Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I love my Fruit Infusion water pitcher! by Denise Devine

I requested this pitcher for Christmas because a friend has one and I’ve tasted the fruity water that it produces. It is so good!

As you can see in the picture, the pitcher has a “removable infusion rod.” That’s a fancy name for a ventilated cylinder that holds the fruit. You fill it with fresh or frozen fruit, screw it onto the lid and lower it into the full water pitcher. The fruit then begins to compress and flavor the water. Supposedly, you can keep the fruit in the pitcher for 7-10 days (refrigerated, of course). Here is a recount of my first time using it.

Day 1 - I bought a bag of frozen fruit at the grocery store (raspberries, blueberries and strawberries). According to the directions, I filled the infusion rod to the top with fruit and filled the pitcher to the handle with water. By the way, I used filtered water from my Britta water pitcher to get a better flavor.

Day 2 – The water was barely pink. I tasted it and it had a hint of fruit, no more.

Day 3 – The water now had a tint - that of white zinfandel wine. I poured some into a water glass and tested it. It had a delicate fruit flavor, but more than the day before.

Day 4 – The water was a deeper pink. I poured some into a wine glass. See how clear it is? Very fruity! I filled a special water bottle, charged it with my Soda Stream and took it to bed. Every time I unscrewed the cap, the aroma of strawberries escaped the bottle.

Day 5 – By now, the fruit was thoroughly compressed and most of their color was gone. I emptied the contents of the pitcher into two Soda Stream bottles and a wine glass for myself. The strawberries had taken over the flavor and it was almost like drinking a glass of juice (minus all that sugar).

Was my first experience a success? Absolutely! The fruit didn’t last as long as the directions claimed, but I am very satisfied with the results. I plan to keep using frozen fruit, but next summer, when I have fresh strawberries from my own garden, I hope to produce even tastier water. Next I’m going to experiment with an infusion “water bottle” to take with me when I go out.
Denise Devine is a USA TODAY bestselling author who has had a passion for books since the second grade when she discovered Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. She wrote her first book, a mystery, at age thirteen and has been writing ever since. She writes sweet romantic comedy and inspirational romance. She is currently writing two series, Forever Yours (Inspirational) and Counting Your Blessings (Christmas romantic comedy). You can visit her at
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Monday, March 28, 2016

Home Sweet Home - by Magdalena Scott

Tohono Chul Park - Tucson
Earlier this month, I spent a week in Tucson, Arizona, staying with friends in their lovely guest suite.

Besides being chauffeured to a variety of beautiful and interesting sites around town, and having a picnic on Mt. Lemmon, I spent two days at the fabulous Tucson Festival of Books. (Books! Authors! Readers!)

I also had coffee with author Patricia Forsythe, and lunch with author Merrillee Whren. What a treat to have unscripted time with each of these two ladies, whom I met a couple of years ago through Sweet Romance Reads.

My "host family" adores the area they live in, and regularly get out and seek new places and experiences. They treated me to walks in the desert, delicious home-cooked and restaurant meals, and generally spoiled me rotten.

It was one of the most beautiful, interesting, restful trips I've ever taken, and when I was back home in my little studio apartment, the experience seemed almost like a dream.

Three days later I had company for a few hours--people who wanted to see where I live and work. I gave them the full tour of my apartment: Stand in center of apartment, turn 360 degrees. We also strolled around the town square and stopped in at all the shops. We ate a delicious meal at a restaurant just a few hundred yards from my front door. Our waitress, and all the shop owners, were gracious to my friends. I'm certain they enjoyed the visit as much as I enjoyed having them with me.

I love traveling--seeing new things, trying new foods, making and strengthening friendships. Yet it's always wonderful to be home. And it's a treat to see people enjoy my little town. Helps me appreciate it more.

Do you ever try to imagine how visitors see your city? Do you treat yourself to "touristy" things at home, and not just when you're in a new location?


Magdalena Scott is a USA Today Bestselling Author of small town sweet romance and women's fiction. Learn about her books, read her blog, subscribe to her newsletter, and connect on social media by visiting her website:

Her newest release is Book Four in the Serendipity, Indiana series: THE BLANK BOOK. Paperback is coming soon. The ebook version is available here:

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Story I Can't Write by Pat Simmons

As an author and former news writer, I'm greedy for information. I’m always in the mood to hear a good story. Give me a picture of what happened, and my mind writes the caption. Share a few tidbits, and my brain paints an elaborate tale, whether it be true or false. After all, truth is stranger than fiction, right?
What do you do when someone confides in you a story so heart-breaking, so terrifying, so unreal, it could read like a movie script or a #1 bestseller, but you can’t repeat a word of it? As I listened to an account of tragic events that had taken place, I couldn’t help but think I’ve read the plot somewhere, but those events didn’t happen on the pages between characters I didn’t know. This time, with this story, I know the characters, and sadly, the story could be fact-checked.
If only the tale was a work of fiction, I’d tweak the plot to have a “happily ever after.” I believe every story an author writes has an element of truth in it. That’s what makes it believable, right?  It’s too bad truth couldn’t be more like fiction, especially romance, where a happy ending is guaranteed every time.
In my role as a confidant, I have to tune out the author in me shouting, “This story has to be told!” Yet, I will never be the one to pen it.  As a Christian, I’m reminded of Proverbs 11:13: “A talebearer reveals secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit conceals the matter.” I’m entrusted to silently pray for restoration of the losses, forgiveness of the guilty parties, and hope for happiness.

The floor is open for discussion. Can you recall any situations where someone confided in you and you held it, or felt it needed to be told?
Pat Simmons is an award-winning and bestselling author of Christian novels. Learn more about her thirty titles at www.patsimmons. Her newest release is EVERY WOMAN NEEDS A PRAYING MAN. Make it your weekend read.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I Pledge to Organize

In the beginning of 2016 I made a commitment. One I knew I needed to make for years. I had to organize my life, neatly integrating kids, work, husband, and home. An easy project, right? Not! J

You see, I’m a total workaholic. I don’t take breaks; I work from six in the morning until bed around eleven, six days a week. The problem is that I work so fast I make mistakes, things only end up half done, or I don’t get to everything. I knew I needed to slow myself down and plan better.

When I started looking at ways to manage the different areas of my life, I discovered a few new tools. I’ve been working with them the last few months, so I thought I’d share them with you.

First off, I tackled the issue of food planning for a family of five which includes three picky sons and husband. I wanted something I could easily access that organized shopping lists. After searching the internet and talking to friends, I found a new menu planner. It’s all online and it even has a phone app.

The application I use is eMeals. You’re able to choose between several menu plans such as budget or kid friendly, vegetarian, heart healthy, and more. Each week I receive new recipes, which I can alter on my own with a simple click of a button, and shopping lists that are broken down into categories so they are easy to locate in the grocery store. It has definitely cut my meal planning in half, and even inspired me to try new things. Better than that, my kids are trying new meals.

The second organization tool I tried was Wunderlist. It’s a phone application for lists. The thing that I like about this specific application is that you can share it with others, which means my husband can add things to the grocery list, my assistant can add to my work list, and I can add to my to do list. You can break the lists down into categories, so we have a Costco, grocery, work, things to do, major events, phone calls, bills, and conference swag list. It’s been amazing to walk into stores and pull up the list so I don’t have to run back out five minutes after I get home because I forgot milk. ;)

The last application I’ve tried this year is Prayer Journal. It’s also a phone application. Over the years, I’ve told people I’d pray for them, but by the time I reached my prayer journal at home, I’d forget. This new phone application is amazing. It allows you to instantly add any prayer requests, as well as other useful information. It even allows you to write answers to prayers. I’ve found it to be an amazing tool for organizing prayers.

The application I’d still love to find is a way to organize my office. Oh my goodness, what a hot mess. Right now we are planning to knock down a wall so that I can have more room. That way I might be able to reach my desk instead of stumbling over office supplies. J

What kind of application or organization tools have you found to be helpful?


Ciara Knight is a USA Today and Amazon Bestselling author who writes 'A Little Edge and A Lot of Heart' that span the heat scales. Her popular sweet romance series, Sweetwater County (rated PG), is a small town romance full of family trials, friendly competition, and community love.

I'm excited to share my upcoming new release, In All My Years, available for pre-order now.

Kathleen Baker fled Riverbend, TN in the middle of the night to escape her mafia, drug running husband. She also left behind the man she loved. Now, Ten years later, Kathleen returns to Riverbend, the one place she’d ever felt at home. After a letter arrives, Kathleen realizes her husband is still alive. With her past now in the present, Kathleen’s future is in jeopardy. 

Colum Harrow kicked his nephew out of his home so that he’d move on with his life and stop moping around the house over a lost love. Unfortunately, he was unable to follow his own advice, and has lived in isolation for years with the guilt he had failed to protect the woman he loved from an abusive husband. Now, she returns to his hometown to see the birth of her granddaughter, and he must face his failures and the woman who owns his heart. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Do you need a spring break?

Last week was spring break for my seven-year-old. We used the opportunity to fly to Kentucky to spend some time with my in-laws. While flying with our two-year old can be a challenge, the trip was well worth it and much needed. We enjoyed the beautiful spring weather, spending most of our time outside. My husband's family has a few cows and horses, and we helped gather the eggs from the chickens in the morning, which my kids loved.

Between work, school, church, and my son's martial arts classes, we stay busy, so a few days away was exactly what we needed. We don't always get to go somewhere on spring break, but even if it's a "staycation," it's important to take a break from our day-to-day lives.

Benefits of taking a "spring break:"

* Escape the daily grind and get some perspective. Stress and worries seem to lose their power when you have a chance to step outside of your normal world.

* Reconnect with the people you love. It was wonderful to spend time with family we don't get to see every day, and so much fun to watch my boys get to see and experience new things. My seven-year-old is into studying fish and sea life, so we took a trip to the Newport Aquarium and my little guy was excited to take a plane ride.

* Making memories. We celebrated my son's second birthday while in Kentucky, and those moments are things I'll never forget.

Here are a few photos from our trip.

Overall, it was a great week. Have you had a chance to take a break this spring? What did you do to get away? 

My latest release - The Wedding Barn

Paige Morgan’s career is in shambles. What kind of wedding planner gets left at the altar? So when a job planning parties on a ranch in rural Texas comes her way, she jumps at it. So what if the cowboy who runs the place isn’t happy she’s there?
Rancher Nick Reid risked his heart once… and lost. Who needs love? He’s got a great life on the family ranch—so long as Paige Morgan and her city ideas don’t ruin it all. If only his family didn’t need her help to save their livelihood. And if only he wasn’t so darned drawn to the woman. But no sooner does Nick start to believe in love again, than a socialite shows up looking for Paige. Asking her to plan an elaborate wedding. Back in the city.
Both Paige and Nick need a second chance at love. But what will it cost them to take it?

USA Today Best Selling author Julie Jarnagin writes sweet and inspirational romance. She grew up in a small Oklahoma town where her family farmed and ranched. These days she lives in a not-so-big city with her amazing husband and two young sons who tolerate all her nerdy quirks. Julie earned a B.A. in Journalism / Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. www.JulieJarnagin.comSign up for her newsletter to be the first to learn about new releases and free books:

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