COTT: Anything for a Mystery by Cynthia Hickey

Stormi is delightful as the accident prone and bumbling wanna be
detective. What she lacks in skill she makes up for in nosiness. Add in the
sexy detective and a slightly nutty family and our lead character has her
hands full.
~Amazon reviewer


About the book:
Stormi Nelson, best-selling romance author, moved into her huge Victorian
house in the private community of Oak Meadows Estates. When her agent tells
her that her characters are becoming too cardboard and that she needs to
get out and mingle with people, she comes up with the idea of a
Neighborhood Watch Program. The only problem is … she’s the only member. On
her first night of patrol, she stumbles over a dead body, meets a hunky
detective, who happens to be her neighbor and clearly frustrated with her,
and her mother, sister, niece and nephew arrive to shake up Stormi’s
peaceful life. As she is immersed ever deeper into the mystery surrounding
a neighbor’s murder, she decides to change writing tactics and write a
romantic mystery based on her experiences. What follows is a frolicking
good time as Stormi finds herself the nosiest neighbor of them all. Can she
find the killer before she becomes the next victim?


A note from the author, Cynthia Hickey:

“Why I Became a Writer”

Funny how this roller-coaster business can tug on someone until it’s either
write or die. A bit dramatic, yes, but that’s how most writers feel.

I started reading at the young age of five and became hooked on words and
stories. Being a shy child, I would make up stories to act out, but it
wasn’t until Junior High when an English teacher assigned a

writing project that I realized how much I loved putting the story to
paper. I began writing short stories in which my younger brother was
featured as the hero, or I’d write a romance featuring me and whatever boy
I had a crush on at the time.

When I turned fifteen, I wrote my first “real story” about terrorists
taking over a high school. Funny how I have now seen that very plot made
into a movie. I couldn’t be stopped after that first “book.” I kept
writing, keeping my stories in a notebook, which I unfortunately lost when
I married and moved out of state. Then, life happened and I didn’t take up
writing again until the age of forty when my children were older and I had
time to devote to it.

In 2007, I published my first cozy mystery, Fudge-Laced Felonies,
with Barbour Publishing and haven’t slowed down since. Forty books later,
and several genres added to the mix, I have no intentions of stopping this
crazy career any time soon. It’s as much a part of me as breathing.

About the author:
Multi-published and Amazon Best-Selling author Cynthia Hickey had three
cozy mysteries and two novellas published through Barbour Publishing. She
had several historical romances release in 2013, 2014, 2015 through
Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents, and has sold half a million copies of her
works. She is active on FB, twitter, and Goodreads, and is a contributor to
Cozy Mystery Magazine blog and Suspense Sisters blog. She and her husband
run the small press, Forget Me Not Romances, which includes some of the
CBA’s well-known authors. She lives in Arizona with her husband, one of
their seven children, two dogs, two cats, three box turtles, and two
Sulcata tortoises. She has seven grandchildren who keep her busy and tell
everyone they know that “Nana is a writer”. Visit her website at

Surrender Story: Lesson from My Lazy Susan

Not long after moving into what we’re calling our forever home, I noticed our Lazy Susan (how did it get that name, anyway?) wouldn’t rotate anymore. When I tried, it felt forced, and I’ve been known to break things when I make it work.

So I left it alone.

During a year my husband was buried in work and didn’t realize we had a Lazy Susan.

Or that it needed fixing.

Months went by and we hosted a dinner as part of missions week at our church. One of our friends saw the Lazy Susan and asked if she could fix it. She figured out the problem, repaired it, and even had matching stain she bought earlier that day to finish the project.

Yes, my friends are awesome.

Thing is, in the months after the repair, I’ve noticed something.

We often treat the Lazy Susan like she’s still broken.

She can swivel to a closed door position, but for whatever reason, habit perhaps, we leave her open at pantry eye level. All that work our friend did and we don’t even recognize the repair.


lazy susan photo: shophousepics899.jpg

I was living like a broken Lazy Susan. Photo by mikeinkcmo/photobucket

There are times I live like my Lazy Susan.

You’ve probably seen it, too.

God’s done an amazing work in my life and there is freedom. True freedom that I found as I let go of toxic things in and around me. But I creep back into that pit because I’ve stayed there a long time and I think it’s safe. The repair is new and I’m not used to it. So I live like I’m still broken.

This post has been on my mind for awhile and I’ve held off, waiting for God to give me the green light. This message is to encourage at least one person who is living like they are still broken.

You are the repaired Lazy Susan. Don’t be afraid to swivel and live like the healing/healed person you are. The broken place you are used to is called a stronghold, and I was taught that place seems safe because you’ve been there so long. It’s a lie. Get out of that pit. That’s not your address anymore.

I promise to work on closing the door and allowing the Lazy Susan to perform as she can, completely restored.

I pray you do the same.

Surrender Story: Friends and Enemies by Terri Wangard

Julie’s Note:
My heart is to change the world through fiction, by creating characters who ultimately surrender whatever issue is holding them back from complete freedom in Christ. I love the premise behind Friends and Enemies by Terri Wangard because there is definitely surrender in this story. I hope you enjoy the interview Terri shares with the heroine of the story, Heidi.


Friends and Enemies by Terri Wangard.

Friends and Enemies by Terri Wangard.

Heidi, was there any aspect of being at war that you did not anticipate?


The loneliness, or maybe I should say the aloneness. In Germany, we didn’t know who we could trust. We may have been good friends with our neighbors before, but during the Third Reich, we had to keep our opinions to ourselves. If our views did not agree with Nazi doctrine (and they didn’t), we could be denounced as traitors. If someone held a grudge against you, a trumped up charge might land you in a concentration camp with a good possibility of torture and death. Even relatives could betray you, intentionally or not. That happened to me.


What was your reaction when Hitler declared war on the United States?


Despair. Feeling sick to my stomach. Knowing for sure we’d lose the war. Being at war against England was bad enough. I didn’t know anyone there. But the United States! I knew a lot of Americans. And my generation bore the brunt of the fighting. That meant boys I’d gone to school with would be fighting us. Being at war with the U.S. meant no more mail service, so I lost touch with my American friends.


Why were you sure Germany would lose after the United States entered the war?


Common sense. Remember, I lived in the U.S. for three years. It’s a huge country, capable of massive manufacturing. America had already been helping the Allies with war material. Now they would work that much harder to supply themselves.


Hitler fancied himself a military genius, but his actions proved otherwise. When England refused to capitulate during the Battle of Britain, he quit the attack and declared war on Russia. If he couldn’t subdue one enemy, why should he think he could subdue two? Insanity. Pure insanity.


Your American friends urged you to return to the U.S. when the war began in 1939. Do you regret staying in Germany?


That’s a hard question. Life would have been easier for me. But what about my family? The children I helped care for? I believe caring for the children was my calling. I was able to do some good. What would I have done in the U.S., where I would have been an enemy alien? And if I had gone, what would have happened to Paul when he needed help?


Speaking of Paul, what about Erich? Do you think of him often?


Oh dear! I do wonder what life would be like if he still lived. I often think of how he died. That was so stupid of his commander. Diving their damaged submarine was suicidal. Why did he dive? He had no right to condemn his men like that. If he couldn’t face surrender, at least he could have allowed the crew to get off before he submerged. I would like to know what happened before they dove. Did Erich object? Did anyone? That still bothers me.


The Allies took command of the air over Germany in the years of the war. What was that like to see them overhead?


I was awestruck. That sounds horrible for a German to say, but it’s true. Those formations of bombers looked invincible marching across the sky. Oh, I saw some come down. A lot of them were shot down. But they kept coming. Since I spent much of the war in the countryside, I never experienced their bombing. Only one time was I under the bombs, and that was a British night raid.


You live in the States now. What are your thoughts about your homeland?


Germany lies in ruins, and that hurts my heart. So much was beautiful, and so much good came from Germany. The Gutenberg Bible, great hymns of the church. Now all people think of are the death camps. I don’t understand how so many people could work at those camps, agree with what they were doing. It’s unfathomable. What happened to people’s faith in God? Had it been destroyed by the Great War and its aftermath?


My hope is Germany will rise from the rubble, and work for peace, not for conquest. That great men like Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer will lead people in the ways of God.

Christian Library Journal, and Church Libraries

About Friends and Enemies

World War II rages across Europe, particularly in Germany, claiming the life of Heidi Wetzel’s husband. In a bid to escape her grief and the frequent bombings of German cities, Heidi and her sister flee Hagen to a farm in the German countryside, where they help care for orphaned children. While there, Heidi comes across an American airman, Paul, with whom she spent time when her family was living in Milwaukee during her high school years. When Paul’s plane is shot down over Germany, his only thought is survival—until he hears God’s voice guiding him to his late wife’s friend.

Terri_editedTerri Wangard’s first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she is writing historical fiction, and won the 2013 Writers on the Storm contest and 2013 First Impressions, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. Her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, keeps her occupied as an associate editor.

Friends and Enemies:

COTT: Congratulations to Runaways by Brenda Poulos

Thanks to all of January’s wonderful authors!

Here’s what readers had to say:

All of these books look like so much fun!

When I first saw The Volk Advent by Kristen Wilks, I was intrigued by the combination of a teen trying to escape murder charges and a pack of wolves, and I like to read historical fiction because I can experience other cultures.

Cynthia Hickey is a wonderful author. Engaging characters with twists you don’t expect. I love her books!

Andrea Boeshars’ Seasons of Love—Love reading them.

Beth Wiseman just happens to be the best of the best! Her novels are outstanding at character and plot development
Runaways is a book you start and can’t put down.
Am so looking forward to reading Runaways by Brenda Poulos!!!
Congratulations Brenda Poulos on your new hit, Runaways: The Long Journey Home.
Excellent reading. Great job, Brenda
Introducing Our Winner Congratulations Brenda Poulos!

About the book:

No Mama. An abusive father. A hound dog for a best friend.

A victim of physical and emotional abuse at the hand of his father, Jake runs away following the most severe beating he’s ever endured. Leaving the only home he’s ever known in the backwoods of the Appalachian Mountains, he escapes into unknown territory with only his dog beside him. Jake and Hound face bitter cold and near starvation as they seek a new life–one free from fear, loneliness, and pain. And Father hunts Jake down with the very rifle he used to kill Sam and Mama.

Led by unseen forces. Protected by his dog. Jake experiences acceptance and unconditional love when he is befriended by a kindly older couple.

But, will he be able to put his past problems behind him and embrace a future made possible through the power of forgiveness?

Will he find a new life filled with hope for the future and learn to trust?

And when he is confronted with the biggest decision of his life, will he choose to run away, again, or face his father?

Runaways: The Long Journey Home is available on Amazon

From Brenda:

For years, I had a recurring dream…a boy leaving a wilderness cabin on a cold winter’s night. No coat. No shoes. Totally unprepared for life on his own. And yet, I knew he was desperate to get away.

I was compelled to find out who the boy was, what circumstances he was running away from, where he would go, and if he would survive…

At this point, the dream left off, and the story—Jake’s story—began to take shape.

I sat at my computer day after day for almost two years. Eyes closed, I wrote as I experienced the journey along with this determined and resilient ten-year-old boy.

Reviews for Runaways: The Long Journey Home

“Brenda Poulos should be a best-selling author! She is a masterful writer. Her ability to develop characters within the context of a compelling and spell-binding story is captivating. If you are looking for a fun read that will leave you wanting more, Runaways is a great selection. You’ll read this and find yourself recommending it to your friends.” ~by J. Akerson on Amazon

“Runaways is a book you won’t be able to put down. The writing style of Brenda Poulos will pull you in as if you’re a main part of the story. You will be on the edge of your seat in anticipation of what’s coming next. And I’d bet the emotions of the characters will be felt throughout and will touch your heart. Wow! Perhaps a top-rated movie in the future?” ~A+ by Jon Peterson on Amazon

“Brenda does a wonderful job developing characters you care about while driving a story that is compelling and inspirational. This is a must read for all people who are looking for a story for the soul.” ~by an Amazon customer

“I couldn’t put this book down! Engagingly written, authentic characters, pain, and grace all intermingle in a believable way. Poulos lit up my mind’s eye with her vivid imagery. I will definitely read more from this author.” ~by Kirsten Samuel on Amazon

Surrender Story: Jean Ann Williams and Her Healing Book

Julie’s note: Jean Ann Williams is my guest blogger today sharing her surrender story.  I think you will be encouraged and inspired. I was!

So many of my struggles with insecurity stem from my childhood when my mother began the decent into mental illness. As the eldest child and only ten years old, it fell to me to raise my six brothers and sisters. The youngest was a baby brother and newly born.  I became more overwhelmed as the months and years passed, but as I look back, and it wasn’t lost on me then either, God provided mentors. The mentors helped me on my journey of me being a child raising children.

You may wonder what happened to my dad. Dad was an alcoholic who chose to not deal with my mother’s problems. Actually, he only made them worse. But, to give him credit, my dad did recognize my hard work. He gave me my own room, where the other children had to share a huge bedroom upstairs. Then, when I became a teenager, my dad knocked out walls and made my room three times bigger.

It was something, but still not enough. I remember calling my neighbors more than once to help me with a sick or hurt child when my parents were gone or Mom locked herself in her room and Dad at work.

Fear, incompetence, guilt, they have been my battle. And now, at sixty-two, and with my debut book Just Claire, which released 1/7/16, I feel a bit of hope. Hope for others who read this book.

In writing Just Claire, I set out to tell a story to show young readers they are not alone with their sorrows. In the process of writing Just Claire, though, I was surprised when one day I no longer felt angry and shamed with my mother. This hole in my heart I felt Mom had left there was mending. How did this happen? Several critique partners told me Just Claire was my healing book. How neat is this? A double blessing.

Jean Ann Williams shares her surrender story.

Jean Ann Williams shares her surrender story.

ClaireLee’s life changes when she must take charge of her siblings after her mother becomes depressed from a difficult childbirth. Frightened by the way Mama sleeps too much and her crying spells during waking hours, ClaireLee just knows she’ll catch her illness like a cold or flu that hangs on through winter. ClaireLee finds comfort in the lies she tells herself and others in order to hide the truth about her erratic mother. Deciding she needs to re-invent herself, she sets out to impress a group of popular girls.

With her deception, ClaireLee weaves her way into the Lavender Girls Club, the most sophisticated girls in school. Though, her best friend Belinda will not be caught with the likes of such shallow puddles, ClaireLee ignores Belinda’s warnings the Lavenders cannot be trusted. ClaireLee drifts further from honesty, her friend, and a broken mother’s love, until one very public night at the yearly school awards ceremony. The spotlight is on her, and she finds her courage and faces the truth and then ClaireLee saves her mother’s life.

Downloads available at Amazon:

Barnes & Noble: williams/1123223218?ean=2940157880842


See the trailer:

Jean’s blog:


Author Facebook Page:



JacketPhotoJean 07 2015_editedAuthor Jean Ann Williams, the eldest in a large family, enjoys digging into her fascinating childhood to create stories for children. Having written over one hundred articles for children and adults, this is her first book. Jean Ann and her husband live on one acre where they raise a garden, goats, and chickens. Her favorite hobbies are hiking through the woods and practicing archery with her bow.

Book Review: If I Run by Terri Blackstock

If I Run by Terri Blackstock

If I Run by Terri Blackstock

Casey knows the truth.

But it won’t set her free.

Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

I’m a long time reader of Terri Blackstock’s work and IF I RUN takes a new direction. Written in first person present tense, it’s high on suspense and full of twist and turns. The point of view takes a little getting used to, but it truly builds the suspense.

If you like a true thrill ride where you can’t figure out the ending, give IF I RUN a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Terri Blackstock shares her thoughts about IF I RUN. Watch it here.

To purchase IF I RUN, click here.

I received IF I RUN from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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