I enjoy the study of history, especially when combined with fiction. An avid traveler and reader, I also teach Spanish and French and have degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. I received my MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Presently, I live in north Louisiana with my husband and rescue kittens.
I finished an awesome book recently—The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin. It has left a unique impression on me with all of the truisms about books and readers. A question in the book from one character to another is “What do you like best about reading?” This question in the novel comes from a non-reader to someone who devours books as an avid pastime. I loved the question so much that I posed it on a social media group. The answers were inspiring and as individualized as the individual.
How do you answer that question?
There is no way I could give just one answer. I’ll satisfy your curiosity or spark your own list with a few of mine:
** love story
** historical journey
** fairytale life
** heroes and heroines
** reality check
** second chances
Maybe I left a few for you to consider. Why do you read? Let me know in a comment.
Kids are heading back to school, and the weather is turning cooler which means there is more time for reading!
I have partnered up with Celebrate Lit Publicity to do an amazing giveaway where you can win a spectacular prize of over 50 books or a $500 Amazon gift card to buy books you love to build up that TBR pile!
Be sure to enter Celebrate Lit’s Back to School Multi-Author Giveaway going on now through September 18.
Weddings for every season and occasion. Adventures, mishaps, and dream destinations—this collection has it all! As our guest of honor, you’re cordially invited on a journey through twelve heartwarming and inspirational novellas that will take you from small-town America to romantic Paris, from the sunny shores of Hawaii to New Zealand. Office romances, friends-to-lovers, second chances, and more await you in these stories full of forgiveness, redemption, laughter, and love. Say “I do” and claim your copy of this limited-time anthology by your favorite USA Today and bestselling Christian romance authors! January Hope by Kari Trumbo Clothing historian Cleo goes on the hunt for an 1880s fashion magazine wedding dress. Discovering it’s part of a museum collection, her biggest obstacle is handsome curator Lowel. Unfortunately, his no-touch policy just might put a stop to her hunt and her heart. A Valentine for Veronica by Lisa Prysock Veronica purchased her dream wedding dress though she’s single. When an encounter with a former peer—now a wedding magazine photojournalist—entices her into doing a special feature, the pressure is on to find a husband. Will Veronica’s pride be her downfall, or will her faith lead to love? I Take You by Marion Ueckermann Since childhood, Kaia has dreamed about her fairy-tale wedding. But when her father’s choices crush Kaia’s dreams, her fiancé is left scrambling for a solution to their dilemma. Kaia doesn’t want to delay their wedding, and neither does Leo. He’s waited a lifetime to make Kaia his wife. Adoring April by Chautona Havig Whoever heard of a church expecting an incoming minister to marry their only single member as a condition for employment? Legality aside, what kind of woman would possibly agree to such a crazy idea? What’ll it take for Jesse to go from avoiding April to adoring April? A Change of a Dress by Hallee Bridgeman Belle struggles to bury the past and grasp her elusive future. Scarred by an incredible act of heroism, combat veteran Vince longs to courageously walk the road less traveled as an army chaplain. The two unknowingly cross paths time and again until meeting changes everything. Time for Me by Jan Thompson When Sheryl tries to get a world-famous sculptor to display his artwork in her gallery, she doesn’t expect him to fall in love with her in this friends-to-more romance. The Wedding Dress by T. K. Chapin Alexa Anderson doesn’t want to wear her mother’s wedding dress when it’s time to marry the love of her life, Brad Jackson. Little does she know, the wedding dress has a story of its own to tell… The Wedding Kimono by Camy Tang A tomboy massage therapist and her boss discover a mysterious message hidden in her grandmother’s wedding kimono. Can her family legacy help her to see her inner beauty and open herself up to love? One Vow for September by Liwen Ho She’s a writer with an unconventional assignment, he’s the jaded coworker playing her husband; together they’re one odd couple about to find out how real love is. Braver with You by Jaycee Weaver She’d follow her childhood sweetheart anywhere, but first they’ll need all her courage and all his support to make it through the wedding their mothers have planned. Grateful for You by Dori Harrell Jeans-only Libby hasn’t spoken to lawman Jamie since she turned down his proposal. But when she sees a frothy gown in a store window, she knows he’s the guy for her. But winning him back might mean landing herself in jail. Countdown to Her Cowboy’s Christmas Wedding by Shoshanna Gabriel A handsome rancher. The girl next door. A childhood promise comes due that could change their lives… for better or worse. When their Christmas wedding preparations bring out painful memories of heartbreak, will Kate be able to forgive Jay—and herself—so they can finally be together?
I’ve anticipated this book from early this summer. I am not disappointed! I have found new authors to follow. Congratulations to these ladies who have contributed to sharing contemporary, loving relationships in a new fresh light. The world offers confusion and chaos with its drama and constant uncertainty. But love? It still exists and thrives on the unraveling of the unnecessary packaging to expose the wealth of purity and faithfulness within.
Save the Date. Save the book. Save the time to read something special and heartwarming. Finding love at any age is beautiful and meaningful. God has a plan for every stage of life. I want to be the woman who grabs that plan with gusto. Here you will meet women, and men, who take the challenge to grow. Bravo!
About the Authors
The authors of Save the Date joined together for this limited-time collection as an opportunity to bring their readers an excellent reading experience. From California to Kentucky, South Africa to Idaho and everywhere in between, these authors live and write the stories on their hearts to touch the hearts of their readers.
More from Chautona
Why One Epic Wedding Set Is about More Than “Just” Romance
“Oh, they say when you marry in June… you’re a bride all your life…”
When my kids were little, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was a favorite movie, although they used to call it “Dah-dah-dump-dum.” If you’ve never heard “Goin’ Courtin’” then that won’t make sense, but what can I say? Kids. Considering I had seven daughters, it’s no wonder that my kids loved that song sung by girls wearing pantaloons and camisoles the most. My boys never seemed to get that they were watching girls dancing around in their underwear. Much to my relief.
But you know, I’m a desert rat and not a fan of June weddings. Summer weddings are… HOT. I love outdoor weddings and receptions, and they’re miserable here in June, July, August, May… September… To be fair, there are maybe six whole weeks of the entire year that wouldn’t be—too hot, too cold, or just blasting with wind.
The authors of Save the Date all chose their months for different reasons. December, June, and February were obvious favorite choices, but I had three options that called to me. Either April, May, or June. Why? Well, my book title. I needed a woman’s name!
In this collection, you’ll find a couple of marriages of convenience, a friends-to-more, a destination wedding… you name it, we’ve got it. Each author has a meaningful story around the wedding dress, and through the course of each one, we have something especially beautiful.
I’m not speaking just of love between two characters. In sets like this, beautiful friendships are forged as we write, share, and celebrate. There’s a camaraderie that fills the group with every idea, every milestone, and every frustration.
You’ll also witness one more kind of love—love of craft. See, authors do the long, hard, sometimes tedious work of writing for a reason. We love the creation of characters, settings, and stories that weave all three into a picture that stirs the heart and feeds the soul. You could argue that they are a cheap imitation of the stories God writes on our lives, but because they are an offering to the Lord, they are also beautiful, rich, and a “sweet savor,” or so we hope.
We pray you’ll enjoy your time among the brides of Save the Date. We hope you’ll be blessed.
So, the title, Ten-Thousand-Year Plan, is a bit daunting. Who does that? I am a planner, I confess. Positive or negative, it must be in my DNA. I cannot go a day without a plan to accomplish something. Now, before you label me a workaholic, my plans might be to read a few chapters in a book or to make a neglected phone call. I know how to rest and relax. So, what if I have to plan to kick back. I do some of that every day.
When I read a devotional about having a ten-thousand-year plan, I anticipated something I could grab hold of and use. The scripture content is I Corinthians 3. In a concise paraphrase: The only things that really count are those that contribute to others’ knowing Christ and being set free by His grace and love.
As a planner, I make lists for what has to get done like the laundry and meals and work. Which never make it to a list. But on my to-do list, I need to convert my thoughts from day-to-day trivialities that offer stress to the ten thousand year thought process. Here is a question to get me started.
What do I focus on and talk about?
If only what I’ve done for the Lord matters, what about all those other things that prompt me to anger or stress or disfunction? Is there any way to tame those bothersome thoughts into the ten-thousand-year plan? If not, I question if they need to be on my lists. Life is full of the mundane through important daily chores. Do I need to add things that in the long term are not important?
If I can (with some practice), I will let go of the trivialities of my day and get on with the plans that make a difference.
How do you separate the trivial from the important?
Typically, the hottest days of summer in my part of Louisiana are the months of August and September. I never thought about the expression the dog days ofsummer, until I watched our rescue dog, Tully, during these months. Lots of dog expressions crept into my language such as whoa doggy, doggy bag, It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and His bark is worse than his bite.
But now, as I face another hot month, the dog days of summer have affected my actions too. It’s not Tully’s fault. His lethargic attitude reflects mine. I understand the expression now that I visualize it every day. Tully and I are both longing for a breeze, a reprieve.
My dog day characteristics that mimic my Tully are: laziness, resting mode, low energy, drained, dead tired. I see canine, fur baby and want to spread out on the couch and twitch as I cream under the fan. But I pry my eyes open, stretch, and carry-on in my working persona. Yet, oh to be a dog! (I say the same thing about my cats who sleep sixteen hours a day!)
Although the expression makes total sense describing the hottest, most oppressive summer months in the south, the history of the expressions adds a bit of relevant explanation.
The dog days of summer this year were July 3-August 11. They take place during the time when the sun occupies the same region in the sky as Sirius, the bright star visible from any part of Earth and is part of the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog.
Make sense? Whatever the history of the expression, I now have a visual in my Tully as he sleeps during the heat of the day. He and I share the same dreams of catching a cool breeze and chasing a butterfly. He just gets to do it more often than I do.
As the dog days of summer linger, what do you do in anticipation of the fall? I plan, read, organize, and rest in the hammock under the shade tree with my dog. I don’t want him having all the fun.
Don’t forget to leave a comment here for your chance to win one of the novels in my August Giveaway! The deadline is August 31!
Another giveaway is in the Because Fiction magazine. #BecauseFiction Magazine August Issue is here! Check out articles from your favorite Christian authors such as Jennifer Pierce, Liz Tolsma, Marguerite Gray, and Tabitha Bouldin, and enter a bunch of giveaways for some fun prizes!Enjoy!
FYI: My article was not printed in full so here it is:
Average vs. Genius
I am project minded. I function best with a goal and deadline on my calendar at all times. If there is not one, I find one and hit the ground running (or walking), investigating the avenues in order to achieve the results I want.
My father is the same way. He must have a list of projects to accomplish whether creative or physical. His list is as long as mine. The difference? He is a genius. He can handle a variety of things at one time and do a very good job! And before I’ve finished one project, he’s completed five. I try to keep up, but I must not have the brain power or the energy.
My lists include house, garden, work, and writing projects. I’ll share what I have to do for my writing in order to complete anything. If I see all the items on the list and all the different parts to be accomplished, I rebel and not much gets done.
So, here is what I do almost daily:
Reading—I start and end my day with reading beloved fiction by my favorite or new authors. I record all my reading activity on Goodreads and in my reading journal. Each book has its own page where I write the dates and my thoughts.
Reviewing—This is not daily, for it depends on when I finish a book. I review through Celebrate Lit Blog Tours, Amazon, Goodreads, and BookBub. My stack of print books is very tall! But I also have audible and eBooks. It’s a project of a lifetime.
Researching—Since I mainly write historical fiction, I am constantly researching, not just one or two books or resources but 10-15 or more. I spend three months or so researching before I start the writing project. It gives me ideas and a backdrop for my characters.
Writing—Finally, the words start flowing after I outline and plan my novel. I write with pen and paper, so it can go anywhere with me. After that, I input it on the computer where I immediately start the next stage. My mission is to write every day, even if only 200 words.
Editing—This is an ongoing, constant process that involves more than me. After I edit my finished product, I send it to a professional editor. When he finishes, I put in the corrections. Next, I have two-three Beta readers read for content, grammar, etc., catching all the mistakes my editor and I missed. Also, my publisher has an additional two-three professional edits. Yes, I’m tired during this stage. I seem to always be editing something.
That is a little bit about me and my reading/writing world. Of course, I have to add the house, the garden, work, exercise, and family. If an average IQ can get things done, what can a genius accomplish?
A Lukewarm Correspondence. A Tattered Reputation. Two Hearts at Odds.
He is walking away while she is fighting to walk.
After a springtime swim, Ella Steen is stricken with a dire illness, leaving her without the use of her legs. Meanwhile, Dr. George Curtis, the man she secretly loves, faces ruin. For over a year, the crusty New York City bachelor and vivacious spinster have exchanged dozens of letters and formed a wary friendship.
Neither are willing to open their hearts completely. Until they face each other. The past looms between them, however. Does George still love another or is his heart completely free?
A trip to Valley Creek holds the answers. Instead, when George and Ella arrive, they encounter obstacles that force other truths to the surface. Is George brave enough to confront what he fled in New York? Can Ella confess why she hates dogwood winters? Will their hearts survive?
If only their pasts would keep out of the present.
How dependent am I on my independence—my ability to walk and roam freely—or how stubborn am I about getting my own way? This novel causes me to question the secrets I keep and the schemes I make. Dancing around the issues and skirting the drama determine that the distance between hearts might continue to grow to a point where reconciliation is no longer an option.
Candace West puts her characters through devastating predicaments—ones that leave scars and changes, causing them to reach beyond physical and emotional barriers. If they want a means to overcome and live within the circumstances of life, they must find the source and strength from God. When was the last time I struggles and finally had to turn it all over to the only One who could make a difference—a huge, life-changing step toward a powerful, purposeful existence?
About the Author
Candace West was born in the Mississippi delta to a young minister and his wife. She grew up in small-town Arkansas and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello. At twelve years old, she wrote her first story, “Following Prairie River.” In 2018, she published her debut novel Lane Steen, book one of the Valley Creek Redemption Series. By weaving entertaining, hope-filled stories, Candace shares the Gospel and encourages her readers. She currently lives in Arkansas with her husband and their son along with two dogs and three bossy cats.
More from Candace
Biscuits and gravy has been a staple for generations in my family. It’s perfect for any occasion or breakfast, dinner, and supper. Yes, in our neck of the woods, dinner is lunch, and supper is—well, supper.
And then, we have biscuits and gravy with a twist. We’ll shove the traditional aside for a bowl of chocolate gravy. That’s right, chocolate.
Now, don’t get grossed out. Some people believe chocolate gravy is this weird, mysterious concoction made with meat grease. It’s the gravy part that boggles their mind, but it’s actually straightforward and easy—not true gravy at all. Trust me, if you like chocolate, you’ll want to try this. When you butter a biscuit and drizzle the chocolate over it, you’ll get a little taste of heaven on earth.
And you’ll get a little taste of the Appalachians and Ozarks.
My grandparents, both raised deep in the Arkansas Ozarks, were raised on “chocolate an’ biscuits” and passed the recipe down to us. Throughout the mountains and in pockets throughout the country, you’ll find this lesser-known treat on kitchen tables and family gatherings.
Every recipe is a little different. Every family has their own special way of making it. My family likes their chocolate gravy a little thinner while my husband’s family wants theirs to be the consistency of pudding.
In Dogwood Winter, my characters would’ve eaten chocolate an’ biscuits. Their corner of the Ozarks is famous for it. I can see Ella and George, along with the Steen family, gathering around a table, saying the blessing, and passing the fare to each other. The only skeptical one in the bunch would be George, a New Yorker who wasn’t raised on it. One bite would make him a believer.
Have you ever eaten biscuits and chocolate gravy? If not, would you try it?
This is our family recipe.
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tbs Hershey Cocoa powder
2 ½ tbs flour
Mix dry ingredients in a saucepan
Add 1 ½ to 2 cups of milk (depends on the thickness you want)
Bring to a boil and cook until thickened (3 or 4 minutes) Note: Bring to a slow boil and continually stir. Remove from heat then add 2 tbs butter and 1 tsp of Vanilla extract. Pour over buttered biscuits and enjoy!
When a hurricane rips through Hooper Island, a tidal wave of TV crews follows and upsets the locals.
Brooks Crawforth agreed to volunteer crews helping to clean up and repair things on the island, not a whole home and garden series on the total renovation of several houses and a bit of cleanup on the side. He’s furious, and the show host is spitting nails at the person who blew it in the first place.
His and his father’s jobs are in jeopardy, the islanders are about to kill him, and that crazy show host blames him for her assistant’s last-minute, “you’ve-got-to-sign-this-now-or-we-can’t-come” contract.
One more thing. Did she have to be so cute?
He’s got even more trouble, though. Islanders are starting to blame Mallory Barrows for the invasion. Not only that, there are rumors of dismantling the association and allowing tourism on the islands. How’s he supposed to fix this mess?
They can’t stand each other, but if they can manage to flip off the enemy switch and flip on some cooperation, maybe their hearts’ll get flipped, too.
This “enemies to romance” novel introduces the next island in 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.
Back to the islands with my friends, gathering after a storm with Bailey bringing a storm of trouble and baggage. As she unloads her crew and equipment, somehow her emotions, quirks, and fears combined with someone’s vindictive actions dump mayhem on the islanders.
As in our lives, some projects are born doomed. Do we pursue them or admit defeat? Who controls our decisions? It’s hard to let others in to help, yet God sends those people alongside us for a reason. At times, it takes adjustment and trust on our part to let them anywhere close to the real issues.
If you haven’t read any of the Independence Islands series, start today! These characters have become close friends of mine. Enjoy the journey, soaking up mystery and romance.
About the Author
Author of the bestselling Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.
More from Chautona
How I Almost Missed This Important Life Lesson
He annoyed her. The guy was bossy, demanding, rude, and unwilling to admit fault—mostly. Truth be told, she was pretty much the same. Two people with similar faults. The relationship would never happen.
Now what was I supposed to do?
Without any idea how I’d take two near enemies and turn them into a couple, I kept writing the primary story—the one that was supposed to bring them together. The one that would have driven me far, far away from a guy like Brooks.
Right about the time I thought about that is when Bailey had her revelation. “He likes me.”
I nearly did a spit take. I mean, where did that come from? Why would he like someone who hadn’t bothered to be likeable?
And still the story unfolded. “Life or death” moment? Check. Unintentional sharing of attraction and heart. Check. Still confused author as these characters draw closer and closer… check, check!
It took until after the story’s climax for me to realize that Brooks really did like Bailey for who she was—and vice versa. Only after all that tension diffused and their distrust had been smashed to smithereens were Bailey and Brooks able to examine everything. Only after that was I able to realize a truth I hadn’t expected to learn.
People fall in love with people they argue with.
People in love argue. See, my husband and I don’t do that. We don’t argue. Ever. Do we agree on every little thing? No. We just don’t argue about it.
Look, it’s not like I’ve never written people who argue. I do. But Never have I looked at a fictional relationship, seen that it would produce the kind fireworks that Bailey and Brooks will, and thought, “Oh, they’re perfect for each other.”
Because see… if I were Bailey, I’d run. Fast. Conflict is a natural part of life and relationships, and I’m not so naïve as to think it’ll never occur. But entering a relationship knowing it’ll be a regular occurrence? Unthinkable!
So as I pondered all this during those last pages of the book, something hit me.
Jesus enters a rocky relationship with us. Willingly.
Don’t believe me? Think about it. Jesus knew, before He ever spoke light into existence, that His bride would blame Him for… pretty much everything. He knew she’d get him brutally murdered. He knew she’d rail at Him, spit at Him, abandon Him, cheat on Him, and even after forgiveness… she’d do it all over again the next day.
Even knowing all that… He still whispers to our hearts, “Be Mine. I love you.”
If that’s not the most beautiful, unbelievable, amazing thing, I don’t know what is.
It’s probably one of the most important life lessons I’ll ever learn. People choose to be in relationships with people they know they’ll argue with—people who will hurt them, annoy them, demand things of them. And the greatest example of One who does it so beautifully is Jesus. Because see… Jesus entered that relationship with me, knowing I’d be that person. Humbling, yeah. Important life lesson? Most definitely.
My year is full of butterflies and zinnias (and sunflowers and bumble bees)! I know each year when August rolls around that beauty will continue to burst forth as the intricately-patterned, winged masterpieces flit from a myriad of colored heads, gaining nectar and nourishment. They are holding on to summer, prolonging the hot, muggy days and enjoying the pollen after the afternoon showers.
And I watch while venturing into the heat that I wish away, not realizing I’m sending them away with my selfish thoughts. My dog and cats sleep in the shade or inside in the cool air desiring the fall breeze too.
I know summer is ending when school starts. My online roster zooms to 250 students “eager” to learn Spanish and French. As my garden wilts—the vegetables and lilies gone for the season—my “lazy” days change to full agendas. Am I ready? Part of me wants the butterflies and zinnias to stay—to prolong the season.
Yet, God ordained the changes for a purpose. As the fall lurks close by, I can almost smell the cool breeze—Almost! I make my fall plans including what to write, read, and edit. I add weekend adventures, always pleasant in the crisp weather. Ideas for Christmas gifts and activities creep into my day planner.
Good-bye summer. Oh…not yet.
My butterflies and zinnias tell a different story as they have a tenacious hold on the season for another month. I’ll take my cues from them and enjoy the slow days of the season.