Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mary Manners Sweet Treats

Well, today I have a really sweet treat for you with an interview with the one and only Mary Manners of the Sweet Treats series with White Rose Publishing. And yes, they really are sweet treats!

So Mary, welcome! It's lovely to have you here. I have just a few questions, then of course we'll sample some of your sweet treats!

1. How old were you when you first heard/felt God in your life? (I'll admit, I was in my teens and I pushed Him away - as well as the person who was witnessing to me...while I was at a "Christian retreat"! But praise God, He gave me another chance - 30 years later!)
I was in the sixth grade, and I had a wonderful Sunday School teacher, the father of a dear friend, who taught me so much about the Bible and God's love. I still remember him fondly.

That's wonderful! I love hearing about people who have stayed close to God all their lives. What a wonderful walk it's been, I'm sure!
2. So, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?

Oh, my...I would live somewhere flat and open and very, very grassy. I love open farmland, and I'm scared to death of heights. Funny for a city-girl who grew up among skyscrapers of Chicago, but very true. It seems to get worse as I age, so flat and open is perfect for me!

Ok - well you can have that flat, grassy land, but I need forests and mountains and beaches. LOL I want it all! (I guess that's why I stay in New England!)
3. When/where do you feel closest to God?
I feel closest to God in the early, pre-dawn hours when I sit on my back porch with a cup of coffee. There's something about the stillness of the air before the world comes awake that makes me feel the presence of God. I love those quiet times.

Sounds wonderful! I can definitely understand that!

3. Do you have multiple story ideas around, or do you write one in completion before you let another one intrude?
Oh, I have so many ideas and not enough hours in the day! The characters always talk to me (my husband says I shouldn't share that, but I think fellow writers and readers will understand). Sometimes a character barges in before I'm ready, so I jot down ideas and get back to them as soon as I can.

Oh I certainly understand about those characters. Mine write their own stories. I just type what they tell me to!

4. How long does it take you to write a story? For instance, how long have these 2 books taken, start to finish?
I usually write 3,000 to 4,000 words a day, and love the days when 6,000 words leap right onto the page. The Sweet Treats series took me about seven months to write, including edits. Writing is such a passion of mine, that I feel like I'm transported to another world when I'm in my writing bubble. Everything around me just fades away.

5. How many more stories are left to these Sweet Treats, and when can we expect them?
There are two more stories due in the Sweet Treats series. Tessa's Teacakes releases November 8th, and Mattie's Meltaways will debut January 27th, 2012.
6. Do you already have plans for what comes after this series?
Oh, yes! Look for my Lone Creek Ranch series in 2012. It's the continuing story of the Merrill brothers--Carson, Dalton, Nick and Tanner, and the women they fall in love with.

7. Just one more question, did anything in particular inspire the Sweet Treats series? a love of baking - growing up with a baker...just love bakeries...I actually DREAMED the Sweet Treats bakery series! I was working on a collection idea, and went to sleep one night with idea whirling through my head. That's when Kate, Grace. Tessa and Mattie were born, and Sweet Treats came to be. It's one of the coolest things that's ever happened to me!

Well thank you for chatting, Mary, now let's have a peek at those stories!

Broken dreams...shattered hearts...a special recipe...
Following the tragic, sudden death of her parents, Kate Spencer broke off her engagement from high school sweetheart Logan Daniels, just weeks before their wedding. She chose, instead, to remain in Mount Ridge, Tennessee to raise her younger sisters and help keep the family together. Now, with her sisters grown, she spends her days at family-owned Sweet Treats Bakery, hiding a wounded heart in the sweet confections she creates.
Logan Daniels left town when Kate broke his heart, but now he's come home to claim what he lost four years ago, and he won't stop until he gets what he came for...Kate's kisses.


“Gather yourself, Kate..."
The bell over the shop door jangled as Logan stepped inside. His gaze found Kate, and when he
smiled, heat flared in her belly. To her utter dismay, her insides melted into a puddle of hot paraffin. She felt paralyzed as his gaze wavered between her and Mattie.
“Hello, Mattie.” His deep voice was as smooth as warm caramel.
“Logan.” Mattie’s gaze held his as she drew an apron from the box beneath the counter and tied it around her waist.
Kate knew by the way her sister twisted and re‐twisted the apron strings that Logan’s
sudden appearance had Mattie just as nervous, but Mattie seemed to dismiss the anxiety as she turned toward the stairs that led to the storage room. She waggled her fingers at Kate. “It’s…well…you two have a nice little chat. I’ll…be upstairs.”

Kates Kisses
5 chocolate covered cherry kisses Review
Ooh, real chocolate covered cherries!!! Ms. Manners has a very devious mind. These sweet treats will work their way into anyone’s heart!
The pain of the past hovers over Logan and Kat, both, and the way forward doesn’t seem clear to either one. But Logan continues to push forward, knowing he is still in love with Kate and determined to find a way.
Kate tries to hold back, not willing to risk the pain of losing Logan again. But where the heart’s concerned, the mind isn’t always in control.
This is another Sweet Treat winner. Great story! You don’t want to miss it!

Brent Peterson returns to Mount Ridge, Tennessee with a single goal-to win back Grace Spencer. He's loved her since kindergarten, and should have told her how he felt, but Dan Turner swooped in and stole Grace away before Brent had the chance. Now Grace is a widow with a young son, and while it's been three years since her husband's death, Brent isn't sure he should make his feelings known.
When Brent comes around the family bakery, Grace longs to restore their friendship, but the thin gold wedding band on her finger-and memories of Dan-stand between them.
Can Brent's gentle patience coax Grace to let go of her memories...and the ring, or is it time for Brent to move on alone, and leave Mount Ridge forever?
Brent couldn’t pull his gaze from Grace as she spooned lemon‐scented batter into a greased bread pan. Blonde hair spilled over her neck in a sassy blunt cut that kissed her shoulders as she moved gracefully between the counter and oven. Blue eyes sparkled in sunlight that cascaded through the front window of the bakery, but a hint of sadness lurked beneath. Brent knew she still thought of Dan, the husband she’d lost in a construction accident three years ago—Adam’s

And he aimed to change that. A pre‐dawn ride through cool mountain air in the Cove had cleared cobwebs from his head and strengthened his resolve. As the sun had risen over the horizon to kiss a clear blue morning sky, a need intensified that could no longer be denied.

He wanted Grace.
This is one story worthy of a 5 cupcake review!
Oh my goodness, with a simple sweet lemon cake, Ms. Manners demonstrates the deep love from a mother to her child. Grace has traveled a hard road and is happy with the life of mother and baker extraordinaire. When Brent sneaks into her heart by showing his love for her little boy, Adam, her heart melts like the icing on her cakes.
This is such a sweet read! The agony Grace feels, over choices past and present, just makes you want to cry and cheer as this story unrolls.
I just can't wait for the next two stories! Don't forget, Tessa's Teacakes releases November 8th, and Mattie's Meltaways will debut January 27th, 2012.
Come on over and enjoy a taste of the Sweet Treat Series.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Christian Romances - This week, Daniella

This wonderful story was brought to my attention a short while ago, and even though it's not a new release, I just had to bring some light to it. If you haven't read this one yet, then you really ought to!

Daniella by
JoAnn Carter

When Harrison Beckman meets his father’s secretary, Daniella Duncan, she’s shy and self-conscious. Harrison, however, is determined to get to know her better. Before he gets to do that a rival comes along to steal Dani’s heart as quickly and thoroughly as the company’s contracts, which have been disappearing.

As the mystery unfolds, Harrison has to fight for the woman he loves, even though this means crossing swords with his father and his determined adversary. Will Harrison be able to find the love that could await them or will it be too late?

Does this story reflect "you" in any way, JoAnn?

Oh yeah, a
s the plot develops, and Dani comes to the realization God loves her the way he made her. I had to be honest and ask myself, "Do I believe that?" It's easy for me to nod my head while I'm writing this, but it's another story when I'm standing in one of those dinky changing rooms try to find a bathing suit for the summer!

Accepting myself is sometimes is a daily struggle. In the same way this story has challenged me, as you experience Dani growth reading this book, it's my prayer that it will draw you closer to God as well.

Thank you, JoAnn, Let's take a peek at the story!


Dani almost made it to the door. The voice she had been admiring all morning called out, “Ah...excuse me, miss. Could you wait just a moment, please?”

Dani felt frozen in time. Being the only “miss” in the room, it would be very difficult to pretend he wasn’t addressing her. Should she? Or even better yet, could she?

She pasted a stiff smile on her face and reluctantly turned around. “Yes?”

Harrison approached her in his quiet manner. “I’d like a copy of the minutes as soon as possible, please. Would you bring them to me when you’re finished?”

Dani nodded. “Sure thing.” She didn’t wait to see if he needed anything else; she simply fled from the room toward the stairway. Forget the elevator. She didn’t want to chance being detained any longer. Besides, she reasoned to herself, perhaps if I used the stairs more often, I’d be in better shape.

When Dani reached the safety of her office, she closed the door firmly behind her and leaned against it, more thankful than ever for a space of her own.


4 1/2 Plumes!

Ms. Carter’s depiction of “real” people in extenuating circumstances is very well done.

Danielle, “Dani”, is so much a picture of an everyday person that I couldn’t help but understand her every motivation. And her head over heels infatuation with her boss’s son is what nightmares and nervous anxiety are made of.

With a theme of industrial espionage running behind the developing romance, you’re never sure what might happen next.

Great story, Ms. Carter. I look forward to reading many more.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Christian Romances - This week, Severed Hearts

Julie Blanton's dream is realized when shy Johnny Michaels all but professes his love. But, when he enlists two days later without so much as a goodbye, her world crashes. Johnny has loved Julie since high school. But before he can muster the courage to ask for a real date, he overhears words that cut to the core. Humiliation drives him to make a rash decision. Will it cost him Julie's love?

Here's a little excerpt:

Friday afternoon at one-thirty-five, Julie wiped down tables, still
waiting for Johnny's answer. He hadn't even broached the subject. Sheer torture! She must know today; the picnic was tomorrow. She stretched her neck to check the clock again. Five minutes before his scheduled departure.

Johnny plopped his empty bottle on the counter. A small belch escaped. "Excuse me."

A couple people browsed around inside the store. Was he waiting for them to leave? He fixed his eyes on her. Should she bring up the subject?

"Have you thought about tomorrow...the picnic?"

He stood to pull keys from his pants pocket, then started fidgeting with them. "Ye-eah."

"Yeah, what? Yeah, you've thought about it, or yeah, you will come?" Say yes!

"Yeah, I'll come."

Julie bit her bottom lip to squelch a squeal. Butterflies danced inside her stomach. "Then you don't have to work tomorrow?"

He studied his scuffed work boots. "Nope. No Saturdays yet. We've stayed ahead of schedule thus far." He lifted his head. "What time does the shindig start?"

"Four. We'll eat first so we'll have plenty of time to play ball before dark."

Johnny shoved his hands in his jean pockets, and glanced toward the
clock. "Do you... Would you—?"

"I'd love to ride with you! Pick me up at a quarter 'til four."

4 hearts review for this one!
So very sweet! A wonderful lesson we could all use in listening to God!

Severed Hearts by Laurean Brooks

What a lovely story! Severed Hearts started a little slow for me, but once you get a feel for the characters, it grabs you by the heart and just sweeps you along.

The doubts and fears both Julie and Johnny go through are so true of most of our own insecurities. It’s easy to doubt what we feel, what we see, what we think, when we try to guide our own lives without God to lead us.

The message here is sweet and clear and God’s love shines through it all.

Very nice, Ms. Brooks. I very much enjoyed Severed Hearts!

Thursday, September 15, 2011



Afraid of losing the only person left who loves her, Faith follows her widowed mother-in-law to a new home. But God has plans for Faith...plans that include a new love, hope, and a future.

Can Faith open her bruised and hurting heart to allow a loving God and a loving man back in?

5 roses Review:

What a beautiful, contemporary retelling of the biblical story of Ruth.

The gentleness and innocence of the developing relationship between Ben and Faith is so heartwarming. And their shared heartache and loss rings so true. What a wonderful touch, Ms. Stahel has of wringing emotion from her characters, drawing the reader in.

I loved the innocence of their courtship, and the way the relationship mirrors the blooming of a garden.

This story brought tears to my eyes several times. I love it when a story touches me that deeply - especially in so few pages!

What a lovely story! I'll be sure to look for more of her writing. Well done!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dancing with Fireworks

I wandered a little off the beaten path when I heard there was a publisher looking for stories about dancing. No, I'm not a dancer, never been a dancer, never wished I was a dancer (ok, so maybe I wished it...), never knew any professional dancers...but it just so happens that I wrote a short story to enter in a contest last year - about a dancer. Of course, I never entered it because by the time I finished writing I decided I wanted to use it elsewhere - and so, it sat in my file of story ideas waiting to be written or finished. See, I thought I might make it into a full length story - some day. And then I saw the call for an anthology about dancers and it nudged my memory.

So here it is!

Dances with Fireworks is a collection of stories celebrating romance and the love of dance.

Here's a little blurb from Dance of a Lifetime - my short in this anthology:

She should have left right after the funeral. But she couldn’t bear to think of dancing without Chris. He should have been there practicing with her, facing her at every turn, laughing at her foibles, rubbing the aches out of her feet when they were done.

“You need to take some time off,” Cody answered as he pulled her close again and rubbed her back. “He was your brother! They can’t expect you to step out on a stage just a month later.”

“You’ve heard the mantra,” she said softly as she eased away from him. “The show must go on.”

“So let it go on without you! Don’t you have an understudy? Obviously if they’re ready to start rehearsals they must have one for Chris’ part.”

“Of course they do. But if I don’t dance in this show I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back.”

“They wouldn’t blackball you because of this!”

She shook her head and looked away then back. “Not them, me. I don’t know if I’ll be able to… to start over without him. If I don’t get right back out there, I don’t know if I’ll ever find the courage.”

Cody stared into her eyes for a moment then slid his hands down her arms and sat back on his heels. “I saw you together in The Nutcracker last Christmas.”

Her head shot up. “Why didn’t you let me know you were coming, that you were there? How …when …?”

He touched her cheek and pushed a strand of her long blond hair behind her ear. “I knew you were in it. I’ve known about every show you’ve been in since you left.”


He stopped stroking her hair and looked straight into her soul. “Because I loved you.”