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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

#WednesdayWordswithFriend welcomes Karen McCullough @kgmccullough

Good Morning and Welcome to the LAST Wednesday Words with Friends post in November 2022!

We're continuing our All Christmas thru Christmas with guest, Karen McCullough with her light, contemporary romantic suspense novella set at Christmas, Blue December!

With money disappearing from registers in her department and inventory going AWOL as well, Meg Brandt is having a really bad Christmas.

It’s two weeks before Christmas and Meg Brandt, a department manager at Wambash’s, “the store with the answer to all your family’s needs,” has problems beyond the usual seasonal chaos. Her department is losing cash from the registers. Inventory is leaving the premises unrecorded and unpaid.

Security is focusing on her, since the losses are happening on her watch. Her efforts to track down the source of the disappearances have produced no results, and her career appears to be headed for oblivion. When the store’s new security officer starts showing unusual attention to her, Meg isn’t sure what to think. He’s attractive in any number of ways, but she can’t be sure if his interest is personal or professional.

Excerpt: The sound system suggested that everyone should have a holly, jolly Christmas, but no one around, including Meg, seemed to be heeding the advice. The customer leaning against the sales counter wasn't jolly; the other six waiting in line behind her didn't look at all amused; Heather, the young sales associate, was close to tears; and Meg's stomach begged for another dose of Maalox.

Meg glanced again at the piece of paper she held. “I’m sorry,” she repeated. “We just can't accept checks that aren't imprinted.” And especially not for three hundred and twenty dollars, she thought. She didn't say so aloud. Meg looked up and met the woman's furious eyes.

“I don't see why not,” the irate customer said. “I used one at JC Penney just this afternoon.”

Meg didn't voice her doubts on that score. “It doesn't matter. Our store's policy—”

“Are you trying to imply that my check isn't good?” The woman’s pitch and volume rose steadily to levels that were beginning to attract attention in the next aisle. “It's libel or something like that. You're just assuming the check is bad 'cause my name ain't printed on it? I could sue you. Can't you call the bank or something?”

You know very well it's almost nine o’clock and the banks are closed, Meg thought. She swallowed her growing irritation and suspicion with an effort of will and managed to sound calm. “I’m afraid not. Do you have a credit card you could put this on?”

Glancing at Meg, Heather shook her head and said, “The machine wouldn't take either of them.”

Figures, Meg decided, guarding her face. “We could hold these things for you for a day or two,” she offered. “You can go to the bank tomorrow and cash a check. Or, if you prefer, we can put them on layaway. “

“I had to drive twenty-two miles to get here,” the woman protested. “And I got arthritis and it ain't easy for me to move around. I came here special today just to get them clothes.” She launched into a loud, angry tirade that questioned the store's devotion to its customers, attacked its absurd and libelous policies, and impugned the integrity of the associate and Meg herself. Meg nodded to Heather to cancel the transaction and take the next customer's merchandise while she walked around the counter and maneuvered the woman a little to the side. The outburst continued unabated.

She grew even louder after Meg told her that the store manager wasn't currently available, nor was the assistant manager. The woman was turning red in the face, and since she was rather overweight anyway, Meg began to worry about the possibility of her having a heart attack. People were stopping to stare at the spectacle they presented.

Meg was so focused on the angry woman, wondering how she was going to both soothe and get rid of her, that she actually jumped when a male voice behind her asked, “Is something wrong?”

She whirled to face the newcomer, a stranger who, nevertheless, acted as though he belonged there. No, not entirely a stranger. Meg remembered that he'd been introduced at the last staff meeting as the new assistant to the head of security. At the time she'd been torn between wondering why the head of security suddenly needed an assistant and watching the reaction of the female clerks to the new employee, so she hadn't actually paid much attention to him. Anyway that had been almost a week ago, and the preholiday chaos had occupied most of her waking (and some of her sleeping) moments since.

She avoided making an introduction since she couldn't remember the man's name and explained the situation to him. He had cool hazel-green eyes that melted into warmth and fiery charm, which he directed toward the angry woman with all the deliberate aim of an archer. Within minutes he was guiding the woman toward the customer-service desk so she could lodge a formal complaint. Meg breathed a sigh of relief as they left. When the man turned to glance at her briefly as they rounded the comer to the main aisle, she offered him a grateful smile; the look he gave in return held no hint of warmth or charm. It wasn't unfriendly either. She searched her mind for a description. Unreadable. Inscrutable—that was the word she wanted.

Meg initialed the voided transaction slip, hoping she could now get back to her desk and the stack of sales registers that refused to balance out. No such luck, of course. She'd barely tucked her pen back into her pocket when the public-address system summoned her to the Juniors’ department.

Karen McCullough is the author of almost two dozen published novels and novellas in the mystery, romance, suspense, and fantasy genres, including the Market Center Mysteries Series and three books in the No Brides Club series of romance novels. A member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Piedmont Authors Network, she is also a past president of the Southeast chapter of Mystery Writers of America and member of the MWA national board. Karen has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy, and has also been a finalist in the Daphne, Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, and Vixen Award contests. Her short fiction has appeared in a wide variety of anthologies. She lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.

Get your copy of Blue December HERE. Check out Karen's previous visits HERE.

Sounds like a great story, Karen! Thanks for sharing. Wishing you the best of luck and God's blessings with your writing endeavors.

Hope you enjoyed today's post, friends and that you'll stop by weekly for Wednesday Words with Friends and Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time, take care and God Bless.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

#SaturdaySpotlight is on Sadira Stone @SadiraStone & Christmas Rekindled!

Good Morning and Welcome to the last Saturday in November 2022!

Yep, goes without saying...time flies when you're having fun. Are you having fun yet?


Hope your Thanksgiving was Blessed and Happy! The flu bug messed up my plans but I'm back on my feet and (hopefully) on the dance floor tonight. But today, I'm pleased to introduce you to a brand new to our blog author, Sadira Stone with Christmas Rekindled as part of our All Christmas thru Christmas feature. Take it away, Sadira....

Bartender River Lundqvist has a damn good reason for hating Christmas. Bangers Tavern is the perfect place to lay low over the holidays—until Charlie walks in. His first encounter with the saucy server nine years ago was utter humiliation. Her reappearance stirs up powerful desires and hopes for a new start. But the timing is all wrong.

Back in Tacoma to care for her estranged dad over the holidays, freelance web designer Charlie Khoury braces herself for the suckiest Christmas ever. A temporary job at Bangers Tavern gives her a chance to escape Dad’s criticism and blow off some steam. But why does the hunky bartender seem to hate her?    

A pretend girlfriend is just what River needs to keep his family off his back—until a kiss under the mistletoe flares hot enough to melt the North Pole. When greedy developers threaten Bangers Tavern, River and Charlie must team up to save it. Their sizzling chemistry feels like the real thing—but everyone knows rebound relationships don’t last.

Come to Bangers Tavern for an enemies-to-lovers tale of reconciliation, found family, holiday cocktails, and the steamiest Christmas miracle ever.

Her low, throaty chuckle made him want to kiss her again. Though he pretty much wanted to kiss her anytime she was within range.

She laid her hand palm-up on the center console. “The thing is, I’m not looking for a relationship.”

Remembering a bit of Dawn’s wisdom, he nestled his hand into hers. “You never find a relationship when you’re looking for one.”

Her gaze softened, open and vulnerable. “Are you looking?”

Warning sirens blared inside his head. This was a question to answer very carefully. “If you’d asked me a month ago, I’d say, ‘No way.’ But then, I kissed this girl under the mistletoe, and…”

She closed her eyes, lifted his hand, and pressed it to her sternum. Beneath his palm, her heart thudded fast. His pulse sped to match hers. He held his breath.

“I like you, River.” Her whisper matched the brush of snowflakes against the windows.

“I like you too.”

She inhaled deeply, then met his gaze. “Enough to be my friend?”

He nodded, mesmerized.

“Because my life is a mess right now, and I have no idea what the [fudge] I’m doing.”

Her coarse language stirred up a heady swirl of laughter, sympathy, and arousal. He scooted as near as the center console allowed and placed his lips close to her ear. “I’ll tell you a secret. Me neither.”

Fire flickered in her eyes’ inky depths. Her lips parted. A golden thread wound around his heart and tugged him toward her. His thumb stroked the delicate line of her jaw as he closed the distance.

Award-winning contemporary romance author Sadira Stone spins steamy, smoochy tales set in small businesses—a quirky bookstore, a neighborhood bar, a vintage boutique... Her stories highlight found family, friendship, and the sizzling chemistry that pulls unlikely partners together. When she emerges from her writing cave in Las Vegas, Nevada (which she seldom does), she can be found in belly dance class, or strumming her ukulele, perhaps exploring the West with her charming husband, or cooking up a storm, and always gobbling all the romance books. For a guaranteed HEA (and no cliffhangers!) visit Sadira at www.sadirastone.com.

Connect with Sadira on all the socials: https://linktr.ee/SadiraStone

THANK You, Sadira for replacing that naughty word for us! Although some of us don't mind steamy, sensual or an occasional F-bomb we appreciate your sensitivity to those who do. And we certainly wish you the best of luck and God's blessings with your books.

Hope you ejoyed today's guest friends, and that you'll check back weekly for another edition of Saturday Spotlight and Wednesday Words with Friends.

Until next time, take care and God bless.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

#WednesdayWordswithFriends welcomes Alina K Field & Belles & Beaux!

Good Morning and Happy Thanksgiving!

Before we get to our All Christmas thru Christmas guest I'd like to take a moment and THANK Each and Every One of YOU who follow my blog and support my guests and to wish you ALL a BLESSED and Happy Thanksgiving! 

Now on to our guest....

Alina K Field is no stranger to our blog and today she shares with us her story from the Christmas collection published by the Bluestocking Belles. Take it away, Alina....

Now available for Pre-order for only 99 cents!

I’m excited to share with you this newest collection of stories from the Bluestocking Belles, including my brand new novelette, Flowers for His Lady. If you’ve read A Leap Into Love, you’ll recognize the heroine as one of the secondary characters from that story.
Belles & Beaux

Just in time for Christmas 2022 comes this boxed set of eight charming stories of love, family, and miracles. Each Belle has contributed a sweet tale set in the festive season–each just long enough to fit in between tasks at this busy time of the year. The tales are unrelated, except by the festive season.

Some have been written for this collection, some are made-to-order stories never before published, some have been used as fan giveaways. All are delightful.

So pour the drink of your choice, find a favorite chair, and step into one of our worlds.

A Mistletoe Kiss: Sherry Ewing
As Christmas approaches, Sophie Templeton’s one wish is a kiss beneath the mistletoe from the man who holds her heart. Spencer, Earl of Wilmott has been quietly waiting for Sophie to grow up. Has he left it too late to make his offer?

The Magic Christmas Stew: Susana Ellis
The life of an idle spare was no life at all for retired Captain, Daniel Winthrop. He was capable of doing many things, but they all required a wealthy bride. Governess Emily Bainbridge feared being pursued for her fortune, so she kept hers a secret. Will this pair find the courage to conquer their pride and risk all for love?

Flowers for His Lady: Alina K Field
After her fall from grace years ago, Eleanor Gurnwood has made a family of the villagers in her vicar-brother’s parish. His rising career means she must choose between continuing as his minion or staying with the village. Then her past rides in on a white horse in the form of Major Sir Bramwell Huxley.

An Angel’s Promise: Rue Allyn
Artis MacKai might be only a little girl, but she is not going to let a blizzard, wolves, or a deadly enemy stop her from rescuing the stolen mare and foal who are the hope of her family. It will take the spirits of her parents, a determined boy, and her desperate brother to save her.

Room at the Inn: Caroline Warfield
A fatherless child requires a village with room in their hearts. A hardhearted baroness makes it impossible. The Honorable Declan Alworth steps up to make room in his heart and his home for the little treasure. How can the vicar’s niece, Maera Willis, resist either one of them?

Zara’s Locket: Jude Knight
After Zara MacLaren is dismissed from her post on Christmas Eve, things go from bad to worse. When a goldsmith recognises the locket he once made in the hands of a would-be seller, he sets out to find her. What seems bad fortune might just turn into a Christmas miracle.

Three Ships: Elizabeth Ellen Carter
Laura Winter lives on a tidal island that is home to a lighthouse. On a late November day a violent storm brings not only the handsome Lieutenant Michael Renten but also a clutch of pirates bent on wreaking mischief.

The Beau of Christmas Past: Cerise DeLand
Years ago, Alyssa and Declan were caught enjoying a Christmas kiss, which broke Alyssa’s betrothal to another man, and caused the pair to be exiled, far from their families and one another. Home for Christmas, will they find the past something to be overcome? Or fulfilled?

Excerpt from Flowers for His Lady

The helpers had departed St. Tancred’s hours ago when the wet snow falling showed a determination to stick, as the last few December snowfalls had not done. Besides, some of the members of the Ladies’ Society for the Improvement of Village Life had meals to prepare. Those with servants had children to tend to and husbands who would worry about their safe arrival. 

Even the new curate, Mr. Godwin, had left, polite and pleased, after a cursory visit in the late afternoon. He and his wife—a lovely woman due to give birth soon—would serve the people of Upper Upton far better than… 

With a steadying breath, Miss Eleanor Gurnwood shook off what would be an uncharitable thought. 

She had stayed on in the peaceful solitude to finish arranging great urns of winter greens and holly, despairing of their broken organ, and the promised flowers from the Brockton Manor greenhouse. 

Never mind. This would be a lovely Christmas at St. Tancred’s, or at least better than last year’s celebration when her brother’s cheeseparing meddling had decimated the ranks of her helpful ladies. 

He’d left weeks ago, and the ladies had come back. 

No one waited at home for her but Millie, her landlord, Galt Wyman’s housekeeper. Millie would be ready with her usual meat pie and cabbage mash keeping warm near the hearth. And despite that it was the sabbath, old Galt would be at the Royal George, himself pie-eyed, and cabbage-mashed after too many pints.

The stained glass of the windows, depicting the medieval martyrdom of St. Tancred and his siblings obscured the view, but outside, the winter night glowed with the sort of soft light that comes with a snowfall. She hoped the weather wouldn’t spoil the plans for tomorrow night’s Christmas Eve Carol service, or the Christmas morning liturgy, or the children’s party Christmas afternoon at the Longview Children’s Home. 

She bent close to the lantern and reached for her watch, remembered she’d sold it to get through the quarter, and sighed. Next year her small trust would be her own to manage and draw from. 

The remaining lit candle told her it was likely past seven. Well then, she’d best go rescue Galt before he stumbled his way to the church to fetch her. But first…

Three layers of skirts cushioned her knees against the cold marble as she bent her head and gripped her gloved hands together. Lord, give me wisdom, guide my path; for pity’s sake, send an angel, send someone, to show me the way. 

Tears sprang and she blinked them back. And cleanse me of this nauseating self-pity. 

It was, after all, her own fault. She’d loved impetuously, with the natural consequence of losing emphatically. 

And she wouldn’t trade that one experience of love—of loving—for all the rubies in India. Pity herself, she might, and battle the hurt that had followed, but it seemed St. Paul was right—for the love had never quite gone away.

Besides, she wasn’t entirely alone. There were good people here in the village of Upper Upton. Her landlord, for one, and his housekeeper. And the innkeeper and his wife. And the matrons and teachers and the young residents of the nearby Longview Children’s Home. 

She had friends, though those ties were still tenuous. She had hopes of a position at Longview. She also had her brother, who loved her in his own overbearing way. 

If only he could display more charity. 

What really was so terrible about what she’d done? It had been reckless, and foolish, and so wonderful that she pulled out the memory sometimes and savored it. She, destined to spinsterhood, had been loved. 

In the end, she’d suffered no more than a wound to her heart and endless hours of tiresome lectures. She felt certain that God had forgiven her. So why did his servant, Reverend Matthew Gurnwood, keep reminding her of that one lapse from propriety? 

A man’s rumbling voice and the creaking of door hinges accompanied a blast of cold air that blew out the candle’s flame. 

Blasted Galt. “Please close the door and spare me a moment,” she called over her shoulder, “and I’ll add a prayer that God in his goodness may spare you the consequences of tonight’s imbibing.” 

“I fear more than a prayer is needed for this fellow, madam.” 

A frisson of awareness shivered up her spine. The deep, gruff voice caressing her wasn’t Galt’s. Or Matthew’s. Or Mr. Godwin’s. And it was no angel’s voice. 

Memories flooded her with yearning—hopeless yearning for something her pride would balk at receiving. It wasn’t him. It couldn’t be him. 

“Courage,” she muttered. 

Another blast of cold air swirled around her. She scrambled to her feet, snatched up her heavy mantle and the lantern, and hurried down the aisle. 

Release Day is 12/15/22. 

Pre-order your copy today for only 99 cents at your Favorite Online Retailer!

Award-winning and USA Today bestselling author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature but prefers the much happier world of romance fiction. She makes her home in Southern California, and between wrangling a terrier, a chihuahua, and two feisty grandkids, she’s hard at work on her next historical adventure.

Check out Alina's previous visits to our blog HERE.  Find out more and connect with Alina at the following sites....

Hope you enjoyed today's All Christmas thru Christmas book and that you'll stop by each week for another on Wednesday Words with Friends and Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time take care and God bless.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

#SaturdaySpotlight is on Linda Carroll-Bradd & Stained Glass Memories!

Good Morning!

LOT'S going on today... Bayou Writers Group Meeting then The Chosen then (hopefully) dancing. New band playing so we'll see.

As I mentioned Wednesday, all posts through Dec 31st will be Christmas books so let's give Linda Carroll-Bradd the stage with her lovely novella, Stained Glass Memories.....

Caterer Lorelei Warner juggles her fledging Southern California business and raising young twins with the help of her mother and sister. Handling a three-day wedding event stretches her limits…and then her old beau walks in and threatens the delicate balance.

Stained glass restorer Wynn Tatum hopes to cross paths with the woman he left behind to pursue his dreams. What he doesn’t expect is that seeing Lorelei again sparks the feelings from six years ago. Now that he’s held her in his arms again, and learned he’s the father to five-year-old twins, he will do anything to stay in touch. How can his family be whole if he and Lorelei live on two different continents?

I’m not ready. Lorelei stiffened. The voice she’d expected, and dreaded, to hear from the moment she won the catering contract for this wedding materialized only a few feet away. Bracing for the impact of seeing her high school love again, she angled her body to face him. At nineteen, he’d been on the cusp of becoming the handsome man who now stood not four feet away. Sun-kissed brown hair pulled straight back from his broad, tanned forehead. His gray eyes stared from under thick, smoky eyelashes she’d always envied. Same as always, she flushed from her chest up her neck. “Wynn Tatum, you do remember your roots.”

“Just as smart-mouthed as always.” He glanced up and down her length, then smiled. “Still as bella as I remember. You haven’t aged.”

Foreign words? Well, he hadn’t lost his charming ways during his absence from Southern California. Not as muscled as when he’d played football, he appeared athletic and way too polished for her peace of mind. “Am I supposed to return the lie?” She adjusted the stack of plates a half inch to the left. Biting her tongue would have been better than snapping. She glanced again at his tall form and recognized the signature cut and details of a world-class tailor known for expensive, custom-made suits. The dove-gray color offset his tan. Those classes in fashion design hadn’t gone to total waste. She recognized quality when she saw it. Wherever he landed when he disappeared off the face of the earth, he’d done well for himself.

His eyebrows pinched, and he glanced around the immediate area. “Hey, I know we probably should talk.”

“Boss, how many stands?”

The voice came in her phone earpiece. Lorelei held up a finger to halt Wynn and tapped on the microphone with her other hand. “Four for now, please.”

“Coming right out.”

“Thanks, Amy.” She tapped off the microphone, then looked into those gray eyes that were so familiar—just like the ones she gazed into every day for the past five years. “Sorry, Wynn. I’m working this event and need to focus.”

He stepped closer, right hand stretched forward. A moment passed before he dropped it again to his side. “Promise me we’ll have a drink together tonight or tomorrow after the wedding.”

The effort to enact tomorrow’s reception would be huge. She couldn’t imagine meeting with him after her responsibilities ended. Following a wedding, she was always exhausted and just wanted to go home and crash on her comfy sofa. “Maybe tonight after this dinner or after Sunday’s brunch.”

“Tonight’s my choice.” He grinned and set his free hand on his hip. “I’m visiting family on Sunday.”

Family…if he only knew. “Your folks are still in the area?” She hadn’t meant to ask that question aloud. But when she’d been desperate to get in touch with Wynn shortly after their breakup, she’d gone to the house where he was raised only to find it empty with a For Sale sign in the front yard.

Shifting his stance, Wynn frowned and opened his mouth.

Footsteps approached.

Lorelei spun and stretched out her arms toward Amy. Here was a legitimate reason to end this conversation and stop blurting out too much information that she didn’t want to reveal.

As a young girl, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about fascinating characters having exciting adventures in places far away and in other time periods. In later years, she read and then started writing romances and achieved her first publication--a confession story. Married with 4 adult children and 2 granddaughters, Linda now writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor from her home in the southern California mountains.

Find out more about Linda by visiting with her on her Blog, FB Page, Twitter, Amazon Author Page, BookBub, Good Reads and/or signing up to receiven her Newsletter!

Check out Linda's previous visit to our blog HERE and get your copy of Stained Glass Memories at Amazon, B&N, Apple Books, Google Play & Kobo. Read my review of the book HERE.

Hope you enjoyed this post and that we'll see you next week for more All Christmas thru Christmas on Wednesday Words with Friends and Saturday Spotlight!

Until then, take care and God bless.


Wednesday, November 16, 2022

#WednesdayWordswithFriends All Christmas thru Christmas!

Good Morning!

If you LOVE Christmas themed stories, beginning today through Dec. 30th right here on our blog will be All Christmas thru Christmas - where every Wed. and Sat. you'll get a peek into a Christmas romance.

Click on graphic to purchase your copy today!

I was going to do another spot on Keri's Christmas Wish but since I featured it here for NN Light's 'Christmas in July Fete' I thought I'd share a few Christmas Confessions...

1.      I always buy Eggnog at Christmas because it’s the best time of the year to sit, reflect and enjoy the smooth, creamy drink.

2.      In my opinion, Christmas fruitcake should be outlawed – it’s just plain nasty LOL!

3.      I better get up Christmas morning and find Heartland Season 14 under the tree or else I’m going to literally break down and cry because it’s one of my FAVORITE TV series. The Chosen ranks number 1 LOL!

4.   The best thing about Christmas is the almost tangible love, peace, joy and goodwill toward men that seems to be more prevalent during this season.

5.      My Christmas dinner is usually a feast, or a free-for-all or take-out and my favorite dish is cornbread dressing and I’ll be drinking Wine.

Hope you enjoyed this short, sweet post and that you'll check back each week for Wednesday Words with Friends and Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time take care and God Bless.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

#SaturdaySpotlight is in Karen McCullough @kgmccullough & Playing at Murder!

Good Morning Friends,

It's been quite a while since Karen visited our blog but today we get a peek into her latest release, Playing at Murder, one of her Market Center Mysteries series! Welcome, Karen....

Dolls, constructions sets, stuffed animals, craft kits, and more are the featured displays in the annual Games and Playthings Trade Show at the Washington D.C. Commerce and Market Center, where vendors seek to convince retail buyers to stock their products. Murder and destruction aren’t supposed to be on the program.

The hit-and-run death of an exhibitor overshadows what should be a fun few days of giveaways, games, and demos. A gun hidden in a bin of stuffed animals, a damaged show car, and a drone knocking over the PlayBlox displays are the opening salvos of chaos created by a clever but unhinged vandal.

Settling disputes and fielding complaints are all in a day’s work for Heather McNeil, assistant to the director of the Market Center. Sussing out murder suspects to help the police is way beyond her job description, especially while trying to corner a vandal before the damage gets worse. Keeping the show running despite the mayhem will pit her and her allies, particularly Scott Brandon, the Center’s handsome but enigmatic security officer, against someone playing a deadly game.

Playing at Murder, the newest in my Market Center Mysteries series, released on October 19th. Like the other books in the series, it’s set at a trade show, this time the Games & Playthings Exhibition.

What does that mean?  Toys! Lots of toys!  Of course, some of the toys are subject to not-so-nice treatment, since the book includes not just a murder, but vandalism as well. A gun gets dropped into a bin of stuffed animals, play-block towers are knocked over by a drone, and the dolls – well, let’s just say, it’s unfortunate.

But the giant dragon that needs repair is just too adorable and the large cowboy critter is…different, anyway.

Here’s how the book starts:

Armies of super-heroes stood guard to the left of me, while lions, tigers, and bears gathered on the right. They all watched with silent concern as I zigged around an arsenal of armaments fueled by hydrogen dioxide and various mixtures of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. I faced my goal, Dougal the Dragon, head-on and stalked toward him. In my arms I cradled the all-important emergency medical supplies for his injured representative at this gathering. Heaven help us all if he couldn’t be saved.

Ding dong. That was a bit of wild fantasy, but I enjoyed letting my imagination loose on this mission. The touch of whimsy provided some diversion from the noise and chaos of setting up the Games and Playthings Exhibition at the Washington D.C. Commerce and Market Center. G&P, which was due to start the next day, was one of the largest trade shows for toys and games in the industry, and it brought the usual supply of problems and conflicts inherent in large events.

I tried to avoid being on the show floor as much as possible on set-up days. The constant banging of hammers, clanging of metal on metal, buzzing of electric screwdrivers, squeaking of dolly and cartwheels, warning chirps of the forklifts, and people shouting always induced a headache if I had to spend much time there. Not to mention having to pick my way around the pallets, crates, and boxes stacked everywhere and dodging those squeaking dollies and chirping forklifts.

I still ended up spending more time on the floor than I would’ve liked. Territorial disputes and arguments over arrangements broke out with sadly human regularity, and a large part of my job involved keeping the peace. Trying to, anyway.

This assignment was different. I let go of the fantasy illusion as I got to the Donneywell Enterprises booth, identified myself, and explained my mission.

“Heather McNeil,” I said to the person behind the only table set up in the booth space. “Assistant to the director of the Market Center. I was told you needed a sewing kit to repair one of your displays.” I set the box down on the table where a young woman with long brown hair scraped back from her face and tied in a messy braid at the back looked up from collating and stapling pages.

She stared at me with a blank expression, glanced down at my badge, but said nothing. Her expression went from vacant to wary. 

“Can I speak to the person in charge of the booth?” I asked when the silence stretched out too long.

A voice spoke from the back. “That would be me.”

A woman in her late forties or early fifties stepped out from behind a pyramid of boxes at least a foot taller than she was. My first, none-too-kind impression of her was “overcooked.” Her blonde hair had the straw-like texture resulting from too much chemical treatment for too long a time, and the spray-tanned skin of her face had been lifted once too often already. Tight jeans and a fashionably shoulder-slit top showed off a slim figure that seemed to vibrate with contained energy. Good bones under the tight skin and lively green eyes made her attractive.

“Lorene Donneywell,” she said, holding out a hand. “I heard you say you were with the Market Center staff.” She had a strong New York accent.

“I’m the assistant to the director,” I repeated. “I handle a lot of trouble-shooting issues for her. I’ve brought the sewing supplies you requested.”

“Great. How long do you think it will take you?”

“Take me? To do what?”

“Fix the tear in Dougal.” She pointed to the eight-foot-tall display dragon I’d used to identify their booth. The creature, which must’ve been as long as it was tall, occupied nearly a third of their allotted double space. Along the side of his back, a seam had opened and leaked stuffing. Bits of cotton fluff clung to the green, plush fabric.

I hesitated, taken aback. “You requested a sewing kit, not a seamstress. I’m afraid I don’t know the first thing about sewing. Not even sure how the thread gets through the needle.”

Lorene rolled her eyes. “Why did they send you, then?”

“Because you asked for sewing equipment in a hurry. We got it as quickly as we could. We assumed you had someone on your staff who knew how to use it.”

The woman’s penciled-in eyebrows rose. “We all know what happens when you assume things.”

I kept my smile in place, despite the irritation roiling inside. I had so much experience keeping my emotions under control, I could maintain a pleasant façade with barely a thought. “Misunderstandings happen when people aren’t specific about what they need. Give me a minute and I’ll see if I can find someone to come and make the repairs.” I pulled out my phone but before I could press the button to turn it on, the girl I’d first met piped up.

“I can do it.”

We both turned toward her, but Lorene spoke first. “Why didn’t you say something sooner?”

The girl frowned at both of us. “No one asked.”

Karen McCullough is the author of almost two dozen published novels and novellas in the mystery, romance, suspense, and fantasy genres, including the Market Center Mysteries Series and three books in the No Brides Club series of romance novels. A member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Piedmont Authors Network, she is also a past president of the Southeast chapter of Mystery Writers of America and member of the MWA national board. Karen has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy, and has also been a finalist in the Daphne, Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, and Vixen Award contests. Her short fiction has appeared in a wide variety of anthologies. She lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.

Find out more about Karen and her work by visiting her Website, Blog, FB Page or on Twitter  @kgmccullough!  See Karen's previous visits to our blog HERE.

Get your copy of Playing at Murder at Amazon on Kindle and in Print and other online retailers HERE.

Wow, Karen we certainly wish you the best of luck and God's blessings with your new release!

Hope you enjoyed Karen's visit friends and that you'll check back each week for another edition Wednesday Words with Friends and Saturday Spotlight!

Until next time, take care and God Bless.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

#WednesdayWordswithFriends Welcomes Izzy James!

Good Morning Friends,

I'm going meet a friend at United Way to pack Literacy Kits for Pre-K thru 5th grade students in our community, so I'm not going to take up much of your time but turn the blog over to today's guest, Izzy James. Take it away Izzy....

Have you ever been completely misunderstood? I mean really misjudged with no opportunity to make your case? 

When I was in the fifth grade, I was chosen to be in a gifted math class. I loved math then and I love it now. The class was small, maybe eight students at most. I do not remember the teacher or all of my classmates, but I remember the day I got kicked out. 

My teacher had put a puzzle on the board for us to work on, whoever solved it first won the prize. I know now that the puzzle was a Sudoku. I had never seen one before. We worked on it during class, and two of my classmates solved it together. My teacher was so impressed she had them fill out their answer on the board for all of us to see. The project was over, my classmates had won the prize. 

I thought it was so clever and interesting a puzzle I wondered if it could be solved another way. So, I copied down their solution and put it in my papers to be thought about later. My teacher saw the imprint of my copied solution when she came by to check some other of my work. She told me, loud enough for the whole class to hear, that she would not tolerate cheating in her class and that I was to leave and never come back again.

Even as I write this, feelings of embarrassment and humiliation pink my cheeks. I went to a small parish school and there was no speaking up or explaining ever. My teacher misunderstood my intention, judged, and convicted me without any input from anyone including me. At that age it never occurred to me to argue or even tell my parents. The verdict had been handed down and I went back to regular math class.

Reed Archer is in a slightly different situation in that he was not a good little girl who would never cheat anyone. In fact, he’d been a bit of a hellion before he left the Virginia Colony to complete his education in England. While there, he found friends in some devout young men who caused him to give his life to Christ. In The Woodcarver’s Snow-Kissed Christmas, Reed has come home to the community who is predisposed to think badly of him. He has hopes that childhood friend Ann Wright will look favorably on him and consent to be his wife.

His hopes were misplaced.

Ann Wright is not interested in a man who can always be found at the heart of trouble. She wants a man who will be a partner, not a lord. Nothing about Reed Archer indicates that he could be that man.

Can a risky proposition at Christmastide make them see each other in new light and bring a happily-ever-after for both of them?

Izzy James is the pen name of Elizabeth Chevalier Hull. Elizabeth grew up in coastal Virginia surrounded by the history of the founding of our nation. She lives there still with her fabulous husband in a house brimming with books. Connect with Izzy by visiting her Website and signing up for her Newsletter, or on Facebook, Instagram and Bookbub! Chec out Izzy's previous visits to our blog HERE.

Reed Archer is a man with a past. His new-found faith in God will not be believed by those who know his history. 

Ann Wright is a woman who wants to control her future. Her skill as an artist drives her need to be independent in a time when women usually must rely on the men in their lives to make decisions for them.

Can a risky proposition at Christmastide make them see each other in new light and bring a happily-ever-after for both of them?

Get your copy of The Woodcarver's Snowkissed Christmas at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, or Google Play 

Hope you enjoyed today's post and that you'll check back weekly for Wednesday Words with Friends and Saturday Spotlight!

Until next time take care and God bless.


Saturday, November 5, 2022

#SaturdaySpotlight is on Barbara Britton @BarbaraMBritton & Christmas at Whispering Creek!

Good Morning,

It's a rainy day here in SW Louisiana. A line of storms moved in during the night and we've had lot's of wind and rain. What better to do on a gloomy day than relax with a good book and this time of year, a Christmas romance! Please welcome Barbara Britton back as she shares her new relase with us....

Thank you for having me back on the blog, Pam. I am thrilled to share about my first contemporary romance novel. It’s a Christmas novel, too. I’m known for writing Biblical Fiction, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to write about something I lived through—breast cancer. It would be difficult to write cancer into a storyline in Bible Times.

My young heroine, Samantha, is a breast cancer survivor. I’ve had breast cancer in my rear-view mirror for 6 years. Praise the Lord! I added a brief account of my journey at the end of “Christmas at Whispering Creek.” I hope you enjoy my story which is two stories—one fiction and one real.

All Samantha Williams wants to do is to use her teaching degree to instruct a classroom of second graders. But, after a breast cancer diagnosis at the age of twenty-three, and failed reconstruction surgery, Sam finds herself without a job and temporarily living with her parents. This isn't the life Sam expected. When a family friend dies and leaves Sam a house and land in Whispering Creek, Tennessee, Sam must decide if leaving Wisconsin for Southern living is in her lesson plans.

Nashville native, Cole Donoven, left his family' s electrical business to write country music. When Cole' s song-writing partner and girlfriend dumps him for a country music star, Cole abandons Nashville to hole up in Whispering Creek and compose one more song. The last thing Cole expects to find in the sleepy small town is a deceased friend, estate squabbles, and a Northern beauty. Will the chaos in Whispering Creek help create a bestselling song for Cole and possibly help him find a life-long collaborator?

Excerpt: Samantha eased away from Cole’s warmth not wanting to seem too needy. She was the queen of log throwing after all. But had she shared too much? Cole’s arm remained at her back, firm and comforting. 

     He picked up the string cheese. “How about some spoiled mozzarella.” 

     Sniffling, she laughed at his ploy to lighten the mood. “They’re expired. But totally edible.”  
     “How long have you been boyfriend‐free?” Cole’s comforting arm slid away as he stripped plastic from their second course of dinner. She missed the kindness in his touch. 

     Not long. “Since Thursday at lunchtime.” Would Cole think she was on the rebound? 

     “Three days?” He handed her the first roll of cheese. “I think you need this more than me. After three days, I was laying around in bed.” His leg jiggled as if he readied to run from this topic. “I didn’t get a good‐bye. I got a note on my kitchen table. Had to figure out what I had done to get left for another man. I’m not sure I ever will know the answer.” His gaze glanced over her head and out into the tree‐lined moonlight. 

     This wasn’t Christian of her, but in Sam’s book, Jillie Lynn became lower than a nightcrawler. How did you ghost someone as sweet as Cole? 

     “If I’m honest.” She swallowed a hunk of cheese, nearly choking. “Our relationship had been strained for months. Karlton traveled to cement a law firm offer—” 

     “Your ex was an attorney named Karlton?” Cole stroked his chin while a grin played with his mouth. “I don’t know whether to laugh or to punch the guy.” Cole’s protective streak had her sitting tall on the wooden bench. 

     “A week ago, I would have said laugh, but today, I’m OK with a punch. Nothing too bloody.”

     “Man, your boyfriend leaves, and then you find out about Ted?” 

     “A half‐hour later.” She jabbed an unwrapped cheese stick his direction. “And while I was on the phone with Chester, I saw Karlton and his neighbor holding hands as they walked across his apartment complex.” Rehashing Karlton’s betrayal to a handsome friend didn’t seem so bad. Cole had more emotional awareness in his thumb than her ex did in his entire designer‐suited body. “How’s that for a neat, tidy bow?”

Barbara M. Britton lives in Southeast, Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She writes Christian Fiction from Bible Times to present day USA. Her Tribes of Israel series brings little-known Bible characters to light. Her novel “Christmas at Whispering Creek,” is a compelling, yet fun story, shining a light on breast cancer. Barbara has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. You can find out more about Barbara and her books on her website www.barbarambritton.com.

You can buy Christmas at Whispering Creek at Amazon, B&N or wherever books are sold. And you can check out Barbara's previous visits HERE.

Oh, Wow, Barbara, I am SO excited for you with your debut contemporary romance and a Christmas one at that! Good luck and God's blessings with it!

Hope you enjoyed Barbara's post friends and that you'll check back weekly for Wednesday Words with Friends and Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time take care and God bless.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

#WednesdayWordswithFriends Welcomes Jeff Rhodes!

Good Morning!

I am LOVING this weather... Cool nights, mild days, open windows, fresh air.....Hello Fall!

Today's guest is brand new to our blog so let's just turn it over to him. Take it away, Jeff....

Q: Using scripture and String Theory (of all things), you make the case that heaven is closer to us than we think. Can you explain?

A: I carefully lay the foundation for understanding what a higher dimension of space is. We only know three dimensions of space and one dimension of time. Picturing or understanding a fourth dimension of space is nearly impossible. That is why we usually make heaven an extension of our three-dimensional world. Everything in the Bible points to heaven being close—very close. Heaven was close to Jacob with a ladder reaching heaven (Genesis 28:10-12).  Elisha and his servant were able to see into the spiritual realm and the angelic beings were close. They were impacting the physical realm but were not detectable (2 Kings 2:9-11).  Stephen looks into heaven from the physical realm (Acts 7:54-60). God spoke to Paul from heaven (Acts 9:3-7).  Heaven was close enough for those present at Jesus’ baptism to hear God’s voice (Matthew 3:16-17). String theory says that more spatial dimensions do indeed exist. I believe heaven is in the next dimension, right next to where we reside in our three-dimensional world.

Q: You combine a lot of scientific research with biblical references in the book. How should Christians view the relationship between science and Christianity?

A: The Bible assumes the reality of the spiritual dimension while science points to a higher dimension or dimensions.  Scientific laws and truths reflect an intelligent creator. Christians should never fear science, nor should they shy away from it. The more we learn about the universe and what it is made of, the more we learn about the Grand Designer who created everything. Science can be a great way to reinforce one’s faith. We live in a mathematical universe, and we serve a God of order and laws. Whether it is space, the earth, or the human body, everything points to a Creator and not to billions of years of random chance. Though creation has been severely impacted in a negative way by sin, the fingerprints of the Creator can still be found the deeper and further we look.

Q: You say that angels can move across dimensions. How did you come to that conclusion?

A: There are occurrences with angelic beings in Scripture that are best explained if they are multi-dimensional beings. That means they primarily dwell in the spiritual realm or spiritual dimension but can enter our three-dimensional world. Angels are in God’s presence sometimes and sometimes in man’s presence. We usually think that an angel has some type of spiritual supersonic ability to travel from heaven to earth, then back. If heaven were 13 billion light-years above the earth, then that is some serious speed. I believe that the spiritual realm is a higher dimension, and it is close to us. Angels do not have to travel so far; they merely step into our dimension and easily enter our three-dimensional world from the spiritual realm. The Bible supports this belief with the example of Satan, a fallen angel, appearing in the physical realm and in the presence of God in the spiritual realm. Satan appears to Eve in the garden, Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness, but in the book of Job we see Satan entering the presence of God after returning from walking back and forth on the earth. Satan is moving between dimensions. In Genesis 18, three angels visit Abraham. They eat, talk, and spend time with Abraham. Then two of the angels go to Sodom to speak with Lot. This is one of the clearest examples of angels moving across dimensions. In Genesis 28, Jacob has a dream where he sees angels ascending and descending from heaven to earth. God was revealing to Jacob the truth that angels move back and forth from the spiritual realm to the physical realm. In Luke 2, a host of angels appear to the shepherds in the fields and announce the birth of the Jesus. The Bible says that the angels left and went into heaven. This again is an example of angels moving from our physical dimension into the spiritual realm.

Q: Many Christians have dismissed the idea of a literal hell. What say you?

A: Though hell is a place most would rather not believe exists, the Bible talks about hell and gives warning to mankind to avoid ending up there. The Bible speaks of the reality of heaven and the reality of hell. Hell was created for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Therefore, hell is a place that spiritual beings will be located. The Bible also states that those who reject the gospel will be separated from the presence of God in hell. Just as we think three-dimensionally about heaven being way up, we tend to think of hell being down in the center of the earth. I attempt to challenge our thinking by suggesting that heaven is “up” in a higher dimension, where hell is “down” in a lower dimension. Hell is a dimension separated from God and His goodness (2 Thessalonians 1:9). The fact that the Bible speaks of the reality of hell is one of the primary reasons for the church to share the gospel and reach the world for Christ. If hell is not real, then it would certainly impact how (or if) we share the gospel at all. Christ came to earth, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross a humiliating and terrible death so people could avoid hell. If hell doesn’t exist, then Christ’s death was unwarranted. 

Q: You say in the book that many Christians are turning to dark spirits more and more. Why is that? Do you have some examples?

A:  In 2018, Father Vincent Lampert told The Atlantic magazine that he had received over 1700 phone or email requests for exorcisms, by far the most he had ever received in one year. More professing Christians than ever are expressing a profound belief in the supernatural, especially the demonic. Televisions shows and movies about zombies, vampires, ghosts, communicating with the dead, and searching for the paranormal are more and more popular even among Christians. The internet is easier to access than ever before. Youth are learning about sex, gender identity, drugs, and have easy access to pornography. According to stats from SimilarWeb, internet users access porn websites more than Twitter, Wikipedia, or Netflix. Satan is in a battle for our minds, and he uses these types of entryways to influence people’s thoughts. These gateways are areas where people willfully turn from truth and are deceived. Further examples of entryways could be practicing or experimenting in the occult, taking drugs, past sins, or various kinds of abuse or trauma. Satan will use these gateways to wage war against believers by getting them to believe lies instead of truth. 

Q: You say that the Apostle Paul tells us that we are in both a physical existence as well as a higher dimension existence at the same time. Can you explain?

A: Paul talks about the spiritual realm at length in his letter to the believers at Ephesus. He uses a Greek word translated “heavenly places” in the ESV five times. In every instance, Paul is speaking of the spiritual realm where heaven is and angels dwell. In Ephesians 2:6 Paul states that the believer is presently seated with Christ in the heavenly places. Some Bible scholars refer to the believer being positionally in the spiritual realm. In other words, they are not there yet but will be when they die and go to heaven. Pastor Tony Evans seems to believe they are there now, as quoted in my book. The believer is physically in the three-dimensional world, but when we were given life spiritually by God, we are at the same time in the spiritual realm with Christ. Our spiritual life gives us a connection into the spiritual realm even before we die.


Dr. Jeff Rhoades received a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Louisiana Baptist University. He and his wife Paula were missionaries in El Salvador for nearly a decade, returning to the U.S. in 2013. Dr. Rhoades currently serves as a pastor in Topeka, Kansas. For more information visit https://wellingbooks.com

The Bible tells of a spiritual realm where heaven, angels, and God reside. Where is this mysteriously invisible realm? Science has opened the door to the possibility of higher spatial dimensions. Could this be where heaven is? Using God’s Word, this book will present evidence for the reality of the spiritual realm and also lay out the scientific evidence, from Einstein’s theory of relativity to string theory, that points to the possibility of a higher dimension or dimensions. Through this book, the everyday Christian will learn how to view the spiritual dimension or spiritual realm in a deeper way and will see clearly that there is much more to our universe than meets the eye. The seeking skeptic will also be presented with evidence that God is real and the Bible is His communication to man. The foundation is laid from the Bible, from science and from understanding that we are three-dimensional beings created by a Grand Programmer to live in the physical and spiritual universe. Because of sin, mankind lost the ability to see the spiritual realm, but through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, we can once again access the spiritual realm and live fully as God our creator intends.

Get your copy at Amazon.

What a fascinating subject, Jeff! I love it when Pastors or Scientists or Physicists prove the Bible and Heaven! Thank you for sharing.

Hope you enjoyed today's post, friends and that you'll check back each week for Wednesday Words with Friends and Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time, take care and God Bless.