The Heart Mender, a Review

The Heart Mender–a gripping story of a woman whose husband was killed by Nazis during WWII and the Nazi who washed up on her beach on the Gulf of Mexico in Alabama–is based on actual events. The story itself is compelling, but the way it was written made it hard to read in a way.

First, Andrews starts the book with a first-person POV research dump. The story is based on a historical event, which includes the not-well-known fact that Nazi submarines frequently attacked military and merchant ships right off our American shores. But much of the information Andrews dumps at the first of the novel could have been woven into the workings of the story itself.

Speaking of the story itself, it was written in an omniscient POV, which, I’m betting, few readers are accustomed to anymore. It’s a valid POV, but it takes a lot of “getting used to.” The fact that Andrews jumps in and out of the heads of so many characters sometimes makes the story difficult to follow.

In his defense, though, I understand why he used the omniscient. He did have to guide the reader through the story, which is the purpose of omniscient. The point of this perspective isn’t to let the reader experience the events from under a character’s skin, as it is in a deeper POV, but to help the reader understand and contemplate the characters and events and their meanings. And since he establishes early that he, the author, is the one telling the story, he did this part well. Head-hopping is just a tool of this particular POV.

The research dumps and the omniscient POV were a couple of reasons the book was difficult to read. Andrews’ writing style was another, but what bothered me as an editor were just picky little things that probably wouldn’t distract anyone else.

Still, The Heart Mender is a multi-dimensional tale with well-rounded characters and a Christian message of forgiveness woven into the historical events. It’s worth reading, but be forewarned of its difficulties.

For authors who want to learn more about this unusual POV and its uses, please ready “A Study in Omniscient POV,” parts one and two. Andy Andrews isn’t the only modern author who employs this technique. And you never know, it might just be the trick you need to make your own story work. But be sure you use it correctly!

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MASSIVE eBOOK GIVEAWAY!

GUESS WHAT?!

I’ve teamed up with 30 fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of Christian & Inspirational Romance novels to 2 lucky winners!

Oh, and did I mention the Grand Prize winner gets a BRAND NEW eReader? 😁

A $350 value!

You can win my novella, SKYDIVING TO LOVE, plus books from other stellar authors like Suzanne Woods Fisher, Karin Beery, Jan Thompson, and Cara Putman.

Enter the giveaway by clicking here 👉 bit.ly/InspyRomance-May2020

Good luck and enjoy, but hurry! Giveaway ends May 27, 2020!

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Benefits of Being a Child of God

The right to call Him Abba, Father (Rom. 8:15).
No longer condemned (Rom. 8:1).
Guided by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13).
Freed from the bondage of sin (Rom. 8:2).
Safe from the wrath of God (1 Thes. 1:10).
Eternally secure (John 6:47).
Released from the fear of death (Heb. 2:15).
Given peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7).
Possess the right to go boldly to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16).

This doesn’t begin to cover it. Doesn’t scratch the surface. The benefits of having Almighty God as my Father are innumerable.

His love is immeasurable. His kindness is unmatched. His goodness is unequaled.

But contrary to popular belief,  there is only one way to be called His child.

Find out how here.

See more of the Walking Softly with John study by clicking on the tab in the menu above.

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On Boxes and Lizards and Coons

You won’t believe how many boxes I’ve already emptied and disposed of, but—oy vey! I have such a long way to go! Most of the boxes now sitting in the family room are full of books that can’t go anywhere until I get my new bookcase, and I refuse to order my new bookcase until this Covid-19 mess is over and they can deliver it already assembled and put it in place. I’m tired of heavy lifting. Both of us are.

I’m tired in general. I did reasonably well last week enforcing my work hours of 1-4 p.m. But I learned a couple of things: (1) It’s hard to say “no” to daughter when she wants to drop by in the afternoon despite my work hours, and (2) who am I kidding anyway? I’m so far behind in my work and have been so neglectful of marketing and writing and everything else that makes up an author’s business that a measly three hours a day ain’t gonna put a dent in anything. Besides, by the time I finish a morning of unpacking, cleaning, cooking, and/or taking care of things for Mom, I spend much of the afternoon yawning and wishing for a nap.

Things will get easier in time, I know that. After the boxes are emptied and gone, once the furniture is here and settled, and as soon as the curtains, rugs, and lamps are all in place, I can settle down. Right now, I’m just overwhelmed.

Add to it MSB’s serious case of restless leg syndrome, and you can see how we’re both exhausted. The doctor said his was a rare type of RLS and there isn’t much that can be done about it, but we’re trying various vitamins, oils, and minerals to hopefully ease it. The other night, he had to keep walking. He could stay down for maybe fifteen minutes, but then he’d have to get up and walk for twenty or so. On nights like this, he tries to sleep in the guest room, but what bothers him bothers me. If he can’t sleep, I don’t sleep well. The past couple of nights have been better, but I go to bed tired and wake up tired and go through my daily activities on the strength only God can give me. Certainly not my own.

But I tell ya something funny. God is keeping an eye on me, and He keeps me entertained through nature.

The other day, when it was so wonderful outside I had the windows open, my sweet Billy was out cleaning up the yard, and some of the neighborhood kids joined him. It was so cute—and he’s such a natural grandpa—that I had to get a picture. While I was taking it, a garden lizard somehow slipped past the screen and came inside. It seemed to be God’s way of getting me outside to meet the neighbors. I grabbed the lizard and took it out, letting it bite my pinkie finger and dangle from my hand to the ooohs and aaahs of the little ones. We met their mothers and talked with them awhile. The kids let the lizard get away, but he’d done the job the Lord sent him to do.

This morning, as I was trying to fight off a case of self-pity, I glanced out the window and saw a raccoon walking from the left side of the road to the right side. I blinked a few times. It was around 5 a.m., and I was operating on only one cup of coffee, but my head was awake enough to know that we live in town now. Did I really see what I thought I saw?

As answer to my question, God sent him back from right to left. Unquestionably. A raccoon. In my city neighborhood!

I used to love to watch them—from a safe distance—at our old house in the country, but this was absolutely unexpected. Then I was reminded that a creek runs behind the houses across the street, so it isn’t totally a miracle. But it cheered me considerably.

All good things come from God, and it doesn’t surprise me in the least that He would use His creation to uplift me and get me outside of myself. I’m still tired, but I’m not heavy-hearted. I’m in good hands. Returning to a writer’s life will come eventually. Meanwhile, I’ll keep an eye out for sneaky green lizards and scampering coons.

 

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Keep a Quiet Heart, a review

What a treasure Elisabeth Elliot was! A no-nonsense, pragmatic Christian, she unapologetically measured everything against the Word of God. Popular culture, popular beliefs, popular—you name it. If it didn’t measure up, she discarded it, but not without putting in her own two cents first.

I love her wisdom and the way she expresses herself. I love that she draws on vast experience as a missionary, a mother, a woman. Everything she says is so applicable to life today and is so common-sensical—at least to a Christian—that I wonder why we don’t see it.

For instance, I love what she said in Keep a Quiet Heart about the great November holiday, Thanksgiving:

Christians know there is Somebody to thank, but often when we make a list of things to thank Him for we include only things we like. A bride and groom can’t get away with that. They write a note to everybody, not only the rich uncle who gave them matching BMWs, but the poor aunt who gave them a crocheted toilet-paper cover. In other words, they have to express thanks for whatever they’ve received … Thanksgiving is a spiritual exercise, necessary to the building of a healthy soul.

You can’t get any more down-to-earth than crocheted toilet-paper covers.

This book is so full of wisdom, and I learned so much from its amazing author, the quotable Elisabeth Elliot. Keep a Quiet Heart is worth spending your quiet time with. Read slowly and drink it all in.

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Getting Closer to Normal

This is my new kitchen, long and stretched out instead of a nice little square like my old one. My husband and I trip over each other when we’re in there together. But it’s “done.” With the exception of a few things hiding in who-knows-which box, it’s finished and functional. So is our bedroom, with the exception of curtains. We need window treatments throughout the house, and since I know absolutely nothing about how to dress windows–about how to decorate a home, period–I’ve been stalling. I’m about to make the plunge, but until I gather my nerve, the sheet over the bedroom window will just have to do.

This place is totally different from our other home. They’re both about the same age, but this one has been renovated. We have a nice-sized lot, but nothing like the eleven acres we just left. Here, when something catches my eye outside the kitchen window, it’s not usually a bird or a squirrel, but a Ford or Toyota. The houses here aren’t ten acres apart like they were at our old home, so we see more of our neighbors. But that’s not totally a bad thing. We see life happening. Kids on bikes; older folks on their daily power-walks; moms gathered at the ends of driveways, visiting and keeping an eye on everyone; dads washing trucks or mowing lawns. Just simple life.

We’ve traded the early morning symphony of pond frogs for the lonely whistle of a distant train. There is a smaller variety of birds here, but the mockingbird is variety itself, and the doves’ coo is always welcoming. A walk down the street brings heartwarming calls of neighbors and friendly chats–a suitable replacement for a soul-calming, peaceful walk in the woods.

We miss our old home, but after only a week here, we’re learning to love this one. Friends and family have dropped in to visit–all bringing food. Which is a good thing. I have yet to fix a decent meal in this house. I’m generally a good cook, but lately I’ve begun to wonder whether I’ve lost my touch.

I’ve been able to be with Mom, to be there when she needs me, a lot more often and far more easily than before. That, in itself, is a treasure.

Of course, I’ll be glad when everything is done and we can settle into some sort of a routine. MSB has been retired for a year now and still doesn’t really have an idea of what retirement looks like. Last year’s unusual circumstances coupled with this year’s move haven’t allowed him to just be retired. But we went to the lake yesterday, where we spent most of our dates, with hopes to re-engage our love of fishing sometime in the near future. The lake has changed quite a bit, but once we get out on the water, it’ll feel like old times.

So here we are. I guess this is the final leg of our journey on this earth and this house is truly our forever home, but I’m happy with it. We have time to do what we intended to do when we moved back home–reconnect with family and friends. I’m looking forward to it.

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New ACFW Titles for May!

Newbies from some of your favorite Christian authors! More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Children’s:

The Edge of Everywhen by A.S. Mackey — Begin with an ancient, mysterious, self-aware book. Add two heartbroken children, reeling from the loss of their mother. Mix in a cantankerous aunt, dreams that see the future, and a father trying to make his way home and you get “The Edge of Everywhen,” a captivating tale of loss, hope, revelation, and unexplained mystery. “The Edge of Everywhen” is a book-lover’s book, a story of intrigue in which two children embark upon a life-changing journey of faith. (Middle Grade from B & H Publishing)

Contemporary Romance:

A Mother’s Homecoming by Lisa Carter — Charmed by the two-year-old twins in her toddler tumbling class, Maggie Arledge is shocked to learn they’re the children she gave up for adoption. And when Bridger Hollingsworth—the uncle caring for the boys—needs an emergency nanny, she fits the bill. But with sparks flying between her and Bridger, can she let herself get attached…and risk exposing secrets from her past? (Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Love is in the Air by Tanya Eavenson, Candee Fick, Kathleen Friesen, Laura V. Hilton, and Kathleen Rouser — This collection of five brand new Christian romances is sure to send your heart soaring. Journey from Canada to Georgia and Colorado to Paris by way of Michigan as these couples find love is in the air. All they had to do was look up. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

The Trouble With Love by Toni Shiloh — I, Holiday Brown, have it all. A platinum record. Multi-million dollar home in Manhattan that I share with my two best friends. Life is looking fantastic until my roommate’s brother decides to bunk in our guestroom while his house gets renovated. W. Emmett Bell has always been the bane of my existence. He’s annoying, stubborn, a know it all, and just might be the most gorgeous man I’ve ever laid eyes on. But I refuse to fall for him. But when his sister’s threatened by a stalker, dynamics change. His unwavering faith isn’t quite as self-righteous as I’d always thought, and maybe he has a good side I’ve overlooked all these years. Or maybe it’s all too much trouble. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish by Bethany Turner — Hadley Beckett became the star of the Culinary Channel following hot-tempered celebrity chef Max Cavanagh’s public fall from grace. But when Max returns, career in shambles, his only chance for redemption is to work alongside the beloved host of “At Home with Hadley.” Will these two polar opposites burn down the kitchen—or fall in love? (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Stay with Me by Becky Wade — When acclaimed Bible study author Genevieve Woodward receives an anonymous letter referencing her parents’ past, she returns to her hometown in the Blue Ridge mountains to chase down her family’s secret. However, it’s Genevieve’s own secret that catches up to her when Sam Turner, owner of an historic farm, uncovers the source of shame she’s worked so hard to hide. (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

General:
Within Golden Bands by Norma Gail — Newly married Bonny MacDonell finds the transition from American college professor to Scottish sheep farmer’s wife more difficult than she expected. When her miracle pregnancy ends in a devastating miscarriage, she fears her husband’s reaction will hurt more than the loss of their child. But Kieran never shows up at the hospital. When found, he is beaten and unconscious. The only memory of his attacker is the words, “Get off my land.” Reeling from the threat to her husband and the loss of their child, Bonny struggles to hold her marriage together. When faith in love is not enough, where do you turn? (Contemporary, Independently Published)

The Society of Second Chances by Deborah Raney — The Society of Second Chances faces a real challenge, as they try to uncover a way to help Harmoni Branaham—a young woman just released from prison. (Women’s Fiction from Guideposts Publications)

Unveiling the Past by Kim Vogel Sawyer — Newlywed cold-case detectives Sean Eagle and Meghan DeFord struggle between past wounds and their desire for a family when one of them takes on a case involving parental abandonment. (Women’s Fiction from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

Historical:

Moondrop Miracle by Jennifer Lamont Leo — Chicago, 1928. Pampered socialite Connie Shepherd lives the kind of glossy life other women read about in the society pages. Engaged to a handsome financier, she spends her days and nights in a dizzying social round. When eccentric Aunt Pearl, an amateur chemist, offers her an unusual wedding present—the formula for a home-brewed skin tonic—Connie laughs it off. But when the Great Depression flings her privileged world into chaos and rocks her marriage to the core, will Aunt Pearl’s strange gift provide the key to survival for Connie and her baby? (Historical from Mountain Majesty Media)

Tranquility Point by Pamela S. Meyers — Hannah’s life couldn’t be sweeter—a marriage proposal and law school. Then the Great War intrudes and everything sours. (Historical from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Historical Romance:

A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy — A driven entomologist travels to India in an attempt to win a coveted scholarship and save her late father’s scientific journal. But in this enchanting land, she discovers that there are some things more important than success. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Rocky Mountain Redemption by Lisa J. Flickinger — Fleeing a broken engagement, Isabelle Franklin joins her aunt to feed a camp of lumberjacks in the Rocky Mountains. She doesn’t expect to fall for camp foreman Charles Bailey, nicknamed “Preach,” who is struggling between his hard past and his newfound faith. When the ghosts from her past return to haunt her, the choices she will make change the course of her life forever—and that of the man she’s come to love. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

Pretending to Wed by Melissa Jagears — It’s a match made in heaven…as long as they don’t fall in love! The ranch Nolan Key has spent decades working for, even lost a leg for, is now his—or at least it should be. But an absurd clause in his father’s will means he’s in danger of losing the place to his lazy, undeserving cousin. Nolan finds himself scrambling to save his home—by proposing marriage to the town laundress. Corinne Stillwater’s hands have betrayed her. Numb from hours of doing the same work over and over, her hands will only heal, according to the town doctor, if she gives up the laundry and marries. But she’s been stung repeatedly by love before, so that is one remedy she can’t swallow. When Nolan offers Corinne a marriage in name only, how can she refuse? Such a partnership could give them the security they seek, but what if the ranch isn’t as secure as they believe, and their lives—and dreams—aren’t quite as compatible as they thought? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Sinner in Mississippi by D.L. Lane — The story of Mississippi Singletary, born to a fearful mother and an abusive father in a rundown shack outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Historical Romance from By Faith Publishing)

The Mechanic & The MD by Linda Shenton Matchett — Woman mechanic Doris Strealer has a hard time finding love until she joins the Red Cross Motor Corps and comes face to face with her past in the form of Van Toppel, an old classmate. On the brink of a successful career as a surgeon, Van’s plans crumble when he’s drafted and assigned to an evacuation hospital in England, the last place he expects to run into a former schoolmate. The gangly tomboy who was four years behind him in high school has transformed into a statuesque beauty, but a broken engagement in college leaves him with no desire to risk his heart ever again. Will the hazards of war make or break a romance between this unlikely couple? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey by Abigail Wilson — In this new Regency romance, Elizabeth knows she must protect her heart from the charm of her new husband, Lord Torrington. She is not, however, prepared to protect her life. (Historical Mystery from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:
Standoff (Natchez Trace Park Rangers) by Patricia Bradley — The Natchez Trace National Parkway stretches 444 miles from Nashville to Natchez, the oldest town on the Mississippi River. It’s the perfect road for a relaxed pleasure drive. Unfortunately for park ranger Luke Fereday, lately it’s being used to move drugs. Sent to Natchez to infiltrate the organization at the center of the drug ring, Luke arrives too late to a stakeout and discovers the body of his friend, park ranger John Danvers. John’s daughter Brooke is determined to investigate her father’s murder, but things are more complicated than they first appear, and Brooke soon finds herself the target of a killer who will do anything to silence her. Luke will have his hands full keeping her safe. But who’s going to keep him safe when he realizes he’s falling–hard–for the daughter of the man he failed to save? (Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Untraceable Evidence by Sharee Stover — Someone’s after a deadly weapon…and only she can stop them. It’s undercover ATF agent Randee Jareau’s job to make sure the government’s 3-D printed “ghost gun” doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. So when someone goes after scientist Ace Steele, she must protect him…before she loses the undetectable weapon and its creator. But with a mole inside Ace’s company and everyone a suspect, this assignment could become Randee’s last. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Medieval Fantasy:
The Story Hunter by Lindsay A. Franklin — In this epic conclusion to The Weaver Trilogy, Tanwen and the Corsyth weavers must rescue the queen and rid Tir of the Master once and for all, but the success of their hunt depends upon an ally no one trusts, and the fate of the kingdom rests in the hands of a volatile, shattered girl. (Medieval Fantasy from Enclave Publishing)

Suspense:

Purgatory, A Progeny’s Quest by T. M. Brown — A teenage girl arrives in Shiloh seeking to reconnect with her estranged mother, the only remaining family member she has ever known, only to learn she too has died, but she learns of family she never knew about. All the while a limo with a dark past arrives in town along with unwanted interest by a stranger that puts lives at risk. (Thriller from Southern Fried Karma LLC/Hearthstone Press)

Young Adult:

You’re Brilliant by Julie Arduini — Amazing things happen when a group of high school students and women discover they are more than competent. (Young Adult from Surrendered Scribe Media)

 

 

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

Lost Down Deep by Sara Davidson, Romantic Suspense
Son of Mary by R.S. Ingermanson, Biblical
Then There Was You by D. L. Lane, Romantic Suspense
Love’s Silver Bullet by Julie Lessman, Historical Romance
Tug of War by Brenda C. Poulos, Thriller/Suspense
The Scholar’s Quest: The Way by Brad Rucker, Adventure
Illusions by Jennifer Sienes, General Contemporary
The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch, Historical Romance
A Beautiful Arrangement by Beth Wiseman, Amish Romance

Also, don’t miss the new historical romance novella collection, Blacksmith Brides, by Amanda Barratt, Angela K. Couch, Pegg Thomas, and Jennifer Uhlarik:

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To Be Continued . . .

I’ve neglected this site something awful the past year-plus. Between the several crises we endured in 2019 and the “big move” of 2020, I simply haven’t had the time.

Tomorrow, we actually relocate from where we are now to where we’re going, which means I get to do all this insanity in reverse. Good thing about it is that we won’t be on any deadline. Bad thing, I won’t have internet service for several days and even once I get it again, I’ll still be in the throes of having moved and, more likely than not, surrounded by boxes and disorganization.

But I’ll be back. Might be a while, but I’ll be here. Meanwhile, God bless you with health and safety!

Posted in Personal | 6 Comments

Kindle Freebie!

Free on Kindle during the week of April 12, 2020!

All the novellas in A Southern Season, including my 2019 Selah Award finalist, Ice Melts in Spring, are set in the great American south, from the Gulf of Mexico, where waves pound a shore stained by the mighty Mississippi River, to Tennessee, home of the proud and generous volunteers, to peachy Georgia, where Spanish moss dangles and sways from ancient oaks. Tales of love, of heartache, of faith lost and found. Characters full of Southern sass and charm, guaranteed to nestle in your heart forever.

Kick off your shoes, grab your sweet tea, and settle back with Four Stories from a Front Porch Swing written by four strong Southern women!

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He Is Risen! So, what does that mean?

THEREFORE,

He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).

God our Savior … desires all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your heart (Hebrews 3:7).

THEREFORE,

Let us come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Forgetting those things which are left behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead … press forward toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).

NOW,

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans: 15:13).

AMEN AND AMEN

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