Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ladybug Wreaths—Interview with Wreath Artist Nancy Alexander

Today, I’m joined by wreath artist Nancy Alexander. Before we begin our interview, I’d like to share the special story of how Nancy and I became connected.

In December 2012, my short story The Value of a Penny was published in the romance anthology "I Choose You" by OakTara. To help promote the book, I hosted a giveaway on this blog and offered a copy to anyone who signed up, where I drew a winner’s name from a hat. The winner was Nancy Alexander.
God knew I needed her.

Shortly after, I began plotting Bright Copper Kettles for Pelican Book Group’s Christmas Extravaganza. I had a clear view of my hero, Dean Whitfield, and the fictional town of Christmastown, Vermont, but I struggled with who the heroine should be. Nancy emailed me with her address so I could send her the book, and I noticed she owned a business called “Ladybug Wreaths.” Not long after checking out her wonderful website, ll heroine, Darcy Carr, came to life. What better occupation to have in a town where it’s Christmas 365 days a year than a wreath maker?

Long story short, Nancy and her gorgeous wreaths inspired part of Bright Copper Kettles. But it wasn’t until last month that I realized how God connected the dots. I sent Nancy an email telling her about my new book and thanking her for being my inspiration, even though she didn’t know it. She was thrilled to hear that her talent had inspired a book. Then she told me how author Laura Hodges Pool was currently working on writing Nancy’s life story. Laura used to be one of my critique partners, and I had no idea she even knew Nancy!
God’s ways are truly amazing…
Now that you know the story, I’d like to introduce you to wreath artist Nancy Alexander.

Thank you for visiting with us today, Nancy. I’m so blessed to have you here.

Thank you so much Candice… I am thrilled that you invited me to join you today!

How long have you been making wreaths?

I started teaching myself to make wreaths around 1987.  That was close to 2 years before purchasing “The Straw Basket” in Anderson, SC.  I owned The Straw Basket for around 15 years and made it “the place” to shop in my hometown.

Please tell us how Ladybug Wreaths began.

Well, Candace, that’s sort of a long story.  My husband Steve and I were married in 1972 when I was 21 years of age.  It was exciting as we talked and planned on having children, and what our life would be like together.  I had always been “artsy”, and our small home become a showcase.  Our friends couldn’t believe how I could make that small rental so beautiful.
Our 2 sons, Matt and Andy were born in 1975 and 1977. Everything was great – we were so happy as we were involved in our church.  We had many friends – and enjoyed doing fun things with our boys.
Suddenly, at age 29, a mysterious illness struck me with a vengeance.
It put me flat on my back.  I thought it was a virus, and would soon go away, but it didn’t.  The days turned into weeks; weeks into months; and then months into years.
The first 3 or 4 years, I spent most of my time in bed, the coach, or a recliner.  I couldn’t even drive a car for over 5 years.  My weak muscles made it SO hard for me to sit or stand up for any length of time at all.
We went from doctor to doctor to doctor, who ran test after test after test.  NO ONE REALLY BELIEVED I WAS SICK – not even my family.  One doctor (the best in town) called it Housewife Syndrome.  That made me so VERY, VERY ANGRY!
I finally realized if I was going to improve at all, I had to help myself – no one else was.  So, I did!  I researched through books, and then the Internet when it became available.  I found which supplements which my research showed might help and began experimenting with them.
Even though I prayed every day, I thought God didn’t hear my prayers; I thought He had deserted me.  Where was He?  I asked myself over and over… But, I still kept on fighting.  After a while, I was starting to notice a slight improvement which led me to believe I was on the right track.
By the time, I was starting to improve some, and gain back some energy, my self-image was plummeting.  I put on a lot of weight at the same time I started back doing my crafts again.  After a while, I was able to purchase the Straw Basket.  It was a highlight in my life.  I loved being artsy, and I was good at it.  Customers began to take notice… my creative self was beginning to shine through again!
After thirteen years of pushing my body as much as it could be pushed, the time finally came that my health forced me to close the Straw Basket.  As I locked the door for the last time, I felt like such a failure – I had to give up the one thing I KNEW I could really excel in.
It wasn’t until fours later in 2006, after fighting a chronic illness, with no name,  for 35 years, I finally received a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, and 3 years later of Celiac Disease.
As my husband and I were sitting in a doctor’s office in Atlanta, GA, we heard these words:  “You really shouldn’t be sitting here in my office today – you should be dead.  But it is YOUR research and all the supplements you brought in that bag today which saved your life.”
Although I was devastated by having to close the Straw Basket, I was determined not to give up!  So, I turned to the Internet thinking I could learn to sell my wreaths.
I knew nothing… I mean really NOTHING!  I read and studied, and worked very hard to begin selling wreaths on eBay.  After a lot of hard work and research, I became well known as Ladybug Wreaths.  This business was a success.  I was recognized online for the BEST wreaths to be found!  Within 6 months, I became a Power Seller on eBay.
That’s when I purchased my favorite book which led me to my mentor.  It was “The Silent Sales Machine Hiding On eBay”, by Jim Cockrum.
Jim has been voted the most trusted, honorable, Internet Marketer online today.  He is a strong Christian and does not hide his faith.  This book literally lit a fire in me, as I knew God was leading me in a new direction – His direction.
I am on a very strict diet after finding there were many foods I could not eat.  The three that I had to avoid at all costs were gluten, soy, and milk.  And I leave off many other foods which still make me sick today.
With Jim Cockrum’s help, an amazing partner - Linda Joseph, and many followers through Facebook, my Website, Pinterest, and more…ladies have learned that I am FINALLY winning a battle against these horrible chronic illnesses.  I am OVERCOMING!
I have literally received thousands of emails from these ladies wanting and needing my help.  I always do whatever I can to train and encourage these ladies to grown their own businesses and begin selling online.  My partner, Linda, and I have set up a membership site to support and teach “artisans”.
My business is growing by leaps and bounds.  My partner and I can hardly keep up with where God is leading us.  We believe God formed our partnership for a reason (we live over 1000 miles apart), and we certainly believe this is all from Him.
I suffered as I did for so many years, so I would have a heart of understanding for ladies just like me.  To finally be able to encourage them to reach their dreams and goals is such a joy.  It is a feeling that I can’t describe, but I know I am on God’s path; He has me here for a reason.

Congratulations on 41 years of marriage! What advice would you give to others on a lasting marriage?

I can answer this question now, but for many years I couldn’t even talk about it.  You see, after a while – and for many years, my husband had a hard time believing that I was really sick.  After we met our “angel” doctor in her office that day, our lives were changed forever.
My husband is a different man - I am a different woman.  He gave up a lot for me.  We changed churches to attend a new church together.  I get up with him at 5 a.m. every morning, get a shower, dress, and put on makeup.  We sit facing each other as Steve reads our devotional, and then, holding hands, we pray together before he leaves for work at 6:15.  I send him out the door with a hot mug of coffee, his breakfast, and his lunch.  We have a devotional, read the Bible, and pray together again each and every night.
I would have to say that praying like this together has brought us closer together than we ever thought possible.  We can both say we are now truly happy.  God’s blessings flow over us as our lives are changed forever.  We are truly in love, and very thankful that through God, we can finally experience a marriage “made in heaven”.
You and I both share a passion for using the gifts God gave us to honor and glorify Him.  On your website, you mention that your friend Molly expressed your thoughts and feelings in an amazing way: “By picking up the pieces of a broken life and putting them back together, a person cannot help but be changed. This change is a beautiful thing that results in a deeper understanding of others and their situations, and gives us a chance to share our experiences with them, showing them that there is a way out — a light at the end of the tunnel. I believe that I have not just been broken, but put back together by God in a beautiful way — a way that I could have never imagined on my own.”
That’s why I write what I write. Though I always give a happy ending, my stories aren’t fluffy. I love to see God work in the darkest of circumstances, to pick up the broken pieces of our lives.

In spite of your health problems and the painful journey to healing, you have joy in what the Lord has given you. Please share with us your life verse and how your faith has impacted you and your family.

Actually there are two that I have called on and depended on through the years:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13
 “But He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

Thank you for sharing your beautiful testimony with us. And thank you for inspiring my debut e-novella Bright Copper Kettles. I’m grateful that the Lord put us together on this project, even if we didn’t realize it initially. 

No, thank You!  God has brought us together, just as He has brought MANY amazing people into my life in these years.  I am TRULY so very BLESSED!

Please visit Nancy on her website at www.ladybugwreaths.com

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Finding Faith--Interview with author Robin Patchen

Thanks for joining me today, Robin.

I’m thrilled to be here. Thanks for having me!

Faith House released in November with White Rose Publishers. What inspired the story? 

When Hurricane Sandy hit back in October, 2012, I watched the footage on TV like the rest of the country. The story stuck with me, probably more than any other news story since 9/11. There was something about seeing all those homes, flooded and destroyed, that broke my heart. The news cycle moved on, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. When I set my table for Thanksgiving dinner, I thought of all the people who would not be able to celebrate in their own dining rooms. And then when we decorated our Christmas tree, I thought of all the people whose heirlooms and ornaments had been swept away or destroyed by the flood waters. So when I started thinking about a Christmas story for Pelican’s annual Extravaganza, it made sense that I crafted a story that took place in the aftermath of the hurricane.

Tell us about the Facebook page you started for Hurricane Sandy stories.

The goal was to collect stories. It hasn’t really caught on, but the reasons behind it remain. I am still thinking about all those hurricane victims and praying for them.

How did you name your characters?

Sadie’s name just came to me. No idea where it came from. Max is the name of one of my daughter’s friends, and I just like it. He’s such a great kid, studious and godly—from what I can tell, anyway. And that’s what my Max is like, so I just adopted the name.

Was any part of Faith House based on your own life?

Sadie really struggles with trusting God, and boy, have I been there! I believed God for my salvation a lot of years before I trusted him with everything else in my life. And I’m sure I haven’t arrived yet, but it’s amazing to see how faithful God has been over the years. Surrendering the most important things in my life has been a huge struggle, but one I’ve never regretted.

Have you ever been to New York?
Yes, a number of times, but not since I’ve been an adult. My husband and I lived about 4 hours from the city when I was still in the Boston area, but we never went, even though I always wanted to. I guess we figured we had all the time in the world. Who knew God would relocate us to Oklahoma?

What are you working on next?

I’m about halfway through a book that will take place here in Oklahoma. Not quite ready to share the blurb with you—mostly because I haven’t written it, yet.  And of course I’m praying for a publisher for a full-length novel I wrote two years ago called Finding Amanda.

Thanks for coming today, Robin!

Thank you!

I've read Faith House, and it's an amazing story. Buy it today while it's still available at a low holiday price. Simply click on one of the links below.

Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ornamental Traditions with Author Lacy Williams

Christmas Eve

I love going through our ornaments at Christmas, reminiscing the memories of that particular year. Author Lacy Williams does too. Today, she's sharing a few of her favorites with us.

My husband and I started a tradition during our second married Christmas. We purchased one of those customizable ornaments with our names on it. Unfortunately we didn’t do it our first Christmas as husband and wife so we had to get two that year and backdate one. :)

It was just the two of us for almost seven years, then over the next four we were blessed to add to our ornaments! This is the one from this year. Each one is special to me because it represents our family and the tradition of buying one each year.

And this other ornament was given to me before Luke and I were married. I had been to a dirty Santa gift exchange and ended up with a gag gift that was pretty horrible for an unmarried 19-year-old (I don’t even remember what it was—I think a menopause voodoo doll. One of the older ladies from the gift exchange gave me the ornament several days later. She might’ve just felt sorry for me but I still remember it and am thankful for someone giving a kind gift that brightened my Christmas that year!

Thanks for sharing your tradition with us, Lacy!

Lacy Williams is a wife and mom from the state of Oklahoma in
the U.S. She grew up on a farm, which is where her love of cowboys was born. In reality, she's married to a right-brained banker (happily with three kiddos). She gets to express her love of western men by writing historical romance. Her books have finaled in the RT Book Reviews Reviewers' Choice Awards (2012, 2013 & 2014), the Golden Quill and the Booksellers Best Award.

Lacy also writes YA action romance under the pen name Lacy Yager. She has a soft spot for bad boy heroes and heroines with swords. Although her teen years are long behind her, she enjoys writing about the drama and first love that comes with this time in our lives.

Lacy loves to hear from readers at lacyjwilliams@gmail.com. She posts short stories and giveaways at her website www.lacywilliams.net and can be found on social media at www.facebook.com/lacywilliamsbooks , www.facebook.com/unholyallianceseries and www.twitter.com/lacy_williams .

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Holiday Cakes

Countdown to Christmas--10 days left!

In Bright Copper Kettles, Darcy Carr lives next door to a bakery where the air always smells like Grandma's kitchen and entices her sweet tooth. One of the hobbies I enjoy outside of writing is cake design. I'm no Martha Stewart, but I thought I'd share some of the holiday cakes I've designed over the last few winters.
My Holly Wreath Cake

My Pine Branches Cake

My Winter Snowman Cake

For great holiday recipes, visit my baking and cake design blog by clicking here!


Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Wishes Special Delivery by Mary Manners

Countdown to Christmas--12 days left!

When attorney Riley Harper comes home to Maple Ridge following the death of his grandfather, the last thing he expects to find is Kaylee McKenna living in his grandparents' guesthouse. Though he and Kaylee were once best friends, Riley cannot find it in his heart to forgive her for the death of his mother. His heart, full of bitterness and resentment, has room for little else.
Kaylee has no time to dwell on events of the past, especially where Riley's concerned; she's too busy raising her six-year-old niece, Rosie, and working as an ER nurse. With Christmas quickly approaching, her days are spent helping with charity events and filling the wishes on Rosie's Christmas list.
But when Rosie's father makes an unexpected visit, Kaylee must call on Riley's legal expertise to ensure Rosie of a safe and secure future. Will Rosie's special Christmas wish heal Riley's damaged heart and bind the trio together as a forever-family?
Author: Mary Manners
Publisher: Pelican Ventures Book Group--White Rose Publishing, 2013
My Review
This author had me captivated from the first paragraph. Christmas Wishes Special Delivery is a beautiful and entertaining story of second chances, perfect for the Christmas season. The characters are strong and lovable, wounded, and dealing with real issues.  Rosie (the little girl) stole my heart as well as Riley's. I love the cover art. I can't wait to read more from Mary Manners.
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lost December by Richard Paul Evans

Countdown to Christmas--14 days left!
“It has been said that sometimes the greatest hope in our lives is just a second chance to do what we should have done right in the first place. This is the story of my second chance.”
—Prologue of Lost December

When Luke Crisp graduates from business school, his father, CEO and co-founder of Fortune 500 Crisp’s Copy Centers, is ready to share some good news: he wants to turn the family business over to his son. But Luke has other plans. Taking control of his trust fund, Luke leaves home to pursue a life of reckless indulgence.

But when his funds run out, so do his friends. Humbled, alone, and too ashamed to ask his father for help, Luke secretly takes a lowly job at one of his father’s copy centers. There he falls in love with a struggling single mother and begins to understand the greatest source of personal joy.
Lost December is Richard Paul Evans’s modern day holiday version of the biblical story of the prodigal son, a powerful tale of redemption, hope, and the true meaning of love.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2011
My Review
Lost December is a beautifully written story of second chances. Each chapter begins with an excerpt from Luke Crisp's diary--thought-provoking lessons the character has learned along his journey. This story shows our capabilities to make right and wrong decisions, how we perform at our best and our worst. This book made me laugh and cry, and I walked away with a new understanding of a timeless biblical story. I highly recommend this book.
I gave Lost December 5 out of 5 stars!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Faith House by Robin Patchen

Countdown to Christmas--16 days left!
Two broken relationships, one choice:
Her schizophrenic father or the only man she's ever loved.

When Hurricane Sandy destroys Sadie’s home, she’s determined to restore it. She promised her dying grandmother she’d never abandon the house that is the only link to Sadie’s schizophrenic father—a man who disappeared twenty years ago.
Max has loved Sadie since grade school, but their mutual friend died when they were teens. A decade has passed, and he’s finally found her. This time, he won’t lose her—not to a flooded house hundreds of miles from home, or to her false hope as she awaits her father’s unlikely return.
When Sadie discovers her house is under insured, she faces an impossible decision. Can she trust God enough to let go of her only connection to her dad? Can she trust Max enough to let go of her heart?
Author: Robin Patchen
Publisher: Pelican Ventures Book Group--White Rose, 2013 (Christmas Extravaganza)
My Review
Faith House is a soul-stirring story of Sadie Joy McLaughlin's journey of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Her now destroyed home is her only link to her missing schizophrenic father. If she sells out like all her neighbors, how will her father find her when he returns home? With the help of her childhood best friend Max, Sadie learns she needs to let go of her past and embrace the future. But her future is becoming more difficult everyday now that Max has declared he wants to be more than just friends. Faith House is a beautiful reminder of God's love and is sure to warm your heart on a cold winter's night.
Robin Patchen was so moved by the disaster of Hurricane Sandy, she's chosen to donate a portion of each sale to an organization that is still helping Sandy disaster victims today. Buy your copy today!
Faith House at Amazon
Faith House at Barnes and Noble 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Movie Mayhem

Countdown to Christmas--17 days left!
In my debut novella, Bright Copper Kettles, Darcy Carr introduces Dean Whitfield to her collection of holiday comedies. To help ease the lonliness of her single-status, she gravitates toward Christmas mayhem instead of romantic, sappy films. Here is an excerpt from the book when Dean asks Darcy what her plans are for Christmas:
        "After my Marie Callender feast, Gomez and I have a date with my towering collection of Christmas comedies."
        Didn't most women prefer sappy films? "Comedies?"
        "I have a whole selection I watch every year: A Christmas Story, Home Alone, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." She scrunched her nose. "I tend to gravitate toward chaos and disaster around the holidays."
        Dean grinned. Disaster did seem to follow her like a hungry dog.
        "I avoid movies involving mistletoe and necking couples at all costs. Too depressing. A cat getting electrocuted is much more uplifting."
For anyone who hasn't read the book yet, Gomez is Darcy's cat.
To keep in the spirit of the Christmas movie theme, I thought I would share some of my favorite holiday movies and the reasons why I love them.
A Christmas Story 
In A Christmas Story (1983), Ralphie tries to convince his parents, teacher, and Santa Claus that a Red Ryder BB gun is the perfect gift for Christmas.
Why do I love it?
Every person during some point in their childhood wants a certain gift so much they can't think of anything else. Where I personally have never had a BB gun on my Christmas list, I did want a Strawberry Shortcake dollhouse when I was six so badly that I would dream about it at night. Literally. I would close my eyes and picture myself playing with it. I drove my parents crazy. (Yes, I got one.) And when my husband bought a BB gun for our oldest son two Christmases ago, the first words out of my mouth were, "He'll shoot his eye out." To this day, I'm not sure if that bit of movie dialogue is just stuck in my brain, or if that's a genuine fear of all mothers worldwide.
Home Alone
In Home Alone (1990), Kevin McCallister is accidentally left behind when his family flies to France for the holidays. During their absence, he defends his home against idiotic burglars. 
Why do I love it?
It might be a generational thing. Yes, Kevin is a spoiled brat who needs a good spanking, but what kid hasn't longed to be the adult for once--making the decisions, calling their own shots? And though his character is devious for one so young, he is clever. And the way he outsmarts the bad guys...hilarious!
White Christmas
In White Christmas (1954), a successful song-and-dance duo team up with a sister act to save a failing Vermont inn, belonging to the duo's former general.
Why do I love it?
It's full of conflict, great music, entertainment, and romance. And any time spent listening to Bing Crosby sing is a pleasure. Iconic songs such as "White Christmas," "Counting My Blessings," and "Sisters" are known and loved by many 59 years later.

The Grinch
In The Grinch (2000), the classic Dr. Seuss character comes to life, intent on stealing Christmas.

Why do I love it?
It started as a child with the book, then the cartoon I never missed during Christmas, then with Ron Howard's remake. As an inspirational writer, I'm a fan of character growth. And who grows more internally than the Grinch? After all, by the end, his heart literally grows three sizes. It's witty, true to the original story's characters, and the details in the movie are so fun to pick out.

Pluto's Christmas Tree
In Pluto's Christmas Tree (1952), Chip 'n Dale take refuge in Mickey's Christmas tree. When Pluto discovers their hideout, mayhem breaks loose as he tries to run them off.

Why do I love it?
This cartoon is by far my absolute favorite movie to watch at Christmas. It has been since the first time I saw it at age 3. Who doesn't love Mickey and Pluto? The clever little chipmunks invent ingenious ideas for outsmarting the dog, and in the end, they all decide to put their differences aside and enjoy the holiday together.

These are just a few of my favorite movies to watch during December. There are many, many more I failed to mention, such as A Charlie Brown Christmas and Elf...
I'd love to hear from you. What are your favorite Christmas movies and why?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Inspiration Behind the Story--The D. Picking & Company

Countdown to Christmas--18 days left!
The D. Picking & Co.

The moment I saw the article on the D. Picking & Co. in American Profile magazine, I knew I wanted to use their inspiration in a Christmas story. For 140 years, their coppersmiths have produced copper kettles used to make cheese, apple butter, candy, popcorn, and timpani drums. The family-owned company is based in Ohio and is the only manufacturer of hand-hammered copper kettles in the nation. I admire this company for their stellar quality products Made in America, crafted the old-fashioned way.

As I began writing Bright Copper Kettles, the picture in the article kept coming back to me--kettles and pots so shiny I could see the reflection of the room it was taken in. That's when the faith message of the story came alive for me. As the coppersmith must cut, shape, mold, heat, and polish the kettle to make it a usable vessel, so must God do in our lives to make us usable vessels for Him that reflect the light of His word. As the reclusive and bitter hero of my story Dean Whitfield soon learns, a master never gives up on his creation.

What I want readers to take away most from Bright Copper Kettles is that God is always good, whether we're on the mountain (good times) or in the valley (bad times). Though our circumstances sometimes make it hard to keep going and at times it may feel like God isn't there, He is. Keep moving forward, keep praying and allowing communication with Him to stay open so He can speak to you. His plans are molding, heating, and polishing you into a usable vessel.

Choose to stay out of the scrap pile.

For more on the D. Picking & Co., visit their website by clicking here.

Bright Copper Kettles is now available!
Click on one of the links below to purchase your copy today at a special holiday price.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A December Bride by Denise Hunter

Countdown to Christmas--19 days left!

A December Bride by Denise Hunter
 What started as a whim turned into an accidental--and very public--engagement. Can Layla and Seth keep up the facade in Chapel Springs this holiday season for the sake of her career... and his heart?

Under normal circumstances, Seth Murphy--the best friend of Layla O'Reilly's ex-fiance--would be the last person she'd marry. But the news of their upcoming (and phony) nuptials convinces a big client that Layla might be high-society enough to work for his agency--a coup that would put her fledgling home-staging business on the map. Seth has secretly loved Layla for years, even when she was dating his best friend. Maybe she'll never forgive him for the way he hurt her back then, but he has to try. And Layla is willing to keep up their engagement farce until she's landed her client.
For Layla, it's a chance to save her career. But for Seth, it's his last chance to win her heart.

Author: Denise Hunter
Publisher: Zondervan, 2013

My Review
What a fun trip back to Chapel Springs, Indiana for the holidays!
After Layla's date to her ex-fiance's wedding cancels due to strep throat, her only other male option is Seth--her former fiance Jack's best friend who introduced Jack to his bride while engaged to Layla. Though giving Seth any attention whatsoever grates after he ruined her future, she agrees to attend the wedding with him, where he announces their engagement. Trouble is he hasn't asked Layla to marry him yet. But when the bride is tossing as many condescending remarks at Layla as the rose petals lining the aisle, and Layla's dream client is interested in her work now that she's "engaged" to Seth, what's a girl to do but play along?
I loved revisiting the characters from Barefoot Summer. This is quick yet satisfying and entertaining read. I highly recommend it to warm up your cold winter night.

I give A December Bride 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Acknowledgements for Bright Copper Kettles

Countdown to Christmas--20 days left!

        A published book is never possible soley on the efforts of the author. It takes several people working together to create the entire package--appealing on the outside with a treasure on the inside. I have many to thank for helping me on this journey, starting with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank You for loving me enough to die on the cross for me and give me an eternal home in heaven. I'm humbled to use what You've given me for Your honor and glory.
        I can't thank my parents, Mike and Sherry Brooks, enough for raising me in stable Christian home, where I learned about God at a young age. Your love and support mean the world to me. The message of this story turned out to be one we all clinged to during the unexpected events that happened while this story was in the publishing process. Like Dean learned, God is good at ALL times, and I thank Him every day that you're both still in my life.       
        My stories would only be good for kindling if it weren't for The Quid Pro Quills--my fantastic critique partners and also my friends: Robin Patchen, Pegg Thomas, Marge Wiebe, Kara Hunt, and Jericha Kingston. You gals keep me in line, encourage me, pray for me, and provide lots of laughs. Thank you all so much for bringing me into your group. I'm proud to know every one of you.
        Huge thanks to my editor, Barbara Early, for seeing promise in this story even though it still needed work. Your wisdom and hard work made this story what it is. You are much appreciated, and I enjoyed meeting you in person at the ACFW conference.
        Nicola Martinez, thank you for taking a chance on a new author and for everything you contributed to this story. The cover art is amazing.
        Pelican Book Group--for what you stand for and your passion to bring clean, entertaining stories to the world.
        Nancy Alexander, creator of Ladybug Wreaths--who'd have thought you winning a copy of my last story would inspire me to write a new one? Thanks for letting me into your world. You have amazing talent!
        The moment I saw the article on the D. Picking & Co. in American Profile magazine, I knew I wanted to write a story about a coppersmith. Your 140 year old business is an ispiration. I fully respect your vision of keeping the old ways. Thank you for inspiring my hero and for keeping your products Made in the USA.
        Laura Hodges Poole, Jody Day, and Dicky To--your insight on the first chapter is greatly appreciated. I'm blessed to know you.
        Thanks to my pastor, Jerel Clanney and his wife, Hannah, for their friendship and  willingness to help me with the faith message of my stories and for being prompt and patient with my emails.
        My mother-in-law, Jennifer Patterson, inspired Gomez with tales of her real-life childhood cat by the same name. Thanks for the idea!
        When doubts sneak into my life, I'm blessed to have a team of cheerleaders on the sidelines: Marti Chabot, Teresa Ralph, my parents, Terry Parman, Brock Chevrier, Missy Lovett, Aaron and Margaret Patterson. Thank you for your prayers and for believing in me.
        Dictionary.com--I'd be lost without you!
        Aaron White with Aaron J Photography--thank you for your kindness and patience with my author portraits. You have an amazing gift.        
        Tracey Wade, for inviting me into your store, introducing me to your customers, and helping spread the word about this book. Thank you.
        The Bloomfield Public Library and all who work there. Thanks for hosting a Book Talk/Coffee Hour to help me promote this book. I appreciate your large section of Christian fiction, which keeps me entertained.
         To anyone who helped promote this book by sharing the links through social media, word of mouth, blog interviews, and more--THANK YOU!     
         Levi, Silas, and Hudson--you're the best boys a mom could ask for. Thanks for tolerating my mental absence at times when deadlines require that I write in the evenings. I'm so proud of my little men.
        Last--but certainly not the least--my husband, Adam. You've been my best friend since I was fifteen. Thank you for your support in all my crazy dreams. This one actually panned out. :)
Thanks for loving me despite all that I lack. Most of all, thanks for being you. There is truly no better man. God gave me you.

Bright Copper Kettles Giveaway winner!

Congratulations, Kimberly Dawn! You are the winner of a copy of Bright Copper Kettles. Please, send me an email at candicesuepattersonbooks@yahoo.com to claim your prize!

Starlight, Star Bright Giveaway winner!

Congratulations, Delynn Dell! You won a copy of Starlight, Star Bright. Please, send me an email at candicesuepattersonbooks@yahoo.com to claim your prize!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Vermont Maple Oatmeal Pie Recipe

Countdown to Christmas--21 days left!

In Bright Copper Kettles, Darcy Carr brings Dean Whitfield a piece of his favorite pie--Vermont Maple Oatmeal Pie--as a peace offering to their budding friendship. Today, I'd like to share this delicious recipe with you!


1 sheet refrigerated pie crust
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup flaked coconut
vanilla ice cream (optional)


Unroll pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate; ruffle edges.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the oats, syrups, butter and vanilla; pour into the crust. Sprinkle with coconut.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until set. Cover the edges of the pie crust with foil or a pie shield the last 15 minutes of baking to prevent over browning if necessary. Cool on a wire rack. Serve with ice cream if desired. Refrigerate any leftovers.

This pie is fantastic by itself or served with a scoop of ice cream and a cup of coffee.

Bright Copper Kettles is now Available!
To purchase on Amazon for Kindle, click here!
To purchase from Pelican Book Group, click here!
To purchase from Christianbook.com, click here!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Starlight Christmas--Interview with Author JoAnn Durgin + Giveaway

Countdown to Christmas--22 days left!

A Starlight Christmas--Interview with author JoAnn Durgin

Today, I’m joined by author JoAnn Durgin. I’d like to first introduce you to her newest e-novella Starlight, Star Bright, now available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christian Book Distributors and Pelican Book Group websites.


Dante Moretti, Texas-born goalie of an Italian World Cup champion team, expects Starlight, Iowa will be only a blip on the radar of his life. Grabbing a quick meal at Barney’s Diner during the holidays, Dante meets two women who capture his heart in very different ways. Then his rental car won’t start and leaves him stranded. Does the Lord have a plan for bringing him—and keeping him—in Starlight?

Amanda Marston is excited to be home for her brother’s wedding. When she drops in for a cup of coffee at Barney’s, she’s charmed by the mysterious, Italian-spouting cowboy. Before she can blink, the handsome stranger is helping with projects all over town and working his way into her heart. Does God have a plan for Dante in her beloved little Starlight or will he take her heart with him when he returns to Italy?

Thanks for coming today, JoAnn! Starlight, Star Bright is the second book in your Starlight series. What inspired you to create the town of Starlight, Iowa?

My Lewis Legacy Series is based on urban professionals and their adventures take them all over the globe. So, for my Christmas novellas, I felt the strong need to focus on small-town Americana and the special (if sometimes quirky) characters. We have a town here in Indiana (just up the road from my hometown) named Starlight. I thought it sounded like the ideal setting for a small fictional town in snowy Iowa during the holiday season. I had so much fun writing the Christmas novella last year and knew I wanted to write another one this year. However, the idea of writing the sequel was actually prompted by readers requesting a return to Starlight. I love that!

The hero in Starlight, Star Bright is a soccer champ. Are you a fan of soccer?

I’ve loved soccer ever since my friends and I cheered on our high school boys and they won the state championship back in (garbled year). I love a number of sports and even make a fun mention one of my favorite professional football stars, Adam Vinatieri, in Starlight, Star Bright. Adam was the place kicker for the New England Patriots when we lived in the Boston area, and Adam’s kick in the last play of the game won the 2001 Super Bowl for the Pats (their first ever). Interestingly enough, Adam now plays for the Indianapolis Colts, and—wouldn’t you know—the father of one the attorneys in my law firm works for the Colts. He’s going to make sure a signed paperback copy of the book gets to Adam. Pretty cool, huh? I think it’ll make him smile (or at least it’ll probably make Adam’s wife smile). You have to read the book to find out why!

Barney’s Diner has become as important to this series as the characters themselves—a staple in the community for a cup of coffee and good conversation. Is there a place in your life, past or present that inspired Barney’s?

Not really, although there was a fun place in Dallas, Texas called the Vickery Feed Store. It was like “the” place to go in Dallas for the young professionals on Saturday mornings years (my kids would say eons) ago when I was single. That tiny little place actually played a “role” of sorts in my love story with my husband (but that’s another story for another day; my debut novel, Awakening, is loosely based on our story). I think every town has a place like Barney’s. A character named Caroline Picasso plays a major role in both my Starlight books, and Barney’s figures prominently into the life of her character.

What else would you like to tell us about Starlight, Star Bright?

Italy is my favorite European country and I also love Texas cowboys. So, I combined both of those interests in the character of my hero, Dante Moretti, in Starlight, Star Bright, and he’s affectionately nicknamed Italian Cowboy. I adored the opportunity to insert a few Italian words and phrases here and there. I also love Jake’s role as the big brother and protector for his younger sister, Amanda, in this book. All the usual quirky Starlight characters make an appearance plus a few new ones, too. This second book also has a surprise ending I doubt many, if anyone, will see coming. But again, you have to read the book to find out. Rest assured, though, I’m always a queen of happy endings!

The first book in your Starlight series is Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, is a story about an injured firefighter who made a special promise to God. Please, tell us more about that story and how it ties to you personally.

Jake makes a promise to the Lord that he won’t kiss a girl until he knows she’s “the one” he’s going to marry. Sure, he’s dated, and he’s a handsome man. Some ridicule him for it, but he honors that promise. Jake is such a loyal man and he’s honorable and strong. I think it makes it all the more special when that kiss finally comes…under the mistletoe, of course. It’s based on my own husband Jim’s same vow to the Lord when he was a teenager. You can imagine my feelings when Jim kissed me for the first time. Although unique, it’s very, very special and I treasure him. In a fun and pivotal moment in Starlight, Star Bright, Dante asks Amanda if she made the same promise.

Do you and your family have any Christmas traditions you observe every year?

The last five years or so, we’ve celebrated Christmas early with other family members and then usually exchange gifts with our immediate family on Christmas Eve. Because our three kids are older now, we sleep in on Christmas morning and then take our time fixing a meal. The best thing of all? We stay in our jammies all day long!

Do you have a special snack or drink that you keep handy when writing?

Confession time. I love Polar Pops (half-Coke, half-Diet Coke). If I feel like living dangerously, I’ll even add a squirt of vanilla syrup in it! Hey, it’s my only vice, and I figure I’m entitled. I love popcorn, too. I’ve been known to go to the movie theater for the express purpose of buying a large, layered buttered popcorn without even seeing a movie. So, maybe I have two vices. But they’re worth it!

What are some challenges you face as a writer?

In no particular order: lack of energy, lack of sleep (yes, the two are interconnected), not enough time to write creatively since I’m constantly marketing and editing, and my greatest “sins” in writing are omission (forgetting the “little” words) and repetition (using the same word in the same paragraph and—to my chagrin—sometimes in the same sentence…shudder). Sometimes I can only shake my head. Sometimes I have to laugh. But never once (knocking on the proverbial wood here) have I ever suffered writer’s block. That would be tragic. In my case, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to indulge in my passion for writing.

What is your writing process? Do you plot your stories, or do they come alive as you type?

I’m a complete and total SOTP (seat of the pants) writer. I feel stifled if I have an outline or everything plotted out on paper. Of course, I have an idea in my mind of the basic story, but nothing thrills me more, creatively speaking, than seeing where the Lord and my imagination will take me. Unlike many authors, I don’t set goals of word counts because it has the opposite effect and slows me down. Writing is my passion and I adore seeing the story take shape, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter.
JoAnn would like to give away a copy of Starlight, Star Bright today! Simply leave a comment at the end of this post, and you're entered to win! A winner will be announced on this blog and my Facebook page on December 5th.

Thanks for joining us today, JoAnn!

Thank you for hosting me today, Candice! It’s my honor to join you today and so happy we share novellas in the same Christmas collection from Pelican Book Group.

JoAnn is the author of four full-length novels in The Lewis Legacy Series (Awakening, Second Time Around, Twin Hearts and Daydreams; Moonbeams is coming in spring 2014) and a standalone novel, Catching Serenity. JoAnn’s Christmas novella, Starlight, Star Bright is the sequel to 2012’s popular Meet Me Under the Mistletoe. She lives with her family in her native southern Indiana and is a full-time estate administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky law firm. Please visit her at www.joanndurgin.com or on her Author JoAnn Durgin page on Facebook.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren

Countdown to Christmas--23 days left!

Baby, It's Cold Outside...

Dottie Morgan has no desire to share her home or her heart over the Christmas holidays. After all, her Christmas spirit froze over when Dottie lost her son in World War II. But when a blizzard of the decade traps Dottie in her home with four near strangers, she just might discover that opening her door might also open her heart to a Christmas miracle and a new reason to celebrate Christmas.

Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher: Summerside Press, 2011

My Review
What a great story of second chances! Set in 1949 against the backdrop of a Minnesota blizzard during Christmas, four adults get unexpectedly trapped together and long ago buried secrets resurface. This story had great nostalgic elements, strong characters, and a plot full of surprises. Most of all, it depicts the hope of Christmas--Jesus's love.

I gave Baby, It's Cold Outside 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Bright Copper Kettles Giveaway!

Countdown to Christmas--24 days left!
To start things off, I'm giving away two copies of my e-novella Bright Copper Kettles!
To enter the giveaway, simply leave any comment at the end of this blog or on my Facebook page (click here). For a second entry, share this link with your family and friends on Facebook and tag me in the post.
A winner will be announced on this blog and my Facebook page on December 5th.
Best Wishes!

Christmastown, Vermont: where it’s Christmas 365 days a year…

Bright Copper Kettles can be purchased
at Amazon,
and Pelican Book Group
To Darcy Carr the holiday is depressing enough without reliving it every day. Her thriving wreath business and faithful cat are no longer enough to distract her from the pain of her past memories or her current loneliness. Is her frosty neighbor, the only one in town with no Christmas decorations, just another Scrooge, or could he be the one she’s been looking for?
Coppersmith Dean Whitfield hasn't celebrated Christmas--or anything else--since the death of his wife and unborn child. And he certainly has no desire to carry on the family tradition of crafting a star for the town's Christmas tree, even if it will benefit a charity. Can Darcy and the joy of the season thaw his frozen heart and help him love again?
Bright Copper Kettles is an e-book. The giveaway copies will be e-mailed to the winners and can be saved and read on your computer or favorite reading device.