Please welcome today’s guest….


Welcome, Charlotte!!

Breath of Spring 1

No More Mr. Nice Guy!

I’m getting ready to speak to the local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers, on the topic of how to write and sell a series. As I was skimming the Series Overview I wrote as part of my original proposal for the Seasons of the Heart series, back in 2010, these lines leaped off the page about one of my major characters:

Their bishop, Hiram Knepp, focuses them on God’s will for their lives in Willow Ridge and in the outside world they separate themselves from. As he offers thanks for the meals served up in the Sweet Seasons Cafe, his mellow voice . . . and his patience will bless you as you enjoy these stories of his Plain flock, the sheep of his pasture.

My mouth dropped open. This is so not the Hiram Knepp we now love to hate! And it’s a perfect example of how characters can change dramatically between the time a writer first conceives of them and when they take on their own lives as the story actually gets written. Indeed, the man you might picture from the above quote would seem to have angel-white hair and wings with a halo, when in fact, in this fourth book of the series, BREATH OF SPRING, Hiram Knepp has gotten himself excommunicated from Willow Ridge for owning and hiding a car—among other things. And at one point in this story, he shows up with a short English-style haircut and a close-clipped goatee, both of which have been dyed coal black!

As I think back over Hiram’s slip-slide from grace, I realize it started in SUMMER OF SECRETS, the first book of the series, when Hiram was pestering Miriam Lantz to marry him and she refused . . . and with each refusal, he thought of the next nasty way to get even, to get revenge, and to try to get everything from her.

Enter the two Hooley sisters, Jerusalem and Nazarath, in AUTUMN WINDS to distract him from his pursuit of Miriam—but Hiram still kept finding ways to come down on the Lantz family. In WINTER OF WISHES, he was intent on shaming Rhoda Lantz for riding in a car and kissing English nurse Andy Leitner—but by the end of that drama, when Hiram had finagled a large plot of land to start a new colony, claiming God Himself had told him to do this, the good folks of Willow Ridge sent him packing. (Well, actually, Hiram refused to confess his sins or do penance, so he cooked his own goose . . . and then left it on the Christmas dinner table to rot.)

In BREATH OF SPRING, which is Annie Mae Knepp’s story, Hiram of course will be in full fettle once again—and even I was aghast at the way he chose to disgrace her. I’m grateful to my astute editor for once saying that Annie Mae would make an interesting heroine, because if I’d followed the pattern, the next Lantz girl to marry off would’ve been Rebecca. While readers love Rebecca, because she has made Willow Ridge her home despite saying plain-out that she won’t become Amish, therein lies the problem: I would be writing a non-Amish story if she were a heroine. So for now she remains a reliable, tech-savvy character whose website design business is bringing a lot of new folks to visit her mother’s Sweet Seasons cafe as well as the Hooley brothers’ new Mill at Willow Ridge—which is so beautifully illustrated on the cover of BREATH OF SPRING.

I think you’ll agree that Annie Mae must rise above many challenges the average seventeen-year-old couldn’t hope to face. At the end of WINTER, we saw her and her sister Nellie walk away from their father Hiram, absolutely refusing to go to his new colony—knowing they were inviting his wrath for defying him. In BREATH OF SPRING we see the return of her former beau, Yonnie Stoltzfus, in a sleek blue sportscar . . . with trouble on his mind. And then when Annie Mae sees that her four younger sibs are being mistreated by Hiram’s new um, live-in, Annie Mae gathers them in and takes them home to Willow Ridge and safety. But always in this story, she’s looking over her shoulder, living in the shadow of her relentless father’s arrogance and love of power.

Our hero, by comparison, is a rather quiet, unassuming fellow you’ve met at many a breakfast in the Sweet Seasons. Adam Wagler is busy with his home remodeling business, living with his widowed brother Matthias in a man-cave of a house that’s anything but clean or homey. While most of the local guys are warning him not to take up with Annie Mae because he’ll be supporting her entire family, Adam is wondering what such a strong young woman could possibly see in him. He has an illegal surprise from his past parked in his barn, however, and it enables him to save the day and Annie Mae in true heroic fashion.

I hope you’ll find a lot to enjoy in BREATH OF SPRING! And I think you’ll agree that the Seasons of the Heart series much more interesting because Hiram has evolved into such a villain—and because not all of the folks who live in Willow Ridge are squeaky clean or free from secret sins.

Sounds a lot like real life, doesn’t it?

If you’d like to read the first chapter of BREATH OF SPRING now, and see the recipes that are featured in that story, check it out at And if you’d like to sign up for my e-newsletter so you don’t miss any of the upcoming books in this series (HARVEST OF BLESSINGS and THE CHRISTMAS CRADLE are slated for 2015) fill out the little sign-up at the bottom left of my homepage. You can also Friend me on Facebook! Thanks so much! ~Charlotte



Breath of Spring 1Title: Breath of Spring
Author: Charlotte Hubbard
Publisher: Kensington
Pages: 352
Genre: Amish Romance/Inspirational
As a bright season brings a fresh start to Willow Ridge, Annie Mae Knepp feels she can never make peace with the past. Her disgraced ex-bishop father is furious that she’s has taken her five siblings to live with her. She’s never been truly at home in her faith…or believing in herself. And Annie Mae fears no man will want to take on the responsibilities she’s gladly shouldered. True, her quiet neighbor Adam Wagler has been steadfast and unshakable, helping her through her trials, but he surely couldn’t think of someone so lost as more than a friend. Believing she is unworthy because of her doubts, Annie Mae will find, in a moment of surprising revelation, that God can work impossible miracles—and that love makes all things new.



Now, for a little added delight…..

Fresh Recipes With a BREATH OF SPRING

After a long winter of weather that was colder and more severe than we’re used to, it’s time to freshen up your menu! Nothing says spring and picnics more than macaroni salad, and ham loaf is the perfect go-with. Both of these recipes are featured in my new release, BREATH OF SPRING, so I’d love to share them with you.

When I first proposed my Seasons of the Heart series, which began in Miriam Lantz’s Sweet Seasons Bakery Café, my editor and I agreed that recipes would be a hit with readers. And they are! While some of the recipes in my books are authentically Amish—you know what? Most Amish cooking is really just down-home food prepared the way our grandmothers made it, usually from everyday ingredients most cooks stock in their kitchens. As I’ve studied cookbooks from several Amish settlements and the recipes published in The Budget, the national Plain newspaper, I’ve never spotted anything that makes a dish uniquely Amish. Plain cooks simply have a tradition of cooking up uncomplicated, filling food that most of us think we’re too busy to prepare.

And yes, Amish cooks use more convenience foods—like boxed cake mixes, canned mushroom soup, and Cool Whip—than you might assume. So when I thought about the foods Miriam would cook in her café, or which other characters might prepare in their homes, I included recipes with shortcuts that still produce the homemade goodness we associate with Amish cooking.


You can find the recipes from all of the books in this series at, as well as excerpts from all the books in this series. You can also sign up for my newsletter on my homepage, so you can keep up with my new releases.

BREATH OF SPRING is the fourth book in my series, and it features a special apple pie filling that helps heroine Annie Mae Knepp win Adam Wagler’s heart, as well as this macaroni salad which is served at her eighteenth birthday party. You’ll also find a recipe for Macaroni and Goat Cheese, because the Hooley sisters’ four goats have become beloved characters in these stories. If you’re a chocoholic, you won’t want to miss the Hot Fudge Cake, which bakes up moist and decadently chocolate with its own fudge sauce. The Ham Loaf has long been a favorite with my family and friends, and you can form the meat mixture into individual servings, if you prefer.

Hungry yet?! I hope you’ll enjoy trying these recipes and sharing them with your families. That’s what Amish life is all about—family, faith, and FOOD!
Annie Mae’s Favorite Macaroni Salad
This is a fabulous salad that serves a crowd. The difference is in the dressing: Amish cooks tend to add sugar to their dressings. If you’re watching your calories, you can omit or reduce the sugar and still have a tasty dish that’ll be a hit at potlucks and picnics.

3 C. uncooked elbow macaroni, shells, etc.
3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 T. dill pickle relish
2 C. creamy salad dressing (e.g. Miracle Whip)
3 T. yellow mustard
3/ 4 C. white sugar
3 tsp. white vinegar
2 tsp. celery seed
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to boil, add macaroni, and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the chopped eggs and vegetables. In a smaller bowl, blend the rest of the ingredients, then combine this dressing with the macaroni, eggs, and vegetables. Cover and chill at least 2 hours (or overnight) before serving. Serves 10-12. Keeps about 3 days in the fridge.

Kitchen Hint: I make this salad with whole wheat macaroni, which adds fiber and doesn’t change the taste a bit. I also like to mix pasta shapes, using a cup of each!
Ham Loaf
Here’s a nice alternative to meat loaf, and it picks up a tangy sweet-sour taste from the glaze as it bakes. You can ask someone at the meat counter in the grocery store to grind your ham—or use a hand-cranked grinder, as Amish women do, or use a food processor blade, as I do. When cold, this loaf slices well for sandwiches!

1 lb. ground ham
1 lb. ground pork
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 eggs
2/3 C. cracker crumbs
1/3 C. Minute tapioca
¼ C. milk

¼ C. cider vinegar
½ C. water
½ C. brown sugar
1 T. mustard

Preheat oven to 350º. In a large bowl, combine the ground ham, ground pork, onion, eggs, cracker crumbs, tapioca, and milk. Mix thoroughly and form into two loaves. Place in a sprayed/greased roaster or baking pan. Mix the glaze ingredients in a small pan and boil for a few minutes, then pour the glaze over the ham loaves. Cover and bake about an hour and a half, basting occasionally. Glaze will thicken as it cooks down. Allow to cool about fifteen minutes before slicing, and serve with glaze.

Kitchen Hint: Minute tapioca isn’t just for pudding or thickening fruit pies! In this recipe, it gives the ham loaf a firmer texture so it won’t break apart when you slice it.
Another hint: You can also bake your loaves in a large crockery cooker for about 6 hours, but the glaze won’t thicken as much.


Winner of the ……


I’ve called Missouri home for most of my life, and most folks don’t realize that several Old Older Amish and Mennonite communities make their home here, as well. The rolling pastureland, woods, and small towns along county highways make a wonderful setting for Plain populations—and for stories about them, too! While Jamesport, Missouri is the largest Old Order Amish settlement west of the Mississippi River, other communities have also found the affordable farm land ideal for raising crops, livestock, and running the small family-owned businesses that support their families.
Like my heroine, Miriam Lantz, of my Seasons of the Heart series, I love to feed people—to share my hearth and home. I bake bread and goodies and I love to try new recipes. I put up jars and jars of green beans, tomatoes, beets and other veggies every summer. All my adult life, I’ve been a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and we hosted a potluck group in our home for more than twenty years.
Like Abby Lambright, heroine of my Home at Cedar Creek series, I consider it a personal mission to be a listener and a peacemaker—to heal broken hearts and wounded souls. Faith and family, farming and frugality matter to me: like Abby, I sew and enjoy fabric arts—I made my wedding dress and the one Mom wore, too, when I married into an Iowa farm family more than thirty-five years ago! When I’m not writing, I crochet and sew, and I love to travel.
I recently moved to Minnesota when my husband got a wonderful new job, so now he and I and our border collie, Ramona, are exploring our new state and making new friends.





For the blog tour schedule, visit

Pump Up Your Book Presents Breath of Spring Virtual Book Publicity Tour


My Thoughts will be over on our sister site,


Thanks everyone for spending with us and our guest today!

Enjoy your day!




A Banner for Blog Tour a death in the family

~Welcome, Marlene! It is always a pleasure to have you visit MBA&M~

How to Improve Your Writing Style

Marlene Bateman

There are many elements of good writing but perhaps one of the least understood is style. Just what is style? Style is not what you write but how you write. Voltaire said, “Every style that is not boring is a good one.”  But how do you improve something as nebulous as style? Over time, I’ve come up with some simple things that can enhance your writing style.

1.          Use a thesaurus to look up words that are colorful and precise and mean exactly what you want to say.  You know thousands of words, but they don’t always rise to the surface of your brain. Adjectives are not efficient and should not be your first choice.  The best thing to do is replace words, not modify them.  Replace house with mansion, cottage, hovel, or duplex. William Strunk said that adjectives are “the leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words.”  Adjectives do great work when they are needed, but too often they are brought in when they are not needed. One thing to remember is that adjectives tell, verbs show.  Turn adjectives into verbs whenever possible.  For example, turn impatient into “looked at his watch” or “tapped her foot.”

2.          Use simple words but don’t confuse simple with dull.

3.          Writing gets more interesting as it acquires precision, not length.

4.          The smaller the number of words you use to contain a thought or an image, the more impact that thought or image will have.  Let me give you an example: Lee was a mean woman.  Lee was a shrew. Want another example? He passed away early in the morning, and people all over America cried.  He died at dawn and the nation wept. Do not put extra words in a sentence for the same reason you don’t tape two windshield wipers to the windshield of your car: they wouldn’t serve any purpose, and they would get in the way.

5.          Be wary of adverbs. Adverbs crop up when you use a weak verb and try to boost it.

6.          Use strong verbs that are active, vivid, specific and familiar.  One example of this is; Buster ate his dog treats quickly. It’s much better to say;  Buster gobbled his dog treats.  Don’t use weak general verbs like walk, cry, fall, and touch if the situation calls for plod, weep, collapse, and caress.

7.          Say things in a positive way.  Show readers what you want them to see, not what you don’t want them so see. Here are some examples; Do not say, “He was not a generous man,” say, “He was a miser.”  Do not say; “The painting it did not have any flaws,” say, “It was a masterpiece.”  Do not say, Phil was not a graceful person,” say, “Phil was a klutz.”

8.          Show, don’t tell.  Showing means creating a picture for the reader.  You can say a person seemed impatient.  Or you can show that by saying, “She looked at her watch constantly.”  Or; She asked, “Are you almost done?”

9.           Avoid clichés.  They are tiresome.

10.       Appeal to the senses.  Through the sense of sight, sound, taste, smell and touch, we reach out to the world.  Bring your writing alive with the sounds, the smells, the flavors, and the peculiar tactile sensations that come from textures and temperature and motion.  Remind the reader that this written world is the same one he lives in.  It sparkles, it roars, it rubs against him and sometimes it stinks. The senses are touchstones for the reader.  Return to them often.  They work.  Don’t say it was noisy at the baseball game.  Mention the crack of a bat, the whizzing of a fast ball, the roar of the crowd, and the heckling from the bleachers.

11.       Put emphatic words at the end.  Emphasis tends to flow to the end of a sentence, so if there is one word or phrase you want to say a little louder, put it at the end.  This is especially important when you are trying to be funny.

12.       Keep it simple.  Write in a simple, direct, unpretentious way—with every sentence an arrow aimed at exactly what it means to say.  Remember you are trying to do one thing, tell a story.

Thank you for stopping by today! We wish you much success in your writing career. Thank you for your tips on improving your writing style!


A Cover for A Death in the FamilySynopsis ofA Death in the Family (from the author)

Meet Erica Coleman—a gifted and quirky private investigator with an OCD-like passion for neatness and symmetry, a penchant for cooking, (ten terrific recipes are included), and a weakness for chocolate.

In A Death in the Family, the second in the Erica Coleman series, private eye Erica Coleman and her family happily anticipate Grandma Blanche’s eighty-first birthday celebration in the picturesque town of Florence, Oregon. But when the feisty matriarch, a savvy businesswoman, suspects wrongdoing and asks Erica to investigate her company, things get sticky.

Before the investigation can even begin, Blanche’s unexpected death leaves Erica with more questions than answers—and it is soon clear Grandma’s passing was anything but natural: she was murdered. When another relative becomes the next victim of someone with a taste for homicide, Erica uses her flair for cooking to butter up local law enforcement and gather clues.

Erica’s OCD either helps or hinders her—depending on who you talk to—but it’s those same obsessive and compulsive traits than enable Erica to see clues that others miss. When she narrowly escapes becoming the third victim, Erica is more determined than ever to solve the case.


Excerpt from A Death in the Family

            “It’s hard to believe she’s gone,” Kristen said dolefully. “When I moved here, I thought I’d have years with Grandma. She was always so active—I thought she’d keep going for years.”

“And all the time, her heart was getting weaker,” Trent said glumly.

Walter commented, “The last time I saw her, Blanche said the doctor told her she had the constitution of a mule.”

There were a few smiles at this, but Martha’s brow furrowed in confusion. “But Mom’s death didn’t have anything to do with how healthy she was.”

“What are you talking about?” Trent’s impatient voice billowed out and filled the small room.

Martha squirmed but fluttered on, “Well, after what Mom said when she came to visit me, you know—about how something wrong was going on in the company—I worried that something might happen.”

Her response reverberated around the room. Everyone went very still—as if they were holding their breath. 

Martha’s eyes went from one to another. “I didn’t mean—oh, I shouldn’t have said anything,” she stammered. Her voice was pure distress. “It’s just that . . . well, we’re all family here, so it’s okay, isn’t it? I mean, no one else knows.”

“No one else knows what?” Trent said brusquely.

Visibly flustered, Martha’s hands twisted in her lap. “And . . . and Mother was very old and—and the police haven’t even come, have they?”

Erica wondered what Martha could be getting at. Everyone darted quizzical looks at each other, trying to make sense out of Martha’s confused chirruping.

After meeting blank looks all around, Martha blurted, “I mean, that’s good . . . isn’t it? For the family?”

The room remained deadly silent as Martha’s cheeks flamed red.

There was a rumble as Walter cleared his throat. “Why would the police come?”

“Why, to arrest someone.” Martha sounded surprised—as if he had asked something that was completely and absolutely self-evident. She stared at Walter, as if he and he alone could straighten everything out. “Isn’t that why they’re doing an autopsy? I mean, don’t they always do an autopsy when someone has been murdered?” 

A Death in the Family can be purchased online:


Deseret Book:

Seagull Book:

 A Death in the Family is available at physical bookstores such as Deseret Book and Seagull Book, as well as other LDS bookstores.


About Marlene Sullivan…..

Author Biography

Marlene Bateman Sullivan was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan and they are the parents of seven children. 

Her hobbies are gardening, camping, and reading.  Marlene has been published extensively in magazines and newspapers and has written a number of non-fiction books, including:  Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, And There Were Angels Among Them, Visit’s From Beyond the Veil, By the Ministering of Angels, Brigham’s Boys, and Heroes of Faith.  Her latest book is Gaze Into Heaven; Near Death Experiences in Early Church History, a fascinating collection of over 50 documented near-death experiences from the lives of early latter-day Saints.

A Cover for Motive for MurderMarlene’s first novel was the best-selling Light on Fire Island. Her next novel was Motive for Murder, which is the first in a mystery series that features the quirky private eye with OCD, Erica Coleman.





(Sponsored by the publisher and/or author)

We are offering 1 lucky commenter a print copy of A DEATH IN THE FAMILY by Marlene Bateman. SORRY, open to US residents only! 

Giveaway will run from March 31 until April 4, 2014.

*You will have to re-visit this site to see the winner*



COMING SOON! (April 23, 2014)

My Thoughts, on A DEATH IN THE FAMILY by Marlene Bateman, on our sister site, MyBookAddictionReviews

Please be sure to stop by and check out My Thoughts!


~Have a great week~

Happy Summer!!







Book Cover HungryhungryBookback




About the Author…..


Stephanie Hamilton has lived as an expat for the past seventeen years. Mother of three, and the Creative Visionary behind her brand Nektar, she is a published author, featured photographer, and Spiritual and Life Alignment Coach. Stephanie is also an Aura-Soma® Color Practitioner, having had great success with her Soulmap program using the energies to color, sound, and vibrational energy to help her clients unlock peace, passion, and purpose in their lives. Stephanie is active in creating awareness for equality and inclusion in society through the stories of children with Special Needs. Stephanie has supported several charities through her businesses including AAO in Sierra Leone and Lifestart Foundation in Vietnam.


For more inspiration and to learn more about Stephanie, visit








I am inspired to share my book particularly at this time as part proceeds go to support a charity close to my heart in Sierra Leone.  All As One saves the lives of orphaned and abandoned children in Freetown, Sierra Leone.  Currently, they are being evicted from their orphanage, and funds are critical to build a new orphanage.  Sales from my book can help this dream come true.


Praise for “Hungry: Feed Your Soul”:

“Hungry”-Feed Your Soul is a book of awakening, inspiration, and truth.The hint of smoke that lingers when a candle is extinguished, the tiny wrinkles on a baby’s forehead, the grit of the earth as it lingers on our fingertips after a hard day’s work.We have been conditioned in our society to crave. We are the acquisitionists of all time, in a time where we also ask ourselves “What is the greater purpose of life?”.


 There is a wildfire of awakening spreading with great ambition, and the message is simple.

 “Hungry-Feed Your Soul” aims to create a new mindset of awareness, forgiveness, and love.

“Heart” provoking, it will leave you wanting more.


 Hungry: Feed Your SoulHUNGRY: FEED YOUR SOUL

 Stephanie Hamilton


Publisher: BalboaPress


Published Date: February 25, 2013


ISBN-10: 1452564396


ISBN-13: 978-1452564395






Hungry is a photographic essay highlighting the power of simplicity, awareness, and love. It was inspired by a series of photographs taken over a period of awakening and growth for the author. The majority of this book was “channeled” while walking through the pristine nature of New Zealand, tapped out on an iPhone to inspire, and to be inspired.

Get your copy of Hungry

  • logo
  • logo
  • logo
  • logo
  • logo
  • Book Craft logo



~GIVEAWAY ALERT~ Hungry: Feed Your Soul

(Sponsored by the author)

Thanks to Stephanie, we are offering 4, yes 4, lucky commenters a chance to win a PDF digital copy of “Hungry: Feed Your Soul”. Giveaway will run from September 6 until September 13, 2013. Open to one and all!

**You MUST leave a comment for a chance to win. Please leave a valid email address with your comment**



~My Thoughts~


Please stop and smell the roses! And spread the word!!






Shane Stanford is a pastor, author and teacher.  He is the Senior Pastor of Christ UMC in Memphis, TN, one of United Methodism’s largest and most influential congregations.

Shane is a former church planter as well as the Director/Host of the United Methodist Hour, a radio and television ministry airing in 30 million homes nationwide.

Shane is the author of eleven books including A Positive Life (Zondervan), The CURE for the Chronic Life (Abingdon), and Mosaic (Abingdon).

Shane has also written several articles published in such journals/magazines as Giving, CNNOnline, Alive, and The Circuit Rider.

Shane has appeared on numerous media programs including ABC’s Good Morning America and Fox & Friends.

Shane travels extensively sharing his story as an HIV positive hemophiliac and pastor.  He has presented at such venues as the Saddleback Global AIDS Summit and the National Civil Rights Museum.

He is married to Dr. Pokey Stanford (a Professor of Education) and they are the parents of three daughters, ages 14, 11, and 7.

His latest book is Making Life Matter: Embracing the Joy in the Everyday.

Visit his website at

Check out Shane and his book at the following online locations:

Twitter| Facebook | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christian Book | Official Tour Page




Paperback:144 pages

Publisher:Abingdon Press (April 2012)



ISBN-13: 978-1426710322

Book Description(from Amazon)

Publication Date: April 2012

In a world of fast-paced schedules and priorities, conversations about what makes for a life well lived are a rarity and a luxury. But what if the daily pace of life held in itself the way to make choices more significant? What if the daily to-do lists gave a glimpse into how people might change their future? What if the daily grind, as arduous as it might seem, held the key to a life full of meaning and potential? What if everyday, simple steps, instead of some complex list of seemingly unattainable principles, showed how to make life matter?

Making Life Matter answers these questions and shows that the steps for making life matter are found in rather ordinary decisions, attitudes, and patterns found in normal routines. Author Shane Stanford will confront the way in which God, every day, means for us to live deeper, closer, and better in him—in essence, the way God intends for life to matter.


Available at:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christian Book



We hope you have enjoyed our “Spotlight” guest today and will please spread the word!!








In a nutshell: I believe in Jesus, doing the right thing, the power of the written word, and a good cup of coffee. I’m a country girl living now in a mid-sized city with my engineering husband who just happens to be my best friend and biggest fan. We’re the parent of four grown sons who’ve married wonderful girls and given us six amazing grandchildren. Being a Mimi is far more fun that I ever dreamed.




I’m a child of the fifties and while my memories are probably flawed, it does seem like they were more carefree, less troubled times. Perhaps it’s because our lives hadn’t been tangled yet with adult responsibilities and knowledge that not everything is perfect.

And because of my flawed memory, there were a lot of facts to check as I wrote Stardust, a story set in 1952. For me, though, research is part of the joy of writing. It’s the point of discovering something I didn’t know before or uncovering a new facet to a familiar event. And of course, there’s also the joy of actually traveling and taking a research trip.

Which is where I found myself two years ago. My husband and I celebrated our anniversary in Jefferson, Texas, and visited the museum, the newly restored library, and the quaint shops. We took a riverboat ride on the bayou and quizzed the guide about the history and legends. We visited Caddo Lake, again with a guide, where I learned about cypress trees and those funny looking “knees” clustered at the bases of the trees. I inhaled the aroma of the bayou and let the mysteriousness cloak me. I adore having a great sense of place, so it was a great beginning and verified that this was the setting for Stardust, but there were other choices I had to make about the story.

For the backdrop of the story, I chose polio (infantile paralysis). In the early fifties it reached epidemic proportions and caused near hysteria across our land. I was fortunate to find a fascinating, well-documented personal story by Kathryn Black whose mother had a severe case of the diseases. It really helped me bring the details of this dreaded—and dreadful—disease to life in Stardust.

Most people from that era either had a family experience or knew someone who had polio. In my own family, I had two relatives who were childhood victims, but young people today only know it as one of those diseases for which they’re vaccinated.

My hope is that by bringing readers a glimpse of polio and how it affected society in the fifties will lend to better understanding of the times. A tiny snippet of history, if you will. In some ways, I think we have threats to our health and lives today that mirror that time—hysteria brought on by media coverage and fear that permeates our society. Drawing an analogy from the fifties will help people today see that we all have hope, that if we can conquer something like polio, we can conquer today’s challenges.

The Stardust itself is taken from another childhood memory—a family vacation where we stayed in a tourist court that had individual cottages. It fit well with the themes of the book and the setting—having a haven for weary travelers and holding secrets from the past. When the neon sign flickers, anything is possible. Even a new beginning for the folks who end up at the Stardust. For me, I can still feel the magic of the characters and bringing their stories to life. I hope you and your readers do, too, and that you all enjoy this visit to the Stardust and the fifties.

Thanks, April, for giving me a chance to share a behind-the-scenes look at Stardust!



You can find Carla here:

My website:

Follow me on Twitter:!/ChasingLilacs





Here are the tour stops – enjoy the journey!


A Mom After God’s Own Heart

My Book Addiction and More

Trinity Rose’s Garden

 2 Kid sand Tired Books

Shoopettes Book Reviews

Christian Bookshelf Reviews

Bibliophiles Retreat

Just Cris

Go Teen Writers

Christa Allan

Courtney Walsh Hillary On Writing

Stage Write with Lynne Gentry

Jodie Bailey

Heart of a Bookworm

Denise Y Montgomery

Special thanks to Sarah of the FaithWords team for organizing the tour and providing the “cool” graphic.

More giveaways to come – some retro fun and guest posts.

For now, though – Ready. Set. Go!




In the bayou country of East Texas, the neon sign of the STARDUST stands silent, no longer beckoning visitors to its cozy cottages. But two days after Georgia Peyton buries her unfaithful husband, a curious thing happens: the STARDUST sign sputters to life and winks at her. Sustained by a memory from the past and determined to build a new life, Georgia acquires the STARDUST with hopes of breathing new life into it too.

A story of courage, forgiveness, and new beginnings.

FaithWords (HachetteBookGroup),

May, 2012.


Stardust Video Trailer:

Amazon link to Stardust:



*Sponsored by the publisher*

We are offering 1 lucky commenter a print copy of “Stardust” by Carla Stewart. Giveaway open to U.S. and Canada residents only! No P.O. Boxes, please. Giveaway will run from May 17 until May 24,2011.

*Please leave a valid email address*

*Tell us,if you have a favorite place you enjoy visiting*



Please check out our “Thoughts” on “Stardust” by Carla Stewart!


Please spread the word on Twitter,Facebook,Blog,Pinterest,Linked and anywhere else you can!!


Thank you for spending time with us and our guest today!!





BIO:   Jane Myers Perrine has taught high school and college Spanish and worked as a program director in non-profit agencies as well as being chosen an outstanding citizen of Louisville for her volunteer work.    She writes stories with humor and deep emotion.

The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek, the first book in Jane Myers Perrine’s Tales of Butternut Creek will be available April 3, 2012.  The hero of the series is a young minister called to serve a church in Butternut Creek, TX.   Jane, an ordained minister, has served several churches as well as following her minister husband from small towns to big cities.   Library Journal wrote:  “Perrine, an ordained minister, convincingly takes readers through the social and spiritual challenges that Jordan faces.”



We lived in Buchanan Dam, Texas, population nearly 1,700, for seven years.  Our subdivision, just east of the post office and west of the dam, consisted of five houses all snuggled together in a leafy paradise overlooking Lake Buchanan.  We had the greatest neighbors in the world.

One evening at nearly ten o’clock, George called me into his study and said, “I think I’m having a heart attack.”

Exactly what every wife wants to hear.  I called 9-1-1 and went out on the front porch to wait for the ambulance.   By the time EMS arrived, our neighbors had gathered to help.  One of our neighbors was a nurse with terminal cancer.  She was there immediately, to make sure we were okay, to help in any way she could.  She stood by as George was loaded into the ambulance.  Fortunately, he was fine, but her presence calmed me.

When our young neighbors who lived down on the lake shore sold chickens for their Four-H project, everyone bought a couple.    When one neighbor needed a safe haven for her dogs, we opened our fenced-in yard to her.   Any time anyone needed anything, all of our neighbors pitched in. 

By the time Suzanne died, we’d moved to Austin but we came back for her funeral to sit with our neighbors.

I used these memories to create the warmth of Butternut Creek.   No research needed because I had learned about community by living in a loving neighborhood.

That’s why I believe novels about small towns are popular with readers.  Most of us live in cities and may not even know our neighbors while everyone in a small town knows your business.  That’s both a positive and a negative because less privacy equals more caring and help.   Although we don’t want to give up our computers and cells, we long to return to a simpler, kinder place.  That’s what I write about in Butternut Creek.


Thank you for visiting with us and our readers today!


Follow on Twitter or Facebook,

Twitter: @FaithWords, @PerrineJane, #butternutcreek
And Charles’s website:
Here is a list of the blogs that are participating. If you get a chance, feel free to check out what your fellow bloggers are saying about the book!





Paperback:384 pages

Publisher:FaithWords (April 3, 2012)



ISBN-13: 978-0892969210

Book Description(From Amazon)

Publication Date: April 3, 2012 | Series: Widows of Butternut Creek
Upon his arrival, Butternut Creek Christian Church’s newly-minted minister is met by a welcome committee led by Miss Birdie and her friend Mercedes, a.k.a. “the Widows.” Their first order of business, to educate him on how things should be done, quickly gives way to a campaign to find him a wife.
When their matchmaking efforts fizzle, the Widows turn to another new bachelor. Amputee and Afghan vet Sam simply wants to be left alone– a desire that’s as good as a red flag to the Widows! Soon they’re scheming to pair him up with Willow, his beautiful physical therapist, a divorced mother of two who is afraid of commitment, Perrine’s small-town tale is a big-time triumph of gentle humor, fast-paced plot, and wonderfully engaging characters.



*Sponsored by the publisher*

We are offering 1 lucky commenter a prin copy of “THE WELCOME COMMITTEE OF BUTTERNUT CREEK” by Jane Myers Perrine. No P.O. Boxes,please.Giveaway will run from today April 4 until April 11,2012.



We hope you have enjoyed our guest today. Please spread the word!

Thank you for spending time with us and our guest today!!


Be sure to check out our “Thoughts” on “The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creet” by Jane Myers Perrine!!











Sarah Dunster is an award-winning poet and fiction writer. Her poems have been published in Dialogue: a Journal of Mormon Thought, Segullah Magazine, and Victorian Violet Press. Her short fiction piece, Back North, is featured in Segullah’s Fall 2011 issue. Her novel Lightning Tree will be released in spring of 2012 by Cedar Fort. Sarah has six children and one on the way and loves writing almost as much as she loves being a mom.


Good morning and welcome to My Book Addiction and More today!!

SD: Thank you for having me.

MBA&M: Tell our readers a little about yourself?


SD:  Let’s see… I’m a mother of seven, age ten and under. Two of my girls are adopted.  The seventh is actually due in early march. That (motherhood) is what I do most of the day. But of course I love writing, reading… skiing, when I have time. I have been writing since I was a girl and am very excited to get my first book published.

MBA&M: What made you decide to write “Lightning Tree”?


SD:  The story started because I was interested in Italian immigrants and the part they played in forming the pioneer communities in Utah. And when I started looking into the different waves of immigration from Italy to the Salt Lake Valley, I discovered the Waldensians, who were such an interesting group of people to me—they spoke French, lived high up in the mountain valleys of northern Italy, and they had their own version of the Christian religion that differentiated from the Catholic teachings, and so they were persecuted over the years.  So, a lot in common with the LDS pioneers. Also I have such a deep interest in the history of the area of Utah Valley. I’d drive by old buildings all the time and just wish there was someone I could talk to about them.  Finally I decided to write a story and have a reason for tracking down facts, names, family anecdotes.  It has been such a meaningful process to me, getting to know the place I lived for such a long time.

MBA&M: What where the challenges in writing “Lightning Tree”?


S.D.I was (and still am) a little bit frightened about the idea of misrepresenting history by accident. I was so completely thorough—I’d look up every little thing, like, did the city run cross that street?  What was the street called? Was this building built yet?  I wanted to get it exactly right… and accounts differ.  I’ve found personal accounts like journals and histories that say something different from the textbooks. And I tend to go with the histories, the firsthand accounts. So I’m worried about being criticized for historical accuracy but in the end… all I can say is I did my best (and a lot more than I had to, probably) to get everything right.

MBA&M: Why this era?

S.D. I love the idea of writing about a newly budding community. And it fit so well with my passion for the idea of community as family… back when communities were small and somewhat disconnected, you had to rely on your neighbors.  It’s such a different world now. Sometimes we don’t even know our neighbors’ names.

MBA&M: Who is your hero in your life?Why?


S.D. This will sound cliché, but my husband. Without his encouragement and genuine love for the fact that I write, I would not be a writer.  He is so enthusiastic about it. And self-sacrificing. He is a writer too, and hardly ever has time for it. I look forward to the day when he can take some time to write also.

MBA&M: If you could step into a book and that world where will it be and why?


S.D. Harry Potter.  I would love to meet some of my favorite characters from that story. Or maybe Little House on the Prairie; what an adventure those stories portray (and all of them true!). But just for a little while… I love my life, and would miss it.

MBA&M: Please tell our readers where to find you and where “Lightning Tree” is available?


My professional blog is, my personal blog is, and the book is available for pre-order on Amazon right now; there is a link from my poster page where you can buy it:

               Do you wish to add anything else?


Just that I think it’s a great story and I hope that people will enjoy it!

Thank you for visiting with us and our readers today!!


Links forSarah Dunster:

Please double check to  follow the tour calendar here:

Paperback:384 pages

Publisher:Cedar Fort, Inc. (April 10, 2012)



ISBN-13: 978-1599559599

Book Description(from Amazon)

Publication Date: April 10, 2012
After surviving the tragic deaths of her parents and her baby sister and a harrowing trek across the plains to Utah, it s no surprise that Maggie’s nights are plagued by nightmares. But after years of harsh treatment by her foster family and memories that seem to hint at an unthinkable crime, Maggie is forced to strike out on her own to separate the facts from the lies.
 Available at  Amazon or



*Sponsored by the publisher*

We are offering 1 lucky commenter a copy of  “LIGHTNING TREE” by Sarah Dunster. Open International. No P.O. Boxes,please. Giveaway to run from today March 21 until March 28,2012.




Visit for our “Thoughts” on “LIGHTNING TREE” by Sarah Dunster.


If you enjoyed today’s feature please spread the word!!