23 November 2014

Interview with Sandra Ardoin

Author Sandra Ardoin

Sandra, welcome to Overcoming With God.  We appreciate your willingness to share your testimony of overcoming with our readers.  
Thanks so much for having me, Carrie. What inspiring articles you run on your blog! 

Would you tell us about the most difficult thing in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help? Answer:  
God has blessed my life more than I deserve. That makes me nervous, because the Bible says we won’t be tempted beyond what we can handle. So, at times, I wonder how much trouble He thinks I’m unable to deal with, and maybe my faith isn’t strong enough. 
Even so, we all have difficulties and I’ve had my share. There was a period of about eleven years when I stopped attending church—pretty much the whole decade of my twenties. It wasn’t because I stopped believing or was mad at God about something. I was lazy. I missed a Sunday, then another, and another. Before I knew it, I was out of the habit of going, and living to please the Lord wasn’t at the top of my to-do list. 
I’d get nudges from the Holy Spirit that I would acknowledge, then go on about my merry way—until the moment God actually spoke to me as if He stood behind me in flesh and blood. 
I was about to make an important phone call when He said, “Don’t do it. I have something better for you.” Wow! You don’t ignore a voice that strong. Soon after, He opened up an opportunity that took me to a small town and a good church. In the end, that opportunity restored my relationship with Him … and led to meeting my husband.
Some people think they can worship without attending church services, which is true. But we all get busy. I think what they should ask is, “Will I eventually distance myself from God by ignoring a formal time to worship and the fellowship of other believers?”

Disability friendliness: Is this latest release available in audio format or do you have any other works available on audio?  Do your e-books have audio capability? Do you have any in large print?  
My publisher, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, offers a number of their books in audio format. At this time, I’m not sure whether or not The Yuletide Angel will be turned into an audio book, but you’ll find what they presently offer here. As for large print, the novella will be in e-book format (as well as print), so the font size can be changed. 
The Yuletide Angel by Sandra Ardoin

In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?  
It would be difficult to do any such situation justice in a little over a hundred pages, however, my hero faces the challenge of forgiving a brother whose fondness for alcohol led him to commit an act of betrayal.  A big part of the plot touches on alcoholism and the damage it can inflict on families. 
This problem is also a large part of the story in the follow-up novel, A Reluctant Melody (working title), which revolves around the mission of the brother mentioned above. It releases in January 2016.

THE YULETIDE ANGEL BACK COVER COPY:
It's Christmastime in 1890s Meadowmead, and someone is venturing out at night to leave packages at the homes of the needy. Dubbed The Yuletide Angel, no one knows the identity of this mysterious benefactor.

No one, except Hugh Barnes, a confirmed bachelor who finds himself drawn to the outwardly shy but inwardly bold Violet Madison, a young woman who risks her safety to help others.

When Violet confesses her fear of eviction from her childhood home, Hugh longs to rescue her. His good intentions are thwarted, however, when Hugh's estranged brother shows up in town ... and in Violet's company.

But Violet faces an even bigger threat. A phantom figure lurks in the shadows, prepared to clip the wings of The Yuletide Angel.


BIO and LINKS:
Sandra Ardoin is a multi-published author of short fiction. A fan of old westerns growing up, it’s only natural that she sets stories in the days of the horse and buggy, as she did with her newly-released Christmas novella, The Yuletide Angel. She’s the married mother of a young adult and lives in North Carolina. 
Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads. Check out her Pinterest board for The Yuletide Angel. Sign up for her newsletter

Giveaway: Ebook copy of Sandy's new Amazon bestselling Christmas novella!

21 November 2014

Christmas Traditions Series Bake Off Party



Welcome to the Christmas Traditions Bake Off Party!!!

We're celebrating online on Facebook and also over here on the Overcoming With God blog! Post your recipes online (click here) and leave a comment here on the blog to enter for giveaways!

In The Fruitcake Challenge, Tom Jeffries challenges Josephine Christy to make a fruitcake as good as his mother's and he'll marry her.

Do you remember as a young adult or earlier even, learning that your mother's recipes were not the "only" correct way to prepare a certain food item?  My husband, then my 22-year-old boyfriend, invited a bunch of people to his apartment to watch a football game and enjoy some chili that he made, using his mother's, and grandmother's, recipe.  I got my bowl full. Except that it had something weird in it--Spaghettioes!  I pointed that out to Jeffrey and asked why he'd added them to the chili. His response, "because that is how you make it"!!!  The rest of his guests also got their chili. Soon Jeff got his eyes opened to the fact that traditional chili does not have Spaghettioes floating around in it! But the thing was--to him, that was the "right" way. I'm guessing his grandmother added those to get her grandchildren more interested in eating the chili and I think that was pretty clever!

Growing up, fruitcakes were a holiday tradition. My mom made this expensive treat as a gift. And it IS expensive to make. People don't think about that. Instead they bemoan the horrible abused fruitcakes they've had over the years--fruitcakes that weren't prepared properly or were not baked according to the tastes of the recipients. There is no "one" true fruitcake--a point I tried to make in my novella. There may be one that was "classic" for its time and made according to the tastes of that generation but it doesn't make it the end all and be all for fruitcake baking.  For instance, some of the spices used in previous centuries are far too heavy for today's tastes.

Every country seems to have its own version of a fruited cake. My German-American father-in-law favors the Christmas stollen made in the Chicago bakeries. The Victorians especially seemed to enjoy adding fruit either to a cake or as a side accompaniment to cakes.

Mrs. Jeffries, Tom's mother, in The Fruitcake Challenge, loves pound cake, as does her family. She's used her generations old colonial pound cake recipe to which, every year, she adds whatever dried fruits she has available and whatever nuts she can find--preferably walnuts.  So Jo, in her efforts to recreate Tom's favorite recipe hasn't considered that Mrs. Jeffries doesn't prepare a traditional spicy fruitcake. And of course Tom is little help.

One recipe for pound cake is "Million Dollar Pound Cake" recipe from Southern Living (click here.) However, I envisioned Cordelia Jeffries using an old colonial recipe for pound cake which was simply: 1 pound of flour, 1 pound of eggs, 1 pound of sugar, and 1 pound of butter. There was no leavening--air was whipped into the batter by beating the eggs.  This makes a large amount of cake.  Mrs. Jeffries added whatever fruits and nuts she had in her larder come Christmastime. So one year it may be currents, dried cherries, walnuts, and pecans. Another year it could have been other types of fruits and nuts. She believed in being economical and her son just knew he loved what his mother made!   Here poor Jo, in my story, and her father, have worn themselves out with recipes while Mrs. Jeffries' was so very simple! It did, however, require a great deal of mixing. I'd like to think all the ladies in the lumber camp kitchen took turns helping Jo. Even with a hand held rotary beater this would have taken a long time.

My friend, Linda Rash, shared this pound cake recipe with me and is our first winner of a paperback copy of The Fruitcake Challenge! Linda received the recipe from a co-worker and this was his mother's recipe. Both have passed on to be with the Lord, but here is:

Mrs. Hardy's Pound Cake Recipe
6 eggs
3 sticks butter or margarine
3 cups sugar
1 - 8 oz. cream cheese (Philly)
3 cups (plain) flour (not self-rising)

Bring all ingredients to room temperature.
Beat butter and cream cheese together, add sugar, beat until well mixed. Add eggs two at a time and beat well. Add flour, one cup at a time and mix well and scrape bowl good. Add any kind of flavoring you like.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Flour and grease the baking pan well--cook in Angel food or bundt pan. Baker's Joy baking spray can be used in lieu of the grease and flour. Bake  1 1/2 hours or until done. (Sounds divine!)


In Cynthia Hickey's lovely mid-1800's story, Handcarved Christmas, I could just "smell" coffee brewing on the wood stove and I think some nice strong coffee would go great with Mrs. Jeffries' fruitcake or with most of the delicious recipes on our Facebook party page!

In Niki Turner's story, I could anticipate the hot cocoa as her characters got in out of the cold and tried to warm up. What a classic treat. Except that Niki says there is no hot cocoa consumed in her story!!!!  Talk about making associations. I could have sworn that her characters had hot chocolate, maybe because I associate that with growing up in a cold climate where that was a nightly favorite in winter. I bet you've had cocoa made many different ways, too. My mother used Hershey's cocoa, with sugar, and hot milk heated on the stovetop (no microwaves back then!) The product was frequently a little scalded and was a strong tasting cocoa! The marshmallows piled on top were my favorite. Nestle's Quik came along and that was the "go to" for making hot cocoa. Then Swiss Miss and others pre-packaged hot cocoa.

In Darlene Franklin's lovely novella, you can just smell the apples in the orchard and then cooking for holiday celebrations! And what is as American as apple pie? If you check on the party page, you'll see an amazing looking recipe by Gracie Yost for Dutch apple turnovers! I'm going to adapt the recipe and make it gluten free for my mother-in-law when they come for Christmas. Her favorite Thanksgiving memory she says is arriving at our home south of Buffalo, in West Falls, to the scent of apple turnovers baking in the oven and me dressed in an apron meeting them at the door of the 1850 brick farm house!


Question:  Do you have a special memory of a special food or drink for Christmastime? Do you continue to make that recipe?

20 November 2014

Diana's Review of Veiled At Midnight By Christine Lindsay


~5 stars~*****

Book Description :
The British empire draws to an end…
but the turmoil has only just begun.

The Partition of India has sent millions to the roads, instigated riots as uncontrolled as wildfire…and caught up in its wake Captain Cam Fraser, his sister Miriam, and the beautiful Indian Dassah. Cam has never been able to put Dassah from his mind, ever since they played together at the mission as children. But a British officer and the aide to the last viceroy cannot marry a poor Indian woman, can he? For a while, Dassah believes that Cam loves her. But as the impossibility of a future with him becomes clear, what choice does she have but to run? He may hold her heart—but she cannot let him break it again. Miriam rails against the separation of the land of her birth, and as British forces prepare to leave India, she struggles. She finds purpose in teaching, in helping...but is Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sunderland her soul mate or a distraction from what God has called her to do?

My thoughts ~
Once again Christine Lindsay sweeps the reader away on an exotic, riveting journey to faraway India -- a land of exquisite, mystical beauty, but one of extreme political and religious unrest as well. Ms. Lindsay's amazing descriptive imagery of this resplendent, beautiful country will awaken the readers' senses to the sights, smells, and allure of India...but her impeccable historical research describes the flip side of the coin as well. The atrocities and prejudices suffered by the Indian people under the guise of religion was heartbreaking, and I learned a lot about this horrendous era of India's history that I wasn't aware of. Add a seemingly futile, but breathtaking romance that transcends all racial barriers, and you have a powerful novel sure to be an award winner---that is nigh unto impossible to put down! I highly recommend reading all three novels in The Twilight of the British Raj, as this will go down as one of my "favorite ever" series of all times!
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 This book may be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and BAM.

GIVEAWAY: A paperback or e-book copy to one blessed commenter! International -- ebook only.

18 November 2014

Noela Nancarrow reviews Veiled at Midnight by Christine Lindsay


Veiled at Midnight

Veiled at Midnight (Book #3 Twilight of the British Raj)
by Christine Lindsay
WhiteFire Publishing (October 7, 2014)

Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow
5 Stars *****

Unveiling trouble in love and land.. 

‘Veiled at Midnight’ is a sweeping story of love and heartache, freedom and captivity, and friendship and hostility - set within the beautiful yet contrasting land of India. History unfolds before your very eyes in one of the most significant periods of India’s past… when during the year 1947, India not only gained their independence from British rule, but also fell into deadly chaos as the Muslims fought the Hindu’s and Sikh’s in their bid to create the nation of Pakistan. During this tumultuous year of unpredictability as the country is torn apart, will it be possible for love to survive… Or will it too, be ripped asunder?

British Captain Cameron “Cam” Fraser’s last reunion with the breathtakingly beautiful Dassah was ten years ago and resulted in a not-too-chaste kiss before he fled from her life and an impossible situation. He’d known this delightful girl from his childhood, but the fact remained that he was a British Officer and she, an Indian woman, both effectively divided by class and culture. How is it then when they connect again after a terrible train derailment in Calcutta, that feelings he didn't know he had, surfaced with such an intensity and pull? But is Cam able to be everything for Dassah when he has a mistress in the form of a bottle? Or will their mutual childhood friend Zakir, who is also carrying a torch for ‘Dassah, end up being that man? Oh, what a journey they go on to reach their final destination!

So eloquent and descriptive is author Christine Lindsay’s prose, that kaleidoscopic scenes with the flavors and scents of India fill your mind’s eye, forming images as on a living canvas. The research is impeccable and thorough, reaching every page, and granting the reader not only a step back in time, but an absolute immersion into the oft little known yet fascinating history of India. Emotionally, this extraordinary tale touched me deeply and caused my eyes to leak rivers! Discovering the brutal atrocities that transpired within India during this period was quite shocking, but counter-balancing the harsh reality was the enduring hope of the richly-crafted characters, their growing faith in God, and the depths of love between them that was stunningly heart-warming and inspiring.

The author deftly tackles the substantial and sombre issues of racism and alcoholism with tremendous spiritual insight and sensitivity throughout this impressive novel. ‘Veiled at Midnight’ also carries the eternal message that our parent’s failures don’t have to define us, because when we give ourselves fully over to Christ, He is able to make us a new creation. Thank you Christine for this truly memorable story, and series!

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You can find Veiled at Midnight at these places and others: Amazon; Barnes & Noble; BAM


GIVEAWAY: A paperback or e-book copy to someone who leaves a comment below! E-book only to international readers. Leave your email or check back the following week in the winners column.


15 November 2014

Julie Lessman - Surprised by Love Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Surprised by Love, by Julie Lessman
Revell, (October, 2014)

Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels
~5 stars~*****




Romance Galore!!!
Megan McClare has returned from France a literally changed young woman. She's not the sweet little best friend buddy that attorney Bram Hughes had known--instead Meg has blossomed into an alluring young woman. And her nemesis,  Devin Caldwell, doesn't even recognize her. But once he does--he seeks to make up for lost time and sweep Meg off her feet. Except that her heart already rests in the hands of Bram. But not quite. Because Bram is promised to marry someone else and Devin and Meg's relationship continues.

Meanwhile Meg's mother, Cait, and her Uncle Logan, need to finish off their ongoing and tempestuous relationship if Caitlyn is going to find any peace in her life. She's accepted a marriage proposal from Logan's rival. But in the midst of his despair, God moves his heart and mind to a new place, and he finally grasps the spiritual gifts God is offering him. 

Bibliotherapy elements: Forgiveness - strong in both romances, self esteem for Megan and poor eyesight (which she's had corrected by "brand new" contact lenses which I didn't know were even being attempted at that point in time), rivalries in both romances, and following God's will (all of the main characters).

I loved this book--it had some unique elements that made it fresh and Julie put a twist at the end that was brilliant! She had me guessing all the way through, which is difficult for a writer to do as I often know what is happening in a story. In fact in two other reviews I just did, for two authors whose work I really have enjoyed, I had to write that the stories were predictable. Not this one! 

Julie creates some lovable and quirky characters. She saves her heroine from being ridiculously naive by throwing in enough explanation to make her actions believable. Lovely voice, great tension, a real page turner! 

Highly recommend!!!


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Thanks to Revell for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. 

This book may be purchased through AmazonCBDBarnes & Noble, and your local bookstore. 

GIVEAWAY: Giveaway of a gently used copy of Julie's book to a commenter on this review (USA only).



13 November 2014

Diana Reviews Surprised By Love by Julie Lessman

Revell, Oct. 21, 2014

Reviewed by Diana Flowers
~5 stars~*****
(No spoilers!)

A Breathtaking Read!
In Surprised by Love, author Julie Lessman has once again crafted a dramatic, breathtaking read -- that takes the reader on an exhilarating journey with as many twists and turns as the streets of San Francisco, in which the story is set.


Megan McClare has returned to her majestic home on Nob Hill after studying in Paris for a year. Gone is the shy, overweight wallflower with glasses, and no one is more surprised at the confident beauty standing before him than Megan's best friend, Bram Hughes. Gone is the little girl whose tears he had dried many times when she was mercilessly mocked, especially by her childhood crush and classmate, Devin Caldwell. When Devin reenters Meg's life, contrite and repentant, Bram encourages her to give Devin another chance, confused by his not so "brotherly" feelings towards "Bug" as he had affectionately dubbed her as a child. But will he be able to walk away from "his" Bug, and leave her in the arms of another...? 


To say this book is amazing is truly an understatement! In my opinion, this is Julie Lessman's best novel yet and I have read them all. Included is another angst-filled romance between Meg's mother, Cait, and her Uncle Logan, guaranteed to tear your heart out and and leave you reaching for the tissues. The romantic tension is so palatable and thick you can cut it with a knife! Such exquisite torture... (sigh) I have never stopped  reading a book and put it down because of tears and goose bumps until now...so overcome was I by a couple of shocking twists near the conclusion!! I think my hubby thought I had lost my marbles! I will miss the wonderful McClare family -- their joys and sorrows, triumphs and failures, humorous jabs and sarcastic quips, and most of all -- their faith.

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Thanks to Revell for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

This book may be purchased through Amazon, CBD, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookstore. 

GIVEAWAY: We have a giveaway with each review of Julie's book this week! International winners - ebook only.

11 November 2014

Noela Nancarrow reviews SURPRISED BY LOVE by Julie Lessman

Surprised by Love

Revell (October 21, 2014)

Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow
5 Stars *****

Simply Sensational!

Truthfully, I was already smiling before I’d opened this book. The prospect of beginning another book by Julie Lessman already guaranteed sky-scraping levels of enjoyment and entertainment, but even so I was honestly unprepared to be so stunned by the soaring standard of the inspired prose, the irresistible, wise-cracking and affectionate characters within, and the enrapturing story-line that this book delivered!

Taunted and teased relentlessly as a young girl owing to her braces, glasses and weight issues, Megan McClare has arrived back after a year in Paris, totally transformed in looks and in confidence. She now mirrors her shining inner beauty, triggering fast-pulses and sweaty palms amongst the eligible men in her hometown of San Francisco. One of those men is her life-long hero, friend, and protector, Bram Hughes. Ten years her senior, his affectionately named ‘Bug’ is now a beautiful young woman stirring feelings within; someone he once only ever thought of as a little sister. In fighting the attraction, he encourages her forgiveness and friendship with Devlin, her handsome work colleague who at one time was her fiercest tormentor. But can Bram’s heart withstand seeing his ‘Bug’ with someone else?

We’re indulged with not only one, but two agonizing and breathtaking romances in this final book of The Hearts of San Francisco series. Megan’s mother, the widowed Caitlyn McClare and her brother-in-law, the esteemed lawyer Logan McClare, are deeply in love but have a barrier of broken trust between them. This equally endearing couple find their relationship traversing new heights and depths. Their emotions, together with those of Megan and Bram (and my own!), rose and fell like the cable cars over the hills of their bustling city, and leaving you as jolted as the lurching cars!

‘Surprised by Love’ is a fascinating journey into 1904 through the eyes and hearts of the prominent, wealthy, and philanthropic family of the McClare’s. A bygone era when families ate, laughed, and played together; makes you wish you could turn back time. Julie Lessman captures those deep bonds of family love and loyalty with affection for her characters that spill over from the pages and into your heart. Expect to drench a few tissues but anticipate even more smiles and chuckles. The hidden jewel in this novel however, were the sage words and inspirational, spiritual lessons covering real-life issues such as dealing with fear, low self-esteem, pride, and forgiveness. Rippling with passions, romance, drama, and evolving faith, this exquisite novel has already topped my list of favorites for the year! 

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This book may be purchased through Amazon, CBD, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookstore.


GIVEAWAY: We have a giveaway with every review of Julie's book this week. International winners - ebook only.

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