Welcome to the April Edition of the BecauseFiction Magazine. Spring is here in Southern California. The weather has been on the warm side, and the flowers are blooming all over! Today we saw 22 baby ducks down at the lake. They were so cute!With the weather turning nice, it is fun to sit out on the balcony and read with a cup of coffee or a Diet Coke – I am game for either. I am on the hunt to build up my TBR list to read, read, read.To help you build your TBR list, we have some great reads for you this month! Be sure to check out each author’s update, enter the giveaways, and grab your free book.
Until next month, may God bless you richly! Sandy Barela
Do you read a book of devotions? Do you have a favorite? Through the years I have read a variety of devotionals along with my daily Bible readings. For many, many years (I’m not going to share a number), I have used the Daily Guideposts devotional with life-stories from some writers who have helped me along my journey.
There are so many devotionals—some for a year, others for 21, 30, 50 days. I always have one of these for daily readings. Sometimes, I repeat old favorites such as JesusCalling by Sarah Young. I’m open for suggestions from you too.
Recently, a friend shared about one she helped write, Who I Want to Be. It came in the mail today. I’ll let you know what I think. This one is being translated into Japanese as a ministry to more women.
Devotionals can have themes or be companions to other books. Two that I loved have gorgeous pictures to support the words. Since I am a visual learner, the pictures give the words deeper meaning. Devotions from the Front Porch and Devotions from theGarden are ones I will read over and over.
Have you ever read companion devotionals? Here are three of the ones I’ve enjoyed: Through the Year with George MacDonald, The Anne of Green Gables Devotional, and Prayingwith Jane (Austen), both by Rachel Dodge. I’m thinking of writing a companion devotional for my Revolutionary Faith series.
Two old favorites always jump back into my reading. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young holds a dear place in my heart—so poignant! Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado is a keeper with morning and evening selections.
I’m always looking for a good devotional. Do you have a suggestion?
Uncover the Story Behind a One-Hundred-Year-Old Love Letter
Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.
Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.
A beautiful tapestry of a love story hidden through the ages. As the pieces or shards are uncovered, the mystery unfolds. With any good story, as with life, the course can be viewed as positive or negative. Love lost can be devastating and debilitating or it can soar and emerge victorious. In life, we ask a lot of why or what if questions that will go unexplained until heaven. But occasionally, a piece of information opens the way to explore a possible answer this side of eternity.
Rarely do I use quotes from a book but I want to share a few here that shook me. As the characters remember those they love, the author consoles a young girl who wants to see her dear brother again with “he’s only a page away.” He’s there in his story and in one’s heart. “God allows us the gift of memories to tide us over to eternity.” Lovely!
The pages of this book hold out the branches of love, hope, and bravery. Latch on for an inspirational journey.
About the Author
Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her historical romance novels, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge and The Red Ribbon, and her contemporary novels, the Mitchell’s Crossroads and Pleasant Gap series, showcase her Appalachian heritage, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.
More from Pepper
Books are a uniquely portable magic – Stephen King
Appalachia is known for having a high illiteracy rate. A place of beautiful scenery and rugged landscapes, the people of the mountains developed stories through oral storytelling much more than “book learning”. As a young girl growing up in this world, I loved hearing my granny share tales from up to five generations ago, filling in the narrative gaps between a birth date and a death date on a tombstone – giving flesh and breath to the stone-etched names.
It’s no surprise then, with a heart cultivated from rich oral stories, I fell in love with reading. Books became that “portable magic” that took me places my little Appalachian community couldn’t provide. I fell in love with the Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew. Wept through the end of Bridge to Terabithia and Old Yeller. Traveled to the plains with Sarah Plain and Tall and fell in love with horses with The Black Stallion. But when I was in seventh grade, I read my very first “British” novel, The Secret Garden. In that one introduction, my world expanded into mysterious English manor houses and British classics. Before long, I’d consumed Jane Eyre, Austen’s classics, some Dickens, Dracula, Frankenstein…and the list goes on! And then…I found Tolkien and Lewis – and the ‘real’ world swelled into OTHER worlds.
I’m grateful for true stories of book-loving pioneers traveling into the world of Appalachia to provide books and literacy training to “my people”, because I know some of those books made their way to my tiny elementary school library…and not only brought me the chance to discover stories, but to write them too!
Isn’t it amazing how books can do that?
In Hope Between the Pages, I wanted to bring the same awe and discovery I felt as a child (and continue to feel as an adult reader) to the story of two people whose words had seemed small. Stories stretched their worlds, but the stories also gave them wonderful imaginations and positive perspectives. It’s still amazing to me that ink-and-paper words can make such a lasting impact on hearts and minds. They can lead us to dream, teach us new things, encourage our hearts, help us to think outside the box, swell our imaginations, broaden our horizons, and encourage our hope.
Books are not a replacement for real adventures and relationships, but they certainly provide a beautiful “door” into other lives and worlds that we may never have a chance to experience in real life. Sadie, my historical heroine, and Clara, my contemporary heroine, both have kept close to home but traveled greatly through books…and BOTH are given the opportunity to reach beyond the bindings to discover real-life adventures. I’d like to think that their love for stories helped them have the courage to step away from the page and into their own tales even more prepared than they would have been without stories.
What are some of your favorite books you read as a child? Did any of them influence you to become a more avid reader?
Deirdre Mackenzie has spent her life hiding from her father and hating the English. However, when she is caught stealing from an English laird, his unexpected kindness begins to melt away her hatred and strums lonely heartstrings longing for love. Bryce Warwick can’t believe the boy his men caught is actually a young woman. After several attempts to lure the truth from her, he determines she is as deceitful as his late fiancée who nearly cost him his life. But the woman is the least of his worries with the turbulence brought on by threats of another border war and by King Richard’s distrust of the nobles. With the boundary in unrest, Bryce entertains a Scottish chieftain unaware it is Deirdre’s father, seeking peace for his people. Fearful that her father will discover she is alive, Deirdre steals Bryce’s signet ring, hoping a missive from the laird will keep her father away. But when the ring is used instead for treason, she realizes too late she’s been betrayed and Bryce will hang for the crime. With old wounds that need to heal and adversaries who could end their chances at true love, both must learn to trust in a way they never knew possible.
I’m thankful the author continued this series. Among the harsh reality of the feuding borderlands between Scotland and England in 1399, there are souls to cherish and save. No one is beyond redemption in God’s eyes.
The vein of trust runs through the book, snagging the characters, confronting them with the daring questions: Can I trust you? Can I trust God? Trust is a knot that secures people; whereas, the lack of trust imprisons them, turning their lives into internal battles. I’ve thought about the areas or times in my life when trust was a real problem. I do know I don’t want to remain tied to those flimsy relationships. Earning trust is greatly linked at times to forgiveness. A firm foundation of trust and forgiveness conquers many of life’s imminent hardships. Add a few feuding families, swords, castles, kings, and knights, then life takes an exciting turn almost daily.
About the Author
Debbie Lynne Costello is the author of Sword of Forgiveness, Amazon’s #1 seller for Historical Christian Romance. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina with their 4 horses, 3 dogs, a miniature donkey, and 6 peking ducks.
More from Debbie Lynne
It is my desire as an author to draw my readers into my story so they feel invested in the hero and heroine and part of their journey, whether it is set in 19th Century Charleston, South Carolina or 14th Century Northumberland, England. One of the ways I love to do this is with professions, hobbies, and cooking. In Sword of Trust my heroine, Deirdre has become quite proficient with a bow and arrow. She’s had plenty of practice and is driven to be the best, perhaps to prove to herself because she is a lass in lad’s clothing. The long bow was a popular weapon in the Middle Ages and was used in battle in The Hundred Years’ War. But the bow was not just a weapon of war, the bow was also a weapon for food. And Deirdre loves to hunt with a flat bow. In her excitement she runs into a wee bit of trouble with the king. Some trivia for you: Because of its elasticity, the yew tree was used in making the long bow. Even after fire arms were introduced the long bow continued to be used for battles. And due to its popularity, by the end of the sixteenth century, mature yew trees were nearly extinct in Northern Europe.
Unfortunately, I can’t really give you instructions on bow making or lessons on how to shoot accurately. Instead, I’m going to share a recipe for the medieval treat, gyngerbrede. In Sword of Trust, Bryce gets his cook to make gyngerbrede. He fills a bag with them and takes them north to the Scottish borderland to hand out to the children. Sweets have been loved for thousands of years. Today we know that sugar is bad for us. Regardless of that, we still crave the empty calories. Some things never change. Here is a wee bit of fun trivia for you. During the first century in some countries, sugar was only used for medicinal purposes and thought to heal many ailments.
1 loaf of wheat bread, grounded into breadcrumbs
1 cup of honey
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp black pepper
In a medium to large pan, bring your honey to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the foam that collects on the top and sides. Add your cinnamon, ginger, and pepper. Stir well. When your spices are mixed in the honey begin adding your bread crumbs one cup at a time. Mix well and then knead it thoroughly. You can divide your dough up into quarters to make it easier to work with and roll out. Cut them into 1” squares. Dust the squares with a mixture of one part cinnamon and two parts sandalwood.
“You’re just like a brother to me. I don’t like you in that way.”
When they dated ten years ago as teens, it almost destroyed their friendship. So Pen Reese did the only logical thing. She lied about how she felt—and still feels—about him.
She’s still paying for that lie.
A brilliant plan to set Mike and a friend up and get over him has one problem.
It’s breaking her heart.
When Pen pushed him away, Mike Gaines assumed she just didn’t understand his faith. People like her persnickety aunt even claim he’s part of a cult—ridiculous, but it’s true. Still, if she wants him to play the part of a big brother, fine. At least he can stay close this way.
At first, Pen’s attempt to set him up with one of her close friends hurts. But what if it’s the perfect opportunity to show her what she’s missing if she sees him with someone else?
In this friends-to-more-meets-second-chance romance, The Matchmaker’s Best Friend continues the Elnora Island romances of the Independence Islands Series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters. The Independence Islands Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.
Old friends on now familiar islands. I love returning to this series. It feels like home as if I could hop on a ferry and know how to travel from island to island. I’d visit friends and join in the wholesome island life.
This time I joined Pen, Mike, and Jazzy on Elnora Island where Pen’s wedding schemes force the three friends to confront personal feelings and coverups. Masquerading has been in the words for years. Is it time to drop the masks? Whatever they decide it sure has been fun to peek in on them and enjoy some island life. I’m so glad there is a book following this one. Goodbye my friends, for now!
About the Author
Where western meets happily ever after.
Kari writes swoony heroes and places that become characters with detail and heart. Her favorite place to write about is the place her heart lives, (even if she doesn’t) South Dakota.
Kari loves reading, listening to contemporary Christian music, singing when no one’s listening, and curling up near the wood stove when winter hits. She makes her home in central Minnesota, land of frigid toes and mosquitoes the size of compact cars, with her husband of over twenty years. They have two daughters, two sons, one cat, and one hungry wood stove.
More from Kari
Pen is Mightier than the Sword
Especially in sparkly, stacked espadrilles and pink power suit. Don’t let Pen Reese’s pink façade fool you, she’s a businesswoman to the core, with a heart of gold. She has built a party planning business from the ground up, and she’s about to create another.
Pen is one of those characters that I could just see CLEARLY as I was writing. She is about ninety percent Elle Woods from Legally Blonde and ten percent a close personal friend. I heard her voice in my head. I could hear her talking as I wrote the book. Her personality was perfect for the energetic party planner.
I’m sure if I put a character description up without context or clarity many people wouldn’t want to read the book, they would write Pen off as shallow. But she’s not. She’s heartbroken.
Do you still remember your first love? Maybe you still care for them? Pen fell hard for her first love and no matter how professional she is or how many lavish weddings she plans, she can’t forget the one wedding she’ll never get to create. Her own.
Pen things that if Mike falls for someone else, goes off and gets married, she’ll finally be able to move on. So, she sets a plan in motion. That’s when her world completely falls apart and you see the tender parts of Pen that she doesn’t show to just anybody.
She is a very complex character and I hope she touches you like she touched me.
I hope you enjoy Pen’s tale of matchmaking gone wrong.
My stack of books is never ending, and I love it! I’d love to know what you are reading.
Here are the next six books in my pile. Perhaps, you have read them.
The first is Timeless Treasure by MaryLu Tyndall. I love split time novels. This one has a pirate treasure, a history professor, and a pirate. I’m glad I get to start it right away. The White City by Grace Hitchcock is part of the True Colors series about historical stories of American Crime. Wow! She’s a new author to me and a new series.
A good friend recommended L.L. Muir’s The Ghosts of Culloden Moor. So, I’m starting with Volume 1. This is also a time travel collection. I’m excited about reading the classic Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott. I love anything by this author.
I’ve been waiting for this one, The Storm Breaks Forth by Terri Wangard. During the Great War, this couple face challenges and prejudices miles apart. Lady Gwyneth’s Hope by Rachel Skatvold is Book Four in the Ladies of Ardena series. I wish this series didn’t have to end. I love the Medieval setting and the characters with their action-packed challenges.
I’m diving in tonight with the first one…Happy reading. Maybe you will pick up one of these soon.
When Julianna’s final mission proves more deadly than she imagined, help comes from the most unlikely of places.
Raised in a castle on the remote border of England and Scotland, Lord John Stanton is the last male heir of his royal lineage. He has the responsibility to marry and carry on the family name, but a secret vow to God, after a near-fatal battle wound, could change his future from royal heir to humble servant of the church. His journey to the monastery to become a monk is interrupted when he meets a dangerous, but beautiful, woman who has plans and secrets of her own.
Abandoned by her father and raised in an institution as property of the Crown, Julianna Westerfield longs to be free to pursue love and have a family of her own. Trained to be a spy and assassin, she has a chance to earn her freedom by completing this last and most dangerous assignment. Her mission to uncover a murderous plot and the identities of the Black Guard has already cost several agents their lives, and now the assassins are after her. To survive she must depend on a handsome monk and his cantankerous donkey.
Was it divine intervention that caused John and Julianna’s paths to cross? Can they put aside their differences and join forces to deliver stolen papers containing vital information to the king in time to save countless lives?
Since I enjoyed the first book, I just knew the second would hold intrigue and surprises. With every turned page, a spy or counter attack appears as the evil schemes beg for the death of the king and his royal lineage. With so many lives at stake, I wonder how anyone sleeps with death around every corner. Who can the servants and noblemen trust?
Sometimes secrets in our lives become heavy burdens weighing us down with their unrealistic expectations. I’m not about to spill all of mine, but an element of trust needs to exist in our lives: trust in God as the author of the plans He has for each of us, trust in the ones placed in our lives, trust that good will prevail. In TheSword and the Secrets, one wrong move or thought could foil man’s plots and schemes. But God can and does work through our faults and mistakes, and He works them for the good.
I’m looking forward to the next book. I can guess who the main characters will be, but I’ll let you read and determine that for yourself. Happy reading.
About the Author
Jan Davis Warren is a mother, grandmother, and a young-at-heart great-grandmother. Her wonderful husband passed away the same year she won the ACFW Genesis Award for Romantic Suspense. That win and many others are encouraging reminders that God wants her to continue writing even in the tough times. Learn more at http://www.janwarrenbooks.com.
More from Jan
The Sword and the Secrets is a Historical Romantic Suspense. It is written as a Medieval Christian fiction story set in England around 1209. I chose to keep the historical details to a minimum because of the inconsistency I found in researching this particular time and place. I humbly apologize to you lovers of more in-depth historical facts. I would’ve loved to have traveled to England for more hands-on research but the pandemic made that impossible.
I live in a once-rural area in Oklahoma. Urban development is fast encroaching transforming peaceful pastures into busy neighborhoods. I know it’s called “progress”, but I miss knowing all of my neighbors by name. In the good-old-days, my husband and I loved raising our children here on the farm. As a family, we had all kinds of poultry and livestock, so I can’t resist including a variety of animals in my stories from time to time.
Rosita and her daughter, Daisy, were two of our favorite donkeys on the farm. I’ll never forget when Daisy was born. I think her ears were almost long as her legs. Speaking of donkeys, did you ever hear the story about how the donkey got its cross? I included it in the book.
Precious is the name of the donkey in The Sword and the Secrets. Her mother was killed when she was but a few days old, and she was raised by an old woman who took her into her home and treated with the care and affection of the child she never had. Needless to say, Precious is smart and creative when it comes to getting her way. When her elderly master is about to die, the woman is directed by God to entrust Precious into Lord John Stanton’s care.
For the war-weary hero of this story, Lord John Stanton’s secret battlefield vow to serve God and the Church became more complicated when he was charged with the responsibility of caring for the contrary donkey. His intent to walk to London to join a monastery was supposed to be peaceful and most of all, solitary. It wasn’t until after John accepted the animal that he found out that the donkey’s elderly master had taught Precious not to budge unless first called by name. It was to keep her from being stolen, which served her well. But the name sticks in the hero’s throat every time he must submit to calling her Precious to make her move.
John’s plans also never included protecting a beautiful spy with secrets of her own.
The heroine, Julianna Westerfield was a fun surprise to me. As the story took shape in my mind, I thought the hero would meet the heroine by coming to her aid against brigands. Perhaps she was a princess fleeing her wicked guardian, etc. That however was not the way the story unfolded. As I came to Julianna’s part, I realized she had a colorful past of her own.
I love it when the story develops into something I never expected.
The beautiful heroine of The Sword and the Secrets, Julianna Westerfield is not the princess I first envisioned but an indentured servant. She was abandoned as a child at the Grandfork Institute for Higher Learning. It is an institution run jointly by the Crown and the Church for the sole purpose of training spies and assassins to do their bidding.
I hope you’ll join John and Julianna (and Precious) on their quests and perchance uncover their deepest secrets.
May God bless and keep you and draw you ever closer to Him.
“Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe them, and try to follow where they lead.” Louisa May Alcott
Four years ago, we moved to our present home in north Louisiana after we renovated a 1936 house. We found the original hardwood floors and beadboard ceiling. It came with such nice features like the tall ceilings, old doors, and wooden shutters. What I didn’t realize was that it came with other treasures.
The first year I watched a brilliant tree outside my bedroom window come to life from the winter freeze to the spring and summer sun. A tree I had never seen before attached to our property—an inheritance from the former owners, a gift from God.
Grancy Greybeard Tree! Have you ever heard of it? I love everything about it. All the seasons. The cardinals have made it their courting tree and bring their families each year. Since basking in its beauty, I’ve searched for its likeness in other yards. But I’ve only seen them in the woods, secluded from society.
I love nature and the always surprising beauty. The former owners left me other surprises such as two lovely pecan trees and irises—white, purple, and yellow. I know I can’t thank them in person, but surely, they know what joy the additional beauties of nature still bring. Thank you, God, for the inheritance.
God is in the beauty all around my house. I just have to open my eyes and soul to see and appreciate it.
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Thoreau
Have you found an unexpected inheritance at your fingertips?
I read in a devotional recently about “thin places.” I like the wording of this phenomenon when I can almost reach out and touch the face of God. Of course, we cannot do that literally, but we can have the sense of God so near. And He is near, for with the belief of Him residing in a believer’s heart puts Him right there. Yet, there are times when an experience is so amazing that there is an overwhelming sense of Him being close. In these thin places, the separation between heaven and earth seems to grow a bit thinner.
“For great is Your love, reaching to the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” Psalm 57:10
Sometimes those experiences are in nature or simplicity. Here are a few of the thin places I have experienced:
Beauty of flowers
Children and innocence
Animals and their faithfulness
Arms of a loved one
Meditation in silence of nature
See if you can add to the list. Do you ever sense that thin place that puts you so near to God?
I yearn for more of the thin places especially in the thick of the battle.