Please join me in welcoming author Milou Koenings as we celebrate the pre-release of her new sweet romance novel, I Love You Three.
A former Marine. A single mom. Two broken people.
Mac’s struggling to adjust to civilian life after the death in combat of his best friend. When a teaching job opens up in the small town where his friend used to work in the summers, Mac takes it as a sign and moves to Green Pines, hoping to find refuge from his demons.
For Julie, there’s no refuge from night feedings, a crazy mom, an ex-mother-in-law and an overdrawn bank account. She’s struggling to build a better life for herself and her baby and the only thing she knows is she’s not falling for any guy again.
There’s only one problem. You never know when love will knock you off your feet.
About the Author:
Milou Koenings is an award-winning USA Today bestselling author who writes romance because, like chocolate, stories with happy endings bring joy to the world and so make it a better place.
Breakfast has always been one of my favorite meals of the day. As a kid, I enjoyed eating toast cups (a hole cut out of bread and an egg fried in the middle), cereal, or Cream of Wheat during the week. And I looked forward to the weekend because often my dad would make a big breakfast complete with scrambled or fried eggs, bacon and/or sausage, biscuits or pancakes, and gravy.
Even now, I could take some hashbrowns and an omelette any day. I will say that I rarely have time to make anything in the mornings during the week. But there's something about trying to eat healthy that results in sudden cravings for these big breakfasts. lol
Over the last month and a half, I've tried a variety of approaches to breakfast. For a while, I was skipping them entirely in favor of saving more of my 1,200 calories for lunch or dinner. Which really wasn't too big of a deal because we typically eat lunch just after eleven, and I tried to drink several glasses of water during that time.
But I soon found that, if I tried to get any walking in during the morning, not eating wasn't going to cut it. So I needed some calories to get me going.
My Typical Breakfast Choices
Yes, these are super simple. But making sure I have these things on hand makes a huge difference. I tend to get bored with food easily, so feeling like I have a variety is important.
As a side note, I don't eat the cereal with milk. I like pouring it into a cup and munching on it over time. My grandma gave my husband and I a set of Fiesta ware when we got married. I love the fact that the mugs hold exactly 1 serving of juice or cereal and the little tea cups hold 1/2 serving.
Rice Krispies - 130 calories for 1 1/4 cups
When you're munching on cereal, Rice Krispies can last for a while. If I feel like snacking in the morning, I go with this choice. These have the least amount of sugar, too, which is great.
Multi-Grain Cheerios - 110 calories for 1 cup
These don't have much sugar in them, either. But they are lightly sweetened, are still easy to snack on, but not quite as hard to eat as the Rice Krispies.
Raisin Bran Crunch - 190 calories for 1 cup
This is my favorite cereal. It definitely has more sugar than the other two mentioned, but it's very filling and there's something about the different textures that makes it the most satisfying to eat as well.
Simply Orange Juice - 110 calories for 8 oz.
I've always loved having juice or chocolate milk or something like with breakfast. I don't drink chocolate milk anymore, but we always have orange juice in the fridge.
Cliff Bar - Cool Mint Chocolate - 250 calories for 1 bar
I usually reserve these for days where I know I'll be super busy and having lunch late. For me, that's usually Mondays. I cut this bar into two and eat half of it first thing (for 125 calories) and it helps boost my day. This particular variety of Cliff Bar contains both protein and caffeine. I have also been known to replace lunch with one of these if necessary, though that's pretty rare.
Scrambled Eggs with Bell Peppers and Onions - Approximately 110 calories
At the beginning of the month, I try to buy a bell pepper or two and an onion, chop them up, and put them in a baggy in the freezer. That way, if I have a craving for a nice breakfast, I can stir a few in with a scrambled egg. That's usually enough to make me feel satisfied and go on with my day.
Mix and Match
The beauty about the choices above is that I can mix and match them. It's not unusual for me to have 1/2 cup of Raisin Bran Crunch along with 4 oz. of orange juice. Couple that with several glasses of water and I'm rarely hungry until lunch.
Or, if I'm going to be home all morning and I'm feeling the urge to snack, I'll have 1/2 serving of Rice Krispies, try to get my two miles of walking in (I walk indoors), drink a glass of water, and have 1/2 serving of Raisin Bran Crunch if I'm still hungry.
Do you have a favorite low-calorie breakfast? Share below - I'd love to hear from you!
The grand prize giveaway for our A Second Chance at Romance event has been extended! Click below to enter for your chance to win these five paperback books. The giveaway is open through Friday, January 27th.
Visit the participating authors to learn more about their books:
Stacy Claflin - https://facebook.com/stacy.claflin.author
Crystal Walton - https://facebook.com/crystalwaltonwrites
Krista Noorman - https://facebook.com/bykristanoorman
Sarah Monzon - https://facebook.com/sarahmonzonwrites
Melanie Snitker - https://facebook.com/melaniedsnitker
Second Chances. If we're honest, they're not only something we want. They're something we need ... most every day. A fresh start. A do-over. A chance to learn from our mistakes and seize the opportunities we missed in the past.
There's something intrinsically beautiful and redemptive about seeing that theme come to life on the pages of a compelling romance, isn't there? With the start of a brand new year, we can't think of a better time to celebrate that theme than a sale and giveaway of some of our favorite second chance romances.
Sales, Gift Cards, and Giveaways!
Each day, Jan 16-20th, one author will be highlighting a clean romance we've put on sale for you this week. Be sure to visit each author's website and Facebook page to catch every deal, see what each author's giving away, and enter the grand giveaway of five signed paperbacks!
Day 1: Melanie Snitker - Join her at https://facebook.com/melaniedsnitker
Day 2: Stacy Claflin - Join her at https://facebook.com/stacy.claflin.author
Day 3: Crystal Walton - Join her at https://facebook.com/crystalwaltonwrites
Day 4: Krista Noorman - Join her at https://facebook.com/bykristanoorman
Day 5: Sarah Monzon - Join her at https://facebook.com/sarahmonzonwrites
Don't miss out on the giveaways each author will be offering. And enter the grand giveaway below for your chance to take home five signed paperbacks!
It Takes Courage to Accept a Second Chance
I love the idea of second chances. I'm not just talking about romance, but life in general. Goodness knows, there have been instances a second chance was offered to me when it wasn't deserved. But isn't that the beauty of a it? Second chances give us an opportunity to right wrongs and make things better the second time around.
I think that's why the story in Finding Courage is one of my favorites. Duke and Avalon had one of those whirlwind courtships, falling in love shortly after they first met. But as it usually does, real life set in quickly once they were married. Both of them made a number of mistakes that kept building until a chasm big enough to swallow them both threatened their relationship.
Sometimes, it's easier to walk away than it is to face what's happened. But good things rarely come without effort. I like to think that, when we put ourselves out there and truly grab hold of a second chance, we'll see blessings, even if they aren't what we expected them to be.
It's Giveaway Time!
Has the opportunity for a second chance - whether extended by you or offered to you - changed your life? Comment on this blog post below and you'll be entered for a chance to with a $5.00 Amazon gift card. A winner will be chosen randomly Saturday morning, January 21st, and contacted by e-mail.
Finding Courage - Only $0.99
It takes courage to ask for a second chance…even more to extend one.
For Duke and Avalon McNeil, it was love at first sight. Married within months of meeting, their feet hardly touched the ground until the reality of their haste hit home with startling clarity.
Duke's heart shattered when Avalon vanished for nearly three weeks, fleeing their arguments and misunderstandings. Now she's back. He's happy she's home and safe, but he isn't ready to risk everything again when their bond was so easily broken.
Avalon's relieved to be home. She's desperate to make peace between them, but returns with a secret. She can't reveal anything to Duke until she proves to him she came back to restore their relationship.
As outside pressure continues to threaten Duke and Avalon's fragile foundation, they must find the strength to prove to each other their marriage is worth fighting for.
If you'd like to read Duke and Avalon's story, Finding Courage
is on sale for only $0.99 now through January 20th.
Make sure you don't miss any of the giveaways. Head over to Stacy Claflin's Facebook page next!
Grand Prize Giveaway
Love clean romances? For a chance to win five paperbacks from authors Stacy Clafin, Sarah Monzon, Krista Noorman, Melanie Snitker, and Crystal Walton, join their author e-mail lists below and be the first to hear about the latest inside scoops, giveaways, and behind the scenes looks at the sweet romances you love.
I shared last week about my goal to eat better and get healthier in 2017. My husband and I have had five weeks to try different things to find out what works best for us. So I thought I'd share a few a few tips that we've found helpful.
Drink a lot of water. Now, for someone like me, it's way easier said than done. But when I focus on drinking water, I'm not nearly as hungry. I also have found that it helps to take large drinks instead of little sips of water. The glass I currently use can hold 16 oz. I try to drink 1/3 to 1/2 of it at a time.
Don't drink your calories. This was another hard one for me. Before December of last year, I loved drinking juices and teas. In Finding Joy, I mention that Chelsea is addicted to blueberry sweet tea and let me tell you, I can say the stuff is good from experience lol. Now, the flavored Texas Teas I did drink are a whole lot better for me than sodas, but still. When you're counting calories and eating 1200 or less per day, I try to keep the sugar drinks to a bare minimum.
Eat your big meal in the middle of the day. We started doing this recently and it's been a great change in our routine for more than one reason. Previously, we'd eat super light all day, knowing that the bulk of our calories would come with the evening meal. That meant we were often hungry through the day and then would end dinner, have quite a few extra calories left over, and then eat a snack afterwards. Now, when we eat our heaviest meal at lunch time, we have way more energy for getting through the day, plus we can balance our calories better. Not only that, but it gives our bodies a chance to digest all of that food during the active part of our day.
Don't eat after 8 p.m. This is another one we've just started doing. We're trying our best to only drink water after eight so that we don't go to bed with full bellies. I'm sleeping better this way because I'm more comfortable, too. Before December, I had a lot of issues with acid reflux at night. I haven't had a single episode of it since we started eating better.
Don't skip breakfast. I typically only eat about 110 calories in the morning, but I find I feel a lot better going into the day when I do.
Have a healthy snack. This is something we do every day. Around 3 or 3:30 we have a snack that's usually 150-200 calories to help us get through the afternoon.
It's okay to have something sweet. Really, it is! But it's all in moderation. We usually try to keep track of our calories and then, after the evening meal, we'll have something sweet. It might be candy, some dried fruit, or slightly sweetened cereal. Most often, it's some form of chocolate. And whatever we eat, it's to cap off the 1200 calories we've got to work with for the day. It also gives us something to look forward to food-wise and a great way to end the day.
I hope you find some of this helpful! Eating better and managing calories is definitely an on-going adventure!
Please join me in welcoming Faith Blum as she reveals the cover for her new series. These books are Christian Western Coming of Age and if you've read any of Faith's other books, it sounds like you'll enjoy seeing some of those characters again.
About the Series
Through God’s leading, four orphans grow up to be important members of their communities.
The Orphans of the West series is a continuation of the stories of 4 orphans that were introduced in either a Hymns of the West novel or novella and goes through each orphans life.
Savior, Like a Shepherd is about Titus Hine who was introduced in Blessed Assurance (Hymns of the West Novellas #6) and how he must take care of his sister and brother as winter approaches, all while not being allowed to work anywhere.
All the Way is about Henry Salisbury, the only orphan in the series not directly introduced in a previous book, but it has other characters you will recognize from the books about the Brookings family.
He Hideth My Soul is also attached to the Brookings family and Otis Miller as Otis finds out that his grandfather left him a large inheritance and he can finally follow his dream.
He Leadeth Me takes up Gage Wilhelm’s story. Gage was introduced in I Love Thee (Hymns of the West Novellas #1) and tells how he is given the deed to his farm and told to go back to his farm. Gage gladly accepts only to have someone show up claiming his long-dead father owed another man a large sum of money and now there’s 10 years of interest added on.
About the Author
Faith Blum is a 20-something author of multiple books in various genres. She loves to write, read, play piano, knit, crochet, sew, watch movies, and play games with her family. She lives in Wisconsin with her family on a small family farm where they raise goats, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and have 2 dogs and a varying number of cats.
Faith’s goal in her writing is to encourage Christians in their walk with Christ. If you enjoyed this book, go to her website to sign up for her New Releases Newsletter so you can get an email when her next book in the series comes out. You will also find links to her other Social Media sites on her website. She loves to hear from her readers, so feel free to contact her.
Now comes the fun part, the cover reveal! First, here is the cover I am revealing to you:
Savior, Like a Shepherd
When an illegitimate young man is orphaned, he must take care of his sister and brother as winter approaches, all while not being allowed to work anywhere.
To gain access to the secret web page so you can see the other three covers, go here to find options for Facebook post, tweet, Instagram, and email wording. Each option shares the pre-order link to the first book in the Orphans of the West series, Savior, Like a Shepherd. In each post is a word in ALL CAPS. That word is the case sensitive password to gain access to the covers.
My husband and I have both been unhappy with our weight, energy levels, and health for a while now. We've tried to get better about what we eat and we have made improvements in that area over the last few years. But we knew it would take a major change to our lifestyle that we just never quite implemented.
At the beginning of December, we decided we needed to do something and putting it off clearly wasn't getting us anywhere.
Time to Make a Change
This weekend, it will be four weeks since we made the commitment to eat healthy, exercise, and lose weight. We've got goals for ourselves in 2017 and we're well on our way to hitting those goals.
Personally, I'm counting calories each day (staying at 1,200 or less) and making a point to walk at least 3 miles. Some days, I walk as many as 5. They're almost always done inside while I'm reading or watching a TV program, but I'm getting them in! I'm also making some consistent progress towards my target weight.
Not Easy, But Worth It
We've eliminated sodas, most processed sugars, and bread from our diet. Was it easy? Not at all. In fact, the second week, I'm pretty sure I was in a perma-state of grumpiness.
But I almost immediately noticed my constant bloating was gone. The aching in my joints disappeared, too. Four weeks in, I feel SO much better. I've got more energy, I can think more clearly, and I'm enjoying the dried fruits, fresh veggies, and the meat we're eating. It takes less to fill me up and I don't finish my meal feeling heavy.
A nice side benefit? When we do get a small treat (like a cookie or some candy), it actually is a treat because we're only getting it once in a while.
I had a soda for the first time the other day, and I couldn't even drink it. It was so sweet, it was unpleasant. I was thrilled and the need to have another disappeared. Considering I wanted a Coke every day, this is a big accomplisment for me.
Why Am I Sharing This?
Getting healthy and losing weight was something we meant to do for years and just never got around to because it's inconvenient. We didn't make it a priority.
I think that's something that applies to all of us, and not just in the realm of losing weight. It's so easy to procrastinate our way through life, pushing things off until we forget about them.
I'm referring to everything from losing weight, writing that book you've always wanted to, learning how to knit, organizing your photo albums, or getting the education you need to pursue your dream job.
It's Not Too Late
I'm serious about this. It's never too late to stop procrastinating. One of the quotes that struck me the most was this: "A year from now, you may wish you had started today." - Karen Lamb.
Isn't that the truth? Sheesh, if I'd started focusing on my own health a year ago, I might be at my target weight now. If I'd kept up with my photo albums way back when, I wouldn't have fourteen years of catching up to do now (And yes, I just ordered the prints for the years 2002-2004).
We can't do everything, but we can do something.
And that's the key. I want to encourage you to choose one thing you've put on the back burner and make it a priority this year. Even baby steps forward are still progress. And if you start now, who knows how far you'll have gone in a year!
Are you looking for a new book to read? Check out these new releases from authors involved with American Christian Fiction Writers. You're sure to find a new favorite!
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.
Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley by Valerie Comer, Mary Jane Hathaway, Elizabeth Maddrey, Danica Favorite, Lee Tobin McClain and Annalisa Daughety -- Is love possible for a makeshift mom and a handsome widower? What about a bed and breakfast owner and the farmer next door? A curvy jilted bride and a mysterious, handsome chef? Then there's the real estate consultant and the grandson of her elderly client; a high-powered lawyer and a woman farmer, and a formerly engaged couple. Can love make a difference in their lives? Exploring food, friends, and family in Arcadia Valley, each of these novellas kicks off a three-book series, intertwined with the works of the other authors. This collection is only the beginning of your adventure! (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Restoring Love by Jennifer Slattery -- Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. As Mitch struggles to keep his business afloat, and Angela works to correct the mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends discover they have something unexpected in common--a young mom fighting to give her children a better life after her husband's incarceration. While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back from redemption and true love? (Contemporary Romance from New Hope Publishers)
Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering -- Drew and Madeline Farthering visit the Yorkshire moor to catch a killer and solve a mystery that involves an old feud, a new rivalry and a huge, spectral hound that may or may not be a harbinger of death. (Historical Mystery from Bethany House [Baker])
A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander -- A master violinist trained in Vienna, Rebekah Carrington manages to get an audition at the newly-formed Nashville Philharmonic. But the conductor--determined to leave his mark on the world of classical music--bows to public opinion. Women are "far too fragile and frail" for the rigors of an orchestra, he says, and Rebekah's hopes are swiftly dashed. Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville's new orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse--and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head--he must finish composing his symphony before the new opera hall opens. But far more pressing, he must finish it for his dying father, who inspired his love of music. Then Tate's ailment worsens. Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how do you win back a woman's trust when you've robbed her of her dream? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])
The American Heiress Brides Collection by Lisa Carter, Mary Eileen Davis, Susanne Dietze, Anita Mae Draper, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Lisa Karon Richardson, Lynette Sowell and Kimberley Woodhouse -- Meet nine young women in America between 1880 and 1911 who have been blessed by fortunes made in gold, silver, industry, ranching, and banking. But when it comes to love, each woman struggles to find true love within a society where "first comes money, second comes marriage." What kind of man can they trust with their greatest treasure—their hearts? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Two Suitors for Anna by Molly Jebber -- In 1903 Ohio, a young Amish woman must choose between the life she has long planned for with her beloved Noah Schwartz, and a new, very different future… But Noah has a surprise for Anna: once they're married, he wants them to travel and live in other communities. Anna, who loves her home and her job at the quilt shop, is distraught when he takes her hesitation as rejection—and leaves. Daniel Bontrager's arrival adds to Anna's confusion. Since taking over his late brother's farm, the handsome roofer has offered friendship and gentle attentions. Yet the pull of first love is strong and deep, especially when Noah returns. Through each revelation, Anna must search her faith for guidance, knowing she is choosing not just a husband, but a life to nurture and to share… (Historical Romance from Kensington)
My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas by Erica Vetsch -- Journey to Fort Bliss, Texas, where a battle of emotions versus ideals is about to be waged. When a high-steppin' eastern fashion artist, Priscilla Hutchens, swoops down on the fort to gain custody of her twin niece and nephew she is met with resistance by their uncle, post surgeon Major Elliot Ryder, who thinks he knows what is best for them. Who will win the battle? Or will a truce be called for the sake of love and family? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Dead Run by Jodie Bailey -- Kristin James's morning run turns deadly when she's attacked by a stranger who's after something her deceased soldier brother stole overseas. Her neighbor Sergeant First Class Lucas Murphy steps in to help her and won't let her brush the attack under the rug. He'll do everything he can to keep Kristin alive, but he can't tell her that he's under orders to investigate her link to her brother's misdeeds. Kristin has no idea what the bad guy is after and doesn't want to believe that her brother wasn't on the straight and narrow. But as evidence against him piles up, can they catch the criminals without becoming the next casualties? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley -- It's been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister's sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn't actually do it, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, the person who confessed to the crime is Will's cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in one week--including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [Baker])
Undercover Protector by Elizabeth Goddard -- Undercover at a tiger sanctuary, Special Agent Grayson Wilde is convinced the owner's involved in a wildlife trafficking ring--until someone tries to kill her. Gemma's determined to rebuild the tiger oasis she lost when her family died, but someone wants her out of the way, and she's starting to wonder if her parents' and uncle's deaths were really accidental. Grayson says he'll do anything to protect Gemma, but she can't shake the feeling that her alluring new volunteer might not be all that he seems. With a vicious criminal closing in, though, she has to trust Grayson…because she won't survive without him. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Buried Memories by <a href="http://www.fictionfinder.com/author/detail/1294">Carol J. Post</a> -- A soldier hero suffering from PTSD and a young woman struggling to overcome a traumatic childhood fight for their lives and find healing together. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Still Life by Dani Pettrey -- Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright--and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart. Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead--and the photographer insists he didn't take the shot. Worse, her friend can't be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])
Fatal Accusation by Rachel Dylan -- Attorney Olivia Murray hopes her life in Windy Ridge will get back to normal after a hard-fought trial. But she soon finds out that the forces of evil have not given up. An embezzling scandal rocks the community church to its core. The New Age groups are ready to declare victory when a high-profile prosecutor files criminal charges against the local pastor. However, Olivia is not willing to give up on the community she's come to love. She takes on the defense pro bono knowing it could destroy her career, but it's a case she is called to defend. The battle will be fierce, but she's not fighting it alone. Her friend and fellow attorney Grant Baxter is by her side. Olivia must use all the tools in her arsenal to combat those who seek to destroy the believers in the community. If Olivia can't prove the pastor's innocence, more than her career is on the line. The entire community of Windy Ridge could fall to the forces of darkness. (Supernatural Thriller, Independently Published)