Saying Goodbye …

Saying goodbye is rarely easy, especially when the journey has been so hope-filled, and has introduced you to lifelong friends who will cheer for you, cry with you, pray for you. Still, saying goodbye is often for the best, so it with sadness and hope that, after seven years, I pen my final post for Inkspirational Messages.

I’m very sad to say so long to fellow bloggers and readers whom I’ve gotten to know over the years. How blessed I am to have made these amazing friends! Also, it’s difficult letting go of something that’s become part of life’s routine, but when posting becomes simply routine rather than being a passion, it’s time to let go and make room for those who still strive for excellence.

Letting go of the Inkspers also means that I will have more time to spend on writing stories, something that’s taken a back seat over the past couple of years and needs to get back up front into the drivers seat.

I’d love to stay in touch with everyone! You’ll still find me blogging over at Brenda Anderson Books, I’ll be in touch on Facebook, and I’ll certainly be visiting Inkspirational Messages every day to read the latest posts by the gifted writers remaining here.

Rather than a drawn-out goodbye, I’ll leave you with these words from Numbers 6:24-26 as sung by the Golden Valley Lutheran College concert choir back in 1983 at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, which was our choral farewell to college.

 

New Release Celebration! + Giveaway

*** Book Giveaway ***
See contest info below

This past Tuesday witnessed the birth of another book baby: RISKING LOVE, book one in my Where the Heart Is series! Now this book–this series–is a bit of a departure for me. I usually don’t write romance, but that’s what the market was demanding four-plus years ago when I began penning it, so I grudgingly went with the market.

It was probably the toughest book I’ve ever written, and I honestly didn’t think it was very good. But to my utter surprise, my husband and daughter loved it (but they don’t count, right?) Then my beta readers loved it, my critique partners lauded it, and it was a Genesis finalist. I was left scratching my head thinking maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. But wasn’t fully convinced.

Now four years later, after promptings from those who’d read it, my romance novel has finally come to print, clothed in a fun and flirty cover that always makes me smile. And so far, the reviews are very positive. Still surprises me. I guess it pays to listen to your peers.

So, what is the romance about? Here’s RISKING LOVE‘s back cover blurb:

New ReleaseShe holds the key to his heart … and his home.
Can she risk falling in love with a man whose home she may have to take away?

Bank employee Lissa Morgan likes all the columns of her life to add up. From her job to romance, every major decision is planned out. But before she can go out on a date with Mr. Perfect, she attends a charity auction with her meddling mom who wins Lissa a date with thrill-seeker Caleb Johnson.

Caleb lived for adventure until heart disease stole his wife’s life. Then debt closed his business and now threatens to take his home. With a toddler to raise, he vows that his risk-taking days are over. But then he meets the cautious yet curious Lissa Morgan and decides it’s time to take one more risk—this time on love.

When Lissa learns the extent of Caleb’s debt, she wonders if she can collect on his heart if she forecloses on his home. And why is she falling for the wrong man—one who challenges her to leap from her orderly life and into his waiting arms?

So now you’re wondering, “Where can I run out and purchase this book?” Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to find it on store shelves–yet–but you can purchase it online at the links below:

Paperback

Amazon | B&N

eBook

Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo | 24Symbols

And check out this beautiful trailer created by John Martin Keith at Edenbrooke Productions. The music is written specifically for the book!

And finally, here’s the contest Info ~

Fill in the Rafflecopter form below for an opportunity to win an autographed copy of RISKING LOVE, plus a book filled with heart-healthy recipes, and a Go Red for Women lapel pin. Contest ends Monday, October 10, 2016 at midnight. Must be 18 to enter and live in the lower 48 US states. Enter contest here at Inkspirational Messages or at my blog:  http://brendaandersonbooks.com/2016/10/04/happy-book-birthday-risking-love/. (You’ll also find a low-cal Berry Cheesecake Dessert recipe at my blog, so you might want to scoot over there anyway!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Five Fall Favorites

Welcome to Fall! I’m not a summer person. At. All. Give me ten below over 90 above any day! So I’m ecstatic that fall is finally here.

Fall is my favorite season, hands down. Here are a five reasons why:

  1. Sweatshirt and shorts weather begins. And bare feet, of course. That’s my wardrobe throughout winter and into spring. In the house anyway. I will dress warmer to go outside the house once the temps drop below 65. Usually.
  2. I love the fall colors. Who doesn’t? This year I’m hoping to drive up along Lake Superior’s north shore to view the leaves. The colors can be spectacular up there!
  3. Windows in the house are open. Since I dislike hot weather, AC is on pretty much all summer. I love being able to open up the house and let cool breezes refresh it. Don’t you love the scent of fall?
  4. Pumpkin pie season. My favorite pie of all. Just add a dollop or two of whipped cream, and I’m set.
  5. Fun bird watching. I love watching the flight of birds heading south, and it amazes me to think of the God-built-in instinct given to His creatures. Hopefully on our trek along the North Shore we’ll make a stop at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. I’ve heard that’s the best place to take in the migration.

What are your favorite things about fall?

Traveling Wisdom

A few weeks back, our family road-tripped to Tampa, Florida, from Minneapolis to bring our son to college. Now, when you’re in the car for 60ish hours within an eight-day span, you have some time to think. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom I collected along the way:

Have audio stories with you to pass the time. We brought along the Adventures in Odyssey Novacom Saga – 10 full hours of can’t-wait-to-hear-more stories. Adventures in Odyssey stories have long been a staple for car rides, and listening to this saga, 1/2 hour stories all centered around Novacom, really made the time pass!

Order your audiobooks early so they arrive before your travel date! I ordered The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings from our library. Problem was, they didn’t arrive before we left. Next time I will plan better!

We have a lot–I mean a whole lot!–of space in this country! Those who complain about overcrowding must fly from city to city. Ever drive all the way through Illinois? How about North and South Dakota? Nebraska? Pennsylvania? Those are all very wide or very tall states with miles upon miles of no people. Most every state we’ve traveled through is the same way.

God created many shades of nature green. Most of the road from Florida on up to Minnesota is framed by trees, and the rest with green-covered plains or hills. It’s beautiful!

Our country’s landscape is diverse and beautiful! Starting from the gentle hills of Minnesota, then driving through rolling hills of Wisconsin, plains of Illinois, mountains of Tennessee and Georgia, and water-framed Florida lands makes you appreciate the diversity and beauty of America.

Timing is everything! We were in the Tampa-St. Pete area days before Tropical Storm Hermine came ashore, flooding the roads surrounding the resort where we’d stayed. When we were there, the temps were hot and muggy, but not soggy.

You always meet someone you know. Doesn’t matter where we travel, I always run into someone I know, usually from back home. On this trip, we learned that my brother and his wife were in Nashville at the same time we were passing through. They were staying one more night, and we were just getting in town for a two-night stay. Naturally, we had to get together. But do you suppose we’ll get together back at home? Doesn’t happen often enough.

Now I did expect to see authors in Nashville, because we were there the final day of the ACFW Conference. But we happened to stop by the hotel just minutes after lunch began so everyone was behind closed doors.

Drivers in Nashville and Atlanta are crazy! (Sorry, but it’s true!) We drove through Nashville on a Sunday night where the speed limit was 70. Clearly that was only a suggestion as the majority of vehicles whipped past us, likely clocking in at 90 – 100. And I’m not exaggerating! Then in Atlanta, where there’s road construction and super-narrow lanes, drivers still zoom by as if we’re sitting still. I was pleasantly surprised with Tampa drivers. They seemed sane.

God loves painting sunsets. Three of the nights we stayed in Tampa, we took to the beach to watch God’s paintbrush color the sky over the gulf. WoW! is too small an exclamation. And then, even as we drove toward home, we watched more sunsets over the land. He sure delights in showering us with gifts!

There’s no place like home! The best part of a vacation is always coming home. While it’s fun to get away, traveling really helps me appreciate the place God planted me.

Facing an Empty Nest

These next few weeks are going to be tough ones, busy ones, filled with life changes. This weekend our youngest son heads to NDSU for his junior year of college, then a week later, we’re loading the car and taking our oldest son down to Tampa for his final two years of college. Sigh. It’s true, you blink and everything changes. Soon my husband and I will be left with an empty nest.

And that’s good.

As a parent, you want to raise your children to be independent. As much as you hate to see them leave the nest, you still want them to fly. And when that flight takes off with joy rather than dissension, you know you’ve done your parenting job well.

Still, it’s not an easy thing watching them fly away. It’s a scary world out there, with lots of bad choices to be made. And like me, they’ll make their share of them. And then there are those things beyond their or my control … when they’re living hundreds of miles away, I won’t be able to rush to them.

Rather, I will wrap them in prayer. He’s got this. He made them to fly, and he’ll give them wings to soar.

So while I’m sad to say “goodbye” I’m thrilled they’re finding their wings. And they know, they will always be welcomed back home again.

but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31

Find Your Wings, a beautiful prayer sung by Mark Harris

End of Summer Reading List

Can you believe we’re almost to the end of July? Where did the summer go? For many of us it’s time to start prepping for school. My two youngest are heading off in opposite directions–Fargo, North Dakota and Tampa, Florida–this August, so I’ll be focusing on little else. Still, there’s always time to tackle the reading list, right? Here are a few titles on my list:

MissingMissing (Nikki Boyd Files #2) by Lisa Harris – just started this one and don’t want to put it down. Lisa Harris is a master of romantic suspense!

Nikki Boyd Enters the Deadly World of Counterfeit Drugs to Find a Missing Woman

Nikki Boyd isn’t usually called in on homicides; her forte is missing persons. But when a case with two murdered and two missing pops up on a quiet suburban street, she’s ready to start the investigation and find missing homeowners Mac and Lucy Hudson. When the first clues lead her to the boat of her friend Tyler Grant–and another dead body–Nikki must untangle what ties Tyler to the Hudsons. The clues pull her into a deadly maze of counterfeit drugs and a killer who will stop at nothing to silence anyone who threatens his business–including Nikki.

The Five Times I Met Myself (296 x 455)The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart – not my typical read, but I’m really curious about this one.

What if you met your twenty-three-year-old self in a dream? What would you say?

Brock Matthews’ once promising life is unraveling. His coffee company. His marriage.

So when he discovers his vivid dreams—where he encounters his younger self—might let him change his past mistakes, he jumps at the chance. The results are astonishing, but also disturbing.

Because getting what Brock wants most in the world will force him to give up the one thing he doesn’t know how to let go . . . and his greatest fear is that it’s already too late.

The Promise of Jesse Woods (300 x 450)The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry – I love Chris Fabry’s works, so I know this one will be fabulous!

The summer of 1972 was the most pivotal of Matt Plumley’s childhood. While his beloved Pirates battle for back-to-back World Series titles, Matt’s family moves from Pittsburgh to Dogwood, West Virginia, where his father steps into the pulpit of a church under the thumb of town leader Basil Blackwood. A fish out of water, Matt is relieved to forge a fast bond with two unlikely friends: Dickie Darrel Lee Hancock, a mixed-race boy, and Jesse Woods, a tough-as-nails girl with a sister on her hip and no dad in sight.

As the trio traipses the hills and hollers, Matt begins to fall for Jesse, and their promises to each other draw him deeper into her terrifying reality. One night, the wrath of the Blackwoods and the secrets of Jesse’s family collide, and Matt joins Jesse in a rescue that saves one life and ends another . . . and severs the bond of their friendship.

Years later, Matt is pulled back to Dogwood and to memories of that momentous summer by news of Jesse’s upcoming wedding. He could never shake the feeling that there was more to the story of that fateful night, and he’s determined to learn the truth behind the only promise Jesse Woods ever broke.

Also on my end-of-summer reading list:

What’s on your end-of-summer reading list?

Upcoming Release Announcement!

I’m excited to announce that my upcoming release, Risking Love, a Where the Heart Is romance, is now available for pre-order!* And don’t you love that cover?! My designer, George at Think Cap Design Studios, really captured the feeling of the story and the characters.

Here’s the back cover copy:

Bank employee Lissa Morgan likes all the columns of her life to add up. From her job to romance, every major decision is planned out. But before she can go out on a date with Mr. Perfect, she attends a charity auction with her meddling mom who wins Lissa a date with thrill-seeker Caleb Johnson.

Caleb lived for adventure until heart disease stole his wife’s life. Then debt closed his business and now threatens to take his home. With a toddler to raise, he vows that his risk-taking days are over. But then he meets the cautious yet curious Lissa Morgan and decides it’s time to take one more risk—this time on love.

When Lissa learns the extent of Caleb’s debt, she wonders if she can collect on his heart if she forecloses on his home. And why is she falling for the wrong man—one who challenges her to leap from her orderly life and into his waiting arms?

Risking LoveFor those of you who’ve read my Coming Home series, this is a bit of a departure from that. Where the coming home stories dealt with a lot of heavy, tough issues, and were more defined as family drama, this new series is definitely romance. But while the tone is lighter and a lot more humor is added, I still cover my share of tough topics.

*To pre-order the ebook, just go to Amazon: http://amzn.to/29M8HbL. Your book will be delivered to your Kindle app on October 4, 2016, the official release date of Risking Love.

Celebrating Independence Day

I love our country.

And in spite of the news that permeates our news feeds and social media sites, I believe we live in a great nation. Flawed? Absolutely. It’s run by humans; how can it be anything but imperfect?

Yet in the true American spirit, we’re always striving to make it better. We make wrong turns along the way, but eventually we get aimed back in the right direction, having learned a lot about ourselves because of those wrong turns.

So yes, I love the United States of America, and I’m very grateful I live here. For that reason, I also love celebrating our country’s birthday. These are some of our want-to-dos for this year:

  • Celebrate my son’s birthday – he was born on July 2 which also happens to be the day (in 1776) that the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia voted to approve a resolution for independence from Britain. That evening in 1776, the following was published in the Pennsylvania Evening Post: “This day the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies Free and Independent States.” So my son declares that he was born on America’s true Independence Day.
  • Music in Plymouth – attended this last night. It’s an annual fair-like event filled with a variety of foods and fun. A variety of music artists are featured throughout the evening, always culminating with the Minnesota Orchestra followed by fireworks. We bring a blanket, books, and a cooler of food and just sit and enjoy. If you read my upcoming release, Risking Love, you’ll see this event featured.
  • Roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire pit, and making s’mores. There’s nothing like fire-roasted food, is there?
  • Watch the movie Independence Day and the sequel (again) this weekend, Independence Day: Resurgence.
  • Watch fireworks. This goes without saying, right?
  • Spend time with family. Always the most important!
How do you celebrate Independence Day?

If We’ve Ever Needed You …

With our nation’s heart still breaking over the events in Orlando this week, I am reminded that God is still in control, and that we still have hope in His amazing grace.

For me, music provides a great reminder that we need Him in our lives, through joy and through tragedy and through our everyday living. The song below is my prayer today …

“If We’ve Ever Needed You” by Casting Crowns

Congratulations, Dawn!!!

I’m so excited to share good news, today! The ACFW Genesis Awards just announced their finalists for 2016 and our own Dawn Ford is in the final three for Speculative Fiction!!!

CONGRATULATIONS, DAWN!!!

Genesis AwardThe winners of each category will be announced on August 27, 2016 at the ACFW Conference Awards Gala in Nashville.

Congratulations to all the finalists! (See complete list of finalists >here<)