Release Day for The Complete Heart Seekers Series

HeartSeekers_Box_SetI’m excited to announce that the Heart Seekers Series is now complete and released in a four-book set. I was involved in writing two of the books, A Dozen Apologies, and Unlikely Merger. An added bonus to the set is the #1 bestseller The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt. Check out these descriptions of each book and also the links where you can purchase the series; in Kindle and print.

 

A Dozen Apologies

A DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT medIn college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better.

Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible.

Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

The Love Boat Bachelor

love boat bachelor imageRomance is a joke.

After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too.

Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry?

Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise.

As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.

What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Unlikely Merger

11112210_858579607541022_8504991036842170166_oNo longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

snowmen1The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt

Grace takes delivery of a package and her life is turned upside down by nine sealed mystery envelopes from her late grandmother. Grammie’s instructions require Grace to take the journey of her lifetime, not only to far-off places but also into the deepest parts of her heart. As she follows the trail laid out for her and uncovers her family’s darkest secrets, Grace is forced to confront the loss and betrayal that has scarred her past and seek the greatest Christmas Treasure of all.

The digital version will be FREE for three days (Dec 4, 5, 6) and then it will be 99 cents for the rest of December.

Available at Amazon.

HeartSeekers FRONT Cover

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A Trio of Romance

Love romance? Then you won’t want to miss this trio of romance novellas in The Heart Seekers series.

Unlikely Merger

cover of unlikely mergerNo longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

 

 

 

The Love Boat Bachelor

Romance is a joke. love boat bachelor image

After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too.

Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry?

Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise.

As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.

What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

 

A Dozen Apologies

dozen apologiesMara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up.

In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better.

Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job than she ever thought possible.

Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

3 books

 

Being Part of a Multi-Author Book Collaboration

Fay Lamb  (1)By Fay Lamb

I love multi-author collaborations. Not those usual books where four or five authors are asked to submit different novellas as a collection.

I much more prefer the Write Integrity Press style of novella, where anywhere from six to a dozen authors are lined up to write one story about one hero or heroine and bring a leg of that hero or heroine’s journey to life.

Having been involved in all five of these unique ventures, I can tell you they are fun to write and to market. Authors are usually solitary creatures, but not so when you’re working with a group of writers who each put their words onto the pages and meld them together into a cohesive tale that many readers say they would never know without the cover with the author’s names printed on it that the story was written by more than one person.

Write Integrity Press started this format with two Christmas novellas: The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt and A Ruby Christmas. The tradition continued with a Valentine story that has now blossomed into a three novella series: A Dozen Apologies, The Love Boat Bachelor, and our latest story Unlikely Merger, which will be offered free on Kindle beginning tomorrow, July 1 through July 5.

I’m often asked two questions about my involvement in the projects:

How do you come up with the storyline?  I’m happy to say that the job isn’t always mine. In fact, I’ve only had to come up with one storyline, and that was for A Dozen Apologies. The idea was born out of an old board game girls used to play entitled The Dating Game. Girls would play for the chance to open the door on the board to see who their dates would be. From there, I thought of a sorority type who used to date men and drop them publicly. After losing her job and realizing she’d been played by her boyfriend who got the job she coveted, Mara Adkins discovered Christ, and realized that she owed apologies to the men she had wronged. Mara’s journey took her through a variety of odd jobs, and twelve different men who handled her apology in twelve different ways.

With each novella, the fun part begins when the authors are lined up and sometimes contests are done to introduce new authors. They are given details of the story that help to keep it cohesive, and then they are asked to create a character and a location that becomes uniquely theirs.

How do so many writers write a story that reads as if it had been written by one individual? To this, I have to say it’s done by hard work. The process starts with the author who is responsible for the main character. For example, Jerusha Agen was the author of Brent Teague, one of the men to whom Mara owed an apology.

Write Integrity Press is great about finding ways for readers to interact with projects and with authors. In this series, the readers are not told which author wrote which hero/heroine. We do this because the individual characters are voted on to get the hero/heroine. Write Integrity wants the chapter hero to get the vote and not the author. Poor Brent. He came in second place in the voting for Mara’s hero. He was heartbroken, and Jerusha decided to get him a volunteer job as chaplain on a cruise ship. She purposely didn’t tell him that it was a romantic cruise dubbed the Love Boat. Jerusha provided each author involved a detailed description of Brent, told us where the Love Boat might make port, and asked us to introduce him to a potential heroine.

When the deadlines were made (no laughter, please—everyone knows I’m the troublemaker for these when it comes to deadlines), Jerusha read through, and she very painstakingly made sure that Brent’s demeanor remained true to his personality. Otherwise, the authors simply told their little leg of the journey. Mercy Lacewell came in second in the voting for Brent’s heroine. You’ll have to read the book to see who won Brent’s heart.

The authors of all three novellas are excited about the latest novella, Unlikely Merger. The voting has closed, and with tomorrow’s free release, the readers will find out which hero stole Mercy Lacewell’s heart and which author wrote which hero. I hope you’ll take a look.

Unlikely Mergercover of unlikely merger

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

Fay Lamb is an editor, writing coach, and author, whose emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on three romance novellas: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt,A Ruby Christmas, A Dozen Apologies, and the newest adventure The Love Boat Bachelor. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.
Future releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind.

 

 

Traveling with Others

PheeBy Phee Paradise

There’s no one I’d rather travel with than my family. We live pretty far apart, so family gatherings are a joyful mix of catch up and memories. As missionary kids, some of our memories are of road trips across Mexico and some of our adult gatherings have been once in a lifetime trips to other parts of the world.

In one trip, my mother, sisters and I met in London for a road trip to Edinburgh. We hadn’t planned it to be a book tour, but Mother taught us all to love reading, so it was inevitable that we recognized places from our favorite books. In London, we looked for the Bird Woman from Mary Poppins on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral and shopped in Dickens’ Old Curiosity Shop. While driving north through the Cotswolds we watched for Hobbits and stopped in Oxford to visit the Bird and Baby Pub where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis met with the Inklings to discuss their writing. Naturally we also toured Lewis’ college and home. Later on the trip we were sad that we didn’t have time to visit the moors of Wuthering Heights and The Secret Garden. During our hours in the car driving across England, we took turns reading the Narnia books aloud.

Another trip was a search for our family roots with extended family. Aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings flew to China to visit the places my grandparents lived and worked as missionaries. My mother and her sisters and brother had grown up there and the rest of us soaked up their memories as they relived their childhood. They had played in the entrance to the Forbidden City, walked on the Great Wall before it was restored and enjoyed tanghulu, their favorite sugary treat. Most of the places they had lived were gone, but we found the church where their parents had served. We talked with people who had known my grandparents and remained faithful to their Christian faith through the turmoils of Communist China. What a joy it was for the entire family to see our heritage come to life and recognize the awesome God who keeps His promise that His Word will not return void.

God has blessed me with a loving, godly family and I love traveling with them. But being with them reminds me that I’m part of the larger family of God and I love traveling with them on our earthly journey too.

Unlikely Mergercover of unlikely merger

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

Phee Paradise was blessed to be a missionary kid and loves to share that experience in her writing.  In Miracles at Midnight, she edited her father’s stories about his years on the mission field where he saw God change lives for the Kingdom. Phee has also contributed to several books, including A Ruby Christmas, A Dozen Apologies, and her latest, Unlikely Merger. She prays that her work will be used by God to His glory.  You can read some of Phee’s stories at http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=42864

Why I Keep Saying Yes to The Proposal

May2015KeptconferenceBy Julie Arduini

I love movies. Most of the time I enjoy action/adventure movies with my husband, perhaps as a way to unwind after serving others or writing all day. People think it’s funny because I write romance, and yet romantic movies are not always my go-to.

There is one romantic comedy that no matter where I see it playing, no matter what I’m doing, every time it’s on, I’m watching it. I stop everything and watch as if I haven’t already watched it a dozen times.

What movie?

The Proposal.

Starring Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock, this movie focuses on a New York City publishing company that only wants the best. Sandra Bullock is the best but it has come at a cost. She’s not nice and everyone fears her.

Ryan Reynolds is his assistant and I love his backstory. He hails from Alaska where his father wants him to take over the family business. Turns out his family is very successful but it isn’t where the character wants to be. He wants to be an author. He’s even given his manuscript to his boss to read. But she told him it wasn’t publishable in order to keep him as her assistant. He’s the best she’s had but is too wounded to let him know.

What makes the story fun, although not completely believable, is that Ms. Bullock’s character, Margaret Tate, is going to be sent back to Canada if she doesn’t get her Visa straightened out. The only way she sees this working to her benefit is to force her assistant, Andrew Paxton, to marry her. This is strictly a business arrangement and feels more like blackmail. But Andrew is savvy and uses the situation to his advantage. He forces her to attend his Grammy’s 90th birthday in Sitka, Alaska.

I loved The Proposal because it did a grthe proposaleat job blending in their backstories. Margaret had a lot of loss and that’s why she’s wounded. It would have been easy to let her just be a mean boss, but she was complex. She was vulnerable. She was funny.

The chemistry between the two was great. Their comedy had great rhythm. I root for them all the time even though I know the ending. That’s the mark of a well written movie.

There are business lessons to take away from The Proposal as well. Margaret sacrificed everything to feel safe within the walls of the corporation. She had no friends, no romance, nothing but her job. When she has her citizenship crisis the job can’t save her. She needs others. For Andrew, he could have also lived safe within the confines of the family business but he left everything to work with a tough boss to pursue his dream.

The Proposal showed me romantic movies are great entertainment, business premises can be funny, and there are lessons to learn even in a comedy.

If you haven’t watched it, I encourage you to. It is PG-13 for language and a couple adult situations.

Like Margaret, Mercy wants to feel safe within her own walls. But she knows its time to step out…

Unlikely Mergercover of unlikely merger

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to find freedom in Christ through surrender. She’s the author of the Amazon bestseller, Entrusted and co-author of the international bestseller The Love Boat Bachelor. She also shared her story in the Amazon bestseller infertility devotional, A Walk in the Valley. She’s the fiction contributing editor for the digital magazine, Imaginate, and blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://juliearduini.com.

 

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Bye-bye, Comfort Zone! Hello, Abundant Life!

face1By Raelee May Carpenter

Louise tricked me.

You know how it’s hard to get a three-year-old to eat healthy things sometimes, so instead of just saying, “Eat your vegetables,” you give them a choice. “Do you want the carrots or the beans?” Either way, they’re eating something they should be eating, and they feel better about it because they have options.

That’s what Louise, the president of my local writers group CCWA, did to me. We’re planning our big January conference. And it is a big deal, okay? Last time, Donald Maass—yeah, that Don Maass—was the headliner, and we scheduled agent pitches, and lunch was great. Plans for this one are even bigger.

We’re having four workshop tracks instead of only three. We’re voting on our list of speakers to invite when Louise looked at me, “Rae, which track do you want to be on?”

“Fiction?” I replied. Then, Holy Cow, did I just agree to teach other writers at this Big Deal Conference?

 You see, I’m shy. Painfully so. Standing up in front of groups of people is not something I do. I’m the type who literally went to therapy to learn assertiveness skills. I thought my career dream of “novelist” was consistent with my introverted (to put it mildly) personality, but to be a successful writer nowadays, you get to be the one doing most of the marketing.

Putting myself out there? What does that even mean?

I’m not quite sure how I got on the board of this big-dreaming, fast-growing writer’s group. I thought I’d only agreed to edit the newsletter. Next thing I knew, I taught a free dialogue seminar, made a list of literary agents I personally am responsible for inviting to the conference…and—if that weren’t crazy enough—agreed to present a workshop to a roomful of writers who’d paid hard-earned money to be there.

I think God tricks me into these things, too. It’s freaky, really, but…

I think I need these tricks.

As I’ve joined writers groups and made friends in them… As I’ve attended events and forced myself to talk to people… As I’ve submitted work to publishers… As I’ve connected with people in the scary, wide world of social media… As I’ve planned events and reached readers, I’ve learned there’s only one way to get good at all that stressful social stuff I’ve never been able to do. By doing it.

I’ve been blessed in the thousands of ways—big and small—God pushed me from my comfort zones and into the great, wide world of following the dreams He gave me. I won’t lie; it’s been a rough, scary road, and it’s soooo not over. Sometimes I look at how far I still have to go to get to where He wants me, and I can barely breathe.

But when I look back at how far I’ve come, I jump for joy. Sometimes, I even look forward to the next trick He’ll play. I know it will take me someplace good.

He will take me someplace good.

Unlikely Mergercover of unlikely merger

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

Raelee May Carpenter is a Christian and an author of contemporary fiction, inspirational essays, and modern mythology. Her work is passionate, descriptive and just a little edgy. Raelee’s three lifelong passions are faith, people, and words. She’s a tone-deaf music fan and “Mumma” to a young-at-heart, rescued Beagle mix. She has ADHD and ASD, and she is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Her favorite thing to write about is the force that saved her life: Grace.

http://www.raeleemaycarpenter.com/

https://twitter.com/RaeleeCarpenter

https://www.facebook.com/raeleemaycarpenter?fref=ts

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3510962.Raelee_May_Carpenter

Working With Family

betty owensBy Betty Thomason Owens

While working at an engineering  firm, I met two brothers who co-owned a construction company and later moved into design/build. They ran a successful business, and got along very well. Being the mother of sons, I could appreciate their close relationship. I once asked them if they always got along so well. They glanced at each other and chuckled.

“Seriously, we believe in presenting a strong front,” the elder brother told me. “If we have a disagreement, we handle it away from the office or jobsite.”

This is wisdom. Dealing with family on a daily basis and blending personal life with professional can be dicey at times, but it can be done.

I’ve worked in two family-owned businesses. Both had problems. One only occasionally–the other, more often.

The first family-owned business I worked for was owned by a husband and wife. He was “president” — she was “secretary/treasurer.” Though obvious to me their marriage was stable, there were occasional problems, which made it uncomfortable for the other office person (me). Since they were a small business, they treated me like family. Upside: really nice Christmas gifts and cool souvenirs from their vacations. Downside: getting caught in the middle of their periodic arguments.

One of the most memorable episodes happened when he commented on her makeup. A big no-no, especially in front of the office help (again, me). She stomped out, he shrugged and slinked away to his office. Embarrassed, I kept my eyes on my computer screen.

Later, I went to work for another family-owned business. The family was larger and blended, several times. The stepbrothers were not fond of each other and everyone knew it. Most of the time, they tolerated one another. But when the owner of the business (their father) died, emotions were high and one day, resulted in a fist-fight.

I packed up my stuff and was on my way out the door when the older brother came in and apologized for their behavior. The situation did finally get a little better when the younger brother stayed home. Actually, he was fired, which is not an easy thing to do when it’s family. The business eventually shut its doors. I was very close to the owner’s wife and stuck by her as long as she needed me, but I was not really sad to see it go. Neither was she.

I recently participated in a collaborative novella in which the heroine works for her father. She’s in the position temporarily to assist him as he recovers from a stroke. In the story, she hits a couple of snags working for family. Tough decisions. Can she gracefully refuse the position he places her in, which takes her out of her comfort zone into the unknown?

cover of unlikely merger

Unlikely Merger

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

 

Betty Thomason Owens writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She has contributed hundreds of articles and interviews to various blogs around the Internet and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group. She’s also a mentor, assisting other writers. She is a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers, and a contributing editor for the soon-to-be launched online magazine, Imaginate.

Her 20’s era romance, Amelia’s Legacy, Book 1, Legacy Series, released October, 2014 (Write Integrity Press). She also writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and its sequels, The Love Boat Bachelor, and Unlikely Merger, (2015). She has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.

Coming soon, a 1950’s historical novel inspired by the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth, book 1 of the Kinsman Redeemer Series (Write Integrity Press).

You can connect with Betty on her personal webpage, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and at Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My!

 

Sacred Journeys

carole

Johnny and me first day we met

By Carole Towriss
I’m not a huge fan of air travel. The lines, the straight-jacket chairs, food that tastes like cardboard… But without airplanes, I would not have half of my family.

Literally.

Asel-Mira

John, me and the babyhouse director/doctor with Mira the day we met her

Three of our four children are adopted from Kazakhstan. We brought Mira home in 1998 when she was three months old. After almost three weeks, including a ten-day delay, we were finally able to board the plane from the then-capital of Almaty. The airline stocked its fleet with old Aeroflot (Russian) planes, and when Russia doesn’t even want them anymore … lets just say they weren’t in tip-top shape.

On our walk across the tarmac, my husband casually remarked, “I think those tires are bald.” When we finally took our seats, I noticed the random pattern of dents all over the inside walls. It looked like someone had taken a sledgehammer to them. The engine noise was so loud I half expected it to fall out of the sky at any moment. Needless to say, when we lined up in Moscow to board the plane for home, I wanted to kiss the gleaming Delta plane waiting for us. Maybe even the captain.

333 (1) (1)

me with both kids the day we left for home

Two and a half years later we returned to Kazakhstan for our two youngest, seven-month-old Dara and six-month-old Johnny. Our flights this trip were grueling. Thirty-eight hours with no sleep. Four flights: DC to JFK, to Moscow, to Almaty, to the new capital of Astana, smack in the barren middle of the country. The last flight was on a tiny propeller plane with zero legroom. My husband and one of the other dads sat with their knees nearly to their chests for several hours. It looked pretty comical.

This trip was much faster, and we were in and out in ten days. In an old-world country like Kazakhstan, though, there are no seat-belt laws, no car seat regulations, and cribs are not readily available. So once they handed the babes over to us in court, we carried them almost 24/7.

231

Dara and my husband first day

When we got on our third and last flight on the way home, the flight attendants must have noticed our weak arms and red eyes, and convinced some kind souls to give up their bulkhead seats, the ones with the built-in bassinets.  For the first time, both children fell asleep at the same time! Like first-time parents, we laid them into the baby-sized boxes attached to the wall, held our breath, slid our arms out from under our precious bundles.

Collapsed into our seats and smiled.

We arrived the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving. Our relatives greedily reached for the newest family members, then pulled back. “Is it OK? Can we hold them, or do you want to keep them?”

I managed a weary grin. “Nah, I held them across two continents and an ocean. You hold them for a while. I’ll cook.”

Like Carole, Mercy didn’t always enjoy air travel. She would do anything for her father and Lacewell Limited however…

Unlikely Mergercover of unlikely merger

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

ctowriss-LR-5Carole Towriss and her husband live just north of Washington, DC. In between making tacos and telling her four children to pick up their shoes for the third time, she reads, writes, watches chick flicks and waits for summertime to return to the beach. She is the author of biblical novels In the Shadow of Sinai and By the Waters of Kadesh. She also writes for Christ to the World Ministries. You can find her at http://www.CaroleTowriss.com.

Unlikely Merger Will Soon be Here!

cover of unlikely mergerI’m so excited! The newest novella compilation that I’m a part of is Unlikely Merger published by Write Integrity Press. It’s the sequel to A Dozen Apologies and The Love Boat Bachelor. Here’s the blurb and cover:

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

It’s a great story that will release in all its splendor on July 1st, free for five days. But for now, it’s not quite finished.

Why not?

Because you, the reader, get to vote for the ending that you want.

On June 8th, the chapters will start being released one at a time on Write Integrity Press. Follow the chapters and extra blog posts, tell others, and share our links. The 11 chapters will be posted one per day through Friday, June 19. Then, you have the chance to vote for your favorite bachelor.

Your favorite bachelor wins the heart of Mercy Lacewell. So go ahead and read your chapters, pick your hero, and then voting opens the morning of June 20th.

Here, on my blog, I’ll be showcasing some of the authors of Unlikely Merger as they talk about traveling, corporations, movies, and other fun topics connected with the book. The first author will be Carole Towriss and she’ll join us on June 9th so don’t miss it.smile

Take a moment and leave a comment on any of the blog posts that pertain to Unlikely Merger and on July 1st, release day, I’ll draw from the comments for one lucky winner of a $10 Amazon gift card.

A wonderful story for free, your choice of a bachelor, and a gift card.

Stay tuned.