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A journal where you can learn what I'm up to on my books, giveaways, fun things I'm doing or even my own personal devotional for the day. It's a broad mix of what's on my mind, allowing me to feel a little bit closer to some of the most important people in my life -- YOU! So please stop by from time to time, and if you have questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you via the "Contact Julie" tab or via my Facebook page.  Hugs, Julie



Wednesday, November 1, 2017

"True liberty is doing the right thing."

For Love of Liberty by Julie Lessman

You know, most of the spiritual lessons in my books are things I have learned the hard way ... uh, kind of like my characters do because, well, I hate to go through things alone!

But I have NEVER written a book where I actually learned the spiritual lesson ON THE SPOT.

Until my latest novel — For Love of Liberty. And yes, it is a short novel rather than the novella I originally intended it to be because frankly I have trouble writing short stories.

Oh, what a surprise! ;)

So, what's the lesson I learned? Well, it's our header quote today, which is taken from the book — "True liberty is doing the right thing."

And how did I learn it?

Not easily, I can tell you that! You see, last week my husband and I were vandalized. Now, mind you, we live in a gated community, so we always feel fairly safe. Safe, that is, until someone slashed our tires. Unfortunately, we heavily suspect who did it, but we do not have proof. So we bit the bullet, and paid the $600 to rectify the situation.

Only I didn't count on the barrage of fear and bitterness that came along with it.

Do you have any idea HOW many prayers I have prayed for the person who did this? TONS AND TONS. Because as most of you know, I believe in praying for those who persecute you and praising and thanking God in the midst of trials. So I do it all. Over and over again.

But you know what? I have blood in my veins. Which means I am a human being who, YES, has an Irish temper, and is also a CDQ (caffeinated drama queen). So no matter how much success I had in trying to pray, forgive, and praise God in this situation, somehow the devil always managed to sneak in and trip me up here and there. Like late at night when my body and mind are tired. Or when I was on the treadmill in front of the window — a window that just happens to look straight at the culprit's house. Or whenever I looked out our kitchen window to the car that was vandalized, wondering if and when the vandal would do it again. Trust me — the devil has been relentless!

Case in point. I prayed nonstop for this vandal when it happened, asking God to bless him and bring him to know Jesus. And I did beautifully all day long. But when my husband and I went to bed that night, we got into a fight because he did not want to tell the police his suspicions of who we thought the vandal might be, and I wanted him to. "We don't have any proof, Julie," he said, and I argued that we needed to tell the police every hunch we had — hunches that were not only confirmed by our gut, but by several other people who'd seen things as well.

Yes, Keith and I finally did make up and go to bed, but it was difficult sleeping that night. For Keith because we'd argued, which we seldom do. For me, because I have an imagination like a runaway train, so I envisioned the slasher coming back and hurting more than our tires. Both of us wrestled with fear and anger for a long while that night.

Keith finally fell asleep, and I was reading, although I will admit that it was difficult to concentrate. And then, all at once, in my mind's ear, I heard the phrase from my book, "true liberty is doing the right thing," a spiritual theme I had sown into For Love of Liberty. Suddenly in one wild thud of my heart, I realized that true liberty for me was following God's will in this situation, and not allowing the devil to turn me into an angry, unforgiving person like the person who slashed our tires. Because that's what satan wants, and I will not give it to him. Fear and bitterness — the devil's tools — were trying to ruin my life and my husband's, and we will not let it. Instead we will honor God and pray for a person who desperately needs Jesus.

So I learned in a most personal way that "true liberty IS doing the right thing," and true liberty is honoring God. I don't know about you, but this is the mantra of my soul because I want to be free. How 'bout you?


πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ New Novel -- For Love of Liberty!

It's coming, I promise! I finally finished my prequel novella to my Silver Lining Ranch series, For Love of Liberty, scheduled for release November 24th.

 Only there's one problem.

Uh, it's no longer a novella, so I hope you guys don't mind. Nope, it's a short novel, which is why it took me a bit longer to get it out, but I hope you will think it's worth it and consider pre-ordering. Here's the jacket blurb:


A Match Made in Heaven?

Or Someplace a Whole Lot Warmer?

She’s stubborn, educated, and looking
to give women the vote.
He’s bullheaded, successful, and looking
to give her a piece of his mind.
 But when things heat up, they just may give each other
a piece of their hearts.


😳 Facebook LIVE -- Q&A with a CDQ!

I invite you to join me for another fun Facebook Live THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2017 at 12:00 NOON CST, when I will be giving away THREE copies of For Love of Liberty.

How can you win? Just show up during the FB Live on my author page and leave a comment OR send me a question you want answered, and if I answer it during the FB Live, you automatically win your choice of any one of my e-books, including For Love of Liberty. So, be sure to put it on your calendar, and hope to see you there!


πŸŽ‰ Giveaway!

Have you seen the video interview I did for Cara Grandle's Periscope show? It's geared to writers, but I think readers would find it interesting, too, so come on by.

And if you DO and leave a comment, you'll be entered to win a copy of For Love of Liberty, so I hope to see you there!



πŸ“š 2 Novels/4 Novellas 99 cents each!

Gear up for the holidays with some fun reads for only 99 cents each, so do check them out!







πŸ€— Hugs!



Wednesday, October 11, 2017



Boy-oh-boy, do I have some great giveaways/news for you!

πŸŽ‚ A Birthday Party & YOU Get the Gifts!

First of all, please forgive me for failing to mention in my last Journal Jots that OCTOBER is the 10th BLOGAVERSARY for my group author blog, Seekerville!!

So what does that mean for you? Well, it means you have four chances to win one of FOUR $50 AMAZON GIFT CARDS, a KINDLE FIRE WITH ALEXA, and lots and lots of FREE BOOKS, another KINDLE E-READER, CANDY, and other fun gifts.

Add to this some of our best blogs of the year by guests such as Tamera Alexander, Susan May Warren, editors, and agents, and you have a win-win for anyone that comes by.

How? Just come on by Seekerville and leave a comment, and you're in the draw -- it's THAT easy!! The more comments you leave (one per day is perfect), the more chances you have to win the daily prize, the weekly prize of $50 gift card, and then the monthly grand prize of the Kindle Fire with Alexa. Here's the link -- hope to see you there!



πŸ‘ We Have Winners!

Whew! I've had a lot of giveaways this last month or so, and I have another planned below, so be sure to check it out. In the meantime, SUPER CONGRATS to the winners of the following contests, each of whom will have their choice of any of my indie e-books including my latest, His Steadfast Love, Romance-ology 101, any of my four newly released novellas OR an e-copy of my upcoming novella, For Love of Liberty (see surprise cover real down below for JJ readers only!). If you see your name below, PLEASE contact me through email or my website, okay?


Laurie Wood


Kelly Reed Brown


(which I didn't win, but am grateful to all who voted!)

Martha Artyomenko


Mindy Houng


😳 Facebook Live Tomorrow!

Come join me on my FB Author Page for another FB Live Q&A with a CDQ THURSDAY, OCT. 12, AT 7PM CDT. Laura Frantz was supposed to be my guest, but unfortunately she has come down with a flu bug and raspy throat, so I will be reading a few answers to questions y'all asked Laura last time.

But ... I will be sharing one of my favorite TRUE stories, so you'll want to stop by. AND ... if you show up during the actual FB Live, you'll be in the draw for a signed paperback from Laura and an e-book from me! Hope to see you there!



πŸ“” Cover Reveal for New Novella!

Good news, bad news.

The good news is I will be releasing a brand-new novella called For Love of Liberty in the near future.

The bad news is I am behind schedule on it, so I may or may not get it out in time for Christmas. :( 

But stay tuned to Journal Jots because that's where I will announce the release date first, okay? So if you have not subscribed to Journal Jots (which means you receive an email with the blog in it every single time I post), then I highly recommend you do so by entering your email into the SUBSCRIBE box at the top right-hand of this page.

More good news is that I will be giving sneak peeks at the 1st chapter in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled for Journal Jot emails, okay? Meanwhile, here's the blurb:


A Match Made in Heaven?

Or Someplace a Whole Lot Warmer? 

She’s stubborn, educated, and looking to give women the vote.

He’s bullheaded, successful, and looking to give her a piece of his mind.

 But when things heat up, they just may give each other

a piece of their hearts.


πŸ“Ή Video Interview for Writers!

On Tuesday, September 26th, I had the privilege of being interviewed via live video on Cara Grandle's Periscope show, which is geared to writers. But I have to admit, I had a blast, so I hope the interview is really fun for both writers and readers.

Almost three hundred people showed up, so THANK YOU to those of you who lent their support. Since the live interview, Cara has posted the video on Youtube, so here's that link if you want to check it out:




  πŸ“š 2 Novels/4 Novellas 99 cents each!

If you haven't read any of the books below, then NOW'S your chance to get a sweet deal, so do check them out!







πŸ€— Hugs!




Wednesday, September 20, 2017

And I'll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
That You are who You are
No matter where I am ...

Praise You in This Storm by Casting Crowns (GREAT video!)

If you have been reading this blog over the years, then you already know how seriously I take Psalm 34:11 —
"I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth." 

Because frankly, anybody can praise God when things are going good, but it is people of faith and obedience who praise Him in the midst of the storms raging in their lives.

I had just such an opportunity this week when both my daughter and I praised God in the midst of a truly heart-wrenching situation. One that threatened to steal my peace, my joy, and my sleep, as well as my daughter's. But we did what we always do —
we praised and thanked God in the face of our heartbreak and asked Him to make good from it like He promises in Romans 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose."

And you know what? Suddenly the weight lifted off of our shoulders onto His, proving His Word true once again.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation,

by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,

will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

--Philippians 4:7

So this situation yesterday was a good reminder for me — and I hope for you too — that there is peace and power in praising God no matter what storm you are facing in your life. It's one of the ways God's given us to defeat our spiritual enemies — be they depression, fear, despair, whatever! By praising and thanking Him in the face of these trials, we can most effectively stomp on the devil's head, channeling all our hurt and frustration into crushing that snake's influence in our lives like God promised we would do in Genesis 3:15:

"He (man) will crush your head, and you (satan) will strike his heel."

Yes, the devil strikes our heels over and over in this life, but WE have the victory in Christ AND the joyous opportunity to grind that slimeball's head into the ground by praising God in the midst of awful situations. Painful situations inflicted by satan himself, not only to "kill, steal, and destroy, but to tempt us to turn on God like Adam and Eve did in the Garden. That jerk hopes our trials will cause us to curse God instead of him, but we have the last laugh by praising God instead — unleashing the Almighty's peace and power to handle anything that nips at our heels.

Many of you will remember several situations in prior Journal Jots blogs when I did just that and came out the joyous victor, whether it was the day I was laid off from my job as a single woman with no other means of support or something as simple as praising God when I stubbed my toe and wanted to scream curse words instead. I crushed the devil's head in both situations, and trust me -- it's a rush of peace and joy unlike any other!

Try it. You'll like it, I promise! ;)

Hugs and Happy Stomping!


 Check Out My Facebook Live w/Laura Frantz!

WE DID IT! Laura and I did FB Live together as a test, so check out the video below, then be sure to mark your calendar for my next Facebook Live on THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12 —
Q&A with Laura Frantz.
There will be a double giveaway -- one of my books and one of Laura's, so do come by, okay?


Blog Giveaway!

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25 - THURSDAY, 9/28/17:  Want another chance to win any TWO of my indie e-books INCLUDING my (shhh ... it's a secret, but I'll be doing a cover reveal in my next JJ!) brand-new novella, For Love of Liberty that will be releasing December 1st!!

Well, you got it — just leave a comment on the SUITE T Blog of Southern Writer's Magazine on September 25 -28, and you're in the draw! Your odds are always good because comments are generally low, so give it a shot.

I will say, however, that I'm actually a little embarrassed, though, because somehow I inadvertently submitted the same blog to two different magazines, albeit months and months apart. So if you entered my Splickety Magazine blog contest a few months ago, this is the same blog subject. BUT ... ALL THAT MEANS FOR YOU IS ONE MORE CHANCE TO WIN, right? Although I do encourage you to consider subscribing to Suite T blog because it's a fabulous resource for writers. Here's the link:

SUITE T BLOG (NOTE: My blog will not appear until Monday, September 25th!)


Quick Contest (Ends Sunday night)!

HELP! I need a favor. My cover for Love Everlasting is currently in the InD'Tales Magazine Creme de la Cover Contest, and I am in dire need of votes, so if you have time (and you like the cover!), can you hop on over to InD'Tale's contest page and cast a vote for Love Everlasting? You have to subscribe to vote, but it's a really easy process and most importantly, it's FREE for a great magazine that will pop up in your email once a month.

And if you do, let me know, and I will enter you in a quick contest to have a character named after you in my upcoming novella, For Love of Liberty, a signed e-copy, and another e-copy of any of my indie books. Here's the link and THANK YOU!!



Fun Video Interview Next Tuesday!

Tuesday, September 26, I am being interviewed on live video (gosh, I'm becoming a video freak, aren't I???) next Tuesday on Cara Grandle's Periscope show. I won't have the link till Tuesday morning, so just check back here for the link if you'd like to see it. Hope to see you there!



Get in the Mood for Christmas ...

... with my Christmas re-releases that are only 99 cents, so if you haven't read them yet -- why not?

It can't be the price at only 99 cents each, so I hope you'll check them out. ESPECIALLY the incredible reviews, for which I am INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL to those of you who posted one.

EMOTIONAL GUARANTEE!!  I promise you that these are some of the most emotional novellas you will ever read, guaranteed to make you both laugh and cry. So where else can you get such an emotional ride (with a great spiritual message) for only 99 cents??? Here are the links and THANK YOU!!

The Gift of Grace     Grace Like Rain     A Whisper of Hope     The Best Gift of All



Friday, September 15, 2017

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

--Psalm 139:23-24


Do NOT pray the Scripture above unless you mean business because I guarantee when you do — God WILL answer!!

Trust me on this, please! Because He's nailed my butt to the wall more times than I can count, people. But the good news? Well, it's in line four, my friends — the promise of the "way everlasting."

The way to peace.

The way to hope.

The way to joy.

Because in His presence IS fullness of joy, and I gotta tell you right now, the more you pray the Scripture above, the closer He WILL bring you to His presence, and I can testify first-hand. Don't believe me? Well, here's God's take on it:

 You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
-- Psalm 16:11

 "Pleasures forever"?   Mmm ... any takers out there? ;)

Well, I know of at least two, but I will admit, they are fictional. You see, the hero and heroine from my latest book, His Steadfast Love, book 3 in my Isle of Hope series, both undergo a little "searching" of their own at the hand of God, who reveals sin hidden so deep in their hearts, even they didn't know it was there! And believe me — the happy ending for Cat O'Bryen and Chase Griffin IS the "way everlasting," taking them straight to God's "pleasures forever."

So why I am bringing this up? Well, in addition to the fact that my Bible reading this morning triggered it and that "His steadfast love" takes us there, it is ALSO to announce — TA-DA! — the release of His Steadfast Love in PAPERBACK!

Yes, it's true -- you can now put the paperback on your Christmas lists or give it as a gift, so here are the links:



AND ... anybody that would like a signed bookplate for your paperback copy of His Steadfast Love, just let me know, and I will ship it off to you, okay?


Blog Giveaways!

NOW THRU MONDAY, 9/18/17:  Come on over to the Overcoming With God Blog, where my dear friend, Bonnie Roof, wrote some wonderful reviews for each of my novellas! Leave a comment, and you're in the draw for one of THREE giveaways, so here's the link:



MONDAY, 9/25 - THURSDAY, 9/28/17:  Want another chance to win any two of my indie e-books??

Well, you got it — just leave a comment on the SUITE T Blog of Southern Writer's Magazine on September 25 -28, and you're in the draw! Your odds are always good because comments are generally low, so give it a shot.

I will say, however, that I'm actually a little embarrassed, though, because somehow I inadvertently submitted the same blog to two different magazines, albeit months and months apart. So if you entered my Splickety Magazine blog contest a few months ago, this is the same blog subject. BUT ... ALL THAT MEANS FOR YOU IS ONE MORE CHANCE TO WIN, right? Although I do encourage you to consider subscribing to Suite T blog because it's a fabulous resource for writers. Here's the link:

SUITE T BLOG (NOTE: My blog will not appear until September 25th!)


My Next Facebook Live!

Well, it's about time for me to make a fool of myself on another Facebook Live, so do mark your calendars for THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21ST AT 7:00 PM CDT!  It will be on my author page — and yes, I promise I will not accidentally do it on my personal page like I did two other times, which means many of you sat there on my author page WAITING for me to go live. YIKES ... I am such a dork sometimes, which you will clearly see in these FB Lives! ;)

So ... not only will you be able to win an e-book if I answer your question, BUT ... I am hoping and praying I will be able to give you the date for a future FB Live with my dear friend, LAURA FRANTZ!  PLUS, you never know — maybe I will be able to get the love of my life to say hello. We'll see ...

SUBSCRIBE TO JOURNAL JOTS AND NEVER MISS ANOTHER FACEBOOK LIVE! The best way to know WHEN these FB Lives are going to happen is to subscribe to this Journal Jots blog if you haven't already because you will receive an email with the entire blog in it EACH time I post. That way, you will never miss any updates, excerpts, contests, giveaways, new releases, etc. that I might have, so I highly encourage you to subscribe.  


Here's the link to my author page, where I promise I will be on Thursday, 9/21 at 7PM CDT!! Hope to see you there!!



Novellas Update:

Sales are a-jumpin' on my newly released novellas, so if you haven't read them yet -- what's stopping you? It can't be the price because they are each only 99 cents, so I hope you check them out. ESPECIALLY the incredible reviews they are getting, for which I am INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL to those of you who took the time to post a review.

As I often tell you all, good reviews are lifeblood to all authors, but especially indie authors, so PLEASE consider posting a review if you enjoyed one of my indie books. The review can be as short as ONE or TWO lines, stating you liked it if you did, and you can even post the same generic review on each of the books instead of writing a new one for each!! Trust me on this — there is no better way to bless or thank an author you love than to post a good review. And for those of you who do not know how to do it, here's how:


1.) Go to and type in the book title and author you’d like to review in the search box at the top of the page with the little magnifying glass in it.

2.) Click on the magnifying glass, and it will take you to the book. Click on whatever version you are reviewing, ebook or paperback.

3.) Click on the “customer reviews” link next to the stars.

4.) Click on the box that says “Write a Customer Review.”

5.) Answer several questions by simply clicking on tabs.

6.) Hover your mouse over the stars to click on the number you’d like to give the book.

7.) Type or paste a short review (can be as short as one line) about how you liked the book and a title in the header box if you want.

8.) Click on Submit.

And that's all there is to it! If it was a good review, you just made an author VERY happy, so THANK YOU from me and all the authors you love!




Friday, September 1, 2017

For by grace have ye been saved

through faith; and that not of yourselves:

it is the gift of God.

Ephesians 2:8

Without question, the gift of grace is one of the greatest gifts God has given to man other than His Son. Grace = unmerited favor, something none of us deserve, but God's love makes a way.

Which is one of the reasons I love my latest novella, The Gift of Grace, because it truly is a story of unmerited favor, not only for a woman named Grace, but the man of God who falls for her. As promised, I've included the first and second chapters of The Gift of Grace as an excerpt below, so I hope you enjoy it.


Happy Release Day!

And guess what?? TODAY is RELEASE DAY for The Gift of Grace novella, along with my three other novellas, Grace Like Rain (can you tell I like "grace"??), A Whisper of Hope, and The Best Gift of All. So if you preordered them, they should be waiting for you on your Kindle right now, so THANK YOU and HAPPY READING!

If you haven't ordered the novellas yet, I hope you consider doing so since they are only 99 cents each, and I promise at least a few chuckles and tears for that price in each of the books. I mean, come on -- they don't call me a drama queen for nothing, you know! You'll find the buy links below along with a new giveaways, so read on!


Can You Help Me Out?

But before we go any further, I have a favor to ask. I know I harp more on reviews lately than I ever have before, but there are a number of reasons for that. For one, I have no publisher promoting my indie books, so good reviews are HUGE to indie authors. And number two, I used to run review contests, but that is no longer allowed by Amazon, so that means I have to rely on good reader friends like YOU to help me out.

So if you read the new novellas or have read any of the Isle of Hope series, from the prequel all the way to my latest release, His Steadfast Love, would you please consider posting a brief review on Amazon and/or Goodreads? It can be as short as one or two lines, just stating you liked the book. OR you can even write a 1-sentence generic review stating you liked the series and plop that same review on each of the IOH books. To be honest, it's the number of stars that people look for first and which have the most impact on whether they will buy the book or not. Now if you want to write a longer review, I truly appreciate that, too, but most people don't have that kind of time, so hopefully a 1- or 2-line review won't be an imposition for you. And if you DO post a review, PLEASE let me know so I can personally thank you, okay?


My Latest FB Live!

If you weren't able to make my 2nd "Q&A with a CDQ" last night, no worries, because I have the recorded video right here. And if you have any questions you'd like me to answer in my next Q&A, just leave them in a comment on the video. Then if I answer them during the next FB Live, YOU win your choice of my indie e-books. This video below explains how Keith and I met, so I hope you enjoy our first encounter! :) NOTE: YOU MAY HAVE TO UNMUTE IT BY CLICKING ON THE LITTLE SPEAKER IN THE LOWER RIGHT-HAND CORNER.


Fifty Shades of ... Pray??

Join me on SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 2ND on Novel Rocket blog when I get on my soapbox with “Fifty Shades of Pray” … Christian Romance in a secular world where the harvest is great, but the workers are few.  Leave a comment and you’re in the draw for your choice of my indie e-books, including any of the four novellas that just released! You'll find the link HERE (which won't be live till tomorrow, 8/2) so come on by!


30-Book Giveaway Ends Sun., 9/3!

Guess what? I have teamed up with more than 30 fantastic contemporary Christian and inspirational romance authors to give away a huge collection of 30 novels to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a Kindle Fire to the Grand Prize winner! 

You can win my novel HIS STEADFAST LOVE, plus books from authors like Becky Wade, Susan May Warren, and Melissa Tagg, so MARK YOUR CALENDARS, okay?

Enter the giveaway HERE by clicking here & good luck!


99-Cent Sale on A Light in the Window:

If you haven't read Marcy and Patrick's award-winning love story yet -- why not? It's the perfect read to kick off the holiday season with an Irish love story that's a cross between The Bells of St. Mary's and The Gift of the Magi by O'Henry, so I hope you check it out.

You can buy A Light in the Window in both e-book and paperback at AMAZON and e-book only at B & N.

I just LOVE the video my artist hubby did for it using my daughter on both the cover and in the video: 



Grace Like Rain:

A Heart Of San Franciso Novella

Yes, it's true -- Blake "The Rake" McClare has found love in his own novella, so you won't want to miss this one because it's one of my faves. So much so, that I am including the first chapter down below, so do check it out. Here's the blurb:

He’s everybody’s lovable rogue.
She’s nobody’s fool
who hopes to steer clear.
Until a thunderstorm sinks them both
into a sea of love.

Blake “The Rake” McClare has a notorious reputation as a womanizer, which is why soft-spoken Patience Peabody carefully avoids the lovable rogue attorney at the law firm in which they both work.

Until a rare thunderstorm brings them together in a love soaked with the grace of God and a whole lot of lightning!



A Whisper of Hope:

An O'Connor Christmas Novella

Ahhhh ... Charity & Mitch ... two of my very faves, and now they have their very own Christmas novella that you will not want to miss.

I know that Mitch doesn't look a lot like his orginal cover picture on A Passion Redeemed, but it's incredibly difficult to find a historical-looking couple that actually resembles a prior cover, so I did the best I could, even though I realize the couple looks more modern than historical. But I do think the pose replicates the love Mitch has for Charity very nicely, especially after you read the story! ;)  Here's the blurb:

She’s desperate for a baby.
He’s desperate for an empty nest.
And love is desperate to surprise them both.

With a husband dead set against adoption, Charity O’Connor Dennehy has barely a whisper of hope for more children, but if hope doesn’t disappoint … will it be enough to find a precious bundle under her tree?



The Best Gift of All:

An O'Connor Christmas Novella

This is Lizzie and Brady's story because it was a subplot that was cut from A Love Surrendered, the final O'Connor book. Since it was already basically written, I used it instead of writing a Christmas novella for Faith & Collin and Katie & Luke. But rest assured that each year I plan to release another O'Connor Christmas novella until I have covered everyone in the family, including Marcy & Patrick! 

I have to say that this particular novella contains a very important life lesson I learned, so not only is it a good read, I hope, but it contains a powerful lesson as well. Here's the blurb:


  She longs to be the perfect mother.
He just longs for his wife.
Until they receive ... the best gift of all.

Everyone knows Lizzie and John Brady have the perfect marriage. But when Lizzie’s desire to be a good mother eclipses her desire for her husband, the honeymoon is definitely over. Can the spirit of Christmas heal their hearts when Lizzie gives John the best gift of all?



The Gift of Grace:

A Frontier Christmas Novella

Although The Gift of Grace is basically a Christmas story, I didn't want the cover to be limited to only Christmas. And actually, since Grace almost burns down the hero's house on a number of occasions, I thought the flame-orange sky was somewhat fitting! ;) Here's the blurb:

She’s the Accident
to His Prayers …

Pastor Cole McCabe isn’t sure he’ll survive the holidays with his new housekeeper and nanny. She’s caught fire to the kitchen, dyed his long johns pink, and scorched nearly everything she cooks. But he’s desperate, and she’s a destitute ex-saloon girl.

Even though she’s no good with her hands, Grace sure has a way with her heart. She’s brought a warmth into Cole’s home, added color to his daughters’ lives, and broken down the wall he’s built up since his beloved wife died. But when Grace’s past threatens Cole’s family, she’s given one last chance to be home for Christmas . . . if she hasn’t burned it down yet.


THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH for your support and your friendship! Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!



Excerpt for The Gift of Grace

For by grace have ye been saved

through faith;and that not of yourselves:it is the gift of God.

Ephesians 2:8


Chapter One

Last Chance, California, Fall, 1885

Shelter, food, and babies, Lord, that’s all I ask.

Grace O’Malley peered out the window as the railcar groaned to a stop in front of a tiny train station, her stomach rumbling louder than the iron wheels on the tracks. Hand to her queasy middle, she peeked up at an azure sky tufted with cotton and expelled a guilty sigh, almost forgetting her other important prayer.

Oh, and a decent job?

“Last Chance, California!” the conductor bellowed, and a flurry of activity erupted. Grace’s abdomen responded with a ridiculously noisy growl, turning the heads of several people despite all the commotion.

“Hungry?” an elderly woman asked with a sympathetic smile, relieving Grace’s embarrassment over a mortifying trait that plagued her since her youth—an abnormally loud stomach whenever she was nervous.

“Not really,” Grace said, her smile wobbly at best. Yet, oh, how she wished she could say yes! But her days of untruths were behind her. She drew in an unsteady breath. Just like my days in a saloon.

The woman patted Grace’s hand, her rheumy blue eyes soft with understanding. “A new babe for you and your husband then?” she whispered, “causing a wee bit of morning sickness?”

Grace blinked, her cheeks suddenly toasty. Goodness, if only! But the only “morning sickness” Grace had ever known was from stale cigar smoke and late hours at The Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City.

“Second call for Last Chance!”

Relief flooded as she welcomed the interruption, saving her a response while she quickly collected her valise. Offering a smile, she inched past the woman toward the exit when the cry of an infant snagged her attention. Tiny fists flailing, the child squalled in its mother’s arms while the poor woman herded two toddlers to the door. Compassion propelled Grace forward to assist.

“Landon, no!” the mother shrieked when one toddler escaped, plowing straight into Grace’s worn skirt.

Delighted, Grace dropped her bag and swooped up the runaway, her giggles merging with his as she snuggle-kissed his neck. “I think I may just gobble you up, little man,” she said with a squeeze, “but first we need to follow your mama off the train.”

“I am so sorry!” Cheeks blooming bright red, the young mother reached to take her son.

“Don’t be,” Grace said with a smile, cuddling the imp close. “I love children, so I’m happy to help.”

The pinch of the woman’s face eased, and with a tired nod of thanks, she turned to usher her family from the train.

Clutching the squirm-worm to her side, Grace retrieved her bag before hurrying after the boy’s mother, pretending for one blissful moment the little dickens belonged to her.

But that would never be.

“It’s called amenorrhea,” the doctor explained when pregnancy eluded her after eloping with Gabe at fifteen. She’d always known her “womanly time” was different, twice-yearly instead of monthly, but she’d always believed she’d have children despite the doctor’s awful prognosis. Barren. Nonetheless, three years of marriage had produced little but heartbreak, and when Gabe died in a mining accident, she was left with nothing.

No husband.

No income.

No babies.

A delicious giggle feathered her cheek, and her gloom instantly vanished. Hopping down onto the platform, she couldn’t resist a playful whirl or two, Landon’s giggles taking flight along with her blue calico skirt, which billowed in the dusty air. Flush with laughter, she delivered Landon to his mother, who’d already handed the baby to a silver-haired woman of striking resemblance.

“I can’t thank you enough for your help,” the young mother said, the gratitude in her eyes edged with fatigue as she took the toddler from Grace. “Can my parents and I offer you a lift?”

“I’m not sure,” Grace said, scanning with a hand to her eyes, stomach cramping at the possibility that Eileen might not even live here anymore. Her last letter was over a year and half ago when the young mother was expecting her fourth child and begged her to come. But the prospect of a saloon girl paying a visit to a pastor’s wife had been too painful to consider, especially since she’d lied to her childhood friend, claiming to be a “teacher.”

Only not in any school.

Gripping her valise, she squared her shoulders. But . . . she was a new creature in Christ according to Maggie Mullaney, a young nurse who tended her wounds after a barroom brawl. Sweet Maggie’s ministrations had not only helped heal Grace’s body, but also her soul, instilling a hope for a new beginning. One last chance to make things right.

In Last Chance, California.

Her lips tipped up at the corners of her mouth, the irony of the town’s name not lost on her. It had, in fact, been a motivating factor in even considering a visit to a friend she hadn’t seen in years.

Prophetic, she hoped. And God’s will, she prayed.

“I’m looking for the parsonage,” Grace said with a crimp in her brow when she saw no sign of a steeple on the dusty main street lined with a hodge-podge of buildings and pines. “I was hoping it would be in walking distance, but I don’t see anything that even remotely resembles a church.”

“That’s because the Last Chance Chapel is on the west hill, tucked away in the trees,” the silver-haired woman explained, joining her daughter as she jiggled the baby. “You must be here to see the McCabes. Are you a relative?”

The McCabes. A silent sigh seeped out. Eileen was still here!

“No,” she said too quickly, loud enough to mask another noisy churn of her stomach. “Just a friend of the family hoping to help out.” Anxious to avoid further probing, Grace started for the west edge of town, lifting a hand in farewell. “Thank you for pointing me in the right direction.”

“If you’re here to help, they’ll be mighty glad to see you,” the woman called as Grace picked up her pace. Offering a wave, Grace rounded a building that appeared to be a saloon, given the familiar tinkling of a piano and several bleary-eyed cowboys who stumbled out.

“Hey, pretty lady, where ya off to in such a hurry?” one of the men slurred, and Grace bolted down the wooden sidewalk without a glance back, hand plastered to her straw bonnet to keep it from blowing off. Ducking around the mercantile, she backed up to the side wall, hand splayed to her heaving chest. The foul scent of liquor and tobacco assailed her, and she willed the apple she’d eaten for lunch to stay in her stomach.

A wagon rumbled by, and she jerked from the building, spotting a steeple through the trees in the distance. Praying Eileen would welcome her despite the lack of notice, Grace finally arrived at a white clapboard church tucked among a peaceful copse of red maples. The sight literally stilled her soul. A shaft of sunlight illuminated the shingled roof like the finger of God leading her home. Behind it at the top of a hill, a log cabin peeked through the pines, a lazy curl of wood smoke rising from the chimney to fill the air with its welcome scent.

Gaze flicking back to the church, she decided a chat with the Almighty might be wise. “To hedge my bets,” she said, then ruefully glanced up. “Forgive me, Lord—gamblers and saloons are part of my past, not my future, so please don’t let Eileen turn me away.”

Grace carefully approached the cherry-red door as if she were trespassing, the whiff of wood shavings tickling her nose. Sidetracked by the wonderful smell that reminded her of her grandfather, she tiptoed around the corner to see a makeshift workbench beside a stack of lumber. Memories of Grandfather’s carpentry shop tugged, and breathing in the heady scent of cedar and lacquer, she knew this was a sign from God.

She was finally home!

Grateful she was alone, she tiptoed into the tiny vestibule before entering the dim church, blinking to adjust from blinding sunlight to stained-glass shadows. A loud gasp popped from her mouth when something moved in a far corner of the rafters, and her stomach immediately followed with a truly ferocious growl. The sound startled a poor man painting the ceiling, jerking him around so fast, his ladder teetered for several horrifying seconds. Right before his can of stain shimmied off the top, splatting onto the floor with an awful crash.

Along with her hopes.

Dark eyes circled in shock gave way to a tic in a hard-sculpted cheek as he slowly descended, the clamp of a steely jaw not a good sign.

Grace gulped. Finally home? Gnawing the edge of her lip, she groaned—along with her stomach.

Then again, maybe not . . .

Chapter Two

Battling a weary sigh, Colton McCabe gingerly stepped into a sea of mahogany stain, thankful he’d taken the time to put a tarpaulin down. His mouth zagged. This’d teach him to get testy with the Almighty in His own house. He’d been so lost in his mental “negotiations” with the “Boss,” he hadn’t heard the door open, too busy badgering God for divine assistance in caring for four small children and a woman with a broken leg.

He squinted at a small figure who appeared as stiff as a pew and bit back a smile, wondering how such a tiny body could make so much noise without saying a word. “Can I help you?” he asked, unwilling to take a step closer lest he track stain across the floor.

“I am so sorry,” a guilty voice whispered, its owner emerging into the light like a doe from the shadows. “I thought I was alone.”

“My fault, not yours,” he said, swabbing the soles of his boots with an old rag. He tossed it over a rung and approached a young woman who looked ready to bolt. Eyes wide, she, took a step back, hand clutched to the bodice of her faded calico dress as if he were Beelzebub himself. Swiping his palms on his work pants, he offered a warm smile. “I would have greeted you if I’d heard the door, but I tend to get lost in my work.” He extended a hand, his smile inching into a grin. “Name’s Cole McCabe, and I’m the pastor here at Last Chance Chapel.”

She shook it so quickly, it was barely a touch, the blush in her cheeks a nice complement to golden hair the color of winter wheat. “I’m Grace O’Malley. You’re Pastor McCabe, from Virginia City?” She paused as if expecting recognition before more pink dusted her cheeks, setting her face aglow like an angel. “It’s a true pleasure to meet you,” she said softly,  pale blue eyes the exact shade of her bonnet. “Especially after all the good things I’ve heard.”

His laughter—all too rare of late—boomed through the church. “You’ve obviously been chatting with the Irish contingent in our fine community, Miss O’Malley, known for more than a bit of the blarney, but I’m glad to welcome you to our fair town. How may I help you today?”

Her smile faltered as she peeked up beneath a fringe of honeyed lashes. “Actually, Pastor McCabe, I was hoping I could help you.”

His brows lifted in surprise. Help him? His smile twitched, thinking this was one speedy answer to prayer.

“You see,” she continued, those blue eyes searching his, “I’m a childhood friend of your wife’s, so when Eileen sent a letter last year asking for help after the baby was born, I wasn’t able to come until now.”

He blinked, all air whooshing from his lungs.

“I know this is a surprise since I didn’t notify her I was coming . . .”

A surprise? The horrendous ache he’d tried so hard to dispel seared through his chest with a vengeance. No, this is a blow to the head with a two-by-four, Miss O’Malley.

“But my departure from Virginia City was rather sudden, you see . . .”

Cole’s eyelids closed. Yes, he knew all about “sudden.”

“So I hoped—well, prayed, really—that Eileen could still use my help.”

Eileen. The woman he’d been privileged to marry. A woman of God with a heart so pure, she’d been a beacon of light that helped chase away the darkness in his own sorry soul. God knows he hadn’t deserved her, and yet she’d married him anyway, giving him nine wonderful years, four beautiful children, and in the end—her very life.

Gut twisting, he reopened his eyes, loathe to tell Miss O’Malley that her friend now resided on the other side of eternity, as if saying the words would revive his grief all over again. The very grief he’d worked so hard to hide for the sake of his family and congregation for well over a year. But tell her he would, even offering lodging for the night if need be.

“I w-won’t stay long,” she said in a rush, as if sensing his hesitation. “You s-see, I was a teacher in Virginia City, and Eileen wrote such w-wonderful things about your t-town, I decided to resettle here. So I hoped to accept her k-kind invitation till I could find a home of my own. And, of course, I promised to help in any way that I could.”

Promised. His eyelids weighted closed once again. Yes, he’d promised Eileen something too. Something his aunt’s broken leg had made nearly impossible since caring for her and his children took so much of his time. Precious time he’d once devoted to making furniture to earn the price of the promise he’d made to his wife.

“I want a piano for Christmas, Cole,” she’d whispered on that fateful day he’d lost her, her voice so frail, he’d barely been able to hear. “For our girls to play . . . like I did when I was small.” She’d clutched his hand then, as if expending all her energy in a plea he could never deny. “Promise me, Cole, please. Give them music for Christmas . . . just in case.”

Just in case.

“If you need to discuss this with Eileen, I totally understand . . .”

As if the mention of her name had conjured her, Eileen’s sweet face appeared in his brain like a vision, smiling that serene smile that always assured him God was at work and all would be well. In his mind’s eye, he saw her touch her fingers to her lips and blow him a kiss like always whenever he left to work in his shop. And in one violent thud of his heart, he knew. Knew deep down, as if Eileen herself had whispered into his very soul.

Grace O’Malley was not just an answer to his prayer.

She was an answer to Eileen’s too.

He drew in a breath redolent with wood stain and the lemon oil he used on the pews and carefully expelled it again, his lips curving in the barest of smiles tinged with melancholy and awe. He vaguely remembered Eileen mentioning a long-lost friend, but he’d soon forgotten since his wife never brought it up again.

Until now.

He reached to tug Miss O’Malley’s valise from her grip, the stillness of the sanctuary underscoring the peace that slowly seeped into his soul. He ushered her out of the church into the blazing sunlight, grateful for God’s hand in his life.

“I assure you, Miss O’Malley, your help is not only desperately needed, but deeply appreciated as well. Maybe not by my sweet Eileen,” he said quietly, his tone hushed like the moment as he quietly closed the door, “but by the family she left behind.”

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