The Author of the one and only love letter I’ve ever received. I’ve neglected my love life, giving all of my attention to Lockwood Cabins. Now I realize what a mistake that has been. When I read the letter, I’m filled with sensations I didn’t know existed. It’s as if I can physically feel the depth behind his words. I’m taken away to another world and I just want to float away, wrapped in his love. 

The Author’s words are flowery and eloquent, stirring and moving. They’re as lyrical and achingly sweet as a few strokes from a violin. Violin words. Yes. My letter is filled with violin words. All meant for me. And I love them. A few simple chords from a violin inspires soul soaring emotion within me and leaves me breathless. Somehow the sound speaks to me and I have to close my eyes and thank God that I’m alive, if only to hear such a precious sound. But when I read my love letter, my reaction is the same. 

Words alone have never had this effect on me. Plain and simple words—twenty-six letters all strung together in thousands of combinations—and together they form the most beautiful thoughts. I hold the letter to my chest and absorb the love. It’s the sweetest torture, the most exquisite agony. I welcome it. To feel is to live, I know that now. 

Wow. Just wow. Are those violin words really directed toward me? I always figured I’d meet someone and get married one day. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a man would speak to me like that. It sends a thrill through my body. Every time.




Author Taylor Dean lives in Texas and is the mother of four grown children. Upon finding herself with an empty nest, she began to write the stories that were always wandering around in her head, quickly finding she had a passion for writing, specifically romance. Whether it’s paranormal, contemporary, or suspense—you’ll find all sub-genres of clean romance in her line-up. 


Blast Giveaway Details $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/12/18 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday, November 19, 2018


~Post Includes: Book Spotlight, Author
Bio, Author Interview & Giveaway~


Tortured by the loss of his wife, Detective Don Layden isolates himself behind an emotional wall, until a case comes along that shakes him to his core. An axe-wielding murderer kills the wife of a Denver prosecuting attorney and Don has to find him.

In spite of an unsupportive, narcissistic police captain who insists the investigation focus on the widowed attorney’s cases, Don and his partner, Luke, are convinced the killer is a heinous lunatic preying upon innocent Denver woman; one of whom is Kate Fitzgerald. Spirited and defiant, Kate has such compassion for the bereaved families that she is determined to discover who is at the root of this terror before the killer strikes again. But does Kate’s fortitude put her at risk? Don suddenly realizes his concern for Kate’s safety goes beyond public service…a thought that scares him as much as this case.

As the clock ticks on, the killer gets bolder. Can Don, Luke, and Kate battle blood, blades and devil worshippers to solve this mystery before anyone else loses her life?



Lori Donnester started out life in Illinois and then traveled west to study ballet at the University of Utah. Deciding finance would be a better bet, she made the switch, but her creative genes encouraged her to study writing as well. It all worked out because today she is a newly retired financial controller, is writing full time, and recently won an award in a writing contest.

Lori remains steadfast in her conviction that her parents’ prayers and positive thoughts helped her overcome a devastating bicycle accident from which doctors said she would never walk again. (Spoiler alert: She walks just fine today.) When her father passed, she decided to honor him with a story that both entertains and inspires, thus leading to her to write the suspense, crime novel, Deadly Gratitude.

In her spare time, Lori skis, hikes, and enjoys life with her husband in the beautiful mountains that surround her Salt Lake City home.


FACEBOOK                   WEBSITE                        TWITTER


JUNE: Welcome to 'Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic', Lori. Tell us a little about yourself. How did your education and/or previous job and life experiences impact your road to publication?

LORI: I was born and raised in Illinois. I took up ballet there while I was in the 6th grade. I loved it and was in the little company in my ballet school within about three years. I wound up going to the University of Utah which has the best public dance school in the country. I started to learn about the dancers' lives and realized that I was spending an awful lot of money to graduate from college and be poor. So, I switched to finance and had a successful career in that field.

I’m convinced that ballet and finance both helped me with my writing aspirations. In ballet, I often choreographed dances, telling stories through movement. Ballet was a terrific way to build and hone creativity.

Also, students in ballet crave an instructor’s critique. Critique is essential in that it helps you to improve your skills. That led me to seek out and listen to professionals in the field to give feedback on the manuscript of Deadly Gratitude.

Ballet also is the constant pursuit of perfection. Writing is the same. Every paragraph, every sentence, every word must be examined.

The skill set to be successful in the world of finance also spills over to writing. Accounting is a detail-oriented job. Certain tasks such as budgeting may require repeated revisions. Writing requires countless revisions as well. In addition, details are essential. The timetable must be right on. A character cannot have blue eyes in chapter one and brown eyes in chapter twenty.

JUNE: Please tell us a little about how you created your setting and developed the characters for this book.

LORI: I basically wrote the story while jogging. I jogged run after run, figuring out the characters and the conflicts. I finally sat down to write it. I opened Word and started at my computer screen. I remember thinking, "Word is vertical. But a storyline and a timeline are both horizontal. How can anyone write a novel on Word?" So, I closed Word and opened Excel. I've told numerical stories, non-fiction of course, on Excel for decades.

Across the top of the worksheet from January through December, I've given history with projections of what is going to happen numerically. To me, a story is the same shape. I used the tabs to map out each segment of the story. That made it easy to keep track of what day of the week I was on, and I could track the conflict for each segment as well. That's how to make it a page-turner. Only after I had the whole thing mapped out on Excel, did I open Word again. This time I didn't sit and stare; this time I started writing.

JUNE: What led you to write a thriller for your first book? Do you read in this genre a lot? If yes, who are some of your favorite authors/books in the inspirational thriller genre?

LORI: Gratitude. I had a devasting bicycle accident and was paralyzed as a result. After a lot of work and a lot of time, I recovered. Any doctor that looks at my MRI is shocked that I can walk. I’m told that I’m a miracle. I’m convinced my parents’ and friends’ prayers had much to do with my recovery. Then about twelve years later, my parents came out to visit. Unfortunately, my dad got really sick while they were here, and he passed away.

When someone passes, you find yourself reflecting on his or her life. My dad was a good man. We didn’t have a lot of money, but I was always safe; I was always loved; and I was always cared for.

There is something in the human DNA that wants to tell stories. I believe the combination of living a miracle and reflecting upon what a good person my Dad was made me want to write a story. I briefly considered writing an inspirational novel, but every writing class I’ve ever taken advised to write the genre that you love to read. And I’ve devoured thrillers since I was a little girl reading Nancy Drew novels. So, I wrote a thriller with an inspirational character.

I read many different authors in this genre. As a matter of fact, I started reading all of the mystery authors who begin with the letter ‘A’ in the library. I did this to make myself a better writer. But of course, I have favorite authors. Three of them are Lee Child, Terri Blackstock, and Tasha Alexander.

JUNE: Who is your favorite character in your story? Why is this person your favorite? Is there anyone in the story who you do not like? Why not?

LORI: That’s a tough one. I like the leads and I even like the bad guy. I spent a lot of time developing him. But I think I’m going to say I like Luke, one of the detectives. He is a straightforward man who is tender behind all of his toughness. He's a big teddy bear buried underneath a lot of muscle. As far as the character I like least, that's easy. The police captain is so narcissistic. She really thinks the world spins around her. Not the way to be!

JUNE: What do you hope readers will gain from reading your book?

LORI: I want to entertain my readers. I want them to want to keep reading. I also want to sprinkle in some thoughts for contemplation. So the short answer to that question is to mix a combination of page-turning entertainment in with a dash of reflection.

JUNE: What do you like to do in your spare time--assuming you have any spare time?

LORI: I like to snow ski in the winter. I also like to curl up in front of the fire and read!! In the summer I like to go boating including water skiing. And hiking is always good. And so is reading! Next summer I decided I’m going to take up paddle boarding.

JUNE: Thank you so much for sharing about your novel, your life, and your writing practices with us. We wish you all the best in your future writing projects.


Lori has generously offered to send a print copy of 'Deadly Gratitude' to one 'Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic' reader who lives in the United States. For a chance to win, please post a comment below telling which one of Lori's interview answers was the most interesting to you and why. 

{NOTE: If you have trouble posting a comment, don't worry! I will also accept comments at my email address: junemccraryjacobs [at] gmail [dot] com. Type 'Deadly Gratitude Comment' in the subject line of the email message, and I will include you in the drawing.}

You must be eighteen (18) years or older to enter and have a United States mailing address.

The contest will close on Thursday, November 29th, at 12:00PM noon PST. Good luck!

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Sunday, November 18, 2018


*A Novel Based on the True Story of
the World's Most Famous Bear* 

ABOUT THE BOOK {from Goodreads}:

A wartime adventure unfolds through the eyes of the world’s most beloved Bear.

The story of the real bear that inspired Winnie-the-Pooh has been capturing readers’ imaginations since the publication of the Caldecott Medal award-winning picture book, Finding Winnie.
But there was so much left to be told – not just about Winnie, but about the great world events she witnessed. Now, the creative team behind the bestselling picture book has reunited to bring you Winnie’s Great War. 

In a triumphant blending of deeply researched history and magnificent imagination, we follow our irrepressible Bear on her journey -- from her infancy in the woods of Ontario, to her unlikely friendship with Captain Harry Colebourn and her time as the mascot of the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade, to her experiences in wartime London before she met Christopher Robin Milne. 

Told in beautifully crafted language and infused with Sophie Blackall’s irresistible renderings of an endearing bear, the book is also woven through with actual entries from Captain Harry Colebourn’s wartime diaries. The result is a one-of-kind exploration of the realities of war, the meaning of courage, and the indelible power of friendship, all told through the historic adventures of one extraordinary bear.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR {from Goodreads}:

Lindsay Mattick is the author of Finding Winnie, a new picture book which explores her family’s unique connection to the world’s most famous bear, Winnie-the-Pooh. Born in Winnipeg, Lindsay spent her summer days collecting lucky stones on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, finding adventures in her red wagon. As the great-granddaughter of Captain Harry Colebourn, Lindsay grew up thinking of Winnie as her own ‘great-grandbear’. She has shared her family’s story as a radio documentary, spearheaded an original exhibition, and participated in Canada’s National Arts Council UK tour to commemorate WWI. After working in public relations for over a decade crafting other peoples stories, Lindsay is very excited to share one of her own. Today, she is likely still found with sand between her toes on the beaches of Toronto, her son Cole in tow, in his own Radio Flyer. Finding Winnie is Lindsay’s latest adventure and proof that dreams come true.


Sophie Blackall grew up in Australia where she learned to draw on the beach with sticks, which has not altogether helped her sense of perspective. She completed a Bachelor of Design in Sydney, which furnished her with useful Letraset, bromide and enlarger machine skills. The following few years were spent painting robotic characters for theme parks, providing the hands for a DIY television show, and writing a household hints column. 

In 2000, Blackall was inveigled by New York. She convinced her husband, and two small children (who couldn't talk and had no say in the matter), to pack suitcases and sense of adventure and join the diaspora. After two months of pounding the streets, portfolio in hand, and despite the tireless efforts of her agent, the return plane ticket was cashed in to pay the rent. Just when the highlight in the day had become half a can of Budweiser at six o'clock, the fax machine coughed and spluttered and delivered a commission of nine illustrations for The New York Times.

After lots of editorial work and several animated TV commercials in the UK, the first children's book Sophie Blackall illustrated was Ruby's Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges (Chronicle), which won the Ezra Jack Keats award in 2003.

Since then, she has illustrated Meet Wild Boars by Meg Rosoff (Holt) which won the Society of Illustrators Founders Award; Summer is Summer by Phillis and David Gershator (Holt); What’s So Bad About Being an Only Child? by Cari Best (FSG); Red Butterfly by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick); Ivy and Bean (books one through five) by Annie Barrows (Chronicle); Jumpy Jack and Googily by Meg Rosoff (Holt); Wild Boars Cook by Meg Rosoff (Holt); and Wombat Walkabout by Carol Diggory Shields (Dutton).

In the rare moments that Blackall is away from her desk, she can be found in the kitchen making preposterous birthday cakes for her children or wandering the flea markets in a daze.


You know that wonderful feeling you get when you read the last page of the book, close the cover, sigh, and say to yourself "I loved this story so much I wasn't ready for it to end" ? That is exactly how I felt when I finished reading the last word of this book.

I restrained myself from ready any, and I mean not one single word, of the back matter of this book before I began reading the story. This was unusual for me because I always read the back matter {including Author's Notes, Acknowledgments, Author Bio, Glossary, Bibliographies, etc} before I start reading a story. 

By willingly keeping myself uneducated about the story, I was immediately drawn into the drama and details of this delightful narrative. The story is told in the form of a mother telling her young son a bedtime story. Except this one is based on her family's history, and in particular one exceptionally, perfectly unordinary bear!

Set in Canada and Europe during World War I the story weaves fact with fiction to create an appealing, endearing, and educational story about The Great War. {The author does a nice job of distinguishing fact from fiction for young readers in a note at the end of the back matter.}

The author has entitled the back matter, 'The Colebourn Family Archive', and this section includes an author's note directed at middle-grade readers about the war, photos and bios of characters from the story {human and otherwise}, and some other ephemera pertaining to a certain Ursus Americana, 'black bear', named Winnie. The images are arranged to look like an old-time scrapbook with black photo holders on each corner of the photos and a caption beneath each photo which keeps the historical theme of the story in tact until the very end.

This is book is highly-recommended for middle-grade readers or as a family or classroom read-aloud. Fans of animal fiction, literary fiction, Canadian/European history, World War I history, and military fiction will also enjoy this well-written story.

This was definitely one of my Top Ten of middle-grade reads of 2018!

I borrowed this book from the New Book shelves in the children's section of the local public library.

ATTENTION, ALL WRITERS:  Check out my Bonus Content section below to learn some great writing tips shared in an author interview with inspirational novelist Phyllis Clark Nichols posted on 'Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic' on Friday, November 16th. She has some great organizational tips I had not heard of previously. Enjoy . . . 


Find the links to read more great Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts from middle-grade authors and bloggers at Greg Pattridge's 'Always in the Middle' Blog.
Click over to my recent blog interview with Author Phyllis Clark Nichols to learn some about some of the tools/tricks she uses to stay organized when she's writing a novel. Find the post here:  

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