Monday, March 20, 2017


March 20, 2017
Monday 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Faith Church
2201  42nd Street, Manitowoc, WI  54220
   Faith Church is located next to Festival Foods
   Not far from the Manitowoc exit off Interstate 43

Page Turning Mystery and Emotion is our topic this month. Susan Marlene will teach the class. Bring your paper, pens and or computer to be ready for wisdom tucked between the pages of The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass! Are you ready to experience the amazing journey of writing with the pacing and rhythm that you were born to express?

We are a safe place to share. We invite you to bring your
WIP (Work in progress!) for a five minute read.

The prompt for this March is…
The Mysterious __________________________ in my life.
Use your imagination for this one!

We will share a couple of book titles that research writing mystery and integrating emotion for your WIP!

Bring your favorite coffee or tea with you! J

As always, if you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to contact Becky McLafferty or

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

"A Royal Chritstmas Wedding" by Rachel Hauck


Rachel Hauck’s A ROYAL CHRISTMAS WEDDING, The Royal Wedding Series

As Christmas 2016 approached, our Pens of Praise readers group wanted a short, yet appealing read. We selected A Royal Christmas Wedding from The Royal Wedding Series. Avery Truitt and Prince Collin of Brighton Kingdom have a past. How can they move beyond that to have a future—or will they? This story has a charming sense of humor sprinkled throughout, as well as depth. The character’s emotions and reasons for ‘why’ they do what they do, make these pages hard to close at night. I know for I’ve experienced this! Her varied and unique characters made me feel as though I’ve met them on the street while out shopping.

Rachel has a marvelous way of bringing the mystique of God’s presence into the lives of common everyday people—or shall I say her characters in her novels and novellas. This is not an overdone quality, but something extra that pulls me into her stories on a deeper level.   I love the thrill of excitement that charms my heart when I reach those places where her character’s predicaments are full of mystery, which ever stirs my thoughts beyond my everyday experience.

This reader was captivated from the very first line. I’m a sucker for pretty language and uncompromising excellence concerning layering depth and emotion that is genuine and relatable. Yes, you may wonder why I’m writing about a Christmas story when most of us long for spring and warmer weather. The reason is—because I can!  So, I’m extending a challenge to you and to myself. I wish to read Christmas stories throughout this whole year. Cold weather or hot. Can you read with me? Share with me what you are reading.

 Rachel Hauck is a favorite with our Pens of Praise readers group.  I hope that you will give this author a try. A Christmas Wedding offers discussion questions in the back of the book, which can enrich any book club experience or private read. I’ve enjoyed Avery and Colin’s challenges and victories and I invite you to do the same. Once you do, don’t hesitate to come back here and tell us what you thought.

Questions for Rachel:

1)      You used the mystery of the Lord’s involvement with mankind in your story once again! Very appealing, I must say. How did you come up with the Pembroke Chapel Bell legend? Was this interesting thread from some history or legend you found when researching?
RH: The idea for the chapel came from reading another book set in Scotland. I kept expecting the characters to come across some “mystery” but they never did. So, I hooked my feeling into an idea for A Royal Christmas Wedding. I knew it needed something beyond the natural to tie my two characters together and keep with a bit of a fairytale feel. I made up the legend.   

2)      What a beautiful mix of grief from loss and new life from a birth soon to happen. Did you intend to present life’s contrast from the conception of this story?
RH: A lot of times the contrasts just appear as I’m writing. If I notice them I pause to see if I can develop them more. If not, I just leave them as reader candy. 😊

3)      There is a fairytale magic in the way that you share Avery and Colin’s story. Did a particular fairytale inspire this Christmas novella?
RH: I’ve wanted to write a Christmas story for awhile but never had the chance. When Avery emerged as such a strong character in Once Upon A Prince, I knew she needed her own story. I might have mentioned the idea to my publisher but almost a year past before we agreed to do a Christmas wedding for Avery’s story. I’m so glad I had a chance to write it.

4)      What is your favorite fairytale of all?
RH: Cinderella. I’ve seen the animated version a dozen times, the latest live action film a few times and even saw it on Broadway. 😊

5)      What is the first childhood story that you remember being told and did it affect your writing today?
RH: I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I read them over and over. I also loved biographies. I think reading about real people helped me want to write real-to-life characters.

6)      You know many writers and have helped many want-to-be writers, can you give us a few of your favorite authors names. (If this would get you into trouble – your favorite genres you love to read.)
RH: Ooo, well, I have to give a shout out to some of my writing buddies—Susan May Warren, Beth Vogt, Melissa Tagg, Denise Hunter, Colleen Coble, Lisa Wingate and Susan Meissner. I love Becky Wade and Roni Kendig.

I read a lit of literary or mainstream fiction. JoJo Moyes is a recent fun find.

7)      What would you like to share with your readers and would-be readers about the writing or message of this story?
RH: One of the themes that really popped in A Royal Christmas Wedding WAS THE Fatherhood of God over us. Colin had to grow up and learn to hear his heavenly Father above his earthly father. And do it while honoring both. God has a plan and destiny for each and everyone of us. Believe it and lean into it.

8)      Would you share a favorite recipe or simple joy with your readers?
RH: I don’t have recipes. LOL. Sorry. I’m not a recipe collector. But a simple joy for me is sitting out back on my deck, reading, praying, or playing the two chords I know well on the guitar. I can make up a lot of songs with those two chords!

9)      Any last words you would like to share?
RH: Thanks for having me! It’s an honor and a joy!

10)  How do you wish your readers to contact you?
RH: They can find me on social media through my web site at
Thanks so much Susan!!!!

            What a fun interview! Thank you Rachel! You may find Rachel's FB, Twitter, Google+, and     Instagram on her web page!

Monday, March 13, 2017

“An Admirable Scoundrel or Hero I Love”

By Susan Marlene

The character that drew my eye, the one that captured my admiration, is as complex as the making of an éclair. This male presents delicious layers of intelligence and ridiculous goof ups. He is sensitive and insensitive in just the right proportions. He is loyal and moral yet willing to bend the law because of his loyalty and love for his daughter.

When I first saw him, he was in a fight that produced a cut over his right eye—his prison friends’ ritual for leaving their penitentiary to re-enter society again. He moves in with a friend from prison. What is that—a rule breaker?  

This fellow comes from a position of weakness, though his is good looking and smart and clever he is unable to keep a legal job because of the felony he committed when exposing a wrong. Did he learn that doing two wrongs doesn’t make it right during his stint in prison? Certainly not in the beginning of this story.

He is presented an opportunity when his goal is to never “steal stuff” again. But to take hold of the opportunity so that he may redeem his name with his ex-wife in—order to see his daughter again—he must do exactly that. Steal stuff. But this stuff is under the protection of dangerous opposition. There are no guarantees and he actually eventually chooses to steal stuff to save society at large though risking his relationship with his daughter. Who is the hero I love?

Just a note from the éclair WEB page:

You might be able to find an eclair at every bakery on every street corner, but that doesn’t mean it came together in no time. This unassuming pastry requires the mastery of choux pastry, as well as pastry cream and the flavored glaze.

“Ant Man” – The incredible Scott Lang

Sunday, February 26, 2017

“A Moonbow Night” by Laura Frantz

A Moonbow Night

Set in bygone days— a time when Daniel Boone lived, explored and settled—Laura Frantz’s “A Moonbow Night” springs off the page toting courageous characters through challenges I’d only wish to experience from the pages in this novel. These are brave individuals, who faced challenges and met with resistance that our settling forefathers suffered.

Temperance Tucker, an innkeeper’s daughter, yet highly skilled in surviving in the wilderness and knowledgeable about the lay of the land, meets Sion Morgan. Sion is a Virginia surveyor looking for a guide through turbulent Indian country. The unrest of the Indian nations and why they attacked settlers pulsates off these pages. As do the complex and varied characters the reader meets along the way. Indeed, I have several favorites in these pages.

As I read this novel, I experienced conflicting emotions. Should I speed through and find out what was going to happen? Or should I savor the pleasing rhythm and cadence that Laura writes with. It took self-control, but I chose the latter.

Laura—as ever—wrote with such passion for the life of her characters, till the very last line. She drew me in and lead me through a stunning journey that I’d never venture in the flesh and yet will never regret that I visited in the pages of her novel.  

Rich in the period’s experience including foods, the ruggedness of the land and the interactions of people from different cultures caused me to feel like I’d stepped into a time machine for such rich detail. Yet, I never felt like this novel had turned into a history book, because Laura weaves in those intricate details with her character’s journey, ever inviting the reader to experience more. Laura Frantz stories deliver. This is a highly recommended read and reread and yes, reread it again! 
Laura Frantz, Author
I thank you so much dear Laura! You put me on the list to receive your novel for a review! I only can present an honest opinion and was delighted to receive “A Moonbow Night”. I’ll tell you now, you are the only author whom I have both the printed novel and audio novels for the same stories! I’m eager for your next labor of love!

Questions for Laura:
        1)    The actual Moonbow that is a focus landmark in your story is intriguing. When did you discover the Moonbow and again, when did you decide to write this wonder into your novel? Since childhood, Cumberland Falls has been a favorite place. I didn’t fully appreciate the unique setting until I was grown, finding it a beautiful backdrop with its history and romance. I wish I’d honeymooned here!
2)       The way you handled the depth of the loss and love in this novel surprised me. Yet, your story didn’t come off depressing. You handled this topic with care. Did you research grief and loss in depth or know someone who inspired this story? So thankful the grief theme rang true. I’ve always felt things very deeply and Tempe’s ruminations that life is full of little losses is something I’ve pondered many times. Losing a person, of course, is a much larger loss than the ones Tempe mentions at that point in the story, but the feeling is much the same. I’ve lost a beloved grandmother, perhaps the greatest grief I’ve known. But like Tempe, my life has been made up of all kinds of little losses, a sort of bittersweet existence.
3)      I just love Temperance or Tempe as she is more often called. How did you come up with her character? And did you pick the model for your cover and how it was laid out? It is an exquisite cover that represents Tempe well! I started with Tempe’s period appropriate name and knew she had to be a stalwart character being raised on the frontier. No shrinking violet! I wanted her to be a tribute to those pioneer women of old. As for the cover, it is perfect for the story. The original cover was much more suspenseful but lacked a historical feel so my publisher’s art team graciously asked my personal preference. A split screen was decided on with the very important falls at the bottom and then Tempe herself, looking up as if gazing at the moonbow, her braid slightly frayed as befitting a frontier woman. I had to chuckle at the model for Tempe (the art team chose her) as she has a tattoo which was edited out. J
4)      Sion Morgan is a favorite character. Do you have any photos of him on your Pinterest? Who inspired his personality? J Sion is a strong character, as befits a hero, and is a surveyor which was a well respected trade in his day, though not with Native Americans, understandably. Before writing the novel, I purchased a painting by the frontier artist David Wright with the humorous title of, Someone is Wondering Why He Don’t Write. There was the epitome of my hero in the woods, holding a gun in his enormous hands, begrimed and looking weary in a rare idle moment. Inspiration comes from unexpected places.

5)      Your character Nate Stoner is amazing and of course a favorite with me. How did you come up with him? I needed a father figure for Sion, someone grounded in his faith who would cause enormous heartache for our hero later on and be the bridge between Sion and the Lord.
6)      Raven – what a good representation of an individual caught between two cultures. How did you discover Raven? Raven is kind of a shadowy character which I wish had been fleshed out more (word count wouldn’t allow for that) but perhaps his role was to simply show his conflicted position, caught between two worlds/cultures. Readers are already asking me what happened to him. I honestly don’t know!
7)      When is your next novel to be published? My next novel releases January 2018 and I’m excited since cover art is now underway, my favorite part of publishingJ. Can’t wait to share that with you soon!
8)      How do you want your readers to find you on social media?   


Friday, February 24, 2017

Look What I Saw On My Way to Work Today

I'd love to see robins and blue jay's, but this was lovely.
Snow came last night and this morning causing quite the stir!
God's handiwork over all; reminding us who is blessing
and controlling everything!

Don't you just love a good winter photo of snow covering bark from
trees that have stood long years and witnessed much.

Everything had such a wet sticky covering this morning.
Even clearing the car turned into an event!

Be blessed, smile and laugh for your blessings
surround you and cover you like a fresh wet snow.
Covering problems and watering those needs that will be
cared for in time.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Winter-bleak Hope

Life may seem winter-bleak, but never fear, God is faithful still. Underneath the cold icy-reality of life—when it’s so harsh that it’s difficult to hope and find His promise—He provides life and abundantly so.

In Beth Moore’s Bible study, “Children of the Day” she states, and I quote, “Our feelings of failure can start an ongoing cycle of inadequacy: if we feel like failures, we’ll act like failures and, if we let that condemnation go unchecked, we’ll make our next decision out of the same perceived defeat.”

May you realize that you are not a failure…mistakes and bad choices are made, but this is a new day. A day where you too may have a clean slate. And start anew!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Ring of Secrets, Culper Ring Series by Roseanna M. White

 1779, New York City

This Revolutionary War novel captured my attention, and never let go. Such a fascinating tale fitted within the perfect setting. Mystery and suspense weaves these historic happenings of America’s first spy ring—the Culper ring—into every day people’s lives.  These characters are diverse and interesting, several were born of imagination, while others were actual historic individuals.  Winter Reeves is a main character to admire and cheer for, as is Bennet Lane. Other characters such as: Colonel Fairchild, Robert Townsend (Robbie), those difficult grandparents—just to name a few—were quite interesting and always caused me to flip pages well into the night!

I’d never heard about the Culper Ring from Revolutionary times, but I appreciated taking a turn back in time to experience this well told tale involving risk, intrigue and sacrifice. I admit that I was pleasantly surprised to discover the types of individuals involved in this spy ring. Roseanna’s twists, turns and mystery caused me to fall more deeply in love with the 1770’s and the people of that time. Thank you for that Roseanna!

This is and has been a re-read for me. Discussion questions for reader’s groups and for private musings are provided in the back of the novel. Ring of Secrets is the first novel from a three-book series and I recommend them all highly as excellent reads.




      You said in your author’s note, “I love little more than redefining history through fictional characters who interact with historical figures, which is what I did in this story.” When did you discover that you could do that? (I must say—I’m so glad that you did!)

 When I was in high school, I got an idea for a story that would tell the crucifixion of Jesus, but through the eyes of a “nobody”—a woman who just happened to be there. That eventually became A Stray Drop of Blood, and it also became my standard way of writing historicals. I love including events and/or people who really existed, but focusing my attention on fictional characters, through whom I explain the unanswered questions that history always leaves us with.

Of course, I must ask who your favorite character is in this novel and how did you come up with his or her personality?

Oh goodness—how am I supposed to choose?? I love how complicated Winter is, even though it made her a real challenge to write at first. I adore Bennet’s awkwardness—so endearing! But I also really love Freeman, and all he represents to the story and, eventually, the whole series. Winter’s personality was created largely because of what I needed to fill the role in the story. Bennet, however, was a conscious decision. I’d been about to make him your typical dashing hero. But as I was folding laundry one day while mulling over the story, I just stopped and went, “No! He’s got to be shy and tongue-tied around women! That will be so much better!” And it was. =)

Were any of the imagined characters inspired from people you’ve known or have seen in media?

 I use real people as my physical models, just so I have thins on my Pinterest board to inspire both myself and readers, LOL, but their personalities are always totally from my imagination—which means, no doubt, that they take little bits and pieces of all sorts of people.

If you could be Winter Reeves for a day, which day, in the pages of this novel, would you take her place?

 I think I’d choose that day at the end of the story, when Bennet looks at her and thinks, There you are. It was a day of danger but victory, adventure but rightness. Exciting, but also relieving. =)

What is your favorite scene in this story? (Only tell us if you do not give away your engaging plot!)

Maybe the roof-slate scene . . . or when Bennet meets Viney, maybe. =)

When you wrote this first story did you already know the following tales you wanted to chase Ring of Secrets?

I knew the basics of them, yes; I pitched the series as a whole to Harvest House, so I knew they were going to be generational, following the family and the Culper Ring in each of the subsequent wars. I had basic ideas of where the stories would go, though I had to flesh each one out as I finished the previous.

Who was the first person to inspire you to write novels?

I’ve been writing stories since I learned how to write—I remember one day when I was home sick and at grandmother’s house in first grade. It was boring—she didn’t have much by way of TV—so I asked for paper, sat in a patch of sunlight, and wrote my first epic tale of adventure: The Secret of the Magic Hairbow. Riveting stuff, ahem. LOL. There was no looking back! I always wrote, and my stories got longer to match what I was reading. I finished my first full-length novel at age 13. =)

Who is one of your favorite Revolutionary War time heroes? Why?

 I’ve read about so many amazing people! Though I confess, boring as it is, that George Washington remains one of my favorites. A woman in Annapolis (whose words make a brief appearance in Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland) said of him when he resigned his commission in 1783, “He is not just a great man. He is a good man.” From all I’ve read, that’s so very true.
If you were to share an organizational tip or recipe, what would that be?

Oh gracious, I am so not the one to ask! LOL. My house is a disorganized wreck. The only thing I can keep order to is my computer—digital files and I get along just fine, but when it comes to household items…not so much. And I’m okay with that. All that time other people spend keeping their houses orderly, I spend writing, editing, and designing books—and homeschooling my children. A fair enough trade, by my reckoning. ;-)

What would you like to share with your readers today?

Every author has different reasons for writing. But for me, writing is two-fold: first, it’s involuntary—I have to write, it’s like breathing. These characters just live inside me, and I have to get their stories down! Second, once other people actually started caring to read these stories I had to put to paper, I knew that it was also a big part of my ministry. I write for God. They’re the stories He gives me, and it’s my prayer that they’re tools in His hand. So thank you for reading, and I pray always that my books end up in the hands of people who need them in some way—be it for an escape or to learn some truth of Him along with my characters—and out of the hands of anyone that might stumble because of them.

Roseanna’s latest series is called The Ladies of the Manor. These novels are excellent and I will visit those pages with you at a later blog post. Look for Roseanna M. White at:

Facebook: /RoseannaMWhite

Twitter: @RoseannaMWhite

What great answers Roseanna! What a joy to do this interview!  To all those readers who are interested in this time period, authors love to connect with their readers, so visit her on FB and blog!