Tuesday, December 13, 2011

WINNING COVERS IN CLASH OF THE TITLES


*by Michelle Massaro


Last week Clash of the Titles held their first ever Clash of the Covers. This fast-paced clash was different than their usual fare, because instead of judging the author's story, we judged how well their cover designs matched their theme or made us want to pick up the book. There were four books to vote on, from authors Cathy, Erica, Lacy, and Maggie. The books were Marrying Miss Marshal, Spring For Susannah, A Bride's Portrait, and Deeply Devoted.


It was a VERY CLOSE race and it saw enough voter participation to max out the scoreboards!


Some of the comments included:
Spring for Susannah - Susannah is aware of the man but she looks as though she could turn away, or turn towards him.
Marrying Miss Marshall seems to speak volumes about the heroine--just in her position.
The cover of A Brides Portrait, really sells the title by having the woman with a camera on it. Caught my attention.
I love cover C...looks like the "old west"!!!
Marrying Miss Marshal. Hmm, with that rifle laid across her lap, one wonders who's daring enough to approach her, much less marry her. Intriguing.
I loved A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City - it added so many components of the story into the cover besides just a profile :)
Love this (A) - it's intriguing. I'm not sure from the picture whether she's toting for justice, revenge, or protection. Makes me curious.



The Champion Book that was voted


BEST SETTING THAT CAPTURES THE MOOD OF THE TITLE:


Springtime For Susanna, by Catherine Richmond





This week, COTT is sporting a holiday/winter theme with host Gail Pallotta. We expect it to be another huge turn-out so please join us. We'll cozy up to the virtual fireplace, egg nog in hand, and browse for books. In this case, it's okay to judge the cover. =)



We’ll be taking a break December 26 – January 6


And then come right back on January 9 with a new clash that will – literally – take your breath away! If you're an author, don’t forget to check upcoming open clashes and submit

Sunday, December 11, 2011

THE FREE SAMPLE LADY

Have you ever tried to give away---for free---something truly good and people stride past you as if you were offering them poison?

In order to support my writing habit I have a part-time marketing job that I work at on weekends. I demonstrate various products at a large department store. On any given weekend I could be giving out free samples from everything from cat food to serving pancakes to free chocolates.

Now granted we don’t all like the same things. What a boring world that would be if we did.

If shoppers don’t want what I offer then a polite smile and a no-thank-you would suffice as people move past me and my serving tray.

But alas, when I’ve held out my tray of chocolates in their cute little plastic cups, I’d swear some people think I’m trying to shorten their life.

Thankfully most people realize it’s only a free gift, something with no cost to give them a moment’s joy. And they’re under no obligation to buy. My job is to give out the samples. No coercion involved.

It often reminds me of the times I try to tell others about my relationship with Christ—how wonderful it is. How free I feel to enjoy life, and how I obtained this relationship by simply recognizing it as a gift and reaching out to take it and enjoy it.

Sadly, too many of my relatives and acquaintances look at my bond with the Lord as something that will rob them of fun and good times. They fail to see it as the most wonderful thing in the world.

But I often find that when someone does take a tiny bit of a risk and decides to try something from my sample tray, their eyes widen in surprise. And they make speak with a mouth full and say, “Oh my, I didn’t think I’d like it, but that’s really good.”

As far as the greatest free gift of all---a relationship with the King of Kings, well, I’ll keep gently holding out my metaphoric sample tray, and one day those people around me will look up into the Lord’s face and say with awe, “Oh my, I didn’t think I’d love you, but your love for me takes my breath away.”

That’s what I’m praying for them.

Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jeus our Lord."

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

LIFE LIKE A THOMAS KINKAID PAINTING


*guest post by Michelle Massaro, Asst. Editor at COTT




















Can you believe it's almost December? I love the holidays, but I always struggle this time of year. My heart aches for the Thomas Kinkade paintings, for smiles and laughter and goodwill toward man (especially between siblings in the house!), for snuggling by the fire, kisses under the mistletoe, all that good stuff.

Real life is not a painting. Or an old black-and-white movie. (That's often why we love escaping into our novels.)

Nope. Real life finds too many dust bunnies when it's time to move furniture to make room for the tree. Real life has pouting kids who don't want to help lug in the decoration box or be pulled away from their video games in order to just sit by the fire with mom. Husbands who tolerate, but don't enjoy, watching White Christmas, and who grimace and sweat--and possibly even swear--while wrestling with the Christmas lights.

Add to that the fact that I never got around to shedding that extra five pounds--and now feel it's too late to try--the constant pain in my neck, the myriad bills we aren't sure how to pay, a toddler in the throes of the "terrible two's" (to be fair, he's the sweetest boy in the world, just extremely rambunctious), and homeschool pressures...and each day starts to feel overwhelming. Beyond my ability. Sucking me under. Life does not meet my expectations. I'm failing.

And sometimes "failing" at something as simple and earthly as creating the "right" home atmosphere can lead to a depression that slips into spiritual darkness. Lies. All lies. But too often, I believe them.

Maybe you can relate. Or maybe your set of challenges lies elsewhere. Regardless, we all have seasons, or areas of our life, where we don't feel up to the task. And we grieve that ineptitude.

A dear friend recently gave me a gift--a daily devotional--and the first day's reading hit its mark in my heart. In essence, it reminded me that the measure of God's strength given to me on a daily basis is determined by two things:
The difficulty of my circumstances, and my willingness to depend on Him for help.
WOW.

This concept completely changed my thinking when it came to facing challenges. Demons. I don't need to assess the situation and measure it against my usual ability and strength. I need to depend on Him and believe that He can and will empower me that much more in order to handle the task. And tomorrow, when the challenge is not so great, He will give me just the strength I need for that day.

Today it might be preparing the house, encouraging generousity in my kids, and finding ways to trim the grocery budget so that we can get that tail light replaced.  Tomorrow it could be the death of a loved one, a falling away of a brother or sister, or the loss of a job. But the degree of His power available to me will match whatever circumstance comes my way.

And the same goes for you, too. So if there's any chance that one of you share this struggle of mine at this time of year, I pray this truth shines like a beacon in your heart and gives you hope. It did for me.

If you're interested in the devotional I mentioned, it's called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. The entry I referenced was November 11th. :-) And if you want some great Christian novels to dive into or pick up as gifts, you always know where to find some winners. (There's always a contest going on at COTT, so I hope you'll join us this week for a look at a couple great cover images.)

Have a blessed week!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

THE WONDER OF THE STAR

When you think of it, the star blazing in the sky that led the wise men to the new-born King of Kings, was a brilliant stroke of marketing.

With my first book out this year I’ve been learning a lot of about marketing. I also work for a marketing firm. No I’m not the executive that sits behind a great big desk. I’m one of those ladies in the grocery store handing out free samples of products. So I know all about solid advertising and false advertising.

Back to that star in the sky. A firey ball light years away. No small thing. God was sending to the world the greatest expression of His love for mankind.

But really . . . was that false advertising?

King of Kings—how could that be when the babe was born in a stable? He didn’t grow up in a palace. The red carpet was never once thrown down for him to walk upon. Although a few coats were laid down for him one day.

The biggest rejection came when the people He’d come to save wanted to kill him.

I often think of Jesus’ mother at that moment. Did she stand at the bottom of that cross, looking up into the face of her dying son and think back to that star blazing at His birth? Did she wonder if all the promises God had made at the start of this son’s life come to nothing?

There are so many moments in life when our dream crash to our feet like broken glass. We may be ill, or someone we love is ill. Maybe we’ve lost the one we love. Or never had anyone to love us in the first place. Maybe we’ve lost a job . . . or a child. There are a million reasons to hurt.

When we’re hurting we can’t see what is beyond. We can’t see what God can do with that broken dream or broken heart. How he can turn things around if we trust Him.

On the day of Jesus’ death his mother Mary may very well have believed that star in the sky at His birth was false advertising.

But on the day of His resurrection—when He came back to life to be the King of Kings and savior of all who believe in Him—she knew for sure that God does keep His promises.

When God put that star in the sky all those years ago, it was not false advertising. That same God cares about you.

This Christmas as you look around you and spot a star—and you’ll see a lot of them this season---think of how much God the Father and God the Son keep their promises to love you forever.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

AMISH FICTION

Guest post by Delia Latham




The Amish are known for their quiet, unassuming manner. Their love of all things peaceful…and shunning of competitive pastimes.

Well. I'm afraid that all flew out the window in the COTT Clash featuring Amish fiction. It was a fight to the finish.... a nose-to-nose race...a no-holds-barred dash to the finish line!

Contestants were:


Suzanne Woods Fisher


(Click on the cover to read Suzanne's Excerpt A)










and





Laura V. Hilton


(Click on the cover to read Laura's Excerpt B)







Both authors hit the ground running with sizzling teasers that presented a definite challenge to our readers. Both were super-fantastic! Both offered a tantalizing glimpse into an amazing read.

But only one of these fabulous excerpts could take the win.

When at last the dust died down…the crowd silenced in expectation…and the winner stood revealed…


LAURA V. HILTON


held the finish line ribbon firmly in hand!




CONGRATULATIONS, LAURA!


The choice was not an easy one, as our readers made perfectly clear in their comments:

"Both of these excerpts are immediately engaging—I think I'd like to read both books!"

"Both excerpts are winners. Can't wait to read them."

"I enjoy the Clash of the Titles!! Each author is fantastic!! And such a great place to hear of new authors that perhaps you haven't read before. Good luck!"

"I love to read stories of the Amish. Thank you for your hard work."

"The authors who write Amish fiction are doing a great job keeping true to the Amish ways while holding the reader's interest with wonderful story lines over and over again."

Heartfelt thanks and deep appreciation to both Suzanne and Laura. I wish we could call it a tie and put both in the winner's slot, because both authors truly are winners.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

TREASURE BOX
















Sometimes it’s hard to count our blessings.

Sometimes it’s hard to understand why the Lord who loved us so much that He died for us to give us eternal life, would allow some of the really hard things in our lives.

Occasionally when I’m going through a rough patch—and we all fall into them from time to time—my faith can flag.

I had a particularily rough patch that lasted for several years. Each one of my children, including my birthdaughter, was suffering in one manner or the other.

You know what that's like when a myriad of heartaches afflict your loved ones. We take our children’s longings, problems, and sufferings, daily to God. And still they hurt. Fighting discouragement becomes an up-hill battle.

But I’ve grown to understand the Lord better these days, and despair does not linger like it used to.

I learned to count my blessings. Literally.

On days when I’m worried about my kids or my husband’s health, I take out my treasure box. It’s a metaphoric treasure box, but it’s full of fifty-three years of answered prayer.

I have to dig to the bottom, because some of these prayer answers go back decades, while some more recent ones lay like jewels strewn on the top. I lift a few out and hold them up to the light, and admire the facets of those prayers God answered long ago.

Oh yes, I remember that one now, the Lord heard me when I was thirteen years old and my grandmother renewed her faith in Christ . . .

And oh, there’s that other prayer when I was twenty-three, and that man with the heart of gold—David what’s-his-name—asked me to marry him.

And there are those other prayers answered—God gave me three healthy children. And oh yes, He brought my birthdaughter, Sarah, back into my life when I was forty-one.


And just three years ago . . . the Lord did such an amazing thing in my mother’s life it shines like a brilliant diamond. Perhaps because this last answer to prayer is so recent and one overflowing with happiness that I take it out the most often to admire it.

It wasn’t that many years ago that my mother’s self-esteem had been stripped down to the bare wires of her being for a multitude of reasons. Her General Practitioner prescribed antidepressants. But due to a combination of the wrong prescription, poor follow-up on the doctor’s part, and lack of co-operation from my mum, her emotional health actually grew worse. The doctor just kept prescribing stronger medications, but she steadily became more depressed.

When I saw my mother withdraw further and further from her family, and begin to walk around her apartment, fearful of going out, I began to believe her doctor that she was mentally ill.

For several years this went on, until it seemed to me that my mother’s apartment had become her coffin. She was crippled by fear; fear to live on her own, fear to go out of the house on her own, fear to actually live. And I had no idea how to help her. All I could do was pray daily that God would change her life, and enter her apartment with the power of the resurrection—to bring my mother back to life.

The day came when my mother collapsed because she hadn’t been eating properly for several years. Immediately at the hospital the doctors took her off the drugs her General Practitioner had prescribed. When I visited her that day, she lay in the hospital bed, looking like an eighty year old woman with no desire to live. She could barely contain her anger with me when I prayed at her bedside and read to her from the Bible.

But I saw my mother’s collapse as the answer to my prayers. As she recuperated my brother, sister, and I closed up her apartment. Two weeks later the hospital released her, and I brought her to my home to live with us. There my husband and I nursed her as if she were an elderly woman.

At first she could barely make it up and down the stairs of my home. But I caught a tiny gleam in her eye. She was going to make it up these stairs even if it killed her. I was starting to see glimpses of the strong woman my mother used to be.

For a long while all she could eat was the blandest foods, but things changed day by day. God sent us a new doctor who worked with me, and with his guidance we planned how to bring my mother back to complete health. But he urged me, this would take time, and she may remain emotionally frail. After two months in our home, she announced to me that she wanted to attend church with us. And four months after that she started to take walks by herself up the street. A half an hour later, she would return to the house with a proud grin on her face; she’d made it past a certain tree and back again.

From that moment on I watched as each month the Lord did things in my mother’s life and she grew stronger. She began to take a healthy interest in her appearance and wardrope. And I saw this woman become younger before my eyes. She joined not just one Bible study but two. She started to go to the 55+ group at the church. She started to make friends.

My mum is a busy woman these days. It’s got to the point where she jokes with us that she’s so busy she can only pencil us in for certain days on her calendar. Her coming back to life has been a miracle to me. And she's again, my best friend.

So when I fret and wonder when God will answer the prayers for my children, my husband, my other loved ones—I take out this shiny diamond of answered prayer, buff it against my shoulder and say, “thank you, Lord”. The same God who took care of my mum will answer the rest of my prayers in His perfect timing.

Philippians 4:6, 7 “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Meet Julie Arduini and Renee Chaw




*guest post by Michelle Massaro


Today it is my pleasure to shine the spotlight on two more amazing women who are both members of the COTT Blog Alliance.


Julie Arduini was born on Good Friday with tornado warnings. A description that she says could not be more accurate!


She lives in NE Ohio with her husband and two children. She's also a step-mom to two adult children who live in out of state. Her writing is featured in ten books (learn more on her site!) She also blogs monthly for the marriage counter at the Internet CafĂ©. She loves serving in children’s and women’s ministries through her local church and Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) chapter.
Julie says: "I love my strong coffee, lilacs, NCIS, and Beth Moore Bible studies (not in that order!)"
Her site has been up since December 31, 2006 and was her first act of surrendering fear of what others would think about her. That fear had kept her from doing what she loved since childhood but her baby step into blogging quickly led to many other writing opportunities—a true testament to listening to the whisperings of the Lord.
Julie's warm, transparent personality is woven throughout her blog posts. "I’m not a scholar, just a wife and mom trying to help anyone willing to read know that Jesus is close and intimate with arms open to receive, not turn away." Her focus is to encourage readers, mostly adult women, to find "freedom through surrender."
An avid reader, Julie provides book ideas on her site based on what she's reading. On Sundays you can take a peek at her amateur nature pictures with a few thoughts about God’s love. She posts 5-7 days per week so there's always something new! If you're looking for a blog-hostess gift, I hear she really really loves chocolate!
Surrendering the good, the bad, and---maybe one day---the chocolate
**********


Say hello to Renee Chaw (and her 3 year old dog, Coco.) Renee's blog features reviews of Christian fiction, romance and young adult fiction as well as posts about some of her favorite movies, TV shows, and Steelers football. Woot!
Black 'n Gold Girl's Book Spot is a fun place to gather. Renee is always looking for a way to make you chuckle or at least inform you about some great books and movies. She also sometimes posts about her other interests like vintage jewelry, TV, antiques, sports, pets etc. She always makes you feel welcome!
Another great reason to add her to your blog roll: she loves doing giveaways and hosting authors.
Renee says she's an avid reader of just about anything from the back of the cereal box to the back of a book. ^-^
"I love to blog. I've met so many great people through the blogging world and have had the opportunity to read so many wonderful books that I might not have otherwise had the chance to. I love being a member of FIRST Wild Card and this Blog Alliance, two other great groups that I wouldn't have had the chance to join if it wasn't for blogging. I'm loyal to the local sports teams, especially my Pittsburgh Steelers (LOVE those Black 'n Gold guys ;-)) and I'm a crazy car girl LOL! Take me to a car show over the mall any day of the week!"
She tries to post everyday but sometimes 'real life' limits her blogging to 3 times per week. If you want to bring her a blog-hostess gift, make sure you get a big box with holes in it. Renee loves big, furry dogs! =) Of course, it might be easier to just bring a treat for Coco.

Be sure to check out these two blogs and make a couple new friends!
* Michelle Massaro is Assistant Editor for Clash of the Titles. Find her on twitter @MLMassaro, and Facebook.



Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Tournament of Champions: Week Four





Week FOUR of COTT's Tournament of Champions saw four more authors compete and three more scavenger hunts played. 



Here's a recap:



Becky R went to Gail Pallotta's Blog on Monday to find out when Love Turns theTide's Cammie sees a different side of Vic. She got the correct answer and walks away with a $10 Starbucks card from Lisa Lickel. Pumpkin Latte, anyone?
Megan D visited Marianne Evans' blog Tuesday to discover which of Marianne's books was a Christian Small Publisher's Book of the Year nominee. She won a $10 Amazon gift card from Amanda Stephan. Awesome!
Theresa M stopped by Margaret Brownley's Blog on Wednesday and found the name of the Christmas anthology which Margaret contributed to. She also received a $10 Amazon gift card donated by Raquel Byrnes.
Congrats ladies! Clash of the Titles has awarded over $125 worth of game prizes, thanks to its generous sponsors. Thanks, COTT--and another round of applause for all those game winners!

This was the last week of reader games, but fear not! There's still a chance to win the Grand Prize! I'll share how in a minute. But first...




Which Books Won the Clashes?

Rosslyn Elliot's "Fairer Than Morning" and Delia Latham's "Destiny's Dream" clashed last Monday. "Fairer Than Morning" came out the winner.
Shellie Neumeier's, Driven and Ann O'Barr's Singing in Babylon struck swords on Wednesday. Driven took the top spot. 
These two victorious titles competed together on Friday to determine which would move on to the finals for a chance to win the Laurel Award. And that finalist is...

Rosslyn Elliot's "Fairer Than Morning"

She joins Marianne Evans' Hearts Crossing, Elaine Cooper's The Road To Deer Run, and Karen Witemeyer's A Tailor-Made Bride. We now have all four finalists vying for the ultimate COTT honor.
Voting for the Big Winner is going on RIGHT NOW, and continues all week long. The big announcement will be made on November 12th. Public vote determines the outcome, and one reader will receive a Grand Prize of 15 books!!!  Want a shot at it? Enter by sharing links, putting up buttons and banners on your blog, becoming a follower of COTT (just make sure you tell them you've done so--they aren't psychics!) Details on the prize basket and full instructions on how to enter can be found here. To make it easy to grab n go, here are the banner and button codes.






OR
Clash of The Titles


Here's the button code:


Find me on twitter @MLMassaro, and Facebook.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Tournament of Champions: Third Week Recap




*Guest post by Michelle Massaro



Week THREE of COTT's Tournament of Champions saw four more authors compete and three more scavenger hunts played. 


Here's a recap:


On Monday, players were sent to Elaine Cooper's Blog with a mission: Find the full name of the girl Nathaniel Stearns falls in love with in the book trailer video on her home page. Renee C won a $10 Amazon gift card from Marianne Evans, author of Hearts Crossing.
Tuesday, the hunt was on at Shellie Neumeier's Blog. The question: What is the name of the book Shellie co-wrote with Lisa Lickel? Tammy G won a $10 Amazon gift card from April Gardner, author of Wounded Spirits.
Wednesday we were led to Naomi Musch's Blog. The question: In her new release, The Red Fury, Colette's daughter Lainey is seeking solace from tragic loss and two searing rejections by doing what 2 things? B.J. Robinson won a $10 CBD gift card donated by Ann Gaylia O'Barr, author of Singing in Babylon.
Want your own spending spree? Be sure to play in this week's hunts. Check Clash of the Titles for game info.
And what about the competing books? Who won?
Karen Witemeyer's A Tailor-Made Bride and Lena Nelson Dooley's Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico battled on Monday. A Tailor-Made Bride came out the winner.
Christine Lindsay's Shadowed in Silk and Naomi Musch's The Green Veil struck swords on Wednesday. The Green Veil took the top spot.
These two victorious titles competed together on Friday to determine which would move on to the finals for a chance to win the Laurel Award. And that finalist is...

Karen Witemeyer's A Tailor-Made Bride!
There are now three finalists vying for the ultimate COTT honor. In this final week they'll be joined by a fourth book, then all will be thrown into the ring until only ONE remains. Who will it be? It's up to readers to decide, so cast your votes!
The Laurel will be awarded on November 4th, along with the 15-book grand prize that will be given to one lucky reader. Want a shot at it? You can enter by sharing links, putting up buttons and banners on your blog, becoming a follower of COTT, etc. Details on the prize basket and full instructions on how to enter can be found here. To make it easy to grab n go, here are the banner and button codes (just don't forget to let them know if you put them up!)
OR
Clash of The Titles


Here's the button code:


* Michelle Massaro is the Assistant Editor for COTT. Find her on twitter @MLMassaro, Facebook, and Adventures In Writing.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

INTERNATIONAL RECIPES--A Free E-book



I belong to the International Christian Fiction Writers, and for our first anniversary we are offering to our readers a free E-book. It's a recipe book featuring our favorite recipes from all around the world. For example as a Brit, I put in my version of an English Trifle. There are recipes from Africa, South America, Canada, England, Europe . . . all over the place.

Hope you enjoy. Go to the following link to download your free recipe book. There are versions for every type of electronic reading, including computers.

INTERNATIONAL RECIPES

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rockin' the Party at COTT!

*guest post by Delia Latham
 

It's been a bang-up bash all week at Clash of the Titles. We've been blog-hopping for treasure, and a couple gals found the loot!
LINDA won Game #1. She'll receive a $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Certificate 

CLAUDIA RIZZI won Game #2. She'll receive a 
$25 Partylite Gift Certificate 
from 
Michelle Massaro.


Congratulations to our game winners!



And the fun continues all the way through Nov. 4th. Our doors are open and we have a whole pile of party hats just waiting to be worn. Bring your votes and come on down!


In the midst of all the fun and games this week, we had four authors at swordspoint with TWO Clashes. All four entries were outstanding, and each possessed strong winning qualities. But, as in any race or competition, not everyone makes the finals.


We chose a single winner from each Clash. These two went head-to-head on Saturday…and only one will proceed to the finals and duke it out for the COTT Laurel Award.




This week's Clash WINNERS are:


Clash #3:







Erin Rainwater with her excerpt from 



Clash #4: 




Elaine Marie Cooper and her excerpt from 




CONGRATULATIONS, ladies!


These two went head-to-head on Saturday…with only one proceeding to the finals to duke it out for the COTT Laurel Award.

That one is....



Elaine Marie Cooper and her excerpt from 




Cyber-hugs and sincere thanks to Anne Patrick and Margaret Brownley! These were tough decisions and difficult votes to make. You're ALL winners!
More games and more exerpts are up for grabs this week, so don't miss out. Stop by COTT and play.


*Delia Latham is the author of the Solomon's Gate Series and a Blog Alliance Correspondent for COTT

Friday, October 21, 2011

ALZHEIMER'S--You don't have my man

A friend of mine, Carol Ann Hoel, is like many of my mother's friends. People who are watching the slow withdrawal of their spouse through the disease, Alzheimer's. This is what Carol Ann wrote on her blogsite http://cah4el.wordpress.com/

ALZHEIMER'S---You don't have my man. by Carol Ann Hoel

Hello in there – You seem not to hear -
Your countenance has changed so much -
Those baby blues seem vacant
Though I search them looking for you -
You look back at times – or do I imagine so –
Telling me you love me -
And you know I love you too –

Hello in there – I’m still waiting here –
A breath away from losing you
For a time – for a little time -
I won’t be afraid because I know
You’ll not slip away from me without
His call – Shall I regret -
Yes – I’ll grieve your absence here -

Alzheimer’s – you don’t have my man –
He’s where he’s always been -
Settled in his Savior’s care –
He’s still waiting there – taking a nap -
Snuggled in angels’ wings – wrapped in fervent prayer -
Cradled in the arms of Jesus –
Lingering a while longer with me –

By Carol Ann Hoel © October 15, 2011

Hebrews 13:5 – The Bible (KJV) - Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.____________________________________

I'd like to acknowledge and offer a word of comfort to famies affected by Alzheimer's disease. I know that not all Alzheimer's patients can be cared for at home. I saw a lot in five weeks at a care facility spending five to six hours a day in the midst of a variety of Alzheimer's patients. I watched compassionate caregivers treat combative, angry, fearful, and confused patients with kindness and respect. I saw many patients whose families would have not been able to provide care at home. I met some family members as they faithfully visited. My heart goes out to all who try to cope at home with a loved one struggling with Alzheimer's. Sometimes a care facility is necessary for the safety and well-being of the patient and family. I saw several cases that would have been impossible to manage at home. Blessings to family members and professional caregivers who lovingly care for the victims of this disease.

I have no reason to believe that my hubby is about to leave me to be with Jesus. I have no assurance that he will stay here longer either. One day he seems strong and healthy; the next he seems weak and distant. I'm not ready to let him go. I'm thankful he's here with me.

I'm getting better at being a 24-hour caregiver. I still have lots to learn, and I make mistakes.

Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. Blessings to you all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

COTT Kicks Off Tournament of Champions


Guest post by Jennifer Slattery
Last week, Clash of the Titles launched their first annual Tournament of Champions with two clashes and four talented authors. In Clash one, CS Lakin, author of Someone to Blame, and Marianne Evans, author of Heart Crossing, went head-to-head in a nail-biting, literary duel. In Clash two, our very own Gail Pallotta, author of Love Turns the Tide, competed against Clare Revell, author of A Season for Miracles. All four excerpts rocked, and this was a tough call, but you, our faithful readers chose two Tournament of the Champions' finalists.

Those finalists were Marianne Evans and Gail Pallotta.

Exciting stuff, and yet, the games weren’t done. In the next round, COTT staff cast their votes, and once again, one writer rose to the top and will advance to the next round.
That author is…
Marianne Evans!
And here’s a glimpse of what a COTT champion excerpt looks like:
“Collin Edwards stood before the funeral assembly. Heat crawled up his body. He clutched the edges of the podium where he stood and cleared his throat. The gesture was in vain. His throat constricted so much it hurt. Before the altar, just to the right, rested a flag-draped casket.
He looked down, at a piece of paper upon which he had crafted the words to a eulogy…” (Read more of Excerpt B here.)
About the novel, Heart Crossing:
Collin Edwards, a former parishioner at Woodland Church, has renounced God without apology, his faith drained away in the face of a tragic loss.
Daveny Montgomery cares deeply about her relationship with God, and the community of Woodland . Lately though, she's been in a rut, longing for something to reignite her spiritual enthusiasm.
A beautification project at Woodland seems the answer for them both. Daveny spearheads the effort and Collin assists, but only with the renovations, and only because he wants to know Daveny better. Despite his deepening feelings for her, even stepping into the common areas of the church stirs tension and anger.
Can Daveny trust in Collin’s fledgling return to faith? And can Collin ever accept the fact that while he turned his back on God, God never turned his back on him?
We’d also like to congratulate our prize-winning readers:

 Jessica R Patch! She won a $10 Amazon Gift card from Elaine Cooper.




 LoRee Peery! She won a free bookmark design from Delia Latham.




 Larry Hammersley! He won a $10 Amazon Gift card from Author Anne Patrick.

Join us this week for more fun and prizes as four more authors jump into the ring hoping not only to advance to the next round, but ultimately reign as the Clash of the Titles’ champion of champions! Remember, every vote counts! Each vote gets your name thrown into the hat for our fab-tabulous grand prize give-away comprised of fourteen novels!

Visit our Tournament of Champions page for a complete list of prizes.

***
Jennifer Slattery is the marketing manager for Clash of the Titles. She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the Christian Pulse, and Samie Sisters and has written for numerous other publications. She also works for Tiffany Colter, the Writing Career Coach, as a professional manuscript evaluator and publicist. You can find out more about her and her writing at her devotional blog, Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud. You can find out more about her critique and publicity services at Words That Keep.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

COTT LAUREL AWARD




IT HAS BEGUN!! 



Over the last year, there have been 


OVER FIFTY 


clashing author in twenty-four CLASHES, 


but only ONE can win the


LAUREL AWARD.



YOU decide which!


In the process, we invite you to repeatedly enter to win
THREE GIFTS A WEEK,
 including the GRAND PRIZE--
15 NOVELS


www.clashofthetitles.com





PROMO VIDEO CREATED BY COTT ASSISTANT EDITOR, MICHELLE MASSARO

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

DIVINE GIFTS---A COTT article














Divine gifts have been a topic of much dissension down through the ages. Some folks believe God bestows certain gifts on his children others firmly believe He does not—or at least that He might have long ago but He certainly doesn't today.




We're not here to argue the point (although for the record I do believe in divine gifts!).




That said it has been proven time and time again that certain people have specific abilities that others do not. Not learned skills which is the ability to do something because one has deliberately set out to master that particular challenge. I'm talking about inherent abilities that one naturally possesses usually from birth.




That's the kind of mind-boggling gift Tanya Stowe tackles in Tender Touch, the excerpt from which won the most recent COTT Clash. Lacy Butler is graced with the gift of healing…but she refuses to use itbecause it didn't save her mother. Pretty commonisn't it? We never seem to want the gifts God tries to bestow on usor we'll take the gift (Thank you very muchFather!)but we want to use it in our own wayfor our own purposes. Tanya does a fantastic job of bringing Lacy around from total abandonment of her gift of healing to an acceptance of God's will and God's way to use…GOD'S gift.




Here's a snippet from Tanya's Tender Touch excerpt:




The sudden comfort overwhelmed him. He wanted to close his eyes and slip away. But his blurry gaze focused on his rescuer as he unwrapped the muffler. He wanted…needed to see this man’s facethe man who had saved his life. He forced himself to watch as he pulled off the floppy gray hat.


 Royce blinked. His foggy mind was playing tricks on him. A longgolden braid fell from beneath the hat and lay across the man’s shoulder. He slipped off the coat and beneath was the slender shape of a woman.


 His man...his midnight visitor was a woman! Shock filled Royce’s mindand his head flopped senselessly sideways.




We asked Tanya if she learned anything about God's character through Tender Touch. Here's what she said: “Instead of learning something about God through this bookit is a reflection of something I learned about God from life. I’ve had some personal experience with faith healing and I wanted to write a story that reflected those truths. Of courseLacy’s gift is highly dramatizedbut the basics about how God heals are true.” (Read Tanya's interview)




Of her experience on COTTTanya says: "This was the most fun I had in an interview in a longlong time. COTT does such a good job. I really appreciate this opportunity."




Readers loved the Tender Touch excerptas well—and we loved their comments:




“I feel like I’m already hooked on reading the book.”




“… made me want to find out more about the mysterious midnight visitor man who turned out to be a woman. Both of these were great and it was hard to choose one. Can they both win?? !!!”






"Know ye not that they which run in a race run allbut one receiveth the prize?"






Currently we're in the middle of the exciting Tournament of Champions which will be in high gear from Oct. 10 through Nov. 4. Don't miss it! Past Clash champs duke it out for the final prize with each of them offering an excerpt that will hopefully have you panting for more. Head on over and see what it's all about.





* Delia Latham is a Christian wife mother grandmother sister and friend as well as an author of inspirational romance and women's fiction. She wears each hat with pride but treasures most of all her role as a princess daughter to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.




Congrats to Tanya and a huge thank you also to her very worthy opponent Shawn Grady.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Someone sent me the most beautiful video. It's an interview with God, so click here on The Interview

Most days I need to be reminded to slow down and remember that God is in control of everything, and I have no need to fret.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

SOME OF THE COTT MEMBERS

* Guest post by Gail Pallotta
MEET OUR PARTNERS
After an early morning workout Joanne Troppello sits at her computer near two big windows. Working from an office in her home in the northeast, she “loves getting plenty of sunshine.” She munches on her breakfast as she starts one of five weekly blogs. Her focus is “to connect authors and readers.”
This prolific writer also schedules giveaways and one-time events.  Past specialties include two internet festivities, The Royal Wedding and Summer Blog parties. On the books—a Christmas Blog Party.

Get ready for the fun.

Joanne likes to spotlight newer, unknown authors in addition to networking with all authors.  Writers’ opportunities include Monday interviews and mid-week guest blogs. Two Fridays out of the month she does book reviews. The other two she interviews guests in her Reader’s Corner. One of her favorite things is hearing from readers. She says, “They are who we write for, and we want to write stories that appeal to them with characters that stay with them for a long time.” Joanne says her readers “really like commenting on blog postings and hearing back from authors.”
An author of two books, All Romance ebooks best seller Mr. Shipley’s Governess and Shadowed Remembrances, Joanne writes in the mystery and inspirational genres. When she isn’t at her computer, she loves spending time with her husband and family.
To discover lots of fun activities for writers and readers visit Joanne at http://joannetroppello.weebly.com/




                                             ***********************


Artist, writer and blogger Carrie Lewis paints portraits for her day job and in her leisure time. Her favorite subject is horses. Easels, paintings and portraits-in-progress abound throughout her Kansas home, including some in her office.
She’s written for as long as she can remember, finishing her first complete manuscript in eighth grade. She says, “I’ve been dividing my time between the studio and the writing desk, and God has seen fit to keep me at home.”
Saving Grace, Carrie’s WIP, “…is a cross between speculative fiction, suspense and Old Testament prophecy.” As far as the WIP and what Carrie normally writes, she says, “It’s so far outside the box....I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get back into that box.”
An active blogger, Carrie posts three times a week. Her topics include writing tips, reports on stories she’s working on, the way we write, and the things we write about. She recently started putting up a weekly writing prompt. It’s “been fun and uses images, colors, sounds, all sorts of things.” For her readers she hopes to share what she’s had to “learn the hard way so that those who follow might not have to learn the same way.” She wants to “encourage writers to heed the promptings of the Holy Spirit when deciding what to write, especially if the story they have to tell is outside what most of us think of as popular fiction.”
When we stop by Carrie’s blog, I imagine we’ll see some of her horse paintings as well as her writings! What a treat. Visit her at http://writing-well.carrie-lewis.com/
* A COTT Blog Alliance Correspondent, Gail Pallotta recently published her first romance, Love Turns the Tide. When she isn't writing she likes reading, swimming, and getting together with friends and family. Gail wants to write books of faith that show God's love.

***********************


           Get ready ...





Friday, September 30, 2011

THE ARDUOUS CLIMB---by Sandra Orchard

Today my guest is Sandra Orchard, another of my writing friends who has shared the same experience as me this year---seeing her debut novel come out in print. She's here today to inspire you in whatever God has called you to do.

ARDUOUS CLIMB---by Sandra Orchard

This summer my husband and I visited Algonquin National Park in Northern Ontario, a wilderness brimming with pristine lakes, winding rivers and spectacular views. Being avid hikers, we chose one of the more difficult climbs, and as we sweated our way up a very steep, very long incline, I began contemplating how very much like the writing journey this hike was becoming.

A few mosquitoes buzzed around taking chunks out of me, not unlike how I felt after reading the first few critiques of my writing.

The air was unusually humid and several times we were tempted to stop and turn back. Then we’d arrive at a plateau and feel the sweet cooling breezes and catch a glimpse of the spectacular view awaiting us at the top.

And once again I found myself contrasting the experience to my writing journey. How in a similar way, God had given me little glimpses of hope to refresh and to encourage and to spur me to keep moving forward.

As my husband and I pressed onward and upward, my mantra became you can’t see the view if you don’t climb the height. Sure I could experience it vicariously by listening to others rave about it, or by looking at photos, but part of what makes the view so very spectacular is the effort required to get there. I honestly don’t think I would have appreciated it nearly as much if I’d simply been able to pull up in my car and snap the photo. And I wondered if I’d have felt the same way if getting published had been easy, if the first novel I’d written had immediately found a home and launched my writing career. Somehow, I don’t think I would have savored the accomplishment nearly as much.

In the same way, the photo doesn’t do the view justice. You can’t feel the breeze on your face, hear the cry of an eagle soaring overhead or the rustle of the leaves, or smell the heat on the rocks or the scent of pine. Neither do you feel your pounding heart begin to slow as you recover from the climb.

As I stood at the height soaking in the spectacular view, Psalm 121 came to mind:
1I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

And I was filled with a profound gratitude for the arduous journey toward publication, because it taught me to lean wholly on Him, to follow where he leads and trust in Him for the fruit.

Christine here: Thank you Sandra for sharing these encouraging thoughts that fit in with anyone's line of work or calling. We so often think that God's will for our lives means an easy road, when quite often it's the opposite. But God is there along the way, and those moments of encouragement are the greatest reward.

There's still time to enter Sandra's Book Launch Celebration Giveaway. Go to her website for information. On October 1st, she’s drawing a name from all of her subscribers, blog commenters, and FB fans for a $25 gift card for the winner’s favorite online book retailer.

I've read Sandra's debut novel, Deep Cover, and found it to be a fun, fast--paced, romance just filled with suspense, that also encouraged my faith. Here are links to Sandra's book page and the Harlequin book page for her novel. http://bit.ly/DeepCover, and http://www.SandraOrchard.com/mynovels.html .


Bio:

Sandra Orchard began writing fiction in the fall of 2004. In 2009, she won the Daphne DuMaurier Award of Excellence in the unpublished category and sold to Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense the following year. Her newly released debut novel, Deep Cover, is in stores this month. Deep Cover is the first in her series, Undercover Cops: Fighting for justice puts their lives—and hearts—on the line. Sandra hails from Southern Ontario, Canada.
You can find Sandra online at:
www.SandraOrchard.com
http://www.SandraOrchard.blogspot.com
www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Clash of the Titles



Congratulations to Delia Latham for taking the crown in last week's Staff Clash. Two anonymous COTT staffers went into the ring and readers had another hard choice to make. Some said:

  • "This was a cruel choice!! LOL! They were both excellent."

  •  (About Delia's excerpt): "Beautiful words expressing emotion and making the reader want more."

  •  "Intense emotions on both excerpts! Great job!"

  •  "Terrific excerpts!"

  • (About Katie's excerpt): "I need to know Wulf better! I have a feeling he's dreamy."

  • "Awesome clash with two well-written, emotion-packed scenes! Great job, authors!"


Of course, nobody knew at the time that those authors were Delia Latham and Katie McCurdy.
Both are recent additions to the staff. Delia has come on board as a Blog Alliance Correspondent, and Katie is the official Talent Scout. (Looks like COTT scouted some talent when they found these two gems.)
This fun excursion was a great interjection into the usual good times shared at Clash of the Titles. This week sees another fierce challenge with nameless authors nominated by COTT staff. Be sure to head over there and vote now!
And in just 2 weeks, the party begins! Mark your calendars for October 10th and be ready to play for extra prizes all month long as COTT celebrates it's first anniversary. Your vote will determine which of the year's winning authors will receive the ultimate honor: the Laurel Award.







* by Assistant Editor of COTT, Michelle Massaro 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Tourney Banner 2


Happy Anniversary, Clash of the Titles!

It's been almost a year since COTT opened its voting-booth doors and invited everyone in. Over the past twelve months, readers have chosen 25 Clash winners and received 48 free books. And along the way, a family formed. That family consists of the voters, authors, staff, and the 25+ blogs who have banded together in mutual support with COTT.
This is cause for major celebration! So COTT is doing it up to the nines.
Clash of the Titles' first annual Tournament of Champions begins next month! Over the course of four weeks, past winners from the previous year will compete in a series of clashes for the ultimate prize: the Laurel Award. The Laurel, COTT's most prestigious honor, is awarded by public vote to a single author among the year's champions.
Voters are expected to turn out in droves to support their favorites and participate in games just for readers. Each week, COTT sponsors—consisting of various authors and staff—will issue fun challenges to readers along with the chance to win gift cards, critique services, a business card design, and more. A dozen sponsors are lined up for the event so far. That's a lot of prizes!
Throughout the month, details and updates on the Tournament of Champions will be shared on the COTT website and featured within the Blog Alliance. To help spread the word, please grab the special Tournament Button (below) to display on your site. Then send a link to your page to: contactcott at gmail dot com to enter the special COTT Shout-About drawing. The drawing will take place during the first week of the Tournament and the winner will receive a Clash of the Titles mug.

Please also consider Tweeting or sharing this article on your Facebook wall.


(it only takes a second--just click the share button.)

Mark your calendars and spread the word. This BYOV (Bring Your Own Vote) party begins on October 10th!