Thursday, August 29, 2013

BLOG TOUR/GIVEAWAY: Working it Out by Rachael Anderson

working it out tour

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachael Anderson is the author of five novels (Working It Out, The Reluctant Bachelorette, Minor Adjustments, Luck of the Draw, and Divinely Designed) and two novellas (Twist of Fate, from the All I Want anthology and The Meltdown Match from The Timeless Romance Anthology: Summer Wedding Collection). She's the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.


WORKING IT OUT
by Rachael Anderson

A chance encounter . . . Grace Warren's life is safe and predictable—exactly the way she likes it. But when she gets roped into going to an auction to help out a friend, everything changes. She meets Seth Tuttle—a guy who unexpectedly kisses her then disappears, leaving her flustered and upset. If she never sees him again, it will be too soon.

A chance for love . . . Weeks later, when Seth limps into Grace's rehab clinic post surgery, she immediately recognizes him. Unfortunately, he's every bit as frustrating and annoying as she remembered. Yet there's something about him that makes her second-guess her carefully placed boundaries even though he's everything she's sure she doesn't want in a man. But maybe Seth is exactly what Grace has needed all along—assuming she's willing to risk safe and predictable for a chance at love.  


Blog Tour Special Price Drop!

Grab a copy of Working it Out for just $2.99!

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REVIEW

I really enjoy this kind of story.  Romantic with lots of verbal back and forth between Seth and Grace.  I also enjoyed getting to know the characters.  Both Seth and Grace have strengths and weaknesses.  Grace is work-obsessed and guilt-stricken about her paraplegic brother but she's also determined and caring.  Seth is outgoing and funny, but he's self-focused and takes a lot of risks.  It was delightful to watch the too fall in love and change. A fun romance full of great laugh-out-loud moments that I can heartily recommend.



EXCERPT

Seth met Grace’s gaze once again and held out his hand for her to take. “Ready to go?”

She felt her resolve slipping, but couldn’t let it go completely. She stared at his hand, wanting to touch it, hold it, to interlace her small fingers with his strong ones. But she was his therapist, not his girlfriend.

Therapist.

His fingers wiggled. “My keys, please? I saw you pick them up when you were cleaning earlier.”

Huh? Grace glanced down. Sure enough, his keys were clutched in her hand. There was even an imprint on her palm from squeezing them too hard. Her face flamed, and she quickly handed them over.

Without another word, she turned and headed for the front of the building, wanting to crawl into the trunk of Seth’s car and hide. When she reached the outside air, she drew in a deep, steadying breath then grabbed the passenger door handle, ready to yank it open and dive inside. But it wouldn’t budge. The car was locked.

Duh.

Forced to stand there, clasping and unclasping her hands, Grace waited for Seth to catch up and unlock it. 

But instead of clicking the button on his keyless remote, he walked toward her, stopping directly in front of her.

Grace stood frozen as he reached around and manually unlocked the car. His chest bumped against her shoulder, sending tingles up and down her arms. In and out she breathed, telling her racing heart to slow down and her body to stop responding. It was only a touch. A simple touch. Nothing to get all worked up about.

But then Seth looked at her in that intense way again, his face only inches from hers. Grace trembled, feeling like all of her defenses and inhibitions were falling in a garbled up heap around her. Nothing made sense anymore. Not Seth. Not her feelings. Nothing. Grace didn’t know what she wanted or didn’t want anymore.

“If you’ll step aside, I’ll open your door for you,” Seth said.
BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY


$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 9/10/13

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Finding Sheba by H.B. Moore

finding sheba tour

Finding ShebaFINDING SHEBA 
by H.B. Moore
StoneHouse Ink, 2013

An ancient legend is reborn . . . One that might prove the Bible false. For centuries, historians have theorized the Queen of Sheba as only a seductive legend, and scholars have debated over the legitimacy of King David or King Solomon. When undercover Israeli agent, Omar Zagouri, stumbles onto a tomb in Northern Jerusalem he unknowingly finds the final clue that threatens to overthrow government claim to the Holy Land, pits wealthy collectors against one another, and sends ruthless archaeologists scrambling to find the queen’s secret burial place. An assassination attempt on the Coptic Pope, His Holiness, Patriarch Stephanus II, is only the first in the chain of lethal crimes. Omar must find a way to prevent the greatest discovery of the century from becoming the most deadly.



heather moore
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather B. Moore is the award-winning author of ten novels, two inspirational non-fiction books, and two anthologies, including The Newport Ladies Book Club Series, A Timeless Romance Anthology, and Christ’s Gifts to Women (co-authored by Angela Eschler). Her historical fiction is published under the pen name H.B. Moore. She is the two-time recipient of Best of State in Literary Fiction, two-time Whitney Award Winner, and two-time Golden Quill Winner for Best Novel. Her most recent historical novel under H.B. Moore is Daughters of Jared (2012 LUW Gold Award of Excellence & 2012 LUW Best Book Trailer).


 
REVIEW

Archaeology is such a fascinating subject. Combine that with murder and intrigue and romance and you have the makings of a great read. Moore has created such a story here. With fascinating undercurrents and romantic tension, the mystery of the queen of Sheba unfolds. Jade, an American graduate student arrives in Egypt prepared to work on her thesis only to discover that her beloved professor's death was not an accident and that a discovery in Israel may turn everything she thought she knew on it's head. Meanwhile, Omar, an agent for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Ancient Artifacts, having helped discover the tomb that could change everything, sets off for Yemen on another assignment hoping to see his former girlfriend, only to find much more than he bargained for.  With enough twists and turns to satisfy most readers as well as some fascinating background and setting, I can heartily recommend this book.

Monday, August 26, 2013

BLOG TOUR and GIVEAWAY: God Doesn't Write with a Pen by Christi Lynn Pauline

God-Doesn't-write-with-a-pen_banner

God Doesn't Write with a Pen: Marked for Death, Separated by War; A true Story of Undaunted Faith and Mighty Miracles
ABOUT THE BOOK

Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, is war-torn and chaotic after the election of 1994. Joao Bernardo Vierra is elected president in spite of fierce opposition, magnifying the already tense political situation.

As war ravages the country, pharmacy owner, Blema Fangamou and his wife, Fatoumatou, are separated from their children. For over twelve years, the couple is tested and tried with hardships, all the while wondering whether their children are alive. Through the Lord, Blema and Fatoumatou are strengthened, helping them to maintain love and hope.

This true story of the Fangamou family’s journey through loss, recovery, and miracles helps us recognize the tender mercies given to us by the Lord in our own lives and is an inspiration to everyone who faces adversity.


author_christi_lynn_paulineABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christi Lynn Pauline was born in the humble town of Blackfoot, Idaho, near the Fort Hall Indian reservation. It was here that her interest in other cultures was cultivated at an early age. Her love of God, people, and literature has fueled a desire to write, and her favorite subject is that of ordinary people who possess extraordinary faith. She enjoys reading and writing poetry and has authored a children’s book entitled, “Hullaballoo at the Zoo.”

Christi currently resides in Meridian, Idaho, with her husband, Ernie, where they are both serving as Ward Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They also serve as Ordinance Workers in the Boise, Idaho Temple. As a wife, mother, and grandmother, Christi treasures time spent with her family.


REVIEW

What a powerful story! This sort of story always reminds me how lucky I am to live where I do. The Fangamou family faces a lot of hardship in this story coming as they do from a country torn apart by war. Forced to flee, Blema heads to a refugee camp hoping to find a way to eventually reunite with his family. Meanwhile, his wife and six children are also forced to flee after being robbed of everything they own.  His wife is pregnant and has been savagely attacked.  Forced to deal with everything from the betrayal of friends to severe hunger, thirst, and illness, the Fangamou's hold fast to their faith in God despite it all. A truly inspirational story that truly touched my heart and kept me reading, God Doesn't Write with a Pen left me feeling humbled and appreciative.  A wonderful, if heart-breaking read that I can heartily recommend.


GIVEAWAY

1 e-book of God Doesn't Write with a Pen provided by publisher
Ends 9/9/2013

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PRETTY DARN FUNNY, episode 2 PLUS SIX SISTERS STUFF Giveaway!

Come check out Pretty Darn Funny, episode #2, 
"Pinterest Plot"

Fb Season2 Announce

VIDEO


REVIEW

Giggle, giggle, snort! I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds pinterest a bit depressing.  The amazing graphics that I couldn't duplicate in a million years. The hours dedicated that I would rather spend reading. Sigh. I guess I'm a pinterest failure too. Be sure to watch this episode though and be relieved that copying things from pinterest is an art form in and of itself.

Sixsistersstuffcookbook_detailGIVEAWAY

1 copy of Six Sisters Stuff
Ends 9/1/2013

Cook, craft, and create with recipes, projects, and ideas from the enormously popular blog SixSistersStuff.com. Camille, Kristen, Elyse, Stephanie, Lauren, and Kendra are six sisters who share their easy, affordable recipes and crafts in this collection of family favorites. These pages contain more than 90 tried-and-true recipes that use ingredients commonly found in your pantry, with easy-to-follow instructions and photographs of each dish. Charming do-it-yourself projects, such as stained Mason Jars and a Ruffles and Yarn Wreath, are fun to create and require little time or money. Suggestions for indoor activities for kids, healthy snack ideas, or an inexpensive night out are among the many lists included in the book.

"We don't profess to be amazing chefs," the sisters claim. "We just know the importance of feeding our families a home-cooked meal and sitting down to eat it together. Even the busiest of people can make the food and project ideas we share, which will give you even more time to spend with your family and loved ones."

Friday, August 23, 2013

FIRST WILD CARD TOUR: Awakened Love by Laura V. Hilton

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Whitaker House (September 2, 2013)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura V. Hilton, of Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas, is a pastor’s wife, mother of five, author and book lover. Her Amish fiction series books have sold thousands of copies and garnered praise from readers and critics for originality and authenticity. This is thanks, in part, to Laura’s Amish grandmother from whom she learned Amish ways, and her husband Steve’s family ties in Webster County, Missouri, who served as invaluable resources in her research. Laura’s previous Whitaker House books include The Amish of Seymour series: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another; and The Amish of Webster County: Healing Love and Surrendered Love.  Awakened Love is the final book in the series. Laura is also a homeschooling mother, breast cancer survivor and avid blogger who posts reviews at:  www.lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Katie Detweiler is excited when she’s hired to bake for a local bed-and-breakfast, especially because the shy young Amish woman will be able to work alone in the kitchen doing a job she loves.  Circumstances change, however, and the job requires she also wait on customers, including a private investigator who tells her she is adopted and has a biological sister in need of a bone marrow transplant. She also meets 22-year-old Abram Hilty, an Amish man who has fled the drama of his community in Shipshewana, Indiana, for Seymour, Missouri, where he’s staying with his cousin Micah Graber. Abram is immediately attracted to Katie, but pursuing a relationship with her would be complicated because he’s come to the Amish of Webster County to hide from a girl he no longer cares about—and also from a cold-blooded killer.


Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Series: Amish of Webster County (Book 3)
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (September 2, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603745084
ISBN-13: 978-1603745086


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

“Today I met the bu I’m gonna marry….” Patsy Swartz’s singsongy voice was too chipper. Bracing herself for an afternoon with the bubbly girl, Katie Detweiler climbed out of her daed’s buggy and turned to lift the cooler from the back. Her not-exactly-a-friend bounced up beside her, still singing away.

Katie’s heart ached with a stab of envy.

Would she ever marry?

Daed snorted, in apparent disbelief. “Bye, Katie-girl. Have fun at the frolic.” He clicked at the horse and then pulled the buggy around the circle drive.

“The new bu in town!” Patsy squealed, as if Katie had asked. “He is sooooo cute! I’m going to marry him. I’m thinking Valentine’s Day. Will you stand up with me? I’m asking Mandy, too.”

Marriage? The new bu in town? Why was she the last to know these things? Katie hadn’t even known that Patsy had a beau. Wait—she didn’t. Just yesterday, she was bemoaning the lack of interesting men in her life.

Katie shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. “Stand up with you? On Valentine’s Day? Jah, I can do that. What new bu in town?”

Patsy huffed. “Where have you been, Katie? There is a world outside that bed-and-breakfast, ain’t so?”

“When did you two meet? You didn’t mention him yesterday.” She adjusted her grip on the cooler handles and started toward the haus.

“He’s visiting the Grabers…a cousin or something. He’s here, right over—ach, I see Mandy! I’ll tell you about him later.” She turned away and glanced over her shoulder. “You’re still standing up with me. Valentine’s Day. Write that down, Katie.”

Patsy ran across the driveway to where Mandy Hershberger stood by the open barn doors.

Valentine’s Day? Was Patsy serious? Most weddings happened between November and January—never February, when the fields need to be prepared for planting. And wouldn’t the bishop have some reservations about Patsy’s marrying a man she’d known for, what, half an hour?

Valentine’s Day was still a long ways off. It was only August. And Patsy probably would’ve moved on three times by then.

But he was here, this mystery man Patsy planned to wed? Katie turned around and scanned the buwe playing volleyball, looking for a face she didn’t recognize. She didn’t see anyone new. Or maybe he just didn’t stand out. Patsy? Getting married? If Katie knew her at all, she’d be promised to this new bu in a short time. What Patsy wanted, she usually got. Even if they ended up calling it quits several weeks into the relationship.

Katie sighed. It’d be nice if someone noticed her. And wanted her as a permanent part of his future.

She headed for the haus to deliver the food. A long row of tables was set up inside the kitchen, already piled full. Katie set the cooler down next to the door, opened the lid, and took out a plate of chocolate chip cookies. She carried them to the table and set them down among the other desserts, then stepped back and surveyed the array of cookies and fried pies. Maybe she should’ve made something else besides cookies. But Daed wouldn’t mind if she brought the entire plateful back home again.

“Hi, Katie.” Micah Graber’s mamm, Lizzie, came into the room. “Glad you made it. Micah’s playing volleyball, if you want to join in. His cousin Abram is visiting from Indiana.” She smiled. “I’m sure you’ll want an introduction.”

Katie wasn’t so sure, except maybe to see what Patsy found so special about this mystery man. It was probably nothing more than that she hadn’t yet been courted by him, since she had gone with almost every other bu in the district.

Oops. That was unkind. Katie found a smile. “Danki. I’ll find Micah.” Later. Their paths would probably cross sometime that afternoon. He usually made a point to say hi to her.

Katie went to get the rest of the food out of her cooler when the door burst open. She gazed into knock-’em-dead blue eyes belonging to the most handsome someone she’d never seen. She stared at the stranger, her mouth open.

He raked his fingers through his brown hair, dislodging his straw hat, and backed up. “Micah sent me to get the coolers and the big picnic jugs.”

Lizzie Graber laughed. “Ach, you walked right past them. They’re out on the porch.”

His eyes met Katie’s again, and he nodded in greeting. Her heart pounded so loud, she worried he’d hear it. “Sorry, Aenti Lizzie. Don’t know what I was thinking.” He shook his head and backed out of the room, his gaze still locked on Katie, then turned and shut the door.

Lizzie laughed again. “Those buwe are all the same. They see a pretty girl and have to kum check her out.”

Pretty? Lizzie believed he’d kum inside because he thought she was pretty? But he hadn’t stayed long enough to say hi. Or to ask her name. Not that it mattered. She probably would’ve been tongue-tied, anyway. Katie straightened, willing her heart rate to return to normal. A gut-looking bu she didn’t know. Micah’s cousin. He must be Patsy’s…whatever she’d call him. Maybe “her intended,” since she’d said she wanted to marry him. So, why did it matter what he thought?

It didn’t.

Her insides deflated like a popped balloon.

Katie studied the dessert selection again. Disappointingly, other than the chips in her cookies, there wasn’t any chocolate in sight—unless some of the fried pies were filled with the delicious comfort.

***

Abram Hilty shut the door behind him and took a deep breath to calm his pulse. He hadn’t even talked to the girl in the kitchen, didn’t know the sound of her voice, but there was something about her that his heart had recognized.

“She’s pretty, jah?” Micah hoisted a cooler in his arms and started down the steps.

“Very.” Abram lifted one of the big yellow picnic jugs and fell into step beside him. “And you can’t get her to pay attention to you?”

Micah shook his head. “Nein. Not at all. But her best friend, Janna Kauffman, told me Katie’s really shy. Maybe I’ll offer to drive her home tonight. Her daed dropped her off.”

Abram chuckled. “You do that. I’ll ask her out, too, and tell her how wunderbaar you are. Between the two of us, we’ll get her talking.”  That would at least give him an opportunity to spend time with her.

Micah raised his eyebrows. “You’d do that for me?”

“That, and I’m currently between girls.” Abram winked. “I told Marianna I want a break.” Sort of. He did owe her some sort of explanation for his silence. After all, they’d been practically engaged—and he’d essentially stood her up.

Of course, he hadn’t revealed where he’d gone. Instead, he’d left a vague note: “Need some time off. Sorry.”

In hindsight, Ouch. But she’d been hounding him to make a commitment, dropping hints he couldn’t help but get. He could do worse, he’d supposed. And yet he’d fled. He needed to think. And that was impossible with her bringing him lunch every day, staying to eat with him, and getting into his buggy after every singing and frolic—without his even asking.

He shook his head. What else could he have done?

“What if she falls in love with you, not me?” Micah’s forehead creased as his eyebrows drew together. “I mean, talking me up is kind of cliché.” He snickered. “And it usually works in reverse.”

Abram shrugged. He wouldn’t complain if it did. “How could she not fall in love with you, with me singing your praises?” Of course, he’d try hard not to sing his own. Not that he had much to sing about. He frowned. How long before he was found out?

Micah set the cooler on the ground next to a table with some stacks of paper cups, then straightened. “I’ll go say hi to her, then, while you get the other picnic jug.”

“Works for me.” Abram set the picnic jug down on the table, then reached for a cup, held it under the spigot, and pressed the handle for a splash of iced tea.

“Hi, Abram,” cooed a feminine voice.

Abram cringed. Not another pushy female. He looked up at not one but two girls—a redhead he’d seen earlier that day, who beamed at him, and another with reddish-brown hair. He preferred Katie and her dark blonde hair.

“Welkum to Missouri!” said the redhead. “I’m Patsy Swartz, and this is Mandy Hershberger.”

He found a smile. “Nice to meet you. If you’ll excuse me, I need to get the other—”

Micah punched his arm. “I’ll get it, after I greet Katie. You stay here and talk.”

“Danki, cousin”—Abram hoped the girls wouldn’t pick up on his sarcastic tone—“but I’ll get the jug myself.”

***

“May I borrow a pair of tongs?” Katie asked Lizzie Graber. “I need to mix up the taco salad I brought.”

“Of course.” Lizzie slid a pan of brownies into the oven and then retrieved the utensil from a drawer.

“Danki.”

Lizzie opened the refrigerator, took out a can of 7-Up, and popped the top. “I need to go check on Emily. She isn’t feeling well.”  She poured the fizzy liquid into a glass.

“Sorry to hear that.” She liked Micah’s little sister.

“When the brownies are done, would you take them out, please?”

“Jah.”

“Danki.” Lizzie left the room.

Katie looked around. Maybe she could find some other way to assist. Helping would give her an excuse not to socialize. An alternative to standing beside the barn, ignored.

At this point of her life, she was part of the scenery, the part no one looked at. Patsy said it was because she was too quiet. Because she wouldn’t cross the room to talk to any of the buwe; she waited for them to kum talk to her. And they wouldn’t. They had enough girls willing to chase them that they didn’t need to pursue the quiet ones.

If that was the case, she’d be alone forever. A painful thought.

But her best friend, Janna, had said that if a bu really liked her, it would be obvious, because he’d be hanging around. Janna should know. Her beau, Troy Troyer, hung around her plenty, and he’d even started baptism classes, so he could join the church—for her.

Abram’s handsome face flashed in her mind. His heart-stopping grin. His easy confidence.

Nein. She wouldn’t think of this—of him. It meant nothing. He was in Patsy’s sights.

Katie opened her cooler and lifted out the salad bowl and a big bag of Fritos. She always waited to add the chips so that they wouldn’t get soggy before the salad was served.

Katie set the bowl down on the table and tugged on the top of the Frito bag to open it. A warm breath tickled her ear. Abram? Her heart jumped, and her hands jerked in opposite directions, ripping the bag and sending Fritos high in the air. A few of the chips landed where they were supposed to, in the taco salad, but most of them now decorated the floor and the savory dishes nearby, including the egg salad sandwiches Patsy always brought.

Katie’s face burned. She spun around, the almost-empty bag clasped in her hands.

“I didn’t mean to scare you,” Micah said. He stood too close. Why couldn’t it have been Abram breathing in her ear? Admittedly, the end result would’ve been the same.

A chatter of voices neared outside, and feet tromped on the porch. The latch clicked on the door, and the hinges squeaked. Katie resisted the urge to run from the room. It seemed everyone was coming inside to witness her humiliation. Abram entered, followed by Patsy and Mandy and a dozen or so others. Everyone looked at her.

“I was hoping you’d be here,” Micah continued.

There was someone who’d wanted to see her? Some member of the male species? Katie stared at him in shock.

Patsy came over to the table and started picking Fritos off of her sandwiches. The hard kick to the shin she gave Katie was all it took to find her voice.

“Ach, I scare easy. It’s okay, really.”

She had spoken to a bu. Using multisyllabic words. Would miracles never cease?

Patsy shook her head, evidently disappointed in her attempt at conversation. If only she would step in and speak on her behalf. But nein luck. With another shake of her head, Patsy dumped the Fritos in the trash and joined the group of females huddled around Abram. His harem.

Katie frowned. She didn’t want to compete with so many for the minute possibility of a relationship with a man. Maybe it’d be better to find someone steady who paid attention to her alone. She glanced at Micah. He stared at her as if she’d sprouted antlers. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the kind of attention she wanted.

“Janna told me you’re shy. She told me not to give up on you. I’d like to get to know you better. Are you seeing someone?” He lowered his voice. “Maybe I could give you a ride home today. We could stop for a milkshake.”

A milkshake? Was he kidding? Katie glanced at the table, laden with the usual assortment of cookies and fried pies. Brownies still baked in the oven. With all these treats, who in his right mind would offer that incentive?

He hadn’t given her a chance to answer the courting question before asking her out. Maybe he figured that someone as tongue-tied as she couldn’t possibly have a beau.

Still, Katie didn’t know how to answer his questions. Would it be easier to talk just one-on-one? Daed would encourage her to accept a ride from him. If that meant downing a milkshake, too, then so be it. She swallowed. “A milkshake sounds gut.”

He grinned. “I’ll look for you afterward. Sorry about your chips. I hope I didn’t ruin your”—he glanced at the bowl—“salad.”  He turned away and started talking to Natalie Wagler. At least she could carry on her side of the conversation.

Katie frowned. Were there books available for this disorder? She needed to check at the library. See if they had a section called “Basic Communication with the Opposite Sex.”

A buggy ride with a man who wasn’t Daed…. Sighing, she glanced at Abram. His attention seemed to be focused on Patsy, whose hand rested on his upper arm. Katie swallowed and turned away. Micah wasn’t the Mr. Right of her imagination. But maybe he was the Mr. Right of her reality.

Her very first date. Excitement washed over her.

Maybe her life was about to change.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

BLOG TOUR/GIVEAWAY: Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden


ABOUT THE BOOK

Twenty-six-year-old Katie Macauley has placed all her hope in Hope Springs, a small town in the 1870 Wyoming Territory. But if she wants to return home to Ireland to make amends with her estranged family, she'll need to convince the influential Joseph Archer to hold true to his word and keep her on his payroll as his housekeeper despite her Irish roots. The town is caught in an ongoing feud between the Irish and the "Reds" the frontiersmen who would rather see all the Irish run out of town and the Irish immigrants who are fighting to make a home for themselves in the New World. When Joseph agrees to keep Katie on as his housekeeper, the feud erupts anew, and Katie becomes the reluctant figurehead for the Irish townsfolk. As the violence escalates throughout the town, Katie must choose between the two men who have been vying for her love though only one might be able to restore hope to her heart.

CURRENTLY ON SALE FOR KINDLE FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST!
CHECK IT OUT FOR $7.99

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah M. Eden read her first Jane Austen novel in elementary school and has been an Austen addict ever since. Fascinated by the English Regency era, Eden became a regular in that section of the reference department at her local library, where she painstakingly researched this extraordinary chapter in history. Eden is an award-winning author of short stories and was a Whitney Award finalist for her novels Seeking Persephone and Courting Miss Lancaster. Visit her at www.sarahmeden.com.

REVIEW

There are some authors that you just know you are going to like what they write, every time.  For me, Sarah Eden is one of those authors.  I have yet to read one of her books that I didn't just absolutely love and Longing for Home is no exception.

Wonderful characters full of depth with problems, some of them quite serious force them to grow and develop whether they wish to or not.  Katie arrives in Hope Springs looking only to work long enough to earn enough money to go home to Ireland.  She hopes desperately to reconcile with her family.  But she arrives in a place that does not live up to its name.  Firmly divided between the original settlers and the Irish, Hope Springs doesn't seem to offer much, at least at first.  But slowly as Katie gets to know the people she starts to wonder if maybe she's found home after all.  Tavish, an Irish settler, is intrigued by Katie who seems so tough and yet vulnerable at the same time, especially since she doesn't seem to like him, a challenge he can't resist.  And Joseph, who didn't intend to hire an Irish housekeeper, but can't bear to be called a liar.  These along with other great characters make this a book well worth reading.

The author also does a wonderful job with the setting, allowing the reader to practically feel the wide open spaces and the isolation.  The conflict between the different groups is rather sad but unfortunately realistic. The Irish were hated by many during that time.  Overall, a wonderful story, beautifully told.  I very much look forward to reading the upcoming sequel.


GIVEAWAY

1 copy of Longing for Home
US/Canada only
Ends 8/29/2013

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Be sure to check out the rest of the tour for more reviews and giveaways!

FIRST WILD CARD TOUR: First Hired, Last Fired by Anita Agers-Brooks

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Leafwood Publishers (August 13, 2013)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Anita Agers-Brooks is a business and inspirational coach, certified personality trainer, productivity specialist, certified team training facilitator, marketing specialist, and national speaker. She is a member of the Christian Writer’s Guild; graduate of Christian Leaders, Authors, and Speakers Seminars; co-founder of The StoryWriting Studio; and speaker on circuit for Stonecroft International Ministries. As a founding partner in The Zenith Zone, she’s dedicated to helping business owners, managers, and employees grow and thrive. She travels the country teaching others from her personal experiences and research.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

First Hired, Last Fired shows readers how to use the valuable wisdom found in the ancient text of the Bible to avoid becoming disposable in this challenging marketplace. Through timeless wisdom, simple solutions, and easy-to-apply principles, readers will find meaning in their work lives, and deep satisfaction from committing to a job well done. Through practice, the reader will learn to look deeper into the Bible for relevant help with current issues.


Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Leafwood Publishers (August 13, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0891123202
ISBN-13: 978-0891123200


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The Joseph Factor




“Anyone can be replaced.” Often quoted, but is this an irrefutable truth? Or can someone become so valuable at work it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing the job? I asked these questions in a two-year investigation to find out why some employees are favored and why others are easily discarded.


As part of my search, I considered my own experience as a manager. I’ve encountered a few rare employees who demonstrated integrity to such a degree they became irreplaceable to me as a supervisor. I’ve fought to keep these people in my workforce, and, when they left, things weren’t the same. Whether they knew it or not, these savvy folks set themselves apart by following centuries-old patterns.


There are formulas for success proven through millennia of practice.
Irreplaceable employees dare to be different in a systematic way.


My examination of facts took me deep into the heart of the Bible. Whether you believe in this ancient text or not, it’s hard to argue against its time-proven wisdoms. In my research, I discovered more than eight hundred passages related to work or labor. I believe if we studied and applied them today, a powerful and united workforce could result.


Where debt buries us, untold riches await our unearthing. Instead of giving jobs away, nations would rise to a place of leadership in the world’s commerce. Pride would fall prey to humility rooted in a commitment of integrity. But it starts with the individual.


Let’s face it, many people believe they work smarter, harder, and better than their peers. But do their ethics, their productivity, and their attitudes support this belief? In today’s cynical world, can individuals still impact their job, family, community, nation, and the globe for a greater good? Can you become irreplaceable? I’ve seen the difference when people work God’s way and when they don’t. You get what you give.


Gary’s story is a prime example. For this book, I interviewed more than one hundred employees in various fields. The following fictionalized account portrays a compilation of a sad reality played out in businesses around the world. Let’s peek inside the mind of a man who believes he’s underappreciated and justifies his weak behavior.


--


The powerful scent of imitation leather and sandalwood caused Gary to sneeze. First Capital Mortgage Company’s board members were meeting tomorrow, which meant someone overdid the commercial air fresheners. Gary didn’t need cologne today. His clothes would smell of the earthy concoction by lunch.


He tried to smooth his rumpled shirt while he clocked in. The sound of male laughter caught his ear, so Gary made his way to the small group of huddled coworkers. He circled the group with a few friendly back-slapping and how-are-you greetings. Each man rewarded him with a varying degree of smile.


“Hey, are you putting money in the football pool or not? Everyone else is in, and the big game’s tonight,” Tom said.


  “Yeah, I’ll stop by your desk before I leave today, I promise,” Gary said.


“As usual, a man of many words, I’ll believe it when I see it.”


Gary’s hazel eyes sparkled and he cocked his right eyebrow, “Hey, I keep my promises.”


Tom opened his mouth to respond but shut it just as quickly. Their chief financial officer, Mark, stormed up the hall wearing a focused frown. The huddled mass broke, and most of the men scurried to their posts, hoping Mark wouldn’t note the inactivity. Gary wasn’t fast enough and stood frozen in position, waiting for the assault.


When Mark caught you doing anything but work, punishment followed. It might not be formal, and Mark might not address the situation directly, but his reactions said you were on his blacklist.


Sensing danger, Gary offered Mark a verbal to do list.


Red-faced, Mark said, “Don’t tell me what you’re going to do, just do it. I’ve been waiting on that report for three days now, and it had better be on my desk by 3 p.m. No excuses this time.” He barely broke stride as he marched off to find his next victim.


After Mark left, Gary shrugged his shoulders. He muttered while he walked, “If Mark would just listen and treat me like a human being I might be able to finish that report. Every time I try to tell him my plans he gets annoyed. He should appreciate me. I try a lot harder than some of the people who work here. He doesn’t have to be such a jerk. If I were running this company, I’d listen to people.”


For months, Gary had tried. Small talk about the family, flattering comments, and even gifts hadn’t worked with Mark. Every attempt met a terse, “Don’t you have work to do?”


“No matter what I say, he just doesn’t like me.” Disappointed but determined not to give up, Gary stopped muttering and whistled as he headed to his desk.


Once there, he grabbed his coffee cup and fell in step with Christy. They chatted briefly on the way to and from the office lounge. Fifteen minutes later, Christy headed to her own desk as Gary sat down to work. His mind wandered while he popped his earplugs in. He scrolled to the new album he’d downloaded last night. He needed to focus; Mark would have his head if he missed another deadline.


Gary started his daily routine. He checked e-mail, updated his Facebook status, checked the activities of his friends, and tweeted. Then he added charges to the expense voucher from his recent business trip, before preparing to get into the report Mark needed.


Gary typed two sentences when his iPhone vibrated. His wife, Denise, said, “Hi, honey, I just spoke with the plumber and he’ll be at the house tomorrow, can you take off?”


“I’m not sure. Mark’s really on me today. Can’t you do it?”


Denise sighed, “I’ll see, but if I’m gone tomorrow, I can’t leave in time to pick Emma up from practice tonight. Can you get her at five?”


“Yeah, I’m sure I can sneak out a few minutes early. Do you want me to get something for supper?”


A heavy breath signaled Denise’s relief, “That would be great. Oh, I’ve gotta go, here comes my manager. Love you.” The line went dead.


Gary put his phone back in his shirt pocket, clicked on Mark’s report, and then stopped. He realized he needed to check his bank balance. He pulled up the online information and got his checkbook out. He hoped there was enough to pay the plumber. A few minutes later, an assistant manager walked by, so Gary clicked on the overdue report until the coast was clear. He pulled his account back up and after a quick reconciliation was relieved to find there was enough money for the house repairs.


He looked at his watch and gasped. It was almost time for lunch, and he hadn’t even started that report. Beating back a twinge of guilt, Gary pushed hard for the next hour and twenty minutes. He even worked ten minutes into lunch to make up for the time he’d wasted in the morning.


The afternoon passed uneventfully. Gary finally put the last touches on his report just before two thirty. He sent a text to share the good news with his wife, and breathed deep with satisfaction. He wondered aloud, “Why do I put things off? It’s not so bad once I get started.”


Gary smiled sheepishly as Tonya walked by his cubicle and gave him a puzzled look. His outspoken musing must have been louder than he thought.


He celebrated the report completion by walking across the office to see Tom. They bantered about the upcoming play-offs. Tom challenged Gary with, “Put your money where your mouth is buddy, and give me five bucks for the pool.”


Gary chuckled as he dug the money out of his wallet. They were still laughing when Mark walked up behind Gary. The cloud on his face promised bad news.


“Th-tha-a-at report’s on m-my desk and ready to go.”


“Grab it and bring it to my office, I need to talk to you.”


Gary felt queasy as he walked the hall toward Mark’s office. He knocked on the door and entered at Mark’s terse invitation. As Gary sat down, he saw Connie, the human resource manager. Gary flinched when Mark shut the door behind them.


“Gary, we have to make cuts. There’s no way around it. The banking industry is suffering along with the rest of the nation in this recession. Positions must be eliminated, and yours is the first to go. Connie will help you clean out your desk. The necessary paperwork is done.
You will get two weeks of severance pay, and we certainly wish you the best of luck. I’m sorry.” Mark’s tone of voice wasn’t as soft as his final words.


With that Gary was dismissed, shocked into speechlessness. The report lay untouched on Mark’s desk.


Connie escorted Gary to his desk. He numbly filled a box with all his personal items. When he was done he took a last look at a piece of furniture he no longer recognized. Now empty of possessions and personality, it looked as bare as his soul felt.


Security came and walked beside Gary as he shuffled out the employee entrance for the last time. Head down, tears dangerously close to spilling, he noticed the door that had become invisible to him. Not since his early days of employment had his enthusiasm prompted him to push hard and prove himself. As his comfort in the company grew, his ambition waned. Soon, his routine mirrored that of fellow employees.


Now, however, he realized he would never cross this threshold again. Like many other people, he joined the ranks of the unemployed. Nausea punched him in the stomach as he stepped into the sunlight, and Gary wondered how any of this happened.


--


Whether your job is hidden behind the scenes or you stand in front of the public saying, “May I help you?” meaningful work makes life worth living. Some are tasked with juggling the people and work processes as a manager, knowing full well they won’t please everyone. Some try to keep up with ever-changing demands of bosses, who can’t seem to make up their minds.


Many employees simply don’t realize they have the power of choice in determining their outcomes. Without realizing it, they often give their own jobs away. It’s as if an invisible thief sneaks around the corner and picks their pockets, plucking all but the lint. They never see it coming.


Most workers don’t consider lost time theft. However, there is no difference between stealing time and stealing cash. Managers often meet people who wouldn’t steal twenty dollars from their employer but take hundreds in time wasted.


Often, employees avoid personal responsibility by casting blame on each other. Factories, offices, construction sites, restaurants, service industries, and more are susceptible to attack. When employees engage in personal e-mails, Internet play, text messages, phone calls, inappropriate personal conversations, or other non-work-related activity, the risk is significant. Consider the following equation as an example:


• 2 employees paid $10.00 per hour × 6 inappropriate 15-minute distractions = $30.00 the thief has stolen
• 3 hours per day × 5 days = $150.00 per week stolen
• 3 hours per day × 20 work days = $600.00 stolen monthly
• Multiply this figure by 260 work days per year and the annual cost = $7,800.00


But the employer is not the only one to suffer. As procrastination rises and motivation decreases, individual employees lose inner satisfaction and peace. Employee raises, benefits, and sometimes the job itself are forfeited when a business struggles to make ends meet. The bottom line: everyone suffers.


I’ve employed people with college degrees whose behavior made them an employee I could do without. By the same token, I’ve hired folks with no credentials but who were teachable and acted on their desire to do more. It isn’t a matter of intelligence—people can learn—it’s a matter of what you do with what you learn. The difference is simple: study God’s word and do something positive with the information inside.


In the book of Genesis, a man named Joseph put his heart into his work. His actions caused him to receive favor. He treated other people’s property like his own. He worked as if he owned the business.
If today’s employee invested like Joseph, I believe the world we live in might look different. The change could start with you.


You have more power than you think. With intent, you can influence the world around you for your own benefit, but also for the benefit of others.


In its simplest form, integrity is doing the same thing whether you think someone can see you or not. At a deeper level, the power of extraordinary integrity shocks others to pay closer attention. Try it.


The next time you’re sitting with other employees and gossip ensues, especially if you take part in any way, go back and apologize for your participation. Even if you simply listened but didn’t speak.


Listening alone gives the impression that you condone the words of complaint and back stabbing.


Later, when you walk up and say, “I need to apologize,” most people will automatically ask, “What for?” This is your opportunity to say something like this, “I shouldn’t have talked about Nancy behind her back. I’m sorry. I was wrong.” Leave it at that—period.


Excuses, blame, or qualifiers, like the word but, can negate anything else you say. It also shifts blame to someone else. For example, “I shouldn’t have talked about Nancy behind her back, but when I heard all of you, it slipped out.”


You must confess in purity and honesty with genuine remorse for this to work. Don’t say anything about others—stick to what you did.


Take courage and become a hero in the workplace. The world needs more heroes. Since many of us spend more time with people at work than we do with our own families, what greater place to witness by our actions the life of Jesus Christ? Can you imagine him gossiping?


Don’t worry about what others think, whether they laugh at you, or even turn on you. What’s the worst thing someone might say behind your back, “I don’t really like her, but I have to admit, she gets the job done.”


Or do you prefer, “I thought he was supposed to be a Christian, but he spends more time talking than working”? The results depend on the pattern of your work habits. The choice is yours.


The model of Joseph shows us a secret to success in the workplace. Applying his wisdom can make you different. Joseph stands out as a man who not only impacted his immediate surroundings, but, because of his consistency, he saved individuals, families, commerce, and nations from destruction. His life made a huge difference. I can’t imagine anyone else doing what Joseph did. He was irreplaceable.


Several factors point to the reason why.


• Joseph believed in his God-given dreams. Though he was hated and others were jealous, he accepted his circumstances. Even when he was mocked and his brothers plotted to destroy him, Joseph submitted while he waited for his dreams to become reality (Gen. 37:5–20).


• Joseph endured torment at the hands of those with evil intent. He required mercy so he could be rescued from the clutches of disaster (Gen. 37:21–22).


• Joseph knew his limitations and went willingly when his brothers sold him out for their own personal gain (Gen. 37:26–28).


• Joseph needed blind faith. He didn’t realize a rescue attempt was made after he was gone (Gen. 37:29).


• Joseph’s dreams took him to foreign places, and he was put in relationship with strange people. Because he believed God and followed with his whole heart, Joseph was favored by the Lord. God blessed those Joseph served, and he influenced many others (Gen. 39:1–5).


• Joseph proved himself trustworthy by his common patterns of integrity. He conducted himself the same way whether anyone else could see or not. Even when there was an appearance of impropriety, Joseph did not make excuses or blame others. He waited in the darkest place for God’s favor to shine (Gen. 39:6–23).


• Joseph helped those in need. He cared enough to ask why they were sad and interpreted their God-given dreams for them. Then he clearly communicated the request on his own heart (Gen. 40:1–15).


• Joseph spoke the truth, even when it wasn’t what the other person wanted to hear. Even though it must have been painful (Gen. 40:16–22).


• Joseph held on when hope seemed to be lost to the selfishness of others. Over the passing of years, he fulfilled his duties and took care of everyday business (Gen. 40:23, 41:1–8).


• Joseph was ready for the task when he was finally called back to service. Prepared by practice and pattern, he did not, however, take credit when it wasn’t his due (Gen. 41:40).


• Joseph didn’t slouch, play, or waste time when times were easy. Instead, like the ant, he took advantage of the opportunity. He worked hard and saved from the bounty. He prospered both professionally and personally because he was a wise steward over the blessings he and his master received. He trained others to do the same (Gen. 41:41–54).


• Joseph didn’t hoard his abundance. He shared with those in need. Even those who had hurt him in the past. He remembered his dreams and trusted that the hardship was part of the plan to make him better (Gen. 41:55–57; 42:1–6).


• As a man of integrity, Joseph wasn’t afraid to be bold in making his point. He demonstrated his authority and showed strength as the man in charge (Gen. 42:7–38; 43; 44).


• Joseph showered mercy on those who mistreated him, and the truth finally came out. He accepted the larger plan at work and blessed those who had cursed him. He shared his wealth with his former enemies (Gen. 45).


• Joseph didn’t steal from his employer. He turned everything he collected over to the one who owned it. Joseph was content with what he had been given. He didn’t resent not having more (Gen. 47:13–26).


If it hadn’t been for Joseph’s practice of integrity, many would have suffered and died.


Every company you work for, or with, affords you the honor of being a Joseph to them. Ask God to bless the work of your hands and that the overflow of those blessings would spill onto those around you.
Treat the business as if you owned it.


Ask that your company would affect the county, state, and federal, and global governments in positive ways. And keep your eyes open for opportunities to take action in accordance with the examples of those who obeyed God’s formula for successful living.


I wonder how Gary’s life might look had he chosen to practice integrity like Joseph.


--


Music filtered into Gary’s fuzzy mind. Praise music, energetic and uplifting. He twisted onto his side, tempted to hit the snooze, until the aroma of Maxwell House Breakfast Blend rousted him from the last vestige of sleep. He palmed the off button on the clock, leaned over, kissed his wife lightly, and got up. He scuffed to the kitchen.


“Thank goodness for automatic timers,” Gary said to himself while he poured a steaming cup of dark brew and settled at the table with his Bible. He bowed his head and prayed for wisdom, then dug into his study of Joseph.


A page of notes, two cups of coffee, and thirty minutes later, Gary closed his Bible and put everything away. He headed to the bedroom to wake his wife and get ready for work.


Gary listened to a message on the radio as he drove to the office. The speaker hit many of the same points he’d found in his personal study earlier. He chuckled and shook his head, “I hear you. Thanks for setting me straight.”


When he walked inside the building whistling, John, one of his coworkers said, “What are you so happy about?”


“I’m just rejoicing in this day the Lord has made,” Gary said.


“You’re nuts, you know that? Didn’t you hear about Mike? He’s the fourth one in two days they’ve let go. Who knows, we might be next.”


  “I heard, but I’m not going to let it keep me from doing my job.
This is where my faith meets the road. I trust God more than my fears.”


“Like I said, you’re nuts.” John shook his head and skulked down the hall.


Gary clocked in and walked toward the growing pitch of men’s laughter. As he approached, Tom said, “Hey buddy, do you want in on the football pool?”


“I appreciate it, but no thanks. I’d better stick with earning my money.”


“Is a measly five bucks going to break you?” Tom elbowed the guy standing next to him.


Gary chuckled, “It isn’t that. My convictions simply won’t let me waste it. Five dollars could go into my children’s college fund, or even better, could help feed someone who’s starving. I appreciate the invite, but I need to get to work. I already clocked in.”


“Suit yourself. Always gotta be the do-gooder.” Tom turned his back to Gary, signaling disdain.


As Gary continued toward his office, he heard snickers and a few loud guffaws echo from the group of men. He prayed silently as he walked, “Lord, give me strength to do what will honor you and help others.”


Christy fell in step beside him as he finished the prayer. “Do you want to grab a cup of coffee with me?”


“Thanks, but I drank some at home.”


They arrived at the desk, but Christy hesitated while Gary settled
in. “I’ve been meaning to ask if you want to have lunch sometime?”


Gary’s fingers froze on the keyboard where he’d entered his password.
His thoughts jumped into hyperdrive. “Stay calm. It’s an innocent request. Lunch won’t hurt anyone; it’s harmless. But be honest, you do think she’s cute. Besides, what would Denise think? How would you feel if your wife had lunch with a guy she thought was cute? And remember Joseph. Look at the trouble Potiphar’s wife caused him.”


  “I appreciate the offer Christy, but my wife and I have an agreement.
Thanks for asking though.”


Christy’s face turned red, and she flounced away.


Gary pulled up the report he needed to finish and wiped unhealthy guilt from his mind. Though he didn’t want to embarrass her, Christy’s heart wasn’t the one he vowed to protect. Denise held that honor.


Forty minutes later, Gary e-mailed the finished report to Mark, the CFO of First Capital Mortgage. Two days early. He helped one of the guys finish up a big project, then started the research for a presentation Mark wanted him to work on next. Engrossed, Gary worked five minutes into his break. The vibration of his iPhone alerted him Denise was calling.


Gary pulled the phone from his pocket, “Hi honey, what’s up?”


“I got a hold of the plumber, and he can be at the house tomorrow. Can you take off?”


“I don’t think it will be a problem. I’ll talk to Mark and make sure. I’ve got a presentation to prepare, but I can work on it from the house. I’ll call you at lunch and let you know.”


“How much do you think it will cost?”


“Probably not more than a couple of hundred, but don’t worry, we can always pull from our emergency fund if necessary.”


“Good. Don’t forget, Emma’s got practice until five, so I’ll be home shortly after. I’d appreciate it if you could start supper. There’s a casserole and the makings of a salad in the fridge.”


“No worries. I’ll see you at home. Love you.”


“Me too. Bye.” The line went dead.


Gary stretched his legs, stepped out to breathe some fresh air, then went back and jumped into the research again. He hardly noticed when Mark walked up to his desk.


“Can I see you in my office?”


Adrenalin coursed through Gary’s veins, “Sure. Do I need to bring anything?”


  “No. I’ll meet you there in five.”


Mark walked away and dread caused Gary’s racing heart to skip a couple of beats. He rattled a mental list of projects to himself and found everything either finished or well on its way. He double checked the planner on his phone to make sure he didn’t miss anything, but again, all seemed in order. But Gary knew deep cuts were in the making. Their business suffered from the financial barrage of
a nation in distress.


Like a man walking death row, Gary made his way to Mark’s office. Outside the door, he tapped.


“Come in,” Mark said in his matter-of-fact manner.


Gary entered and sucked air when he saw Connie, the human resource manager, sitting next to an empty chair. Without uttering a sound, he walked into the room, noting a lack of oxygen around him.
Connie nodded toward him in silence while he held the armrests and eased into the seat.


“Gary, we have to make cuts. There’s no way around it. Positions must be eliminated.”


Gary squirmed, and the chair squeaked beneath him.


“I understand.”


“I’m not sure you do. I asked Connie to bring your personnel file.” Mark patted a manila folder lying on his desk. “Your record is spotless. From my own observation, you keep your head down and do whatever I ask. I can count on you to get any job done well and on time. You take initiative, but don’t step beyond your authority level. Most notably, I don’t see evidence of money or time wasted, especially with office gossip. Even your travel expenses come in thirty percent lower than others. This company could use more employees like you.”


Instant heat caused Gary’s face to flush. “Thank you, sir.”


Mark continued, “In the last three years, we’ve only had two complaints about you.”


“You did? What for?” The words slipped from Gary’s mouth of their own accord.


“Nothing to worry about. Trivial and unfounded claims. It turns out both were driven by the same individual. He was misguided enough to think the way to get ahead was by making you look bad. It backfired. He’s no longer with us.


“For a time, the accusations made me question you, but your actions proved you’re a man I can count on.”


Gary’s thoughts flew to the man Mark referred to. He was a game player. As a result, Mark rode Gary hard for several months, but when Gary thought he’d reached breaking point, it stopped. The other man ended up losing his job. Suddenly, Gary realized Mark was talking again.


“. . . sorry about that. But it taught me a lesson. There’s something different about you, and we’d like to tap into that potential. We can’t know what the future holds, but if someone of your caliber would teach your secrets to our other employees, we might flip this downturn up. You’ve proven yourself trustworthy. We need help. And I think you’re the right man for the job. What do you say?”


Gary wrestled with how to answer. He wasn’t sure of the question.
He decided on straightforward. “Pardon me, but I don’t understand
what you’re asking.”


Mark chuckled and leaned forward, his fingers interlocked over Gary’s employment file. “That’s one of the things I like, you’re not afraid to clarify. I’m offering you a promotion of sorts. I can’t give you a raise at this time, but where others are let go, you still have your job. I’d like you to work with human resources to retrain those we keep and start new hires off on the right track. Are you interested?”


Gary’s shoulders softened and he expelled air he didn’t realize he’d held. “Yes sir, I am interested. You can count on me.”


“Great. Connie, can you get things rolling?”


“Yes sir.”


Mark stood, signaling dismissal of the meeting. He extended his hand across the desk. “I expect good things. Don’t let me down. And one of these days, I’d like to find out what makes you different.”


Gary kept his eyes on Mark’s while he lowered his head slightly, pursed his lips, and shrugged his shoulders. “I try to be a Joseph. I ask God to bless our company through the work of my hands.”


“Hmm, interesting. Maybe we can schedule lunch and you can tell me more.”


Gary pumped his boss’s hand, “It would be my pleasure. Thank you for the opportunity,” then walked out behind Connie. Gary couldn’t wait to tell his wife. He missed Connie’s small talk as he followed her to her office, distracted in a silent prayer of thanks.


--


Today’s job market is tough. With heroic effort, employees who choose God’s way refuse to justify inappropriate behavior. Heroes don’t offer excuses, and they’re not blinded by entitlement. Heroes remember they were hired to earn a paycheck, not simply collect one. Heroes don’t waste their employer’s money; instead, with integrity, they work the same whether someone can see them or not.


As you read on, I urge you to conduct your own fact-finding missions. At the end of each chapter, you will answer three investigative questions designed to help you decide whether you are taking every precaution to protect your job, your family, your employer, and our economy. Can the Joseph Factor improve your life?


Follow your dreams and leave justification behind. Answer the investigative questions and dare to be different. Become irreplaceable. Become a leader. But remember, great men and women first learn to follow in humility.




Investigative Questions


1. Do you labor for profit or does mere talk lead you to poverty?
(Prov. 14:23).


2. Do you work as working for the Lord, not for men, since
you know that you will receive an inheritance from the
Lord as a reward? (Col. 3:23–24).


3. Is your behavior excellent among your coworkers so that
because of your good deeds, as they observe them, you glorify
God? (1 Pet. 2:12).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Miss Grimsley's Oxford Career by Carla Kelly


 ABOUT THE BOOK

Beautiful and brilliant, Miss Ellen Grimsley considers it a scandal that she cannot attend Oxford simply because she's female, while a dashing dunderhead like her older brother, Gordon, is perfectly free to pursue the education of her dreams.  That's why Miss Grimsley sees nothing wrong with donning her brother's robes to do his work for him--even though she knows that society would reel in shock at the merest hint of such a notion.

But an even great scandal looms for this unconventional heroine when a charming Shakespearean scholar learns her secret.  Now she's in for some lessons in an entirely different subject--love.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Although Carla Kelly is well known among her readers as a writer of Regency romance, her main interest (and first writing success) is Western American fiction—more specifically, writing about America's Indian Wars. Although she had sold some of her work before, it was not until Carla began work in the National Park Service as a ranger/historian at Fort Laramie National Historic Site did she get serious about her writing career. (Or as she would be the first to admit, as serious as it gets.)

Carla wrote a series of what she now refers to as the "Fort Laramie stories," which are tales of the men, women and children of the Indian Wars era in Western history. Two of her stories, A Season for Heroes and Kathleen Flaherty's Long Winter, earned her Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America. She was the second woman to earn two Spurs from WWA (which, as everyone knows, is all you need to ride a horse). Her entire Indian Wars collection was published in 2003 as Here's to the Ladies: Stories of the Frontier Army. It remains her favorite work.

The mother of five children, Carla has always allowed her kids to earn their keep by appearing in her Regencies, most notably Marian's Christmas Wish, which is peopled by all kinds of relatives. Grown now, the Kelly kids are scattered here and there across the U.S. They continue to provide feedback, furnish fodder for stories and make frantic phone calls home during the holidays for recipes. (Carla Kelly is some cook.)

Carla's husband, Martin, is Director of Theatre at Valley City State University, in Valley City, North Dakota. Carla is currently overworked as a staff writer at the local daily newspaper. She also writes a weekly, award-winning column, "Prairie Lite."

Carla only started writing Regencies because of her interest in the Napoleonic Wars, which figures in many of her Regency novels and short stories. She specializes in writing about warfare at sea, and about the ordinary people of the British Isles who were, let's face it, far more numerous than lords and ladies.

Hobbies? She likes to crochet afghans, and read British crime fiction and history, principally military history. She's never happier than talking about the fur trade or Indian Wars with Park Service cronies. Her most recent gig with the National Park Service was at Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site on the Montana/North Dakota border.

Here's another side to this somewhat prosaic woman: She recently edited the fur trade journal of Swiss artist Rudolf F. Kurz (the 1851-1852 portion), and is gratified now and then to be asked to speak on scholarly subjects. She has also worked for the State Historical Society of North Dakota as a contract researcher. This has taken her to glamorous drudgery in several national archives and military history repositories. Gray archives boxes and old documents make her salivate.

Her mantra for writing comes from the subject of her thesis, Robert Utley, that dean of Indian Wars history. He told her the secret to writing is "to put your ass in the chair and keep it there until you're done." He's right, of course.

Her three favorite fictional works have remained constant through the years, although their rankings tend to shift: War and Peace, The Lawrenceville Stories, and A Town Like Alice. Favorite historical works are One Vast Winter Count, On the Border with Mackenzie and Crossing the Line. Favorite crime fiction authors are Michael Connelly, John Harvey and Peter Robinson.

And that's all she can think of that would interest anyone. Carla Kelly is quite ordinary, except when she is sometimes prevailed upon to sing a scurrilous song about lumberjacks, or warble "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" in Latin.


REVIEW

Loved it! Ellen Grimsley wants more than anything to attend Oxford University.  She longs to be able to explore and map the world. There is only one problem, she lives in a time and place where such things aren't considered appropriate for females.  But with the aid of her aunt she leaves home to attend Miss Dignam's Select Female Academy hoping to find at least an academic challenge. What she is not looking for is love or scandal, but that is exactly what she finds.  She returns home embarrassed and determined to avoid marriage despite the charms of James Gatewood, a Shakespearean scholar. With relations that exasperate her, a suitor who won't give up, and her own dreams at stake can Ellen find a place to belong?

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, the characters, the plot, and the themes.  Jim and Ellen were my favorite parts, their interactions were quite entertaining.  Both of them have dreams that are beyond what their families and society plan for them.  I sympathized with them, especially Ellen.  Ellen is feisty and intelligent and very determined while Jim is untidy, studious, and surprisingly hard to discourage.  Ellen's family provides some interesting twists to the story, especially when Ellen's brother, Gordon, who is attending Oxford, asks Ellen to help him with his Shakespeare papers. There is also Ellen's dressing as a man, duels, weddings, and lots of sucking up. With plenty of humor and period details, I can highly recommend this one to readers who enjoy clean regency romance.  One of my all time favorites.



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

COOKBOOK REVIEW: Cougar Football Cookbook compiles by Holly Mendenhall


ABOUT THE BOOK

Game day just got better! Whether you're tailgating at the stadium or watching the game at home, football and food are a winning combination. This collection brings together 150 favorite recipes from BYU players and coaches, past and present. Categories include:

  • Pre-game Warm Ups (Appetizers)
  • Rise and Shout (Tailgating Treats)
  • First Downs (Salads)
  • Cheers from the Sidelines (Side Dishes)
  • Bowl Games (Soups and Stews)
  • Touchdown! (Main Courses)
  • The Point After (Desserts)
  • Water Break (Beverages)

  • Proceeds from this cookbook will benefit Thursday's Heroes through Bronco and Holly Mendenhall's Fully Invested Foundation, a nonprofit initiative to help children and families who are facing significant life challenges.
    Since 2006, more than ninety "Thursday's Heroes" have been honored by the BYU football team.
    WHO are Thursday's Heroes? Children and families who are inspiring examples of courage and strength in facing adversity.
    WHAT is the Thursday's Heroes program? Heroes receive gifts and autographed Cougar memorabilia and an invitation to watch the Thursday football practice, tour the Cougars' sports facilities, and meet the team.
    WHY the Cougar Football Cookbook? Favorite dishes of team players and coaches from 1964 to 2012 will delight your taste buds—with 100 percent of the author's proceeds going to benefit Thursday's Heroes.
    "Every one of these 'Heroes' has become a part of our BYU family. We are strengthened just by knowing them!" —Bronco and Holly Mendenhall
    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Holly Mendenhall is an outdoor enthusiast, a University of Montana graduate, and author of Find the Money, a book about budgeting. She and her husband, BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall, are the parents of three boys. The Holly & Bronco Mendenhall Foundation, which sponsors Thursday’s Heroes, aims to provide inspiration, resources, and hope to ordinary people facing extraordinary challenges.
    REVIEW
    I don't normally review cookbooks, mostly because I'm not much of a cook.  I cook enough to get by but that's about it.  But I couldn't resist this one.  First because I'm a huge BYU football fan, and second because all the recipes come from family members of current and former BYU football players or coaches.  At the bottom of each page is a quick introduction to each contributor, mothers, sisters, wives, etc. I also thought it was great how each section was divided up using football terminology, such as Pre-game warmups, touchdowns, etc. Lots of delicious possibilities served up in an attractive package. Recommended.

     
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