Coffeehouses: Nothing New Under the Sun

I’m pleased to share a guest post by the fabulous author Michelle Griep! And now…here’s Michelle!

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“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy coffee.

And that’s pretty close.”

Hipsters may think they’re trendy by hanging out at the local coffee house, but nursing a cup of java while discussing the politics of the day has been around a long, long time. In England, this dates back to the seventeenth century. Surprise! Who’d have thought those proper tea-drinking Brits even knew what coffee was?

Here are a few fun facts:

  • First coffee house opened in Oxford, 1650.
  • In the 17th and 18th century, there were more coffee houses in London than today.
  • A mug o’ joe cost a penny, which was a great price because you also gained an education. It was said that a man could “pick up more useful knowledge than by applying himself to his books for a whole month.” Hence the nickname: Penny Universities.
  • English coffee houses started the custom of tipping servers. Patrons who wanted good service and better seating would put some money into a tin labeled “To Insure Prompt Service (TIPS).

In my Regency era historical, BRENTWOOD’S WARD, I highlight the coffee house phenomenon by setting a scene at The Chapter Coffee House. Women of the times didn’t usually frequent such establishments, but this historical venue is a little different. It was a known haunt of booksellers, writers, and literature hounds. Even Charlotte Brontë visited on occasion.

And just in case you’re wondering if historical coffee would taste the same as today’s brews, here’s a recipe so you can try it yourself:

 coffee  Coffee ~ A Regency Recipe

Put 2 oz. of fresh-ground quality coffee into a coffeepot. If you must take your coffee extremely strong, use 3 oz. Then pour 8 coffee-cups worth of boiling water atop. Let it rest for 6 minutes. Then add in 2 or 3 isinglass-chips and pour one large spoonful of boiling water on top. Set the pot by the fire to keep it hot for 10 more minutes, and you will have coffee of a supreme transparency.

Serve with fine cream and either fine sugar as well, or pounded sugar-candy.

Whether you love coffee, or love to hate coffee, there’s no denying it’s deeply imbedded in societies all around the world, present and past. And if you’re looking for a great read to go along with your mug o’ joe, here’s a blurb for BRENTWOOD’S WARD . . .

Brentwood Ward

Place an unpolished lawman named Nicholas Brentwood as guardian over a spoiled, pompous beauty named Emily Payne and what do you get? More trouble than Brentwood bargains for. She is determined to find a husband this season. He just wants the large fee her father will pay him to help his ailing sister. After a series of dire mishaps, both their desires are thwarted, but each discovers that no matter what, God is in charge.

Available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine booksellers.

About the Author

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager.

She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones.

Follow her adventures at her blog WRITER OFF THE LEASH or visit michellegriep.com, and don’t forget the usual haunts of Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.

 

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Let’s Talk: 20 Things You May Not Know About Me

My dear friend and critique partner, Jackie Layton, tagged me in this fun game between bloggers, so I’m duty-bound to oblige. 🙂  In case you’re curious, Jackie’s answers can be found here.

So without further ado, 20 things you may not know about me!

1. How tall are you?
5’9″ in my bare feet. I was always the tallest among anyone my own age, often even the boys! But that wasn’t such a bad thing…

2. Do you have a hidden talent?
Probably not so much! I grew up riding horses, started my first year of college as a piano major, and make a mean batch of chocolate chip cookies.

3. What is your biggest blogger pet peeve?
I like a blog post to have substance! Not just ramble on paragraph after paragraph until I want to shake my iPad and say “Get to the point!”

Which is probably what you’re doing as you read this blog post. 🙂

4. What is your biggest non-blogger pet peeve?
Probably bad manners. I’m from the South, after all…

5.What is your favorite song?
Ooh, that’s a hard one. (Did I tell you I was a music major in college? That means I love music!) Currently, one of my favorite songs is Blessings by Laura Story. What a powerful way of looking at life!

6. What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?
I wish I could answer this. Truly. But I’m afraid I haven’t been to Etsy.com since the site was first created, how many years ago?

7. What is your favorite way to spend time when you are alone?
Write, write, write!

8. What is your favorite junk food?
Oh my. Anything sweet, especially chocolate.

9. Do you have pets?
Let me count the ways! Two dogs, two cats, and three horses for now. I’m firmly resisting my husband’s constant pleas for another dog. 🙂

10. What are you #1 favorite fiction and non-fiction books?
Non-fiction would have to be the Bible.

Fiction…there are too many great books to choose from. Some of my favorite authors include Deeanne Gist, Karen Witemeyer, and Lisa Wingate.

11. What is your favorite beauty product?
Concealer.

12. When were you last embarrassed? What happened?
Do I have to go there?

13. If you could drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Coffee!

14. What is your favorite movie?
The movie of all movies: Pride and Prejudice. Depending on what mood I’m in, I’ll watch either the 1995 version staring Jennifer Ehle, or the 2005 version staring Keira Knightley.  There are pros and cons to both!

15. What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?
Well, I was homeschooled, so…

16. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
I would want to live around family, and I love South Carolina. I’d love to have a second home somewhere out West, though. Maybe Montana?

17. PC or Mac?
PC

18. Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?
Now that it’s cold, my husband has begun carrying my work bags to the car every morning and starting the engine so it can warm up. Wow! 🙂

19. Favorite celebrity?
Country artist Gary Allan.

20. What blogger do you secretly want to be friends with?
Well…it would most likely be one of my favorite authors. Yes, I have a bit of the fan syndrome. 🙂

So now, Dear Reader, I want to know about you!

Pick one of these questions and answer it by leaving a comment. Please!  🙂

Spies and Spunky Heroines – The inside scoop from Author Carole Brown!

It’s a pleasure to introduce you to another amazing and accomplished author, Carole Brown 

Her debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, has finaled in multiple awards, and I’m so excited to have her on the blog today! 

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Carole loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

So grab a mug of coffee, your chocolate of choice, and enjoy!

Hi Carole, can you tell us a little bit about your latest release, With Music In Their Hearts?

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Love to!! Angry at being rejected for military service, Minister Tyrell Walker accepts the call to serve as a civilian spy within his own country. Across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio, a spy working for a foreign country is stealing secret plans for newly developed ammunition to be used in the war. According to his FBI cousin, this spy favors pink stationery giving strong indications that a woman is involved.

He’s instructed to obtain a room in the Rayner Boarding House run by the lovely, spunky red-haired Emma Jaine Rayner. Sparks of jealousy and love fly between them immediately, even as they battle suspicions that one or the other is not on the up and up.

As Tyrell works to keep his double life a secret and locate the traitor, he refuses to believe that Emma Jaine could be involved even when he sees a red-haired woman in the arms of another man. Could the handsome and svelte banker who’s also determined to win Emma Jaine’s hand for marriage, be the dangerous man he’s looking for? Is the trouble-making renter who hassles Emma Jaine serving as a flunky? Worse, is Papa Rayner so worried about his finances and keeping his girls in the style they’re used to, that he’ll stoop to espionage?

Will their love survive the danger and personal issues that arise to hinder the path of true love?

It’s available on Kindle or in Print!

What was your inspiration behind this novel?

We knew a minister who served during WWII. It was said “he was a civilian spy.” He never confirmed it or denied it as far as we knew, but it made for a fabulous plot. My mother served as the inspiration behind the character of Emma Jaine Rayner. She gave me the interest and love of the period by passing on stories and sharing pictures. I fell in love with the 1940s!

What spurs you to write? 

I’ve always believed in doing what you love to do. It makes me sad to see people “slaving” away at jobs they dislike (although I certainly understand that circumstances can prevent any other action). Since a child I’ve loved books and from elementary school up, I’ve written–from the first item I remember–a caveman family’s journal–to suspense and mystery children books and now to penning my own suspense and mystery books. Why would I do anything but what I love?

Which of your characters most reflects your personality?

Probably Emma Jaine. I wanted her to show gumption and determined to see her boarding house business succeed–and I like to do all I can to succeed with what I attempt.  I also gave her a loving and caring heart for her family and the others in the boarding home–and I’ve been told I’m a very caring person. Sometimes though it’s hard to see that what are good qualities can also be used wrongly. Emma Jaine was so determined to care for her sisters and her father that what she thought they ought to do and pursue became a selfish act.

Is there a recognizable quality in your books, which makes them distinctly your own?

I think so. Although I write suspense, I like to give a touch of sweet romance and a touch of whimsy when possible. I’m not a big fan of lots of romance in books so coaxing my couples into even a light kiss is quite an accomplishment for this author. Having said that, I do believe Christian romance will give a book a human, sweet touch that lightens a mood and leaves a satisfied taste in the reader’s mind.

The whimsical part comes in with odd happenings or items. For example, in one of my novels I have a very unique pet for the protagonist. The pet (or so the protagonist believes) has the ability to help her with her detecting. (You can decide for yourself, if you ever read the book!)  In my mysteries, I give the male protagonist a grouchy personality with a love of words and fishing. Although cranky he adores his wife. His attitude and way he approaches their mysteries is endearing.

What is your next project?

  • Release date for the second book in my Alex and Denton Davies cozy mystery series is planned for late winter, 2015.
  • I also am working on Book 2 of the “Spies of WWII” series, called, “A Flute in the Willows.” It’s about the second daughter, Josephine Rayner Patterson, who is quite different than her older sister and quite capable of getting into more than a little bit of trouble.
  • And, of course, I have other books I’m working on as I’m able, including a contemporary suspense series and a 1800s very light suspense book.

Wow, you’re a busy lady! Thanks for taking a few minutes to stop by and chat with us!

And now for the readers… it’s your turn to share comments, tidbits, or other questions you have for Carole!  Just CLICK THE PINK HEART,  and leave a comment!

Lillian Duncan – Murder, Mayhem, Mystery – Oh My!

I’m excited to introduce you to another amazing Christian author, Lillian Duncan! I love her tagline: Stories of faith mingled with murder & mayhem!  So pull up a chair, settle in with a mug of coffee or chocolate, and enjoy a behind-the-scenes chat with Lillian Duncan!

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Hi Lillian, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m very happily married, was a school speech-language pathologist for more than 30 years. I’m now retired and blessed to be able to focus full time on my writing.

Now, can you tell us a little bit about your latest release, Redemption?

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Others may think Jamie Jakowski is a hero, but she knows differently.

Haunted by her past, she seeks redemption by helping others in spite of the danger to herself. However, after almost orphaning her daughter, Jamie opts to retire. When a friend needs her, Jamie agrees to one last undercover operation.

She is determined to reunite a heartbroken mother with her kidnapped son. Used to working alone, Jamie’s not happy when she’s assigned a partner. And after a failed operation and their failed romance, Enrique Rodriguez is the last person she wants to work with—ever.

To succeed, Jamie must confront her past as well as the people who want her dead.

REDEMPTION is the third and final book in my Sisters by Choice series. It brings the series full circle and gives closure for those who’ve read all three books, but can be enjoyed even if you haven’t read the others. Full disclosure demands I give a warning that you’ll probably want to read the others after you read this one!

What was your inspiration behind this novel?

Jamie is missing in the first book-DECEPTION. And in REDEMPTION, we come to learn more about Jamie and her spiritual struggles. But the main story is about a missing child who Jamie is determined to find—no matter the danger to herself.

What made you begin writing in your genre?

It’s the sort of story I love to read. Lots of suspense and lots of romance! Who wouldn’t love a book like that?

What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?

My love of stories keeps me writing. The ideas and characters can come from most anywhere and at any time. I never know when that next story will pop into my consciousness.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading a story for a friend who’s asked for an endorsement. The story is a glimpse into the life of German Baptists.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever had a great writing idea?

On vacation! Doesn’t matter what sort of vacation. Apparently rest and relaxation is good for creativity!

Which of your characters most reflects your personality?

Maven Morris without a doubt. She’s a crime-fighting speech pathologist featured in my DEADLY COMMUNICATION series. Like me, she’s a speech pathologist, short and has Bell’s palsy. Unlike me, she’s very nosy and adventurous. That means trouble for her!

Name one crazy thing you’ve done that is sure to surprise us.

I’ve recently taken up hula-hooping as part of my exercise regime!

I love it! Is there a recognizable quality in your books, which makes them distinctly your own?

My books are sort of like the Energizer bunny–they start out with a bang and just keep going and going!

What’s one of your favourite parts about being an author? What do you like the least?

Everything! It took me 15 years to get my first contract so I love being a writer. My least favourite thing is marketing. I’m an introvert and so it’s not easy marketing myself—but I’m getting better at it.

What’s your next project?

Nowhere to Belong, the third in my Deadly Communication series, should be released early next year. Along with that I’m working on the third book in the series.

Thanks, Lillian! And did I hear a rumor that you’re doing a fun GIVEAWAY?

Yes! To celebrate the release of REDEMPTION, I’m giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card. But wait…there’s more! I always feel bad for the people who enter the contest but don’t win. So I’m also going to pick FIVE more lucky names to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card. Just the right amount to buy REDEMPTION! Just kidding, the winners can use it to buy whatever they wish.

So hop on over to TIARAS & TENNIS SHOES at www.lillian-duncan.com  to enter. Leave a comment on the post REDEMPTION and you’ll be entered to win.

And now for the readers… it’s your turn to share comments, tidbits, or other questions you have for Lillian!  Just CLICK THE PINK HEART,  and leave a comment!

Coffee, Chocolate, and a Fantastic Book – Ane Mulligan is My Kind of Gal!

I’m honored to introduce you to another amazing author, Ane Mulligan! You’re going to love her eclectic humor – both here, and in her new release Chapel Springs Revival. So grab a mug of coffee, your chocolate of choice, and enjoy!

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Hi Ane, can you tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve had a lot of different jobs: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that’s a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Those provided a plethora of fodder for my Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast). I firmly believe coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. I live in Suwanee, GA, with my artist husband and two dogs of Biblical proportion. You can find me on my website, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Now, can you tell us a little bit about your latest release?

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Chapel Springs Revival is my debut novel:

With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.

Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It’s impossible not to, what with Claire’s zany antics and Patsy’s self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is their marriages.

With their personal lives in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.

What made you begin writing in your genre?

I love stories about women’s friendships and sisterhood. I adore my women friends, and I found my birth sisters in 2009. That story is on my website. So, it was natural for me to write women’s fiction.

Which of your characters most reflects your personality?

While Claire has a bit of me, she’s more a composite of 3 wonderful ladies, who let me borrow bits of their delightful personalities. I gave Claire my tendency to move too fast and have “accidents” because of it.

Name one crazy thing you’ve done that is sure to surprise us.

When we were young, we rode a fully chopped Harley. I rode on the back, but here’s a photo of me posing with Hubs’ chopper. Biker AneWe had gone to Lake Isabella for the July 4th weekend and camped next to the Hell’s Angels and shared our breakfast with a couple. I was shaking in my boots, but they turned out to be a nice couple.

What is your next project?

Chapel Springs Survival, the second book in the Chapel Lake series. It came from something one of our sons did—got himself a modern day mail order bride—without our knowledge until after the fact. I promised retribution, and I put it in a book. Insert a mother’s vengeful laughter here. Of course, in real life, she’s the best thing that ever happened to him.

Thanks, Ane! It was great to talk with you!

And now for the readers… it’s your turn to share comments, tidbits, or other questions you have for Ane!  Just CLICK THE PINK HEART,  and leave a comment!

I (heart) history – Sandra Merville Hart shares the research that brings her writing to life!

I’m honored to introduce you to another amazing author, Sandra Merville Hart! She writes Historical Romance in the Civil War time period – one that’s always fascinated me.

Her latest release, A Stranger on My Land, is a great novella, and now we get to see a glimpse behind the curtain into her life. Here’s a quick look at her bio before I introduce you. Enjoy!

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Sandra Merville Hart loves to find unusual facts in her historical research to use in her stories. She and her husband enjoy traveling to many of the sites in her books to explore the history. She serves as Assistant Editor for DevoKids.com where she contributes articles about history and holidays. She has written for several publications and websites including The Secret Place, Harpstring, Splickety Magazine, Pockets Magazine, Common Ground, Afictionado, and ChristianDevotions.us. Her inspirational Civil War novella, A Stranger on My Land, released on August 21, 2014.  It’s available on Amazon at  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1941103278

Hi Sandra! For those who haven’t read it, tell us a little bit about your latest release A Stranger on My Land. I love how the cover is a sneak peek into the story!

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My inspirational Civil War novella, A Stranger on My Land, released on August 21, 2014. Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find Adam, a wounded Union soldier, on their land after a battle near their Lookout Mountain home. Carrie takes Adam to the cave where her family has been hiding from the soldiers. Before long, she falls in love with him, but she can’t save his life. He requires a surgeon. Carrie weighs the potential danger of revealing her family’s hideaway with saving Adam’s life.

What was your inspiration behind this novella?

While researching for another Civil War novel, I read many biographies and diaries of soldiers from both sides. Among the surprises were many instances of families in the South living in caves for safety when the armies marched into town. The soldiers remarked about how cozy the women made these dwellings. When I discovered that some families on Lookout Mountain moved into caves, the idea for my story was born.

What made you begin writing Historical Fiction?

I love to read historical romance novels, especially when it gives natural glimpses into the way things used to be. My love for writing this type of book sprang from a love of history.

What spurs you to write?  

I actually get depressed when I can’t write. After a week’s vacation, I’m ready to get back to my current writing project. Writing feeds my spirit. I really enjoy it.

I can so relate to that! When God instills the gift of writing inside you, writing becomes part of what keeps you sane! What are you currently reading?

I have a stack of over ten books waiting for me to read. I will either read The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman by Carole Brown, A Little Bit of Charm by Mary Ellis, or The First Christmas Carol by Marianne Jordan as my next “for pleasure” read. It seems almost all of my reading is research related these days.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever had a great writing idea?

Some ideas have come to me just as I’m waking up in the morning. You know, that kind of half-awake, half-asleep state before you crawl out of bed. It seems the creative part of my brain keeps churning away while I’m sleeping and I often wake up with fresh ideas.

What is your next project?

My next novel will be another Civil War romance. It will be set in Gettysburg, a place that has captured my imagination. I’m planning a trip to Gettysburg to research for it. A beautiful seamstress and a war-weary soldier would never meet if not for the battle that raged outside her Gettysburg home.

Thanks, Sandra! It was great to talk with you!

And now for the readers… it’s your turn to share comments, tidbits, or other questions you have for Sandra!  Just CLICK THE PINK HEART,  and leave a comment!

Missional Romance? Jennifer Slattery gives us the inside glimpse!

I’m thrilled to introduce you to another amazing new author, Jennifer Slattery! In addition to being an excellent writer, she’s doing amazing things to reach the world with God’s heart!

Her latest release, Beyond I Do, is a terrific read, and now we get to see a glimpse behind the curtain into her life. Here’s a quick look at her bio before I introduce you. Enjoy!

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Jennifer Slattery writes missional romance for New Hope Publishers, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and devotions for Internet Café Devotions. She also maintains a personal blog at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com and writes and edits for Christ to the World Ministries, an international ministry that shares the gospel, via radio waves, with thirty-two countries.

Hi Jennifer, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a Midwestern transplant married to a handsome and hilarious railroader. We’ve got a teenage daughter that fills our home with laughter and the occasional eye roll. I love to read, have relatively little patience for movies, and believe every day must start with a ginormous amount of flavored coffee.

Now for those who haven’t read it, tell us a little bit about your latest release Beyond I Do.

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I’d love to! Beyond I Do is about a pharmaceutical representative whose quest for security caused her to lose of who God created her to be.

 Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Ainsley Meadow’s encounter with a woman, her child, and their abuser sparks a passion that threatens her engagement. Will seeing beyond the present unite her and her fiancé or tear them apart? Raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignites a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?

Writing very much comes directly from my relationship with God. I really believe He gives me the inspiration, and I can sense His abiding presence as I write. I especially love it when He leads me to a verse or passage that speaks hope to my characters and to me. He’s great at reaching us both at the same time!

What are you currently reading? I just finished Unplanned by Abby Johnson. Wow, that was a tough book, but also inspiring, especially the last chapter when she connected all the God-dots. It reminded me to keep doing whatever it is He is calling me to do, trusting He’s working out His eternal picture at every moment.

Is there a recognizable quality in your books, which makes them distinctly your own? Yep! I write missional romance, which means there’s always an outreach/missional angle. Because I’m all about outreach. After all, that’s the whole reason we Christians are still here, right?

I’m expecting big picture edits to come through on my second book, When Dawn Breaks, this month, so I’m excited about that. Here’s a bit about that book:

Jacqueline wants purpose and restitution, but must she relinquish her chance of love to find it?

A hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate. Looking to begin again—and reconnect with her embittered daughter—Jacqueline heads north. Reconciliation is hard, but she has a handsome new friend to lean on. Most importantly, she knows God is standing beside her.

When her daughter rejects her, three children abandoned by their mother open their hearts. But can God use a woman who dashed the hopes of her own child to bring hope to someone else’s? 

Thank you so much for having me!

Thanks, Jennifer! I’m glad you stopped by!

And now for the readers… it’s your turn to share comments, tidbits, or other questions you have for Jennifer!  Just CLICK THE PINK HEART,  and leave a comment!