Faith to Move a Herd of Alpaca by novelist Johnnie Alexander

A guest post by Johnnie Alexander

About a year ago, I moved from two decades of living in Florida suburbia to my sister’s four-acre hobby farm in western Tennessee. My little papillon Rugby moved with me, but only a few weeks passed before he wasn’t the only four-legged creature under my care.

My sister didn’t want to mow her sprawling front yard, and neither did I. So after researching our options, we bought four alpacas: Autumn, Winter, Sassy, and Starr. Over the next few months we acquired seven more: Charro, Di, General, Merry, Shelby, Snow, and Stonebride.

Johnnie Alexander

Though I grew up on a farm, I didn’t do much farm stuff. As the oldest of four, my chores mainly consisted of washing dishes, cleaning baseboards, and watching the youngest two children while Mom, Dad, and my brother did farm stuff.

But now I needed to learn about alpaca husbandry and something called herd distance.

You see, alpacas are skittish creatures. Though ours, especially young Starr and blue-eyed Snow, eagerly eat from our hands, they don’t like to be petted. Attempt to touch their luxurious fiber, and they’ll probably back away.

Sometimes it’s a challenge to get them where we want them to go. Get too close, and they flee. Too far back, and they head the opposite way. Like Goldilocks in the story of The Three Bears, you’ve got to get the distance just right.

Faith works both ways.

The herd needs faith that I’m not a predator. I prove this by paying attention to their body language and adjusting my behavior—and my distance—accordingly.

Johnnie Alexander

I need faith in my ability to appropriately respond to their cues so I don’t unnecessarily frighten them.

A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined living this kind of life. My personal circumstances had me as skittish as Winter, our youngest, who never eats out of anyone’s hand. But unlike our herd, whose faith seems to vary from day to day, my faith in God’s steadfast love rarely wavered.

During those unsettled months, through sermons, devotions, and Scripture, God promised me again and again to provide for me. Before I knew it, He had prepared a path before me. There’s no herd distance between us, only a minuscule “heart-distance.” Acutely aware of both my physical and emotional cues, He holds me as close as I will let Him.

Even though I may not always have the faith to move a mountain, I have the faith to move a herd of alpaca. And the faith to trust God to move me always closer to His will for my life.

“You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it” (Psalm 65:9, ESV).

“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation” (Psalm 13:5, ESV).

About Where Treasure Hides

Johnnie Alexander

Artist Alison Schuyler spends her time working in her family’s renowned art gallery, determined to avoid the curse that has followed the Schuyler clan from the Netherlands to America and back again. She’s certain that true love will only lead to tragedy—that is, until a chance meeting at Waterloo station brings Ian Devlin into her life. Drawn to the bold and compassionate British Army captain, Alison begins to question her fear of love as World War II breaks out, separating the two and drawing each into their own battles. While Ian fights for freedom on the battlefield, Alison works with the Dutch Underground to find a safe haven for Jewish children and priceless pieces of art alike. But safety is a luxury war does not allow. As time, war, and human will struggle to keep them apart, will Alison and Ian have the faith to fight for their love, or is it their fate to be separated forever?

About Johnnie

Johnnie Alexander

Johnnie Alexander is the author of Where Treasure Hides which won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011 Historical Fiction). The first of three contemporary romances, tentatively titled Into a Spacious Place, releases from Revell in January 2016.

She also has won the Best Novel and Best Writer awards at the Florida Christian Writers Conference is a 2012 Bronze Medalist in the My Book Therapy Frasier Contest.

A graduate of Rollins College (Orlando) with a Master of Liberal Studies degree, Johnnie lives in the Memphis area with a small herd of alpacas, her dogs Rugby and Skye, and assorted other animals.

Connect with Johnnie on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Good Reads,  and Linked In

Wedding Dress Dreams…Let’s Talk About It

  Wedding Dress

Let’s Talk About It…

How much did you (would you) spend on your wedding dress?

I spent zero. A very generous family member offered to pay for my dress as a wedding gift. (So of course, I picked the most expensive dress I could find!)

Okay, it wasn’t THE most expensive dress I could find. (I do have some sort of moral compass.) But I did choose a pretty pricey dress, a two thousand dollar pricey dress. I picked out this huge, fluffy, Disney Princess contraption of a wedding gown from Macy’s. It was beautiful but carrying around all that extra fabric left me tired and cranky by the end of the day.

Back then, if I had to pay for the dress myself, I would’ve spent the same amount or more. Weddings are special and we want them to be unforgettable.

However my 2014, thirty-five-year-old-with-two-small-children-and-a-budget self balks at spending that kind of money on a wedding dress. That kind of cash could be used on a couple of months of groceries and gas!

When the reality of day-to-day living sets in (especially for young moms who are in a constant care giving mode), it’s easy to forget there was once a time when spending thousands of dollars on this one day event was an investment well spent. After all, you are marrying the man you love.

So every so often, I’ll “splurge” by buying a cute outfit at Kohl’s or Target…from the sale rack…and marked down at least 50 percent.

It’s not very extravagant or dreamy, but it’s extravagant and dreamy enough for this thirty-five-year-old-with-two-small-children-and-a-budget.

Let’s talk about it: How much did you (would you) spend on your wedding dress?

 

 

The Giver of All Good Things by Dawn Crandall

A Guest Blog by Dawn Crandall

Dawn Crandall

When I was sixteen, I read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. And then I discovered the movie Gone With The Wind… and then the book by Margaret Mitchell. I didn’t know I liked to read until then, but even more than that—I didn’t realize what an amazing thing it could be to write a book. So I told myself I would do just that. I would write a book. Someday.

Life went on, but I didn’t end up writing. I attended Taylor University, graduated, worked at Barnes & Noble, met my husband at the church we attended, got married and moved to a new city.

My husband soon found out about my desire to write a book and encouraged me from that very day to write it. Could someone with ADD focus enough to write a book? I’m seriously one of those people who have a very difficult time finishing any kind of hobby project. Most things just don’t mean enough to me to keep my attention long enough to complete. But I found that this book writing thing was much different. I found that because writing was my absolute favorite thing to do, I could sit at my laptop all day long and write up the scenes which were so vividly racing through my mind. Having ADD is basically boils down to having a stream of ideas and hypothetical situations running through my mind at all times. My imagination is often on hyper-drive. Music and photographs often help me as prompts, and sometimes all I need is a word, and a whole scene comes together in my mind. It doesn’t really make sense to me how I’m able to capture 90K words into a Word document and take a reader on a complex emotional journey through the eyes of my heroine. It’s fun! And it’s complicated…. and I love it.

I was sixteen, and not even a Christian yet, when the desire to write a book struck my heart. I was thirty-two when I actually began writing The Hesitant Heiress in 2010. I don’t know why it had to take me so long to get around to it. I don’t understand God’s will for my life sometimes, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. He was in control, and He was building everything up for a few big surprises.

In 2011, I joined ACFW and my husband sent me to the national conference. I had two agent appointments and a paid critique meeting. I was about to cancel my agent appointments when I went to my paid critique. I thought my book was dumb, that I was dumb for going to conference… I was completely out of my league… why was I there? I hadn’t even finished my manuscript. I was jumping the gun and had spent way too much money for no reason. But that wasn’t what author Andrea Boeshaar told me in my appointment with her. She told me my first chapter was amazing, that the writing was better than a lot of books that were published…. and she told me to definitely go to my agent appointments.

God knew I needed that! Who wouldn’t love to hear such things? So I went to my appointments, I received two requests for partial proposals. I didn’t even know what a proposal was, but I found out and I am made one, even explaining that I was still revising the end of my book. I did include a chapter outline though, and I think that helped… because within the week I had a contract for representation from both agents in my email box within the week of sending out my proposals. I chose Joyce Hart as my agent and went about finishing my novel. All of 2012 went by with my only book on submission to a handful of publishers, and the second manuscript {The Bound Heart, November 2014} for my series became a semi-finalist in the 2012 Genesis Contest. And then half of 2013 went by as well…. and I wanted to quit. I had a really hard time writing book three {The Captive Imposter, February 2015} because my confidence was going down the drain. It must have been a fluke that two incredibly sought after agents had wanted to represent me upon first sight of my first three chapters. It must have been a fluke about the Genesis contest… and then again when book one became a semi-finalist and book three became a finalist in the 2013 Genesis Contest. How much more “half-way there” could I take?

Well…. about a month later, God taught me a great big lesson. And it didn’t have anything to do with a book, writing, or seeing my name in print. It had to do with another dream I’d always had but had given up on. I’d given up on getting pregnant and having a family, having traded it in for the dream of becoming a published author. I found out I was pregnant in August 2013, and suddenly I didn’t care so much about getting my long-sought-after book contract. I still wanted it, of course! It just wasn’t the only thing I had to think about anymore.

When I signed my book contract with Whitaker House in December 2013, I was six months pregnant, and they quickly told me they planned to release the books all three months apart. (Yeah, you don’t have to tell me that’s craziness… I know!)

I was once convinced that having my “book-babies” published was what I wanted more than anything. But was I wrong. There really is nothing compared to holding my baby boy in my arms and seeing him laugh and smile. Even if this isn’t the timeframe I would have chosen for myself, I trust God knows what He’s doing. He’s blessed me this year… yes, with what seems like a little too much to do… but I’ll take it!

The Hesitant Heiress, Book 1 of The Everstone Chronicles

Dawn Crandall  

After being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy disappearing before her very eyes. Now the only way to achieve her goal comes with high stakes for someone set on avoiding men as much as possible: marry within the year to inherit her grandmother’s fortune. Amaryllis reluctantly takes part in her aunt’s society, intent on getting to the west coast on her own… and without a husband.

Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself falling in love with the most unlikely of men, Nathan Everstone, whose father not only had a part in her expulsion, but whose ominous presence has haunted her dreams for a decade since her mother’s tragic death. Nathan turns out to be much more than he seems and everything she never knew she wanted. But just as everything Amaryllis has recently hoped for comes to fruition, it all falls apart when she finds that the real culprit who has been managing her life isn’t who she thought at all.

 

Dawn Crandall

The Bound Heart, Book 2 of The Everstone Chronicles

  Dawn Crandall

One accidental kiss. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt’s world upside-down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn’t have the time or the desire to fall for her friend Lawry Hampton. However, with Vance out of the country and Lawry constantly at her side, Meredyth can’t help but wonder if what’s holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from their unfortunate past.

When Vance comes home to stake his claim on Meredyth, will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she’s convinced she deserves? Or will she find the strength to accept that God’s plan for her life could include redemption… and quite possibly the love of her best-friend?

About Dawn Crandall

Dawn Crandall

A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming traditionally published, he encouraged her to quit working in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.

Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a pre-marriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.

CONNECT WITH DAWN

Blog: www.dawncrandall.blogspot.com

Facebook: facebook.com/DawnCrandallWritesFirst

Book Review Blog: APassionforPages.blogspot.com

GoodReads: www.goodreads.com/dawn_crandall

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/dawnwritesfirst

Email: dawncrandallwritesfirst@gmail.com

Twitter: @dawnwritesfirst

Amazon: www.amazon.com/Dawn-Crandall

Interview with inspirational romance author, Carol Moncado

I’m happy to have inspirational romance author, Carol Moncado, here today! She’s talking about her debut novel, Finding Mr. Write, which released this week!

Carol Moncado

Where did the inspiration for Finding Mr. Write come from?

The inspiration came from a conversation I had with Casey Herringshaw in the comments on Seekerville one day in mid-2011. We were planning for our first ACFW conference and debated whether or not we should stalk Julie Lessman while there. It turns out we didn’t need to, but the idea had taken root. The original concept had a much more Lucy-Ethel tone to it, but I love the way it turned out.

So why Mya Elizabeth Linscott? Mya… well, the reason is implied in the book so I won’t spoil it here. I don’t remember the inspiration for Elizabeth, but likely just looking for something with an “E” to make it MEL. Linscott comes from my favorite Mary Connealy hero, Tom Linscott in Sharpshooter in Petticoats.

Finding Mr. Write

Where did the inspiration for Dorrie come from? What about the skin cancer on Dorrie’s nose?

Dorrie embodies pretty much every author I know, myself included. The insecurities. The fears. The rejection. But with all of that comes friendships that transcend writing. Camaraderie. Growth. And I do know of at least one couple that met at a conference and married later. Her journey mirrors mine in many ways [though not the contest final/win – or the random conference wedding ;)].

As for the skin cancer… as I was working on a round of edits for this book, I was diagnosed with exactly what she was. Her experience there also very much mirrors my own – from the nickel-sized crater to the second surgery and the lasering. And yes – my eyelids were numb at one point ;).

Where did the inspiration for Jeremiah come from?

My husband isn’t a writer, but he’s a lot like Jeremiah in a lot of ways. He’s incredibly supportive and I couldn’t do this writer thing without him. I don’t know where the whole “Prince Caspian” thing came from, but came it did. And I loved it!

Where exactly is Serenity Landing?

Serenity Landing is a fictionalized version of Republic, Missouri – about 12 miles southwest of Springfield. I’ve lived in this area for over 20 years now and wouldn’t trade it for anything! Look for a Serenity Landing website, coming soon! Most [all?] of the books I have planned are connected to this town in one way or another, so you’ll learn a lot more about it as they go on :).

 

Finally Mr. Write Good Enough for A Princess

 

What book(s) is(are) coming out next? 

This is the beginning of my “grand opening” as an author! Six books are releasing this year and I’m working to finish them up right now.
* Finally Mr. Write: CANDID Romance book 2; November 24, 2014
* Falling for Mr. Write: CANDID Romance book 3; December 2014
*Good Enough for a Princess: The Montevaro Monarchy book 1; November 17, 2014
*Along Came a Prince: The Montevaro Monarchy book 2; December 2014
*More Than a Princess: The Montevaro Monarchy book 3; December 2014

Spring 2014 will see the release of the next series – The Brides of Bellas Montagnes. When I have the time, I’m working on book 3 in that series, Prince from her Past. The first two are mostly done – Hand-me-down Princess and Queen of His Heart [working title].

Love Anyway, a guest post by Angela Strong

Angela Strong

I sold my first romance novel Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho on proposal alone. That meant I had a contract before I wrote the book. Which would have been great if my ex-husband didn’t decide to leave me at that same time. I was forced to write a romance novel as my own marriage fell apart. Then I decided to never write romance again. Because love sucked.

I broke up with my agent. I wrote angry blogs. And if there was a television show on about divorce, others would worry that it would hurt me. But I liked those. It was going to weddings that hurt. And watching engagement videos on youtube. And renaming my anniversary “my noniversary.” Ouch.

But then I met an amazing man. A too-good-to-be-true man. Or so I thought.

I tried to scare him away by telling him how part of my heart was still dead. But he loved me anyway. I would cry because I didn’t feel I deserved him. But he loved me anyway. I waited for something horrible to happen that would break us up. But he loved me anyway.

He proposed anyway.

He married me anyway.

He took me to the beach to celebrate our third anniversary this year anyway.

And now there is nothing I’d rather write than romance novels. Because love is powerful. It is worth waiting for. And it changes lives!

So for those of you who have told me before things like, “Christians shouldn’t write romance , they should write about things that matter like politics,” or “I wouldn’t let my daughter read your novel because it awoke love to early.” I get it.

And I love you anyway.

Angela Strong

Bio:
Angela sold her first article while still in high school, studied journalism at the University of Oregon, and now writes light-hearted and life-changing stories in a variety of genres including romance and middle-grade fiction. She started IDAhope Writers to help out other authors and has been awarded Idaho Top Author for two years in a row. You can find out more about her and her books at www.angelaruthstrong.com.
Book Blurb:
I, Joey Michaels, am the Snowball Fight Professional. Basically this means that customers pay me to shoot snowballs at other people. I’ll use the profits to buy Grandma a gift so impressive that she’ll give me a puppy for Christmas. Unless, of course, my cousin Winston has anything to do with it.
Earning the puppy wouldn’t be so hard if I didn’t have the following problems: 1) Winston stealing my employee 2) Winston getting me in trouble every time I do something wrong 3) Winston blaming me for things I don’t even do
If I don’t get the puppy … ugh. This might turn into an all out winter war!
The Snowball Fight Professional is Book 2 in the Fun4Hire Series.