Monday, March 31, 2014

Seth Michael Ludwig.

I like to say my son’s name every now and then. It reminds me that he was real—that for three months and nineteen days, he was a part of my life.

The details of Seth’s death are foggy to me. Perhaps as some sort of defense mechanism, my mind has blocked out the more painful memories. I remember calling his name, in a quiet tone of voice so as not to startle him. At last, I put my hand to his back. That was the first moment that I knew something was dreadfully wrong…

I penned those words a long time ago—almost twenty-two years now. I never imagined that they would come back to me all these years later. Nor did I know when I set out to write a series of Historical/Romantic Suspense books for Bethany House that I would be writing about grief. 

Or loss. 

Or separation. 

I knew I’d be venturing onto unproven ground—combining Historical Romance with Romantic Suspense. I spent numerous conversations with the marketing gurus trying to figure out the best way to promote these books. We talked about cover designs, titles that invoked a feeling of romance and suspense, even colors for my website, and for many weeks, marketing was my focus. 

But as He often does, God had bigger plans, though He waited until all three books were written to reveal that information to me.

“What are these books about?” an interviewer asked. “Besides the romance and suspense, what would you say is the theme?”

Normally, I do all right in an impromptu interview, but the answer that rose to my lips surprised even me.

“Grief,” I said. “These books are about losing someone you love and finding the faith to go on.”

“Grief? Isn’t that sort of an odd theme for a romance?”

I shook my head. “Not really. True love, the kind that God gives, always involves sacrifice.”

After I’d had time to ponder that conversation, I realized deep down what I’d always known to be true. These books are about loss, but not the crippling, demoralizing, paralyzing kind. They’re about cutting away everything that hinders us from relying fully and completely upon Jesus. They’re about entrusting the people and things we love most in the world to Him. And they’re about learning to cast aside every unspoken fear and throwing ourselves on the infinite grace and mercy of the Savior.

Is there anything more beautiful, or more difficult, than that?

Like my characters, I lived through the death of a parent when my mother-in-law went to be with the Lord. And I understood the passing of a sibling when my mother found the courage to tell me of her miscarriage. Most devastating of all, I learned what it means to have my faith tried through the loss of a child. I experienced the guilt—the grief-driven condemnation that I poured upon myself—and the despair that threatened to wipe away every trace of hope and faith I knew.

But it was also through these trials that I learned what it means to have a Friend who sticks closer than a brother. Over time, I tasted the goodness, grace and comfort of my Savior. I sensed His presence as never before. I learned to cling again to the promises of His Word. And I learned that love…true love…looks forward. It hopes. It heals. It gives sacrificially. Most importantly, it is modeled after the love the Father has for each one of us.

Was it not Jesus who said, Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

And did He not, by His own example, demonstrate to us the beauty, the absolute purity, of unconditional, sacrificial love?

“These books are about grief,” I told the interviewer, “about losing someone you love and finding the faith to go on.”

What I forgot to add, but what I hope every reader finds within the pages of my novels, is that we never go on alone. It is with the Lover of our souls at our side…encouraging, urging, and always…always loving.

Elizabeth Ludwig is the award-winning author of Tide and Tempest, Book 3 in the popular Edge of Freedom series from Bethany House Publishers. Her literary blog, The Borrowed Book, enjoys a wide readership. Elizabeth is an accomplished speaker and teacher, often attending conferences and seminars where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Along with her husband and children, she makes her home in the great state of Texas. To learn more, visit

Contact Elizabeth: HERE

Before the review, let me announce the winner of last week's giveaway. :) Using's List Randomizer, the winner of a paperback copy of Sadie's Secret by Kathleen Y'Barbo is...

Cindy W!

Congratulations, Cindy! You've been sent an e-mail. Thank you to all who entered, and be on the lookout for some more special Monday giveaways in the coming weeks!

Now for the review...

About the Book

"Broken promises, enduring love…

A dusty stack of unopened love letters forces Bo and Mona Beth Miller to revisit a part of their past they’d rather leave buried–especially in the face of death. Only as they retrace history will they learn the truth about the shattered promise that threatens to come between them. But can their relationship endure the deception and sabotage they unearth, or will the experience compel them to trust more fully in the promises that never fail?

 Book Four in the Miller’s Creek Novels"

Amber's Review

Reading Pilgrimage of Promise constituted my favorite visit to Miller's Creek thus far, as its heartfelt message touched me deeply. Despite all the hardships and misunderstandings and trauma that befall Bo and Mona Beth - in the past and in the present - an overall sense of healing and hope pervades the pages. That ending... Lots of tears!

Back to the beginning, though. Bryant does a great job of weaving past scenes with the present. The scene depicting how Bo and Mona Beth first met is too cute! Once again, Bryant includes a lot of sensory details to engage readers and settle them in homey Miller's Creek, Texas.

But all the memories explored are not happy ones. Sometimes it felt like too much - knowing that miscommunications were coming and the "happy ending" wasn't all that the characters would have wanted it to be. In some ways, it felt unfair to have to experience those painful scenes, knowing the outcome as the reader does. And yet, those scenes made the reference to Isaiah 54:5 leave that much greater of an impact on me. The ending was all the more poignant and beautiful because of the repetitive reminder that God is faithful, even while humans break their promises and cause one another grief.

From the young love of high school to family drama and the tragedy of the Vietnam War, Pilgrimage of Promise takes the reader back in time through two beloved characters' lives. It's not always an easy journey, but it's still full of smiles and unexpected blessings, and it includes a very worthwhile, moving, and inspiring ending. This would be a great choice for book clubs (there are some thought-provoking discussion questions in the back of the book) or for anyone who's searching for a reminder of hope in life's disappointments.

*With thanks to the author for providing me with an e-copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

  • You can purchase the book in Kindle or paperback format now on Amazon!
  • The 5th book in the Miller's Creek series is releasing soon! Click on the button below to learn more:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Good morning, BB fans! Thanks to everyone who participated in our "puzzling" Friday giveaway! Keep all those facebook and Twitter notifications, coming!

This week's winner is: 

Laura Pol (sylvesternator (at) yahoo (dot) com) - The Shepherd's Song by Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers.

Congratulations, Laura! Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book.
So, if the theme of Lent is “The Road to Calvary,” it only makes sense to focus on the next step.

Take the bruised, bloodied, and tattered Man, remove the beautiful purple robe and replace his own humble garments, then lead him out for crucifixion.

And that itself should give one pause.

He was led.

He went willingly.

Why would He do this? Why? I’ve asked this question here, before. We know it was for love. Love of fallen humanity.

“And He, bearing His cross ...” (John 19:17)

Wait a minute. We see in the other three accounts, as they came out, Jesus must have faltered. The Roman soldiers seized a man who was there “from the country,” a Jew from Cyrene, a city in eastern Libya, to carry the cross for Jesus. A stranger who was just in town for the great feast of the Passover, co-opted to carry the instrument of death for the ultimate sacrifice.

Did he know anything about what had been going on with this Jesus dude? Or was he just caught in the press, in the wrong place at the wrong time?

He too was led away.

Did he watch the bloody footprints of this man whose face was more marred than anyone else’s had ever been, and wonder if he’d be crucified as well? Did he feel a sense of relief when it turned out he wasn’t?

Do we all only feel a sense of relief when we escape some terrible fate?

I wonder too, are we willing to walk the road to the Cross, regardless of what awaits us at the end?

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth. (Isaiah 53)

20 And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him. (Mark 15, all NKJV)

Friday, March 28, 2014

It's Fun Friday at The Borrowed Book!

To enter:

Leave the time it took you to complete the puzzles in the comments section as well as your email address for notifying you if you've won. Winners will be drawn from ALL of the times, so the person with the fastest time may not be the actual winner, but by leaving your time, you double your chances.

Want another entry? Tweet your puzzle time and mention The Borrowed Book, get another entry. RETWEET our Tweet, get two entries!

Post your puzzle time on BB's Facebook wall guessed it...get another entry!

Post it on your OWN Facebook wall and you could get as many as FIVE entries.

It's all a way to spread the word about the great giveaways on BB. So c'mon! Help us spread the word, and have a little fun at the same time. Enter all weekend long! Winners will be announced Sunday night at midnight.

This week's puzzle feature is brought to you by Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers and their newest release, The Shepherd's Song.

Click to Mix and Solve

Thursday, March 27, 2014

We write each week in at The Perk Avenue, a coffee shop in old downtown Madison, Georgia.  The Perk is halfway between our houses so it is convenient.  It is perfect for writing not just for the comfy seats and wifi, there are the coffees and pastries and wonderful smells.

The charming old brick building has large sunny windows and lots of character. Aromas of strong fresh coffee and hot scones welcome us as we come each Thursday morning.

The environment of the coffee shop seeps into the writing.  One chapter of The Shepherd’s Song takes place in a coffee shop.  The pastry counter jumped right into the book:

He moved to the counter and was taken in by the bounty of pastries—apple nut muffins, blueberry scones, chocolate chip Danish. They were all color and texture, some covered with chocolate icing, others drizzled with glaze—a donut covered with red sprinkles. He felt like he had as a boy, pressing his nose up against the glass window of a toy store.

We have written in other places.  The library down the street is nice and has a study room where we can make calls to our editor or Skype with others. We will occasionally go to the mountains or meet at one of our houses when deadlines loom for what we fondly call a “writing blitz”. 

During the week, we write in our own homes and Skype with each other to connect and keep the writing advancing.  But the familiar warmth and community of the coffee shop always lures us back. 

After two years, they know us -- which sister likes coffee and which likes hot tea.  They automatically bring our favorite salads for lunch.  We know some of the customers and it’s not unusual for someone to stop by and tell us their latest news.

The place has small history for us now.  We got the idea for The Shepherd’s Song at The Perk. We signed our contracts here and mailed them at the old post office across the street.  We have tried out ideas for names for characters on our favorite waitress.  We can’t count the number of times we have prayed in the coffee shop. 

The one hour drive each Thursday to get to the Perk, each of us coming from different directions, gives us time alone to ponder the past week.  Sometimes we listen to praise music. Other days we listen to audio books, passing off the CD’s to each other as we finish them. Some days inspiration will strike one of us as we start home and we call each other and talk while driving back to our houses.

For us it is the perfect “office.”  At home, no one brings us scones. 

The Writing Sisters, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers, were born into a writing family and began critiquing manuscripts at an early age for their mother, Newbery winner Betsy Byars.  They went on to become authors of more than thirty-five children’s novels. Their first book for adults is  The Shepherd’s Song,  Howard Books, March 2014.

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow, when you can enter to win a free copy of The Shepherd's Song!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Scene from Victoria

In spring 1872, Sir George Grant, a wealthy London silk merchant, toured the Great Plains looking for a place to retire. Toward the end of his journey, he passed by Fort Hays, Kansas, and traveled across Ellis County. He was spellbound by the endless, rolling prairies with their colorful flowers and grazing buffalo.

Instead of buying property for himself, he negotiated with the Kansas Pacific Railroad and bought fifty thousand acres of land in eastern Ellis County to begin a colony for a contingent of his fellow Englishmen. He called it Victoria after Queen Victoria.

On April 1, 1873, the Steamship Alabama sailed down the Clyde from Glasgow, with sons and daughter of many of England’s most noble families. In the coming years, more than two hundred Englishmen, as well as a number of Scottish and Irish immigrants, settled on Grant’s prairie purchase. 

The colonists homesteaded with a distinct finesse. Delicate French satins and fine English tweeds were as common in Victoria as calico and denim were in other areas of the plains. Victoria homes were decorated with fine furniture, oil paintings, and many family heirlooms. The ladies used lace tablecloths, sterling flatware, and bone china. The residents traveled by horse-drawn carriages.

The Englishmen and women not only held on to their luxuries, they also held on to their social customs. In keeping with proper tradition, they dressed in imported English hunting attire and saddled their imported English thoroughbreds with imported hunting saddles. Then they galloped after packs of yelping foxhounds. If they couldn’t find a fox, they hunted cottontail rabbits, coyotes, antelope or buffalo.

Many of the colonists of Victoria regarded their social engagements as more important than household chores and farm work. The men gathered for afternoon games of cricket while their wives visited over tea. In the evenings they often had formal banquets.

Catherine Cavender, a woman familiar with the colony, commented, “The English gave wonderful entertainment. Dinners with long tables, laden with baked buffalo, antelope and quail, mince pies, plum puddings and tipsy cake, and after the dinner a dance that lasted till morning and there were Lords and Lairds to dance with, too!” Sir Grant was a veteran entertainer. His lavish affairs were the highlights of the social season, and he had visitors from the East Coast, as well as England.

Sir Grant was responsible for bringing the first Aberdeen Angus cattle to the United States. The colonists stocked their ranches with the finest breeds of draft horses, English rams and short-horned cattle. But to many of the men and women, pioneer life was hard. The men were often unskilled at farming. The tough sod and arid climate was formidable. Some adapted to a life behind a plow, but others continued to rely on personal wealth. Life was no easier for many of the women who had once relied on maids and butlers. The people, accustomed to luxury, had to lived with no screens, no ice, and in homes that were so unlike their homes in England, they grew homesick.

Within a few years, the Victoria colonists realized how unsuited they were for the open range. Poor crops, drought, grasshoppers, prairie fires, and winter storms weakened their stamina. Little by little, they abandoned Victoria, packed up, and returned to England. By 1876, only a few of the colonists remained. But Sir Grant refused to leave Victoria, a dream he’d worked so hard to build.

He died not long after that in 1878 and with him, Victoria died, as well. Those who remained moved to the nearby town of Hays. Victoria was deserted.

But the town of Victoria was brought back from the dead by an unlikely source. The Germans and Russian had settled west of Victoria in a settlement they called Herzog. As Herzog grew, it encompassed Victoria, and in 1913, the townspeople dropped the name Herzog and officially named the town Victoria.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Shepherd’s Song was a different writing experience for us--two sisters born into a family of writers.  After twenty years of writing children’s books for the general market we were now writing our first book for God.  The books we wrote before were from a Christian worldview.  What made this book different was our desire to submit every word to God and to reflect in our words what He would say. An overwhelming task on our own.  

But what if we could connect with God and hear from Him as we worked.  C.S. Lewis wrote once about “taking dictation”  from God. The connection with God was key.  But how?

As we shifted from our writing for the general market to the idea that we would write for God, prayer became important and critical.  We prayed individually, together in groups with others and we enlisted a prayer team to pray for the writing of the book.

Three times stand out as we reflect back over how prayer entered our work and kept us grounded and focused as we wrote The Shepherd’s Song.

The first came at the beginning of our efforts. When we began writing together, we were full of enthusiasm and ideas.  We both took off with to do lists and ideas and quickly we became stressed and anxious.  A book by Andy Stanley, Visioneering pulled us back and helped us focus.

The book challenged us to look at whether we prayed first, then acted, or acted first, then prayed.

The question was convicting  - the notebooks full of our plans and ideas were the evidence against us.  In our enthusiasm we had gotten ahead of God.  What to do?  We stopped and made two decisions:

We decided we would stop all action and spend one week just praying for the book and for direction.

And we also agreed we would never move forward on an idea or action unless we were unified through prayer about the decision.

Throughout the week anxiety vanished. Clarity came, peace descended.  As we individually surrendered the work to God He brought us into unity.

The second prayer time came later.  The book was finished and accepted and paralysis set in.  Now what.  The second book, The Father’s Prayer, was drafted and outlined but we were blocked.  At the same time we were working to build a platform and determine what we should be doing for marketing the first book.

Was it right?  How did we know?  We stopped again and brought the work and ourselves into a time of deeper prayer.  

This time God spoke to us through a book by Mark Batterson,  Draw the Circle, The Forty Day Prayer Challenge.  For forty days we read the devotions and “circled” our work in prayer during our personal time with God.  It was amazing how God used these devotions to speak to us separately and together as we submitted to Him through these prayer times.

Reading this devotional series together and praying through Batterson’s forty days helped us to connect with each other and with God and allowed God access to us through our time with Him.

The third was a prayer for protection. During the year leading up to publication we both went through difficult times with friends and family, mostly medical issues.  We were both pulled off track and struggled to keep focus while undergoing struggles to take care of those we loved.  We remembered our great grandfather’s favorite scripture from Ephesians 6, the armor of God.

We began to pray this daily for each other.  Each morning we would turn to this passage and pray each article of armor for the other –belt, shield, helmet, breastplate, sword, shoes. As soon as we started, peace reigned and through our outward circumstances did not change, we had peace and we able to resume our work on the book.

The end result?  

We don’t know how the book will be received or what will happen as it goes out into the world but the end result for us is peace.  We have no regrets about the writing, no doubts about any decision along the way.  We have assurance that the book is in God’s hands to use as He will.  

Prayer is the key.

The Writing Sisters, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers were born into a writing family, and began critiquing manuscripts at an early age for their mother, Newbery winner Betsy Byars.  They went on to become authors of more than thirty-five children’s novels. Their first book for adults is  The Shepherd’s Song,  Howard Books, March 2014.

Review of The Shepherd's Song by S. Black
Kate McConnell ponders her life as she is lying in the hospital after a horrible accident, not knowing whether she will live or die. “I don’t think my life matters. I’ve been a Christian for almost twenty-five years, and I haven’t accomplished anything. I can’t point to one single person that I’ve had an impact on, even in my own family.”  As she wavers between life and death one thought brings peace to her heart, Psalm 23, The Lord is My Shepherd.  Reflecting back to the events prior to the accident, Kate had written carefully the entirety of the Psalm and placed it in her son’s jacket hoping that upon reading this he would think upon God’s promises. Only it brings anger and accusations that “she is trying to control his life and to back off”. This was not what she had expected. She prays to God that her life not end that “her work was not done”.
This copy of 23 Psalm placed in her son’s jacket travels from a cleaner’s shop and touches 12 separate lives around the world. The book is beautifully written and very inspirational. Each line of the Psalm affects a different individual and leads to second chances in each life. The book is like a collection of 12 mini stories within the main story of Kate McConnell’s life. These stories shows how God‘s word does not return void. It does accomplish and prosper in things that it was sent to do.

I really enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to others to read.

Monday, March 24, 2014

No, it's not "Fun Friday" - but how about a "Marvelous Monday"? Because we've got a special giveaway for our US readers! Read on to learn about the prize and the giveaway rules...

About the Book (from Harvest House)

From bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo comes Sadie’s Secret, the third book in The Secret Lives of Will Tucker series. These historical novels capture the romance of the South mingled with adventure and laced with secret identities and hidden agendas.

Louisiana, 1890—Sarah Louise “Sadie” Callum is a master of disguise, mostly due to her training as a Pinkerton agent but also from evading overprotective brothers as she grew up. When she takes on a new assignment with international connections, she has no idea her new cover will lead her on the adventure of a lifetime.

Undercover agent William Jefferson Tucker is not looking for marriage—pretend or otherwise—but his past is a secret, his twin brother has stolen his present, and his future is in the hands of the lovely Sadie Callum. Without her connections to the world of upper-crust New Orleans, Jefferson might never find a way to clear his name and solve the art forgery case that has eluded him for years.

Only God can help these two secret agents find a way to solve their case and uncover the truth about what is going on in their hearts.

Book Trailer

About the Author

Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of fifty novels with almost two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad and nominations including a Career Achievement Award, Reader’s Choice Awards, Romantic Times Book of the Year, and several Romantic Times Top Picks. A proud military wife and tenth-generation Texan, she now cheers on her beloved Aggies from north of the Red River. Find out more at


Would you like a chance to win a paperback copy of Sadie's Secret? Just leave a comment with your e-mail address (so we can get in touch with you if you win), and let us know what you think of historical romance, stories about Pinkerton agents, or Kathleen's books, if you've read them! (Note: This giveaway is open to US residents only. Winner will be announced next Monday, March 31st.)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Good morning, BB fans! Thanks to everyone who participated in our "puzzling" Friday giveaway! Keep all those facebook and Twitter notifications, coming!

This week's winner is: 

Mary Presto (marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com) - Wild Mint Tea by Valerie Comer.

Congratulations, Mary! Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book.
... and the seemingly pointless trials continue, as the last day before the Crucifixion plays out.

This time, Jesus is dragged off to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. It’s obvious Pilate is irritated—for starters, Scripture tells us it’s first thing in the morning. From the account in John, we find out the Jews wouldn’t even enter the Praetorium because they didn’t want to be defiled on the Passover, so Pilate takes himself outside to talk to them. Luke’s account is fairly abbreviated—the Jews’ complaints are calculated to ensure that Pilate gets involved: he claims to be king, he forbids to pay taxes to Caesar. (We know this was a lie.)

I can almost hear Pilate heaving a sigh as he marches back inside and orders Jesus brought to him.

Are you the King of the Jews? he asks.

It is as you say, Jesus answers, in the account from Luke.

We know from John that there was much more to it, that Pilate’s curiosity was engaged at some point, and that Jesus takes the time to actually explain things in a way he doesn’t with anyone else during this time.

Are you the King of Jews? Pilate says.

Are you asking this for yourself, Jesus counters, or because others have told you so?

Hey, Pilate answers, I’m not a Jew. Your people and nation brought you here to me. What’s the deal?

My kingdom isn’t of this world, Jesus says. If they were, my servants would fight for me.

Kingdom, huh? Are you a king, then?

So you say, Jesus answers. This is why I was born, to speak the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.

And Pilate delivers that line, What is truth? and goes out to tell the Jews he can’t find anything on which to convict Jesus.

Not only that, but in stronger terms. He is innocent.

Throughout the rising and falling drama of the next hour or two, Pilate says it two more times. He is innocent. I find no fault in Him!

He knows the Jews want Jesus killed, and he’s trying hard to get out of it. He even tries sloughing off the job onto Herod, who’s at first excited to see Jesus, since he’s hoping to get some kind of magic show out of it. In this case, Jesus answers not a word. Disappointed, Herod joins in with his guard in mocking and abusing Jesus, and they send Jesus back to Pilate, dressed in a kingly robe designed to further mock Jesus’ claims.

Look, Pilate tells the Jews, ready to riot. Not even Herod found anything worthy of death. Let me punish him and then let him go.

No! Crucify him, they cried.

This is when Pilate orders the scourging. Even then, you can hear the exasperation in his pronouncement, Behold the man.

Look at Him.

By now He’s endured spitting and smacking and punching. Lies, malice, and mockery. All in silence, except for his cryptic statements to one Roman governor.

And Pilate caves to the crowd. Since when is Rome a democracy? Or swayed by the threat of riots?

By now I think Pilate was scared spitless. Caught between the under-rulers of a conquered nations and the appeal of a wife who begs him not to have anything to do with sentencing Jesus, himself arrested by the otherworldliness of this Man who wouldn’t even plead for his own life—indeed, who said  you would have no power at all over me if it hadn’t been granted you—who wouldn’t be spooked by that?

Astonishing, though. A hardened Roman official, who made it his business to clear out anyone stirring up trouble in this little province. Wouldn’t he have jumped at the chance to make an example of Jesus?

Yet, he doesn’t. Very strange.

And the Untame Lion continues walking the road toward His destiny as the ultimate Passover Lamb ...

13 Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, 14 said to them, “You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; 15 no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him. (Luke 23)

Friday, March 21, 2014

It's Fun Friday at The Borrowed Book! (This week's prize is available as e-book only)

To enter:

Leave the time it took you to complete the puzzles in the comments section as well as your email address for notifying you if you've won. Winners will be drawn from ALL of the times, so the person with the fastest time may not be the actual winner, but by leaving your time, you double your chances.

Want another entry? Tweet your puzzle time and mention The Borrowed Book, get another entry. RETWEET our Tweet, get two entries!

Post your puzzle time on BB's Facebook wall guessed it...get another entry!

Post it on your OWN Facebook wall and you could get as many as FIVE entries.

It's all a way to spread the word about the great giveaways on BB. So c'mon! Help us spread the word, and have a little fun at the same time. Enter all weekend long! Winners will be announced Sunday night at midnight.

This week's puzzle feature is brought to you by Valerie Comer and her newest release, Wild Mint Tea.

Click to Mix and Solve

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I didn't start writing until my youngest was in high school. Sure, I'd always written fun newsy letters and gotten As in creative writing classes, but it wasn't until 2002 that I decided I had an itch that needed scratching. If I was ever going to learn this writing gig, the time was NOW.

From the beginning, my husband (the recipient of many of those letters back in the day) was very encouraging. I'll go a step farther and say that whatever harebrained ideas I've come up with over the years, he always believed in me, from selling Tupperware to taking a correspondence course in interior design to my most recent passion: writing fiction.

He's just as thrilled to see a new novel go "live" on Amazon as I am, and often tells me—and others—how proud he is of me.

My granddaughters are so young they neither know that having an author for a grandmother is not common, nor can they remember life any other way. But here's one of my favorite photos of my youngest granddaughter last summer when my box of Raspberries and Vinegar arrived.

My kids are both married. My son, who's the daddy of the sweetie in the above photo, thinks it's cool he grew up drinking my book titles, Raspberries and Vinegar and Wild Mint Tea.

My daughter-in-law says, "I think it's inspiring to have a role model who's always loved books and took the leap to write and get published after her kids were grown and
out of the house." I didn't even pay her to say that.

And my daughter? Her name is Hanna Sandvig, and she's a very creative person in her own right. I've often wished she would write a book, as she has a natural rhythm and voice for storytelling. She started a YA novel a few years back, but she couldn't get past drawing the characters.

Yep, she's an artist and illustrator, and we all know there are only so many passions one can have in life. Digital art is hers, after her family, of course. I'm glad we saw an artistic bent in her when she was little and bought her all the crayons, chalk, watercolors, and paints she wanted, as well as art and sculpture classes when opportunities arose. She taught herself digital art in high school art classes and has developed, as an adult, a very unique style that I love.

About a year ago I decided to self-publish a novel that had made the rounds of the bigger houses to no avail. I decided I believed in this story and the series it kicked off, that it contained timely topics—local food and environmentalism—and that God was moving me forward in a slightly different direction.

After congratulating me, the first thing Hanna said was, "And I get to do the cover, right?" Of course, right! Very shortly after that, I was offered—and accepted—a contract for that novel from Choose NOW Publishing. My new publisher asked if I had any ideas for the cover, and I mentioned that my daughter had been sketching ideas.

To make a long story short, we sent the sketch in, my publisher liked what she saw and contracted my daughter, and we've all been delighted with the results ever since! The second book in the series, Wild Mint Tea, just released, and I love this cover even more than the first one…if that's even possible.

I can't begin to describe the honor it is to share these books with Hanna. We'd both had a couple of smaller successes before—me with a novella in Rainbow's End (Barbour, 2012) and her with several pieces of wedding cake art in the pages of Sandra Bricker's Always the Baker, Finally the Bride (Abingdon, 2013). But to share my first solo novel with her first cover art? It busts the buttons of my pride.

Wild Mint Tea is dedicated to my daughter, Hanna. Not only is she one of my top cheerleaders and my favorite artist, she's a mom who gardens and cooks from scratch and cares about the quality of her daughters' food.

It's a passion she and I share with my daughter-in-law. In fact, quality food from scratch is a huge driver for our entire family. It's a way of life that has become the foundation of the Farm Fresh Romance series, which is a unique farm lit series that follows the adventures, romantic and otherwise, of three college graduates who move onto a reclaimed farm where they plan to take the rural area by storm with their sustainable lifestyle and focus on local foods.

Wild Mint Tea released March first, and it's the second book in the series.

She’s rooted deep. He flies free.

Local-foods chef Claire Halford envisions turning Green Acres Farm into an event destination. Weddings prove trickier than she imagined when the first one comes with a ruggedly handsome brother-of-the-bride, who has everything but a fixed address. Oh, and faith in God.

Noel Kenzie loves the freedom his reforestation company affords him. Why worry about deep stuff like God and commitment when he’s in his prime? Except there’s a woman who might make it worth giving up his wings…and digging in some roots. If he dares.

PS. What do my other granddaughters think of Grandma being an author? The two-year-old doesn't have an opinion, but she's the most avid book lover of the bunch and will easily spend half an hour "reading" to herself. Her current favorite is Curious George.

The eldest was 3 1/2 when Raspberries and Vinegar released last summer. She held the book up proudly and said to her mom, "Look, Mommy, it's your picture! Your lovely picture that you maded!" To her, that's the most important part of the family affair, and I think that's just as it should be.

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow, when you can enter to win a free e-copy of Valerie's latest release, Wild Mint Tea!

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