Joanne Markey

I don’t know where I heard it. Maybe it was in a writing group online, a book about writing, or maybe advice from someone I was talking to about writing. Wherever it came from, when I sat down to write Persuade Me, I did so with the intention of writing what I know. I wanted my book about Australia to truly reflect the wonderful resilient people who live there.

I’ve created worlds before. Towns that aren’t on a map anywhere. Towns that are peopled with fictional characters living completely fictional lives. I could have done that again for Persuade Me, but this time I wanted to set it in a real town where real events are referenced. I wanted to write about the life I knew.

What I didn’t intend was to weave so much fact into the fiction. That part just… happened.

Because I wrote what I knew.

I know what it’s like to set the alarm for 4am so I could drag myself over to the kitchen to cook breakfast for the men working on the station.

I know what it’s like to milk cows on a frosty winter morning with fingers that are chilled to the bone.

I know what it’s like to be given the job of feeding the weaners round hay bales with a front end loader, even though I’d never driven a loader before. I’d driven a tractor and that, apparently, was close enough…

Like any place where everyone works together as a team, we did those things and more because when something needed to be done and you were the only one available… then you did it.

I wanted that for my characters as well. So Anne did things that I did. And the more I wrote, the more stories came to mind that I could slip into the book.

Stories that weren’t only my experiences, but those of my parents and other family members as well.

These experiences from several different people became woven together into one story about two people, every scene strongly influenced by real events.

Even the scenes in the book that were created for the book have elements of reality woven into them. To the point where, if I sit down to think about the book and try to separate fact from fiction, I can’t think of a single instance where the entire scene was fictional.

In one case I based not only the event in question, but the conversations held during that event on something that my husband and I experienced nine years ago. I was able to go back through old emails I’d written to family and friends and find what my husband said and my character spoke his words.

I’ve called this book somewhat-semi-autobiographical, but it became more than just my story. It’s a combination of the stories of multiple people. I took what I knew and added what others knew, and together we created a world where Anne could find her happily ever after.


Melissa Wardwell

Fiction-Encouragement in the Faith

There was a time in my life when I liked the aesthetic of books on the shelf but taking the time to read them was something I didn’t actively participate in. I had more important things to do, places to be, people to see. The books I had read were enjoyable, but they had always been required reading for school. The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, The Great Gatsby were just a few required reads that I enjoyed. But they were missing something that I didn’t know I wanted in a book- faith.

It wasn’t until I read The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen, a book that had sat on my tiny bookshelf for years, that I found how satisfying Christian fiction could be.

If I recall correctly, I had just gotten married and my husband was watching some motorcycle building show. I had zero interest in it so I grabbed this book. I was so enthralled in the writing, the story telling, and the characters that I miss the show and my husband went to bed without me. Now, I wish I could say that started my reading journey, but I can’t. At least I don’t think I can. I don’t recall reading another Christian fiction book after that until I discovered Chautona Havig’s Ready or Not. After that, I was down a rabbit hole filled with Christian fiction and loving it.

You see, every story did more than just share a fictional character’s life but their faith. They didn’t just go to church, but they struggled with moments of walking in faith every day. It was a practice of the faith instead of checking off a time card. I witnessed them crying out to God for help, guidance, or what ever and it encouraged me. Especially when my life was filled with more Sesame Street and Nick Jr. than anything else. I would sit and read my books while the kids watched their program at night.

Sadly, I became board and turned to other books. Spicy books. That sent me down a spiral that was not healthy, especially when my husband was driving a semi truck from Long Beach, California to Bangor, Maine. When I became discontent with how life was, a friend pulled me aside in a random moment and asked, “What are you reading?” Now, she was asking about what I was reading in my Bible, but something hit me that I was not reading something God would appreciate. (I might add, if I was reading spicy books then I give you permission to assume I wasn’t reading my Bible.)

That said, I turned back to Christian fiction but found much of it lacking the same encouragement as it did before. Then I found  Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. The subject matter intrigued me and the way she wrote the in the Faith message touched my heart. Remember, I had not read my Bible at all for some time. So, even though I was not A completely lost child of God, I was definitely inching that way. I guess that’s why I am such a strong advocate for this book because the way she wrote it spoke to me and encouraged me to dig a little deeper into the Word and seek a relationship with the Father that was for me and not something my parents did.

I’m not saying Christian fiction should or could replace the Bible, but well written Christian fiction can encourage the reader to dig deeper in the Word for themselves. As Christian writers, our words should be pushing readers to seek a more fulfilling walk with Christ and not more of our books, though it is nice to see that readers enjoy them. As a writer, my motto has become “If it isn’t for the work of the Kingdom, it’s vanity.” As a reader, “I refuse to read anything that doesn’t edify the Body and glorify Christ.”


Mountain Brook Ink

Time is a funny thing.

For instance, the timing of the college-credit writing course that inspired me to earn a writing degree which inspired me to become a publishing professional. I almost didn’t take that course.

It was my junior year of high school, and I was on my youth group’s leadership team. I couldn’t skip our retreat! And even if I could, I didn’t want to make that decision in half a week. But my dad said “do it,” and my youth leader said “do it,” so I applied, I attended, and I learned that I could be a writer.

But I almost didn’t.

Perhaps I would be a teacher, now. Or a pastor. Or an artist. Like a stream flowing around a rock, my life might have flowed in a whole new direction, all because of a short window in time.

For my first college class, I arrived 15 minutes early. I’d been homeschooled, and this “scheduled classes” thing was new. I didn’t want to screw it up. Another kid arrived early, and with nothing else to do, we struck up a conversation. Fast forward several years, and he’s one of my closest friends. But perhaps I never would have gotten to know him that well if I’d arrived 15 minutes late.

Do you ever wonder what might have happened if you’d driven a little slower, walked a little faster, looked up from your newspaper just a moment before? Maybe you’d meet a different person, have a different conversation, form a different relationship, and the rest would be history.

The path of time connects generation to generation, and sometimes, glancing back shows twists and turns we’d never imagined. For author Starr Ayers, a box of letters in her deceased mother’s trunk uncovered a history Starr had never known—a history that inspired a story of Starr’s own.

What happened to the soldier who wrote those love letters all those years ago? What choice did the young waitress make, and why?

Be sure to enter the For the Love of Emma giveaway for a chance to read that story for yourself.


Stacy T. Simmons

A Hug from the Oven

Growing up, Easter was celebrated with beautiful baskets filled with pastel-hued wrapped chocolates, then going to church to hear the Easter story, sing hymns, and have a big, delicious dinner back home as a family. These are treasured memories.

My husband and I carried out this tradition as our children were growing up as well. My breakfast I served was from a can of cinnamon rolls, to make sure we arrived to church on time, but the Easter dinner was all homemade. For many years of our married life, my husband would speak fondly of his grandma’s baking.

Please read along to find out more history behind the recipe and the delicious recipe itself, it’s like a hug from the oven.

May you and your family have a wonderful day of rejoicing in our Heavenly Savior’s resurrection! Happy Easter!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” – 1 Peter 1:3

My husband’s wonderful grandmother Christine or “Grandma,” as her grandkids called her, used her exemplary cooking skills to show her love to her family, everyone appreciated and looked forward to her being in the kitchen. That meant something delicious was going to appear.

Before I share the recipe for her legendary cinnamon twists let’s see how this all came about. Special thanks go out to my wonderful Mother-in-law Hilda for sharing the story and recipe.

Grandma and her husband Hicklin (Grandad) were newlyweds who lived in Gainesville, Florida. He was a student at the University of Florida. I’m sure her husband wanted to eat when he’d come back to their place at a rooming house. There was only one little problem . . . Grandma (Christine) didn’t even know how to boil water. True story. So, their landlady taught her how to cook these cinnamon twists and many other scrumptious meals.

You never know how a person’s singular act of kindness can filter through generations of a family. 

Mother’s Cinnamon Twists

1 c sour cream
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 T shortening
3 c flour
1 yeast packet in 1/4 c warm water
1/4 c sugar
2 eggs
2 T butter (softened)
1/3 c white sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

1 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1-2 T milk

Heat cream in a pan on the stovetop, add shortening, sugar, salt, soda, eggs. Beat together, add the yeast and flour. Knead on wax paper.
Let rest 10 minutes, roll out and spread softened butter, sugar, and cinnamon.
Fold over top to bottom, cut into one-inch strips. Twist strips.
Put in a greased pan and let rise until doubled (about an hour).
Cook in a 375-degree oven until done (approx. 15 minutes)
Mix glaze ingredients together, adding enough of the milk to spread over warm cinnamon twists.

Cooking has been part of my life for many years, and its why my debut novel, A Promise for Faith, centers around a chef who has to overcome many obstacles to both strengthen her faith and find her heart’s desire.


Sweet Promise Press

Meeting Up with Love (series)

Meeting Up with Love is a charming collection of laugh-out-loud romantic comedies full of tech-driven mixups and mistaken online connections.

Whether you’re meeting up in person or still communicating via online conference calls, there’s one thing upon which we can all agree. Technology like video conferencing through programs like Zoom and Google Meet is here to stay.

During 2020 alone, Zoom’s business customer base grew by 470.33%. By March 2021, more than 2.8 billion people used the service for everything from professional meetings to personal hangouts to online dating.

When all goes right, it’s fantastic! On the other hand, when things go wrong, the results could have lasting effects. Can you imagine the meet-cutes that could result from a video chat mishap?

That idea is the inspiration behind the sweet contemporary romance stories in the Meeting Up with Love series. Find out what happens when two people log onto the wrong video chat … and see how tech glitches lead to happily ever afters!

These novellas offer you the perfect escape that will put a smile on your face and a warm feeling in your heart. Dive into the Meeting Up with Love series and start laughing out loud today!