Friday, May 10, 2019

Upon My Heart Forever

What it's about:

When Clara Moore learns of her brother's unthinkable scheme—to take her to England and force her into a hasty marriage—she knows she must escape New York. But when she finds out who has accepted the job of taking her to Boston, she almost rethinks her own hurried plan. For the handsome man who comes to her aid is none other than her former love, Ethan Barrik. He left her heart in shambles six years before. Can she trust him a second time?

Ethan Barrik is no stranger to struggle. But tracking the enemy, and war-time spying are nothing compared to the pain of regret. Ready at last to leave his past behind, he accepts one final job for a friend, only to discover the person he's really helping is the woman he still loves. Despite her ire, he knows he must make every attempt to make it right—and hope she will find a way to forgive him and give their love another chance.

The lovely cover of Upon my Heart Forever.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Beneath an Italian Sky

A love match turns into a lonely marriage. Will Clare and Emmett reconcile their differences before it's too late?

From USA Today bestselling author Stacy Henrie, comes BENEATH AN ITALIAN SKY, An American Heiress novel.

American heiress Clare Herschel made what she hoped was a love match when she married the handsome, witty Emmett Markham, the Earl of Linwood. A little over a year into her marriage, though, Clare finds herself wintering in Sicily—alone. She is sure the mild climate is the answer to avoiding another miscarriage and Emmett’s apparent indifference, so she’s determined to remain in Italy as long as possible. The last person she expects to show up at the villa is her husband, especially when Emmett confesses he’s there to convince her to return to England.

As the only surviving son of a marquess, Emmett has done everything his father has asked of him—even agreeing to run for a seat in the House of Commons. However, this latest task comes with a nearly impossible caveat. He must convince his wife Clare to come back to England with him in order for them to appear to be a happy couple for his political campaigning. Emmett isn’t confident Clare will agree to the plan, though, not when she seems to want nothing to do with him or the life they’d begun building before she abruptly left him for Italy.

When a massive earthquake strikes Messina, Sicily, claiming the lives of thousands, Clare and Emmett must set aside their mutual misgivings about their marriage in order to survive and lend a helping hand to others. But in the wake of the destruction, they begin to realize they’ve been given a chance to decide if their love is stronger than the upheavals of the past.

Among Sand and Sunrise (coming October 2019)

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Monday, March 25, 2019

Will You Do Something Part 2

More information on preventing sex trafficking with a huge thank you to Ashleigh Becker at SelaDesigns and her work in this fight.

She says:

Just a quick recap: We talked about how good kids end up getting trafficked too and what parents can do to keep their kids safe. This week I want to highlight kids that are high-risk and prime candidates that traffickers seek out.

On Monday, I listened a seasoned detective speak for more than two hours about sex trafficking in the county next to mine. She has more than 10 years of experience working in this area and had countless heartbreaking stories. 

From the time I sat down until the time we walked out of the meeting, my pen never left the paper. The information was so overwhelming I knew I needed to write it down in order to process it more fully later.

My husband looked at me and said, "Boil it down to two highlights. What would they be?" And here's what I said:
  1. I heard the ages 13, 14, and 15 over and over and over again.
  2. A trafficker will spend up to 2 years pursuing and grooming a victim because he can sell her 10-30 times per night and 80% of the time that starts on social media.
Those are the two things I still remain stunned by. 

Let's talk about traffickers for a minute:
  • Many are good looking, charismatic, articulate, muscular and appear to be "nice".
  • Can be men or women. Women traffickers are typically the meanest type. 
  • They have honed a skill and are very good at it.
  • Everything boils down to control over the victim and here's how they get it:
    •  DRUGS - many victims are shot up against their will and then forced to reach a    quota in order to get the drugs their bodies crave
    • Physical violence 
    • Threats to hurt their loved ones
    • Debt bondage
  • Sometimes it's a family business. Boys are raised to believe girls are sex objects that should be sold. Girls are raised to believe they are only good for sex. It is a culture. 
Now, let's talk about high-risk victims:
  • Boys are underrepresented and get trafficked too
  • Runaways and homeless kids are an easy target
  • People looking for freedom in America or from their family
  • Disabled people
  • People with mental health issues
  • Undocumented people (this is especially true in labor trafficking situations as well)
  • People with addiction issues - recruiting often happens at NA & AA facilities and rehab clinics
  • Prior trauma or abuse create vulnerability
  • Anyone labelled a "trouble maker" by society
There's a motto among traffickers, "Promise her heaven. Take her to hell."And that is exactly what traffickers do: promise victims everything they ever wanted, give them a little of it to make it feel real and then take them to hell.

I know this is heavy. I know these words are difficult to read. I know that maybe you don't want to know anymore, but friend, please don't turn away. 

Take the anger, hurt and pain you feel and let it fire you up to raise awareness and be a light in the darkness. What to be a part of the solution? Here's what you can do:
  1. Know a kid that falls in 1 or more of those high-risk categories? Be their place of safety, the adult they can trust to love them no matter what. 
  2. Volunteer at organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters who are working to create safety for at-risk teens. 77% of kids in foster care will be trafficked.
  3.  Educate every young person you know about the dangers of putting too much information on social media. Urge them to use private profiles and skip the hashtags.
  4. Keep your eyes open - be aware of people around you. If you see a man in a gas station with multiple young girls who won't look up, seem overly submissive or look malnourished CALL THE POLICE. If you see something that doesn't look or feel right, it probably isn't. If you are wrong no one gets hurt. If you are right, a life gets saved. 
This is a fight worth fighting. You know what the solution is? IT'S YOU! You and I are the solution to this crisis. Just having this knowledge is great, but doing something with it will change our communities.

Thank you for being a voice for the hopeless and defending the cause of the most vulnerable. 

Me: I hope this is something you will take seriously, that you will talk to your children/grandchildren about. It's an ugly topic, but kids need to know how to protect themselves. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Will You Do Something? Part 1

I believe in the goodness of humankind--I see it around me every day. But I also know, that people don't always choose the good. My heart hurts when I see the awful things we humans do to each other.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."  --Edmund Burke


Human sex trafficking. I have posted about this before, but Ashleigh Becker of SelaDesigns recently shared via email some information she learned from an anti-trafficking organization in her community.

This is what she had to say:

Last week I spent 90 minutes talking with a rep from Eye Heart World, a local anti-trafficking organization in WI. My entire purpose for the call was to get some real answers to my questions:
  1. What does sex trafficking look like in my city?
  2.  What can I do about it?
Human trafficking is happening in every county in my state. If it's happening here I'm going to go ahead and say it's happening where you live as well. Today I want to talk specifically about sex trafficking (labor trafficking is another wide-spread problem).

I fully understood the big picture stories of girls being taken, stolen and things like that we often hear about, but I know that's not actually what usually happens. I needed to understand how a girl who grew up in a great family, doesn't have an issue with drugs or partying, ends up being trafficked.

Here's what I learned:
  1. Kids get angry at their parents, no matter how great the parents are. And in today's world, they take that anger to social media. They don't realize what they are doing when they write a post about how awful their parents are and use a hashtag like #ihatemymom or #mylifesucks. 
  2.  Traffickers are interested in one thing - making money. They are skilled in their craft. They prey on kids who are angry with their parents or have any type of a problem at home. 
  3.  Traffickers know how to speak 13 year old girl lingo! They will befriend "good girls" on social media and spend up to a year building that relationship. Eventually they will arrange a face to face meeting. 
  4.  Traffickers will work in different ways to take the victim to the next level - maybe start buying gifts or playing with their emotional state - whatever they need to do to build trust and eventually control.
Now you may be wondering how/why the girl ends up having sex for money. I certainly was! Here's a common scenario: the trafficker invites the girl for a weekend away or to a party. She goes. He gives her a lot of alcohol or drugs. She passes out. He lets 5 men have sex with her. She wakes up naked and wonders what happened.

The trafficker shows her pictures of the night and all the men the girl has had sex with. He tells her that if she doesn't continue to do it he will ruin her life - tell her parents and friends what she has done, etc. The trafficker now has control over his victim.

That's heavy, difficult to read. Need a break? My heart is racing as I write this...

Friend, this is just one common way traffickers work. There is more, but that's enough for today. Let's talk about what we can do to prevent this, because there is hope.

Parents, Aunts, Teachers, Counsellors, Youth Group Leaders, etc - we all have a role to play here. We all have a responsibility to the young people in our lives. Here's how we can help them:
  1. PARENTS: know what your kids are doing! Know where they are and who they are with at all times. Have regular check-ins. MONITOR ALL ELECTRONIC DEVICES! 
  2. Teach young people about trafficking. Tell them the lies that traffickers use. When the lies have already been exposed they lose their power. 
  3. Remind teenagers that people on social media are strangers. We do not know who is behind a cute photo. Make profiles private. Don't ever tag your current location.
Small steps in the right direction change the world. Applied knowledge is powerful.

She is right, applied knowledge is powerful. Make sure the kids in your life know about this. Be proactive, be part of their lives, make a difference. Another way you can support this is by giving to organizations in your community/globally who fight this. Shop their sites, give a little every month, talk about it with your friends and your kids. As soon as they have access to social media, we should be having these conversations. If you think they're too young to have these conversations, then maybe consider that they are too young for social media. 

Monday, February 25, 2019


Back of the Book: Roxelle McCann is eager to meet the family of her best friend, so she takes a mini-vacation to the Navajo Nation. Roxelle expects to find out more about Navajo language and customs and to be awed by the beauty of Monument Valley. She does not expect to find love among the monuments. The man she meets offers both a surprising possible future and a tender reminder of the past.

FREE for Kindle Unlimited subscribers!

About the author: Susan Aylworth loves books, poems, plays, words in almost all polite forms, and good raspberry jam. Her first book, started when she was nine, "was a rip-off of Black Beauty. I wrote eight whole pages." For her fifth grade career day, she stated her ambition to become "a rich and famous author." Decades later, she is pleased to have achieved the 'author' part of that goal.

A former university professor, she enjoys researching backgrounds and careers for her novels. "It's one way to live many lives all at once." Servant to two spoiled cats, she lives in northern California with her writer husband, Roger. She wishes the kids would visit more often.

Susan says, "If you enjoy my books, please tell everyone you know: friends, relatives, neighbors, the person who delivers your mail, people you meet in line in the grocery store, everyone!" She welcomes ideas for new books and characters and loves "travel, great music, and hearing from readers."

So connect with Susan:
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To buy your own copy or see my reviews for this book visit Goodreads and Amazon.

I've tried to reply to Susan's comment, but Blogger won't let me... So here it is:

It's always fun when we can incorporate places we live or visit in our writing. Thank you for sharing this special place with us.

Monday, February 18, 2019


Dover, Delaware 1776: George and Gracie need to rescue their parents. Instead they find themselves time-traveling into the middle of the American Revolution. Not only that, but one of the twins changes into an animal with each time travel. This time Gracie is a horse. They end up helping Caesar Rodney make his famous ride into Philadelphia to vote “yes” for the Declaration of Independence. But time is running out to rescue their parents.

My take: This was such a fun, easy read. I started reading it to my daughter while waiting to pick up my son. It was engrossing and I had to finish it. Loved the references to events in 1776 and such an interesting way to share history. The only thing that left me going hmm is that the twins are nine years old and it seemed a little young for the adventure (but, this is for young readers right?) I highly recommend! For readers of any age. Five Stars.

About the Authors:

Cheri Pray Earl graduated with her master's degree in creative writing from Brigham Young University (BYU) in 1995 and has taught creative writing and literature courses for the BYU Honors Program and the English Department for more than 25 years. She was awarded BYU Honors Professor of the Year in 2005 which she brags about every chance she gets. Cheri writes the middle-grade novel series, Just In Time, with Carol Lynch Williams and published a non-fiction children’s book for American Girl in 2009, co-authored with the late Rick Walton. But in real life she writes young adult and adult novels. She won her first real writing contest, the Utah Original Writing Competition, in 1994 for her YA novel, Flat Like Me, and took Honorable Mention in 1997 for her YA novel, The Swan. She’s currently working on an adult mystery novel and a contemporary adult novel. Cheri’s most recent children’s book, Mr. Dietsche, is a middle-grade novel based on her childhood in Dodge City, Kansas that her agent, Steve Fraser from JDLIT, is this very minute shopping around. That’s Secret Agent Steve.
See more of Cheri's stories at

Carol Lynch Williams is the author of more than 30 books for middle grade and young adult readers. Her novels include The Chosen One, Never that Far, Messenger and Never Said. Her most recent book is the novelization of the movie Once I Was a Beehive. Carol has an MFA from Vermont College in Writing for Children and Young Adults and teaches creative writing at BYU. She runs Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers, a week-long writing conference for the not-faint-of-heart writer ( As well she is a mentor for those who want to write for kids and teens. Her best creative effort, however, are her five daughters.  

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Feb 21: My Book a Day

Friday, January 18, 2019

January: Human Trafficking Awareness Month

While this challenge may seem as vast as the Grand Canyon,
don't be discouraged, even small acts of kindness make a
huge difference. (pc Peggy Urry)
Reposting from the Starling Box (Starling Murmurs) blog:
January is human trafficking awareness month. Trafficking is a crime that touches people all over the world and deprives people of their lives, independence, and freedom. To recognize this month, we’re highlighting some steps you can take to join the fight against human trafficking. 
1.Do your research
The first step is to learn more about what trafficking is. Before taking steps to fight trafficking, it’s important to first educate yourself about the complexities and extent of the issue. Some good starting resources can be found at the Polaris Project and the National Human Trafficking Hotline, or you can look to our article Human Trafficking: The Hidden Story
2. Raise Awareness
While raising awareness may seem unimportant or ineffective, the power of spreading the word cannot be underestimated. Raising awareness can open people’s eyes to this enormous issue and spur action. The more people who know about human trafficking, the bigger the movement will grow and the more change will happen. 
3. Keep your eye out
Watch for signs of human trafficking, some of which can be found here. If you see something that may be a sign of trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888.
4. Make your path
There are ways that everyone can help and hundreds of amazing organizations you can choose to support that fight human trafficking. Whether through donations or volunteering time, we can all find a way to make an impact.
These easy steps to fight trafficking may seem small but they can make an enormous difference. Start this month and join the movement. 

My comments:
Human trafficking touches all of us in some way. But working together, we can combat this atrocity. Do your best to buy ethically sourced goods. Join a movement in your own community or one online (there are more than just a few). I love my Starling Box! It's so fun and it's for a good cause. Some others I have discovered on Instagram: @sudaragoods, @seladesigns, @saribariindia, @rethreadedinc, @mulxiply, and @uncvrdjewelry
Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) is another organization to check out. Their focus is rescuing children from child sex trafficking. 
We can make the world a better place. And, people, love those around you, your family, your friends. Be grateful and be kind. We do not know the burdens others carry or have carried. 

Upon My Heart Forever

What it's about: When Clara Moore learns of her brother's unthinkable scheme—to take her to England and force her into a...