Audio books

Do you listen to audio books? I’ve just recently started doing this, and I’ve kinda gotten hooked. Don’t get me wrong, I still prefer reading paperback books. But this, of listening to audio books, gives me a way to ‘read’ while doing my work-sewing, desk work, etc.

One way to listen to audiobooks is through Audible, a website that is connected with Amazon, and I’ve gotten numerous audio books to listen to this way. I have the app on my phone. You can sign up for an account, but if you get fortunate, you can even get free books on occasion!

Let me tell you about a few…

One of the first ones I listened to was Distorted by Christy Barritt. This was the first I’d read of this series, and I am hooked! The narrator does a fantastic job on this one. The suspense is terrific! Here’s my review:

I loved this story!! This is a book I’ve wanted to read then when I searched on my library’s website, the audio version popped up, so I decided I’d experience this story in that way! And boy was I glad I did!
No matter how you choose to enjoy it, you won’t regret it, this story pulled me in from the very beginning! Tennyson, a SEAL, rescued Mallory when he completed his final mission, which also included killing the ‘bad guy’ (Torres), and Tennyson had personal reasons, too, for wanting revenge. And this is just the prologue!
On to the story–Two years later, they cross paths again. In spite of how much Mallory has changed and overcome her fears from that year she spent in captivity, Tennyson is immediately attracted to her.
Then he hears that rumors are flying about, and it seems that someone is out to harm her (is Torres dead, or isn’t he?!). Then he is asked to be her bodyguard.
Tennyson has guilt of his own, things that he’d rather forget. Mallory is trying to be strong on the outside, to show the world she has become stronger through her ordeals; that she’s more than just the spoiled socialite she used to be.
As the story progresses, more & more of their inner feelings are revealed, and you can’t help but love them. This is such a well-written novel, I felt their feelings, and the events right with them!
Action, decisions, fears, love, anonymous letters, near-misses, and more!
Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, an unexpected twist shows up–it completely surprised me! If you like Christian suspense, you won’t want to miss this one!

I’ve also found another favorite author this way. I think I found her book because I won an audible version in a giveaway or something. The book is Trial by Twelve by Heather Day Gilbert. Like the one I just mentioned, this is also not the first in the series, but I was forced (by myself, nobody else… 😉 ) to also read the first one in the series. Unfortunately, I read the first one, Miranda Warning, on my kindle app, and that reading experience was not quite as delightful as the other. (I’m not talking about the book, because the writing of it, and the suspense, all of it was super! I’m just talking about the experience of reading versus listening, especially because I’d had the privilege of hearing the other one, and yes, that is also one talented narrator. I will forever have that voice in my head as the main character’s voice!)And now there’s a third one coming out any day, and I can’t wait to read that one!

My review: This story is great! I love the setting, the author makes you feel as though you are there in Buckneck WV, and the characters feel like friends.
The mystery kept the story moving right along, and I had to keep listening-it was very compelling!
If you like Christian mystery/suspense novels, I recommend this one!

And one other author I’d like to recommend: Sherri Schoenborn Murray. I’ll be honest, I’d never even heard of her before, much less seen any of her books, but somehow, I don’t even remember how it happened, I think it must have been through an email newsletter that I’ve signed up to receive (or maybe a facebook group), somehow, I found out that she was looking for willing volunteers to listen to audio versions of her books. (What?! Who can refuse this! 🙂 )

The first book of hers I listened to was out of my normal reading genre, but it was absolutely fun, with unexpected twists and turns. I’m talking about her series that include The Piano Girl  and The Viola Girl. These are fairy-tale type of stories, set in some foreign land, in the 1800s. And they are unlike any other you’ve read! Full of details, from a first-person point of view, and so very well written! I think they’re geared toward young adults, and I think my girls will enjoy listening to them. (The only caution I would add is that there is some romance, including a few kisses mixed in, just so you know….)

Here’s my review for The Viola Girl:

This is an exceptional ‘fairy-tale’ Christian fiction!
Told in the first person, this is the story of Princess Wren.
Beginning when she’s a young girl, it goes through her life till she arrives at her own ‘happily-ever-after’.
I expected it to be a traditional, ‘normal’ fairy-tale, but was pleasantly surprised!
The characters include a delightful old viola teacher, a handsome young guard, giants and other villains, the betrothed prince, and more!
I found it full of twists and turns. Yes, although I found some parts were a bit predictable, overall, I found it very intriguing and delightful.
One of Wren’s earliest memories is seeing her beloved older sister and sent off to be married to some unknown gentleman. She is determined to see her sister again. Wren is independent and a bit headstrong. This story betrays how she learns important life lessons along the way.

This is my first introduction to this author, and I was enthralled by this book, and I will definitely read more of her work!
I believe this could also be classified as a Young Adult book, and have already encouraged my daughters to read it too!!
I received a complimentary audiobook version of this story, all opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

After listening to those two, I was also privileged to listen to another of her books, and this one is completely different from the first two. It’s a Christmas story, set in 1965–Heaven Sent. This story is a humorous Christmas romance, in a small town, filled with some of your normal small-town characters-town gossips, a single pastor, and then there were the choir girls. Although Christmas stories, are not necessarily my preferred reading, I did enjoy this book! I especially liked the fact that the author keeps you guessing until the last chapter! 🙂

In addition to audible, there is also another website (& app) that I’ve found called Christian Audio. If you set up an account with them, you can get one free audiobook each month from them. The free ones are not necessarily what I’d pick otherwise, but I have found them to be of interest. They are mostly nonfiction, inspirational, type of books. Some that I’ve gotten since I signed up earlier this year: Risen by Angela Hunt (like the movie made about Christ’s death, from the perspective of a Roman soldier); Everything is Possible by Jen Bricker; Between Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman; and Meet Martin Luther.

I started listening to Risen, but haven’t made it through, and have yet to listen to any of the others, so I’m not really giving them as a recommendation, just trying to show a bit of what they have available for free.

And one more…another series we’ve found enjoyable is the Sugar Creek Gang series. I’ve known of these books for most of my life, but hadn’t realized they also had audio versions. Upon the recommendation of a friend, we borrowed the audio version of a few books from this series from our local library and took them along on a road trip. It kept us entertained quite well for a large portion of the trip! 🙂

Last but not least, we enjoy listening to Adventures In Odyssey! They post a new episode online every day, that you can listen to, for free, and leave the link up for a week. It’s to the point where we are a bit excited if we stumble upon one we haven’t heard before. (Yes, certain of my family members particularly enjoy having them playing when there’s work to be done around the house–washing dishes, cleaning, etc. It makes the work go so much easier!)

What audiobooks or stories have you listened to? Any recommendations?!


Book Review–Beauty from Ashes

beauty-from-ashes-fb-banner-copyBeauty From Ashes by Alana Terry

This is a heart-wrenching story. A “pull-on-your-gut-real”, nitty-gritty story. It feels like an auto-biography as you read. Tiff is telling her story, and it’s not pretty! (She’s definitely not your typical role-model type of character!)

Her sweet little daughter Natalie, only 4 months old, is struggling to live. Tiff wasn’t ready to be a mom, much less a wife. She grew up in foster care, never had a loving family of her own, (except for her foster mom Sandy) how can she begin to know how to do this?

She & Jake were practically strangers when they got married—what were they thinking? His mom, Patricia, well she’s like the mother-in-law of nightmares. And she moves in with them, to help look after Natalie, keep house, and all the many things that Tiff is failing at as a wife & mom.

Tiff is questioning God—does He even care about her at all? Is He punishing her for her many sins? Will baby Natalie live? How can she & Jake make their marriage work? And so much more.

The ending of the story leaves you with more questions than answers. But there is one message that comes through loud and clear–in spite of circumstances, in spite of the fact that life is not fair, God is good!

I think one reason this story resonated with me in such a strong way, is that I’ve been there! Maybe not to the extent of what Tiff is facing here. But that thing of having your baby girl lying in the hospital, hooked up to all kinds of tubes…entreating God for healing. That heartache of being helpless to save her, and knowing He is the only one who can. Yes! In those dark days, I found Him carrying me, minute-by-minute, as only He can.

You will want to have the tissue box handy, this story will have you breaking out in tears throughout the book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions expressed here are my own.

About the BookBeauty-from-Ashes-ebook-194x300

Name of book: Beauty from Ashes

Author: Alana Terry

Genre: Christian Women’s Lit

Release Date: July, 2017

A baby was never part of Tiff’s plans. Especially not a sick baby in a NICU, struggling for life on a ventilator.

As days in the hospital turn to weeks, Tiff grows more and more convinced that God is punishing her for turning her back on him so many years ago. Or is it possible he’s working in the midst of her daughter’s bleak prognosis to draw Tiff back to himself once more?

The Orchard Grove Christian Women’s Fiction books are standalone literary novels about real-life believers facing real-life struggles. You won’t meet perfect saints whose lives are faultless models of the Christian faith. Instead, you’ll meet a perfect God whose plans of redemption are far more glorious than what the mortal mind could ever imagine.


Purchase your own copy here

About the Authoralana-terry-300x300

Alana is a pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian suspense author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. Alana’s passion for social justice, human rights, and religious freedom shines through her writing, and her books are known for raising tough questions without preaching. She and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second.

Guest Post from Alana Terry

“You better come in,” I told my husband. “The doctors don’t think he’s going to make it.”

Not the kind of conversation you want to have with anyone at one o’clock in the morning. I was spending the night at the hospital with our nine-month-old baby Silas and hadn’t left the hospital complex in days. Scott was home with our toddler trying to get some sleep.

And our son Silas was dying.

Raising a medically-fragile baby changed me like nothing else ever has. Thankfully, Silas pulled through that horrific evening, but that didn’t mean life was sugar and cream from then on.

As anyone with experience knows, it’s hard work being a special-needs mom.

And it can devastate a marriage.

Thankfully, God brought my husband and me through those nearly impossible first few years while Silas was in and out of the hospital with no guarantee of his survival.

And he continued to sustain us through even more years of therapy, hospital visits, and medical tests.

And now we have a happy marriage, a healthy boy, and hearts full of gratitude for all God’s done for us.

But I never want to forget where we were.

The depths God delivered us out of.

The despair that would have overwhelmed us if God hadn’t been our strength and our support.

Writing Beauty from Ashes was one way to remind myself of those difficulties God brought us through. It’s not strictly autobiographical, but the baby in this novel went through a very similar traumatic birth experience as Silas did, and all the health issues — including that night in the hospital when I truly thought we were going to lose our baby — are based on the trials we went through when Silas was young.

I wrote Beauty from Ashes because we all need to be reminded every now and then that even though life can be impossibly hard, even though there’s no guarantee our children will grow up and love Christ and make good choices with their lives or even survive until adulthood at all, God is good, and he will sustain us through all the trials we have to endure.

I think that’s why Beauty from Ashes resonates so much with Christian readers hungry for more than a simple story with a happily-ever-after ending, like these readers:

“…by far some of the best Christian fiction I’ve read.” Amy L, author

” … a story that is both heart-wrenching and heartwarming.” ~ Jaime Hampton, award-winning author of Malnourished

“I didn’t think it was possible that the author could write any better than she already does … This is a book I will never forget … She writes with realism and doesn’t pull any punches … Every time I read a book from this author, my faith grows.” Deana at Texas Bookaholic

I hope you’ll take a chance to grab your own copy of Beauty from Ashes today, and don’t forget to watch the video and enter to win the $100 gift card to

Because Christian fiction should encourage, edify, and inspire.

And because God is big enough to carry all our burdens.

Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, November 19

A Greater Yes, November 19

Reading is My Superpower, November 20

Mary Hake, November 20

allofakindmom, November 21

Mommynificent, November 22

Seasons of opportunities, November 22

The Fizzy Pop Collection, November 23

Karen Sue Hadley, November 23

Christian Bookaholic, November 24

Carpe Diem, November 25

Blogging With Carol, November 26

Lots of Helpers, November 26

Reader’s cozy corner, November 27

Moments Dipped in Ink, November 27

Janices book reviews, November 28

Bigreadersite, November 28

Red Headed Book Lady, November 29

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, November 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 30

Pause for Tales, December 1

The Power of Words, December 2

Zerina Blossom’s Books, December 2



To celebrate her tour, Alana is giving away a grand prize of a $100 CBD gift card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Stencil Giveaway Winner

This time I’m going to do just a short blog post about it.

I had, using, chosen a winner and made numerous attempts to contact her. It’s been awhile, and I have not heard back. (I tried posting on that original post, and also sending an email, but who knows…both of those attempts at contacting must have gotten lost in cyberspace somewhere…)

So I went ahead and chose another winner…

The winner is


Martha, get in touch with me and let me know if you want this laurel wreath stencil, or if you’d prefer something else! 🙂


Book Review: The Gift

The-GiftToday I’d like to tell you about this charming Christmas story.

The Gift by Shelley Shepard Gray

(Shelley is another author that I had the privilege of meeting in August. I’ve read some of her other historical fiction books, and when I saw the chance to review this one, I took it!)

She has written many suspense stories. I love Christian suspense. This one is a bit different than most I’ve read in that it is also an Amish story. It is the third book in a series, but can also be read as a stand-alone (what I did).

I have to be honest here. My one drawback for reading this book is that it is an Amish story. This is not my preferred genre. If you know me personally, you already know that I am a Mennonite, (or our specific denomination can be further classified as “Amish Mennonite”.) This means that although I did not, strictly speaking,  grow up Amish, (I have been asked quite frequently though, when I’m out shopping, if I’m Amish)I do come from an Amish heritage, and understand a bit better than the general population what the Amish are really like. Mostly, I don’t really care for Amish stories because they are not realistic or true to life. Maybe some other time I’ll do a post about this, or tell you more about my own growing up years.

Today, I’m doing a book review about The Gift, so I’ll move on with that! 🙂 I wanted to read this book because I’ve read & enjoyed other books by this author!

The Gift is an Amish Christmas novel that contains life, love & intrigue. Shelley Shepard Gray is a talented author, and this book does not disappoint. The suspense starts right from the very first chapter, Susanna Schwartz & her family are in the middle of something—is it danger? Or are they simply the target of angry neighbors?! At first it seems as though the former owners of their farm are trying to get even at them for buying their home away from them. Then Susanna meets their son Neil, and they become friends. They work together to try & solve the mystery.
Cozy, heartwarming, homey, & yet suspenseful, all in one book, it’s an excellent combination!  Forgiveness, being neighborly, a bit of romance, and more are found in this story.



The Gift: The Amish of Hart County

A special Christmas story about love and blessings in the next book in the Amish of Hart County series

The Schwartz family is happy to be spending Christmas on their new farm in Hart County. But when Susanna Schwartz hears gunshots that causes her buggy to overturn, and then her little sister falls through a wooden bridge into the icy creek, it becomes clear from these dangerous “accidents” that someone wants them gone.

Neil Vance has been heartbroken ever since his parents lost their family farm. He knows it’s not the Schwartz family’s fault, but he can’t help but be resentful. Until he meets Susanna. She is kind-hearted and bold, and Neil can’t stop thinking about her pretty green eyes.

Neil thinks the accidents are just that, but Susanna’s father is convinced the Vance family is responsible. Susanna refuses to believe Neil would do anything to harm her. She’s fallen in love with him and knows he is a good man. But her family is ready to pack up and move, and time is running out to uncover the truth before someone gets hurt . . . or worse.


Shelley Shepard Gray is a “New York Times” and “USA Today” bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Find out more about Shelley at

Visit this page to enter a giveaway to win a copy of this book


Book Review–Out of the Ordinary

out-of-the-ordinary-FB-Banner-copySo today I’m doing a review/book blog tour for Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano.

Back in August, my oldest daughter N & I had the wonderful privilege of meeting this charming author. It was at the CFRR (Christian Fiction Readers’ Retreat–I had an earlier post explaining about this in great detail). We had been told to move to a new area to participate in a planned activity, and were attempting to find seats. As I sat down, the lady sitting in the chair beside my hoped-for seat looked over and said “Hi”. I looked at her, smiled, then glanced at her name tag and did a double take. I tried to keep my voice under control, and said “Hi” back to her. Then I turned the other way and whispered to N “Hey!!! Do you know who is sitting on the other side of me?! It’s Jen Turano—she’s the author of those books that you said you really like!” After a bit, I told Jen that my daughter loves her books, as do I. We kept chatting throughout the morning. She gave us some autographed bookmarks, told us about her books, and it was great. I felt like I had known her for awhile already, like she wasn’t a ‘new person’ to us. She was friendly, and fun. A person to share jokes with.

Oh. But this review is not about Jen Turano, is it. Sorry! I still get a bit carried away when I think of the fact that I got to sit with her for most of a day!

This book. Out of the Ordinary. The title fits it so well. It has fun, out of the ordinary characters. Gertrude, in spite of living in the day & age when young ladies were expected to do everything a particular way, she did her own thing.

She works for a quirky, eccentric older lady, Mrs. Davenport, as a paid companion. She finds herself in all kinds of unusual circumstances.

Like the time when her peculiar bustle, created by Mrs. Davenport herself, out of a large bird cage, comes apart, and she gets caught on a fainting couch in the library (I think) of the Sinclair yacht.

Her good friend Harrison Sinclair. The catch of the year, or decade. Some people keep making hints to one or the other of them that they should get married. But each one persists in continuing in the belief that the other would never dream of such a thing. And the insist they are only friends.

Unpredictable, fun, intriguing, and delightful are only a few of the words I’d use to describe this book.

This book is a wonderful way to pass an hour or two…or more, during these fall days. It’s light-hearted and fun, and will not disappoint!

Oh. and here is where I need to make a confession…I haven’t quite finished it yet. sigh. Yes, when I applied to do this book tour I signed up to receive a paperback copy. As I waited for it’s arrival, I was also given an e-version. So I was working on that. And like I’ve mentioned before, it’s so much harder for me to get through a book that way….I kept hoping my paperback would arrive. It came yesterday! Now the thing about book tours is that when you sign up to participate, you are assigned a date to do your blog post. And my date for this particular one is today.

I do plan to finish this book today…but I wanted to go ahead and post my review sooner rather than later…

And my daughter has informed me several times that she will be more than happy to take this book off my hands and in to her own, as soon as I’m done reading it! 🙂

(BTW–make sure and keep reading to end of this post–there is a giveaway involved, hosted by Bethany House)

About the Book


Name of book: Out of the Ordinary

Author: Jen Turano

Genre: Christian historical

Release Date: November 7, 2017

”With all the charm of a Regency romance, the humor of a drawing room farce, and the swoonworthy delight of a fairy tale, Turano’s first Apart from the Crowd historical absolutely sparkles.”–Publishers Weekly on Behind the Scenes

Working as a paid companion may be quite commonplace, but Miss Gertrude Cadwalader’s eccentric employer makes her job unpredictable, to say the least. She finds herself carrying out an array of highly unusual tasks, including wearing peculiar outfits and returning items the woman pilfered. But when the wealthy Mrs. Sinclair catches Gertrude sneaking around the Sinclair yacht with some of the missing items in her possession, she immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion.

Shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair is caught in the middle of a misunderstanding between his mother and Gertrude, but he can’t help coming to his friend’s defense. Even as he hopes their friendship might become something more, Harrison is unprepared for the outlandish escapades that seem to follow the lovely, anything-but-ordinary Gertrude at every turn.

“The second installment of Turano’s Apart from the Crowd series is laugh-out-loud enjoyable. The foibles of the characters, balanced out with a light-hearted yet meaningful love story, is a true treat. . . . All of the threads are tied together in the end, even the small mysteries and side stories. It makes for a very satisfying read when the last page is turned.”–RT Book Reviews

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author


Jen Turano, author of nine books and two novellas, is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in clothing and textiles. She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at

Q & A with Jen Turano

What Readers Want to Know from Jen

Hey Everyone! Thank you so much for stopping by today. Because I’m in the midst of a first draft, and in case you don’t know, I don’t actually care for first drafts – all those pesky blank pages, but…I’m getting off track…where was I? Oh yes, why I brought up first drafts in the first place. You see, I’m a little scattered when I’m doing a draft, and because of that, and because my mind is a scary place to visit while filling up those already-mentioned blank pages, I was having a tough time coming up with a post for Celebrate Lit. That’s why I reached out to my fabulous readers, and…here are some of the questions their inquiring minds wanted to know about me or my books. I hope you enjoy them!

Why write in the Gilded Age?

When I started writing historical romance after experimenting with other genres, I didn’t write Gilded age but Regency pieces. However, when I ran across the book “The Court of Mrs. Astor in Gilded Age New York” by Greg King, I was intrigued, and a little baffled about how it came to be that I was so unfamiliar with that riveting time in history. It’s an era where unprecedented fortunes were made at a remarkable rate, those fortunes responsible for so many scandals that I’ll have enough fodder for stories to last me for years. The antics of the members of high society are vastly intriguing, as are the fashions of the day, which is exactly why I’ve never had second thoughts about choosing to write Gilded Age romances.

How do you come up with such unusual names for your characters?

I get asked this a lot. And, contrary to popular belief, I don’t make up the names of my characters. I search through obituaries from the 1800’s, peruse books on the New York Four-Hundred (those were members of high society – chosen by Mr. Ward McAllister, the social arbiter of the day,) and I also scour old census records. I do occasionally pair a first name with a different surname so that my main characters aren’t real historic figures because that can get tricky. Not long ago, while reading through Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: Person and Genealogical, Volume 1, I found a bit on my great-grandfather, which was cool – not that I’ll be using him, but I might have a character modeled after him at some point in time. Another interesting tidbit about choosing names is this – names only work for me if the characters decide they like the names I select for them. If they don’t like the name, they simply stop cooperating. I can’t write their stories until I choose another name. An example – I was recently going to name a heroine Georgianna – but it was like trying to write through mud. As soon as I changed her name to Myrtle, I was back in business.

What is the most ordinary thing you enjoy doing?

I love to shovel snow.

Who is responsible for your book covers? Do you choose the model/setting?

Bethany House’s design team does all of my covers, and occasionally they hire out the job to other design houses. The only input I give is when I send in a character/setting sheet, describing my heroine and listing a few scenes that I feel might be good for the background. In “Out of the Ordinary,” I suggested having Gertrude on or near a boat, and the design team then hired a model who resembled my character sketch and put her on a boat.

Which character has been the most difficult to write?

All of my characters give me trouble at some point in time, but recently, Mrs. Davenport was the character who was being incredibly difficult. For the first three edits of “Out of the Ordinary,” she was too complicated and a bit on the dark side, but after I changed her backstory, and remembered she was supposed to be eccentric, not deranged, she turned into a delightful lady, one I enjoyed writing.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever Googled while doing research for a book?

I don’t know if this is crazy, more on the lines of idiotic, but I once googled Gentleman’s Clubs when I was looking for an all-male club my hero would want to join. That was a definite mistake, especially since I didn’t include a very important word – historic. Well, the next thing you know, all sorts of naughty sites were flashing in front of my eyes, and to this day, I still get advertisements for singles looking for a good time and all sorts of other interesting…offers.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Nope, it never entered my head to pursue a career in writing, nor was I ever a person to even keep a diary or a journal. I’m pretty sure I wanted to be a movie star when I was younger, but when that didn’t pan out, I majored in fashion and spent quite a few years working for department stores. It wasn’t until my son was in third grade and we wrote a book together just for fun that I began entertaining the thought of trying to see my stories in print.

How long did it take you to break into the publishing world, and how many books did you write before that happened?

What everyone needs to understand is that publishing is a cut-throat business. I had no idea when I decided to try and get published what the competition was like, and if I had, well, I might have nipped the whole idea of getting a book into print right in the bud. But, because I knew I only wanted to go the traditional route, it soon became clear, what with all the suggestions I was getting about the work I was sending out to agents, that I needed to up my game…a lot. I experimented with quite a few different genres – middle grade, YA, contemporary women’s fiction, Regency romance, and then Gilded Age, getting really proficient with query letters in the process. It wasn’t until I started writing historical romance, though, that I really began getting requests for full manuscript. After I’d been writing for about three years, I finally signed with an agent. She never sold the book she signed on to represent, but after I wrote “A Change of Fortune,” she sold that within two months. Long story short – it took me about seven years to get published from the time I wrote my first book, and…I have seven manuscripts that will never see the light of day because they’re awful.

Is there a reason you include so many animals in your stories?

I’ve always been an animal lover, and as such, I really enjoy writing different animals into my scenes. Dogs are my favorites, followed by pigs, and most of the characteristics my animals have are traits I’ve seen in real life. Matilda, the pig in “A Match of Wits,” was inspired by a pig I used to see in New York. She was so quirky, as well as intelligent, that I knew I would have to write a pig in at least one of my stories. This current series does not have as many animals because I do want to keep my stories fresh. But, having said that, my next series finds my heroine visiting a farm, and well, I don’t know many farms that don’t have animals, especially adorable cows by the name of Buttercup that may or may not have the odd tendency of moseying into the house to eat pie whenever the urge strikes.

Last question – Have any of the crazy antics in your books been inspired by real-life events???

I seem to be a magnet for weird things happening, so…yes, quite a few of those antics were inspired by real life events. I’ll share just one since I do need to get back to that first draft. I live near Denver, and when my son was little, we used to visit the Denver Zoo. That zoo just happens to have a very large flock of peacocks – peacocks that took one look at me one day – and I must add that I wasn’t doing anything except pulling my son in a wagon, and the next thing I knew, I was being chased through the zoo by what seemed to me to be the entire flock of peacocks – all seemingly intent on trying to murder me. Funny how fast a mom can run while pulling a wagon when in fear for her life. My son thought it was fabulous fun, and bless those members of the staff who came to my rescue. They were almost successful in not laughing, and…I received a free lunch after the dastardly peacocks were chased away. That event is what inspired me to write a mad flock of peacocks in “In Good Company.”

Thank you so much for visiting me today. Hope I answered a few questions you may have about me!

All the best,

~ Jen ~

Blog Stops

Blog Stops

Vicky sluiter, November 11

Bookworm Mama, November 11

cherylbbookblog, November 11

Book by Book, November 11

Lane Hill House, November 12

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 12

C Jane Read, November 12

The Power of Words, November 12

Smiling Book Reviews, November 13

Moments Dipped in Ink, November 13

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 13

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 14

Faithfully Bookish, November 14

Bigreadersite, November 14

Mommynificent, November 14

All 4 and About Books, November 14

Just the Write Escape, November 15

allofakindmom, November 15

Reflections From My Bookshelves, November 15

Pause for Tales, November 16

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 16

A Baker’s Perspective, November 16

To Everything A Season, November 16

Neverending Stories, November 17

Have A Wonderful Day, November 17

Christian Bookaholic, November 17

A Reader’s Brain, November 18

Karen Sue Hadley, November 18

The April Journal, November 18

Cafinated Reads, November 18

Bibliophile Reviews, November 19

Blogging With Carol, November 19

Mary Hake, November 19

Southern Gal Loves to Read, November 19

Baker Kella, November 20

Rachel’s Back Talk, November 20

Texas Book-aholic, November 20

Joy of Reading, November 21

Blossoms and Blessings, November 21

Remembrancy, November 21

The Fizzy Pop Collection, November 22

Splashes of Joy, November 22

The Important Things in Life: God, Books, & Chocolate, November 22

amandainpa, November 22

Inspiration Clothesline, November 23

Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, November 23

A Greater Yes, November 23

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 23

Radiant Light, November 24

Fiction, Faith, and Fun, November 24

Raining Butterfy Kisses, November 24




To celebrate the tour, Bethany House is giving away a grand prize of Two Jen Turano Novels and a $20 Starbucks Gift Card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!


And we have a winner!

The winner of this giveaway for an autographed copy of Fragrant Whiffs of Joy


Karen H


I am waiting for the winner to contact me.

If by chance I do not hear back from her, say in the next few days, I will draw another name.


Also, about the stencil giveaway. A winner was chosen, and has been contacted, but I have yet to get a reply. If I don’t hear back from her by tomorrow, I will probably be drawing another name.

A big thank you to each one that took the time to comment. I was a bit overwhelmed at the sheer number of visitors this site has had in the past week! It’s downright terrifying for an introvert like me! 😉 I’d rather hide here in my little blog corner and post things that a few people may or may not read….

Book review to be posted in just a few hours…all these book tours I’ve signed up for…now I have one book I must post about today, and then another for tomorrow! Stay tuned! 🙂

NEW book giveaway!

Today I have the privilege of introducing you to a delightful new book, just released, by Dorcas Smucker! This book is a compilation of essays she wrote for her column in her local newspaper.

Back cover: When you’re responsible for a large, hungry, and ever-changing household that includes young adult children and their friends, elderly parents, and too many cats, it can all feel overwhelming. In these essays, Dorcas Smucker looks for, and finds, the joy hidden in everyday work and the blessings found when you embrace the life that showed up when you weren’t looking. Fragrant-Whiffs-COVER-only

The title “Fragrant Whiffs of Joy” is spot-on! Words that come to mind as I read this book—charming, refreshing, delightful, down-to-earth. Dorcas gives us many glimpses into her life as the wife of a Mennonite pastor. She offers bits & pieces of wisdom she’s gleaned over the years as they’ve raised their six children. She shows how to find blessings in the small things in life.

I am thoroughly enjoying my reading of this book! (I’m not quite through it yet) I had received a copy via email about a month ago, and started reading it that way. However, that is not my favorite way of reading a book, and I find it much harder to get through a book when I’m swiping pages on my kindle app on my iphone. Then when Dorcas said that she’d mailed out the paperback copies, I emailed her to see if it would be ok for me to wait & do this blog once I had her books in my hand. So we decided on a later date. Wouldn’t you know it, they arrived Wednesday! Shipped all the way from Oregon to central Ohio in two days!

And yes, you might have noticed that I said THEY…she so very generously shipped me not one, but THREE copies!! Which has added to my excitement! I get to keep one and read it. I have one to give to a friend that I think would enjoy it. And I have one more to give away here!! And…they are all autographed!

Have you had the privilege of speaking with Dorcas? I’ve never met her in person, but I have had the privilege of hearing her speak…last year, I think it was, she was a key-note speaker at a ladies’ retreat weekend, and I listened to all of her talks. I was so encouraged and challenged. I love how she lets God use her life to help others draw closer to Him.

Taken from the back cover: Dorcas Smucker is a Mennonite pastor’s wife and a mother of six who lives in a farmhouse in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. She has written a newspaper column for 17 years and is the author of six books.

I’d like to leave you with a few thoughts from this book, thoughts that I want to ponder on…

From a chapter on a day of rest: “Faith will always be both solid in its source and fluid in its application. We will always be adjusting for balance, and there will always be tension between individual and community priorities, between valuable old ways, and equally valid new ones, and between freedom and duty.”

From one on mothering: “We are not all called to be mothers, but we can all choose that essential selflessness of motherhood: the giving, the self-forgetful investing of our lives in others.  The maturity this choice requires reconciles us to the truth that much of our sacrifice won’t be appreciated until long after we’re gone. But after we’ve received that kind of loving involvement ourselves, we realize how immeasurably it mattered, and we are honored to pass it on.”

She writes about finding joy in a journey full of surprises. About finding peace amid a storm. About family. And friends. About life and living it to the fullest.  And love. And most importantly, of course, of following Jesus.

I’d love to send you an autographed paperback copy of this fragrantly delightful new book. Take a minute and sign up via the giveaway below.

If you’d like to order the book, contact Dorcas Smucker at 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446. Books are $12 each plus $2 postage. Checks or PayPal accepted. (

This book is now also available for purchase on Amazon!

She also has a blog that I enjoy reading, visit her at Life In the Shoe

Enter the Giveaway Here!

Edited to add: There have been some issues with this giveaway link. I thought I’d try doing it the professional way and use rafflecopter. There is the very real possibility that I might not have it linked  properly or something. When I go to do the drawing for the giveaway, I will include the name of everyone who left a comment on this blog post, as well as everyone who entered through the rafflecopter link. (if you did both, it will still only count as one entry) So…if you haven’t yet, PLEASE do enter the giveway!! 🙂

This giveaway is open through November 14th (closes at midnight)

Thanks for your patience as I try to make this work!

Cover Reveal

Good morning! First thing, this morning, I am showing you a brand new book! (I signed up to do a cover reveal) This is not the post I was referring to yesterday, I will be posting about my new giveaway later on today, but wanted to get this one posted before I forget.

I have not read this book personally (this IS a cover reveal!), so I cannot offer any personal opinions or reviews regarding it today. However, if you enjoy contemporary Christian fiction, you just might enjoy this!



She renovates old houses. Can he restore her heart? Deidre McIntyre didn’t exactly purchase the gorgeous old home in the Shenandoah Mountains on a whim. The building had seen better days, but she had the skills—and the time—to fix it up. And maybe it would provide the fresh start she was looking for. Local handyman Jeremiah Crawford has a soft spot for Peacock Hill. When someone from out of town purchases it, he swings by to offer to help fix it up…and investigate the new owner’s plans for the property. The pixie-like Deidre isn’t at all what he expects, but he’s happy to hang around and enjoy the view. When Deidre’s ex-boyfriend, a popular TV house flipper, shows up demanding a piece of the action, Jeremiah must decide if Deidre—and Peacock Hill—are worth fighting for. Falling in love wasn’t on the blueprints, but it might just be worth the change in plans.

Pre-order the book HERE.


Elizabeth Maddrey

Elizabeth Maddrey is a semi-reformed computer geek and homeschooling mother of two who lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace on their way to their own romantic happily ever after.



  1. Peacock Hill is based loosely on Swannanoa Palace, which is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern VA
    2. I love to watch home remodeling shows and one of my favorites is Nicole Curtis and her show Rehab Addict. She’s, loosely, the physical basis for Deidre McIntyre.
    3. Swannanoa has swans all through the mansion. I don’t really like swans, so I changed them to peacocks.
    4. Jeremiah runs Bullfrog Home Services — that song was stuck in my head for the entire time I was writing the book.
    5. Jeremiah makes killer nachos. This is, to me, a very important trait in a man. Nachos are an important part of life.
    6. I visited Swannanoa with my sister over the summer (they open for tours periodically on summer weekends.) I expected it to be cooler and drier since it’s in the mountains, but it was still hot and muggy. For a place constructed to be a summer retreat, I was a little disappointed.
    7. The mansion is filled with gorgeous wood — from parquet floors to intricately carved paneling. I tried to incorporate a lot of that (and the tromp l’oeil paintings) in the descriptions.
    8. Swannanoa has a terracotta tile roof. I changed it to cedar shakes for Peacock Hill because I really wanted Deidre to have to replace the roof, not just a few broken tiles here or there.
    9. I’ve actually hiked to the waterfall Jeremiah and Deidre hike to — it’s not the most amazing waterfall I’ve been to, but it’s a nice hike all the same.
    10. When I started the book, I’d planned to have Deidre fall in love with a man who didn’t know one end of a hammer from the other. Then Jeremiah walked onto the page in chapter 1 and that idea flew out the window.7HeartRestored_FC_NS_A

    Enter the giveaway HERE.


    Baker Kella​
    Blossoms and Blessings
    Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen
    Faithfully Bookish ​
    Heidi Reads…​
    Mindy Houng
    Singing Librarian Books
    Wishful Endings


Books and more books…

I wanted to share this picture. This is what I’m dealing with right now…all these books!! 🙂 This is the books I’ve received for free this year…from authors…I didn’t really realize the extent of it until I began stacking them together. Most of these are ones that I got in exchange for doing an honest review. After I snapped the picture, I realized that I happened to include a few that I received through giveaways. I also realized that I didn’t get quite all of them included. And of course there are also a few others that I’ve already given away through this blog.

I’m realizing that I have to use more care in what I all I sign up for–I have quickly allowed myself to get sucked in to this wonderful ‘job’ of writing reviews so that I can have the privilege of reading more wonderful books! I find myself almost addicted to this. 😦 Even though I love to read, I am discovering there is a limit…as much as I’d like to read for a full-time job (and I’m convinced the possibility is very real!! 🙂 ), real life keeps going on. I have other work, other projects that cannot wait. Not the least is 7 dresses that need to be sewn in the next month. 🙂 I keep going by doing one day at a time. And reading snippets here and there as I find time. (I’m blessed that I’ve been gifted the ability to read a book quickly…)001


Because of this stack of books, I will be doing a few more  posts about books in the near future. 😉 I can’t wait to tell you about them! We are so blessed to live in an age when so many people are using their talents in this way, sharing their mastery of words with us. The world of Christian books–both fiction and nonfiction–is overflowing with many great books to be read!!

Tomorrow I will be sharing about a book that has been so…charming..refreshing…fragrantly joyful…and yes, there WILL be a book giveaway!! 🙂


And…a reminder…we still have the stencil giveaway open through this evening! comment on this blog post to be entered.