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Book Review: Saving Detroit by Michelle Bolanger

I love to read. I read a lot. Most genres. Rarely will a book, after that initial book coma, leave me haunted. That is what Saving Detroit did. I could not shake the plights of the  characters.

Saving Detroit, Michelle BolangerMeet Luke Kelso, young up-and-coming crew chief for his father’s successful race team. He has everything the world could offer. A chance encounter and a decision to return to a party best left Inge Luke into a six month living hell as the pet of a sex trafficker. Once he is rescued, Luke wrestles with emotions running the gamut of shame to vengeance. He’s rocked by revelations of his beloved father’s past that further challenge his weakened faith. An encounter with Goldie at the safe house propels him to confront God with his anger and betrayal.

I am touched by how horrified Luke was; how evil the Enforcers are. How Luke struggles, really wrestles with God. The choices of his father that started the path. I know all of us have that “Why?” moment. The author beautifully portrays that, even in the most horrendous  circumstances, God is there, He had not left us and will carry us through.

If you are looking for a book that will open your eyes and heart to an enormous problem in the world today. Saving Detroit is it. It happens to boys and girls alike. The author, Michelle Bolanger, brings this horrific situation to light without being graphic. While realistic, this book can absolutely be classified as a clean read. It is gritty, heart-wrenching and will leave you contemplating it long after you close the book.

She has also included, in the back matter, links to organizations that are helping victims reclaim their lives. Proceeds from the sale of Saving Detroit are going to one of them. Bravo, Michelle.

You can find Saving Detroit on Amazon (sorry, my links are wonky) here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B06XYPF82H

Michelle Bolanger’s website: https://www.michellebolanger.com

You can follow Michelle on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

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Books That Are Changing My Life

It’s been quite a while since I have read anything that I could honestly say was “life changing,” with the exception of my Bible. Recently, I picked up two books that are doing just that. One was a Kindle special, and the other is a book that I refused to read for years.

wlw coverWomen Living Well, by Courtney Joseph. I snagged this book a few months back when it was only $2.99. This is one book that is well worth the full price! I had fallen away from reading anything but sci-fi and fiction for some time, and I challenged myself to read at least ONE book of a spiritual nature per month in 2015. This one is a goldmine.

Courtney runs the Women Living Well website. That alone is chock full of wonderful and Biblically sound advice. She also has a great ministry, the Good Morning Girls. Her book is about living well as you fulfill the many roles God has given to you. Wife, mother, ministry leader, she has them all in there.

One thing I especially enjoy about the book is her non-condemning attitude. Many books like this will tell you just how awful you are if you cannot juggle everything with a smile. Courtney’s approach is different. Using her own life as an example, she goes through Biblical principals and allows you to make the call in your own circumstance.

I especially loved her insight on using your time wisely. Regarding social media and the internet, Courtney points out that in and of themselves, they have no inherent morality. It’s how you use them that shows your morality. How much time you spend, and at who’s expense, is between you and the Lord.

The chapter on living well in your marriage was thought provoking, a bit convicting, and excellent. I’d say this is a must have on any woman’s bookshelf, real or virtual.

My other read is Trim Healthy Mama, by sisters Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett. My crazy food journey is documented on my personal blog, and I’ll leave it to you to hop over there if you’d like to hear all about my adult struggles.TrimHealthyMamacover

When this book came out in 2012 and immediately caused an internet sensation, I listened briefly (VERY briefly) to the descriptions and concluded that it was just another way to be shackled to food. And, what was all this crazy alphabetical meal naming? A system, that’s all it was.

Yet, as I struggled through more “freedom” from diets, systems, and labels, I kept an eye on those I knew who were using the book and getting results. Some were getting dramatic and fabulous results. Meanwhile, I went down a vegetarian road when my health numbers continued rising into the danger zone. I even procured a copy of Serene’s previous cookbook all about raw eating.

I finally took a real, honest look at Trim Healthy Mama when I watched a video by the sisters where Serene is quite frank about the detrimental effects her raw vegan diet had not only on her health, but that of her infants. Nothing like eye opening conviction, right from the source! I began stalking THM’ers online, Pinterest pages and the Trim Healthy Facebook pages and forum. I requested the book from my library, and once it was in my hands, I knew I needed my very own copy.

It’s much more than a “diet book.” Serene and Pearl have done an astounding amount of research and experimented on themselves searching for the right balance of great foods and healthy choices. They have so much good and documented information packed into the book. Not to mention the recipes. The back chapters on spiritual and emotional health are frank and thought provoking. All of this places your total body health right in the hands it’s supposed to rest in. The One Who created you.

If you would have asked me right around the holidays how I was doing, I wouldn’t have been honest. I was falling apart. Worried about my spiritual and physical health, how was I going to get everything together for ministry, my kids, my hubby, my grandkids? I was heading for a crash, and I am so very grateful that the Lord placed these two books into my hands right when I needed them. My only regret is that I don’t have a copy of each to give away.

Till next time, let your dreams soar high, and your prayers even higher!

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Writing Lessons From The Front, Angela Hunt

Last week I finally had some time to myself while my boys were at swim lessons. I brought the Kindle with me and low and behold…I READ! Yes, don’t fall over, but I read…three books, actually.

Let me backtrack a moment, if you will. I do enjoy my Kindle. I do REALLY enjoy getting freebie and bargain books. It’s like a drug. Gotta grab that book, it’s ONLY $0.99!!! Even better, it’s FREEEEEE. It’s a great tool to use for marketing.

The drawback is that I have approximately 20 bazillion books that I need to read! FIVE of those are by Angela Hunt on the subject of writing. The pool we’ve been frequenting doesn’t have wifi; thankfully I had the first three books of the ongoing series downloaded already and not up in the Kindle Cloud. I decided that I need these in real live book form because I need to underline, write notes in the margins, etc.

Book one is The Plot Skeleton. It’s a wonderful illustration on outlining a novel. Something I have yet to accomplish. As I was reading through the brief chapter, cleverly titled “The One and Only Chapter,” I could see my latest WIP through the Skeleton. Seeing “the bones” of my story in this way was a good exercise. Starting with the head and working down, you fill in your main plot, seeing where it needs another rib or maybe a better segue. Angela explains all the connections, and how your plot works together to bring that story to life. I think I will pop open One Note and draw me up a skelly-bones.

Book two is Creating Extraordinary Characters. I confess to thinking that all my characters are extraordinary. At least, that’s what they tell me. In this volume Angela sets forth the steps to making your characters real. Instilling Admirable Qualities, Personality Type as a Tool, using notecards, Revealing Characters in different scenarios, the difference between a villain and an anti-hero and more. I enjoyed this one as it made creating a character sketch (another writing practice I’ve avoided) less daunting. I found it especially interesting to use the Meyers-Briggs personality tests to get to know your characters better.

The third is Point of View. With just one simple sentence (When Mary woke up, it was raining.) Angela takes us through the different storytelling points of view and shows how each one has it’s own merits and drawbacks. The section on head hopping )switching from one character’s POV to another in rapid succession) made me chuckle. I tend to “head hop” at times, largely, I think, due to my preferred reading tastes. It’s something I have worked on, and this book helped me see how and where to continue to hone that particular discipline.

angela huntMany of Angela’s books are on Kindle, and she does run specials and freebies. The best way to keep up is by her newsletter and blog. She has practically a whole shelf in our library. I loved her novel Doesn’t She Look Natural? (The Fairlwan Series) and her book about the Roanoake colony was interesting. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with any of her offerings. If you write, or would like to write, her series is a must. *DISCLAIMER: The links to Angela’s site are not up right now (6/3/2014) I will update ASAP. Thanks, Donna!*

 

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Nautical Summer Giveaway from Colleen Coble…

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I finished this book in one day…it was a wonderful, suspenseful plot and some nice romance thrown in to enjoy!  From the LitFuse Promo page:

Water can be calming and healing, but it can also be dangerous, as Amy Lange and Curtis Ireland both found out. Both lost their siblings to the sea, and they hope to find healing on Hope Island. But will they find it, or will their quest to find answers set them at odds with each other and with those who have secrets that need to stay hidden?

Find out in Colleen Coble’s latest book, Rosemary Cottage, which released July 9. To celebrate, Colleen is hosting a 12-day Nautical Summer Giveaway. From July 16-27, Colleen will be giving away a new nautical prize every day. She’ll announce the winners on July 29 on her website, so mark your calendars for that date to see if you were picked as a lucky winner!

Not on Facebook? Enter here.

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Book Review: The Hartfield Mysteries Series by Chautona Havig

If you are a fan of Chautona’s, you’re already familiar with eccentric mystery author, Alexa Hartfield. She lives in the quaint town of Fairbury, makes regular but brief appearances in many of Chautona’s books and wears clothing from the Edwardian through the Roaring Twenties eras. She is utterly unconcerned about what people think of her vast and eclectic wardrobe, and she is generous to all who call her friend, and even those who may not. Her books are all best sellers, and at least one is a movie. Yet, she is human, and as all of us humans, has some heartbreak in her life. happily, she has a whole series of stories in which she is the main character!

The Hartfield Mysteries Series begins with Book One: Manuscript for Murder. In it, we get to know Alexa better. Meet her family. Understand some of her woes, one of which is that someone is replicating the murders from her latest, unpublished novel in Fairbury. A side story appears when Alexa meets a young fan in need of a transplant and her handsome, eligible father. A relationship develops, but not the one you may think! In the meantime, people are still being killed at an alarming rate. She’s increasingly discouraged as the spree goes unsolved and considers giving up her beloved career. As she strives to help the police, the story stays lively; you’re not quite sure who the perp is until it’s unveiled and then you shout, “OF COURSE!” and your family all look at you as though you’ve just fallen from a tree branch. Come on, that happens to everyone, right? *Ahem*

The second book, Crime of Fashion, opens with Alexa’s entry into the fashion industry. She agrees to partner in a line of clothing inspired in some ways by her own individual style. With the news that her young friend is being taken to the hospital, Alexa hurries to Chicago to be near her (and the handsome, unattached father) which ruffles Fairbury officer and avowed bachelor, Joe, who helped solve the last crime wave. As it happens, mayhem follows her, and joe is afraid she is again in danger. Someone does not want the new clothing line to be successful. On top of that, both Joe and Alexa are confused about their relationship and are trying to make some sense of it all.  Once again, Chautona hints at, but doesn’t reveal the killer until you’re sure it’s someone else. A very surprise ending, in more ways than one!

The third, Two O’Clock Slump, will be coming soon! Keep your eyes on her website! It’s promising to be a good one, what with a wedding and all (oops! did I just say that? *wink, wink*)

In reading through the reviews on Amazon, one person said “You can’t go wrong with a novel by Chautona!” and they are so right! Stop by her website and check out all of her books, enter a contest or two and please do not miss her post about Project Stephen. Here’s more about it from my Facebook page:

You all know Chautona. I mention her at least 2 times a week, probably more. She’s an amazing author, a true mentor in every good way, and an awesome friend. Almost a year ago, her life, as well as her family’s, changed forever when her 3 year old grandson Stephen stepped on a downed power line. 
Chautona is writing a fictionalized account of the story. ALL PROCEEDS WILL GO FOR STEPHEN’S CONTINUED CARE. Please take a moment to read the post and forward to as many of your friends as possible. Support the Havig family with your prayers as well. Thank you, my friends.

Be blessed and hold your loved ones close this weekend,

Barbara

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Book Review: The Hartfield Mysteries Series by Chautona Havig

If you are a fan of Chautona’s, you’re already familiar with eccentric mystery author, Alexa Hartfield. She lives in the quaint town of Fairbury, makes regular but brief appearances in many of Chautona’s books and wears clothing from the Edwardian through the Roaring Twenties eras. She is utterly unconcerned about what people think of her vast and eclectic wardrobe, and she is generous to all who call her friend, and even those who may not. Her books are all best sellers, and at least one is a movie. Yet, she is human, and as all of us humans, has some heartbreak in her life. happily, she has a whole series of stories in which she is the main character!

The Hartfield Mysteries Series begins with Book One: Manuscript for Murder. In it, we get to know Alexa better. Meet her family. Understand some of her woes, one of which is that someone is replicating the murders from her latest, unpublished novel in Fairbury. A side story appears when Alexa meets a young fan in need of a transplant and her handsome, eligible father. A relationship develops, but not the one you may think! In the meantime, people are still being killed at an alarming rate. She’s increasingly discouraged as the spree goes unsolved and considers giving up her beloved career. As she strives to help the police, the story stays lively; you’re not quite sure who the perp is until it’s unveiled and then you shout, “OF COURSE!” and your family all look at you as though you’ve just fallen from a tree branch. Come on, that happens to everyone, right? *Ahem*

The second book, Crime of Fashion, opens with Alexa’s entry into the fashion industry. She agrees to partner in a line of clothing inspired in some ways by her own individual style. With the news that her young friend is being taken to the hospital, Alexa hurries to Chicago to be near her (and the handsome, unattached father) which ruffles Fairbury officer and avowed bachelor, Joe, who helped solve the last crime wave. As it happens, mayhem follows her, and joe is afraid she is again in danger. Someone does not want the new clothing line to be successful. On top of that, both Joe and Alexa are confused about their relationship and are trying to make some sense of it all.  Once again, Chautona hints at, but doesn’t reveal the killer until you’re sure it’s someone else. A very surprise ending, in more ways than one!

The third, Two O’Clock Slump, will be coming soon! Keep your eyes on her website! It’s promising to be a good one, what with a wedding and all (oops! did I just say that? *wink, wink*)

In reading through the reviews on Amazon, one person said “You can’t go wrong with a novel by Chautona!” and they are so right! Stop by her website and check out all of her books, enter a contest or two and please do not miss her post about Project Stephen. Here’s more about it from my Facebook page:

You all know Chautona. I mention her at least 2 times a week, probably more. She’s an amazing author, a true mentor in every good way, and an awesome friend. Almost a year ago, her life, as well as her family’s, changed forever when her 3 year old grandson Stephen stepped on a downed power line. 
Chautona is writing a fictionalized account of the story. ALL PROCEEDS WILL GO FOR STEPHEN’S CONTINUED CARE. Please take a moment to read the post and forward to as many of your friends as possible. Support the Havig family with your prayers as well. Thank you, my friends.

Be blessed and hold your loved ones close this weekend,

Barbara

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Book Review: The Story Jar by Robin Lee Hatcher and Deborah Bedford

Brag warning: I am friends with RLH on Facebook and Goodreads. So there. 😉 Yes, I can get all fan girl about it, but I won’t (anymore).

Robin posted last week about Authorgraph (hence, the nifty widget to the right, where you can request a personalized signature from me for your Kindle versions of my books. Way cool, right?) I decided that I must have one from Robin, so I made a quickie purchase. The title intrigued me, and I always like to read stories that have co-authors to see the way they mesh styles.

In the forward, Robin tells how this book came to be written. I’m hoping to present the idea of a story jar to my Bible study group. What a wonderful way to remember all that Jesus has done, and continues to work, in our hearts.

I read this book in a total of 5 hours. It would have been 5 straight hours but I did need to sleep a bit in between. The main plot takes place in a small church where Beth Williams is hired to clean the sanctuary. She’s care worn, discouraged. In the course of her duties, a woman comes in to sit. Beth discovers she is the former pastor’s wife. As she’s cleaning, Beth discovers a jar hidden underneath a chair on the platform. Mrs. Halley opens the jar and by that opens Beth’s heart to the wonderful ways Jesus touches the hearts of others when it seems that there is no hope.

This is the beauty of this book; it’s three stories! As Mrs. Halley takes treasures from the jar, she tells Beth about two special people. The first, written by Deborah Bedford, involves a pastor’s family dealing with the wife’s battle with breast cancer. The second, by RLH, touches on the fears of every mother: a wayward child and the hard road of reconciliation.

In the end, Beth is able to release her own fears, and her two sons, into God’s loving hands. It’s a wonderful celebration of mothers, their love for their families and the way the family loves them. As a special bonus, several other well known Christian authors pay tribute to their mothers, including Francine Rivers, Jerry B. Jenkins, Karen Ball and others.

You can find Robin’s books in print and Kindle on Amazon, and at her website (which is in the midst of a makeover).

Deborah Bedford’s books, print and Kindle, can also be found on Amazon. Her website is found here.

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Book Review: Double Exposure by Susan Sleeman

I met Susan by way of the Blog Scavenger Hunt in October. MANY wonderful authors were giving away books, as well as a cool grand prize of a Kindle Fire and 31 books! Plus, each author that participated had their own little giveaways. I won 2 of Susan’s books! I’m always up for free books! Two books in the Justice Agency series.

Unfortunately, they arrived right in the midst of my move. Only one mile away, but still a move. Yowsers! How did we have so much stuff in a 750 sq ft apartment?

FORTUNATELY, I knew right where Susan’s books were packed. 🙂

From the back cover:

A PICTURE WORTH KILLING FOR

Photographer Jennie Buchanan unknowingly captures a drug-cartel meeting on film. And now she has become a killer’s next target. Even worse, her only protection from the danger that threatens her life is the man who threatens her heart. Dodging bullets almost seems safer than facing the feelings stirred up by seeing former FBI agent and ex-boyfriend Ethan Justice again. Ethan vows to safeguard Jennie from the deadly men on her trail. And for a second chance at Jennie’s love, he’s willing to risk anything to expose the truth-about the drug smugglers, the past and the future together he still wants.

From the very first page, Jennie’s plight and the complicated relationship with Ethan grabbed me. I HAD to keep reading! I was then introduced to the Justice family. This is a family I must read more about, and thankfully, Susan is busy writing more!

The story is faith-inspired, yet not preachy. The simple faith of the characters and how they work through their situations smacks of reality. Nothing super-sugary. Real life happening and the response of prayer woven  throughout the story. Jennie struggles with forgiveness and acceptance. The Justice family models these qualities and helps her overcome a huge roadblock. Meanwhile, she’s being hunted down by a drug lord whose picture she accidentally takes. The revelation of the bad guy knocks your socks off, as does the nail biting rescue attempt.

I started Dead Wrong this morning because 1) it was handy and 2) it’s a dang good thing it WAS handy or I would have had to have gone to WalMart! I need to find the other Justice Agency books, and fast!

I also wanted to give Kudos to Harlequin. Yes, THAT Harlequin. They have a new (to me, in any case) “Inspirational” division. No tawdry covers or plot lines best left unwritten. I was stunned when I saw that familiar logo on the back of the book. (My mom was a voracious Harlequin reader ‘back in the day’) I’m impressed that they saw an audience and offered good, fun and clean reading.

Susan is now on my “Favorite Author” list. You can find her online at:

www.susansleeman.com

www.thesuspencezone.com

and on Facebook and Twitter

https://www.facebook.com/SusanSleemanBooks/

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Start The Holidays With A Bang…Or A Kindle

I was never one for the big Black Friday hullaballoo. I like my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. That’s a whole different kind of crazy!

But…here’s a Black Friday bot of fun that I can’t pass up! Chautona is giving away a Kindle Paperwhite! Here’s the scoop, direct from Chautona herself 😉

LET’S CELEBRATE!  So much happening today. I’m giddy. Wednesday night (ok, mostly super early on Thursday morning), I made Hungarian Coffee Cakes.  These things take a long time to make so between mixing, rising, cutting, dipping, rising, and baking times, I rewrote the ending of Advent.  Yes, I did.  I rewrote that ending.  I decided it had a flaw I didn’t like so I fixed it  (and nearly had a nervous breakdown as I did.  Just sayin’).  Then, after I stuck the turkey in the oven to roast all night, I uploaded Advent to Kindle and went to bed.  It was only about five o’clock by that point.

Between chopping potatoes, onions, and celery, I and my amazing daughter, Braelyn, changed the price of EVERY one of my books on Amazon to $.99 yesterday!  That’s right, from today through Monday night, all of my books are $.99!  (Ashley is such a cool publicist!!!)

Then, while my potatoes boiled and the dough sat rising by the oven, I started this (in other words, that’s what’s happening now.  Thought you oughtta know.  My house smells great, I’m starving, the natives are restless, but we’ve got priorities!  BOOKS PEOPLE!)  ;)

Oh, before I forget, please don’t forget the ChristmasSpecial on print books!  To order, just send me an email at chautona @ chautona.com  For more information, click HERE.

So it’s GIVEAWAY time!  We’re giving away a LOT of prizes.

Grand Prize: Kindle Paperwhite!  Man, I love these things.  I want one so badly that I’m almost salivating here.
First Prize: Amazon $15.00 Gift Certificate
Second Prize: Amazon $10.00 Gift Certificate
Third Prize: Amazon $5.00 Gift Certificate

How to win?  There are LOTS of ways.  I’ll recap for you from the Rafflecopter widget:

  1. Tweet this blog post!
  2. Like the Facebook post of this blog post.
  3. Blog about this giveaway.
  4. Pin the Giveaway.
  5. Leave a REVIEW of any of my books on Amazon (can be done multiple times!)
  6. Subscribe to my Newsletter or refer a friend.  If friend subscribes, you get an entry!
  7. Leave a Comment!

Stay tuned for Monday’s freebie!  I have to go set that up now because I’m leaving on Sunday (for 24 hours to celebrate 24 years of marriage with my hubby and I won’t be around to set it up!)

Also, if you have sent me an email in the last week or so, I’m really sorry if I haven’t returned it.  Ones requiring thought have had to be put aside to get ready for the holiday and this promo.  I WILL get back to you.  I promise!

 

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Start The Holidays With A Bang…Or A Kindle

I was never one for the big Black Friday hullaballoo. I like my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. That’s a whole different kind of crazy!

But…here’s a Black Friday bot of fun that I can’t pass up! Chautona is giving away a Kindle Paperwhite! Here’s the scoop, direct from Chautona herself 😉

LET’S CELEBRATE!  So much happening today. I’m giddy. Wednesday night (ok, mostly super early on Thursday morning), I made Hungarian Coffee Cakes.  These things take a long time to make so between mixing, rising, cutting, dipping, rising, and baking times, I rewrote the ending of Advent.  Yes, I did.  I rewrote that ending.  I decided it had a flaw I didn’t like so I fixed it  (and nearly had a nervous breakdown as I did.  Just sayin’).  Then, after I stuck the turkey in the oven to roast all night, I uploaded Advent to Kindle and went to bed.  It was only about five o’clock by that point.

Between chopping potatoes, onions, and celery, I and my amazing daughter, Braelyn, changed the price of EVERY one of my books on Amazon to $.99 yesterday!  That’s right, from today through Monday night, all of my books are $.99!  (Ashley is such a cool publicist!!!)

Then, while my potatoes boiled and the dough sat rising by the oven, I started this (in other words, that’s what’s happening now.  Thought you oughtta know.  My house smells great, I’m starving, the natives are restless, but we’ve got priorities!  BOOKS PEOPLE!)  ;)

Oh, before I forget, please don’t forget the ChristmasSpecial on print books!  To order, just send me an email at chautona @ chautona.com  For more information, click HERE.

So it’s GIVEAWAY time!  We’re giving away a LOT of prizes.

Grand Prize: Kindle Paperwhite!  Man, I love these things.  I want one so badly that I’m almost salivating here.
First Prize: Amazon $15.00 Gift Certificate
Second Prize: Amazon $10.00 Gift Certificate
Third Prize: Amazon $5.00 Gift Certificate

How to win?  There are LOTS of ways.  I’ll recap for you from the Rafflecopter widget:

  1. Tweet this blog post!
  2. Like the Facebook post of this blog post.
  3. Blog about this giveaway.
  4. Pin the Giveaway.
  5. Leave a REVIEW of any of my books on Amazon (can be done multiple times!)
  6. Subscribe to my Newsletter or refer a friend.  If friend subscribes, you get an entry!
  7. Leave a Comment!

Stay tuned for Monday’s freebie!  I have to go set that up now because I’m leaving on Sunday (for 24 hours to celebrate 24 years of marriage with my hubby and I won’t be around to set it up!)

Also, if you have sent me an email in the last week or so, I’m really sorry if I haven’t returned it.  Ones requiring thought have had to be put aside to get ready for the holiday and this promo.  I WILL get back to you.  I promise!