Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Season of Miracles by Rusty Whitener

First off,  I thought that A Season of Miracles was a Christmas book.  No, it wasn't misrepresented by the publisher, Kregel, I just assumed...  So when I saw that it was about baseball I wasn't sure if I was up for it, especially after my beloved St. Louis Cardinals performed so poorly this year in spite  their amazing talent.  Ah, baseball...

I stepped out of my comfort zone, which is romance and thrillers, to check it out, feeling a bit proud of myself for doing so.  Well, Rusty had me at page one.  The book has a memoir feel, a middle aged man remembering one season of Little League baseball.  He captured the voice of preadolescent boys, in all of their goofiness and angst, perfectly.  The time when winning is everything, and somehow it's up to them to turn their rag tag gang of Robins into killer baseball players. The characters are unforgettable!

I loved this book and I want everyone I know to read it. I promise you, Moms, Dads, grandparents, friends, coaches. you will be so glad you did.
Soooo....Play ball!!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Season of Miracles
Kregel Publications; Reprint edition (August 3, 2010)
Rusty Whitener


Rusty Whitener is a novelist, screenwriter, and actor. His first screenplay, Touched, won second place at the 2009 Kairos Prize at the Los Angeles Movieguide Awards and first place at the Gideon film festival. That screenplay soon became A Season of Miracles. The movie version of this book is now in production with Elevating Entertainment. Find out more at and Videos and book club discussion questions are also available at


“A Season of Miracles is a must read for anyone who has ever played youth baseball.  I read the book, and was reacquainted with my childhood. In the midst of an enjoyable read that took me down memory lane was a touching, challenging and beautiful story about how God can use the unlikeliest among us to draw us to Him.”—Matt Diaz, outfielder, Atlanta Braves
“Baseball, inspiration and childhood memories—a great combination. I couldn’t put it down!”—Richard Sterban, bass singer for The Oak Ridge Boys
“Rusty Whitener weaves a deft tale of young friendship and the curve balls of faith, the whole story seasoned with sunshine and the leathery scent of baseball gloves!”—Ray Blackston, author of Flabbergasted
A Season of Miracles is a heartwarming all American story of small town boys and Little League baseball. You’ll be cheering this captivating bunch of characters all the way home both in their game of baseball and the bigger game of life.”—Ann Gabhart, award-winning author of The Outsider


Looking back on the 1971 Little League season, Zack Ross relives the summer that changed his life…

Gunning for the championship is all that matters until twelve-year-old Zack meets Rafer, a boy whose differences make him an outcast but whose abilities on the baseball field make him the key to victory.

Admired for his contribution to the team, Rafer turns everyone’s expectations upside down, bestowing a gift to Zack and his teammates that forces them to think—is there more to life than winning or losing? And what is this thing called grace?  

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Season of Miracles, go HERE.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lydia's Charm by Wanda Brunstetter

Wanda Brunstetter continues to be a shining star in the Amish fiction genre.  Her gentle style and treatment of the Amish community has introduced so many to the Amish culture, and has captured the imagination of readers everywhere.

Lydia's Charm continues the tradition of good, wholesome fiction.  But don't let the word "wholesome" fool you. Wanda packs a wallop in plot twists, and does not spare her characters pain. Obstacles threaten to overwhelm Lydia and it will require a miracle of love in order for her to bear the tragedies that have visited her and even more to overcome.

Can love conquor all? What will it take to bring healing to Lydia's broken heart?

Read on for more about Wanda Brunstetter and her new book, Lydia's Charm.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Lydia's Charm
Barbour Books (September 1, 2010)
Wanda E. Brunstetter


A Note From Wanda:

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a writer. When I was in the second grade, I wrote my first poem about a moth. Luckily, I received encouragement from my teacher. During my teen years, I wrote skits that my church teen group performed during special holidays.

It wasn’t until 1980, that I took a course on writing for children and teenagers. I became serious about a career as an author. Soon after that, I began to write stories, articles, poems, and devotionals, which appeared in a variety of Christian publications. Later, I had 5 books of puppet/ventriloquist scripts published. *These books are currently available by contacting me. (

My first novel was released by Barbour Publishing’s book club, Heartsong Presents, in Dec. 1997. I have now written nearly fifty books, with over 4 million books in print. Many of the novels I've written are Amish-themed.


Widowed and jobless, Lydia King moves her son and herself to Charm, Ohio, to be close to her mother and help with her grandfather. Menno Troyer, a furniture store owner, is also recently widowed and the father of four energetic boys.

Levi Stutzman, another newcomer to the area, is the only one in his family not handicapped by dwarfism and has dedicated his life to caring for them. As fall colors the countryside, will anonymous gifts left for Lydia bring her hope for a new life and romance, or will another tragedy flood her with infinite despair?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Lydia's Charm, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
While We're Far Apart
Bethany House (October 1, 2010)
Lynn Austin



It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.  


In an unassuming apartment building in Brooklyn, New York, three lives intersect as the reality of war invades each aspect of their lives. Young Esther is heartbroken when her father decides to enlist in the army shortly after the death of her mother.

Penny Goodrich has been in love with Eddie Shaffer for as long as she can remember; now that Eddie's wife is dead, Penny feels she has been given a second chance and offers to care for his children in the hope that he will finally notice her and marry her after the war.

And elderly Mr. Mendel, the landlord, waits for the war to end to hear what has happened to his son trapped in war-torn Hungary. But during the long, endless wait for victory overseas, life on the home front will go from bad to worse.

Yet these characters will find themselves growing and changing in ways they never expected--and ultimately discovering truths about God's love...even when He is silent.

If you would like to read the first chapter of While We're Far Apart, go HERE.

Cheryl Comments:

Lynn Austin has created a masterpiece of a novel with While We're Far Apart.  The story takes place during World War II, in Brooklyn and was reminiscent of  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a book which I remember from my childhood and one that has stayed with me for thirty-five years or so...

The characters in While We're Far Apart are all so well drawn that I feel as if I could reach out and touch them, visit with them and share a cup of war-rationed tea, as I watched their lives play out in a drama so warm and so real that I found that I didn't want to leave them or their world.

Who are these characters and are they  so perfect that they can only be admired from a distance like statues on a pedestal?  Far from it! At the start  I wasn't sure that I even liked the protagonist, Penny Goodrich.  At first glance she appeared to be an over-eager mouse of a woman who volunteered to care of Esther and Peter in order to gain the affection of their widowed father, who was serving over in England as a mechanic.  Esther is almost thirteen and is determined to block Penny's every attempt at kindness as she mourns the loss of her mother, and Peter, her younger brother has lost his voice as a result of trauma that today would be referred to as post traumatic stress syndrome.

Oh but keep reading, because this is a story of ugly ducklings turning into swans,  of pain and loss, fear and hoping against all hope that a loving God exists in the universe, and that somehow He still cares in spite of the unspeakable horrors affecting the world and everyone in it.

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to read this book and I know that this story will stay with me for a long time.
Share with those you love.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Passion in the Kitchen or The Day I Met the Just Bare Chicken People

A week or so ago I got a call from my friend Heidi, telling me that she took the liberty of signing me up for a cooking class at Dierbergs, our local grocery store. Great, count me in! All I knew was that subject would be chicken. Okay, I can always use some inspiration in the chicken department.

What I love about these cooking classes is that they take into account my generally lazy attitude and eagerness to have other people do the work. Awesomeness (as my daughter Rachael would say).

I also love to see people who know what they are doing cook 4 main courses in about 2 hours.  For real??? Yup. 

Enter Lisa Golden Schroeder from the Just Bare Chicken company. (My husband and I like to call it bare naked chicken because we think it's funny), but don't be confused, it's Just Bare Chicken. 

So anyway, she explained a little bit about the philosophy of the company, how they network with small family farms and actually have a tracking number on each package of chicken, so you know exactly where your food comes from (how cool is that?) Then she got to work.

She started off with Garlic Chicken and Toasted Couscous Salad which she made with orzo pasta.  Lisa made it look so easy and really, it was!  Anyway how can you go wrong with boneless chicken, garlic, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives and greens?  The dressing was made using lemon juice and  

zest, prepared basil pesto, olive oil and white wine or tarragon vinegar... hungry yet?  Lisa followed this show stopper with Korean Barbecued Chicken, Osso Bucco-style Chicken Legs, and Roasted Citrus Chicken with Olives. YUM!!! Oh yes, we got to try everything and it was all terrific.

I was the last one out- no surprise there- and I mentioned that I actually buy their brand- because I'm always on the lookout for better choices, and we got talking... Which led to... an interview on the Just Bare blog.  I also got to share my friend Nancy Doyle's Chicken Piccata recipe!

I hope I tempted you to check out the Just Bare Chicken website and blog, I really enjoyed meeting Lisa Golden Schroeder, a fellow Mom of three growing boys and food expert.  For recipes galore and the interview with yours truly go here:

Enjoy, and stay healthy!

Friday, October 15, 2010

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Embers of Love
Bethany House (October 1, 2010)

Tracie Peterson


Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 85 novels.

She received her first book contract in November, 1992 and saw A Place To Belong published in February 1993 with Barbour Publishings' Heartsong Presents.  She wrote exclusively with Heartsong for the next two years, receiving their readership's vote for Favorite Author of the Year for three years in a row.

In December, 1995 she signed a contract with Bethany House Publishers to co-write a series with author Judith Pella.  Tracie now writes exclusively for Bethany House Publishers.

She teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research.

Tracie was awarded the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for 2007 Inspirational Fiction and her books have won numerous awards for favorite books in a variety of contests.

Making her home in Montana, this Kansas native enjoys spending time with family--especially her three grandchildren--Rainy, Fox and Max.  She's active in her church as the Director of Women's Ministries, coordinates a yearly writer's retreat for published authors, and travels, as time permits, to research her books


The logging industry in eastern Texas is booming, and Deborah Vandermark plans to assist her family's business now that she's completed college. Unexpectedly, her best friend, Lizzie Decker, accompanies her back home--fleeing a wedding and groom she has no interest in.

Deborah, the determined matchmaker, puts her sights on uniting her brother and dear friend in a true love match. Deborah soon meets Dr. Christopher Clayton, a much-needed addition to the town. As their lives intersect, Deborah realizes that she has a much greater interest in medicine and science than the bookkeeping she was trained in.

But when typhoid begins to spread and Lizzie's jilted fiance returns, Deborah wonders if true love can overcome such obstacles...for those dearest to her, and for herself.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Embers of Love, go HERE.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Snow Day
FaithWords (October 11, 2010)


Billy Coffey


When you’re raised in small-town Virginia by a redneck father and a Mennonite mother, certain things become ingrained. And when you marry a small-town girl and have two small-town kids, all you want to do is pass those ingrained things along.

Like believing the best life is one lived in the country enjoying the pleasures it provides—summer nights beneath the stars, rocking chairs on the front porch, deer grazing in the fields. And believing that no matter how iffy life can get sometimes, there are some things that are eternal and unchanging.

But above all else, believing that in everything there is story waiting to be told.

That’s where I come in.

Billy Coffey was raised on stories. The first ones came on the front porches of relatives, tales laced with local charm and deep meaning. Then came the stories from people like Max Lucado and Robert Fulghum, who write with a charm and deep meaning of their own.

Billy lives with his wife and two children in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. If you drive by his house, you’ll probably spot him on the front porch. If you do, give him a wave. He’ll wave back.


In this debut novel, Peter is a simple man who lives by a simple truth--a person gains strength by leaning on his constants. To him, those constants are the factory where he works, the family he loves, and the God who sustains him. But when news of job cuts comes against the backdrop of an unexpected snowstorm, his life becomes filled with far more doubts than certainties.

With humor and a gift for storytelling, Billy Coffey brings you along as he spends his snow day encountering family, friends, and strangers of his small Virginia town. All have had their own battles with life's storms. Some have found redemption. Others are still seeking it. But each one offers a piece to the puzzle of why we must sometimes suffer loss, and each one will help Peter find a greater truth--our lives are made beautiful not by our big moments, but our little ones. (2010)

To read an excerpt from Snow Day, go HERE.

Some thoughts about Snow Day:

You are invited to spend one very important day in the life of Peter Boyd,  young husband and father, as he takes a personal snow day.  You will explore some deep truths about the meaning of life and travel down roads that will take you to ordinary places and see everyday occurrences in a new light, shining clean and fresh on the new-fallen snow.

Author Billy Coffey's characters are well drawn, so much so that you feel that if you visited this little Virginia town and went to the Super Saver you would recognize some of the people and call them by name.  They all have their stories that are reflected in this snow globe-like town on this day in Peter's life.

Snow Day is replete with hope and discovery.  It's about taking the time to access and observe life from a fresh point of view.

Accept this invitation and have an epiphany of your own. Isn't it time that you took a personal  snow day?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe!

That was always my dream.  To fall madly in love and share a tender moment on Christmas Eve "under the mistletoe" and so...

Summerside Press continues their "Love Finds You" series with a double header by Irene Brand and Anita Higman.

Irene starts us off  post World War II in Mistletoe, Kentucky with An Appalachian Christmas.  The heroine, Julia Mayfield, has completed her tour of duty with the WAC (Women's Army Corps) and as the fulfillment of her sister's dying wish, is travelling to Kentucky to introduce her two year old nephew, Bobby, to his grandparents who are unaware that their only son, Robert, married before he was deployed to the European war theatre.  They only knew that he was missing in action and presumed dead.

Julia finds herself stranded in Mistletoe with Bobby and must rely on the kindness of some delightful, hard working, big hearted, "hillbillies" including the handsome hero, David Armstrong.

Irene Brand writes in a painterly style, capturing the nuances of the scenery and characters.    I felt transported to the time period, when travelling by bus was the norm, and people kept their promises and welcomed strangers (mostly).  I really enjoyed this special view of the "great generation" when they were young, but had served and lived a lifetime. When they find love, it's really grand.

Fast forward to today in Once Upon a Christmas Eve, by Anita Higman, where Holly Goodnight of Noel, Missouri, must choose between two men whose hearts she holds in the palm of her hand.  It's not that she asked these worthy gentlemen to fall head over heels for her, they just couldn't help themselves!
So, who will it be? The novelist, Van Keaton, or her best and oldest friend, Owen Quigly?
You'll have to read this cute, yet touching romp of a Christmas Romance and find out for yourself.
Unless you read this with a box of peanut brittle (like I did) it's a fat free Christmas indulgence.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe
Summerside Press (September 1, 2010)

Irene Brand & Anita Higman


Irene Brand has written Sunday School curriculum, edited a two-year series of mission curriculum, and her works have appeared in five program-material anthologies. Her publishers include Zondervan, Standard Publishing, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Fleming-Revell, Barbour Publishing, Kregel Publications, Steeple Hill (inspirational imprint of Silhouette), and Summerside Press. She has had 4 non-fiction books published, and 43 fiction works. Her first inspirational romance was published in 1984.

Award-winning author, Anita Higman, has twenty-six books published (several coauthored) for adults and children, and she has been honored as a Barnes & Noble Author of the Month for Houston. Anita has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Her favorite things include exotic teas, movies, and all things Jane Austen.


Two Christmas stories - one historical, one contemporary - under one cover!

Love Finds You under the Mistletoe: An Appalachian Christmas

A promise to her dying sister compels Julia Mayfield to take her young nephew to Mistletoe, Kentucky, a tiny town tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains. Sparks fly when she meets David Armstrong, a World War II veteran like herself. Even as shadows from the past weave a dangerous web around Julia and David, will their love flourish like the mistletoe that blankets the nearby hills?

Love Finds You under the Mistletoe: Once Upon a Christmas Eve

Hollie Goodnight's store has just been voted best Christmas shop in America. All the new publicity draws flamboyant novelist Van Keaton to the cozy town of Noel, Missouri, demanding to write Hollie's story - a dramatic tale of misfortune and triumph. She is swept up in his world of beautiful words and fanciful interludes. . .until Owen Quigly, her lifelong best friend, launches a plan to win her back.

If you would like to read an excerpt of Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer: