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Tag: smoke and mirrors

God’s Hand in Encouragement

It’s funny how God works. He always provides exactly what I need, even when I don’t know what that is.

moving2Over Christmas break, my family moved to Fort Knox, Kentucky. The decision to move was made right before Thanksgiving, so in a month’s time, we planned, packed, and found a new home. My husband, Gregg, started a new job that he loves — LOVES. Our family is extremely happy at Fort Knox, and we know that it was a good move for us.

But in the process of moving, unpacking, hanging pictures, deciding on room designs, buying furniture, picking out rugs, etc., etc., I had a deadline of March 1st for a romantic suspense novella for a box set. I have to be honest with you. I did NOT want to write this book. I wanted to set up my new house. I wanted to get my kids completely settled into our new community. I wanted to have coffee and tea and lunch with friends I was meeting through chapel and in the neighborhood.

But a commitment is a commitment, and a deadline is something I’ve never missed. So, I started writing it sometime in mid-February, and finished it early March. I struggled through every word. I cried. I prayed. I beat my head against the keyboard. I cried some more.

Word by agonizing word, this novella came out of me. It is a stand-alone, not connected to any series, so I had to create a whole new world with new people. I had to research human sex trade and the Russian mafia — a very dark kind of research. Nothing was enjoyable about this process.

on the ropesWhen I finished it, we discovered that Gregg did not have the time to edit it. He was settling into a new and intense job that took all of his mental reserves. By the time he came home every night, he was exhausted. National Guard took any free weekend he might have even pretended to have. However, he has always, always, been my first editor. I know I’m a good storyteller – that is my gift from God. But, I’ve never felt I was a good writer. I have always believed that Gregg is who turned my good stories into good writing. For the first time, it went to my editor without his special touch. For the first time ever, I did the cover consultation with our cover artist. I arranged the design and the deadline and provided the critique. (I also originally titled it, but Gregg did come up with a much better title. Clearly, I’d tapped my abilities.)

Smoke Mirrors FlatWhen this novella, On the Ropes, published in the Smoke and Mirrors box set, I was so stressed about it. I felt like it was the worse thing I’ve ever written and that if Gregg couldn’t (understandably) partner with me in the future, then maybe I should take a break from writing until our life had settled down around us.

I have always heard from readers on a bit of a sporadic basis. I read reviews, receive Facebook messages, and get emails, but nothing on any super large scale. Until this novella published in this box set. Suddenly, I got a deluge of emails and messages. Every day, I have received several. And they all say something similar:

Just want to say that I love the way you write. …I just read On The Ropes and again was amazed at how the story line reaches the heart. Thanks for your action packed clean books.

Another one said:

I just finished reading ON THE ROPES and LOVED it.

One reviewer said:

Thrilling, heart-stopping, hopeless but hopeful—‘On the Ropes’ is written in the past and the present until the time-frames dramatically collide. This edgy romantic suspense was so powerful; it took me a while before I could read anything afterwards. Hallee Bridgeman is a new-to-me author and I can hardly wait to read more from her!

I could continue to list the emails and reviews, but that’s not the point. The point is, this novella was ripped out of me, I had a bad attitude about even having to write it, and I was worried the entire time about the process being disrupted with Gregg’s new job. But, God, in all of His wonder and glory, has sent me DAILY confirmation that He would still have me doing what I’m doing, that HE will provide to me the talents and skill I need to do what He would have me to do, and that I CAN do this even if I can’t utilize the best editor on the planet at this time.

My mission statement remains the same:

To prayerfully craft stories as modern day parables to uplift fellow believers and minister to seekers in our fallen world.

I don’t want that to change. I don’t want to get caught up in marketing and writing and book rankings and lose the focus of my mission statement. I truly believe that the daily emails I’ve received have been God’s way of giving me a much needed confidence boost and encouragement to keep me crafting those stories. I currently feel revitalized, refreshed, and excited that I’m almost finished with another book — ready to start the next series on my list.

If you’ve read On the Ropes, or any other of my books, I’d love to hear from you. You have no idea what kind of encouragement you can give a writer by reaching out. If you have already, thank you for listening to the urging of God and being a part of His encouragement.
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Smoke and Mirrors Summer Destination Blog Hop and Giveaway!

smoke and mirrors

Welcome to you if you’ve hopped over to my blog from Connie Almony‘s! If you’re starting here, that’s wonderful! You can start anywhere in the group and make it all the way through!

I’m so happy you’ve joined me for the Smoke and Mirrors Summer Destination Blog Hop & Giveaway! To celebrate the release of the Smoke and Mirrors Box Set, the authors have banned together to bring you an amazing giveaway! One winner will win The Book Lover’s Grand Prize. This prize will include a $25 Starbucks gift card, as well as the following signed paperbacks by the Smoke and Mirrors authors:

larger softcovers

And another winner will win THE KINDLE FIRE GRAND PRIZE, which includes one brand new Kindle Fire and the following ebooks by the Smoke and Mirrors authors:

updated ebooks

What an amazing giveaway! But, to win, you have to comment on each blog in the blog hop. Here’s a list of the blogs:

Connie Almony

Hallee Bridgeman

Heather Day Gilbert

Kelli Hughett

Alana Terry

Rachel Trautmiller

Alexa Verde

(Author Sally Bradley is not participating in this hop, but she is an author in the boxed set!)

PLEASE NOTE: ***You will need to visit each of the 7 blogs above and comment on each one by 5 pm EST on May 30th to be eligible for a chance to win one of our grand prizes.***

Since all of the books in this box set take place in the summertime, the theme of this blog hop is “My Favorite Summer Vacation Destination.” My family travels a lot. We love to back our bags and hit the road together. We live in Kentucky, which is rather central to so many places, that it gives us a chance to just go. A couple of weekends ago, we enjoyed a trip up to the shores of Lake Huron. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be heading to Kansas City.

But my favorite summer destination is the Pacific Northwest. (I won’t get there this year until September). As an Army brat, my “home” in the Willamette Valley is a place I’ve only lived for a few years of my life, but most of my family lives there or around there. My father was stationed at Fort Lewis and then did ROTC duty in Eugene Oregon, so for a good chunk of my childhood, we had easy access to my family. So many childhood memories are wrapped up in camping and fishing near Crater Lake, visiting the coast of Florence, Oregon, and heading on up into the Mount Saint Helens region of Washington. Even though we moved to Florida when I was 13, summertime means grilling salmon on the grill in my grandparents’ backyard while we played on the slip-n-slide next to the garden under the apple tree.

My grandfather Hal (yes, I'm named after him) working in his garden in Springfield, Oregon
My grandfather Hal (yes, I’m named after him) working in his garden in Springfield, Oregon

on the ropesMy summertime story contained in the Smoke and Mirrors box set, On the Ropes, takes place in Florida, New York, and South Carolina — three of my favorite places to visit. As I was writing On the Ropes, I wrote a scene where my character Ruth was racing through the streets of New York City during a heat wave, and I remembered my honeymoon 4th of July weekend in NYC during a heat wave and the temperature on the street at 10PM was over 100 degrees. It’s a crazy heat that you can’t understand until you feel it.

What is your favorite summer destination? Comment below and let me know! *Please remember that you must comment on each of the 7 blogs in this blog hop to be eligible for either of the grand prizes!*

If you’re looking for a good read for this coming holiday weekend, check out the Smoke and Mirrors Collection. Right romantic suspense novellas set in summertime — the perfect kickoff to the beginning of summer!

Here is the blurb to my novella, On the Ropes: Doctor Ruth Burnette is placed in witness protection after witnessing a Russian mafia execution. Just a week before the trial, Victor Kovalev finds her. Memories of planning her wedding with Victor are wiped clean by the vision of his father executing three men. Does he want to help her survive to her testimony, or is he trying to stop it all together?

Next stop in this blog hop is Heather Day Gilbert! As a teaser, there’s the blurb to her book, Out of Circulation: When Russian mobsters threaten small-town librarian Katie McClure, she is forced to accept an offer of protection from Manhattan bodyguard Ace Calhoun. As they race the clock to find a long-hidden bank stash, Katie discovers too late that Ace might be the wrong man to trust with her life…and her heart. Click here to hop to her blog!

Thank you for visiting and enjoy the rest of the blog hop! Don’t forget that you will need to visit each of the 7 blogs above and comment on each one by 5 pm EST on May 30th to be eligible for a chance to win one of our grand prizes. We will email the winners on May 31, but first, come visit us on May 30th starting at 7 pm EST on Facebook here for the announcement of the winners and a Week-Long Virtual Cruise to the destinations in our collection!

cruise memeDuring the Facebook cruise, readers will ask the eight Smoke and Mirrors authors questions and we’ll be asking our readers questions! It is a leisurely pace, so you can drop in and out, leaving questions and reading up on the answers later, if you like. It’s a great chance to fellowship with some of your fave romantic suspense authors–and some of your soon-to-be-faves!
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Release Day! Smoke and Mirrors — 8 Brand New, Never Before Release Novellas for Just 99 Cents!

smoke and mirrorsEight Brand New Never Before Released Romantic Suspense Novellas for Just 99 Cents!

I am so excited to be part of another amazing collection! Introducing Smoke and Mirrors, eight romantic suspense novellas that all have a theme surrounding the idea of “hidden identity” and summertime!. My new novel, On the Ropes, will only be available in this collection until August, so don’t miss on your chance to read it now! For one month, the price is just 99 cents, then it will go up — so, get it while it’s hot!

Exclusively on Amazon. Order it now!

smoke and mirrors kindleRead below to see how you can win a Kindle Fire!

THE LONG VIEW by Connie Almony: J.T. MacGregor is ex-FBI and training with terrorists. When his former boss makes an unusual request, J.T. wonders about his motives and how he can use them to his advantage. Destiny Long is no stranger to her father’s covert world of catching terrorists, but who is he after now? When J.T., the man behind the one kiss she will never forget joins a fitness club owned by a suspected member of ISIS and he’s found praying head-first into a tasseled rug, she wonders what side of the war on terror is J.T. MacGregor really on.

TAKEN by Sally Bradley: Cam Winters has never talked about his past, about life before he became a Christian. Jordan Foster knows that Cam’s a strong, caring man–a man she can see herself with. But he refuses to ask her out for fear of what her brother, one of his closest friends, might say. So Jordan takes things into her own hands. When Cam admits to sharing her feelings, the two fall quickly in love–just as that past that Cam won’t ever talk about returns for Cam and those he loves. A group which now includes Jordan.

on the ropesON THE ROPES by Hallee Bridgeman: Doctor Ruth Burnette is placed in witness protection after witnessing a Russian mafia execution. Just a week before the trial, Victor Kovalev finds her. Memories of planning her wedding with Victor are wiped clean by the vision of his father executing three men. Does he want to help her survive to her testimony, or is he trying to stop it all together?

OUT OF CIRCULATION by Heather Day Gilbert: When Russian mobsters threaten small-town librarian Katie McClure, she is forced to accept an offer of protection from Manhattan bodyguard Ace Calhoun. As they race the clock to find a long-hidden bank stash, Katie discovers too late that Ace might be the wrong man to trust with her life…and her heart.

DANGEROUS ALTERNATIVE by Kelli Hughett: Summer in Southern California doesn’t get any hotter than this. When Levi Boulter agrees to work for the FBI behind the scenes in Hollywood, he never plans on becoming an operative working to thwart a plan to assassinate the President’s wife—or on keeping a deadly secret from Mahari, the love of his life. When Mahari is kidnapped, Levi makes the gamble of his life in order to save her. Will Levi’s secret divide them forever, or will they come together in time to stop an assassination?

IDENTITY THEFT by Alana Terry: After losing her fiancé in a devastating accident, Lacy meets Kurtis, an Alaska state trooper, and his delightful four-year-old daughter who would love nothing more than to make Lacy her new mom. Things could be perfect, except Lacy can’t shake the nagging suspicion that her fiancé isn’t dead like the police reports claim. All she wants is closure, but as she seeks out real answers, she discovers how deadly the truth can actually be.

OBSESSION by Rachel Trautmiller: A surge in crime has left two homeless women dead and Detective Amanda Nettles’ Alzheimer’s-riddled mother as the prime suspect. As his wife embarks on a dangerous game of hide-and-seek with a remorseless serial killer, FBI Agent Baker Jackson Robinson knows he can’t sit idly while the city of Charlotte destroys Amanda’s career a second time. Is her near decade-long obsession with protecting her hometown bigger than the needs of her family? Or are they one and the same?

SCENT OF DANGER by Alexa Verde: To find her missing sister, small-town cop Maya Hutchinson risks her life by posing as her glamorous twin. Under escalating attacks, Maya accepts protection from dashing senator’s son Connor McNamara. Cop turned PI, Connor McNamara has his own secret mission and is forced to choose between family loyalty and love. When the scent of danger draws near, will Connor and Maya survive long enough to forgive and accept each other?

Order it now on Amazon!

 

smoke and mirrors kindleInterested in winning a Kindle Fire? Just check back here on Wednesday, May 25th, for our Smoke & Mirrors Summer Destination Blog Hop! We’ll hop to blogs from all of our authors, then wrap it all up with a Facebook party. A Kindle Fire, and paperbacks from ALL of our authors will be up for grabs! Don’t miss it!

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Christian Fiction Friday: May 13th

Welcome to this week’s edition of Christian Fiction Friday brought to you by me and my lovely and talented co-host, Alana Terry! This is a chance for Christian authors to post short snippets from their works in progress! Easy and fun!

Smoke Mirrors FlatThis snippet is from the new suspense novella On the Ropes, which is part of a romantic suspense bundle that I’m doing with my co-host Alana Terry and six other authors! Smoke and Mirrors is currently on preorder for a May 20th release, and is 99 cents for a very limited time! Click here to get it for yourself!

She pulled her legs up and wrapped her arms around them. “Can’t sleep?”

A wry look crossed his face. “Signing my own death warrant has taken a bit of a toll on me.”

“Victor—”

He shook his head. “I am doing the right thing. I went about it the right way, and there’s a solid case now against everyone I know of in the family. I’ll likely be testifying for months at different trials.”

She studied his face in the faint light coming from a lamp inside the building, seeing a muscle tic in his jaw. “But?”

“But it’s my father. And there’s an emotional connection I didn’t expect to feel. Something I’m severing with every word I will speak on that stand tomorrow. It was one thing to talk about it privately, in the office of the FBI. It will be another to look at him and say the words.”

They sat in silence while Ruth digested what he said. Finally, she replied, “I can’t pretend to understand that. But I know that to follow Christ, sometimes we have to leave the dead to be buried by someone else. I think that is fitting for your circumstance.” She paused. “Have you ever tried to talk about God to your father?”

With a short bark of a laugh, he shook the water off his hand. “Once. He punched me in the jaw and told me to concentrate on winning my next fight and not some deity that had poisoned my mind. That was a couple of years ago.”

Remembering the few times she’d had personal conversations with Antoly Kovalev, she said, “I imagine that trying was a bit intimidating.”

Turning his head to look at her, his eyes reflected the weak lighting from inside the building. “There are so many things you couldn’t possibly imagine, Ruth. The Kovalevs are evil, and I long for the day I sign the papers to change my name.”

 

Now it’s your turn! Just link your Christian Fiction Friday in the comments! Here are the rules:

1. Christian Fiction Friday is a blog hop where authors post short (400-ish words or less) snippets from their current works in progress (not published pieces).

2. Keep it PG-13 or lower. No swearing, no sex scenes. If you have a particularly violent scene or deal with a heavy or controversial subject matter, please include a disclaimer at the beginning of your post.

Suggestions:

1. Visit at least some of the other Christian Fiction Friday authors each week and comment on their blogs.

2. Don’t offer critiques unless the author specifically asks for it in his or her post.

3. Please include this blurb at the end of your weekly post:

Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current Works in Progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman.
halleeLOGOspinefinal


I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
You would bless me if you added me to your Subscribe via any Reader feed reader or subscribed Subscribe via Email via email.
You can also become a fan on Become a Facebook Fan Facebook or follow me on Follow me on Twitter Twitter. I would love to see more of you!


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Christian Fiction Friday: April 29th

Welcome to this week’s edition of Christian Fiction Friday brought to you by me and my lovely and talented co-host, Alana Terry! This is a chance for Christian authors to post short snippets from their works in progress! Easy and fun!

Smoke Mirrors FlatThis snippet is from the new suspense novella On the Ropes, which is part of a romantic suspense bundle that I’m doing with my co-host Alana Terry and six other authors! Smoke and Mirrors is currently on preorder for a May 20th release, and is 99 cents for a very limited time! Click here to get it for yourself!

Mara ran the sweeper under the pulpit. For some reason, in the sanctity of this building, even without Major next to her, she never felt afraid, never felt like looking over her shoulder. As the song on her MP3 player changed to the next one, she looked out over the pews and smiled. She had loved every minute of working on this building and would miss it when she left one day.

As she wound the sweeper cord back in place, the side door opened and Brenda rushed in. Mara frowned and slipped the earbuds out of her ears. “What’s wrong? Is Jeremy okay?”

Brenda dashed up the steps to the podium. “Oh, Mara, thank God I found you.” She held out yesterday’s newspaper. “Jeremy told me that a reporter came and talked to him, but he didn’t tell me that he’d given her pictures, too!”

Her stomach turned to water and her pulse pounded in her neck painfully. She stared at a picture of her face taken while she tied the tank top onto Jeremy’s leg, right there on the front page of the lifestyle section of the Gainesville newspaper. How many thousands of people got that newspaper daily? How many online sources ran the headlines?

Brenda said something, but she couldn’t hear her through the roaring in her ears. The safety she had felt moments earlier vanished as if it had never existed. “I have to go,” she whispered, dropping the cord she clutched in her hand. Leaving her friend standing on the stage, she jumped down and ran down the aisle.

When she burst through the doors and into the hot Florida sunshine, she felt the world start spinning around her. “What to do, what to do, what to do?” she whispered over and over again. Seconds later, the phone in her hand vibrated, startling her so that she nearly dropped it. She recognized the number and answered, saying by way of a greeting, “Get me out of here!”

 

Now it’s your turn! Just link your Christian Fiction Friday in the comments! Here are the rules:

1. Christian Fiction Friday is a blog hop where authors post short (400-ish words or less) snippets from their current works in progress (not published pieces).

2. Keep it PG-13 or lower. No swearing, no sex scenes. If you have a particularly violent scene or deal with a heavy or controversial subject matter, please include a disclaimer at the beginning of your post.

Suggestions:

1. Visit at least some of the other Christian Fiction Friday authors each week and comment on their blogs.

2. Don’t offer critiques unless the author specifically asks for it in his or her post.

3. Please include this blurb at the end of your weekly post:

Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current Works in Progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman.
halleeLOGOspinefinal


I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
You would bless me if you added me to your Subscribe via any Reader feed reader or subscribed Subscribe via Email via email.
You can also become a fan on Become a Facebook Fan Facebook or follow me on Follow me on Twitter Twitter. I would love to see more of you!


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Christian Fiction Friday: April 22nd

Welcome to this week’s edition of Christian Fiction Friday brought to you by me and my lovely and talented co-host, Alana Terry! This is a chance for Christian authors to post short snippets from their works in progress! Easy and fun!

Smoke Mirrors FlatThis snippet is from the new suspense novella On the Ropes, which is part of a romantic suspense bundle that I’m doing with my co-host Alana Terry and six other authors! Smoke and Mirrors is currently on preorder for a May 20th release, and is 99 cents for a very limited time! Click here to get it for yourself!

Scanning all the faces, disappointment overtook her nervousness. “He’s not here.”“He’s been here every day for over a month. Of course he’s here.”

They made their way to the line. Ruth checked her watch again. She couldn’t afford to be late for rounds. She may have to skip coffee this morning.

“Hello.”

At the sound of his voice, her heart lurched in her chest. Turning, she spied Victor Kovalev standing behind her in the line. He must have entered the shop right behind her. He wasn’t much taller than her five-seven, with a lean build and dark hair that almost curled. Normally, she found herself getting lost in his rich brown eyes, but today, the purpling bruise and swollen left eye made her gasp. “What happened?”

“Wha—?” He stopped mid-word and gingerly touched his upper cheek. She could see the swollen bruising on his knuckles. “Oh, that. I had a fight last night.”

“You got into a fight?” Esther asked, frowning.

His eyebrows knit in a confused look, then he pulled the sports section from The Times out of his bag. On the front page, a color photo of a boxer in royal blue and bright red shorts punched another boxer wearing yellow and black shorts. Upon closer examination, she recognized Victor as the boxer in blue and red. “This is you?”

“It is.” He smiled a closed lip smile and took the paper back from her as a faint tinge of red covered his cheeks. “I thought you knew.”

“I don’t know much about boxing.” Despite social expectancies and personal space, despite the nervousness at even speaking to him this morning, the doctor in her took over and she took his chin in one hand and carefully but skillfully palpitated the area around his eye with her fingers. “Has a doctor seen this?”

He stood perfectly still while she examined him but grinned at her with a smile that had started to bare straight white teeth. His smile made her heart skip a beat. “Yes, ma’am. She just did.”

Flustered, she stepped away and gave her order at the counter. As soon as Esther and Victor ordered, they joined the throng waiting for their drinks. Esther gently nudged her and nodded toward Victor. Before she could talk herself out of it, she blurted, “Would you like to go to church with me tonight?”

They always met at this coffee shop, the one where they originally ran into each other, every morning at 6:30. She realized after the third meeting that he intentionally came to meet her, and very quickly started to look forward to it. He’d asked her out daily for about six weeks. Because her residency schedule proved so grueling, she had turned him down, but she always found time for church, and she so wanted to get to know him better.

“Church?” His smile started to fade and his eyebrows lowered suspiciously.

Her stomach fell. He looked so taken aback, so confused. What had she done? “You have an objection to church?”

“I don’t know.” Instantly, his face transformed back into a grin that lit up the whole room. “Why don’t we find out? What time?”

 

Now it’s your turn! Just link your Christian Fiction Friday in the comments! Here are the rules:

1. Christian Fiction Friday is a blog hop where authors post short (400-ish words or less) snippets from their current works in progress (not published pieces).

2. Keep it PG-13 or lower. No swearing, no sex scenes. If you have a particularly violent scene or deal with a heavy or controversial subject matter, please include a disclaimer at the beginning of your post.

Suggestions:

1. Visit at least some of the other Christian Fiction Friday authors each week and comment on their blogs.

2. Don’t offer critiques unless the author specifically asks for it in his or her post.

3. Please include this blurb at the end of your weekly post:

Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current Works in Progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman.
halleeLOGOspinefinal


I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
You would bless me if you added me to your Subscribe via any Reader feed reader or subscribed Subscribe via Email via email.
You can also become a fan on Become a Facebook Fan Facebook or follow me on Follow me on Twitter Twitter. I would love to see more of you!


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