Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Celebrate Lit Presents: Living Secrets: A Thriller Author: S.F. Baumgartner

 

About the Book

Book: Living Secrets: A Thriller

Author: S.F. Baumgartner

Genre: Christian Thriller

Release Date: September 29, 2023

Can the secret love child of a U.S. Senator deliver the cure for a bioterror threat before time runs out?

Lily Tso is bored and unfulfilled. Orphaned at birth, the twenty-two-year-old Hotel Guest Service Officer is overwhelmed to discover her parents are alive. But the young woman fears she’s woefully unprepared for a treacherous operation to save America and to meet her parents.

Teaming up with an FBI Special Agent and a young tycoon, Lily sets out on a dangerous mission to prevent a heinous biological attack. But as unknown forces bent on thwarting her attempt, she fears time is running out for both her and the country she calls her new home.

Will Lily be able to survive the attacks and save America from certain doom?

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

S.F. Baumgartner is a Christian suspense thriller author and creator of the Mirror Estate series. She graduated from the University of Hawaii and the University of Cincinnati. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her cats, staying active, and binge-watching crime TV shows. She lives in Ohio with her family.

 

 

 

 

More from S.F.

The Journey to “Living Secrets”: A Tale of Hurdles, Hiatus, and Hope

Hello everyone,

I’m incredibly excited to share with you all the backstory of how “Living Secrets,” the first book in the Mirror Estate series, came to be. If you’re a fan of the series (or soon to be), you might know that we’ve got a prequel, “Buried Secrets,” already out in the wild. While it provides some extra flavor and context to the series, “Living Secrets” can totally be enjoyed as a standalone.

The Seeds of a Story

The seedling of the Mirror Estate series started forming in my brain quite some time ago. In fact, I penned an earlier version of the prequel back in 2019, under the title “The Secrets.” No sooner had I hit ‘save’ on that manuscript than I dove head-first into plotting out “Living Secrets.” The story was pulsing through my veins, and I couldn’t wait to get it down on paper.

The 2020 Slump

Then 2020 happened. Ah, yes, the year that shall not be named. Amidst the chaos, my writing spirit decided to take an unscheduled sabbatical. My keyboard gathered dust and the characters in my head seemed to go into hibernation. It was a tough period, creatively speaking, and I know I wasn’t alone in feeling that way.

Rising from the Ashes

Finally, something clicked earlier this year. It was as though my internal storytelling engine roared back to life. I decided it was time to re-enter the world of Mirror Estate. I dusted off the old prequel, gave it a facelift, and republished it as “Buried Secrets,” a more fleshed-out and refined version of the original. But I didn’t stop there; I tackled “Living Secrets” with renewed vigor. After long writing sessions, late-night plot debates with myself, and endless cups of coffee, it’s done. And I couldn’t be prouder to announce that “Living Secrets” is scheduled for release on September 29!

So, whether you’ve been with me since the early days or you’re just discovering the series now, I’m thrilled to have you on this journey. Get ready for a rollercoaster of emotions, plot twists, and unforgettable characters.

Thanks for reading, and I can’t wait for you to dive into “Living Secrets” come September 29.

Until next time, happy reading!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 15

Texas Book-aholic, December 16

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, December 17 (Author Interview)

Exploring the Written Word, December 17

Betti Mace, December 18

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 19

Artistic Nobody, December 20 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 21

Blogging With Carol, December 22

Lily’ Corner, December 23

Guild Master, December 24 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, December 25

Beauty in the Binding, December 26 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, December 26

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 27

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, S.F. is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and an eBook copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/293d4/living-secrets-celebration-tour-giveaway

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

An Amish Mother for His Child: An Uplifting Inspirational Romance (Amish Country Matches, 4)

 

She’ll make the ideal mother…

But could she be
his perfect match?

Marrying a virtual stranger gives Verna Kauffman almost everything she’s ever wanted—a husband, a daughter…and a list of childcare rules. Despite Adam Lantz’s strict standards and formal demeanor, Verna is determined to turn their convenient arrangement into a happy union. But when their growing relationship is challenged, can they overcome their opposite views of marriage to discover what they really need is each other?

Amazon 

 

About The Author


 

Publishers Weekly bestselling author Patricia Johns writes sweet romance for Harlequin Inc. and Kensington Books.

She writes from Alberta, Canada, where she lives with her husband and son.

 

My Review


This is a sweet story of people whom are matched by a matchmaker, and really don't know each other. There is a sweet little four year old girl that her father insists be called by her formal first and second names, but the child just wants to be known as Mandy.

Hard to imagine marrying someone I didn't know, but putting a child in the middle is even harder. We are with Adam and Verna as they journey this new life together, and deal with their own insecurities, and trying to put a prayerful Amish life together.

There are stumbling blocks he has to deal with along with a possible move, can this marriage survive promises? Will they be able to find a common road to happiness, the answers come, and it was a page turner for answers!

Now I'm looking forward to the next book in this series!

I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Harlequin, and was not required to give a positive review. 

The Paris Housekeeper by Renee Ryan

 

From the author of The Secret Society of Salzburg comes a powerful and moving story of bravery and resilience in World War II Paris and one woman who must face impossible choices to survive

Paris, 1940

German tanks rumble through the streets of Paris, forcing frightened citizens to flee. But not everyone has the luxury to leave. Camille Lacroix, a chambermaid at the world-famous Hôtel Ritz, must stay to support her family back home in Brittany. Desperate to earn money, Camille also acts as a lady’s maid for longtime guest Vivian Miller, a glamorous American widow—and a Nazi sympathizer.

Despite her distrust of the woman, Camille turns to Vivian when her friend and fellow hotel maid Rachel Berman needs help getting out of Paris. It’s then that Camille discovers that Vivian is not what she seems… The American has been using her wealth and connections to secretly obtain travel papers for Jewish refugees.

While they're hiding Rachel in an underground bunker under a Nazi’s nose, a daring escape plan is hatched. But as the net grows tighter, and the Germans more ruthless, Camille’s courage will be tested to the extreme.

Amazon

 

About The Author


 

Renee Ryan is the author of thirty novels and counting. She sold her first book in 2001 by winning the inaugural Dorchester/Romantic Times New Historical Voice Contest. She published her second book with Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical and has since sold books to other Harlequin imprints and to Amazon's Waterfall Press.

Renee grew up in a Florida beach town where she learned how to surf very poorly. Armed with a degree in Economics and Religious Studies from Florida State University, she explored various career opportunities, including stints at a Florida theme park, a modeling agency, and three cosmetic conglomerates. She went on to teach high school AP Economics, AP American Government and Latin while coaching award-winning cheer leading teams. She currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and a large, fluffy cat many have mistaken for a small bear.

 

My Review


 Life changes almost in a minute when the evil that has been invading Europe turns its ugly eyes on France. Neighbor turning on neighbor, and soon bread lines, and certain people must stand at the end, and usually don't get anything.

The author gives us faces to those that are just trying to survive, one a young girl, a member of the now hated class, another an American heiress that tries to help the less fortunate, and the third, actually the Paris housekeeper, is a beautiful young woman, she seems to have the world on her shoulders, but goes about her life doing all she can for the lest fortunate.

This is story of intrigue, danger, fear, and yet, with all that is going on, you will chuckle as at one of the solutions the young housekeeper comes up with. Yes, this is a page turner, I needed answers, and loved that there is an epilogue at the end, and be sure to read the author's notes!

I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Harlequin, and was not required to give a positive review.

 

Amish Love Letters by Shelley Shepard Gray, Charlotte Hubbard, Rosalind Lauer

 

A heartfelt note, a loving message, a letter filled with secret hopes—this trio of sweet Amish romances will show that on Valentine’s Day, the right words can spark a lifetime of joy.

Love Letter Courtship * Shelley Shepard Gray

After six months of courtship, Jennie Miller has refused Matt Lapp’s proposal. Though he visits regularly, they never seem to talk deeply, and Jennie longs for real connection and romance. Chastened, Matt offers a solution. For two months, they’ll share letters filled with their hopes and dreams. Soon, Jennie is falling for Matt in earnest . . . but will he ever propose again?

S.W.A.K * Charlotte Hubbard

Quiet, gentle Fannie Kurtz knows that fun-loving Eddie Brubaker is the man she wants to marry someday. When he starts receiving letters in pink envelopes, she realizes she has some competition. Maybe it’s time she wrote a love note or two of her own? But a mix-up could jeopardize this romance before it starts, unless she keeps faith in Gott’s plan . . .
 
The Wrong Valentine * Rosalind Lauer

Young widow Martha Lambright is grateful to be working at her mother-in-law’s restaurant, even if seeing the kitchen gals giggle over Valentine cards gives her a pang. But when Mose Troyer, the former bad boy who drives Martha to and from work each day, finds a Valentine he mistakenly believes is for him, it begins a tender exchange that could lead to a wonderful future.

Amazon 

 

About The Authors

 


Shelley Shepard Gray is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author. She's published over a hundred novels and has over a million books in print. She currently lives in northern Ohio and writes full time.

Shelley lives just an hour from Holmes County, where many of her Amish-themed novels are set. She currently writes contemporary romance and Amish fiction for a variety of publishers. When not spending time with her family or writing, she can usually be found walking her two dachshunds on one of the many trails in the Cleveland area.

She also bakes a lot, loves coconut cream pie, and will hardly ever pull weeds, mow the yard, or drive in the snow.

Shelley also spends a lot of time on line! Please visit her website, www.shelleyshepardgray.com to find out her latest news or to sign up for her newsletter. Shelley can also be found on FaceBook, Instagram @shelley.s.gray, or on Twitter @ShelleySGray.

 


 

Charlotte Hubbard sold her first historical romance in 1990, and she’s been a slave to her overactive imagination ever since. As she writes, her stories invariably take on a life of their own, different from the way she proposed them: unforeseen characters and plot twists come along, and they keep her guessing right along with her readers!

Charlotte has lived in the Midwest most of her life. When she’s not writing, she loves touring historic homes, trying new recipes, crocheting, and playing with her Border Collie, Ramona. She’s a Presbyterian deacon, sings in her church choir, and plays in the percussion ensemble. She’s married to a fine man who—bless him—has never once suggested she get a real job!

 


 

Rosalind Lauer grew up in a large family in Maryland and began visiting Lancaster County’s Amish community as a child. Lauer attended Wagner College in New York City and worked as an editor for Simon & Schuster and Harlequin Books. She now lives with her family in Oregon, where she writes in the shade of some towering two-hundred-year-old Douglas fir trees.
   


My Review

 


 

Three different stories, by three authors, and this novellas become page turners.

The first one is rather sad, but keep reading and hoping that this pair of Amish friends can turn into a sweet couple. A stumbling block, and one that is not easy to be around, but I loved how it was handled.

The second one happens back in a place I would love to live, Promise Lodge, and a new pair of siblings arrive to make a new start in their lives. Still recovering from the tornado, Eddie Brubaker is quickly putting his skills to work! He is hoping for a new start away from a woman whom is making him wary, but alas no luck. I loved how this one was worked out!

The final deals with a woman coming to terms of being a widow and the cause of what happened to her husband. This Valentines Day time, and she makes a mistake with a valentine she has had, and it changes her life!

I loved these stories, and just hated for them to end! Enjoy!

I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Kensington, and was not required to give a positive review.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Celebrate Lit Presents: HE IS! Knowing God through Fifty Scriptural Meditations Author: Mark R. Worden

 

About the Book

Book: HE IS! Knowing God through Fifty Scriptural Meditations

Author: Mark R. Worden

Genre: Devotional – Personal Growth, Devotional Theology

Release Date: July 27, 2022

HE IS! Knowing God through Fifty Scriptural Meditations is devotional theology that is inspirational in nature, coming right out of the Scriptures.  The devotionals are practical and relatable as the author shares from his own stories of life and ministry like a grandpa would share with his grandchildren.  Other edifying features at the end of each devotional are the reflection questions, Scripture verses for further reading for personal meditation and spiritual growth, and space for the reader’s own thoughts.

Through a decade-plus of his life, the author took on the challenge of Hebrew 11:6 to seek God purposefully by looking for all the “God is…” statements that he could find in the Bible. He discovered that God clearly reveals who HE IS throughout the history and stories of the Bible. Each chapter is a HE IS statement about God that helps us to know Him better as we meditate on each attribute or work of God.

The author suggests a slow reading of HE IS throughout the year to have time to pause and think about who God is by taking one chapter each week. However, many readers are choosing a daily read and finding the devotionals enlightening as they are exposed to approximately 800 quoted verses of Scripture through the fifty, HE IS meditations. Each chapter can be read independently; however, there is a flow to the order of the chapters with some chapters building upon the preceding ones. After reading the book post-publication in preparation for a speaking engagement, the author realized that there was an unplanned sub-theme of God the Heavenly Father and we, His children through faith, that runs like a thread through the chapters, tying the truths about God together. The crescendo of the book is Chapter 47: “HE IS OUR FATHER.”

The writing of the book HE IS was part of God’s healing and growing process in the author’s life as he encountered faith-challenging trials. He shares his spiritual journey briefly in the Preface of the book. He is thankful for the promise of Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

Mark R. Worden is a lifelong learner and a student of the Bible. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Bible and Teaching Bible. He has served as youth pastor, missionary, professor at a Bible institute in Manaus, Brazil, and pastor of a local Montana church for six years. Along with being a licensed property manager, he is a self-employed handyman and a fly-fishing guide. Mark also enjoys woodworking in his home shop in Dillon, Montana.

Book Awards:

  • American Writing Awards 2022 Finalist in the Religion Category
  • Readers Views, Reviewer’s Choice Award 2022-2023, Bronze Medal Winner
  • Ames Award Winner 2023, for courageous faith in Devotional – Personal Growth
  • Christian Indie Awards, 2023 Finalist – Devotional

More from Mark

God’s Providence in some of the History of HE IS!

Do you read the Acknowledgements and the Preface of books you read?  I do! They often give the reader insight into the life of the author and possibly more understanding of his or her message.  God’s grace and providence are thick in my life.  Read about it from the Preface to the last page of the book, “HE IS!”
We know that God intervenes in our lives when we have a heart to recognize His work.

Providence in my salvation story!

In the Acknowledgement and the Preface of “HE IS!” I mention a friend by name.  He was a fellow classmate in High School whom God used to encourage me to think about God. I didn’t really like it at the time because I was running away from God during those days.  However, presently, I am eternally grateful for Jim’s life, for God used him to turn my life around to run towards God.  Read more of the story in the Preface.

Providence in rewriting chapter 10, HE IS LOVE!

About three years ago, when I was rewriting each chapter of the manuscript, I was stuck on chapter 10, HE IS LOVE.   Taking a break from writing to drive out to my hometown of Roseburg, Oregon, I participated in a Memorial Fun Run in honor of Jim who had months earlier passed into eternity.  Sunday, I attended a worship service and sat with Jim’s widow by her invitation and heard a Bible message where the messenger defined love.  I took notes. With his permission, I used his definition in Chapter 10.  God providentially gave me the help I needed to get past some writer’s block.

Providence in the publication date!

Jim’s widow became a precious sister in Christ since his passing into eternity and she posted a comment on Facebook that shocked me into a big smile. I was in awe of God’s timing in the publication date of “HE IS!” She pointed out that the “HE IS!” paperback publication date of July 27, 2022, printed in the actual book, was Jim’s Birthday!   I remember at one point in the publication process having to surrender my expectations to the timing of the publication where I said, “Lord, I give up; it’s in your hands!” Then I was surprised how quickly it got published and, unbeknownst to me, perfectly timed on Jim’s Birthday!  Simply amazing!  Jim had been one of God’s major human instruments in bringing me to faith in Jesus Christ!   Seems so fitting! Providential!

Providence to come!

Before my mom passed into eternity to be face-to-face with her Savior in September of 2022, she told me, “Mark, don’t worry about this book you have written; God will get it into the hands of those who need to read it!”  What trust and what peace those words brought me.  While I am working on letting others know about “HE IS!” I can let go and let God take control.  Amen!  I look forward and expect to hear some more stories of God’s providence in regard to this book He led and helped me to write.  All glory be to God because HE IS!

Providence in 2023!

It was through the publication and my offering of a free PDF of “HE IS!” in an online Christian author group on Facebook that a single, attractive, and fascinating author, by the name of Connie Cook, asked for a copy, saying, “This looks good!”   I wondered who would say my book looked good and read her insightful apologetic work, Look Around! Ten Observations that Leads to one Conclusion. We were soon writing emails back and forth to each other, author style, and had a budding friendship started. By the time I had finished reading a self-autobiographical mixed with historical fiction work about Connie and her mother, entitled, Mae and Me, I had totally fallen in love with Connie. But would she choose me in return as I had chosen to lover her for as far as she would love me?   Of course, there is a lot more to the story which we plan to tell in a sequel to Connie’s book, Mae and Me entitled, Mark and Me. I won’t leave you hanging too long; we do believe that God is calling us together in marriage to coauthor some books in the future.  Yes, we believe in the providence of God and answers to prayer.

Blessings, Mark R. Worden

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 13

It’s Mama Safe, December 14

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 15

Lighthouse Academy Blog, December 16 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 17

Texas Book-aholic, December 18

Fiction Book Lover, December 19 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 20

Artistic Nobody, December 21 (Author Interview)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 21

Cover Lover Book Review, December 22

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 23

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 24 (Author Interview)

For the Love of Literature, December 25 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, December 25

Lily’s Corner, December 26

Giveaway

To celebrate his tour, Mark is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card, a signed paperback copy of HE IS! and a signed paperback copy of Look Around: Ten Observations that Leads to One Conclusion by Connie Cook!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/293d3/he-is-celebration-tour-giveaway

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Celebrate Lit Presents: Sweet Rivalry Author: Terri Gillespie

 

About the Book

Book: Sweet Rivalry

Author: Terri Gillespie

Genre: Women’s Contemporary/ Christian Romance/Family Life Fiction

Release Date: October 27, 2021

Just an ordinary morning for Sarah Sweeting—watching her favorite baking show, Cupcake Rivalry, getting ready for work at her Granny’s small-town bakery. All that changes when Sarah spots a contestant who looks like her, sounds like her, moves like her.

Was this her twin sister? The twin her mother ran away with twenty years ago? Were hers and Granny’s prayers finally being answered?

When Granny confirms Sarah’s shocking discovery, Granny suffers a heart attack.

Raven Souwer’s morning began at a frenzied pace—incessantly ringing phones and a Beverly Hills’ bakery full of customers. All because everyone wants to catch a glimpse of the Cupcake Rivalry contestants—Raven and her best friend, Will Durning.

But a phone call from an excited woman who claims to be Raven’s long-lost sister—a sister Raven has no memory of—informs Raven that a grandmother she never knew was in the hospital.

The call changes the course of Raven’s life and brings up the pain she thought she’d overcome.

Will Sarah and Raven finally be united, or will other rivalries—like competing in a baking show—separate them again?

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

Award-winning author, YouTube personality, and speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption. She has won best contemporary with the Lyra Awards, Rattler Contest, Golden Scroll, and placed in the Angel Book Awards.

Life is a journey. Terri lived in fear most of her life. Stories helped her see life through the lens of adventure and God’s abiding love. Those stories changed her life. They empowered her to be brave. She hopes hers will do the same for you.

She is the author of critically-acclaimed Making Eye Contact with God (now in its 15th year), She Does Good Hair, CUT IT OUT!, Really Bad Hair Day, and Sweet Rivalry.

More from Terri

Where do stories come from? Oh, so many places. Sweet Rivalry began over ten years ago with an idea called the “cupcake sisters.” Two sisters who worked in a small hometown bakery trying to be true to family recipes and not get overrun by the food chains. Not much more than that. Boring, right?

The other day, I ran across my notes written years ago with other ideas for the sisters. No plot could carry an interesting enough story to get the creative juices going.

A dear friend—and amazing author—gave me a life-sized cupcake candle. The vibrant colors and glittery icing were meant to inspire me to develop the idea and write the book. It sat on my inspiration shelf for years.

At first every time I looked at it, I would smile.

But, as the years went by the sun faded the candle, as did my hope of finding the right story for the cupcake sisters.

Then, during COVID I got hooked on those reality shows about long-lost families being reunited after decades of separation. Some of the families had no idea the other family member existed.

Each episode meant a fist of soppy tissues. Yet, even with the dramatic music, professional editing, and big build-up, some families’ smiles didn’t quite reach their eyes.

I wondered, what happens to these people after the camera crews leave? After the emotional reunions, the drama and excitement subsides and reality settles into their respective homes? How do these people from very different histories become a family? Do they even try? Do they want to face the secrets that separated them?

Some of the “long-lost” family members were children of affairs. Most were children given up through adoption. Others abandoned. One man found his birth mother, only to learn he was the result of a rape. How do they navigate the choppy and complex psychological waters?

These interesting stories became delicious ingredients for the Sweet Rivalry novel. Twin sisters separated as toddlers by a troubled mother with addictions.

One sister, Sarah was raised by her loving, Christian grandmother who owned the local Sweet’s Bakery.

The other sister, Raven was raised by her using mother, in crack houses. Still, Raven manages to become a celebrated pastry chef.

How do twins with completely different childhoods become a family? How does the sister raised in a loving, stable, Christian environment form a relationship with the sister who has seen the worst of society and had to pull herself from a terrible background all on her own? Who now blames God for the horrific things that happened to her?

And a grandmother that hides a terrible secret?

Now, throw into the mix three handsome men vying for the twins’ affections, then bake with the emotional investments into the lives of these women, and you’ve got quite a recipe for a delectable story.

With humor, passion and delicious recipes, Sweet Rivalry will satisfy the hungry reader looking for a unique story of hope.

You know, Sweet Rivalry’s journey proved to me once again, that creativity can’t be forced, and GOD’s timing is always the best—even if it is a ten-year wait.

How about a recipe?

Raven’s Dr. Pepper Chocolate Cupcakes with Fritos Frosting

The Recipe That Almost Won the Cupcake Rivalry competition for Raven and Will.

Raven’s cupcake recipe:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup unsalted butter softened

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar packed

2 eggs room temperature

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup Dr Pepper

½ cup buttermilk

Will’s Fritos Cream Cheese Frosting

4 cup powdered sugar

½ cup unsalted butter softened

6 oz cream cheese softened

4 T Dr Pepper to taste

Original, Regular flavor Fritos (up to 1 cup)—Don’t use the scoop type

Instructions:

Raven’s Chocolate Dr Pepper Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350o F. Prepare 2-12 count muffin tins with cupcake cup liners (22-24 total).
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer (or a hand mixer and large bowl), add in butter, granulated and brown sugars, eggs, and vanilla. Beat on low until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Keeping mixer speed on low, add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix in the Dr Pepper.
  5. Add the other half of the dry ingredients as well as the buttermilk. Mix until just combined—do not overmix. Batter should be thick and fluffy.
  6. Pour cupcake batter into prepared muffin tin, filling cups 2/3 full. Tap the tin on the counter a few times to level the batter.
  7. Bake cupcakes one batch at a time for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Place muffin tin on a wire cooling rack to cool for 5-10 minutes, then remove cupcakes and allow to finish cooling on wire rack.
  9. Wait until cupcakes are completely cooled before applying the frosting.

Will’s Fritos Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Use a clean stand mixer (or a hand-mixer & large bowl) on high speed beat the softened butter until smooth and creamy, roughly 2 minutes.
  2. Drop speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar. May be clumpy at this stage—don’t worry.
  3. Keeping speed on low, slowly beat in softened cream cheese. Will recommends cutting the cream cheese into 4-5 pieces and mixing in one piece at a time.
  4. Finally, add in the Dr. Pepper. Now if you want more Dr. Pepper flavor, you can add more, and you can add up to a cup more of powdered sugar, but after that, you lose the great cream cheese flavor.
  5. Finely ground ½ cup of Fritos. Almost as fine as coffee grounds. Fold in by hand into frosting.
  6. Frost the cupcakes.
  7. Remaining Fritos you can either roughly ground and sprinkled on top, or Will likes to leave one Frito curl nestled on top, right before serving.
  8. Eat immediately—I mean, who would wait?

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 16

Artistic Nobody, December 17 (Author Interview)

Books I’ve Read, December 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 18

Texas Book-aholic, December 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 20

Cover Lover Book Review, December 21

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 22

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 23

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, December 24 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, December 25

Beauty in the Binding, December 26 (Author Interview)

Holly’s Book Corner, December 27

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 28 (Author Interview)

Exploring the Written Word, December 28

Lily’s Corner, December 29

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Terri is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon Gift Card, a signed copy of Sweet Rivalry, Cupcake Stickers, Sweet Rivalry bookmark, and a Hand-poured Cupcake Candle!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/293d5/sweet-ri

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Celebrate Lit Presents: Falling for a Real Cowboy Author: Karen Baney

 

About the Book

Book: Falling for a Real Cowboy

Author: Karen Baney

Genre: Contemporary Christian Cowboy Romance

Release Date: November 21, 2023

She’s trying to resurrect her career. He’s sworn off women. Will this city-meets-country duo find love where they least expect it?

Dalton J. Vargas the fourth has sworn off love. Women are just a distraction that keep him from running his family’s multi-million-dollar guest ranch near Wickenburg, Arizona. After his father announces an early retirement, the full burden of the ranch rests on his shoulders. When a city-slicker romance author stays at the ranch, Dalton’s perfect world turns to chaos.

River Sloane’s last workplace romance novel flopped—big time. Now her publisher wants her to write a modern-day cowboy romance, which she has resisted for years. When her publisher sends her to a dude ranch in the middle of nowhere Arizona, she must learn about cowboys and ranching to get her career back on track. One hunky cowboy stirs her heart and unexpectedly becomes her muse.

Will she let herself fall in love with the real cowboy or will she return to the life she left behind? Will Dalton open his heart to a new, lasting love?

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

Karen Baney is passionate about writing stories full of flawed characters. She enjoys weaving together stories of second chances, redemption, and overcoming personal trials. As a transplant to Arizona in the late 1990s, she loves researching the state’s history and finding ways to seamlessly incorporate real history and real settings into her novels. In addition to writing and speaking, Karen works as a Software Development Manager for a Christian ministry.

Her faith plays an important role both in her life and in her writing. Karen and her husband, Jim, make their home in Gilbert, Arizona, with their two dogs, Bella and Daisy. Both Jim and Karen are active at Rock Point Church in Queen Creek, Arizona.

 

More from Karen

Inspiration Behind the Vargas Ranch Series Brand

How many books about ranches and cowboys have you read, whether historical or contemporary and you wondered about their brand?

Hardly anyone describes the brand. Me either. In my historical series, I don’t think I’ve mentioned the brand for my ranch that appears in eleven books!

Well, for the Vargas Ranch Series, the brand plays a central role in describing both the family and their faith. In many of my series, I start with a theme verse, and the Vargas Ranch Series is no exception. When I read these verses in my morning devotion time, I knew this would be the anchor for the series.

With regard to the works of man,

by the word of your lips

I have avoided the ways of the violent.

My steps have held fast to your paths;

my feet have not slipped.

—Psalms 17:4-5 ESV

Then the family motto formed based on the second verse:  I do not deviate from the Lord’s plan.

Immediately, I latched onto the word “deviate” and how it might be represented in a brand: “dV8”. I sketched out the design, and then I had to back into how else the letters “d” and “V” might relate to the series.

 

Then next thing I knew, I was searching for Spanish last names beginning with a “V”. As soon as I saw Vargas, I knew it was the perfect name for my Arizonan ranching family. The idea to make all the men’s name begin with a “d” also took shape. I scanned through my running list of cowboy names and quickly settled on the five brothers’ names: Dalton, Dylan, Derin, Devon, and Drake.

Now, I could have probably stopped there, but I love developing a rich family history for series like this. So, I decided to set the founding of the ranch in 1952 with Dalton J. Vargas, Senior. His son, Junior, named his son, Dalton J. Vargas the third, and Diego Vargas. The third or “Tres”, is the father of the five sons in the series.

I’ve really enjoyed weaving the family’s “dV8” brand, family motto, and theme verses into the first book in the series. They will make an appearance in all five books. So, I’ll leave you with:

“I do not deviate from the Lord’s plan.”

Blessings, dear readers!

Blog Stops

lakesidelivingsite, December 12

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, December 13 (Author Interview)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 13

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 14

Jodie Wolfe – Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, December 15 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 16

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 17 (Author Interview)

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 18

A Reader’s Brain, December 19 (Author Interview)

Life on Chickadee Lane, December 19

Texas Book-aholic, December 20

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 21 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, December 22

For the Love of Literature, December 23 (Author Interview)

Labor Not in Vain, December 24

Holly’s Book Corner, December 25

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Karen is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 gift card and a signed paperback copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/293d2/falling-for-a-real-cowboy-celebration-tour-giveaway

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Celebrate Lit Presents: The Gilded Curse Author: Marilyn Turk

 

About the Book

Book: The Gilded Curse

Author: Marilyn Turk

Genre: Historical Suspense

Release Date: July 31, 2023

In early 1942, a mysterious telegram draws Lexie Smithfield back to the island her mother thought was cursed. Now the only heir to the dwindling family fortune, Lexie plans to sell the family’s vacation “cottage” in the Millionaire’s Village on Jekyll Island. But someone else is interested in the cottage and is getting more desperate to find what they’re looking for, even to the point of murder.

Lexie’s childhood friend, Russell Thompson, is now the Jekyll Island Club’s superintendent and the keeper of members’ secrets, especially one that would shatter Lexie. When he learns Lexie is in danger, he stays close to protect her, but soon discovers an attraction to Lexie he didn’t expect.

Could the danger be from someone they know or is it possible that the threat of Nazi invasion on their coast is a reality? Or is the island really cursed?

Russell and Lexie must work together to discover the real danger and keep from getting hurt or killed in the process.

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

Award-winning author Marilyn Turk writes historical and contemporary fiction flavored with suspense and romance. Marilyn also writes devotions for Daily Guideposts, Walking in Grace, and contributes to other Guideposts publications. She and her husband are lighthouse enthusiasts, have visited over 100 lighthouses and also served as volunteer lighthouse caretakers at Little River Light off the coast of Maine.

When not writing or visiting lighthouses, Marilyn enjoys reading, walking, boating, fishing, gardening, tennis, and playing with her golden retriever. She also sings in the choir at her church and leads a women’s Bible study group. Marilyn and her husband have a combined family of four sons, one daughter, and four grandsons. She’s still hoping for a granddaughter someday.

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Faith, Hope and Love Christian Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Word Weavers International, and the United States Lighthouse Society.

Marilyn is also the director of the Blue Lake Christian Writers Conference.

More from Marilyn

When my agent told me a certain publisher was looking for Southern Gothic novels,

I wondered what those were.  What I found out was that they were gothic-style novels set in the South, usually an old antebellum mansion, for example, “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.” Think “Jane Eyre” or “Wuthering Heights” set in the southern United States. I had just visited Jekyll Island, Georgia and toured the Millionaires’ Village there, so those mansions came to mind.  These homes, which were actually vacation “cottages” of the rich and famous, were built in the Gilded Age of the late 1800s and early 1900s. It is said that the 100 members of the club represented most of the wealth in America at that time. However, the members aged and passed away, leaving their wealth or debt to their descendants, the Great Depression caused many to lose their fortunes, then two world wars wreaked havoc on the country, so most of those homes were abandoned. Thanks to ongoing renovation efforts by the state of Georgia, many have been rebuilt. My main character in The Gilded Curse, Alexandra Smithfield (Lexie), inherits one of those abandoned mansions right at the start of World War II. The family fortune gone, she intends to renovate and sell the mansion she hasn’t seen since childhood since her mother believed the island cursed, due to some tragedies that happened to their family while there. So Lexie is “cursed” in two ways – by inheriting something she can no longer afford to keep and by the imagined curse her mother believes. When suspicious events happen around her cottage, she wonders if her mother was right.

Today, you can take tours of the Millionaires’ Village and see the former “cottages” of Pulitzer, Vanderbilt, J.P. Morgan, etc. You can also stay at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, renovated and now part of the Jekyll Island Club Resort. Some of the characters in my book were real people who lived in 1942, particularly the Maurice sisters, two single sisters who loved the island and never wanted to leave it, even when the President of the United States wanted the island vacated during the war. One interesting thing about the Maurice house: efforts to renovate it have met one obstacle after another, leading some people to believe the sisters’ spirits are still there and very particular about what they want done to their house.

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 11

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 11

Pause for Tales, December 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 13

Mary Hake, December 13

Betti Mace, December 14

Texas Book-aholic, December 15

Min Reads and Reviews, December 15

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 17

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 18

Holly’s Book Corner, December 18

Blogging With Carol, December 19

Cover Lover Book Review, December 20

For Him and My Family, December 21

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, December 22 (Author Interview)

Little Homeschool on the prairie, December 22

Connie’s History Classroom, December 23

Lily’s Corner, December 24

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Marilyn is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/293d1/the-gilded-curse-celebration-tour-giveaway

Celebrate Lit Presents: Lumen Author: J. J. Fischer

 

About the Book

Book: Lumen

Author: J. J. Fischer

Genre: Fantasy (adult)

Release Date: December 5, 2023

What if erasing the past cost more than you were willing to pay?

Having narrowly escaped their enemies, Sephone, Dorian, and Cass continue their search for the elusive Silvertongue, the only one with knowledge of the Reliquary’s whereabouts. But time is running out for Sephone, and with Dorian accused of high treason, the quest takes on a new urgency.

As secrets from each of their pasts drive a wedge between them, Sephone invests all her hopes in finding her homeland, Lethe—where her family may yet be alive. But nothing about Lethe is as she expects, and disappointment, betrayal, and danger await her at every turn.

When the truth about the Reliquary’s curse comes to light, the fragile bonds between the unlikely companions are tested like never before. Meanwhile, Dorian faces a terrible choice: to save the life of one who is beginning to mean more to him than the past he’s so desperate to forget, or to save his beloved Caldera from dangers outside and within.

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

J.J. Fischer’s writing dream began with the anthology of zoo animals she painstakingly wrote and illustrated at age five. Jasmine began writing her first proper novel at age fourteen, which eventually became her debut fantasy series, The Darcentaria Duology, which was published in 2021. She is a qualified psychologist with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in clinical psychology. When Jasmine isn’t killing defenseless house plants, she enjoys devouring books, dabbling in floristry, playing the piano, and wishing it rained more often. Jasmine is married to David, and together they make their home a couple of hours north of Sydney, Australia.

 

More from J.J.

Have you noticed how much less we’re participating in life these days?

Here in Australia, we have a show called Gogglebox where we watch people on their couches watching (and commentating on) our favorite TV shows from the last seven days. Sometimes, you don’t even need to have seen the shows. But it’s fun to watch other people watching TV, often because they have the same reactions we have to particular scenes.

The widespread popularity of a show like Gogglebox is telling because it demonstrates just how comfortable we’ve become with observing and commentating on other peoples’ lives. We’re quick to critique and criticize and dismiss. So much of our human experience is now mediated through screens and technology and social media that we’ve lost a great deal of the beauty and simplicity of life.

How often does a long walk through autumn leaves or a swim at the beach refresh our spirit, yet we rarely get out of the house or away from our busy schedules in order to do so?

In the post-apocalyptic world of The Nightingale Trilogy, people no longer have access to the technology and comforts of the “world-that-was,” so they choose to vicariously enjoy its pleasures by re-experiencing old memories, which can be physically extracted and drunk like potions. Nostalgia is the currency of the day, and the gifted individuals who can manipulate these memories—known as alters or mems—are exceptionally prized.

The female main character, Sephone Winter, is a young slave who can selectively edit memories with a single touch of a person’s skin. But Sephone is increasingly aware that there’s something different about the memories of the old world that she extracts from donors’ minds. They’re much more faded, and less vivid, than the real thing. And she begins to suspect that habitually enjoying these second-hand and third-hand experiences comes at the price of a person’s humanity, self-awareness, and even their capacity to love.

After meeting an old veteran with a first-hand memory of strawberries—who tells Sephone that even this is a shadow of the real thing—she begins a journey to discover what authentic experience really looks like, and if there’s something more to hope for than the faded artifacts of a long-dead world.

Sephone’s discoveries have relevance and meaning for all of us in this world where life’s pleasures are often smoke and mirrors. Since the Fall, our lives are full of counterfeit things. They sound good, they look right—more real, sometimes, than the real thing—but they’re ultimately an imitation that doesn’t satisfy us the way we thought and hoped they would.

As a Christian, I believe that if we rely on counterfeit things to satisfy our souls, we’re always going to end up hungry. As David Foster Wallace famously once said, worshipping the stuff of this world will inevitably “eat us alive.” False truth and false gods always break the hearts of their worshippers.

But unmet needs are a signpost pointing to a better way, a deeper truth. As C.S. Lewis wisely commented: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

The Nightingale Trilogy is another world, a fantasy context, a different time period. But it’s really us. I hope, as you read, that it stirs in you a hunger for truth, for real things; a desire to connect with the Author of your soul. I can testify that He’s out of this world!

Cherish the Real,

Jasmine

Blog Stops

Fiction Book Lover, December 7 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, December 8

Artistic Nobody, December 9 (Author Interview)

The Lofty Pages, December 9

Simple Harvest Reads, December 10 (Guest Review from Mindy)

Guild Master, December 11 (Author Interview)

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 12

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 13

For the Love of Literature, December 14 (Author Interview)

Wishful Endings, December 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 16

Through the Fire Blogs, December 17 (Author Interview)

Book Butterfly in Dreamland, December 17

Becca Hope: Book Obsessed, December 18

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 19 (Author Interview)

Blogging With Carol, December 20

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, J.J. is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card along with a signed copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/29249/lumen-celebration-tour-giveaway

Celebrate Lit Presents: The Crooked Daughter Author: D.M. Griffin

  About the Book Book:  The Crooked Daughter Author:  D.M. Griffin Genre:  Biblical Fiction Release date: March 28, 2024 C...