Sometimes Miracles Hide – Pieces of Granite Playlist

Infant Mom HandsMy latest release, Pieces of Granite, is about a couple who learns that the child they’re expecting has Down syndrome and that diagnosis causes a rift in their marriage.

It’s obviously not an easy diagnosis for anyone to take, and a majority of parents who learn their pre-born child has Down will abort the child. (Note: The statistic “90% of pre-born babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted” has been bandied around, but a formal study has not been done. In this blog post on Human Life Review, Matthew Hennessy provides an in-depth analysis of this claim.)

But regardless of what the statistics say or don’t say, if it were 1%, that would be 1% too many, for every child is a miracle. Every. One!

Bruce Carroll sings about this in his 1991 single, Sometimes Miracles Hide, a beautiful anthem for all those receiving a difficult diagnosis.

Pieces of GranitePieces of Granite now available at:

Amazon | B&N | BAM

Heart-Stopping Numbers

baby ultrasoundI don’t like to make waves. Typical for a Minnesotan, I suppose. I’m also a very poor debater, so I don’t speak out a lot on push-button issues, though I do have an opinion. But today’s a day I can’t keep quiet. Forty-two years after the passing of Roe v. Wade, and my heart still breaks.

As I said, I don’t debate, and I won’t get into an argument, rather I’ll throw out a few numbers taken from the Planned Parenthood Annual Report for 2013-2014. Their figures, not mine.

3 – 3% of the services performed by Planned Parenthood in the 2013-2014 fiscal year were abortions. 3% is a nice small number, right? (see Page 17 of the Annual Report)

Well, here’s a second number …

327,653 – the total number of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood clinics during the 2013 – 2014 fiscal year. (Page 18) This number is up by 487 from 2012 – 2013 fiscal year.

As I have done in two previous years [(A Not So Tiny Number) and (Just Another Statistic)], I’ll break that number down for you.

3% means that Planned Parenthood alone performed …

27,304.42 abortions per month

6,301.02 abortions per week

897.68 per day

37.40 per hour

0.62 per minute


1 abortion every 96.25 seconds.

That’s one precious life–one beating heart deliberately stopped every 96.25 seconds.

My heart’s breaking. What about yours?

Novel Anticipation – January 2015, Part 2

Novel Anticipation

Today’s list is my usual hodge-podge of books. Two are written by poetic wordsmiths (Christa Parrish and Lisa Samson), another is the third novel in a romantic suspense series (Southern Crimes) I’m hooked on, and the final books are written by new-to-me authors. It’s exciting to have such a diverse to-read pile to dig into!

What’s on your to-read list this month?

(Southern Crimes #3)
by Lisa Harris

Michael Hunt is alive–and on the run. Presumed dead by friends and family, the undercover assignment he’s been working for the past eight months has just been blown. With a hit out on his life and corruption inside the Atlanta police department, Michael finds himself hunted by both the cartel and the law. His only hope is the daughter of the man who wants him dead.

by Christa Parrish
Thomas Nelson

A tragic plane crash. One woman who lost her husband. Another who gave up her seat for him. Adah spent her first twenty-five years with her family as part of a fringe religious sect. Her only contact with the outside world was through customers at their farm store. Then she met Julian, a photojournalist who’d come to document their lifestyle. They eloped mere days later and Adah was thrust into a completely new life as a wife, city-dweller, and an individual allowed to make her own decisions. But she has no idea who she is.

On her twenty-sixth birthday, Julian plans to fly home from an assignment to give her her first-ever birthday present. He’s thrilled when Katherine Cramer gives up her seat so he can make the flight. But the plane crashes and everyone on board is killed, including Julian.

by Kathryn Springer

Nothing has ever come easy for single mom Genevieve Lightly. Over the years, she’s managed to pay the bills waitressing, and she is deeply devoted to her daughter, Raine. Gin has been satisfied moving from city to city, never putting down roots or making commitments. But when engine trouble temporarily strands them in the small town of Banister Falls, Wisconsin, Gin promises her daughter they will stay put until Raine graduates from high school in the spring.

Dan Moretti couldn’t imagine a life without Evie, but she married his best friend. After Max died while fighting a huge blaze, Dan has looked out for Evie and her son, Cody. Evie has always made it clear she thinks of him only as a friend, but Dan has secretly held out hope that her feelings would change. When a small town scandal erupts, Dan is caught in the middle and his loyalty put to the test when he realizes his feelings are the ones that are changing. He’s falling for a beautiful, unconventional waitress named Gin.

As Cody and Raine move closer to making decisions that will affect the rest of their lives, Dan makes a decision, too. But can he convince a woman who doesn’t believe in happy endings to take a chance on a new beginning . . . with him?

A Thing of BeautyA THING OF BEAUTY
by Lisa Samson
Thomas Nelson

Former child star Fiona Hume left the biz a decade ago, after she left rehab. She retreated to Baltimore and bought an old mansion downtown with dreams of restoring it into a masterpiece-maybe creating an artist’s studio for herself. And living an artist’s life. That was the plan.Ten years later, Fiona’s huge house is filled with junk purchased at thrift stores, yard sales, or picked up from the side of the road. Each piece was destined for a project, but all she’s got so far is a piece of twine with some antique buttons threaded down its length. Her money has almost run out. She will soon lose her house and will be forced back into acting.

by Gerard Kelly
Lion Fiction

Londoners admire Pastor David Dryden for emphasizing the importance of the Christian family. But all is not well in his own household. He and his wife have been ignoring their son Colom’s erratic behavior. When a school friend commits suicide, they find a commitment to die in Colom’s room. Can David restore his broken family?

2015 Movie Anticipation

Drive InAfter I had this post written & prepared, my husband reminded me that I promised Part 2 of my novel anticipation post today. Oops! Hopefully you won’t mind waiting until Tuesday the 20th for the rest of my novel list.


Once again, several movies make my can’t-wait-to-see list. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll all pass muster. Last year’s list included favorites Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and How To Train Your Dragon 2. But the list also included movies for which I had high expectations, but their delivery was so-so: Maleficent, The Monuments Men, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

That doesn’t stop me from hoping that each of the 2015 movies lives up to its billing. We’ll be at the theater, legs propped up in the uber-comfortable recliner seats, popcorn buckets in hand, enjoying two-plus hours of no phones ringing, no dirty house begging to be cleaned, no one yelling for Mom. It’s pretty close to paradise. ;-)


  • American Sniper – I love movies about true-life heroes. This biographical movie depicting U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s life will be a tough one to watch, but I’m anticipating coming away with a deeper appreciation for what our troops go through.
  • Still Alice – Based on the gut-wrenching novel by Lisa Genova about a Harvard professor who receives the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. It was a tough book to read–I’m certain the movie will follow suit.


  • Cinderella - Another live-action fairy tale that has a look similar to last year’s Maleficent (the story fell short, IMO). Here’s hoping Cinderella will be an improvement. If not, I’ll just have to dig out Ever After again.
  • The Divergent Series: Insurgent – Not being a dystopian fan, I was completely surprised by the first movie in this series, Divergent. We’ll see if this one holds my interest.


  • The Avengers: Age of Ultron – To say this is my most anticipated movie of 2015 is an understatement. The trailers released so far only enhance my anticipation. Our entire family is already planning to take the day off and spend it at the theater (assuming they have another Avengers marathon as they did when The Avengers released.) Yes, we are total Marvel movie geeks! But you knew that already, didn’t you? :)


  • Jurassic World – When Jurassic Park came out in 1993, my husband and I took a very rare evening out to the theater. It was well worth the seats, the popcorn, and the babysitter. Now, I often use the original as an example of excellent storytelling. Too bad the second and third Jurassic movies didn’t follow suit. But the trailer for Jurassic World hints at having a much better story line, and it doesn’t hurt that Chris Pratt is playing the hero.
  • Inside Out – From terrifying dinosaurs to a cartoon peak inside of our heads. With Pixar behind this movie, I’ve no doubt it will be another winner.


  • Minions - How is it that yellow, tubular shaped creatures have totally captured our hearts? I can’t explain it, but I’m looking forward to seeing them in their own movie, and judging by what I see on my Facebook and Pinterest pages, I know I’m not alone.
  • Ant-Man – This is one Marvel movie I’m skeptical about. Its production hasn’t gone smoothly. We’ll see if they got all the kinks worked out …

And then we have a huge movie drought until November, at least for my taste, and then it’s a movie that I’m so-so about seeing …

  • The Good Dinosaur – I know little about this movie other than that it’s another Pixar production. Dare I say I’m skeptical about a Pixar movie?

What movies are you looking forward to seeing in 2015?

Meet Nicholas Brentwood from Michelle Griep’s BRENTWOOD’S WARD

Michelle Griep*** Book Giveaway ***
See contest info below

There’s little that’s more fun than welcoming friends to my blog, especially when they have a brand new book out, so I’m thrilled to welcome author Michelle Griep

Actually, let me restate that, I’m thrilled to welcome Nicholas Brentwood, Michelle Griep’s hero from her new release, Brentwood’s Ward, to my blog. Michelle is busy with the book release stuff, so Nicholas stepped in to help her out. Nicholas Brentwood is a rough and tumble lawman with a strong sense of right and wrong. He’s agreed to answer a few questions today, which is a rare treat …

Brentwood's WardBut first, here’s a little bit about Brentwood’s Ward:

There’s none better than NICHOLAS BRENTWOOD at catching the felons who ravage London’s streets, and there’s nothing he loves more than seeing justice carried out—but this time he’s met his match. Beautiful and beguiling EMILY PAYNE is more treacherous than a city full of miscreants and thugs, for she’s a thief of the highest order…she’s stolen his heart.

Sounds like a page-turner, doesn’t it? And as an occasional critique partner of Michelle, I’ve had glimpses into this story and am dying to read the entire book. The only reason I haven’t is because Michelle’s having a book signing this Saturday (Burnsville LifeWay, for those of you in Minnesota), and I plan on purchasing my book then.

But I digress….

At last, what you’ve been waiting for, the rare interview with Nicholas Brentwood …

QUESTION: What made you decide to become a Bow Street Runner?

NICHOLAS: **a muscle twitches along his jaw then softens when he makes eye contact with you** “Perhaps you’re not aware that “runner” is a derogatory name. I don’t “run” errands for the magistrate. I am an officer of the law, snatching criminals off the street and hauling them in so that justice can be meted out . . . and that is exactly why I signed up for the position. Vengeance may be the Lord’s duty. Justice is mine.”

QUESTION: Who was the most dangerous scoundrel you ever crossed paths with?

NICHOLAS: **flashes a smile** “Time was when I’d answer that question with ol’ Natty Pickmacket.” **rolls up his sleeve and turns over a forearm knotted with muscle—and a thick scar running the length of it** “See that? Natty knew how to wield a blade. Best of the best. Caught me off-guard in an alley off King’s Courtyard. But he was a babe compared to the most cunning thief I ever crossed paths with.” **tugs his sleeve down** “Emily Payne left me bleeding on the inside.”

QUESTION: Speaking of Miss Payne, what was your first impression when you met her?

NICHOLAS: **quirks a brow** “Is this off the record?”

QUESTION: She won’t hear a word of it.

NICHOLAS: “The first time I met Emily was a punch in the gut. Beauty, wit, and a streak of rebelliousness are the worst possible combination. I knew exactly what she was. An opportunist, using her sweet smile and soft curves to get whatever she wanted. Still . . .” **a broad grin lights the dark shadows of his face** “I loved her for it, though I wouldn’t admit it. Not even to myself.”

QUESTION: Some day you may have a family. Will you continue in this perilous line of work?

NICHOLAS: **shrugs** “I would like a family of my own someday—if Emily is willing and God provides. Keeping them safe will be my top priority, and what better way than to remain in my present position?

QUESTION: Is that not a risk?

NICHOLAS: “Every breath you take brings a new risk. We live in a fallen world. I once told Emily that the only way to prevent trouble is to identify the danger before it strikes. I expect being a father would only heighten my sense of identification.” **reaches inside waistcoat and pulls out his pocketwatch, flipping open the cover with his thumb** “Sorry. Didn’t realize the time. I’ve enjoyed our conversation, but I really must dash, or I will be in danger.”

QUESTION: Oh? Are you off on a manhunt or an undercover assignment?

NICHOLAS: “No, nothing so clandestine.” **tucks away his watch** “Emily is waiting for me at the Chapter Coffee House. I took down a man there, once. This time I don’t want it to be me. She brandishes her temper like Natty and his blade. **winks before he wheels about and stalks out the door**

London’s streets are safer because of men like this. If you have the opportunity, be sure to thank a lawman today.

Intrigued? I knew you would be! Brentwood’s Ward is available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine booksellers, so hurry out and pick up your copy!

Amazon | B&N | CBD | BAM


Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager.

She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones.

Follow her adventures at her blog WRITER OFF THE LEASH or visit, and don’t forget the usual haunts of Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter.

Website | Blog Pinterest | Facebook | Twitter | Novel Rocket


Brentwood's Ward>>>Book Giveaway<<<

Michelle has graciously offered to give away one copy of Brentwood’s Ward! To enter, in the comments below, please let us know if you’ve read any of Michelle’s other books. Which one(s)?

This contest ends Sunday, January 18, 2015 at 11:59 pm CST. I will post the winner on Monday, January 19, 2015. Winner will be chosen via

Novel Anticipation – January 2015, Part 1

Novel Anticipation

January’s a big month for new releases, so I’m breaking the post into two parts. Today, I get to brag on a few friends whose books just released. I’d love it (they’d love it too!) if you’d give their books a try.

Brentwood's WardBRENTWOOD’S WARD
by Michelle Griep
Shiloh Run Press
(Michelle will be my guest this coming Tuesday the 13th. She has a fabulous character interview with her protagonist Nicholas Brentwood, PLUS a book giveaway! You won’t want to miss it!)

Place an unpolished lawman named Nicholas Brentwood as guardian over a spoiled, pompous beauty named Emily Payne and what do you get? More trouble than Brentwood bargains for. She is determined to find a husband this season. He just wants the large fee her father will pay him to help his ailing sister. After a series of dire mishaps, both their desires are thwarted, but each discovers that no matter what, God is in charge.

by Shannon Taylor Vannatter


She’s beginning a new chapter in Aubrey, Texas, away from her abusive ex-boyfriend. As she picks up the pieces of her broken life, Tori’s surprised at the helping hand the church’s new song director, Brant McConnell, offers her, and at the warm emotions he inspires.

Brant is drawn to Tori. And as their friendship grows, so do his feelings for her. But Tori is still hounded by her past, and the walls she’s built around her heart are high. Can he convince the wounded beauty that he’s exactly the kind of man she needs—and deserves?

by Rose Ross Zediker

Modern South Dakota individuals use quilting to bring them joy and comfort, but suddenly quilting is leading them to romances they didn’t even know they wanted.

Caroline and Rodney have each been loaded with many worries, but a tattered quilt could bring them together to share their burdens.

Sarah and Mark embrace their independence until a quilting class throws them together and reveals their need for companionship.

Lil is outgoing where Walt is private, but as they use quilting for physical therapy, an old secret could be revealed that will expose just how different they really are.

Remember to come back next Tuesday, January 13, for the interview with Brentwood’s Ward hero, Nicholas Brentwood. And then on Thursday, January 15, I’m sharing additional January releases that I’m excited about.

Favorite Novels from 2014

Best of 20142014 was a slow year of reading for me. Typically, I’ll read over 100 books, but in 2014 I only completed 78. That’s due to a combination of factors, including having less time to read having released two novels during the year, and being much more picky about what I read.

As you can see, while I still prefer contemporary drama, my favorites come from several genres: YA, romance, historical, spec, thriller, suspense, women’s fiction. John Otte even made the list twice, and it’s not because he’s a friend. He’s a fabulous storyteller!

The books and authors are listed below in the order I read them:

(Porter Family #2)
by Becky Wade

(Chapel Springs #2)
by Denise Hunter

(Texas Gold)
by Kellie Coates Gilbert

by Lori Benton

by John W. Otte

(A Gwen Marcey Novel #1)
by Carrie Stuart Parks

(The Balantyne Legacy #3)
by Laura Frantz

by Don & Stephanie Prichard

(The Bowers Files #7)
by Steven James

(Failstate series)
by John W. Otte

What were your favorite reads from 2014? Have you read any of my favorites?