Sunday, July 6, 2014

Women At Risk - Helping to Unveil a Hidden Evil

As Many As 200 Million Women Are Missing!

Young Girl Sold into Marriage!

Child Abducted and Trafficked into Sexual Slavery!

Female Baby Killed and No One Protests! 

Do these sound like the lurid headlines from some supermarket tabloid or maybe the trailer for some futuristic new movie? Unfortunately, truth is much worse than fiction.

Recently, I stopped with friends to browse at a display of beautiful scarves, jewelry and handmade accessories being sold in the lobby of one of the office building in downtown Grand Rapids. All the items being offered where handmade and absolutely beautiful.

I was initially attracted to the gorgeous, fringed scarves (scarves are one of my new passions) then my eye was caught by a collection of lovely note cards on handmade paper with dainty crocheted medallions affixed to the front.  Since I love crochetwork, especially such delicate examples as these that appeared to have been made with something no thicker than sewing thread, I picked up one of the cards to exam it.

I read the note cards had been handmade in Kosovo, a nation torn apart by war. Many war widows there are living in extreme poverty, trying to eke out an existence for their families and themselves through their handcrafts. The delicate medallions on the card were some of their work.

Then I noticed the red brochure behind the cards. It talked about WAR International, the organization sponsoring this sale. WAR - the acronym for Women At Risk International - is a Grand Rapids based organization dedicated to giving voice to women around the globe, who are affected by slavery, exploitation, abuse, natural disasters and war, and offer protection and training to them in the name of the Lord.

The headlines listed at the top of this article are just the tip of the problem. Globally, there is a hidden genocide taking place against women. According to the US State Department, about 800,000 people around the world are illegally trafficked every year. A staggering 50% of these are children! Of the women taken, 70% are "sold into slavery, chained to beds of horror."

The U.N. Secretary General says: 114 to 200 million women are "demographically missing" due to infanticide, dowry deaths, domestic violence, and all manner of risks.

This isn't only happening in India, Pakistan, underdeveloped countries, etc. Within the United States, human trafficking has become the fastest growing segment of organized crime, according to the FBI.

Babies are sold into slavery for as little as $100.

Then there's the lucrative black market for human organs. Sudanese Human Rights lawyers declare going in for what should be a routine physical is often a death trap if tests reveal the patient has healthy organs that can be "harvested."

What can be done? Women At Risk is working to not only unveil this hidden genocide, but also to offer safe harbor to women, where they teach women not only the skills to help them become independent, but lovingly help restore their battered and destroyed self-image. A typical rescue costs about $200, and WAR raises funds for their work through sales of handcrafted articles at their boutiques and online.

If you'd like to hear more, visit their website where you can read more about their work and see some of the beautiful articles made by the women.

Please keep these people in your prayers, too. They need them!

Thanks -

PS - I bought the the note cards and the scarf.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

What an Incredible Month!

Happy Easter, friends (or Happy Passover or Happy Weekend if you prefer),

It's been a busy month around here. 
The first weekend of the month, the first book I co-wrote with Patricia Kiyono, The Calico Heart, was featured at eReader News Today and went to best seller status in two categories on Amazon thanks to wonderful readers like you. Patty and I are very grateful to everyone who bought or read the book. This is also the book that was nominated for the 2013 RONE award for Best Contemporary Romance. Thanks so much for your support. If you haven't read it yet, you can get a copy thru April 30 for just 99 cents. (The buy links can be found on the My Books tab.) 

On April 8, the second book in the series, The Friendship Star Quilt was released by Astraea Press. Patty and I have been blog-hopping like crazy talking to readers, doing promo, and giving away a lot of fun prizes, including books and gift cards to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. 

Now, here it is Easter weekend, and my house has been sorely neglected all month. I'm afraid I may have to do as a poster on Facebook suggests...

What do you think?

Have a wonderful weekend all, and keep smiling!
~ Stephanie

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Welcome, Wendy Knight!

Last July, I introduced you to the wonderful novella, Feudlings in Sight, by #1 best-selling author, Wendy Knight. Since then, Wendy, who has also authored the best-selling young adult series, Riders of Paradesos, has grown the Fate on Fire series to include: Feudlings, Feudlings in Flames,and Feudlings in Smoke.

Each of these young adult stories have enough action, romance, and plot twists to also engage adult readers, but unlike some YA on the book stands, you can rest assured this series is wholesome and profanity-free. In fact you can safely recommend Wendy's books to anyone - teen, best friend, even your prim Aunt Martha.

After I read a few of the Feudling novels, I found I was curious about the background of the series. What set off a war that lasted more than 300 years? How did it all begin? Were you wondering, too?

Well, I am delighted to share some good news. Astraea Press has just released the newest book in Wendy's series this week. Spark of a Feudling, is the prequel story you and I have been waiting to read. And isn't the cover gorgeous?

Here's a tidbit about the story:

Hate can start a war, but a shattered heart can fuel it for centuries.

Everything Ada does is wrong. She’s the daughter of a Duke but she isn’t proper or formal. She prefers the company of her servants—particularly Christian, the boy she’s loved since she was six years old, and his sister, Charity, Ada’s very best friend in the entire world.

Ada isn’t just the daughter of a Duke. No, she’s the daughter of one of the most powerful Edren sorcerers alive, and no matter how strong she is, it isn’t strong enough. Ada will give up almost everything to earn her father’s pride.
Christian has loved Ada since the day his mother became her 
governess. But two societies are determined to keep them apart—the aristocracy who say a groom will never be good enough for a Duke’s beautiful daughter, and the sorcerers who say a Carules and an Edren can never be together. Christian will do anything to make Ada his—even drive himself to madness.

When Ada suspects her father of hurting Charity and Christian in his quest for knowledge, she is torn between loyalty to him, and a fierce determination to protect them. The division tears her soul and breaks her heart.

The pieces of her broken heart will start a war that can only be stopped by the death of the most powerful warrior alive by the hand of the boy who loves her.

The book also includes a bonus excerpt of her new story Feudlings in Peace, so you can join Ari, Shane, Ada, Christian and everyone they love as they chase their happily ever after. 

Spark of a Feudling (and all the Fate on Fire series) is available for download at your favorite eBook seller online: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Astraea Press's website.  

About the Author:
Wendy Knight is the bestselling author of the young adult series Fate on Fire and Riders of Paradesos. 

She was born and raised in Utah by a wonderful family who spoiled her rotten because she was the baby. Now she spends her time driving her husband crazy with her many eccentricities (no water after five, terror when faced with a live phone call, no touching the knives…you get the idea). 

Among the things she enjoys is chasing her three adorable kids, playing tennis, watching football, reading, and hiking. Camping is also big—her family is slowly working toward a goal of seeing all the National Parks in the United States.

You can usually find Wendy with at least one Pepsi nearby, wearing ridiculously high heels for whatever the occasion. And if everything works out just right, Wendy will also be writing. 

You can catch up with Wendy at her blog, or on Facebook, Twitter or on Instagram

Happy Reading,

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Perfect Summer - A Perfect Read on a Chilly Day

Today, I'm pleased to interview, Karen King, author of Perfect Storm, on my blog

Hi, Karen, welcome! Can you tell my readers a little about your background? 
Well, I write children books for all ages and in all genres; story books, picture books, plays, joke books and non-fiction. I've had over one hundred children’s books published.

I've also written for many children's magazines, including Sindy, Barbie, Winnie the Pooh, and Thomas the Tank Engine

Perfect Summer is my first YA, and it was runner up in the Red Telephone books YA Novel 2011 competition. 

That's a wonderful accomplishment, Karen! Congratulations. With all those books and articles out there, I'm sure people ask you all the time about your writing schedule. Do you write in the morning, evening, all day?
I'm most productive in the morning. Often, I get out of bed and start writing right away. I'm full of ideas in the morning. 

How did you get started writing?
I've always written. I had my first poem published when I was 11, but I started my writing career with Jackie magazine, writing articles and photo stories. 

When it comes to fiction, are you a Plotter or are you what's known as a "Pantser"?
That depends on whether I'm writing to a commission or not.

If I'm commissioned, I have to plot as I have to send a synopsis and the first couple of chapters to my editor. If I'm not writing to a commission, I plot some at first-- so I know the basic outline of my story -- but once I get going, I write "by the seat of my pants".

What's one of the funniest things people have asked you?
When I visit schools, the kids always ask me whether I'm rich. 

How do you reply to something like that?
I usually say "No, I'm really poor, so please go and buy some of my books!"

Good move! Would you tell my readers a little about your book Perfect Summer?
Imagine growing up in a society so obsessed with perfection that the government gives people grants for plastic surgery.

Fifteen-year old Morgan can't help being a bit envious of her best friend Summer. Summer is beautiful and rich, her father is a top plastic surgeon and her mother is a beauty consultant with a celebrity client list. Summer's life seems so effortlessly perfect. Whereas Morgan isn't so rich or beautiful and her little brother, Josh, has Down's syndrome - which, according to the Ministry and society in general, is a crime. 

When Josh is kidnapped and the authorities aren't interested in finding him, Morgan and Summer decide to investigate. They, along with another teenager, Jamie, whose sister, Holly, has also been kidnapped, uncover a sinister plot involving the kidnapping of disabled children and find themselves in terrible danger, too. 

Can they find Josh and Holly before it's too late?

Do you have a sample you can share with us?
Yes, here's one from the book's Prologue.

They were on their fourth game of poker. The air was tense; they played in silence, speaking only when they had to.

The burly man glanced at the five cards in his hand, his expression unreadable. “I’ll see you.” He took a drag of his cigarette and waited.

The woman sitting next to him studied her hand of cards and sighed. “I’m folding.” She placed the cards face down on the table, crossed her arms and sat back in her chair.

They both watched the bald man on the other side of the table. He looked at his cards and frowned. The burly man took another drag of his cigarette and sent a spiral of thick smoke into the air. Then a shrill ring broke through the silence, making them all jump. The burly man grabbed his nanophone, and the others waited as he flicked it open. The air was electric with suspense.

“Yes,” he said brusquely. He was silent as he listened, then replied, “We will leave immediately.” He switched the phone off, threw his cards down and stood up. “It’s on,” he said, scooping up the handful of coins in the middle of the table and putting them, and the phone, in his pocket.“Let’s get going.”

The woman left her cards and followed him. They both hurried outside to a dark blue van. The man climbed into the driving seat, the woman sat beside him. She took a slip of paper out of her pocket and keyed an address into the E--Nav. “We’ll be there in a couple of hours,” she said.

“How old’s this one?” the man asked.

 “Three,” the woman replied.

“Shouldn’t be too difficult then.” The man started up the van and they set off.

That sounds quite intriguing, Karen. Where can readers get a copy of the book?
They can buy it for their Kindle at Amazon or they can get it in Nook format at Barnes & Noble or they can buy it in paperback at either place.

If you're interested in finding out more about Karen and her writing, you can visit her at:
Karen's website, Her Author Page on Facebook,  at Goodreads, or  catch up with her on Twitter @karen_king

Friday, December 6, 2013

My Favorite Things

I'm a big fan of The Sound of Music. A really big fan.

I mean, I got engaged during the wedding scene of the original movie then later had my daughter sing the role of Mother Abbess in a stage production, so I clearly have pretty strong feelings about the show and its cast. Carrie Underwood and Stephen Moyer definitely did not fit my image of a proper cast.

Don't get me wrong, I had nothing against Carrie or Stephen. In fact, I took my daughter and son-in-law to see Carrie when she performed in concert here. I also like Stephen. He makes a wonderful vampire leader on Blood Ties. However, when I heard these two were cast as leads, all I could envision was Southern-fried "Jesus Take The Wheel" meets Louisiana vampire.

Boy, was I wrong!

Carrie Underwood pulled off the role of Maria with maturity, style, and barely a twinge of an accent, and Stephen Moyer owned the role of Captain Von Trapp. Who knew he could sing like that? Wow. The rest of the cast was just as amazing. The seven Von Trapp children were wonderful in their roles, and Christian Borle made a delightful Max. Audra McDonald as the Mother Abbess blew me away with her singing. What an incredible voice she has.

All in all, it was a fantastic three hours of entertainment tonight, and I have now added this show to my official list of Favorite Things!

~ Stephanie

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wendy Knight's Feudlings in Flames

I'm very excited today to talk to you about the latest book from the lovely and talented Wendy Knight. 

Feudlings in Flames is Book Two in the Fate on Fire series, and it looks like it will be as just as exciting of a read as the initial book. Ms. Knight introduced Ari and Shane to us in Feudlings, and this book continues their story. 

Although the Feudlings books are targeted to the teen reader, don't let that stop you from checking them out. Readers of all ages have turned the series into Best Sellers at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other eBook retailers. 

Let's take a peek at Feudlings in Flames, shall we? 

If you're like me, the front cover attracts you to a book (the boots and nail polish got my attention immediately) then you turn it over to read the back. 

I'll virtually turn this one over so we can read the back blurb.

"Ari thought being in love with her prophesied nemesis sucked. But being responsible for her best friend's kidnapping? It sucks worse.

Ari and Shane thought they’d beaten Fate and ended the three-hundred year war plaguing their people. They thought love had won. But they were so, so wrong.

Instead of graduating high school like the normals, they’re in a battle to save Charity – Shane’s cousin, Ari's best friend, and the seer who might hold the key to ending the war for good. To do that, they’re forced to accept help from a boy they aren’t even sure they can trust. He’s powerful and knows spells even Ari’s never heard of, but he’s also secretive and has a past he’s determined to keep hidden . Add to that the fact that he has his sights set on Ari, and Shane would rather do without his help.

Ari has bigger problems than mysterious boys and their strange powers. The powerful Edren Family is hunting her brother, and she can't very well save him or Charity while they’re constantly being attacked by her own people. To stop the raids, she has to take the fight to them. But if she starts hunting the family that raised her, what kind of monster will she be? 

Fate still waits for the death of one by the hand of the other."

Whoa! Sounds like Ari has her work cut out for her in this story. Let's find out a bit more and read an excerpt, shall we?

        "No no, Hunter, it curves this way." Ari stood back, watching with a frown, and then jumped back in. "Imagine in your mind what you want the spell to do. Tie your emotions to your spells."
          Shane watched her guide Hunter and tried again on his own. "Close, Shane, but like this," Ari reached out, holding his hand as she led him through the motion. He felt the flames racing through his blood react to her touch and sparks flew from his fingers, igniting the spell. It hung, burning, in the air, a bright blue curlicue thing. "Perfect," she whispered, still holding on to his hand.
            "Maybe, but does it work?" Tristan's voice was flat and uninterested, but Shane could hear the animosity running under the words.
          "We don't have any targets set out. He can't test it." Ari shook her head, and still holding Shane's hand, made a quick swiping motion through the spell, dissipating it.     "Try again." She let go of his hand and stepped back, watching expectantly.
          Shane tried, once, twice, and three times. He couldn't get it quite right, but neither could Hunter, which made him feel better, and Tristan wasn't even trying.
          "It's okay if you can't do it, Shane. There are a lot of other powerful spells she uses that will be much easier for you to master," Will said.
          Ari vehemently shook her head. "No. He can do it. Just give him a minute!"
Shane kept his attention focused on the spell in front of him, but he couldn't stop his grin.
          Ari believed in him.
          He burned the spell into the air again, trying to replicate the one Ari had drawn, but it fizzled into a mass of smoke. The spell had to ignite to actually do anything. He groaned in frustration, tipping his head sideways to look at Ari. "What am I doing wrong?"
          She bit her lip, studying him for several seconds. "When you did it the first time, what were you thinking?" 
          Shane paused, dropping his hand that was still poised in the air. "Umm… I was thinking we were gonna die and I had seen you throw that spell so I knew it was possible. It just happened."

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm intrigued.  I definitely want this one.  You can get a copy, too, at:

About the Author -
Wendy Knight was born and raised in Utah by a wonderful family, who spoiled her rotten because she was the baby. Now she spends her time driving her husband crazy with her many eccentricities (no water after five, terror when faced with a live phone call, etcetera, etcetera). She also enjoys chasing her three adorable kids, playing tennis, watching football, reading, and hiking. Camping is also big: her family is slowly working toward a goal of seeing all the National Parks in the U.S.

You can usually find her with at least one Pepsi nearby, wearing ridiculously high heels for whatever the occasion may be. And if everything works out just right, she will also be writing.

Twitter: @wjk8099

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New from Iris Blobel!

 New Beginnings
by Iris Blobel

Please share the good news by "Click to Tweet"
To believe in new beginnings is to trust in tomorrow

Twenty-two-year-old Sophie Levesque has been guardian to eight-year-old sister Mia since their mother’s death a few years ago. Luck comes their way when they inherit a small house in Hobart. Problem is, though, they don’t know or have even heard of Clara Bellinger, the testator, and Sophie is afraid it’s all been a mistake.
As Mia settles well into her new school and life in general, Sophie is not only occupied by her search of what connected her to Clara, but also her new studies and the two men, who suddenly have become part of her daily life - Mark O’Connor, the lawyer representing Clara’s estate, and Zach, the hunk from across the road.
Other online bookstores still to come.
Chapter One

Sophie stared at the attorney, waiting for some answers. She and her sister, Mia, had been quietly sitting in Mr. O’Connor’s office for more than half an hour, and had learnt about the details of their inheritance.


"Clara Catherine Bellinger."

"Who is she?" Mia asked.

Startled by the subtle sound of the clock chiming across the road, Sophie’s gaze turned to the window, where she saw the post office building across the road. It looked impressive and old. Surely, an old place like this would have its own ghosts — after all, Hobart was renowned for its lively spirits.

Her younger sister’s gentle touch on her arm reminded her she hadn’t answered the question, yet. "I wouldn’t have a clue." Sophie shrugged and focused her attention back on Mr. O’Connor. Although hearing his words, she still found it hard to comprehend. Here she was in this old office, furnished with heavy antique oak furniture, the curtains in a pretty shade of aubergine, and the carpet beneath her shoes thick and warm in a matching shade.

"I believe she was a distant relative of yours. I’m afraid I don’t have any further details," he replied.

Sophie arched an eyebrow in disbelief. Was he serious? What kind of lawyer was he? Sure, Tasmania was at the very end of Australia, but wouldn’t they have the same education? With a slight shrug of her shoulder, she asked, "Why not?"

He stared at her. "Pardon me?"

Sitting up straight, she repeated, "Why not? Why aren’t there any further details?"

He looked uneasy, but she didn’t care. She needed to know. Sophie had received a call from the lawyer a week earlier, and he’d told her about an

inheritance. He’d given her details on where to pick up tickets to Hobart. Some legality, he had said. She needed to come in and sign documents for the transfer of ownership.

"Ms. Bellinger was one of the partner’s clients. I was only given the details shortly after the client’s death."

Sophie drew in her lips. Her eyes darted over to the window as she took a few deep breaths, inwardly calming herself. Nothing had ever been easy in her life. "Why isn’t the partner here?"

He took a deep breath. "Retired."
As she pondered on that for a moment, she began to think about what life could be like with this inheritance. Different. Better. Another sigh escaped as she returned her gaze to the man behind the desk. "You can’t just leave your assets to just anybody, can you?"

"Miss Lever—"

"Levesque," she helped him.

Their eyes met.

"Are you refusing the bequest?" he asked hesitantly, and she clearly noticed how one of his eyebrows arched upward.

Staring blankly with her mouth open, she could feel the panic running through her veins with every thump of her erratic heartbeat. An uncomfortable silence fell over them for a moment. Then she quickly said, "No. No, of course not. We’re accepting." She turned to look at her younger sister. "We’re actually looking forward to seeing it."

And with one swift movement, he stood and went to a little cupboard near the window and retrieved a bunch of keys. "Would you like me to take you there?"

Still feeling that rush within her, Sophie took Mia’s hand and inclined her head in answer. "Is it far?" Her voice sounded tired. Even to herself. It had been a long day already. She stood and thinking how tired she was, Sophie placed her arm around Mia, who was probably exhausted.

"No, not at all. Five to ten minute drive, I’d say."
"I still don’t understand. Why us?" Sophie asked quietly, meeting his gaze and, for the first time, actually taking in his icy-blue eyes. He was very attractive. Too attractive for a boring lawyer. His face was tanned by wind and sun, and there always seemed to be a hint of a smile on his face. His blond curling hair was cut short. Her gaze fixed back on his mouth. Blushing, she quickly looked away.

The attorney turned to them. He scratched the back of his head. "Ma’am, what I know is that both of you are in the will. What I know is that I was supposed to fly you down here to officially read you the will. What I know is that I’m supposed to hand over the keys to you, and to let you know that your expenses are covered for the next twenty-four months. I did not know Ms. Bellinger, as one of the retired partners wrote up the will. I do not know who she was or in which way she was connected to you. I assumed she was a distant relative."

Sophie took her sister’s hand as she thought about his last comment. Distant relative? Her mother would have at least mentioned her once. She sighed and tried to understand, not the circumstances that had brought her there, but the fact that the attorney just didn’t know. "Oh well, let’s go then."

He pinched his nose with his thumb and index finger and took a deep breath. "Okay. Look, Miss Lever—"

"Levesque," Sophie helped him again. This time somewhat more firmly.

Running his thumb over his eyebrow, he stepped closer, but not so close as to be intimidating. "I’m sorry. It’s been one extraordinary week," he said with his voice just above a whisper. "Once I get back I’ll check with the partners here to see whether anybody knows more about it."
One extraordinary week? His remark irked her. In fact it was downright annoying. Holding Mia even closer to her side, she lifted her finger and pointed at him. "No offence, Mr. O’Connor, but it has been quite a week for us as well, and I was prepared to answer all your questions. I have one simple question, and you don’t know. Wouldn’t there be something in the file?" Sophie was a kind person.

Kindness was her middle name, but she wouldn’t have got that far in life if she hadn’t watched some of those nasty actresses on television and copied them. And the stare. Sophie met his surprised frown dead-on.

He frowned and seemed taken aback by her words. "No offence taken." And then he let out a deep breath. "You’re right. I apologise. As I said, I’ll find out details and let you know."

"Thank you, Mr. O’Connor," she replied as she blew out a breath.

"What about our stuff?" Mia whispered to Sophie.

Sophie moved her head to look down at her sister, but before she had a chance to say anything, he beat her to it. "What stuff?" he asked as he opened the door.

"Considering what we inherited here, we brought all our things," Sophie explained without looking at him.

The attorney stopped in his tracks. "All, as in all your clothes?"

Sophie’s eyes met his. She emitted a small sigh, but tried to keep her composure. It was something she had learnt over the last few years. Standing straight, she corrected him. "All, as in all our belongings."

They stepped outside the building and followed Mr. O’Connor with their suitcases. Two teenage boys walked past them, eager to get the attention of some girls across the road. Aware of the attention, the girls covered their mouths with their hands and broke into giggles. Sophie’s stomach churned. So many things she had missed out on in life. But it was going to be better from now on, she reminded herself, and straightened up as she followed Mr. O’Connor.