Friday, October 29, 2010


Patti Jo--you won again! I don't think that has ever happened before.

Congratulations, you are this week's winner in the random drawing, for the second time in a row. Please email us at heartsongblog at gmail dot com with your choice of either Romance Rides the River, Romance Rides the Range, or 10 Heartpoints to be used for future shipments of Heartsong Bookclub books.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

From The Vault

Romance Rides the Range

Sarah Anderson escapes her stepfather and his unruly children and heads for California and her brother Seth, trusting God to keep her safe on the perilous journey west. Matt Sterling rescued Seth from danger and taught him to become a top hand on the Sterling ranch. Betrayed by one selfish girl, Matt has vowed the San Joaquin River will run dry before he ever gets involved with another woman. He's better off fighting cattle rustlers, floods, and drought to make his spread one of the finest in the valley. Why, then, is he so concerned about Seth's sister?

“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 54:17)

A familiar verse from Genesis 12 popped into [Sarah’s] head. Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee.

Leave? Sarah held her breath and stared at the pale moonlight peeking through the cracks in the attic roof. Run away? She shivered in the dark. How could she just up and leave? She had no place to go, no money to get there. Worse, she would be alone—dreadfully alone.

Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

Sarah held her breath in wonder. All those Bible verses she’d learned as a child were coming back to her, just when she needed them most. But again, the word “how” kept rearing its ugly head—mocking her, urging her to stay and accept her future.

Do you remember the first Bible verse you learned as a kid? or later in life? or a verse that's meant a lot to you? You don't have to know the address and just a phrase will do.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Guest Blog with Colleen Reece Day Two

“Finding the Way,”

One of my greatest concerns when God called me off my government job into writing for Him was, “Lord, to whom can I witness, other than through my writing? I’ll be spending most of my time in my office working. Who can I encourage? Who can I help?”

I’m sure God smiled. Again. The first thing He did was open a door I didn’t know existed for me: teaching writing classes. My brother persuaded me to contact the local community college, even though I didn’t have a degree. “They use instructors who have expertise in their fields for the Continuing Education program,” he said. “One of the women at church works at the college. Ask her who you should contact.”

Her answer? “Me. My boss is head of Continuing Education.”

A few days later I was hired for an evening class and an afternoon class, wondering why I’d allowed my brother to talk me into it. I’d never even been to a writing class—and was so scared on my way to the first session I thought I’d be sick! After a mighty prayer, God settled me down. As the saying goes, the rest is history. Since then I’ve taught hundreds of classes, spoken at a multitude of conferences, and discovered that as long as I talk about writing or what God has done for me (preferably both) all is well.

Rewards? Oh, yes. A few years ago an award-winning children’s author came to me at a conference. “I have to tell you,” she said in a choked voice. “You changed my life. Literally.” I learned that years earlier, believing God had called her to write for Him, she’d gone to a Christian writers’ conference. She took a manuscript that represented blood, sweat, and tears. The editor for whom it was intended turned it down. Dreams shattered, she started to leave, but ran into one of the conference leaders.

“Go to Colleen Reece’s class,” the leader advised. “She’s teaching how to get started. She knows. She’s a full-time Christian author but it’s said that she freely confesses she could insulate her house with rejection slips!”

The discouraged writer came. She listened to the things God had put in my heart to encourage others. She learned one rejection didn’t mean all was lost. She left the conference determined not to give up. She didn’t, and is only one of many whose lives God has allowed me to influence. I rejoice when I see former students and those I’ve mentored go on to reach thousands, perhaps millions of readers that I never can.

Romance at Rainbow’s End, final novel in my trilogy, will be out in early 2011. The hero must decide whether God is telling him (as He told Moses—and me) that he’s “stayed long enough on this mountain” and if it’s time to leave all and follow.

Joshua’s decision will affect countless lives.

Colleen's question to each of us: If God is calling you to write, what is stopping you? Lack of time? If you write only one page per day, five days a week, by this time next year you will have completed a 260-page book. What’s more important than answering God’s call in your life?
Has God ever opened a door you never expected--like he did with Colleen and teaching? Maybe even one you never thought you wanted.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Guest Blog with Colleen Reece Day One

“Making God Smile”

Question: How do you make God smile?
Answer: Tell Him your plans.

I am a classic example of how true this is.

When I was a young adult and for years afterwards, I believed beyond the shadow of a doubt that my best service for God would be working with teens at Christian youth camps and retreats. I put everything I had into becoming an effective counselor, an interesting presenter, and a topnotch campfire leader. The rewards were great: seeing young people’s lives changed and knowing that in a small way, God was allowing me to be part of those changes.

I was also privileged to lend a listening ear and often had the opportunity to witness to co-workers during my twenty-four years as a school and government secretary. During those years, I learned the value of accepting God’s timing instead of my own. One specific incident stands out.

My parents were well-liked: a woodsman and a teacher in my small, western WA hometown. Everyone knew and respected me, as well. I was “their” school secretary. The roughest, toughest loggers and mill workers always gave me a smile and pleasant word. I knew without being told that if needed, they would mop up the ground with anyone who got out of line with me.

Used to this way of life, I was unpleasantly surprised when I moved to a city and encountered a married boss who showed budding signs of admiration—obvious enough that even this naive “country girl” could not mistake the signals. I squelched him, but all joy in my job fled. I began to pray that God would get me out of there. Immediately.

Weeks passed. I realized I was losing my joyous outlook on life. At last I prayed, “Okay, God, whatever You do is all right with me” and determined to make the best of the situation.

God left me on the job for another six months. During that time He gave me the opportunity to witness to a co-worker so deep in misery he was almost impossible to work with. I invited him to church. He came, again and again. A few months later, He re-dedicated his life to Christ and was baptized in a rushing stream. God eventually called him to become a minister.

I continued to serve at camps and on the job until I was in my early forties. Then God dramatically led me into a different and unexpected path.

One of my favorite Old Testament stories is found in Deuteronomy 2:3. God told Moses that he had “compassed the mountain” long enough—in other words, stayed long enough on that mountain. Now it was time for Moses to move on. God had other work for him to do.God did likewise with me. In 1977, He called me out of my satisfying rut. For several years I’d been writing Christian drama and skits for in-church presentations, as well as short inspirational articles and stories. Now He needed me to write full-time for Him.

I gave up camp counseling and with mixed emotions began to follow the winding road He laid out before me, a road that has brought me to where I am today.

Has God ever changed your direction mid-stream?
What is one of your favorite Bible stories?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Romance Rides the River by Colleen L. Reece

HP 923
ISBN 978-1-60260-994-5

Rampaging rivers threaten lives and love.

Life on the Diamond S will never be the same after Dori Sterling descends on the ranch like water gushing through a broken dam. Cattle disappear. An uninvited guest drives the Sterlings to distraction. And a trip into the Sierra Nevada threatens to end in disaster.

Young Seth Anderson is determined to fight adversity and keep the faith, but he can’t prevent rivers from flooding. Neither can he halt the more subtle but equally powerful undercurrents menacing the ranch and the girl he loves.

Can a dedicated young man and a rebellious girl safely navigate troubled waters and get past the log jam that blocks their way to finding happiness?

“How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him: [Peter] Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22, KJV).

Seth beckoned to Dori.

“Our turn, Copper,” she told the sorrel. He snorted and stepped into the flooded stream. All went well until they were halfway across. A floating tree, several branches still intact, barreled down the stream and blocked their way. Copper swerved to avoid the obstacle. The current caught him broadside. He staggered and regained his balance, but had already been swept past the bank where Seth and Splotches [Dori's pinto mare] waited.

Terror filled Dori, but she hung on for dear life. “You can do it, Copper!” she screamed, sticking in the saddle like a burr. The sorrel tried again and again, but he could not out-swim the tree. Tossed by the current, it stayed between horse, rider, and the opposite bank. Dori didn’t dare try to turn back. The bank was too steep to climb even if they could make it.

They rounded a sharp bend. A short distance ahead, another stream gushed white water into the one where she and Copper were trapped, changing it into a river. Unless they could get out before they reached that point, it meant certain death. Only God could save them now.

COLLEEN L. REECE was born and raised in a small western Washington logging town. She learned to read by kerosene lamplight and dreamed of someday writing a book. God has multiplied Colleen's “someday” book into more than 140 titles that have sold six million copies. Colleen was twice voted Heartsong Presents' Favorite Author and later inducted into Heartsong's Hall of Fame. Several of her books have appeared on the CBA Bestseller list.

On a scale of one to ten, how well do you swim? (1 is not at all and ten is excellent)

Friday, October 22, 2010

And The Winner Is...


Congratulations, you are this week's winner in the random drawing. Please email us at heartsongblog at gmail dot com with your choice of either Maid to Love, Gaining Love, or 10 Heartpoints to be used for future shipments of Heartsong Bookclub books.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

From The Vault

Hs #901
by Jennifer Johnson

Zoey is a fitness trainer who has turned her life around and back to the Lord. She has faced the consequences of poor choices before. Her next major hurdle is getting on top of her credit card debt by controlling her impulse shopping. Mark can't believe a beautiful, godly woman like Zoey could be interested in a balding, out-of-shape former quarterback like him. And Zoey fears Mark will run when he learns her three-year-old cousin is really her illegitimate son. God has forgiven their sins. But will Mark and Zoey extend grace to one another?

“What good is for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose of forfeit his very self?” Luke 9:25

At just 27, bank loan officer Mark White is overweight and already suffers from high blood pressure—a condition that contributed to his father’s early death. Determined to get back in shape before it’s too late, Mark joins a gym.

Zoey Coyle is a fitness trainer who has turned her life around and back to the Lord. She has faced the consequences of poor choices before. Her next major hurdle is getting on top of her credit card debt by controlling her impulse shopping.

Do you, like Mark or Zoey, have an area of constant stuggle? You don't have to share the struggle--just a yes or no, if you like.
As Jennifer mentioned earlier this week: Is it hard to sell yourself? Or are you a natural born salesman?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Guest Blog with Jennifer Johnson Day Two

Maid to Love is my ninth published book. There are two more coming after it…and hopefully several more after that! With all that writing, a lot of people ask me where I get my ideas for my stories. There is really only one place (outside of listening to the nudgings of the Holy Spirit) where I get my ideas.

It’s through a passion I have experienced in life.

For example, the book you’re going to read an excerpt about tomorrow is titled Gaining Love. In it, we have a guy who’s struggling with high blood pressure at a young age. Guess what? My hubby is too. Then we’ve got a girl who got pregnant as a teen—woohoo, look right here at me. Also, she struggles with using her credit card for impulse shopping. OUCH! It stung just to write that. And yet, me again.

Another book I wrote, For Better or Worse, the heroine was a mom of three preteen/teen daughters…again, you’re looking at her, and the heroine was a teacher. Guess who’s a teacher? In Finding Home, the heroine deals with an unplanned pregnancy and then giving the child up for adoption. I did not give my daughter up for adoption, but I remember so very vividly the feelings of inadequacy I felt having her at the ripe ol’ age of eighteen.

In Maid to Love, we have a country setting. I live and love a small town in the awesome state of Kentucky. And my heroine had the HUGE, humongous crush on this guy. Well, I married my big crush in high school, but boy, do I remember being head-over-heels for my guy.

Okay, I could go on and on with more stories I’ve written or am planning to write. My point in telling you all this is that if you’re contemplating writing and you just don’t know where to start. Start with what you know. You’ve probably heard that before, but it’s just the truth. When you write what you know, you know how to write it. You’ve lived it. You’ve experienced it. You can pull up all those emotions and thoughts, even the hard ones, and spill them out on the page. Readers connect with real life. Give them real life.

Are you a reader, a writer, or both?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Guest Blog with Jennifer Johnson Day One

Erica and Jeri are probably about to kill me. It is 3:30 on Sunday, October 17. Jeri asked me to have the blog information to her today. Well, it’s today, and I will get it to her, but it will be at the last minute. Why? Because on Friday (yes, two days ago) I just finished a Heartsong book.

It was kind of a bittersweet book to write. It’s the third, and last, of the series. Maid to Love, the one that came out this month, was the first. So, here I am, boohooing because I just finished the last all the while I have to come up with a blog to get you, my readers, excited about the first.

It feels a little weird to me. I’m not the best marketer in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I WANT you to read and like my books. But, I do have a hard time throwing my babies out there and imploring you to read them. Are they good reads? Well, YEAH! DUH! It’s just kinda weird to say, “Hey! You! READ MY BOOK!”

All that aside, I’ll stop whining that the series is done, and give you a heads up about what the books are about. They’re set in Kentucky. Go WILDCATS! There are four good-ol-country boys who make a bet, because they like to compete about everything, that whoever is last to get hitched is the winner.

Of course, my first guy up is Nick Martin. I love Nick Martin. He’s a good boy. All the way around. I’ll be happy if one of my girls (I have three, by the way) decides to marry Nick Martin. Anyway, a flash-from-the-past woman (the gal who’d had a crush on him all of her teenage years and drove him to insanity because of it) walks back into his life. And guess what, she’s not a teenager anymore. She’s a woman.

That’s all I’m going to say. You’re going to have to read the book. It’s a good’n. I promise you’ll like it.

Who is a hero that you absolutely love, maybe even enough to marry your daughter off to him?

Monday, October 18, 2010


HP 922
ISBN 978-1-62626-005-7

Nick and Addy have some history.

Nick Martin and his four friends made a bet—the last guy to marry wins. The losers have to help plan and pay for the winner’s wedding. No way is Nick going to lose. But when Addy Wilson comes home to River Run, Nick’s interest in winning the silly bet begins to wane.

Addy Wilson’s plans aren’t working out. Six months after graduating college, she still has no job prospects. When her aunt is injured and can’t clean her clients’ homes, Addy temporarily moves back to her tiny hometown to help. Nick Martin, the guy she had a crush on when she was an awkward teenager, is one of Aunt Becky’s clients. But Addy is determined not to make a fool of herself over Nick again.

Will Nick and Addy let the childish things of the past stand in their way to love?

Key Verse: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11

JENNIFER JOHNSON and her unbelievably supportive husband, Albert, are happily married and raising Brooke, Hayley, and Allie, the three cutest young ladies on the planet. Besides being a middle school teacher, Jennifer loves to read, write, and chauffeur her girls. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Blessed beyond measure, Jennifer hopes to always think like a child—bigger than imaginable and with complete faith. Send her a note at
Have you ever, like Nick, made a crazy bet with friends, family or your spouse? What was the bet and did you win or lose?
Have you ever broken or sprained anything? What were your symptoms and how long til you felt better? The reason I asked, is that about an hour ago, while rock climbing with my two and a half year old grandson, I fell and twisted my ankle. I've never broken or sprained anything, until possibly now. And man does it hurt! Any advice is appreciated.

Friday, October 15, 2010

This Week's Book Goes To...

Rosemary who posted on Monday and said...

"I loved White Roses and I can't wait to read White Doves. The players will be interesting. Hope to win a copy." And you did!

Congratulations, you are this week's winner in the random drawing. Please email us at heartsongblog at gmail dot com with your choice of either White Doves, White Roses, or 10 Heartpoints to be used for future shipments of Heartsong Bookclub books.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

From The Vault

White Roses
HS #902

Pastor Grayson Sterling loves his wife. But Sara was killed two years ago. Grayson knows that the continuing depth of his grief is not healthy. Desperate, he convinces his church to hire Mark Welch as associate pastor to relieve some of his load. When Adrea Welch arrives at church with her brother, Grayson cannot deny his attraction to her. For years, florist Adrea Welch has been arranging white roses for Sara Sterling. Now those flowers are carried to the cemetery by a grieving husband. How can Adrea be so attracted to a man still devoted to his dead wife?

Pastor Grayson Sterling loves his wife.

The problem is, Sara was killed by a hit-and-run driver two years ago. Grayson knows he needs to move on, that the continuing depth of his grief is not healthy for him or his young son. Desperate, he convinces his church to hire Mark Welch as associate pastor to relieve him of some of his load. When Adrea Welch arrives at his church with her brother, Grayson cannot deny his attraction to her.

For years, florist Adrea Welch has been artfully arranging white roses for Sara Sterling. Now those flowers are carried to the cemetery by a faithful, grieving husband. How can Adrea be so attracted to a man still devoted to his dead wife? When secrets from Adrea’s past collide with their budding relationship, both she and Grayson must learn to lean on God’s abiding wisdom.

White Roses Key Verse:

“For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, fear not: I will help thee.” (Isaiah 41:13)

White Roses Excerpt:

“Whoa!” Adrea Welch teetered on top of the rickety three-step utility ladder. With both arms flung out, surfing style, she regained her balance and pressed a hand to her pounding heart.

“Let me hold that for you,” a deep voice echoed from the back of the sanctuary.
The man hurried toward her. Emerald green eyes, windswept sable hair, and an irresistible cleft in his chin. Late-twenties, maybe thirty. Probably the groom. All the impossibly handsome men, especially the nice, mannerly ones who hung out in church, were taken.

Especially in tiny Romance, Arkansas.

But looks weren’t everything and he might never have been in a church before, just here for the wedding. Underneath that heart-tilting smile, he might be a jerk.
“Thanks.” She glanced down, making sure he wasn’t helping as an excuse to check her out. He wasn’t. Instead, he studied her work.

“I’m almost done.” Adrea looped yellow roses through the white latticework archway.
“The church should invest in a better ladder.”

“Actually, it’s mine.” She weaved ivy through the roses and climbed down. He was tall, at least six foot three. The top of her head came just about nose level on him.
“Are you in the wedding party?” He slung his jacket over one shoulder. Shirtsleeves, rolled up almost to the elbow, revealed muscled forearms.

“I’m the florist.” Always the florist; never the bride. “Adrea Welch.”


She nodded at the correct pronunciation. “Very good, but I’ve been known to answer to Adrian and Andrea.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Adrea.” He offered his hand. “I’m the pastor at Palisade over in Rose Bud. Grayson Sterling. Most folks call me Pastor Grayson.”
She suppressed a gasp and shook his hand. Warmth spread over her at his firm, yet gentle grip.

“I’m sorry, have we met?”

“Um, I usually do the white roses.”

The light in his eyes snuffed out.

Six years of standing orders for his wife’s birthday, their son’s birthday, and their anniversary. For the last two, he hand-delivered the flowers to the cemetery. And added Valentine’s Day to mark the date of her death.

“Sara always treasured them and thought it so romantic to get flowers from Romance.” His voice sounded forced. “Even though mine is always the same order, you make each one unique.”

“I actually enjoy the challenge of making each array distinctive.” How lame. Might as well tell him I take pleasure in arranging flowers for his dead wife. “She must have been a very special lady.”

“Yes.” He stuffed his hands into his pockets. “How long have you been at Floral Designs?”

“Seven years.”

“I’ve been a patron and pastored the church almost that long.” He frowned. “Odd that we’ve never met before.”

“I hardly ever go out to the showroom, and only started decorating wedding sites in the last few months.” She fluffed the swirl of tulle at the base of each brass candelabra to catch the rainbow of light reflecting through the lone stained-glass window.

“This is the first wedding I’ve agreed to officiate since Sara. . . So, you attend here at Mountain Grove?”

“From the time I can remember, and my sister’s husband is the preacher.” She cocked her head to the side, surveying the archway. Yellow roses were her favorite. Once upon a time, she’d planned to use them for her own special day.
She checked her watch. Almost time for the round of afternoon weddings to start. “I better get out of your way.”

“Nice meeting you. I’ll pick up Sara’s arrangement later.”

“It’ll be ready.” She hurried out of the church, slipping on her jacket. Preachers really shouldn’t look so good. How could any self-respecting Christian female concentrate on the sermon? He definitely lived up to the romantic hero her employees mooned over every time he came to pick up the roses. No wonder the salesclerks called him Prince Sterling.

Question of the day: Do you prefer flowers or candy?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Guest Blog with Shannon Taylor Vannatter Day Two

White Doves dedication: To Daddy, my number one fan. I’ll never forget our trip to Dallas when you took me to claim my first important unpublished writing award, babysat my five year-old in the pool all day, and told everyone you met that your daughter was a writer.

(Story behind the dedication)

In 2007, I received word that I’d finaled in the Touched By Love writing contest and the winners would be announced at the Faith, Hope, & Love Conference in Dallas. I’d already paid and planned to attend American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, also in Dallas that year. My husband didn’t have any extra time off to go and we didn’t want to spend the extra money.

When my parents learned about the contest, they decided to take me there and make a mini-vacation out of our trip, and fund the entire thing. In awe, I made the arrangements. The conference hotel was already full, but I found another with available rooms. Very expensive rooms, even with my special writers’ rate. Mama and Daddy approved, despite the cost. We talked about trips to the zoo and visiting Charlie Pride’s house, Daddy’s favorite singer.
Two weeks before our trip, Mama’s coworker had to take a medical leave. Which meant, Mama couldn’t go. Without her, and saddled with entertaining my active five year-old, I knew Daddy wouldn’t have as much fun.

I offered him an out. We didn’t have to go. It was early enough I could get the registration fee back and cancel the hotel. But, Daddy wouldn’t hear of it.

The day before the conference, Daddy, my son, and I set out for Dallas. Daddy drove most of the way. With one weakened and one surgically improved knee, we stopped often, so he could stretch. He refused to let me pay for gas, food, or even snacks.

Seven hours later, we arrived. The hotel was huge. Unwilling to make another trek, we piled high with luggage. Even my son was loaded down. We walked miles through the spiral parking deck, then crossed the busy highway to get to the entrance.

At the service desk, I learned our room was way on the other end. After checking in, I just knew Daddy’s knee would play out, but he trudged on, burdened with the majority of the suitcases.
Anxious bellboys lined the plush carpet in the long corridor. “Do you need help?”

“No.” I didn’t want Daddy spending any more money. He’d already paid for everything else.
We finally made it to the room and unloaded. All we wanted to do was stay put, but Daddy thought we should find the other hotel before morning.

My poor son lagged behind. “When do we get to swim?”

We took the elevator back down and asked for directions.

“A train leaves every thirty minutes.” The clerk handed me a confusing map. “It will take you right to that hotel.”

We went outside, in search of the train, only to find at least a dozen. The map didn’t make sense to either one of us. With helpful advice from the locals, we found the right train and managed to buy a ticket. Daddy’s bad knee continued to hold up.

“When can we swim?” My son asked, at least a dozen more times, on the way back to our room. Looking at our train tickets, I noticed it said they expired at midnight. In the morning, we would repeat the entire process.

Getting late by now, my son swim in the tub, then took a shower. When I came out of the bathroom, Daddy was splayed on the other bed, still in his traveling clothes, already snoring.
The next morning, he wouldn’t hear of me walking the streets of Dallas, or riding a train alone. He and my son got up early with me, bought more tickets, rode the train, made sure I wound up at the right hotel, then headed back to our hotel and the pool.

All day, I bragged to other attendees about my dad bringing me and entertaining my son. Numerous awwws resulted.

After the conference, I called Daddy. He and my son met me at the train station.

“I won second place.” My voice quivered with excitement.

“Second place. That’s great.” Daddy’s hair stood on end, waving in the wind. He and my son looked like prunes.

“Did y’all stay in the pool all day?”

“Most of it.” Daddy remained unperturbed.

All the way home, each time we stopped to get gas or stretch, he bragged on me. “This is my daughter. She’s a writer. She won second place in a big contest.”

“And this is my Daddy,” I said. “He drove me from Arkansas, so I could get my award.”

Back in the car, we discussed where to stop for supper. During the whole trip, he’d pointed out every IHOP he saw, then pulled in at the cheaper fast food places.

“Let’s go to IHOP and I’ll buy.”

We did, but he grabbed the ticket.

I mentioned that I’d come prepared to win third and be happy with that. Second was even better.

“So, you knew you’d won something when you came?”

“Remember, I told you, they called and said I finaled, but I didn’t learn what place until today.”
“That was this conference?”

It was then I realized he had my conferences mixed up. He drove me all the way to Dallas and funded the entire trip, without realizing I’d won a thing, so I could be there just in case.

What’s the sweetest thing a family member or friend ever did for you?


What is your favorite wild animal?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Guest Blog with Shannon Taylor Vannatter Day One

Still Romancing After Twenty-Six Years

Several months ago, I had my book launch party for White Roses at the Romance Waterfalls. It was too hot to actually have it at the falls, so Buck & Brenda Weatherly graciously opened their home. My husband went with me, kept the coffee flowing, corralled our eight year old, and visited with our church members who came. It was an awesome day. I sold out within ten minutes and our church members ended up giving me their books back, so I could sell them to other people, and replace their copies later.

The only draw bigger than me was a baby deer. The Weatherly’s had rescued the deer and had it secured in their laundry room by a child gate. Only in Arkansas.

As the day came to a close and only a handful of friends and family milled about, I thought about how important the Romance Waterfalls is to my books. In the series a wedding and a proposal takes place there, and a couple draws closer together at the falls. All of my characters have had romantic or important moments there. I decided that my husband and I should have a romantic moment at the falls too. I grabbed my friend, Linda and her camera, and then my hubby.

“Let’s go down to the falls and let Linda take our picture while we kiss.”

Hubby jumped up. “Sure.”

Wow he’s excited, I thought.

We took the long, humid walk to the falls. Me, in my white skirt and satin shoes, him in shorts and tennis shoes. We stopped on the balcony where couples get married. I snuggled up.

He wouldn’t even put his arms around me.

“Come on.” I snuggled closer.

He finally gave in and moved in for a kiss.

Linda cleared her throat. “Okay, guys. Let’s not get carried away.”

We moved down to another balcony overlooking the falls, kissed again and got a few more shots. We trekked back to the Weatherly’s house, visited a bit longer, loaded the car and left.

Later, when I got the pictures from Linda, I asked, “What was with the no hands thing?”

“I was so uncomfortable.”


“I’m not used to getting my picture taken while I kiss my wife. It wasn’t very spontaneous.”

“But you didn’t hesitate when I asked.”

“I didn’t want to make you feel bad.”

So, my PDA shy husband/pastor posed for the camera, even though it made him uncomfortable. Now, that’s true love.

What’s the most romantic thing someone has done for you or you for him/her? If it hasn't happened yet, what might that moment look like?
Or on a different slant, how many pets do you have and what types? Shannon listed a whole zoo in her bio yesterday. Can you beat her out?

Monday, October 11, 2010

White Doves by Shannon Taylor Vannatter

HP 921
ISBN 978-1-60260-995-2

Romance wasn’t what Laken had in mind.

Laken Kroft left home eight years ago and never looked back. Who knew when she applied for the promotion to postmaster that she'd end up in Romance, Arkansas, and much too close to her parents, the town drunk and the local gossip maven?

Hayden Winters has his hands full raising his paraplegic nephew, Brady, and wrestling his guilt over having caused the child's injury. When the boy's father, Laken's brother, turns up and starts talking custody, Laken's influence is Hayden's only hope. But whose side is she really on?

Will their mutual bond with their seven-year-old nephew draw them closer or rip them asunder? Will Laken accept Hayden "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" or be forced to turn her back on him and "Return to Sender"?

White Doves Key Verse:

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 4:7)


The post office door opened and Laken closed her eyes, waiting to hear Mother’s accusing tone. A whoosh of June’s humidity blasted her with its hot, steamy breath. Nibbling on the inside of her lip until she tasted blood, she realized it was the employee door.

“Welcome to Love Station,” a male voice said from behind her. “Hope you like weddings. I’ve got a whole passel of invitations.”

Laken turned around. A man swung an overstuffed mail sack from his broad shoulder. Tanned calf muscles rippled beneath knee-length khaki shorts as he bent to scoop up a stray Post-it. He turned to face her. Laugh lines crinkled the corners of olive eyes.

“You must be the new postmistress.” He wore a day’s growth of beard, the kind that made a woman want to rub her cheek against it. A wind-blown coffee-colored lock dipped low over one eyebrow. He brushed away the stray wave and pressed the back of his wrist against the perspiration beading his forehead.

Until that moment, he looked like he’d stepped out of one of those cheesy soap operas, where perfect male specimens serve up a daily dish of melodrama. But romantic heroes don’t sweat—even in Romance, Arkansas’s sticky heat.

Get a grip, Laken. So he’s cute. She tried to concentrate on the paneled walls, the tan commercial tile, the mail instead of the male.

“You’re the. . .”

“Mail carrier at your service.” He made a low, sweeping bow as if she were royalty, then straightened with a cocky grin and offered his hand. “Your loyal servant, Hayden Winters.

Laken hadn’t paid much attention to what the transferring postmistress had said about the carrier, picturing a graying, potbellied Cliff Clavin, not a member of the hunk-of-the-month club. She cleared her throat. “I don’t have any servants. Just coworkers. I’m Laken Kroft.”

With a genuine smile, he grasped her hand and shook it then deposited another stuffed manila envelope on her counter. He strode to his three-sided sorter, pulled the envelopes from each slotted divider, and stuffed them into his tray.

“Do you live around here?”

“I moved from Little Rock last week.” She set a flats tray full of magazines next to him. “No packages today.”

“Since my parents retired here a few years back, I moved from North Little Rock last month so my nephew could be near them.”

She propped her hands on her hips. “I’d like to know how you got to transfer exactly where you wanted to.”

“I prayed for God to work it out and waited almost a year.”

Her mouth went dry. Well, he was almost perfect. Too bad he had to start talking about God. She went back to stamping, with more determination.

Clunk-clunk, clunk-clunk, clunk-clunk reverberated in Laken’s ears. With perfect precision, she imprinted the famous postmark barely at the edge of the entwined wedding rings on the fancy postage stamp. Just like the former postmistress had shown her.

“Do you have family in these parts?” Hayden scratched his chin. “Seems like there’s a lady at my church in Rose Bud by the name of Kroft.”

Laken stifled a sigh. If only her promotion could have materialized somewhere else. Somewhere far away from Searcy and her parents and all the people who knew them.

Already this morning, three customers had figured out her family ties. An imaginary clock ticked in Laken’s left temple. Any minute, Mother would show up with a disapproving frown ready to dredge up the past.

Surely Mother had better things to do than drive forty-five minutes just to hassle Laken.

Hayden cocked an eyebrow.

She pursed her lips.

“Never mind. Just trying to make conversation.” He stuffed more mail into his case.

Keeping rhythm with the tick-tock in her head, Laken clunk-clunked the metal stamp a little harder.

The door from the lobby opened and seemed to suck the cool air from the building. Forcing a smile, Laken turned to greet her next customer. Her smile died.

Over-bright, bottle-red hair and garish watermelon-colored lipstick drew attention to the wrinkles in her mother’s face. Too many for a woman not quite fifty.

“Laken, I can’t believe you’re here.”

Something in Mother’s green eyes tugged at her. Hurt? No. No one could hurt Sylvie Kroft, even if they ran her down with a mail truck. She’d just come up slinging gossip about the driver.

“I thought certainly Mrs. Jones was wrong.” Mother propped her hands on still-slim hips. “How could you, my own daughter, not call or visit for eight years?” Her voice grew louder and more shrewish with each word. “Eight years. Then land a job as postmistress and arrive in Romance without so much as a letter?”

“No one writes letters anymore.” Despite her trembly insides, Laken willed herself not to break eye contact. “E-mail is the lament of the U.S. Postal Service.”

Laken could almost see the steam erupt from her mother’s ears.

“Young lady.” With a forefinger, Mother jabbed the air in Laken’s direction.

“Ahem.” Hayden stepped into Mother’s line of view, with a great show of clearing his throat, followed by a forced cough. “Hello, Mrs. Kroft.”

Mother flashed a trademark fake smile. “I’ve seen you at church lately. You’re. . .”

“Hayden Winters.” He shook her hand.

“You have the young boy in the wheelchair.” Mother cocked her head to the side, striving for innocence. “But I haven’t seen a wife.”

Hayden stiffened, and the light in his eyes dimmed. “Brady is my nephew. My sister died almost three years ago.”

“Oh my.” Mother clasped a hand over her mouth as if she’d intended no harm. “I’m so sorry. Was it a car accident? Is that what happened to Brady?”

Laken wished the mountain of wedding invitations would swallow her up as Hayden’s inner light snuffed completely out.

SHANNON TAYLOR VANNATTER is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife/writer. When not writing, she runs circles in the care and feeding of her husband, Grant, their eight-year-old son, and their church congregation. Home is a central Arkansas zoo with two charcoal gray cats, a chocolate lab, a dragonfish, and three dachshunds in weenie dog heaven. If given the chance to clean house or write, she’d rather write. Her goal is to hire Alice from the Brady Bunch.

Today's Question: Over a dozen U.S. cities and towns with romantic names have a re-mailing program, where romantics mail wedding invitations or Valentine cards to be re-mailed with a romantic postmark. Have you ever participated in the re-mailing program?

Friday, October 8, 2010

It's Your Lucky Day!


Congratulations, you are this week's winner in the random drawing. Please email us at heartsongblog at gmail dot com with your choice of either Across the Cotton Fields, The Mockingbird’s Call, or 10 Heartpoints to be used for future shipments of Heartsong Bookclub books.
We had a lot of great participation this week. Thanks to everyone who joined us! Please come back next week to meet author Shannon Taylor Vannatter. Until then, have a wonderful weekend and a blessed Sunday.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

From The Vault

The Mockingbird’s Call
HS #892

Amelia never planned to become a notorious agent on the Underground Railroad; it just happened. Before she knew it, the whole Confederate army was looking for her - including her fiance, Captain Luke Talbot. Jared Stuart finds himself torn between his convictions and his duty. While he can't support slavery, he chooses to use his talents as a writer to prove the pen is mightier than the sword. When Luke arrests Jared, Amelia must face herself and make difficult decisions. Will she admit to her actions, freeing Jared and destroying her own engagement?

Key verse:

John 8:32 – And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Jared leaned out of the doorway and waved until the train turned a bend and he could no longer see his family. He stepped into the narrow space between cars and pulled off his spectacles which had unaccountably become blurry. The problem couldn’t be connected to the burning sensation in his eyes. That would mean he was crying. Grown men didn’t cry. Surreptitiously he wiped the lenses clean and replaced the spectacles, looking around to see if he’d been noticed.

He opened the door in front of him just as the train lurched. Allowing the movement to push him forward, Jared passed several benches and chose one that was unoccupied. That’s when he noticed the lovely young lady sitting on the other side of the aisle from him.

She glanced in his direction before modestly returning her attention to the book in her lap. She was the most beautiful girl in the world. The quick glance she sent his direction showed eyes as blue as a summer sky. He also noticed her delicate complexion and generous, bow-shaped mouth. Although her hair was pulled up and mostly hidden under her bonnet, he could see shimmering strands around her face that reminded him of sun-drenched corn silk. She could be the subject of poetry, perhaps the fabled Helen of Troy.

The train began to pick up speed as they moved farther away from the station, seeming to race as quickly as his mind. Where was the young lady’s maid? Was she traveling alone? Chivalry filled his chest and squared his shoulders. Like a knight of old he could watch over her and make sure she reached Chattanooga safely.

His imagination soared. Over the next couple of hours, Jared would gradually win her confidence, and offer her his protection. If she was traveling beyond Chattanooga on this train, he would speak to the conductor about her and make certain a suitable replacement would help her reach her final destination. If by some miraculous chance she was journeying to Knoxville, he would guard her from all the dangers they might encounter. It was the least he could do. If one of his sisters found herself traveling alone in these dangerous times, he would hope some man might do the same.

He tilted his head to see what she might be reading. Perhaps that would be a good place to start a conversation. It was a fairly thick volume, so not a book of poetry. Jared craned his neck further but could not see the title. He thought he saw her gaze slide in his direction, so Jared sat back and straightened his cravat. He didn’t want to make her nervous.

After a moment, she returned her attention to her book and turned a page. From the corner of his vision he saw a red ribbon she must be using as a bookmark flutter to the floor between their seats. Jared reached down for it at the same time as the young woman, narrowly avoiding a head collision.

He plucked the ribbon from the floor and put it in her hand, noticing her dainty wrist and long fingers. “You dropped your ribbon.” He nearly groaned as he heard the words. He sounded like a simpleton. Why couldn’t he think of something besides the obvious to say?

“Thank you.” Her smile was perfect, friendly but shy. Her fingers closed over the ribbon, and she settled back in her seat.

Say something! His mind screamed the words, but nothing came to him. His gaze lit on her book. She had partially closed it when she reached for the ribbon. He saw the title and inspiration struck “You’re reading A Tale of Two Cities. What do you think of it? Dickens is one of my favorite authors. I was hoping to procure a copy of that novel before leaving Nashville, but with this and that, I never quite found the time to visit the bookseller. I hope to purchase it once I reach Knoxville. If I can find someone to tell me where the bookseller is located, of course.” He cringed as he realized he was babbling.

She opened her mouth to answer him but was stopped by the arrival of a broad-shouldered man who looked a year or two older, and much more debonair than Jared could ever hope to be. A brother?

“Is this man bothering you, Amelia?” The newcomer’s ferocious frown raked Jared from head to foot, and his hope of protecting the pretty traveler withered.

What is one of your favorite movies? Is it a romance or another genre?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Guest Blog with Diane Ashley


When Aaron and I wrote our first book together, Under the Tulip Poplar, we created “bad girl” Alexandra Lewis. She had the wrong priorities and she wanted to steal the hero’s heart from our heroine. At the end of that book Alexandra’s whole world had fallen apart, and we felt sorry for her. We talked about her future and decided she would return to her mother’s family living on a plantation in Mississippi. We discussed what her relatives would expect of her and how she might be redeemed. Then we realized she would need the example of a strong Christian man in her life, a man who knows what is truly worthy of our dedication and love. That’s how Jeremiah LeGrand came into being. We saw him as a man searching for God’s leading. He resists falling in love with Alexandra because he recognizes her shallowness. But he is increasingly drawn to her as she begins making her journey to salvation. So we pitched the story to our editor as the first of a series based in Mississippi.

It was a great deal of fun to take a character who is cold and calculating and show how Jesus can change anyone who is willing to surrender to Him. By the end of the story we hope all of our readers will agree that Alexandra has gained more than a happy ending, more than a hero. She has gained the true peace that comes whenever we give our hearts to Jesus.

Aaron and I were so excited when we received feedback from a Heartsong reader who asked us to write Alexandra’s story because we were able to tell her we had already done it and she could read it this month.

Question from Diane: Have you ever read a book with a secondary character who intrigued you? What book and character? Please tell us about any of our characters you would like to read more about.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Guest Blog with Aaron McCarver


Diane and I are so excited about our newest release, Across the Cotton Fields, the first in our “Mississippi Brides” series. When looking for titles and interesting things to flavor our Heartsong books with, we like to turn to symbols of the states the stories are set in. With our “Tennessee Brides” series, we used the state tree in Under the Tulip Poplar, the state flower in A Bouquet for Iris, and the state bird in The Mockingbird’s Call.

With this series we have, of course, chosen the magnolia—the state flower and tree and the nickname—which you will see in the second book of the series, Among the Magnolias. We needed other symbols. The state bird is the same as Tennessee’s so we wanted something else. This country’s largest and longest river, the Mississippi, is tied into our home state’s history, so that gave us As the River Drifts Away for the last book in the series.
We still needed one more symbol. We thought of a plantation home, which lead us to thinking about that important Southern crop: cotton. This symbol has worked perfectly as the hero in Across the Cotton Fields is Jeremiah LeGrand, a man who dreams of running a plantation a new way, without using slave labor. Following his convictions leads to much of the story’s conflict as many resent his “revolutionary” method for threatening their way of life

We think this mirrors the Christian life. There are times when others question the choices we make to either do things that are Christ-like—reading the Bible, praying, treating others with love, attending church—or not do things that would displease our Heavenly Father, such as participating in the things of this world. But like Jeremiah, we must stay true to what God has called us to—living a life that is pleasing to Him. It is only then that we will have a true impact on this world for Christ.

Easy Question: Have you ever seen a cotton field? What state were you in? A tougher question worth pondering from Aaron: How have you been able to witness to others through your choices to live a Christ-like life? Answer one or both for a chance to win one of Diane and Aaron's books in a random drawing

Monday, October 4, 2010

Across the Cotton Fields by Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver

HP #920
ISBN 978-1-60260-955-6

Her life no longer makes sense.

Alexandra Lewis’s father has been exposed as a thief and killed in a shootout. Her grandmother insists that she carry out her duty to the family by marrying a wealthy man, regardless of whether she loves him or agrees with his views on slavery. And Alexandra cannot understand how a loving God could allow all this to happen.

Jeremiah LeGrand dreams large. After buying his friend’s cotton plantation, he frees the slaves, hires them to work the land, and teaches them to read and write, much to the consternation of his neighbors. He also wants to open an orphanage but needs a wife who shares his vision—certainly not someone like the beautiful but shallow debutante, Alexandra Lewis.

When Alexandra learns of a plot to destroy Jeremiah’s home and fields, will she find a way to warn the man she has come to love?

Key verse:

Isaiah 48:17 – “Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.”


Natchez Under-the-Hill. Alexandra had heard stories of the area. It was a hiding place for gamblers, criminals, and lawless men, most of them running from New Orleans justice. It was no place for two ladies to spend any amount of time. Well, she’d better remedy that situation before it got any darker.

After repeating her instructions to Jemma and her mother, Alexandra walked toward the nearest building, hoping she would find it to be a livery stable. A woman who looked even more bedraggled than Alexandra felt stepped outside. When questioned, she pointed the way toward a stable a few blocks toward the east, away from the river.

The fog swirled around her legs as she walked, obscuring the ground and making it difficult for her to see where she was going. Hoping the woman had directed her correctly, she turned a corner and found herself in a quieter part of town. Buildings rose up on either side of her, their shadows lengthening as full dark began to settle on them.

A horseshoe hanging from a metal rod indicated that a building ahead was the one she sought. Intent on her destination, Alexandra hurried forward, hope singing through her. But disaster struck when she put her foot into an unseen rut and twisted her ankle. A shriek of pain and fear broke through her lips as she fell, landing with a jarring thump.

It took her a minute to recover her senses, and when she did she groaned. She was covered in mud and dirt, her hat drooped to one side, and her cloak was torn in several places. She dragged herself up with some effort and leaned against the nearest wall, ignoring the bite of splinters that pierced her gloved hands. Her breath came in labored spurts, and the street seemed to move as though it had turned into the river.

Several minutes passed, but finally the street regained its solidity and her breathing settled into a more normal pace. She pushed away from the wall and put her full weight on her injured foot. Pain shot up her leg, causing her to fall back once more. At least this time the street did not waver, but she knew her situation was serious. Her mother was counting on her. She could not fail. What she wanted to do was sink to the ground and sob, but crying would not help the situation. What was she going to do?

How many blocks had she walked in her search? She wasn’t certain. She could no longer see the waterfront, or Mama and Jemma. And no one seemed to be around in this dark, narrow corridor. Alexandra closed her eyes. God, help me. The words formed in her mind even though she didn’t really believe He would answer her plea.

A sound to her right made Alexandra’s eyes fly open. Two men rounded the corner and lurched toward her. They appeared to be drunk, leaning on each other and weaving their way up the street. The drunker of the two was shorter, and he was moving in an odd hopping fashion while leaning against his taller companion.

“Come along, Judah,” the taller one encouraged his companion. “We’re almost at the stable where we’re supposed to rendezvous with your lady.”

Alexandra was surprised at the lack of slurring in the man’s voice. At least he wasn’t drunk. He must be helping his master home. She remembered seeing other boats at the landing. Perhaps this pair had arrived on one of them.

As they drew closer she realized the shorter man, a soldier by his garb, was moving oddly because he had lost the lower part of his right leg. She pressed a hand to her mouth, sympathy for his plight filling her. Suddenly her twisted ankle seemed a minor inconvenience.

The smaller man looked up and saw her. “What have we here? A lady in distress?”

The servant stared at her boldly, his gaze taking in her torn clothing and the spatters of mud on her face. “More likely a lady of the streets.”

Alexandra’s mouth fell open in shock. She closed it with a snap and directed her attention to the soldier. “You should teach your man to bridle his tongue. It will do neither of you any good to allow him to criticize his betters.” She would have liked to turn her shoulder on both of them and stalk away, but the throbbing in her ankle halted her.

What the soldier’s answer might have been was muffled by the sound of horses’ hooves approaching. A carriage rounded the corner. Alexandra shrank back against her wall, biting her lip to keep from moaning as her leg throbbed once more.

DIANE ASHLEY, a “town girl” born and raised in Mississippi, has worked more than twenty years for the House of Representatives. She rediscovered a thirst for writing, was led to a class taught by Aaron McCarver, and became a founding member of the Bards of Faith. Visit her at

AARON MCCARVER is a transplanted Mississippian who was raised in the mountains near Dunlap, Tennessee. He loves his jobs of teaching at two Christian colleges and editing for Barbour Publishing. A member of ACFW, he is co-author with Gilbert Morris of the bestselling series, The Spirit of Appalachia.

As I'm setting up this blog, it's thundering outside. It makes me wonder what it's like in your area on this Monday morning?

Friday, October 1, 2010

This Week's Winner!

Congratulations, Amber S!

You are this week's winner in the random drawing. Please email us at heartsongblog at gmail dot com with your choice of either Pedigreed Blood Lines, The Columns of Cottonwood, or 10 Heartpoints to be used for future shipments of Heartsong Bookclub books.