Friday, May 24, 2024

Young Graduates by Pat Simmons

 

Graduations and weddings are both joyful occasions that make me teary-eyed because the possibilities for their future are endless.

I recently spoke as the keynote speaker at  Compton-Drew Investigative Learning Center Middle School's Eighth Grade Promotion Ceremony.

The teacher who invited me to deliver the address happened to be my classmate from grade school.

Family, friends, and former students filled the auditorium with high energy and excitement to congratulate the class of almost one hundred students. There were enough cheers, shouts, and applause to embarrass even the most popular student. Helium balloon bouquets spouted up throughout the rows in celebration of the first achievement of their life.

The number of students who received awards was impressive. My address to them was to pick a team and surround themselves with friends who want to see them succeed. If they appointed themselves captain, I would be their cheerleader. I gave them examples of young achievers, from American gymnast Simone Biles to Helms Ategeka, who applied and was accepted to 122 colleges.

Then I mentioned local St. Louis young achievers, from a kid entrepreneur to sports athletes to an international model.

My prayer for them is that they stay safe, stay away from the wrong crowd, and don't let anyone tell them they can't.

As for weddings, when I married my husband more than forty years ago, my second and third-grade teachers attended. They were my heroes, and I hope I made them proud by graduating from college, working in the media, writing dozens of books, and paying it forward to the next generation of graduates.

Congratulations, class of 2024,  from kindergarten to post-graduate. Look out, world!

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Pat Simmons is a multi-published Christian romance author of forty-plus titles. She is a self-proclaimed genealogy sleuth and, a five-time recipient of the RSJ Emma Rodgers Award for Best Inspirational Romance and the 2022 winner of the Leslie Esdaile “Trailblazer” Award.

Pat holds a B.S. in mass communications from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, and has worked in radio, television, and print media for over twenty years. She is on the Christian Book Lovers Retreat (CBLR) board as a publicist. Visit her at www.patsimmons.net.



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Here is a great review....

Reviewed in the United States on April 17, 2024

This is an amazing book that I think every Christian should read. And if you’re a non-Christian, if you want to see what true modern Christianity should look like, then you should read it as well. Be prepared. It’s an interaction with God by these characters that may blow your mind.
From the first page, this book grabbed me. 
The main characters in this book embrace their Christianity way more than most people I know, including myself.
Jude Morgan is the main character, one of the intercessors, and one of the pastors at Christ For All Church in St. Louis. He is awakened by God and told to pray, and that God is coming for the children. An ominous message, for sure, but one that turns out to be multi-faceted. Jude obeys and then God takes him and several others on a spiritual journey, where the characters fight serious spiritual warfare against the demons and the world coming for their children.
It’s an incredible read and needs to be experienced. Not every book I’ve read is an experience, but this one is. The writing is good. The story moves rapidly. Tension builds. The ending is satisfying.
Get your company of DAYS ARE COMING

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Jeremiah 29:11

Camy here! This verse was recommended by a member of my Facebook Group. I really love this verse because it reminds me that no matter how hard my IBS gets, God is watching over me and has a purpose for everything that happens to me.

In what ways has God shown you that He is watching over you?

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

80th Anniversary of D-Day by Janice Lynn

Prior to May 2023, I couldn't have told you that D-Day was on June 6, 1944 and was the largest amphibious invasion in history and changed the world. I didn't really understand that it truly was a world war with us fighting in both the east and the west. I probably studied it at some point during my education, but as war and military weren't something that had interested me in the past, it didn't register. That makes me ashamed, honestly. With my son joining the Army National Guard full time, my perspective on things has certainly changed. First, with wanting to make him a patriotic quilt and discovering the Quilts of Valor Foundation. This wonderful group makes quilts to wrap those who have served in quits of healing. Joining this group has been such a blessing as they do such great work for those who have given so much for every American citizen and those our military help protect.

Then, when the physicial who was originally going on a Honoring Veteran legacy trip taking 3 WWII veterans back to Normandy, France was unable to go, a nurse gave my name as a nurse practitioner who would likely volunteer to go last minute. I'm so very glad I said yes. I met such wonderful people who I quickly grew to adore. I traveled from the US to France with the veterans and once there we met up with other WWII veterans.

I'm so blessed that I have the honor of volunteering again this year for the 80th anniversary. Going on that trip last year changed my life in so many ways. I didn't want to be ignorant of what the men I was accompanying had done and of what I was seeing so I began researching WWII. Let me just say that these men were heroes. The women, too. Part of me itches to write a romance set in that time period because those who rose to meet the demands of WWII events leave me in complete awe. Maybe some day.

For now, I have written a Medical Romance with a doctor volunteering to go on an honor flight type trip to Normandy. She was super close to her grandfather who had served in WWII. The paramedic hero is a former paratrooper. That I got to mentally revisit some of the places around Normandy while writing this story just warmed my heart. I fell for the people of Normandy and their beautiful countryside. I'm so excited that I'll be back in this beautiful country and with these warm people again soon.

I challenge you to learn more about D-Day, whether that's via television movies such as Band of Brothers which follows Easy Company or Saving Private Ryan or one of the many documentaries regarding WWII or by reading a book or by finding out of there are any living WWII veterans in your area who you could talk to. I also challenge you to thank a veteran. Whether that be a WWII veteran, a Korean War veteran, a Vietnam veteran, a Desert Storm veteran, etc., THANK THEM. Their service made a difference and continues to do so. Memorial day is also soon. Really stop and think about what this 'holiday' is and what it should mean to us.

My upcoming Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance, Risking It All With the Paramedic, isn't a military story. Not really. It's a romance set in a place rich in military history. But my hope is that it conveys how much I respect and honor our veterans, how grateful I am to them, and on how much I adore the people of Normandy. 

book cover of Risking It All with the Paramedic 


When unlucky-in-love doctor Ivy leads a medical team on a veterans’ trip to Normandy, her sole thought is for the patients in her care. So she’s unprepared for the frisson of attraction she feels at meeting fellow volunteer Caleb! It’s clear the good-looking paramedic has ghosts of his own, but over the fortnight they’re together an undeniable connection forms... Only when they return home will they be brave enough to risk everything and turn temporary...into happy-ever-after?

USA Today, Wall Street Journal, & Publishers Weekly Bestselling author JANICE LYNN lives in Tennessee with her Prince Charming and their princes and princesses, her vivid imagination, an adorable Maltese named Halo who's the true royalty of the house, and bunches of unnamed dust bunnies that moved in after Janice started her writing career. In addition to writing romance, Janice is a nurse practitioner, a quilter, a military mama, and an avid supporter of the Quilts of Valor Foundation. www.janicelynn.com  

WRAPPED UP IN CHRISTMAS LOVE is coming November 2024 from Tule Publishing

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Families in Sweet Romance by Merri Maywether

Graduation season is approaching, and that means family will gather. I’ve found the build-up to these events can be stressful.

Once or twice, I’ve considered the urge to escape to a quiet mountain retreat, away from the wonderful chaos of family. There’s the cousin who retells the same story.  Or the niece that is in their fifteenth year of “the adults in the family are lame” phase.

Then, the day is saved by the aunt who is immune to it all. With spoon microphone in hand, she’ll boldly sing “We are family,” and somehow convince the aforementioned judgemental niece to sing backup.  

This contrast of moments are what make these gatherings memorable. 

In the sweet romance stories I love to share with you, these delightful family quirks aren’t just for laughs; they’re the threads that weave our characters’ worlds together. 

I had a lot of fun with this in my new release, One Fake Boyfriend

Sierra’s family is messy and fun and at the end of the day they know they love each other. 

Family antics offer a treasure trove of emotions, pushing our protagonists toward self-discovery and sometimes pulling them back from the brink of disaster. 

They turn a simple story into a tapestry of growth, love, and laughter. And let’s not forget the unexpected plot twists! 

There are a couple of those in Sierra and Levi’s story too. 

Families in our favorite romances teach us about the messy, glorious spectrum of life and love. They remind us that no matter how appealing solitude might sound, it's the uproarious family dinners, filled with laughter and maybe a few tears, that truly make our hearts full.

As we turn the pages of sweet romance stories, we fall in love with our bookish families, knowing that in the end, everything will work out. This is one of the many reasons why writing and reading sweet romance stories is so much fun.  

***

In the world of Sierra Mitchell, steering clear of Levi has always been a given, until a pretend romance flips her assumptions upside down, revealing a journey of unexpected love and second chances in the picturesque Paradise Hills.

One Fake Boyfriend has:

❤️ fake boyfriend 

❤️ brother's best friend

❤️ small town friends and family

❤️ clean and wholesome (level one heat)

❤️ banter 

❤️ heart-felt discussions about love and handling outside expectations

Fans of Hallmark Channel sweetness and binge-reading plot twists of a Netflix romance will love this "what they wanted was in front of them the whole time" romance.

One Fake Boyfriend is available at your favorite online book retailer

📖 https://books2read.com/onefakeboyfriend 📖

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

People Watching at the Kentucky Derby by Merrillee Whren

 

May is Kentucky Derby month. This year was the 150th running of the Derby. It is held on the first Saturday in May and is the longest running sporting event in the United States. In 2016, my husband and I had the privilege of attending the Kentucky Derby. As an author there is nothing better than going somewhere and people watching. The Kentucky Derby is ready made for that very thing. 


Here I am dressed in my outfit alongside my husband as we arrived for our big day at the Derby. People were lining up to have their photos taken in front of the statue of Barbaro, a Kentucky Derby winner that had to be euthanized after an accident in the Preakness, the second race in the triple crown of horse racing.



My dress was covered in white daisies. Maybe it should have been roses or horses like this couple. When I saw their outfits, I had to take a photo. I’m going to post the photo even though at this size, you might not be able to tell that there are horses all over her dress and his vest and pants.

 

 

Just as we arrived, they were unloading the garland or blanket of roses that they put across the winning horse at the end of the race. I never thought about where the roses are kept or how they are made until we attended the race. The Kroger company makes the garland at one of their local stores. The red roses are sewn onto green satin. I was able to get this photo of the garland in its case before they unloaded it from the truck.

 

 

Of course, there are hats, hats and more hats everywhere you look. I took lots of photos of the ladies in their hats, and you see a lot of men in their hats and crazy outfits, as well. Here are several pictures. Look for the hat that resembles a black swan that had roosted on someone’s head. Notice the men in the very interesting matching outfits.

 




 

 

The weather was almost perfect except for the humidity that we fairly new Arizonians hadn’t missed since we moved away from Florida. The humidity came from the threat of thunderstorms that materialized just before the turf race that preceded the Derby race. You’ll notice that in many of the photos there is plenty of blue sky, but those ominous black clouds rolled in, and here’s what it looked like from our covered seats. Hubby was thinking ahead when he booked our seats. I learned that 46% of the time there is rain on Derby day.

 

 

The official drink of the Kentucky Derby is the mint julep. It’s a concoction of basically mint-flavored syrupy sugar water and bourbon served over crushed ice. Here are folks lined up to get their mint juleps.

 


There are a total of fourteen races during the day—eleven before the Kentucky Derby and two afterwards. After a long day, the horses we came to watch in the Kentucky Derby appeared on the track for the post parade.

 


Here’s the starting gate, which was by the final turn near the end of the track where we sat.

 


Here’s a picture of the start of the race. Unfortunately, since I’m short I got the back of someone’s big head ruining my picture. That was definitely a low light. He must have popped up just as I was getting ready to take my picture because that head wasn’t there when I first looked at the view finder. It would have been a great picture without that head in the way.

 

 


Fortunately, I did get a pretty good video of the horses as they started down the back stretch. The finish line was a the other end of the race track where all the swells have seats. I hope you enjoy this twelve-seconds of the fastest two minutes in sports because it took a lot of work to figure out how to get it in this blog post.

A horse named Nyquist was the winner, and that was our big day at the Kentucky Derby. This year there was a photo finish with three horses. Mystic Dan was the winner. Have you ever been to a big sporting event?


Merrillee Whren is the winner of the 2003 Golden Heart Award presented by Romance Writers of American. She is married to her own personal hero, her husband of forty-plus years, and has two grown daughters. Connect with her on her Facebook page and sign up for her newsletter.




Saturday, May 11, 2024

Daufuskie's Living Legacy: A Glimpse into a Timeless Story by Josie Riviera.

Welcome back to Daufuskie Island, where every corner tells a story. This island is off the coast of South Carolina, and a 1 hour ferry ride from Hilton Head Island.

Here are some places to visit on the island:


First Union African Baptist Church: A Sacred Haven

Step into the First Union African Baptist Church. It's a place where faith, strength, and community intersect, carrying with it the weight of history. Pat Conroy, the famous author, captured the essence of such places in his best-selling memoir, The Water is Wide, sharing his experiences as a teacher on Daufuskie Island in the late 1960s.

Mary Fields School: Legacy of Learning

Continue on to the Mary Fields School, a humble school that became a symbol of Gullah commitment to education. The two room school was built in the early 1930s. Leftover wood was used to construct desks for the students. The school was integrated after the child graduated in 1962. When the Daufuskie Island Elementary School was built in 1997, the Mary Fields School was closed. The building was recently renovated and is used for church and civic activities.

Active Participation in Preservation

Daufuskie Island invites you not only to observe but to actively participate in the preservation of Gullah culture. Engage with historic sites, join guided tours led by passionate locals, and attend community events celebrating Gullah traditions. If you visit in May, the weather will be warm, and you can enjoy horseback riding on the beach, go kayaking, or visit any of the remote beaches.


I'm thrilled that my sweet beach romance, is available on Amazon. Immersed in Gullah culture, this book has a mystery that may or may not be solved by the end of the story! Grab your copy today.


If you prefer episodic reading, Pink Coral Island is also available on Kindle Vella. The first three episodes are free!

Grab it here.

Josie Riviera is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary, historical, and inspirational romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully support husband. They share their home with an adorable Shih Tzu, who constantly needs grooming, and live in an old house forever needing renovation.


Sign up for her newsletter and get a FREE ebook on her website: josieriviera.com