Voting Open! Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award

I’m excited to share the news that both Frozen Footprints and After the Thaw are contenders for the 2017 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award (in the categories of General Fiction and Romance).

Each category winner is decided by reader votes, so I’d be very grateful if you could take a moment to cast your vote. The process is fast and easy. Simply click on the following link and mark your choices:
http://www.christianpublishers.net/17votes/

Many thanks!

Voting will remain open through March 31, 2017.
Winners will be announced by May 1, 2017.

Christian romantic suspense inspired inspirational clean read sweet wholesome fiction novel new release 2016

My Author Interview

Today I have the honor of being featured on fellow Christian writer Carolyn Astfalk’s blog My Scribbler’s Heart, where she interviews me about my three Christian suspense novels and the writing process.

If you have a moment, check it out: Interview with Romantic Suspense Author Therese Heckenkamp

While browsing Carolyn’s author website Relevant Fiction for Body & Soul, I also highly recommend checking out her inspirational romance novels Stay with Me and Ornamental Graces.

Thank you, Carolyn, for this wonderful opportunity!

Book Review: Ornamental Graces

Today I’m delighted to be participating in the virtualog-front-cover-final book tour for the new Christian romance Ornamental Graces by Carolyn Astfalk. As the Christmas season approaches, now’s the perfect time to treat yourself to this heartwarming novel, as well as to add it to your Christmas gift-giving list. Your friends and relatives will thank you!

My Review:
I loved this book! It’s a genuine, heartfelt inspirational romance. The title is very applicable and hints at a story both lovely and faith-filled.

The author has such a beautiful way with words and there’s a maturity to her writing that sets it apart—and above—from typical romances. I’m in awe of how she takes rather ordinary situations and weaves such intriguing, emotional scenes. There’s never a dull page! I was highly absorbed and invested in the story and characters the entire time. The dialogue rings true. There are serious conversations, but also delightfully fun banter.

The story is told from the viewpoints of Dan and Emily and has excellent character development. Burned by his past, Dan is in a rut and not looking for much out of life, especially not romance. Emily is tired of looking for romance and determines to live her life without pining for what may never be. When the two of them connect, a spark ignites, but the circumstances aren’t right, and may never be . . . at least not without the grace of God.

The passage of time makes for a well-developed, believable, non-rushed romance. With nothing contrived or forced, the story flows naturally. It’s rich, but never overdone. The novel incorporates how prayer, grace, and faith work in everyday life and are a necessary part of real love. Readers are treated to insightful perspectives on faith, forgiveness, life, and love. Ornamental Graces is a particularly good Christmas romance, but spans all seasons and is a wonderful read any time of year!

Ornamental Graces is available in paperback and as a Kindle ebook.

Can’t wait to dive in? Enjoy reading a free excerpt here!

About Carolyn Astfalk:Carolyn Astfalk
Carolyn Astfalk lives with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where the wind carries either the scent of chocolate or cow manure. She is a CatholicMom.com contributor and author of the contemporary inspirational romances Stay With Me (Full Quiver Publishing) and Ornamental Graces.

Read more about Ornamental Graces on Goodreads and on Carolyn’s website.

Book Review: Sunflowers in a Hurricane

This novel begins with an intriguing title and delivers an equally fascinating story. There’s a sweet simplicity to it and yet a deepness of emotion that makes your heart ache. Yet above all, Sunflowers in a Hurricane is a hopeful and inspiring tale.

In a little town called Meadowbrook, three character’s lives intertwine and change forever. Each of their stories is told in an authentic first-person voice. George is an elderly man who lives alone, shaped by a drastic decision he made years ago—the hardest decision of his life. Single mom Cheryl is bitter toward men, overworked, tired, but her daughter Ruth means the world to her and she only wants what’s best for her (despite what her daughter thinks). Ruth resents being dragged away from her home and friends to attend a funeral and then ready her dead grandma’s house for sale. What could life in this tiny town possibly have to offer her anyway?

As it turns out, quite a lot—for her as well as for her mother and George. As truth comes to light, a beautiful story unfolds. Faith elements are plentiful, but never tacked on; they’re essential to the story and woven perfectly throughout. Sunflowers in a Hurricane is a very satisfying read and I highly recommend it!

Sunflowers in a Hurricane is available in paperback and as a Kindle ebook.

Book Review: Unclaimed

Unclaimed (The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan, Book 1) is a brave and thought-provoking story rich with vivid details and authentic, memorable characters. While very different from the fiction I normally read, this novel is a highly creative and successful blending of genres. It’s like a futuristic coming-of-age Jane Eyre in a dystopian world.

As the story begins, Jane lives with a family that treats her terribly. No matter the locale or situation she finds herself in, she wants to be needed, she wants to belong, and she wants to find happiness and purpose. Will she survive to find her place in a hostile world and maybe find friends and faith along the way? Or will she forever remain unclaimed and unloved? The answers will leave you anticipating the sequel (entitled Nameless) and the next adventure in Jane’s captivating life.

Unclaimed is available as a Kindle ebook.

Book Review: 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status

This story quickly pulled me in, and though I’m in my thirties now, this novel brought me back to age fourteen like it was yesterday. Wendy, the main character in 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, is easy to identify with, and her authentic teen girl’s voice carried this story along at an enjoyable, breezy pace. She’s fresh with hopes and dreams as she begins ninth grade with many changes on the horizon: some exciting, some mysterious, and some worrisome. How she deals with them makes for a lovely story of growth and discovery.

The author wields words well, immersing the reader in the moment, with no unnecessary verbosity clouding the novel. The story deals with some heavy issues in a sensitive way without making the story depressing, including Alzheimer’s, blended families, and first time dating. Lessons are learned about remaining true to oneself and remaining a caring, kind person—even when things don’t go the way one wants.

While this book is second in The Bird Face Series, it can easily be read as a standalone novel (I didn’t read the first one yet, and this didn’t present any issues for me). 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status is a wonderful read for preteen and teen girls, with many themes they can relate to and learn from, all in a highly enjoyable and entertaining form.

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status is available in paperback and as a Kindle ebook.

Book Review: Dying for Revenge

I recently had the great pleasure of reading an advance review copy of Dying for Revenge (book one in The Lady Doc Murders series) by Dr. Barbara Golder. And today I’m thrilled to be participating in the virtual book tour for this awesome inspirational mystery!
Here’s my review:Dying for Revenge

Medical examiner Dr. Jane Wallace has her work cut out for her, and not just because bodies are stacking up. As a widow dealing with dark issues, she hasn’t fully lived since tragedy stole her husband and drove her from her home. And now her new home is hardly the refuge she’d hoped. Bullets are flying and random residents are being targeted. Dead men tell no tales, but if Jane doesn’t discover their secrets in time to prevent another killing, she may be the next victim.

Dying for Revenge by Dr. Barbara Golder is an intricate mystery that started me guessing early on and kept me wondering all the way through. No easy solutions here! Clues, motives, suspicions, and complications abound. The characters/suspects are authentic and layered with wonderful secrets, strengths, and weaknesses.

Jane’s internal struggles complement and enrich the plot. She grapples with her failing faith, finding no simple answers, yet she grows with the aid of grace, prayer, and her priest—who, ahem, may also be a murder suspect . . .

Through hard lessons, Jane rediscovers there is more to life than death, and that grief left to turn bitter can lead to destruction. Forgiveness may be the key to reclaiming her life—and maybe even opening her heart.

Cleverly crafted, this book manages to be both serious and fun. I had a hard time putting it down. I also found the inside look into the world of a medical examiner to be utterly fascinating without being grisly or depressing. The author is highly credentialed and obviously knows her stuff.

Memorable and meaningful, Dying for Revenge is a top-notch, highly entertaining and inspirational mystery that is not to be missed!

Dying for Revenge is available in paperback and as a Kindle ebook.

Also be sure to check out the other stops on the Dying for Revenge virtual book tour:

June 1  Ellen Gable Hrkach, Plot Line and Sinker

June 2  Sarah Reinhard, Snoring Scholar

June 3  Patrice McArthur, Spiritual Woman Thoughts 

June 4  A.K. Frailey
and Barb Szyszkiewicz, Franciscan Mom

June 5  Erin McCole Cupp

June 6  Carolyn Astfalk, My Scribbler’s Heart Blog 

June 7  Theresa Linden, Things Visible & Invisible 
and Jean Heimann

June 8  Virginia Lieto

June 9  Christopher Blunt
and Michael Seagriff 

June 11  Interview at Plot Line and Sinker

Please Cast a Vote for Frozen Footprints

I just found out that my novel Frozen Footprints was
chosen as one of six contenders for a chance to become Book Of The Month on ReadFree.ly. I’m excited and nervous, because to win the spot and reach all those potential readers, my book needs lots of votes!

So if you have a moment, could you please cast a vote? It’s a quick and simple process–takes less than a minute–but I’d really appreciate your help. You can use the form below (be sure to scroll down and hit the blue “Submit” button) or vote directly through ReadFree.ly.

Many, many thanks!

VOTING NOW CLOSED

Missing You, Jerome

Jerome T. Heckenkamp
October 28, 1979 – March 8, 2016
“Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”

Remembering and missing you so much, Jerome,Jerome HeckenkampJerome computer
my best childhood friend,
my big brother.
You taught me so many things:
how to climb trees
and how to dig snow tunnels,
how to play cards, checkers,
and chess.
You taught me Morse code
on walkie-talkies,
and everything I know about computers is thanks to you.
You taught me how to skateboard,
how to do flips on a trampoline,
how to laugh at myself,
and how to be brave when the world’s a frightening place.

You were so many things:
kind, compassionate, talented, creative, adventurous, generous, patient, genuine.
You suffered much in your short life,
but you always focused on the positives.
I looked up to you,
and you were always there for me.
We were so blessed to have
the times we had.
But I wasn’t ready for them to end.
Nowhere near ready.

Your leaving left a hollow in my heart.
I miss you so much.
Every day.
Every moment.

I still look up to you;
I just have to look a little harder.
With eyes of faith.

Juggling

“They whom we love and lose are no longer where they were before.
They are now wherever we are.”  
— St. John Chrysostom



Here’s my sad playlist, for when I want to cry. Because sometimes that’s all I need. So many songs remind me of you . . .

See You Again by Carrie Underwood
“This is not where it ends . . .”

Superman by Five for Fighting
You and your Superman comics. 🙂 Remember the nerdy comic conventions we went to? And that creepy comic shop? Okay, you didn’t think it was creepy, but I sure did.
But you were always my hero. You still are.

That’s Just About Right by Blackhawk
Jerome, you’re the reason I learned to love country music. I remember this song playing on our way up north on a snowboarding trip.

She Can’t Be Really Gone by Tim McGrawMe and Jerome
You can’t be really gone . . .

The Walk by Sawyer Brown
You know the irony.

I Still Miss You
by Keith Anderson
I always will.

I Drive Your Truck
by Lee Brice
I know it’s junked somewhere in California, but if it weren’t, I’d drive your Oldsmobile.

Over You by Miranda Lambert
“You sing along with every song.” As talented as you were, Jerome, you could NOT carry a tune! Oh, but I loved to hear you try.

One More Day by Diamond Rio
Just one.

You Should Be Here by Cole Swindell
“They say now you’re in a better place, and I would be too if I could see your face.”

Lie In The Sound by Trespassers William
This is the last song you shared with me. We didn’t realize it then, but it was a special gift you gave to me on your very last birthday.

You’ll be forever 36, and I’ll be older than you before I know it.

And that wasn’t ever supposed to happen.

It breaks my heart to think of all we’ll never do.storycrawlerlogofinal

And it hurts to think of all your incredible hard work, such as StoryCrawler, lost in the abyss of your impossibly encrypted computer.

But then . . . I know it doesn’t matter to you anymore.
It’s of this world, and you’re not of this world anymore. You’re in God’s care. And there’s no better place to be. Rest in peace, dear brother, rest in peace. I love you.

“Unto them that love God, all things work for good.”
@Heckenkamp

Talk to you later, Jerome . . .

Book Review: Animals of God, Vol. 2

Since we enjoyed the first book so much, my kids and I
couldn’t wait to dive into this second volume of Animals of God by Susan Peek. Sure enough, this book was as delightful and entertaining as the first!

This volume contains two well-developed stories. In the first, two captive, ravenous lions anticipate their next meal—a human sentenced to die in the Colosseum—but when the lions race to attack the beautiful young Thecla, something amazing happens!

In the second story, Chester the gosling longs to be just like his older brother Cuthbert, so he joins him on a daring cornfield raid. When a horrible fate befalls his brother, Chester believes all hope is lost—until he witnesses a miracle and learns the true meaning of the word “saint.”

Animals of God teaches valuable lessons of courage, faith, love, mercy, and more. These lively and memorable tales are never dry or preachy. They contain just the right touch of fascinating “scariness” for children while providing excitement, humor, and happy endings. And the illustrations are gorgeous.

Each story is told from the animal’s point of view and is divided into five chapters. My plan was to read one chapter to my kids each night before bed, but I kept on reading because we just had to know what happened next! And when the book ends, the fun continues with bonus coloring pages.

When I asked my 7-year-old which book he liked best, he said, “I like them both best!” Indeed, both volumes of Animals of God are top-notch children’s books that deserve a place in every Catholic family. They’re sure to be well-read and well-loved.

Animals of God, Volume Two is available in paperback.