Be Like . . .

We’ve all seen them. They flash across our Facebook and Instagram feeds trying to lure us in with their cleverness. Their goal is making a sale based on our nostalgia for a particular television series. Love like this character. Be brave like that character. Remember to laugh like this character. On through the cast the list goes until each of the show’s characters is given a trait we remember them for most. It’s a way to announce our show loyalty to the rest of the television viewing world. Tonight I’m taking a page from their playbook.

While I could easily make a list of favorite movies or television characters, I’m a reader. Instead, I’m going to give you a list of the characters I love from my favorite author. Why? Because more than any television show or movie I’ve ever watched, these characters impacted me. They showed me parts of myself or things I wish were part of myself. I learned lessons beside them. I grew in my understanding of faith right with them. They have challenged me and encouraged me through the years, and I want to thank them (and Kristen Heitzmann, the author who created them) in this small way.

I want to . . .

be RESILIENT like Abbie Ferrel (Rocky Mountain Legacy series)

be PASSIONATE like Carina Maria DiGratia (Diamond of the Rockies series)

learn to “WANT THE WAY (THINGS) WORK OUT” even when it hurts like Morgan Spencer (A Rush of Wings series)

be a completely WILLING vessel God can use like Lance Michelli (Michelli Family series)

and finally,

be REAL like Grace Evangeline who messed up big time but owned it, repented, and kept letting God use her despite the fall-out. (Told You series)

What about you? Is there a character who has touched you in a major way? How do they inspire you?

 

What I’m Reading – A Bound Heart

Ever read a book that’s so well written you come away from it thinking it was a simply beautiful story to read? That’s what I experienced reading A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz.

The cover caught my attention first. It has a very Scottish or Irish look to it. If that wasn’t enough to tempt me into buying the book, (and really why wouldn’t it be? I’m fascinated with anything Irish or Scottish) I realized the author was Laura Frantz. I’ve only read one other book by this author, but A Moonbow Night was a wonderful book.  The author’s style was impressive. I hoped it would be the same with A Bound Heart.

I was not disappointed. The story, which takes place in Scotland in the 1700s, drew me in immediately. Lark’s life on the Isle of Kerrera is simple and sweet. Raised with Magnus, the laird of Kerrera, Lark has known privileges others of her station did not. Her friendship with him changed when he married, but Lark still serves faithfully raising and preparing the herbs for the castles medicinal and culinary needs.

Rory is a ship’s captain, smuggler, and friend. Though questioning how it fits with her Christian beliefs, Lark helps him avoid capture when he brings his ship to the island. Can it be all bad when he’s taking from those who have much in order to feed those who would otherwise have little? This struggle is one issue holding Lark back from giving him her heart, though she believes it would be easy to do so.

When circumstances land all three in legal troubles, they find themselves indentured and sailing for the colonies and Jamaica. Each struggle to adapt to new surroundings and ways of life while fighting homesickness for the land and people they love.  It’s especially hard for Lark as one of the men she cares about seems bent on choices that could lead to his end and the other is in an unknown land with a reputation for putting the indentured servants in an early grave due to illness.

Lark’s faith remains throughout these trials. She turns to God for answers and strength. She trusts He has a plan for her future, but what will that future look like?

Write Stuff Wednesday with Hope Toler Dougherty

Today’s Write Stuff Wednesday guest is Hope Toler Dougherty. I ask each guest to share a favorite writing quote. I love Hope’s response and the quotes she shares. I hope you do too!

I’m sorry, Heather. I couldn’t choose just one quotation about writing, so I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites along with some reading ones, too.

“A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.” Chinese proverb

I think this is a beautiful quotation. It always makes me smile.

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” Sir Richard Steele

If this quotation is true, then my mind is much more toned than my body is!

“Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?” Henry Ward Beecher

Isn’t it interesting that Beecher, a prominent clergyman in the nineteenth century, felt so strongly about books? Here’s a true story: I love bookstores. I was in my favorite bookstore in Pittsburgh last summer. One of the beautiful displays was a whole table devoted to bees. I come from a long line of bee keepers and love bees. I bought two books from that display without even reading the back. If I had, I may not have bought one of them which turned out to be part science fiction/part dystopian novel—not my favorite genres! But it’s a gorgeous book, and I was in my happy place…

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” Mark Twain

I have a t-shirt with this in-your-face quotation on it. I’ve had people want to debate the thought when I wore the shirt.

“To me, nothing is more important than giving children books.” Fran Lebowitz

I can think of a few things that are more important, but I get the spirit of this quotation. Children need to be read to. Children need books around them, on the floor, in their beds, sticky and chewed on and used. Just this week, xxx said no screen time for under two-year-olds. I couldn’t believe this made news. I couldn’t believe people needed to be told.

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Richard Bach

This quotation is a great reminder to all of us writers. Keep going. Keep writing. Keep trying.

I’ll close out this post with a thought from someone who always makes me laugh out loud.

“I think I did pretty well considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.” Steve Martin

Now I’d like to give you the opportunity to get to know Hope a little better. Keep reading for her bio and information on her books.

irishIrish Encounter: After almost three years of living under a fog of grief, Ellen Shepherd is ready for the next chapter in her life. Perhaps she’ll find adventure during a visit to Galway. Her idea of excitement consists of exploring Ireland for yarn to feature in her shop back home, but the adventure awaiting her includes an edgy stranger who disrupts her tea time, challenges her belief system, and stirs up feelings she thought she’d buried with her husband. 

 

After years of ignoring God, nursing anger, and stifling his grief, Payne Anderson isn’t ready for the feelings a chance encounter with an enchanting stranger evokes. Though avoiding women and small talk has been his pattern, something about Ellen makes him want to seek her—and God again. 

 

Can Ellen accept a new life different than the one she planned? Can Payne release his guilt and accept the peace he’s longed for? Can they surrender their past pain and embrace healing together, or will fear and doubt ruin their second chance at happiness?

 

Hope’s Bio:

10479746_918926531455910_6824469307174309015_nHope holds a Master’s degree and taught at East Carolina University and York Technical College. Her novels include Irish Encounter and Mars…With Venus Rising. A member of ACFW, RWA, SinC, she writes for SeriousWriter.com. Residing in North Carolina, she and her husband enjoy visits with their daughters and twin sons.

Here are Hope’s social media links:

http://hopetolerdougherty.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AUTHORHOPETOLERDOUGHERTY/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13941031.Hope_Dougherty

https://www.pinterest.com/hopetdougherty/

https://twitter.com/HopeTDougherty

https://www.instagram.com/hopetolerdougherty/

Pick and Choose

I’ll admit it. I only bought Thorn in My Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs because of the setting. Ireland and Scotland have always been areas of interest to me. So, I bought the book. I bought the rest in the series because of the story in the first.

I bought The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson because someone at the book store recommended it. I bought more of her books because I enjoyed the stories.

It was the cover of Carolina Dream by Regina Rudd Merrick that first drew my attention. It’s beautiful and inviting. The images on the front made me want to visit the world within. I’ve visited twice more since then as the next two books in the series were published.

I’ll buy anything with Kristen Heitzmann’s name on it. I’ve yet to find something she’s written that I don’t enjoy. In fact, she is re-doing one of her earliest sets, and I will get those when they become available. It doesn’t matter that I have the originals. Her skill has earned her books a place on my shelves every time.

Whether it’s the setting, a recommendation, a cover, or a name there is always something that draws a reader to a particular book. Occasionally we stumble onto a new writer by accident. I found Morgan Busse when I won a copy of Tainted. The book is not in my preferred genre, and I would not have purchased it for myself. It would have been my loss. I couldn’t put the book down, and I bought book two immediately. But happy accidents like this aside, most of the time some element lures us in and inspires us to choose a particular book.

In a similar way, we tend to gravitate toward certain scriptures or books of the Bible. I love a good story. Genesis, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles overflow with stories. The four gospels in the New Testament all tell the story of Jesus’ life.

I don’t like cliff-hangers. That’s why Jonah tends to frustrate me. It just sort of ends. I’m also not a fan of having to decipher between literal and figurative. I like it when things are clear and easy to follow. Though I have read it, Revelation isn’t usually my first choice because of this.

I will always have my favorites and the reasons I love them. I think most people do. But I don’t want that to stop me from seeking out God’s truth and wisdom from the entirety of scripture. The Bible, while separated into individual books, is meant to be taken as a whole as well. Each part backs up and enhances the message in the rest. It’s when the parts are put together that we get the clearest picture of who God is and what His plan for us is.

Besides, sometimes the most impactful lessons come from the place we least expect them.  Much like I was surprised by Tainted when I read it, I’ve been surprised by scripture. Doing an inductive Bible study of Romans was not something I looked forward to. Our group finished Kings and Chronicles which I loved. There was story after story to learn from and enjoy in those books. The idea of going to Romans was not as appealing. But I joined the study and gave it my best, and I came out with a new appreciation of the book. The lessons I took from that Romans study have had a big impact on my faith. Years later, truths I learned come flooding back with clarity when I need them most. I would have missed these if I’d decided not to take part.

How do you choose the books you read? Have any surprised you?

Which books of the Bible are your favorite and why? Have you ever been surprised by scripture?

What I’m Reading – A Carol for Kent

Today as I scrolled through one of my social media accounts a post for A Carol for Kent by Hallee Bridgeman came up. On sale for less than a dollar, I couldn’t pass up the chance to get it. I read and reviewed A Melody for James, the first in her Song of Suspense series, a year ago. I’d enjoyed that one, and I was sure I’d like this one as well.

A Carol for Kent is the third in the series. I didn’t pay attention to that fact when I started the book. However, while there were events alluded to that I believe would have been made clear by reading books in the correct order, my lack of knowledge of the second book’s happenings in no way diminished this story. It left me, like every good story will, wanting to know what comes next and in this instance what came before. I don’t doubt books two and four will be added to my kindle account soon.

This story focuses on Carol Mabry, single mother and attorney. She is an expert at separating her home life and her work life which often takes her into gruesome crime scenes. It’s her job to help make sure those criminals end up behind bars for their crimes, but she knows taking home the residue of the cases she works would be detrimental to her daughter, Lisa. And considering Carol was told eight years ago Lisa’s father wanted nothing to do with her, she knows she can’t let her guard down for a minute. A mother’s love is all her daughter has.

That is until country music star Bobby Kent returns home unexpectedly to find he has a child he’s known nothing about. Lies have stolen the last eight years of parenthood from Bobby, and he’s ready to make things right for his little girl.

Carol and Bobby have a lot to overcome in their relationship. The lies that kept them apart, the lies that left Carol alone, ignite anger that runs deep. Distrust based on years of feeling abandoned are not easily overcome either. There is a lot to forgive, and both feel justified in a refusal to do so.  While they both want the best for their daughter, they don’t know if there can be a joined future for themselves.

If that isn’t enough drama for two lives, Carol’s current case is a race against a serial killer. It’s hard to leave this one at the office. The killer seems to obsess about one particular type and doesn’t make mistakes that could mean a break in the case. It’s a fascination that brings the danger right up to Carol’s front door.

I found the mystery element of the story intriguing. I honestly thought the perpetrator was a different character. The real killer surprised me. I’m happy for that. To me, good suspense will surprise  you in the end. Of course, it can’t be such a surprise that the reader feels it came completely out of left field.  Looking back there are subtle clues that gave hints into the killer’s identity, but my mind definitely went a different direction. And the reason for this particular killer’s actions is one that got my attention. I’ve always found the psychological aspects of life interesting, and this story tapped into that.

Just as important as the suspense of the story is the idea of anger and forgiveness. I may not know what it is to deal with serial killers in my life, and believe me, I’m more than grateful for that. But I can relate to anger and the struggle to forgive. When someone hurts you in a way that changes your life forever, letting go of that hurt and not giving in to the anger their actions bring is difficult. When their actions come from pure selfishness and sinfulness, forgiveness is even harder to achieve. It’s easy for the unchecked anger to spill over into other areas of life. And an unforgiving heart becomes bitter in a relatively short amount of time. Carol and Bobby’s story tap into those themes which I believe many of us can understand personally. It allows us to find ourselves in the story and gives us the desire to cheer them on in their growth if we’ve already been there. If we’re still there, it may serve as an encouragement to go through that growth with them.  Either way, these themes work together with the suspense element to create a story that will capture your attention and keep it until the last page.

Here’s where you can find A Carol for Kent.

Right Stuff Wednesday – Very Bad Days

Have I told you that I love quotes? I do. I love movie quotes, quotes famous people, and quotes from books. But some of my favorite quotes come from children’s books. The ability to wrap up an adult sized truth in a package that children can understand and relate to is amazing. The fact that the words are as meaningful to adults as they are to the books’ youthful audience makes them nothing short of beautiful.

“It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. My mom says some days are like that.” – Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

It’s a simple end to a story chronicling the misadventures of a young boy. Nothing seems to go right for the story’s main character. At the end, there is no redemption. He simply states what a horrible day it has been, and his mother doesn’t attempt to talk him out of it. She doesn’t point out all that’s gone right. She simply agrees. Yes, some days are like that.

I’ve had days like that. I’m sure you have too. No matter what you try nothing seems to work the way you planned. Those days leave me wondering why I didn’t stay nestled in my comfy bed. Too bad hibernation is not a valid method of dealing with things.

Then, there are those events and issues in our lives that encompass more than a single day. They are those heartbreaking, spirit shaking pains that are light years away from the troubles of a bad day in childhood. No matter how they’re handled, it cannot be escaped. These trials change us.

In recent years it has become popular for believers to adopt an attitude that faith in God will protect us from the pains of life. If we believe enough and pray enough, God will bless us with only good things. Jesus tells us differently. He warns we will suffer for our faith. Men like Paul gave us God’s word on how to deal with hard times when they come. He wouldn’t need to if we wouldn’t face difficulties. Paul, himself, asked for a specific trial to be taken from him but God refused.

Life gets messy. Life can hurt. “Yes, some days are like that.” And some weeks, months, and years. But it doesn’t leave us without hope.

I have experienced pains I thought would break me. I have old wounds that cause me pain years after they were inflicted. Events beyond my control forever erased the way I thought life was going for me. I won’t get into specifics. I don’t need to. My trials may be different than yours, but I’m guessing yours probably left you feeling much the same way. The events causing our pains are different but it doesn’t make one more or less important. When someone experiences life changing situations, the initial results are the same. Confusion, hurt, and anger vie for our attention and energy.

But, and I don’t say this lightly, I don’t wish these experiences away. I learned more about God and myself during those times than I did on hundred bright, happy days. I was more focused and spiritually minded during these trials, and I realized how much I had taken my faith for granted. It sounds trite to someone who’s currently in the flames, but seeing where I am now, I appreciate the refining fire I found myself in.

Does this mean I want to go there again? Absolutely not. Does it make the pain of the old wounds disappear? No. But God might even take care of those one day. Do I find myself skipping through the heartaches with a smile? No. And I wouldn’t be even if I did regularly find myself skipping through my days. I cry. I get angry. I complain.

Then, I turn to the one place I know I can find strength and peace for the fight. I realize my limitations and my God’s limitlessness. I wish I could share with you an easy to follow five step plan for peace and contentment in the midst of devastation, but I can’t. I have lessons I’ve taken to heart from scripture. You might try Philippians 4 and Psalm 121. I often find direction and peace when I reflect on and put these into practice. But God is using these things to change each of us in a very personal way. Maybe your focus needs to be on God’s love where mine needs to be on His provision. Whatever it is we’re looking for, we can find it through God’s word, prayer, and the godly support of Christian friends.

This attitude adjustment isn’t easy. It’s not a quick fix. You’re still going to feel like some things are terrible and horrible. You may experience more days that seem no good and very bad. But you’ll notice the shift in perspective and be able to say, “Some days are like that.” And one day, if you let God work in you through the circumstances you may even realize that while you hated going through it, you’re grateful for the person they’ve grown you into. A person who is more Christ-like than the one that existed before the trial’s refining fire.

From Year to Year

path1February 13th was the anniversary of the release day for Faith’s Journey. One year. One year since I held my first published book for the first time. One year since I sold the first copy. One year since I celebrated with friends and family at the release party.

A year before that I was busy finishing that same book. I’d gotten my contract with Mantle Rock Publishing, and I was working hard to make Faith’s Journey the best story it could be. I had a summer of editing deadlines to look forward to. I had twelve months to start letting people get to know Heather Greer, author.

The year before that I was faithfully attending writer’s group and getting feedback from that trusted set of writing friends. I was gathering the nerve to send queries out to agents and publishers. I was researching those agents and publishers to determine the best options for me and Faith’s Journey.

This year I am busy making plans for the release of Grasping Hope, the sequel to my first book. It comes out in a month. The edits are done. The cover is beautiful. It’s available for pre-order. I’ve got invitations sent out for the launch party. I’ve got decorations lining the walls in my office. I’ve even ordered a new dress for the occasion. And if you know me, you know that’s a big deal. I don’t do dresses.

The point is that a lot has changed over the last few years. I’ve always felt like God wanted me to use my love of writing to minister to others. And though I never stopped writing completely, I have to admit there were times I wondered if I would see this dream become reality. But it’s a journey. Each step, each year has brought me closer to where I am today.

It’s also reminded me that the journey is not over. Where I am today is not where I will be next year. Each day is giving me an opportunity to learn and grow as a writer. It’s allowing me to implement ideas for marketing that I hadn’t previously known or considered.

The dream, the ministry, is not complete. What has happened is simply a milestone on the road to where God is taking me. Seeing my first book published was a big milestone. There will be many more in the years to come. This isn’t the end of the writing trail. It’s only the beginning.

I could choose to operate under a different perspective, and it would drastically change the path of my writing journey. The same is true in our faith. So many times people see salvation as the finish line. It is the goal to reach for and once grasped, we have everything we need. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We need to adjust our focus and realize the act of coming to God for forgiveness of sin through Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection is a beginning. It is the beginning of being reconciled to God. It is the point where we find our relationship with God restored.

The key word is relationship. A relationship is on-going. It grows and changes over time. We learn more about our God. We learn more about how He sees us. Our love for Him develops changing the way we relate to Him and to other people. From the inside out, the truths we learn about Him transform us into the people He wants us to be.

When I look at last year, I want to see how much I’ve changed in my relationship with God. I want to see areas where I’ve learned and grown. And I don’t want it to stop there. Every year in my future I want to be able to look back and see a little more of Jesus and a little less of me.

 

What I’m Reading – The Wedding Dress

About a year ago, I had my first introduction to Rachel Hauck with the book The Writing Desk. I loved it. It’s one of those books I’ll keep and re-read in years to come. And that is why I didn’t hesitate to snatch The Wedding Dress off the shelf as I perused the shelf at a used bookstore just two days ago.

I began reading it that night, though I admit I didn’t get very far into it before I needed to put it down. Last night was a different story. After spending a lazy day with my husband, spending a lazy evening reading sounded just about perfect. At one a.m. when I finished the last page, I knew I had made the right choice. Even this morning, tired as I am from my late night, I’m not sorry I didn’t put the book down in favor of a good night’s sleep. Sometimes, you simply need to stay up late reading a good book.

That’s what The Wedding Dress is, a good book. Though the gown has been worn by four different brides over the span of around a hundred years, the book fleshes out the stories of the first and current owners of the dress, Emily and Charlotte.

Charlotte’s life is about wedding dresses. She pairs each bride who enters her shop with the perfect dress for them. Not content to make cookie cutter brides, she finds the unique dress to match the spirit of each bride. She considers this a gift God has given her to help each woman’s special day be as wonderful as it can be.

Her own life is a little messy though. Charlotte and her fiance seem a little off. Plans are not being made in a timely way for their wedding. Charlotte, the lover of wedding dresses, hasn’t even found her own. In what she believes is a desire to seek out answers, Charlotte goes to a special place from her childhood for solitude. What she finds is an auction, a mysterious man, and a battered trunk that she pays more money than she believes it’s worth to win.

As her engagement and relationship with her fiance fizzle, Charlotte opens the trunk to a beautiful, antique wedding dress that seems shrouded in mystery. In her current state she doesn’t believe the dress is for her, but she is driven to find out what she can about the history of the dress.

One hundred years earlier Emily is also engaged. In a time when racial tensions were high and women were pushing for the right to vote, Emily faces her own doubts about marriage to Phillip. On paper, he is her best choice. He’s from a good family that will raise her own family’s social standing. Everyone is in favor of the marriage. But something feels off.

When her first love comes back into her life, matters are complicated. Truth tries to come into the light, but Emily feels trapped. She’s made her choice, and she will honor it. She longs for freedom, but she can’t seem to find it even in something as simple as obtaining her wedding dress.

Emily’s mother and her fiance’s family have chosen the best wedding dress maker to create a gown suitable for a wedding of the highest social caliber. Emily finds the woman rude and conceited. Her design leaves Emily feeling constricted and weighted down, trapped.

Against social norms and possibly even laws she seeks out a woman of color to design her dress. Gifted in much the same way Charlotte feels gifted in the future, Taffy designs and sews the wedding dress Charlotte finds years later in the trunk. The dress is a perfect fit and style for Emily, but her mother insists it cannot be worn for her wedding to Phillip.

Emily and Charlotte, along with the other two owners, struggle to fully embrace what the dress means for their lives. For different reasons courage and faith are needed by these women to accept the dress as theirs and live with the events it brings into their lives.

Rachel Hauck does a wonderful job telling the story of Emily and Charlotte, but she doesn’t stop there. The gown is a character in it’s own right, and it’s story is rich with history and meaning as it weaves together the lives of these four women. The Wedding Dress is a beautiful story of love, betrayal, brokenness, and redemption that will be as timeless as the gown it’s named for.

Write Stuff Wednesday with Gail Sattler

Today’s guest is Gail Sattler who shares a quote that I doubt would be heard on television these days. But there’s a lot of truth in it, and I thank her for sharing it with us today.

I have a quote today from one my favorite comedians from my childhood, Red Skelton (1913-1977). He ended every show with the same words – “Good night, and may God bless.”

If you are not old enough or don’t know who he is, here is a link – https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0804026/

My favorite quote is one from Red Skelton.

“If you have a talent, that’s God’s gift to you. If you use that talent, that’s your gift to God.”

We all have different talents, and I like to think mine is writing. Red’s words imply that we all have talents, but many do not use them, as he says “if” you use that talent.

How sad it would be to have a talent and not use it. However, as we all know, life gets in the way of doing what we like, versus what we need, and in order to live, and to live with others, what we need must come first.

I have a friend who is the most talented singer I have ever heard in my life. How big? Think big, like Susan Boyle (famous from Britain’s Got Talent). She was overweight, not pretty, frumpy, and older. She walked out on that stage for the first time at 47 years old, and showed the world her talent. At first all the judges rolled their eyes, but were stunned by what they saw  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D5DgQi2oqA

Believe it or not, Susan Boyle did not win Britain’s Got Talent that year. But by her using her talent and trusting her faith, her life and career were launched.

Is my talent going to launch me into stardom like Susan Boyle? Well, I think not. But that’s okay. God has given me a talent, and wherever it takes me, even if it’s nowhere, I want to give my gift back to God.

Here’s a little more about Gail.

Tim and Gail Sattler - fun photoGail Sattler lives in Vancouver BC Canada, where you don’t have to shovel rain. When she’s not madly writing (Gail Sattler has over 40 published novels and novellas, plus a few works of non-fiction) she plays bass for an Elton John tribute band as well as a community jazz band, plus she plays piano for a smaller private jazz band. When she’s not writing or making music (or at her day job) Gail likes to sit back and read a book written by someone else, along with a good cup of hot coffee.

Visit Gail Sattler’s website at http://www.gailsattler.com

Gail Sattler’s blog – What Goes On In The Mind Of A Writer – http://www.gailsattler.com/category/new/

Facebook  – https://www.facebook.com/gail.sattler.3

Gail Sattler’s Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/Gail-Sattler-author-568988573496833/?modal=admin_todo_tour

More about Gail’s Books:

The Other Neighbor coverThe Other Neighbor – Cheryl Richardson doesn’t know that her landlord who owns the other half of the duplex where she lives is plotting to build a bomb—but the FBI does. In order to discover what her landlord is planning to blow up, agent Steve Gableman moves next door to get closer to Cheryl to learn what she knows, namely the target and motive, so they can stop it. But when Steve involves himself in every area of her life, including her dog, will Cheryl be the one to explode?

Mercury Rising CoverMercury Rising – Michael wants to save his daughter, but first he’s got to save the world.

Michael and Charlotte meet when Michael is trying to find Ashley, his missing daughter who has fallen into drug abuse, and Charlotte is searching for her son Jon, a brilliant and aspiring young scientist who has also gone missing.
Ashley and Jon should have nothing in common, but after the murder of Jon’s favorite professor, they become ensnared in a tangled web that becomes worse with every new discovery.
When Michael and Charlotte join together to figure what their children have become involved with, they, too, are sucked into a sinkhole for which there are no answers, only more questions.
When all seems lost, will they all recognize the source of strength offered to them, and… will they take it?

What I’m Reading – Carolina Grace

book signingLast weekend I had the pleasure of attending a book signing celebrating the release of Regina Rudd Merrick’s newest book, Carolina Grace. Carolina Grace is the third, and sort-of final, installment in her Southern Breeze Series. It also happens to be what I’m reading, or more specifically what I read, this week.

If you’ve followed her series from book one, you will be delighted to find all the familiar characters return in this new book. If you haven’t, you’ll want to start with Carolina Dream and Carolina Mercy. It will make understanding what’s going on in Carolina Grace much easier and the story becomes richer when you can see all the loose ends coming together.

Set a few years in the future from the events of her second book, readers get to see how “happily ever after” is playing out for the previous main characters. And due to the added years, Carolina Grace is able to focus on a secondary character who was too young to be more than a supporting player in the previous stories.

Charly Livingston is all grown up in Carolina Grace. While the previous books’ events would have given her an up close view of faith and love lived out through the lives of her brother and family friends, this book is about her own journey.

Raised to embrace faith, Charly struggles to reconcile what she’s always believed about God with difficult circumstances in her life. Her family’s faith isn’t enough to keep her from growing resentful and her resentment puts distance between her and God.

Though she still believes, it’s when Charly is in this place of doubt that she meets Rance. He’s a man that’s got it all together. The only thing missing for him is faith, but does he really need it? When family secrets come out into the open, it challenges everything he’s believed.

God’s grace is the answer for both Charly and Rance. Charly has to learn to embrace grace as her strength for the hard times and move forward in a faith that is her own. Rance needs to experience God’s saving grace and allow God to work in his life.

As someone raised in a believing family, I could relate to Charly’s experience. I believe at some point, God brings every believer who embraced faith at an early age to a point where their faith must become their own. A lot of times that means a trial of the faith they have.

Like Charly, they may never completely walk away from their faith. Instead, they may feel like they’re going through the motions or like God is no longer close to them. They let the circumstances or sinful choices put space between them and God and then wonder why they don’t hear Him as they once did.

Carolina Grace serves as a great reminder that those who are struggling to keep the faith or find it for the first time are not alone. There is hope. There is an answer. And it is found in God’s grace.

carolina grace