Monday, June 30, 2014

Love Comes Home - Friends, Family and Fun

            

"I'm late, I'm late for a very important date!" 

That's what I am with this blog post - late like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. But this weekend was a time when I was rushing around like that white rabbit trying to do everything and then some. That's when I should listen to this following good advice.  

"I've learned the Lord didn't do it all in one day...so what makes me think I can?"

But wow, what a weekend! My daughter and son-in-law came home and so we decided to have a big gathering to celebrate my husband's birthday month. When you get our age, you have to make the birthday celebrations last. So we invited the family and laid in the food. Kroger did some of the cooking and two people brought homemade ice cream - peach and banana - and my daughter made enough brownies for an army - or for about eight grandkids. LOL. 

Of course, it rained. Every Saturday in June until last Saturday has been beautiful. The weather forecast called for numerous showers. The weather forecast was right. But it didn't storm and we were able to run out and enjoy the day in between showers and sometimes we kept on playing even with the sprinkles coming down. 

After everybody ate and most everybody went home, I looked in the fridge and found my HUGE bowl of coleslaw. We are going to be eating coleslaw for a while. Do you ever do that? Forget to set out what you've fixed for a dinner or maybe that only happens after you've celebrated a lot of birthdays. :) But in case you have done something like that when you're entertaining extended family, share it with us so I won't feel like the only crazy one. 

Then I already have my Hometown Book Launch for Love Comes Home scheduled for Sunday. Not the best plan after a wild Saturday that pretty much had me running out of energy. I needed some "ten hour" energy drink. But I got recharged at church and was ready to go Sunday afternoon. Or maybe all those beautiful reading friends showing up to hear me talk about my books gave me the "energy" shot I needed. Thank you so much if you were able to come to my book party. I love talking books and I love seeing reading friends too. Wish all of you could have been there. You could have joined in with this great group who laughed at the right times and didn't go to sleep. 

As you can see in the photo, most of the people there were ladies, but there were two guys besides my grandson and son-in-law. I gave away six door prizes. Both men won one. What are the chances of that happening? One of the men told me afterwards it was because they were both preachers. I guess he thought that make their names rise to the top of the drawing basket.

Since we're talking about drawings, remember that today is your last chance to get your name in both of my giveaways. The blog only drawing will have five winners of one of my books (winner's choice). Enter by leaving a comment with a way to contact you - either with an e-mail address or by saying you can be contacted from my Facebook page. My website giveaway has some neat prizes along with those books. You can check out those prizes in last week's blog and read the ways to enter on my Website Events & News Page. But deadline is tonight, June 30, 2014 at midnight EST, so hurry. Don't be like that white rabbit and me and end up saying, "I'm late, I'm late."  

Love hearing from you, so tell me about your busy weekends or something that went haywire when you were having a family get together. 


Thursday, June 26, 2014

What Do You Like about June?


                       

"Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June." ~Al Bernstein 

What do you like about June? Summer starting? School out? Swimming pools filling up? Flowers blooming? Gardens growing? Family vacations? Bible School? So many things to love about June - that sweet time between spring and the hot days of July and August. 

For me, the last few years, June has been a time to celebrate a new book out for readers. This year follows right along with Love Comes Home available in stores and on-line. Reviews are beginning to show up on some of the on-line book sites and in some of the book review magazines. That can be fun but also a little scary. I wrote the story and made it the best I could. Editors at the publishing company helped me polish and improve and gave the book a beautiful cover. And now I have to wait and see if readers are excited about going back to Rosey Corner to see what happened next. 

One kind Amazon reviewer, Robin, wrote words I was glad to read about Love Comes Home. "I love visiting Rosey Corner. It has become like home. A sweet vacationing spot. These characters seem like family." That's what I want a reader to feel when they go with me to Rosey Corner or to Hollyhill or even my Harmony Hill Shaker village. Come take a trip with me back into storyland. 

June also means I get to celebrate those new books by giving some things away. Some of you have already entered my Celebration Giveaway. If you haven't, you have until the end of June to enter to win one of these prizes along with one of my autographed books. The details are here. Plus I'm picking five winners here on my blog only contest to win a copy of one of my books (winners' choices). The way to get your name in that hat is to leave a comment on a blog post here in June with a way to contact you. Each new comment on a different post gets an additional entry. Or since some of you have had trouble commenting here, you can message me on my Facebook page or by e-mail, annhgabhart(at)yahoo(dot)com, and say you want to enter the blog giveaway. 

I love hearing from you and finding out what's going on in your world. So what do you love about June?

P.S. I'm having my Hometown Book Launch this Sunday, June 29, at 2:30 p.m. at my hometown library here in Lawrenceburg, KY. Come on out and help me celebrate if you are in the area. We'll talk books and there will even be door prizes. Not quite like the ones above, but still fun.

P.P.S. I'm never going away, am I? :) But wanted to remind you about the Goodreads giveaway for Love Comes Home. Still time to enter there if you are a Goodreads member. Now I'm going away - I promise. At least until next time. Keep reading! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

What are Your Everyday Summertime Joys?



A       "An unthankful heart is like a finger trying to sift the sand for iron–it doesn’t discover God’s mercies. But a thankful heart, just like the magnet, sweeps through life’s circumstances and finds daily blessings from God.
                                                               ... Ellen Banks Elwell

In my recent newsletter I ended with a list of Everyday blessings. Some of you added your own simple but treasured blessings when you entered my Love Comes Home Book Celebration Giveaway (If you haven't entered, you still can. Check details at my website.)

So why not think about some more on this first week of summer. Here are some to start you off.

Summer Day Treasures and Blessings
  •    Swinging on swings.
  •    A cold glass of lemonade or sweet iced tea.
  •    Running through sprinklers.
  •    Watching the sunrise.
  •    Ripe tomatoes out of the garden.
  •    Butterflies and hummingbirds.
  •    Blackberries hanging heaving on the vine.
  •    Old Hymns (especially the memory of your mother or grandmother singing them in the kitchen while she's cooking supper.)
  •    Hearing the smile in someone's voice on the phone. (Especially if it's your grandchild smiling.)
And here are a few simple blessings shared by some of you already: 

  •  When one of the teenagers does something for you  without a motive/reason. (That might not be one of those EVERY day blessings, right, Denise? :))
  •  A good book to read & a small project finished. (ELF)
  •  A cat's purr 
  •  A baby's laugh 
  •  Young children's giggles (the last 3 from Ellen)
What would you add? This morning I can add looking at my little flower garden and being glad the neighbor dogs haven't decided to dig in it. And also the sound of the Bob White Quail. 

So many blessings, but I want to hear what you say too. And if you leave a comment (with a way to contact you) I'll pitch your name in my giveaway hat to perhaps win a copy of your choice of one of my books. I'm drawing for five winners on July 1. Remember each comment on a new post in June gets you another entry. (You must be 18 to enter and print copies for USA or Canada and e-books overseas.)

So what everyday blessing is making you smile today?





Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Homecoming from a Kid's View and '56 Chevys

The stories are still coming in about homecomings. Several great ones in the comments on Sunday's post about when the soldiers come home. Carissa's story had me tearing up since she told her soldier homecoming story from a five-year-old's point of view. Here it is again in case you are one of those folks who don't read comments and an instant repeat is good sometimes anyway. 

Carissa said, 
"I love homecoming stories but I've noticed there aren't that many of them from a kid's point of view. So I thought I would share my own story of when my dad came home for Desert Storm. I don't remember much of the war. I was only four or five at the time. I do remember that it felt like dad was gone forever. Mom helped me write a letter to him every week he was gone. It was hard to keep in touch -- this was before Skype -- and twenty-two years later dad still has all the letters I wrote. Even though I don't remember much, I do remember them getting off the plane and I remember breaking free of my mom's arms and running to my dad not knowing I wasn't supposed to do that. By the time I reached him, he had already dropped his duffle bag and was kneeling with his arms opened ready to hug me. I'll never forget that moment."

And here I go - tearing up again, but can't you just see her dad with a smile a mile wide waiting for his little girl to get to him?

But not all homecoming stories are about soldiers. Some are just a brother coming home like Alla's. And now you'll know why that '56 Chevy is up top.

"My oldest brother went to Illinois to work in a canning factory the summer he graduated from high school. None of us heard from him the whole three months he was gone. That wasn't unusual for my brother since he was always a 'loner.' He was the oldest of five children and refused to have very much to do with any of us kids. I think he stayed mad at us all the years he was growing up, because he didn't really want 4 younger siblings. He was more than anxious to leave home at 18 to get away from all of us young 'uns. Anyway, when he came home after those 3 months of working in the canning factory, he just showed up one morning about daybreak after driving all night to get home. When I woke up that morning and went outside, there he was sitting in the porch swing waiting for us to stir. In the driveway was a beautiful gray and white '56 Chevy he had bought with the money he made. He didn't have much to say and just sat there grinning. Of course, I went inside yelling and waking everybody up to come see what was outside.

That's what we should all do - get excited and welcome our loved ones home. Kate was certainly excited for Jay to get home from the war in Love Comes Home. And I'm excited that the book is going home with some of you readers. Remember if you want to throw your name in my giveaway hat, you have to give me a way to contact you, either an e-mail address or by saying I can contact you from my Facebook page if you've "liked" it. I'll be drawing for the winners in less than two weeks.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

When the Soldiers Come Home


Photo Credit: "Burst of Joy" is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph by Associated Press photographer Slava "Sal" Veder, taken on March 17, 1973 at Travis Air Force Base in California
In Love Comes Home, my new Rosey Corner book, the story starts with the surrender of Japan and everybody celebrating the news that the war is over and the "boys are coming home." Then later in the book, there are homecoming scenes. That's why I asked readers who might have homecoming stories of their own, real ones and not fictional ones like mine in the book, to share those with me. A couple of weeks ago when I wrote about the passing of my husband's Aunt Annie, I included a coming home story about when her husband made it home from World War II. I actually used hints of her story in one of the homecoming scenes in Love Comes Home. That story also touched Judy as it reminded her of the homecoming of her husband from Vietnam. Here's her story. 

"When my husband was in Viet Nam ,we were newly married. I wrote and mailed a letter every day(2 on Sat. for Sunday). I had the last letter in mail box, since he was to be home in 1-2 wks. I had an appt. to get my hair fixed, knew what I was going to wear. I told him in the letter I'd eaten onions but they'd be gone before he came home. I didn't hear his voice, and had one 3-way call in 15 months. I was so happy ..and that very day, he came home. He'd gotten an early plane out and hadn't slept in days. He came in, at the nearest airport and went to where his Dad was working, and he brought him to my parents, where I was living...I was so shocked...and very happy, onions and all...we went to visit his Mom, and went to a hotel, and he was so tired and sleepy, he knocked out..was I glad...because it was as if he had changed so much...he was much changed and for the second time I fell in love again even more than I was....I thank God he made it home.. 46 yrs ago."

Thank you for sharing with us, Judy. I'm sure that memory still is as bright today as it was then. 

I went out on the net to look for a picture of a Vietnam homecoming and found the one above. This is not Judy or anyone I know, but a photo taken of the homecoming greeting of one of the POWs who were released after the war. The picture tells it all and it's no wonder it won a Pulitzer Prize for the photographer. The link here to War Tales tells the story of a World War II veteran, Russell Ogan, who also served during the Korean War and was still in service when the Vietnam War ended. Here's what the retired Brigadier General said after looking back on his three decades with the Air Force. "Taking the prisoners out of Hanoi was the highlight of my career." You can read the rest of his story at the War Tales link. I'm sure he had some great homecomings of his own during his service to our country too. 

Remember, the giveaway contests are still going on until the end of June. Get details for my website giveaway on my News & Events page and you can throw your name in my blog contest hat (picking 5 winners of one of my books) by leaving a comment on one of my posts here in June. Please leave a way to be contacted if you want to enter the contest. Each comment on a new post gets you a new entry in the blog contest. One entry per person in the website contest. And you have to be 18 to enter.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tell Me a Story




When I have a book celebration giveaway the way I am now for my July release Love Comes Home (it will be sneaking in stores very soon), I sometimes ask readers and friends to share a story with me when they send in their entries. It's not necessary to enter, but it's fun. This time I asked for Homecoming or family stories since Love Comes Home starts with WW II ending and the boys coming home.  

The story I'm sharing forward with you today is one from Brenda that points out something we all should keep in mind. We need to take time to share our stories with our families and listen to the stories our older family members have to tell. I so miss Mom being able to tell me the stories of back when she was a kid or when she first got married, but I am blessed that I did get her to tell me many of those stories before she lost those long ago memories. 

The old memories were the last to go, so we had a few years where I would get her to talk about them while we were waiting at doctors' offices or other quiet moments together. What a treasure those memories were to her and me too. Without them, I might never have written Angel Sister and the Rosey Corner stories that follow it up, Small Town Girl and now Love Comes Home

These days, we all seem to be so busy with all the electronic gadgets that can entertain us. But sometimes those electronic gadgets lose power and we have to come up with the old ways to entertain ourselves. That's what Brenda and her family did during one of those times. Her story below shows how sharing those family stories can make for new treasured memories. Here's her story.

One of the great memories I have is when a few years ago we had a huge snow storm and the electricity was out for 6 days. There was 6 of us in the house (husband, me, son, daughter, and three grandsons) as my daughter had MS and was bed bound. It was so cold, and we couldn't go anywhere to wait it out since my daughter couldn't be moved very easily. So we bundled up and sat around the living room and told true stories of days from the past....when the boys were little....when their mother was young....how my husband and I met and got married. The boys loved it, and still talk about it.  We lost my daughter 3 years ago, as she returned to the Lord, and are still raising our grandsons who are all teenagers now. That is one snow storm we will never forget. 



Thank you, Brenda, for sharing your story with us. Maybe we all need a snowstorm to make us lose that electric power now and again so that we can celebrate those special things that connect us and make us family.

Do you like hearing your family stories? 

Remember, you can still enter my giveaway if you haven't already thrown your name in the hat. Details on my website events page. Plus, remember I have the blog only giveaway too where I'm picking five winners to get your choice of one of my books. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on one of my blog posts here in June (with a way to contact you). Each comment on a new post here before the end of June gets your name in the hat again. That gives you more chance to win. If you're in the USA or Canada, you can win a paper copy. If you live overseas, then you can win an e-book. Must be 18 to enter.

I'm the real winner when I get your comments. Love hearing what you have to say.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Forget-Me-Not

"There is something inspiring and sublime about the little forget-me-not flower. I hope it will be a symbol of the little things that make your lives joyful and sweet." ~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Thanks to all of you who have commented here or entered my celebration contest via e-mail. I love hearing from my reading friends and have more fun when I'm not the only one doing the "talking." Some of you have great stories to tell and I'm always honored when you share them with me and then allow me to share them forward here. This time for my celebration of Love Comes Home, I suggested sharing a homecoming story or some special family story. Noelle, who has shared stories with us here before, had one that really fit one of my prizes, the Willow Tree Forget-Me-Not figurine. I don't have any forget-me-not flowers in my new Rosey Corner story, but you'll see the connection when you get a chance to read the story. By the way, I've added Love Comes Home to the Rosey Corner page on my website now where you can read about the story and sample the first chapter. 

But on to Noelle's forget-me-not and very romantic story. Here's what Noelle says:

The Willow Tree series is so beautiful but this particular figurine reminds me of a very special man...

At 6' 3", Bonpapa (affectionate form of GrandPa in French) was a striking figure, blond with green eyes like emeralds. On this particular summer day in 1927 whilst vacationing on the seaside, he rescued a young woman (on the main staircase of the hotel her family owned) from unwanted attention.
A widower and the father of a small girl, he soon fell for the striking dark haired, dark eyed young woman. A rebel (even by our standards these days), she thought to chase him away and surprised herself by not only going on a date but telling him her life story: She'd lost the love of her life in a motorcycle accident only months before and just given birth as an unwed mother to a beautiful little girl.

The rest of the story? Well, he convinced her to marry him of course and the baby girl was not just adopted but loved by this man as the apple of his life. There were other children later on but no one was more proud than him when he presented her as his daughter!

As to the Forget Me Nots? On their first date and each subsequent wedding anniversary (but for the duration of WW 2), he offered his wife, my grand'Mother a little posy of these precious flowers... In 1960 when he passed away much too soon (having lost a lung to mustard gas, he lived with only one lung ), she made sure his grave would have perpetual Forget Me Nots and thus they bloom still to this day.



  
Sigh. Now, isn't that so very romantic? The kind of thing you might find in a romance novel. I think that could be the main plot in a romance novel. Maybe Noelle has already written that or is going to. One thing for sure, Noelle had a extraordinary grandmother. Thanks, Noelle, for sharing stories about her with me and allowing me to share them with my reading friends here.

Remember, I've got the two contests going. The first one you enter by sending me an e-mail or with a comment here. Two prizes, the forget-me-not figurine and a beautiful heart necklace plus one of my books, and if you're one of those never win people, then you tell me that and you'll be entered in a special drawing for a Prayer Journal and one of my books. You can only enter that contest once. (Complete details on my News & Events Page

I'm also giving away five books here to my blog readers only. To enter the blog only contest, just leave a comment on any blog post before the end of June. Each comment on a new post gets you a new entry. Remember, you have to be eighteen to enter, and the paper book is for USA or Canada only, but if you live overseas, you can win an e-book version of one of my books. Plus, right now, you can still download the e-book of Scent of Lilacs free. 322 Amazon reviews so far and the vast majority have been kind. Whew! That's always a relief.


"And the day came when the risk to stay tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom." ~Anais Nin

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Celebrating Love Comes Home with Giveaways

It's always so much fun to celebrate a new release with a giveaway contest because I get to hear from so many of my reading friends - you. Thank all of you who have entered already, but here are the details for those of you who haven't seen my newsletter. If you want to be on my e-mail list and among the first to hear book news or about contests, you can sign up here Ann's Newsletter.

No big prizes, but I hope you'll think they're fun. First prize winner will get the choice of the Marcasite Filagree and Garnet 18" Heart Pendant or the "Forget-me-not" Willow Tree figurine along with the winner's choice of one of my books. The necklace has a small heart in the larger heart. Once you read my new book, Love Comes Home, you'll know why I chose these prizes. The second place winner will get whichever prize is left along with a choice of one of my books. Then because I'm one of those "never win" people, if you tell me that you never win in contest drawings, your name will go into a special extra drawing for the Praying the Names of God Journal and the choice of one of my books. Hardly anybody has told me they never win yet, so the chances in that drawing are very good that you might end up in the winner's circle. 

You have to be 18 to enter and you can enter by sending me an e-mail at annhgabhart(at)yahoo(dot)com or by leaving a comment on one of the posts here in June. I'll draw for the winners on July 1. To make things more fun, you can tell me a story about a family homecoming or special family memory. The stories aren't necessary to win. Just fun. Many of you have already entered the contest with a comment on the last post. I thank you for that. And some of you have shared stories. I've enjoyed reading them, and I'll be posting some of them here on One Writer's Journal later this month. 

Now, for the blog only contest. You friends here are so kind to read my this and that posts and to leave me encouraging comments that I've got to have a giveaway just for you. Those of you who entered the other contest by leaving a comment on the previous posts will have to come back and comment again to be entered in the blog contest. In fact, every time you leave a comment on a new post for the rest of June, you'll have a new entry and chance to win. Remember to leave your e-mail or a way to contact you when you enter.

You think I should throw in some mystery picture posts for you to try to guess before the end of the month? I just posted a picture of a snake that looks purple on my Facebook Page, but I think it was really just a black snake with the sun making it look purple. There's been quite a discussion about what kind of "purple" snake it is. Still a mystery, but not one any of us are doing much good figuring out. 

So what can I give away? I know. How about a copy of my new book? An autographed paper copy if you live in the USA or Canada and an e-book copy if you live overseas? That's original, isn't it? LOL. I'll draw the five winners early July 1.  

Also, remember if you're on Goodreads you can sign up there too to win one of five copies Revell Books is giving away. It's fun giving books away. For my giveaway, if you'd rather have a different title (one of mine, of course) that can be arranged. Remember, if you enter, you have to leave a way for me to be able to contact you in the event you are one of the winners. 

Thanks to any of you who downloaded Angel Sister or Small Town Girl while they were at a special price. Angel Sister was in the top 100 of Kindle titles today. Hope that means a lot of new readers are headed to Rosey Corner to meet my characters. 

If you've read any of the Rosey Corner books, which character is your favorite?