Tuesday, November 14, 2017

About the Book


Name of book: The Christmas Admirer  
Author: Laura V Hilton  
Genre: Amish Romance  
Release Date: September 5, 2017  

Amish romance fans will love this heartwarming holiday story, perfect for gift-giving. Benaiah Troyer has loved Susanna King for as long as he can remember, but when his parents died in an accident a year ago, he broke up with her—for her own good. After all, he was now the sole caregiver for his three younger sisters. What woman would want to put up with that? Still, against his better judgment, he can’t help leaving her a gift now and then, anonymously addressing her name in big block print, just to catch a smile. Roses one month, maple syrup candy another; and maybe this time, something special for Christmas. Susanna has never gotten over losing Benaiah, but now the clock is ticking. Her father is selling his glass-blowing business, remarrying in January, and moving to Iowa with his bossy wife-to-be. Angry and frustrated, Susanna realizes she’s left with three options: one, go with Daed to his new home with a new mom; two, stay in Jamesport, Missouri, as an old maid; or, three, the best yet, flush out her mysterious secret admirer. But how could she be with anyone else when her heart is still with Benaiah?

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Review

The Christmas Admirer is a delightful Amish story immersed in Amish tradition and interlaced with love. The story is woven with uncertainty and mistrust. Can Beniah find his way to trust the Lord for his future?
An uplifting ending brings a wonderful conclusion to a beautiful love story. The characters were well developed, humorous and I couldn't help but laugh along with them. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more of her work.
I requested and received this book free through the Celebrate Lit Blog Tour for the purpose of posting an honest review.

 About the Author

Amish fiction lovers responded positively and immediately to Laura V. Hilton’s debut novel, Patchwork Dreams, when she burst on the scene in 2009 with her unique series, The Amish of Seymour, set in the tiny town of Seymour, in Webster County, Missouri. Fans of the genre immediately recognized Hilton’s insider knowledge, not only of the Webster County community, but Amish culture in general. Her natural speech and writing patterns, she says, are uniquely “Amish,” acquired from her Amish maternal grandparents. The Amish of Seymour, includes Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another. Her second series, The Amish of Webster County, is comprised of Healing Love, Surrendered Love, and Awakened Love. A stand-alone title, A White Christmas in Webster County, was released in September 2014. The Amish of Jamesport includes The Snow Globe, The Postcard and The Birdhouse. In spring 2016 she released The Amish Firefighter with the setting in Jamesport, MO, the same as for The Amish Wanderer. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer. Laura and her husband, Steve, have five children, whom Laura homeschools. The family makes their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas.

Guest Post from Laura V. Hilton

Glass Blowing and The Christmas Admirer

Right before my youngest son joined the Coast Guard we went on a short mini-vacation to Springfield, Missouri, actually going farther north almost to Kansas City to see another Amish community near there in Osceola. There is a cheese factory there and my son wanted to try some of their cheeses – such as a ghost pepper cheese. Too spicy for me. But upon the return to Springfield, Steve read about a glass blowers shop in the downtown area. We found the address and went to visit it. It is owned by an older gentleman and his son. They had a display area set up where people could see their wares and buy them and then a work area where the son mostly worked, and talked about how the fire needed to be so hot, and showed us how he worked and made things. As we watched, he made a lovely flower, a lily, in different colors of glass, green, white, pinks. It was fascinating. And I got to thinking what if…

So I did some more research. Asked questions. Probably drove them nuts. But when Whitaker House indicated they’d be interested in a Christmas novel, I proposed one about a glass blower. The story is set in Jamesport, Missouri, and while completely stand alone, it does have some continuing characters from other books I’ve written set in Jamesport.

 If you are interested, the books set there are:
Amish Books set in Jamesport, Missouri:

The Snow Globe

The Postcard

The Birdhouse

The Amish Firefighter

The Amish Wanderer

The Kissing Bridge (part of Springs of Love collection)

The Christmas Admirer Gingerbread Wishes

(part of A Plain Thanksgiving collection–November 2018)

 Love by the Numbers (February 2018)  

 I haven’t read any books about an Amish glass blower, but that’s not to say they aren’t out there. I haven’t read all the Amish books available. Jamesport is an area that is more tourist-oriented than the books set in Seymour / Webster County Missouri. They give buggy tours, have bed and breakfasts, open their homes for visitors to eat supper with them, and have businesses. All Amish districts are different and the rules vary depending on the bishop and preachers. Some are more liberal and some more conservative. Some keep themselves distant and don’t welcome attention from non-Amish and some embrace it. While Jamesport is not as touristy as some districts in Lancaster Pennsylvania or in Ohio, it is much more so than others.

Susanna’s Cranberry Salad

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (thawed), chopped
  • 1 can (20 ounces) unsweetened crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 medium apple, chopped
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  1. In a large bowl, mix the first six ingredients until blended. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.
  2. In a large bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Just before serving, fold cream and walnuts into cranberry mixture.Makes 16 servings.

Susanna’s Cranberry Sauce

For on top of turkey sandwiches as Becca requested
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (thawed), chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water or orange juice
In colander, rinse cranberries. In sauce pan, add water or orange juice and sugar, boil until sugar is dissolved. Add cranberries and return to a boil. Lower to simmer and cook about 10 minutes or until most of the cranberries had burst. Let cool.

Susanna’s “Love Portion” Gingerbread

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 T ground ginger
  • 1 t ground nutmeg
  • 1 t ground cloves
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup shortening, melted slightly
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ c water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla
Shift together flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. Set aside. In mixing bowl, mix shortening, molasses, brown sugar, water, egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until they are absorbed. Divide dough into three pieces, pat down until about 1 ½ inch thickness, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to ¼ inch thickness. Cut in desired shapes. Place cookies about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes in preheated oven. Cool on wire racks. When cool, decorate as desired.

Blog Stops

ASC Book Reviews, November 9
Books n Baubles, November 9
Janices book review, November 9
Have A Wonderful Day, November 10
A Greater Yes, November 10
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 11
A Holland Reads, November 12
Simple Harvest Reads, November 12
Beck To Basics, November 13
Carpe Diem, November 13
Christian Bookaholic, November 14
Blossoms and BlessingsNovember 14
Baker Kella, November 16
Quiet Quilter, November 16
Karen Sue Hadley, November 16
Pause for Tales, November 17
Pursuing StacieNovember 17
For The Love of Books, November 18
Blogging With CarolNovember 18
Bigreadersite, November 19
Vicky Sluiter, November 19
SusanLovesBooks, November 19
Moments Dipped in Ink, November 20
New Horizon Reviews, November 20
Jeanette’s Thoughts, November 22
Daysong ReflectionsNovember 22
Splashes of JoyNovember 22


In honor of her tour, Laura is giving away
Grand Prize Package: The Christmas Admirer, “Unto Us a Child is Born” painting on decorative serving plate by Donna White, The Hearthside Collection, Inc., and commemorative Whitaker House/Anchor Distributors coloring book (not in photo).
1st Place Package: The Christmas Admirer and The Very First Christmas by Juliet David with interactive illustrations by Pauline Siewert (children’s book). 2nd Place Package: The Christmas Admirer and “The Woman Who Honors The Lord Shall Be Praised” myrrh-scented candle from abba Jerusalem!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Review of My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah by Angie Dicken

About the Book

Name of book: My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah  
Author: Angie Dicken
Genre: Historical Romance  
Release Date: November 1, 2017
Schoolteacher Leanna McKee plans on leaving the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, and never looking back. Good riddance to coal dust, rugged men, and the fatal mine that took her husband’s life. Until the widow meets a widower who awakens her heart…and she finds herself inexplicably falling for miner Alex Pappas which stirs up a whole heap of trouble. Alex’s Greek parents have arranged a more traditional match for him. When the schoolteacher’s association with the Greek family begins to anger the American miners, they threaten Alex and his family. Leanna has received an offer to teach elsewhere and feels she has no choice but to leave Castle Gate. . .though she will be leaving her heart behind.

Click here to purchase Angie’s amazing book

About the Author

Angie Dicken is a third generation Greek American, the granddaughter of strong men and women who endured hardship to grow American roots. My Heart Belongs In Castle Gate, Utah is set near the birthplace of her grandfather, a Greek coal miner’s son, and published 100 years after his birth. Angie is a contributor to The Writer’s Alley blog and an ACFW member since 2010. She lives with her husband and four children in the Midwest where she enjoys exploring eclectic new restaurants and chatting with friends over coffee. You can connect with Angie at www.angiedicken.com.

Guest Post from Angie Dicken

My Publishing Story: A Journey of Perfect Timing

“Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14

I wrote a story five years ago. My footing was finally solid on how to write, after a couple ACFW conferences and connecting with my bestie writing sister, Ashley. So in 2012, I poured my heart out within the parameters of what I’d learned. The story I wrote stemmed from my heritage. From a very young age, I’ve been inspired by my grandfather. He was the son of a Greek coal miner who came over from Greece in the 1910’s. My grandfather always had wonderful stories to tell–he stirred up my intrigue for WWII era as he was a Purple Heart recipient (twice), and spoke of freeing concentration camps and invading Hitler’s homes; my grandfather lived a rags to riches legacy, having been born in a tent in a coal town, and then becoming a successful home and commercial builder–I declared I’d be an architect at age eleven…even majoring in Landscape Architecture in college.

Papou was one of my greatest heroes. And my novel was a tribute to him, to my Greek roots, to an American legacy.
So, at ACFW 2012, I took my novel to conference with more confidence than I had before. This story caught the attention of an agent– and I signed a contract with the Steve Laube Agency in November of that year. That was amazing…I chuckle now because the name of the room that I interviewed with Tamela was the “McKee” room–the last name of my heroine. A sign? Maybe. When she sent my story out for all publishers to see that next month, I thought my time for that book was just around the corner. And… Now it’s 2017, and that story is under contract with a publisher as of Fall 2016. What timing, right? Why the heck did it take so long? Not for lack of trying. My agent and I took every possible measure. Why did I get rejection after rejection, and write two other books in the wait? What happened between then? Only in looking back, do I see why I had to wait for this book. And when I look back, I realize just how much Timing is His and there’s nothing I can do to speed it up or make it mine. All I can do is take courage, and wait. I’ll give you a quick recap of what happened between 2013–when the book was put in the proverbial drawer of unwanted manuscripts–and now, 2017, the year it will get published (um, after a few rewrites and edits–always learning…). In looking back, this is what I see:

My Community was Built. I fell in love with my writer friendships. A bit dramatic? Maybe, but it’s the truth. I connected with ladies who knew my heart as a writer, and allowed me into their lives in an authentic, Christ-loving way. I found hope in the writing journey because my friends held my hands and rubbed my back when all seemed lost. And in this, I grew not as a writer, but as a heart. My heart became soft for the needs of others and the value of authenticity in this short, precious life.


There was a Pride Monster, and He needed to kill it. Oh, Lord, if ever there was a pride monster, it was me. My gut reaction in every rejection, every criticism, every other person’s success was a measurement against them according to me. Yuck. Do you know what the best way to kill a Pride Monster? Starve it. Even though I had my sweet friends and my agent encouraging me along the way, my heart was set on publication and I was not getting that. I wanted it so badly that I turned ugly when it seemed to slip through my fingers with every rejection. And I spiraled and I came up for air to those authentic friendships speaking Truth in love. God knew what He was doing when He built my community, and He knew He would use it to lift me up and tear down my ugly.

The Darkest Valley Was Ahead. Everything stood still in 2014. My personal crisis gave me little room for any true focus on my writing success. If anything, it made the effort seem petty. When you go through your days wondering if you’ll make it to the next morning without a complete mental breakdown, you can’t really dream. My dream in those moments was to crawl out of my skin and run away. This was not about my writing, this was about God’s faithfulness to someone who was losing faith–in the person she loved, in the life she constructed, in the heart that was broken. Looking back (I did climb up and out of this valley), I needed this valley walk (or crawl) to happen when it did–without a book on the shelf, without confidence in something that I had accomplished. I needed brokenness to become stronger and know that my strength has nothing to do with me. There are several other moments and signs that I see as I look back, but I’m not going for the longest blog post of 2017, but I do want to share two sweet confirmations that the timing really is His.

First, I got a book contract! You know this, but, the contract came at a time when I had grown peaceful in the journey–the pride monster lay slain, and I picked up a pen and took an opportunity. My Oklahoma Land Run book with Love Inspired Historical won the Manuscript Matchmakers contest…and WAS coming out in Spring 2018. I had secretly told those closest to me, that it would’ve been nice for it to come out in September instead…just because that’s when the book opens–September, 1893–the historical date of the Land Run. So, what happens after I turn in my complete book a few days before its deadline? My editor tells me they bumped up my date to September of 2017. And I am sure, for them, it had nothing to do with the history, but for me, it was everything to do with the history–and His timing. Look for my debut novel, The Outlaw’s Second Chance this September! There’s more… My second contract came in! And this was a wonderful surprise. My agent and I had found out last spring that a new series was being launched based on geographical places around the U.S. I immediately thought of my Coal country story. So, I put together a proposal for a book I’d written long ago…and got a contract with Barbour this Fall for my novel, My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah. But, the timing? November 2017 is my release. God’s Timing in its finest…The book comes out during the centennial year of my grandfather’s birth. He was born in Dec. 1917 in Carbon County, Utah. My hero and my inspiration for this very book. I just can’t stop smiling at the chance to honor my late grandfather with a story written by his third generation Greek American granddaughter who was inspired by his roots grown a century ago. If only he could be here now. But I know he’s smiling, too. A century. It took a CENTURY. Only by God’s grace, and His perfect timing.

My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah is a book of heartache, love, faith, and times when tensions ran high. It depicts the 1900's well, during a time of great prejudice against anyone not born in the U.S.
The characters were well developed and the ongoing tension kept me on the edge of my seat. The story was laced wit struggles and great compromises. The ending took me by surprise, but I was pleased with how it turned out.


Faithfully Bookish, October 31
Caffeinated Reads, October 31
A Greater Yes, November 2
Daysong ReflectionsNovember 2
Carpe Diem, November 4
Radiant LightNovember 5
Texas Book-aholic, November 6
Babs Book Bistro, November 7
Neverending Stories, November 9
Have A Wonderful Day, November 10
Pause for Tales, November 10
Mary Hake, November 11
Splashes of JoyNovember 11
BigreadersiteNovember 12
Vicky Sluiter, November 13
Bibliophile ReviewsNovember 13


To celebrate her tour, Angie is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of her book The Outlaw’s Second Chance!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c1ff

My Review
My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah is a book of heartache,
love, faith and times when tensions ran high. It depicts the
1900's well, during a time of great prejudice against anyone
not born in the U.S.
The characters were well developed and the ongoing tension
kept me on the edge of my seat. The story was laced
with struggles and great comprimises.
The ending took me by surprise but I was pleased with how
it turned out.
An inspirational story of romance against all odds
where traditions are hard to overcome.
I received this book free through the Celebrate Lit Blog Tour 
and NetGalley I was under no obligation to post a review.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My Year in Books Read

This is a link to the books I have read in 2016.  I found a lot of favorite authors in the variety of what I read.  I also made over my quota of 50 to read by the end of the year and I'm still reading.  I love to write and have had an addiction to reading since I was a young child.  

Maybe you will find a new favorite also.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Poem- The Winter Stage

A poem for Winter- The Winter Stage

Icy mist arises in atmospheric splendor, A bleak horizon sets the Winter stage.
The river now hardened by the Winter's chill,
Replaces once more its emanation.

Frozen water droplets suspended in time hang from trees heavy laden with snow,
Forgotten; awaiting the new rebirthing.
For Spring; the time of growth, of harmony with nature,
To cleanse away the collection of nature's spoils.

The curtain falls as night descends upon the barren landscape,
Bringing once more its cold, brutal winds.
Newly fallen snow laid to rest in gigantic mounds of white,
Cover in ambiguous fascination, the Winter Stage.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Am I on the Right Bus- Creative Writing Exercise

                                                       Am I on the Right Bus?

             Andrew was successful.  Most of the time, he was happy and fortunate to have lived a decent life so far.  He was well traveled, educated, and by most standards a person of good moral character.  He was respected by his family and friends.  According to his family though, he needed to slow down and take a vacation.  He decided it might not be a bad idea.

He boarded the tour bus taking notice of all the people onboard. How odd that no one seemed to smile or greet him, yet the bus was full of people.  He watched out the window as Main St faded into the distance, then Cherry St and Park Avenue.

A sign up ahead stated, “Bridge out, 5 miles ahead,” which made him nervous.

“Driver, the bridge is out!”

“Don’t worry about the sign. The bridge was repaired a long time ago.”

Andrew nudged the arm of the older man seated next to him. After a couple of tries, the man turned to face him saying,” You have lived on the Earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.” Hebrews 5:5.

Andrew sat in silence wondering what he meant. He had plenty of possessions, but how was that wrong?

Another sign came into view, “Bridge out, 3 miles.”

With a loud voice a middle aged woman yelled, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some have unwittingly entertained Angels.” Hebrews 13:2.

Andrew didn’t believe in Angels. Surely she couldn’t mean the unkempt man standing outside the grocery store last week that was asking for a handout. He had told the man to get a job.  He didn’t see the man walk away with tears in his eyes as he grabbed the little hand of his hungry child and then simply vanish.

A scripture popped into his head, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” Ephesians 5:6.  He had been a fool and listened to unbelievers. He felt that he had everything he needed out of life.  A closeness with God brought accountability and obedience.  He did remember the closeness.  He had read something about once you accept Christ, you are HIS forever, but wasn’t sure he believed it.  

He didn’t notice the next sign. “Beware, bridge out 2 miles ahead.”

“Driver, how long until we get to our destination?” he asked.

No answer.

Andrew got out of his seat and made his way to the front of the bus. About half way there he felt a small hand slip inside of his.  Startled, he pulled his hand away.

“Don’t be afraid, I want to help you.  Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” I John 4:1.  And every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God and is the spirit of the Antichrist which you have heard is coming and is already in the world.” I John 4:3.

Andrew’s eyes filled with tears.  What if this bus was for the lost, the unsaved? He didn’t belong on this bus.  He prayed with all his might for forgiveness for not putting God first, for not spending more time with his family and for not caring about his fellow man.  A warm feeling began to fill him and he heard a voice telling him, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you!”

He continued the rest of the way to the front of the bus until he was almost at the drivers back and said in a loud confident voice, “Do you confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh?”

A throaty laugh escaped from the driver.

Andrew replied with, “The Lord rebuke you!”

“Please take your seat. We’re here.” replied the driver.

As Andrew made his way to his seat he noticed the sign, “Freeport City Limits.”  He was indeed on the right bus.  He was free at last.  All of his doubts had vanished and he knew he had really been forgiven.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I am Participating in the Writing Contest: Writers Crushing Doubt Hosted by Positive Writer

Writing Contest-Writers Crushing Doubt Hosted by Positive Writer

Doubt became more prevalent the closer I got to the end of my fiction novel.  I had been working on it for over a year without seeing it come to completion.  It seemed that I always let life come between what I felt was my true passion. I had faith, but doubt always crept in to tear that down layer by layer.

Doubt is a strange emotion.  It doesn’t have to be fed by outside sources for it to affect the inside of you.  In fact, if you are like me, I am my own worse contributor. It’s like a cancer.  Once you let it in, it takes hold of everything you do, especially your writing. 

When I feel the stronghold of doubt capturing my thoughts, I remind myself that I was born to write.  I also find that if my mood changes and I’m feeling inadequate, that immersing myself in my imaginary characters is a great release for doubt.  In my writing world my characters can do anything and I don’t doubt that, so why do I doubt my ability to write when that is real?

Studying the craft of writing is also a great replacement for doubt.  The more educated you become, the less you doubt yourself.  I do my best to study from the writers I admire.  I learn from the ones that are willing to share their experiences about how they defeated their doubt.  Then I apply some of the methods to my own writing.

I released my first science fiction ebook in January 2016. I had the manuscript professionally converted for kindle, had a professional cover done, and still right before I went to add it on Amazon for the world to see, doubt crept in again.  I emailed an author I know online and I’ll never forget what he said, “If you wait until you think you are good enough, you will never publish.  Just do it! 
From those words of encouragement I went from doubt to confidence.  You never know when one person’s words will be just what you need to hear at that particular moment. You need to reach out when you need encouragement.  The best advice I can leave writers with, is to find a mentor or writing buddy to help encourage you along the way. 

When you see your final work published, you won’t be able to contain the excitement you have to write that next book.  Writing isn’t easy but it is self- gratifying and for some of us, it’s as important as breathing.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

For The Times When Confidence in Your Writing Craft is Fading!

I'm the creative ego that lives within the filled pages of your literary works. I'm waiting, hidden as the blank pages causing intimidation.  I take on many forms, but the writer's voice tries to break through just the same. You have to search deep within the writing to determine if she has truly escaped or if I have cleverly disguised her presence.

Sometimes she gives you a clue when she writes from the heart, then her true inner-self comes out from under the layers of hidden walls she has carefully built for herself.  Sometimes my cloaks of insecurity and lack of confidence is revealed in the mish-mosh that falls within her pages.

Who is she really? She is someone who cares deeply. Someone who can witness another person's pain and feel immense compassion. Someone who finds beauty all around her and knows what touches her heart and makes her come alive.  She has searched for the internal meaning to, "What am I supposed to do with my life?" with the answer echoing back--"Use the gifts you were given!"

I then find myself being less and less able to control the pages and begin to grow silent.  She is like a butterfly emerging from the cocoon. She no longer needs to rely on me. She now has a voice of her own.

She refuses to wait to try her wings, unable to control the urge to try something new. She is learning to master the ability to focus on the process involved in creating instead of concentrating on the outcome. She lives everyday doing what is important to her. "If it really matters, make the time!"

She now looks at life with a new vision. I know someday soon, very soon, I will disappear and only her strong, confident voice will emerge victorious to be heard.  She has learned to let go of pain and doubt and welcome her creative side with open arms.