Some Random Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me

I’ve seen some other authors share posts like this, so I thought I’d see what I could come up with . . .

1. When I was a five-year-old flower girl, I got drunk on champagne at a wedding reception. Yes, you read that right. (I was sitting at the head table and couldn’t finish my huge dinner, so I figured I’d at least finish my drink—which, for some reason, was champagne. The server then refilled my glass, and I drank that one, too.)

2. At about this same age, I turned my bedroom into a “library” by sticking a sign on my door and writing my name in every single book I could find (even the ones that weren’t mine).

3. As a child, I stuck my finger in an electrical outlet. Horrible shock. Now, I’m married to an electrician.

4. I have a scar on my chin from when I was about eleven and sledded downhill, face-first, into ice-crusted snow.

5. On a happier note, I used to walk around my neighborhood on stilts. (My pogostick was pretty fun, too.)

6. Back in my teens, after dropping off a stack of library books, I overheard the librarians complaining that I was taking advantage of the system by returning too many books at once. I was mortified. Yes, I read a lot of books, but these weren’t all mine; I was helping my family (of six) by dropping off their books, too. Anyway, overly-sensitive as I was at the time, I felt deeply betrayed by my favorite place, the library. I’m glad that didn’t stop me from becoming a writer. 🙂

7. One time in Walmart, a man yelled at me for walking on the “wrong” side of the aisle. Didn’t school teach me how to walk correctly and in a line? he demanded. I was too shocked to reply to his rudeness, but I should have said, “Of course not. I was homeschooled.” I guess we homeschoolers are a wild and reckless, line-shirking bunch. I mean, just look at me as a child. Obvious troublemaker, right?

8. My right eye is extremely nearsighted, but I don’t have to wear contacts or glasses because my left eye dominates when both eyes are open. (Remember, I warned you this list would be random.)

9. I eat a big bowl of ice cream almost every night.

10. When I was a cake decorator in a grocery store, I worked during a power-outage by decorating cakes by flashlight. Not an easy task, but I bet you’d be impressed at how well those cakes turned out.

11. When a tornado warning blared through my town in 2015, the first thing I grabbed on my way to take shelter was the manuscript I was working on at the time (After the Thaw).

12. And if you’ve read After the Thaw, you might recall the scene in which Ben tells Charlene he loves her (by using the fire department’s thermal imaging camera). That was inspired by real life—my husband (a firefighter at the time) did that for me. Aww…

Okay, that’s it for now. I may come back and add to this list as new random thoughts occur to me.

Then again, this is all probably more than anyone needs, or wants, to know about me. 😉 But it sure was fun to write!

Frozen Footprints Is Now an Audiobook!

Listen to this! (Nerdy pun intended.) Today Tantor Media has officially released Frozen Footprints in audiobook form! Narrated by the very talented and award-winning Em Eldridge, my Christian suspense novel can now be enjoyed by anyone who prefers listening to books.

As opposed to when I first wrote Frozen Footprints, listeners won’t have to wait long for the sequel, either. (Thank goodness—they won’t yell at me about it. 🙂 ) After the Thaw will release in audiobook form in exactly one month from today.

Many thanks to Tantor Media and Em Eldridge for making all this happen!

(By the way—on an unrelated note—I can’t get over how much Em resembles my little sister Cassandra. Right? Just look at those big beautiful smiles.)

Book Tour: Julia’s Gifts

Today I’m honored to be participating in a virtual book tour for the new religious historical romance Julia’s Gifts (Great War Great Love #1) by Catholic author Ellen Gable.

My Review:
Can beauty and life survive destruction and death? Vivid writing transports readers to the past, where young love is forged and tested amidst the devastation of war-torn France. Graced with soulful sonnets and life-and-death situations, this is no simple romance. It’s a strong and tender Catholic historical novel about growing in maturity and fortitude while discovering the power of hope, self-sacrifice, and prayer. I read Julia’s Gifts within two days, but this touching story of faith and devotion is sure to leave a lasting impression!

As a young girl, Julia began buying gifts for her future spouse, a man whose likeness and personality she has conjured up in her mind, a man she calls her “beloved.” Soon after the United States enters the Great War, Julia impulsively volunteers as a medical aid worker, with no experience or training. Disheartened by the realities of war, will Julia abandon the pursuit of her beloved? Will her naïve “gift scheme” distract her from recognizing her true “Great Love”? From Philadelphia to war-torn France, follow Julia as she transitions from unworldly young woman to compassionate volunteer.

Well in time for the Christmas season, Julia’s Gifts is available in paperback and as a Kindle ebook.

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

Ellen, what was the inspiration for Julia’s Gifts?

When I was a teenager, I yearned to meet my future spouse. It was difficult because most of my friends (and all of my siblings) had boyfriends. Since I looked very young, boys weren’t interested in me. I felt lonely, especially on Friday nights when all my siblings and friends were on dates, and I was home watching the Donny and Marie Show.

I began praying that God would “send me a man.” Until then, I prayed for my future husband. While I never actually bought a gift for him, I did write letters to him.

A few years ago, it occurred to me that it would be a beautiful gesture for a young woman to buy Christmas gifts for her future spouse. From that small seed, Julia’s Gifts was born.

This is very different from your other books in that it is a very clean romance and can be read by young teens to elderly women to middle-aged men. Was that a conscious choice?

Yes, it is very different and no, it wasn’t a conscious choice, at first. When I came up with the story and as I was gradually developing the characters and plotlines, it made the most sense to keep this a “sweet” and “clean” love story that anyone can enjoy. It is, however, a war novel, so there are descriptions of war injuries.

One of my biggest struggles as a writer is finding time to write, so I love hearing how other authors handle this challenge. Ellen, how do you find time to write?

The question really is: when do I feel inspired to write? I work for a non-profit organization, and I run a micro-press publishing company. I also write articles for various websites. Some authors can force themselves to write a short novel (say, during November, national novel writing month). However, for me, I need to be inspired. For some strange reason, January is always a rich writing month for me. When I’m inspired, writing comes easily.

Ellen Gable is an award-winning author, Marketing Director for Live the Fast, self-publishing book coach, speaker, publisher, NFP teacher, book reviewer and instructor in the Theology of the Body for Teens. However, the roles she loves the most are being wife to her husband and mother to their five sons, ages 18-30. Originally from New Jersey, Ellen lives with her husband of 35 years, James Hrkach, in Pakenham, Ontario Canada. Visit Ellen at her Blog: Plot Line and Sinker. Connect with her on her Amazon Author PageFacebookTwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.

Read more about Julia’s Gifts at Full Quiver Publishing and find the novel on Goodreads.

Also be sure to check out all the other stops on the Julia’s Gifts Virtual Book Tour!

Book Review: The King’s Prey

A heart-pounding, faith-filled survival adventure set in long-ago Ireland, The King’s Prey is another winner by popular Catholic author Susan Peek! It’s always a delight to read her books, and Saint Dymphna is no exception. I was completely engrossed in this powerful story based on a fiercely terrifying—yet gripping—scenario from reality: a king so mentally destroyed by the loss of his queen that he desires to marry her lookalike—who is none other than his own daughter! Rightfully horrified, his daughter Dymphna flees with the help of a friend, his wife, their feisty dog, and a priest. Suspense escalates when Dymphna’s enraged father and his soldiers pursue them across Ireland.

Vibrant writing captures the spirits of the characters and time period perfectly. The plot is intricate and well-crafted, and the pages are bursting with action and excitement. There’s insanity, jealousy, misunderstanding, and heartache mingled with uplifting themes of brotherly love, courage, sacrifice, hope, and healing.

Of course, considering the reality this story is based on, The King’s Prey is understandably recommended for older teens and adults. The story includes bloodshed, sword fights, and intense life-or-death moments, but all are handled with skill and tact. Peek never takes things too far.

Along with the physical action, we see spiritual action: the real power of prayer and intercession, trusting God, and offering things up for the sake of others. And in the end . . . the ending is perfect.

Susan Peek writes top-notch genuine Catholic fiction that deserves high praise and wide readership. I’m looking forward to sharing her novels with my own kids when they’re teenagers, not only because Peek’s stories are purely Catholic and enriched with faith and invaluable life lessons—but also because they’re so exciting that I won’t have to try to make my kids read, they’ll want to read!

The King’s Prey is available in paperback.

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:

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 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.