So many directions I could go with this post—so many directions rambling through my mind. But it’s a 1000-ish word blog post, not a dissertation on fatherhood.


Let me start by saying I love my dad. He was fun and funny, insanely brilliant, and he took care of us. He is lost now, somewhere in the cobwebs of depression.


My dad suffered lack of confidence, something I am all too familiar with. My mom ruled our house, her wish was his command. And I didn’t realize how dysfunctional we were til years later.


I only mention this because it skewed my idea of what a father is. For all my dad’s wonderful qualities, there were some significant gaps.


This distorted mentality led me into a marriage that was just as skewed. And after my divorce, the role of father was thrust upon me. (I know some who would argue that a mother cannot fill a father’s role, and they’re right. I also know some who would argue that a woman can never claim the role of father. I didn’t claim it, it was dumped on me.)


Back on point. God is a good father. He is the example for all fathers everywhere. He gives good gifts. He blesses us with favor and surprises. He wants the best for us—He GAVE the best for us, His own Son. Because He wants relationship with us.


Abba is a father who sees us in every moment, and meets us where we’re at. He hears our every whisper, and heartbeat. He sees our every tear. And He knows the cry of our heart, even when we can’t express it.


Two years ago there was a trip I wanted very much to take—Colorado for my high school reunion. Fourteen hundred miles. In my circumstances, it was impossible. But as the months went by, I began to feel like I’d go. No clue how this was gonna happen, but the growing assurance that I’d be there grew. And it seemed a way was made. A friend offered to let me stay in their spare bedroom. Here’s the crazy part. Another friend paid my way. I paid $0.00, zero, for this trip, even spending money was not out of my pocket.

What’s that got to do with God? Because He’s my father and He gives good gifts. I wanted that trip and He made a way—just because I wanted it.


That’s the God I serve. That’s the example of a good father.


And to all the dads out there who step up, hats off to you.


Happy Father’s Day.


#Blogwords, Front Porch Fellowship, #FPF, Sunday Devotion, Fathers, Good Father








Welcome to the Blog Tour for Someplace Familiar by Teresa Tysinger. I’m posting today about this debut novel, a contemporary southern romance with themes of faith, hope in new love, and grace. It’s the first in a series of books set in Laurel Cove, a fictional town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I’m joining other bloggers this week to tell you a little about the book and spread the news about the giveaway Teresa is hosting! Be sure to enter to win a signed book and more from Teresa at the end of this post. And leave your comments and questions below—Teresa will be stopping by to visit with us!

Artist Livy Johnson needs a fresh start. That’s what a broken heart and forgotten dreams can do to a person. On little more than a whim, she reclaims her grandmother’s old home in quaint Laurel Cove, North Carolina and vows to restore its original charm. When she literally collides with childhood friend, Jack Bowdon, Livy wonders if she’s back for an entirely different reason.

Jack can’t believe his childhood crush is back. As the owner of Bowdon’s Supplies, and once again the town’s most eligible bachelor, he offers to help Livy with repairs. Together they embark on the project—and an undeniable whirlwind romance.

But it’s not all smooth sailing. Can they survive the destructive pain of their pasts to discover God’s grace waiting to renovate their hearts?


Not much had changed about Laurel Cove, North Carolina in the ten years since Livy Johnson had last visited. Driving down Main Street, it was every bit as charming and picturesque as she remembered. American flags blew in the breeze in old store fronts. Two old men in overalls leaned lazily on the back end of a rusty pick-up, probably shooting the breeze.

A red traffic light.

Livy’s foot slammed against the brake pad, lurching the car to a stop about a foot into the quiet intersection. The cracking of wood behind her seat could only mean one thing. Her easel had broken. How was she going to get back into painting without the easel she’d used since art school? What a great start to her new beginning.

With no traffic waiting, Livy steered the car left as the light turned. She needed no GPS to find the Laurel Cove Inn, a short, steep climb off Main Street. The car came to a much gentler stop in front of the grand white building sitting at one edge of the town square. Livy’s muscles ached from the five-hour drive from Raleigh as she stepped from the car and stretched her arms toward a cloudless sky. The building was every bit as beautiful as she remembered.

The sight of a man looking down from a second-story window of the inn pricked at her insecurities. A gasp of cold, crisp mountain air stung her throat as her hand rubbed at the heat rising up her neck. Her eyes cut to the hood of her car, its engine still pinging as it cooled. The uneasiness of being watched eclipsed the serenity of her surroundings. She’d come to Laurel Cove to hide from her problems, yet someone had already found her.

Don’t be ridiculous. It wasn’t like she was hiding. Plus, everything, and everyone, she remembered of Laurel Cove was good. Curiosity pulled her eyes back to the window. The man’s tall figure filled most of the space between the frame. Flat palm facing out, he nodded in her direction.

Her heart skipped in her chest. Who was he? A tenant or maybe the owner? And why was he watching her so intently? She returned an awkward wave but not a smile, a tingling electricity traveling from her neck to her fingertips. Apparently satisfied, the man disappeared from the window.

Hiding had been effortless in New York City. Getting lost in a sea of people was as easy as stepping onto a crowded Subway car. Sweet Laurel Cove would be very different. Generations of families filled its church pews, ran its farms, and schooled its children. Anonymity was as rare as lightning bugs in wintertime—as her Gram would say. Being new in town and keeping a low profile might prove tough. Yet, the memory of feeling so safe and loved during summers here with her grandmother made it seem like just the place she was meant to be.

A cool breeze whipped at the few loose strands of hair around Livy’s face and pulled her away from her thoughts. She turned to gather her things from the backseat of the car. The easel fell apart as she removed a suitcase that had been holding it in place behind her seat. Ruined. But no time to dwell on more broken things. She straightened and retrieved the folded paper she’d carried in her purse the past two months, opened it, and scanned the contents. She refolded it with care and slid it back in for safekeeping.

Armed with a few bags and one large rolling suitcase, Livy took in the entirety of the picturesque inn. This would be home—at least for now. With its large pillars, wraparound porch, and grand hanging ferns, it epitomized southern charm. Her eyes wandered along the lines of the white siding, to cornices adorned with carved ornaments, and finally up to a red tin roof. It had been well maintained over the years.

As Livy took the uneven stone walkway toward the front steps, she dared to revisit the window. Empty. The encounter with the man had been harmless, yet something inside her stirred. Would she make friends easily here? Would they treat her differently once they found out she’d been living up north? Southerners may be known for their hospitality, but some could be wary of outsiders. Her future here was anything but clear. Yet she’d made it this far. With a deep breath, Livy opened the door.


rem:   Hullo Teresa!! Congrats on your debut novel!! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

TERESA:   Thanks so much for having me! I’d live right now, but in the mountains of North Carolina. Seriously my happy place!

rem:   They are breathtaking aren’t they? Where did you find this story idea?

TERESA:   The plot sort of just came to me as I kept writing. But the setting was inspired by my time spent in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia North Carolina. I knew I wanted to write a story set in these beautiful hills and valleys – in a quaint, quiet Southern town.

rem:   Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

TERESA:   The easiest was Jack Bowdon, our handsome and sweet hero. For some reason, I felt like I just knew Jack before I even knew the story. He’s probably made up of part my own real life leading man with a few tweaks. The most difficult was Claire, Jack’s ex-wife. Even though she’s our typical antagonist in many ways, I knew I wanted her to also be redeemable in a way. That proved tough!

rem:   And I’d say you done good. #nospoilers What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

TERESA:   My favorite is iced coffee. If I have food, I tend to eat mindlessly (which means too much!) so I try not to have snacks out.

rem:   I love iced coffee, used to drink it all the time. What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

TERESA:   Mindless television or movie watching! Best decompressor for me.

rem:   Ah yes, mindless is the way to go! For however long it lasts….


Teresa Tysinger is a wife and mother transplanted from North Carolina to North Texas. When not working as the Director of Communications for a large downtown church, she writes charming southern romances inspired by grace. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Religious Communicators’ Council, and the Association for Women in Communications, Teresa has spent over a decade committed to telling stories of faith through written word. She also offers graphic design and marketing services to other authors through her freelance business, Good Day Publishing. She loves coffee, caramel, and stories with happy endings.










  • Hiding had been effortless in New York City. Getting lost in a sea of people was as easy as stepping onto a crowded subway car. Sweet Laurel Cove would be different. Generations of families filled its church pews, ran its farms, and schooled its children. Anonymity was as rare as lightning bugs in wintertime—as her grandmother would say.
  • Their eyes locked. Again, heat rose to Livy’s cheeks. He needed to stop looking at her that way. She never should have noticed the captivating hue of his sky-blue eyes. When was the last time a man flustered her like this?
  • The place reminded her of a refined lady, full of subtle beauty and without any entitlement or pride of position.
  • She looked again to the dilapidated cottage. Her mind’s eye resurrected colorful flowerbeds, musical chimes swaying in the wind, and the vision of Gram standing on the porch in her housecoat waving her white handkerchief and calling Livy go supper. She drew in a deep breath that fanned the ember into a flame of determination. It wasn’t the end, but rather the beginning. It had to be.
  • Jack’s compliments collected inside her like shells in her pocket during a walk on the beach.
  • “He said that the love they shared flooded into the deep cracks of his grief like grains of sand. That it didn’t stitch the cracks closed, just filled in the wounds so that they were bearable.”
  • If a smile had a sound, Jack’s voice delivered it.
  • Relationships were such funny things. Some broke your heart and some healed it.


  1. Someplace Familiar was originally titled Good Graces, until a literary agent pointed out that there aren’t really “bad” graces, are there? So, new title! And I love the title I settled on.
  2. I wrote the first (very rough) draft of the book for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer’s Month) in 2013. That’s 50,000 words written in one month. Whew!
  3. Livy’s grandmother’s cottage that she and Jack work to renovate in the book is based heavily on my own memories of my great-grandmother’s little bungalow, though hers was in West Palm Beach, Florida.
  4. The Laurel Cove Inn where Livy stays while working on the cottage is based on the NuWray Inn in Burnsville, North Carolina.
  5. As a graphic designer, I designed the book cover, though it took me over a dozen different designs before deciding on this one. Oh, the choices!
  6. In one scene, Livy mentions tasting “Patti’s peanut butter balls” at a fair. These are real treats that my best friend’s mother (Patti “with an I”) makes and is a favorite of my husband!
  7. Speaking of my best friend, she is the inspiration for Jen Barnett, Jack’s best friend Owen’s wife who befriends Livy. In this instance only, I didn’t even change the name, but decided to honor my friend by keeping the name.
  8. If Someplace Familiar had a theme song, it would be “Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells. I listened to it a lot during final edits and the lyrics speak very well to God’s faithfulness in both good times and bad.
  9. Originally, the opening scene of the book was set in Livy’s New York City apartment after she and Sam break up and he leaves her in an emotional mess. Thanks to help from several experienced authors and editors, I decided to start more in the action as Livy returns to Laurel Cove.
  10. Good Day Publishing, my self-publishing imprint, is based on one of my favorite Bible verses, Psalm 118:24. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.”


After ten years in New York City, a failed relationship drives Livy Johnson to the small town where she spent her childhood summers. She has her heart set on restoring the cottage where her grandmother lived, her home away from home that made those early summers so memorable.


Enter Jack Bowden, childhood friend and owner of the local supply store. Their friendship revives, and sparks begin to kindle.

But can Livy trust Jack’s kindness after years of debilitating criticism? And can Jack trust another woman after being betrayed by his wife?



Ms. Tysinger’s story is a portrait of life, the ordeals and the delights, the raw colors on a canvas blending to a final masterpiece. The pain and issues that both Livy and Jack have to contend with are real and cruel, the stuff that can make or break a relationship. The stuff that can make or break a man or woman. The struggle Livy faced with the abusive voice of her past wasn’t pretty; Livy grew as she dealt with it, gaining a confidence she hadn’t known before.

Anger rips through Jack like a knife through a canvas, ugly and unexpected. The wounds he bears are deep, and have not healed. Ms. Tysinger has given her characters depth and authenticity as they fight their pasts, in their failures. And in the triumph of forgiveness, even unexpected, unthinkable forgiveness.



I purchased this book on Amazon. I offer my review of my own free will, and the opinions expressed in my review are my own honest thoughts and reaction to this book.



To win a signed paperback copy of Someplace Familiar, a custom 8×8” canvas painting by artist Cyndi Browning (in honor of the book’s heroine, Livy, who is an artist), and $10 Amazon Gift Card.





Winner will be announced on Teresa’s website on June 18 once the tour wraps up. (Open to continental US residents only; sorry international readers!)



#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, Someplace Familiar, Teresa Tysinger





Reading is My SuperPower

http://cafinatedreads.com  |   Singing Librarian   |   Bookworm Mama

Faithfully Bookish   |   Radiant Light   |   Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

All the Book Blog Names Are Taken   |   Fiction Aficionado   |   Bibliophile Reviews

Kathleen Denly   |   Lauraine’s Notes   |   https://joyofreadingweb.wordpress.com/

https://abakersperspective.wordpress.com   |   With a Joyful Noise   |  

http://momentsdippedinink.com   |   http://cjaneread.blogspot.ca



 If you’d like to join us on your blog for First Line Fridays, shoot Carrie @ Reading is My Superpower an email and let her know!





This bestselling classic features a berry-loving boy and an endearing rhyme-spouting bear. The fun wordplay and bright paintings with lots of details for young readers to explore make Jamberry a perennial favorite.

A small boy and a big friendly bear embark on a berry-picking extravaganza, looking for blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Their fun adventure comes to a razzamatazz finale under a starberry sky.

From author-illustrator Bruce Degen, Jamberry is perfect for sharing. “With delightful, rich illustrations and zany wordplay, Jamberry is a must have book for any family with young children,” according to Children’s Books Guide.



One berry, two berry, pick me a blueberry.



I first checked this out from the library for my granddaughter several years ago. She loved it so much she would ask me to read it over and over again, and I bought her a copy. The story is silliness and the illustrations are delightful and fun.



Children’s literature and fiction, poetry




#Blogwords, First Line Friday, #FLF, Jamberry, Bruce Degen



“It’s important to let the seed of joy grow through the darkness of adversity.”


“In my fiction, I introduce you to imperfect personalities—men and women you can laugh with, cry with, and want to shake straight a time or two.


rem:  Hullo Sandy! Welcome to my little nest! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

SANDY:  I’m originally from a small Indiana town, but moved to Texas at 16. My husband and I are empty-nesters. We’ve been living in North Carolina for twenty-one years and love it here.

rem:  Ooohh! North Carolina! We’re practically neighbors! Tell us three things about yourself.

SANDY:  I don’t like heights, but … I prefer the mountains to the beach. And I did not inherit my mom’s love of cooking.


rem:  I love the mountains, too! Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

SANDY: Absolutely coffee in the mornings, not in the afternoons. I don’t drink much tea unless it’s winter and the tea is hot. Then it’s generally Earl Grey. When I do drink iced tea, it’s sweet. Shh… Don’t tell tea connoisseurs, but I’m a big fan of McDonald’s tea! It’s like slurping melted sugar.

rem:  Hello? Connoisseur here! LOL But you’re right, McD’s does have good tea.

What’s the most random thing in your bag or on your desk?

SANDY:  The most random thing? The two-pound hand weights I never seem to use except as bookends. I have great intentions, but they rarely move from their duty holding back some of the notebooks on my desk.

rem:  Ya, I have “Thing 1” and “Thing 2,” former 12 oz Coke bottles filled with water for the purpose of using as weights. For lifting. They’re cute decorations, though… Your movie snack of choice?

SANDY:  I rarely snack while at the movies, but if I did, it would be popcorn with lots of butter and salt. At home, while watching TV, it’s ice cream, though I try to keep it to a minimum.

rem:  Yum to both! If you could go back in time, what era would you choose and why?

SANDY:  I would go back to the 1880s of the Midwest or West. I think it’s a result of being raised on ’60s westerns and growing up a horse fanatic. It’s a time when the world was starting to modernize (as we know it) with various inventions and conventions, yet there was still a wildness with the continued settling of the country.

rem:  The west does have a wild sense to it, doesn’t it? (also a kid of the ‘60’s) Would you bungee ?

SANDY:  I would not bungee. I prefer to use rubber bands for their original purpose. 😉

rem:  Bahahahah!  #bestanswerever Rolling Stones or Beatles?

SANDY:  I was never a big fan of either. Neil Diamond was my guy. However, I’d prefer the Beatles any day over the Stones. (Sorry, Mick.)

rem:  Ohhhhh, yeahhhhh, love me some Neil Diamond!  #SweetCaroline #CherryCherry, #SongSungBlue, #HelloAgain, #ForeverInBlueJeans  Oh…     What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

SANDY:  Foremost with Christian fiction, I think you know you’re getting a story that is clean, which is something you can’t always predict when picking up a general market book. I did a survey once and asked people why they read Christian fiction. That was the number one reason. There’s also the spiritual encouragement we get from the stories—seeing characters overcome through trusting God. Don’t we find satisfaction in knowing someone has found that faith, even if they’re fictional? Writing Christian fiction is good for me, because I always seem to learn something along the way—either from my characters’ experiences or researching the themes. It’s deepened my relationship with the Lord.

rem:  Well said, Sandy. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

SANDY:  Writers read differently than non-writers. Our minds are always on the lookout for those rules: no head-hopping, little to no telling, etc. It seldom happens, but I’ll pick a bestselling book that non-writers rave over. I can’t finish it, or if I do, I don’t enjoy it as much, because I’m always focusing on those things I’m taught not to do. rem: LOL, yes, I’m the same way!

My pet peeve is the repetition of a word within a short space or using a particular phrase repeatedly throughout a book. The more unusual it is, the more it stands out and becomes annoying to me. The only exception to a repeated phrase is if it’s a characteristic of a character used in dialog. As writers, we all have pet words or phrases. I certainly do. But it’s good to try to catch those things in the editing.

rem:  Ahem, I may or may not be guilty. Which is more important: plot or characters?

SANDY:  Back when I didn’t know anything, I would have said plot. These days, with deep POV, I think it’s the characters. Readers don’t want to read about fictional people. They want to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them and experience what they experience.

rem:  I like that, “stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them and experience what they experience.” What would you do if you weren’t writing?

SANDY:  Well … hmm … I don’t know. More gardening, certainly. Probably more shopping, in which case, I think it’s good I have something else to occupy my time each day.

rem:  LOL What are you reading right now?

SANDY:  At this moment, I’m finishing up Ronie Kendig’s new novel, Conspiracy of Silence.

rem:  That looks so good! What do you munch on while you write?

SANDY:  Other than eating my breakfast while I work, I try not to munch while I write. Sometimes I fail. In those cases, it’s generally chocolate-related.


rem:  Such discipline… Tell us a little about your writing journey.

SANDY:  Writing is something I’d always wanted to do, but didn’t have the courage to try until I found a community education class in my Texas town. We formed a writer’s group afterward, and I was hooked. I began with greeting cards and posters, then went on to short stories for childrens’ denominational publications after I became a stay-at-home mom. I also wrote adult short stories. It wasn’t until about eight or nine years ago that I was able to complete a novel—which will never see the light of day! Since then, I’ve concentrated on publishing novels and novellas.

rem:  Greeting cards! How fun! How long have you been a member of the Seriously Write team?

SANDY:  I had to look that one up. Dora Hiers invited me to do a post for her in January of 2013. Then, when one of the hostesses left, the lovely ladies invited me to take her place. They’re a great group of writers and friends, and I so appreciate them letting me join the blog!

rem:  It’s one of my [many] favourite blogs. What do you like best about Seriously Write blog?

SANDY:  Other than the helpful writing tips and encouragement—both spiritual and writing-wise—I like getting to “meet” so many writers and offering them a chance to add our blog to their tours when they have a new release.

rem:  And I get to meet all of you!  😉  How often do you post on the blog?

SANDY:  Altogether, I’ve done about eighteen posts since 2013. I started out doing something for every fifth Wednesday, but now prefer to give others the spot.

rem:  I love how ya’ll switch it up, and have your guest spots. You switched from writing short stories to novellas. What prompted the switch?

SANDY:  I actually went from short stories to novels when I felt the Lord telling me it was time to do so. I’d tried writing novels before, but it never seemed the thing to do at the time. But, you’re right, my first published book was a novella, and I’ve written a couple others since that aren’t published.

rem:  I like that your characters have “imperfect personalities.” What are some of the imperfections you give them, and what’s your favorite or worst one?

SANDY:  It seems so many of my heroes and heroines have difficulty with forgiveness—of themselves or others. I think it’s a universal theme in much of Christian fiction. Pride is the next biggie. I think my favorite imperfect character is a heroine in an as-yet-unpublished novel. She’s an incredibly strong woman on the outside, yet she struggles with a ton of guilt over her past actions (unforgiveness). She has trouble seeing herself as others see her. I think my worst imperfect personality is a secondary character from that same book—an antagonist. He’s arrogant and self-centered (pride), but he has potential and I so want to redeem him one day. 😊

rem:  That one’s a biggie! (forgiveness) What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

SANDY: Ha! No cave. And a coffeehouse is too noisy, not to mention I’d probably be on too much of a caffeine high to concentrate! I took over my daughter’s bedroom as soon as she moved out on her own. It’s a joke around here that it’s something she hasn’t gotten over yet, but there are no childhood shrines in this house! 😊 I shut myself in about 7:30 a.m. and for (at least) the first couple hours, I work on social media, emails, blogs—all the writing tasks that don’t involve my current project. At times, it’s most of the morning. Then I buckle down to get my word count in until about 5:00 most days. Saturdays are minimal, and I don’t work on Sundays.

rem:  Not so different to mine, only ‘cept shift it a few hours later in the day…  LOL What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

SANDY:  I struggle with a number of things, but doubt is a big one right now. Am I working on the right project? Is my plot compelling enough? Can I get the story across in an interesting way? I handle my struggles by continuing to work and do my best.

rem:  I think that’s universal for authors, isn’t it? Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

SANDY:  Definitely the creative aspect. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t had little snippets of scenes running through my mind. It’s good when I find a way to use them.

rem:  Yup, so true. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

SANDY:  Giving life to “people” and situations—those little snippets I mentioned—and letting my imagination run. I’ve also enjoyed making other writer friends. The majority are people I’ve never met in person. Maybe one day.

rem:  What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

SANDY:  The hardest thing for me is marketing, especially in-person marketing. It’s easy to share memes and specials online and put myself out there on blogs, etc., but contacting people in person about my book is really stepping out of my comfort zone. The easiest part of publishing for me is holding my book after I’ve slaved over it for months.

rem:  Yes. What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

SANDY:  Recommendations: Persistence with writing growth and submitting. Patience with a slow-moving business. Development of an armadillo shell that wards off the gloom of rejection.

Don’t: Rush the process—enjoy the journey. Don’t think that a publishing contract is the end of the hard work—it’s just the beginning. Don’t ignore the value of making friends with other writers. They can become your greatest cheerleaders and provide the biggest shoulders to cry on when things go sideways.

rem:  Also yes. How do you choose your characters’ names?

SANDY:  For historicals, I like names from the period, however, I also like names that have a romantic appeal—at least to me. I skim through my baby name books and pick out something I feel matches the character or the story. It’s hard to explain, but a lot of times, I’ll see that character in my mind and a certain name seems right. For instance, Violet is not a name I thought I’d use for a heroine, but for the shy woman in my Christmas novella, The Yuletide Angel, it seemed perfect.

rem:  Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

SANDY:  I’m getting better at it. A synopsis is needed for submitting proposals, so I work out the main points and an ending. For my current project, I’m working on a scene-by-scene synopsis for my own use, but it’s not usually how I do things and I’m not sure how it will go.

rem:  Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

SANDY:  A Reluctant Melody released last year and recently won the Grace Award for Romance/Historical Romance. It’s a second-chance love story involving a former bad boy and the woman he once romanced to get back at his brother (Hugh, the hero of The Yuletide Angel). Kit wants to buy Joanna’s house for a mission to drunkards. His offer gives her the power to save her best friend from an abusive husband. She’s forced to choose between her friend’s safety and risking what might happen if Kit comes back into her life and discovers the secret she’s hidden for years. It also contains a murder mystery, but it’s not the focus of the plot.


Right now, I have a historical romance proposal out and am awaiting word on it. I’m also working on my first proposal for a contemporary romance.

rem:  Love the mix and twists there. What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

SANDY:  I love the characters in A Reluctant Melody. Joanna was brought low, but it destroyed her youthful vanity and created strength, loyalty, and a reluctant compassion. Kit’s low point also created compassion and a need to help others through what he experienced. It deals with an issue many older (and, I’m sure, younger) Christians struggle with today, namely, the changed moral outlook of society. How do Christians respond to things like out-of-wedlock births? It’s been a personal struggle for me. How do I show kindness without seeming to approve of a lifestyle contrary to God’s marriage plan? It’s tough. I tried to show my characters as flawed human beings who reap the consequences of their actions. At the same time, I wanted to show that God’s grace can wipe out those sins and provide our happy-ever-after.

rem:  Powerful stuff. Tell us about why you wrote this book.

SANDY:  I find interesting secondary characters in books, both those I read and the ones I write, and want to know their stories. It’s why I like reading a series. Kit is a secondary character in The Yuletide Angel. As soon as his role in Hugh’s life popped onto the page, I knew I’d write his story.

rem:  Please give us the first page of the book.

SANDY:  From A Reluctant Melody:

            Joanna Stewart’s fingers waltzed across the silk covering her lap. Had the stripes of the dress fabric been piano keys, the cab of her brougham would be filled with the melody of Sullivan’s “Let Me Dream Again.”

            She halted the romping digits and gripped the material of her skirt in a tight fist. Dreams. She awoke to the pain they caused years ago … after the lie of romantic love dealt its deadly blow.

            A horse car rattled past on the tracks running down the middle of Broad Street. The bell dangling from the animals’ collars jingled with each plodding step.

            Joanna’s driver, Liam McCall, turned onto Cleary. When the carriage stopped, she peeked out the window and scanned the dry and dusty street in front of the Stewart Broom Factory. When was the last time she’d ventured out of her house and into the midst of strangers? A month? Two? She wouldn’t be in town now if Perry’s note hadn’t stressed the importance of their meeting.

            A man on a bicycle passed too close to the carriage and thumbed the bell on his contraption. Her horse shied and the brougham rocked. Joanna grabbed the window frame to brace herself.

            Using coarse language and the power of brawny arms, Liam brought the animal under control. A moment later, he yanked the door open and held out his hand. “Foul things, horses. If it were up to me, I’d shoot ’em all.”

            Inwardly, Joanna cringed. “Even work animals deserve our respect and compassion, Mr. McCall.” As he helped her down, his callused fingers swallowed her lace-gloved hand.


rem:  Very telling first page—lots of info in there. What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

SANDY:  The themes of the book involve grace and mercy. Joanna believes her past disqualifies her from God’s forgiveness. Kit has already taken hold of that grace, but he still hangs on to that need to make amends for past actions. I want people to know that they’re never too bad to receive God’s forgiveness if they ask for it, then those past mistakes are forgiven and forgotten.

rem:  Where can we find you online?



Seriously Write






And I’d love to have you sign up for my newsletter. In it, I’ll keep you updated on my work, along with a few historical or other tidbits, polls, occasional giveaways or announcements about specials.

rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

SANDY:  Thanks so much for having me, Robin! What a pleasure and what great questions!

rem:  Thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!




            Kit Barnes’ drinking ruined more lives than his own. Now sober, he wants to make amends by opening a mission for drunkards. The most suitable location belongs to Joanna Cranston Stewart, a love from his sordid past and the one person he hurt the most.
            A pariah among her peers, Joanna is all too eager to sell her property and flee the rumors that she sent her late husband to an early grave. But she will let the gossips talk and the walls of her rundown property crumble around her before she’ll allow Kit back into her life.
            When a blackmailer threatens to reveal her long-held secret, she must choose between trusting Kit or seeing her best friend trapped in an abusive marriage.
            Will Joanna risk another betrayal? Or will she find a way through the pain of the past to love and trust again?



“My job as a writer is to keep you turning the pages by creating realistic characters and exciting plots. My prayer is that from the story of at least one of my fictional people you will find inspiration for the trip along your own road of faith.”




#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Sandy Ardoin, Seriously Write Interview Blitz, The Yuletide Angel, Family Ties, A Reluctant Melody




Millie Morelle married her cowboy, Zeke, expecting only happiness ever after.

She was young and beautiful, he was strong and hard-working. How could their future be anything but wonderful?
Each had dreams to last a lifetime . . . but after fifteen years of heartbreaking disappointments, their goals seem to lie in opposite directions. They may share a home and a passel of kids, but they’re living separate lives, and no one is happy. Why did they ever fall in love in the first place?
Reaching a point of desperation, each makes choices for survival—choices that may destroy the very things they’re trying to save.

Will they be able to salvage, separately, something that can only be built together—a love that is stronger than mountains?


Chapter 1

Slim Pickens Ranch,

Moreno Valley, New Mexico


Eyes wide, fingers rigid, Millie Pickens clutched the quilt below her chin, listening. The sound that awakened her was now lost on the other side of the boundary between sleep and consciousness. She exhaled soundlessly, her breath forming a cloud in the lean-to.

A faint pink glow tinged the frost on the windowpanes. She lay quiet, listening, drinking in the silence as her heartbeat returned to its normal rhythm. The few precious moments of peace before the late winter sunrise were almost enough to make its bitter cold worth enduring.

Zeke lay still beside her, jaw lax, mouth agape. Millie stretched her toes closer to his sleeping form, soaking in the warmth that radiated from his body. Most days he was up before the sun, but for a few weeks each year before calving season there was a blessed respite. Feathers rustled beneath her ear as she turned her head to study his profile in the pale light.

Despite the stubble he was still a handsome man, though the years had left their mark. His face had lost its boyish eagerness in exchange for a few wrinkles. The creases gave him character, but she missed the lopsided grin he always wore when they were young. One teasing glance—one wink—used to make her knees go wobbly. The twinkle in his eye explained the four young ‘uns asleep in the loft . . . and the four young ‘uns explained her gratitude for this moment of peace.

There should have been two more, but maybe the Lord knew she had all she could handle. The four she had would be up soon enough, clamoring for breakfast. Then their needs along with the duties of home and farm would claim pieces of her all day long until she collapsed onto the straw tick again tonight. She loved them, but mothering was like being nipped to death by tadpoles.

rem:   Hullo Lynn, Congrats on your new book! Love this pic of you! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

LYNN:   Right now! I love history, and I love “time traveling” through reading, but I firmly believe that God placed me right here and right now “for such a time as this.” Besides, in any number of centuries or decades, I’d have long since died of many illnesses or accidents that are now completely preventable or treatable!

rem:   Ooh! One of my foundation Scriptures! Where did you find this story idea?

LYNN:   While I was writing More Precious Than Gold, Millie kept trying to take over! She’s was a giddy, talkative little thing who used to drive the sober-minded, quiet heroine of that first story crazy. But Eliza (the heroine of Book 1) and I both began to see that Millie ran deeper than she appeared at first meeting.

rem:   Millie is kinda that way, ain’t she? Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

LYNN:   Definitely Zeke! I loved him in More Precious Than Gold. He was happy-go-lucky, head-over-heels in love, and easy-to-get-along-with. Then after 15 years of marriage, several babies, and some serious threats to his career he started acting like he couldn’t remember why he ever got married in the first place. It was hard to write the “ugly” side of loveable Zeke and make that part of him believable. To do that, I had to find out why he was so stressed out…what he was afraid of. The result, though, was a very complex and relatable character.

rem:   It was hard to read too, but I appreciate him more for it; he’s more believable. What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

LYNN:   I usually start my writing day over breakfast, which is almost always a cup of cinnamon/raisin granola with yogurt and a cup of coffee. After that, though, I’m pretty much “into it” for the day and often forget to eat anything for lunch.

rem:   So healthy! What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

LYNN:   I celebrate! Make a big announcement on Facebook and then take my family out to dinner. 🙂

rem:  And all of us in FB land are glad you do! Thanks for taking a few minutes to chat with us today, Lynn! (looking forward to yournext book in the Sangre de Cristo series!)


Growing up in Texas, I dictated my first stories to my mom before I was old enough to write them down myself. She humored me, for which I am grateful, and I’ve been telling stories in one form or another ever since.

Fast forward more years than I’ll admit to. Children grown. House quiet. Finally more time to get serious about writing for publication, and what an exciting time to write!

I write about the things I know. The things I love. God, family, history, and how those things fit together.


The [flood] water was up the shank of Jake’s boots by the time he followed [the horses] out of the barn and into the deep gray light of morning.

An orange glow marked the cabin window. He headed for that.

Across the porch.

Through the front door.

House empty? He poked his head up the ladder. Checked the lean-to. A sick feeling gripped his gut as the dim light of the fire showed him the stacks of furs and smoked meats.

No good to a dead man.


Jake felt his heart tear through his chest. He’d lost one son. He was not about to lose another.


Specters of all the could go wrong on a trail drive spiraled from the well of her imagination like bats swarming from a dark cave.


“Maybe, though often it’s not so much a matter of saying the right thing as it is keeping out of God’s way while He’s whispering to them.”


…The mountains speak to me…” He tapped his fist to his chest, over where his heart rested. “…in here, telling me that as grand and impressive as they are, the blessing of God is stronger still.”


1 – This book took me a loooong time to write! In some ways, all the “life” that happened between Book 1 and Book 2 in this series became a real-life blooper…but in the end I think it made the story better.

2 – Not a blooper, exactly, but I’m always amazed at the way my characters take on lives of their own during the process of writing. For example, I knew that Zeke and Millie were from the Deep South (East Texas and Louisiana, specifically), but I was surprised to find out that they’d named all their children after Confederate generals. (More about that in the Quotes section.)

3 – On that same note, I had a name in mind for Millie’s “surprise blessing”, but it took a little research to come up with a fifth general whose name would work as a child’s given name. Then, when I was typing up that scene, I was surprised to find out that Millie had actually come up with TWO names for the baby–a first AND a middle name, both Confederate generals.

4 – Millie also “grew up” during the five years it took me to write the story. In her earlier days, she would have torn into Zeke and given him the sharp edge of her tongue, but as the story took shape I was surprised to find she’d mellowed and learned restraint as she began to understand her husband’s “baggage.”

5 – Perhaps the biggest “blooper” was the change of cover. I had a working cover with a model I just loved. She was “Millie” in my mind for all the years I was working on this story. But styles and expectations for Indie covers changed over the years. After much prayer and saving up, I decided to have the covers for all the books in this series updated so they’d look more like a set…and the photos I’d originally loved couldn’t be made to work in the new format. I’ll share it with you here, though, so you can see my beautiful friend, Cassandra, who will always be “Millie” in my mind.


  1. Stronger Than Mountains, the sequel to More Precious Than Gold, is the second of three books in the Sangre de Cristo series.
  2. The Sangre de Cristos are a mountain range in northeastern New Mexico.
  3. “Sangre de Cristo” means “blood of Christ”—a very convenient coincidence for an inspirational history series! 🙂
  4. The series is set in and around Elizabethtown, New Mexico–a thriving boom town that sprang up when gold was discovered in the Moreno Valley in 1867.
  5. Author Lynn Dean’s first professional work was a Texas History curriculum, Discover Texas, produced since 1999 for use in private and parochial schools.
  6. Though Stronger Than Mountains takes place entirely in New Mexico, the idea for the series originated with several historical events the author discovered while researching for Discover Texas. These real-life characters and events, which took place shortly after the end of the Civil War, are woven into the experience of a fictional heroine who survived them all and headed West to escape her grief…only to run headlong into the man who caused it!
  7. Like More Precious Than Gold, Stronger Than Mountains incorporates real-life characters and events—namely the Colfax County Land Wars—and a fictional couple who must find a way to survive intact from their struggle.
  8. Life was considerably harder and more risky in 1885! Average life expectancy was 40-47 years.
  9. As many as 1 in 4 women in the 19th century died in childbirth. When you consider that women typically had more children then than now, it puts the risk of motherhood into perspective!
  10. Elizabethtown, New Mexico, is now a ghost town. Little remains besides a few adobe walls, a cemetery, and some artifacts in a museum. My family has skied in nearby Red River for two generations. (Angel Fire and Taos are also close.) I was always fascinated by the ruins of Elizabethtown and the cultural history of this region, and used to imagine what it would have been like to live there in its heyday. These books are, perhaps, my way of bringing the old town back to life.


Life has a way of maturing us. Taking the temperament of our youth and turning it into sour grapes—or abiding strength.


Millie Morelle was a saucy strong willed girl when she rolled into Zeke Perkins’ life. Pretty thing, too, and she caught his eye.

Zeke was a strapping young cowboy—and fine looking too—who quickly won Millie’s heart. They started their life together full of hope and promises.


But life tossed them one hard ball after another and they each fought to survive the best they knew how. Would their differences tear them apart? Or rebuild what they once started and make them stronger?



Ms. Dean joins fiction and history together to tell a compelling story. Life wasn’t easy in the “wild west,” on the frontier, mountain life harder still. Amenities were scarce if they existed at all and Ms. Dean’s telling of it puts the reader directly in the cold lean-to cabin and the sweltering heat of a summer cattle drive.  I cried, I railed, and I rooted for the characters as life and nature came against them. I held my breath when disaster struck and cheered as they overcame. I truly inspiring story.


I purchased this book on Amazon. I offer my review of my own volition, and the opinions expressed in my review are my own honest thoughts and reaction to this book.


#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, Release Day Event, Stronger than Mountains, Lynn Dean, Sangre de Christo Series, More Precious than Gold, Flowing like Rivers




It Takes Someone Special to be a Dad


The women’s Bible study at my church this summer is Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman. It’s about women/mothers embracing their mission field, even if it’s in their own home. I think so much of that can apply to family men as well.


God gave men wives and told them to love her as Christ loved the church. Then He entrusted children to these couples to raise and cherish. Men are charged with providing for the family, which is all too often seen to only mean going to work so the family can pay the bills and have food to eat.


But it is so much more!


We’ve all heard the common adage, “Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.” (Anne Geddes) And how true that quote can be! A father is a biological parent, whether he is involved in the child’s life or not. A father may even provide for the family.


A dad, though, chooses to be involved, to dig in and raise a child. A dad is all about relationship.

One thing the Bible study has already pointed out is that the nurturing aspect and influence of motherhood doesn’t just apply to our children. Rather, it often spills over into other relationships in various forms. Mentoring other women and kids, teaching, offering hospitality, etc. The same thing can be said about men.


Dads are great teachers, wise listeners, and the more laid-back bonders. The characteristics that make dads unique can be applied in relationships outside the family. Children without a good father-figure—or dad-figure—in their lives crave that kind of acceptance and acknowledgement. Young people without guidance can flounder when it comes to charging into adulthood or family life blind.


We’ve all heard stories about men that find themselves making the difference in the lives of children or younger men by taking them under their wing. These people aren’t blood, but the relationships become almost as important.


My father is a wonderful man and an amazing dad. Even though he was a soldier in the Army while I was growing up (which meant he was gone a lot), he always made a point to be involved when he was home. He attended as many sports events and 4-H talks as he could. He was present at awards ceremonies and church functions. Some of my favorite memories, though, are Sunday afternoons on the couch, watching Star Wars and other sci-fi/fantasy movies with him.


I know how lucky I am. I know many people did not grow up with fathers like that. But how many had other male role models in their lives? How many found that kind of relationship with someone outside their immediate family? I know even that number is not enough.


This Father’s Day, let’s remember not only the wonderful dads out there, but also the amazing men who stepped up to be that kind of dad-figure in the life of a child or young adult. And let’s thank God that all these men chose to embrace their roles, blood or not. And pray for those children and young adults out there who are still in need of that kind of relationship!


Happy Father’s Day!



Whether she’s wielding a fantasy writer’s pen, a freelance editor’s sword, or a social media wand, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to help everyone SHINE BEYOND! She has worked for a variety of groups, including Realm Makers, The Christian PEN, Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, and as an editor for several freelance clients. Her first novel, Bellanok, is available on Amazon!

When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their three kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . .

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, or at her website.




#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Ralene Burke, Bellanok





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Boasting one of the oldest lighthouses in North America and the most working lighthouses today, South Carolina has a long seafaring history. In 1767, the Morris Island Lighthouse was built at the entrance to Charleston Harbor, and before 1860, there were lighthouses in Georgetown, Cape Romain, Bull’s Bay, and Hunting Island. During the Civil War, all lighthouses on the eastern coast were darkened. Many were destroyed. After the war, towers that had been damaged were repaired, and additional lights were erected on Daufuskie and Hilton Head Islands. In 1962, the new Charleston Light on Sullivan’s Island replaced the Morris Island Lighthouse, which was suffering from erosion by the ever-encroaching sea. The new light contained an elevator and two rotating beacons capable of producing 28 million candlepower, a light that can be seen 26 miles out to sea. At that time, it was considered one of the most powerful lights in the Western Hemisphere.



In 1663, King Charles II granted the territory called Carolina to eight of his supporters.



Ms. McDermott and Ms. Clary are new authors to me, and this book of lighthouses seems fascinating. History (especially South Carolina where I live) always appeals to me. Oh, and i love lighthouses, too.



Non fiction



#Blogwords, First Line Friday, #FLF, South Carolina Lighthouses, Kim McDermott, Margie Willis Clary

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