Friday, March 20, 2015

Harvest of Blessings Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway with Charlotte Hubbard

Seasons of the Heart, Book 5
by Charlotte Hubbard
Publisher: Zebra 
Published: Feb. 24, 2015
ISBN-13: 9781420133097 •• ISBN-10: 1420133098



The tranquil little town of Willow Ridge is facing a startling challenge. Wealthy Nora Glick Landwehr is determined to make it her home again—and put her past to rest. Cast out by her own family, Nora can’t reconcile with Old Amish ways or her strict father. But she’ll do anything to help her community embrace the future . . . and make amends to the daughter she had to give up. She certainly has no time for her reckless new neighbor Luke Hooley. They disagree about almost everything. And how can she trust him if he always 

seems to believe the worst about her? Somehow, though, his unexpected support and passionate heart are helping her find her own way in faith. And Nora will discover that even in the face of insidious lies and unyielding judgment, God creates unexpected chances for forgiveness—and love.

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The moving van hadn’t yet arrived, so Nora pulled back onto the county highway where she’d begun her trip down memory lane. While everyone in town was at Annie Mae and Adam’s wedding, she had the perfect chance to revisit her childhood home. To prepare herself for the ordeal she would soon face.

She pulled into the lane and parked behind the house, somewhat surprised to see the surrounding pastureland planted in tall corn that shimmered in the breeze. Knowing it wouldn’t be locked, Nora slipped into the back door. The kitchen appeared smaller and shabbier than she recalled, as though it hadn’t seen fresh paint since she’d left. How odd to stand in this hub of the house and not detect even a whiff of breakfast.

Nora moved on before she lost her nerve. She felt like an intruder—and she wanted to be long gone before anyone came home from the wedding. She peeked into the small downstairs room where she and her mother had sewn the family’s clothes on an ancient treadle machine—

Nora gaped. On a twin bed lay a motionless female form, like a corpse laid out in a casket. Is this what Hiram had meant by implying her parents were barely alive? Did she dare approach, or would this woman pop up like a zombie from an old horror movie and leer at her with hollowed eyes and a toothless grin? Nora wanted to bolt, yet she felt compelled to look this woman—surely her mother—in the face. If Mamma was so far gone, why wasn’t someone sitting with her? Or was she merely napping, too tired to attend the wedding? The way Nora had it figured, her mother was in her early seventies now—several years younger than her dat. Why did she look so far gone?

Holding her breath, Nora slipped to the bedside. The room felt stuffy in the July heat, yet a faded quilt covered her mother’s shriveled form up to her chin. A kapp concealed all but the front of her white hair, so all Nora saw was a pallid face etched with wrinkles. The eyes were closed, and again Nora felt she was observing a stranger in a casket rather than looking at her own mother. Last time she’d been here, Mamma’s face had been contorted with indignation as disgust hardened her piercing hazel eyes—

And suddenly those eyes were focused on her.

Nora froze. Not a muscle moved in her mother’s face yet Mamma’s gaze didn’t waver—until her eyes widened with recognition. Or was it disbelief, or fear?

Nora didn’t stick around to figure that out. Hurrying from the airless room and through the kitchen, Nora burst through the back door. She couldn’t gulp air fast enough as she climbed into her car and sped down the lane. She felt as though she’d stared Death in the face and Death had stared right back.

Making Time for Real Life
by Naomi King

At an age when many people are considering retirement or downshifting to part-time work, I’m busier than I ever dreamed I'd be, writing two different Amish series under two different names for two different publishers. I've been doing this since 2010, and my most recent contract keeps me writing at least through the end of 2016, back-to-back-to-back without any major breaks. What a blessing! Who knew that Amish books would remain popular for so long?

But I must allow for vacations and for real-life time to enjoy my family and friends—not to mention time to run errands and enjoy my hobbies! All work and no play not only makes you a dull girl, it can kill your soul.

So, as I consider my list of scheduled book deadlines, I also figure out time for trips, conferences, and special occasions. I have a "big picture," which looks ahead to major events (a 40th anniversary in 2015, for example). I also keep a close eye on my weekly calendar so nothing gets overlooked. When I joke to friends that my life resembles the old gospel tune, "Ain't Got Time to Die," it's not too far from the truth.

Recently my big picture has included a trip to Seattle, accompanying my husband to his business conference—and extending the trip by a few days on each end to visit friends and spend time on the Oregon coast. We both love the rugged beaches around Manzanita and Ocean City, so it was a treat to wander through those little coastal towns again.

In October I extended my Novelists, Inc. writers conference in St. Petersburg, Florida to include some vacation days with my husband, as well. And my 2015 calendar already has a 15-day Viking River Cruise on the Danube to celebrate that big anniversary I've mentioned. These trips give me something to look forward to while I'm spending days on end in my office chair, and they're incentive to finish each of my books on time. If I get seriously behind, my whole schedule will fall like a column of dominoes.

On a smaller scope, I also have to allow for the occasional pedicure, monthly writers meetings, book signings—and of course for doctor appointments, haircuts, and that inevitable grocery shopping. I'll confess right now that cleaning ranks waaay down at the bottom of my list, although I love to cook—and working in the kitchen gets me off my butt and away from the computer. I often talk my way through a stalled story and give my eyes a break while I'm whipping up dinner.

I'm a list maker, so I accomplish my balancing act by setting up a weekly page quota when I begin writing a new book. I keep this written schedule (which includes the trips, etc.) taped to my computer desk, in plain sight, alongside the year's overview of all my book deadlines, so I'm always aware of the work I need to get done. What with a few unexpected interruptions (like funerals, guests coming to visit, or extensive edits my editors request for books) I sometimes have to write on Saturdays and Sunday afternoons if I feel I'm getting behind.

In this era of online promotion, I also have to allow time for email, Facebook, and to keep up with daily blog/review posts if I have a book on virtual tour (like now!) And if you think my Border collie, Ramona, allows me to ignore her, think again! We walk nearly every day, often for an hour—and I need that exercise, too.

Does my life sound a lot less glamorous and exciting than you expected? I confess that some weeks I feel brain-fried by the constant need to keep up with my writing quota—but then I think back to a seven-year dry spell in my career when I couldn't sell anything. I also know that one of these days, the market will change and the contracts might stop coming my way.

So for now and the next couple of years, I'll celebrate each and every book completed, contract signed, royalty statement, and glowing review. I've worked very hard to attain this success, and thanks to a supportive husband and a God who smiles on me every day, I plan to enjoy writing my Amish books a while longer.

 Thank you so much for spending this time with me! You are one of the main reasons I intend to keep writing.

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About the Author:

Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Charlotte Hubbard writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her Seasons of the Heart series. Like her heroine, Miriam Lantz Hooley, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.

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  1. Thanks so much for featuring my book on your site today!

  2. Very interesting guest post today. It is amazing you can keep up with the pace you has set for yourself. And to maintain books in the same genre under 2 different names writing simultaneously is awesome. I don't know how you do it and keep everything fresh.

  3. I enjoyed the excerpt and interview!

    Trix, vitajex(at)AoL(Dot)com

  4. I enjoyed learning about the book and reading the excerpt! Thanks for the awesome giveaway!