OH BABY, 36 WEEKS




Terri hefted the brown leather duffel bag onto the mattress and stood beside the bed, waiting to catch her breath. She arched her spine, one hand pressed to the never ending ache at the small of her back while her other hand massaged the tight skin of her thirty-six week stomach. Her exhale filled the room. Those stairs were a killer these days and lugging the bag up from the cubby beneath them more of a chore than it should have been. Surviving the last four weeks of her pregnancy would be a miracle.
The baby in her womb squirmed in its tight confines. Terri smiled at the sensation and watched the fabric of her shirt roll and shift.  “Anxious to get out of there, aren’t you?” Her voice seemed to calm the restless baby. While the baby stilled, Terri’s heart boosted into overdrive. “Four weeks?” Am I really ready? Her heart answered yes, even while her mind flooded with doubt.
Her hand reached for the phone. Callie, Pam, or Karla would reassure her. The hand fluttered back to rest atop the mound of her belly. Don’t be a goof. She admonished herself. You’ve waited for this your whole life.
She stood, snapped open the duffel, and started loading items into it. Once all of her clothes were packed for the anticipated two day stay in the hospital, she turned to the baby items that would go in last.
Terri added the tiny footed outfit that Callie had insisted on buying just for the baby’s trip home. She smiled. The outfit was white. Callie was one of two people who knew the sex of the baby. She’d been so careful not to let any hint slip. Pam’s contribution came next. A white cap and tiny gloves both knitted in the softest yarn Terri had ever touched.She nestled in a small stuffed bear in the suitcase as well.
The last item was Karla’s hand crocheted green and yellow blanket. Terri hesitated. She sat on the bed and spread the blanket over her belly. Her hands drifted across the blanket so lovingly fashioned by her friend. She could almost imagine her baby cuddled up in its warmth. “Just four more weeks and we’ll get to meet each other face to face.”  Oh, baby!!

While you're here, Please take a few minutes to visit the tabs at the top of the page. Our AUTHOR SPOT LIGHT guest for this week is Sarah Sundin. Sarah is here to talk about her novel, ON DISTANT SHORES.  Sarah will be giving away a copy of her book at the end of the week. On this week's SNEAK PIQUE page, R.M. Strong and Lisa Wingate treat us to an advance look into their upcoming releases.

Oohs and Aahs of July Releases for End of Summer Clash


We're moving toward the end of summer...but there's still plenty of time to check out these great new releases! This month's CLASH OF THE TITLES runs the gamut from debut authors to tried and true fav authors--from history to mystery...Suspense! Contemporary Romance! Sailing! Cowboys!  Novella to full-length - something for everyone.

Come join us on this latest Clash of the Title competition. Vote for the next book you are desperate to add to your reading list...and don't forget to leave a word of encouragement.

This CLASH VOTE lasts until midnight August 27--that's next TUESDAY.

The author with the most votes will be announced on August 29 -- THURSDAY! Make sure you come back then to meet the author and read more about the winning title.



Stalking Willow, by Fay Lamb

Trailed by a stalker in New York City, Willow Thomas, a young ad executive, scurries back to her small North Carolina hometown and the lake house where ten years earlier a scandal revealed her entire life had been a lie and a seed of bitterness took root in her soul. The cocoon of safety Willow feels upon her arrival home soon unravels when she meets opposition from her family, faces the man she left behind, and the stalker reveals he is close on her heels.




Miss Fishfly, by Linda Glaz

Searching for love everywhere but in the right places, Christie Hayes is confounded when chocolate brown eyes wink at her at her best friend's wedding. A narrow miss of the bedpan, and she discovers old Mr. Hartway's grandson, Colton Keller, and brown eyes are one in the same.




A Lady of Quality, by Louise M. Gouge

Catherine Du Coeur is determined to uncover the truth about wealthy Lord Winston, who falsely accused her father of treason. Baron Lord Winston has had little success in finding an accomplished aristocratic bride who is suited to his diplomatic aspirations, but when he meets Miss Du Coeur, a countess’s lowly companion, he finds that family connections are far less important than matters of the heart.


Becalmed, by Normandie Fischer

Tadie Longworth doesn't spend much time worrying that she’s turning into one of Beaufort, North Carolina’s, spinsters with her gift shop full of her own jewelry designs and a sweet little sailboat to take her mind off the guy who got away. But now Will’s back with a daughter and a ship to repair so he can sail—straight out of Tadie’s life.




Rodeo Regrets, by Shannon Taylor Vanatter

After Lane Gray broke her heart Natalie Wentworth made a game of lassoing one cowboy after another with no strings attached. Nine years later, irresistible cowboy Lane Gray is a changed man and wants Natalie's forgiveness-and more.

VOTE HERE! And don't forget to leave an encouraging word. We love to hear from you. Click here to take survey

OH, BABY!! 32 WEEKS




Karla placed the cake plate on the table in front of Terri and handed her a knife. “You do the honors.”
Terri groaned, covered her eyes with the splayed fingers of one hand, and studied the chocolate monstrosity through the cracks. “Are you deliberately trying to kill me?”
“What?”
She lowered a hand and waved at the dessert. Even uncut she could see three shades of chocolate. “That.” Terri’s mouth watered. “Oh my gosh!”
“No, It’s your birthday, you requested chocolate, so…”
“Actually my birthday isn’t for a couple of weeks.” Terri leaned forward, as far forward as her thirty two week belly would allow. “And I asked before my stomach had stretched so much that there are whole patches of skin I can’t even feel. I swear the numbers on the scale are going to read tilt before I have this baby.”
Callie laughed. “Quit complaining and serve up that cake. I see your weight every time you come into the office and you’re right on target. If you weren’t gaining four to five pounds a month right now I’d be worried.”
Terri cut four pieces of cake and handed plates around the table. “Really?”
“Yes, that baby will be here in six weeks or so. Junior’s in a growth spurt right now, so feel free to enjoy your dessert without the guilt topping.”
Pam returned to the table with a fresh pot of coffee. She scooted into her seat next to Terri and gave the impressive baby bump a quick pat. “Blimp factor aside, how are you feeling?”
Terri sat back in the chair and rubbed her belly with both hands. “My ankles are swollen, The stretch marks on my stomach look like a map of bad country roads, I’ve outgrown every bra I own, the ache in my back can only be outdone by the constant heartburn, and I have to pee every thirty minutes.” The smile on her face belied her weary sigh. “And I love this little person more than I ever thought I could love anyone.” She looked at her three friends in turn. “I think we’re good.”
She forked up a piece of the rich cheese cake, put it in her mouth, and allowed it to sit on her tongue for a few seconds before she swallowed it. I’m glad a chocolate high is legal. “Karla, this is heavenly.” Her pronouncement was met with two sharp kicks beneath her rib cage. “And junior agrees!” Oh, Baby!



While you're here, Please take a few minutes to visit the tabs at the top of the page. Our AUTHOR SPOT LIGHT guest for this week is Gail Kittleson. Gail is here to talk about her debut novel, CATCHING UP WITH DAYLIGHT.  Gail will be giving away a copy of her book at the end of the week. On this week's SNEAK PIQUE page, Jessica Dotta and Lisa Harris treat us an advance look into their upcoming releases.

Scotland, Food, Romance, God--Four Greats, One Novel. Five Days in Skye.


Didn't manage that Scotland get-away this summer? No worries. You can travel there now, through the pages of Laureano's latest novel, Five Days in Skye.
A recent COTT clash participant, this "delicious" romance is a whirlwind trip you won't want to miss!

Five Days in Skye 
by Carla Laureano

 

About Five Days in Skye

Hospitality consultant Andrea Sullivan has one last chance to snag a high-profile client or she'll have to kiss her dreams of promotion good-bye. When she's sent to meet Scottish celebrity chef James MacDonald on the Isle of Skye, she just wants to finish her work as efficiently as possible. Yet her client is not the opportunistic womanizer he portrays himself to be, and her attraction to him soon dredges up memories she'd rather leave buried.
For James, renovating the family hotel is a fulfillment of his late father's dreams. When his hired consultant turns out to be beautiful, intelligent, and completely unimpressed by his public persona, he makes it his mission to win her over. He just never expects to fall under her spell.
Soon, both Andrea and James must face the reality that God may have a far different purpose for their lives—and that five days in Skye will forever change their outlook on life and love.

About the Author

Carla Laureano has held many job titles--professional marketer, small business consultant, and martial arts instructor--but writer is by far her favorite. She currently lives in Denver with her patient husband and two rambunctious sons, who know only that Mom's work involves lots of coffee and talking to imaginary people.
Carla spends her free time hanging out on her blog and social media. Connect with her here:

What People Are Saying

“Five Days in Skye is at turns sweet and scathing, lush and intimate... This story has guts and heart as well as the depth and heat necessary to satisfy any romance reader's palate.” – Serena Chase, USA Today

 “What a delicious discovery! Carla Laureano’s Five Days in Skye swept me away to the Scottish Isles and into the wounded hearts of the impeccably cool Andrea Sullivan and the charismatic charmer Jamie MacDonald. This is a romance to savour from beginning to end. The funny and feisty first interaction between this pair sucks you in and as the story and characters develop you will have no desire to leave as they wrestle with doubts, prejudice, preconceptions, and sparkling attraction. What I loved most was the substance to this story – this is no marshmallow romance – but a love story that is intriguing and real… In a world replete with romantic clich├ęs, Carla’s writing is so very refreshing!” – Rel Mollet, Relz Reviewz
“The storytelling, characters, and setting all served to drag me so deeply into the world of Skye that for days after finishing the book I felt a huge, gaping hole… If you love exotic places, larger-than-life leading men, and romances that warm you to your very core, Five Days in Skye is the perfect getaway for a hot summer afternoon. Prepare yourself to read late into the evening and night as putting down the novel will be next to impossible.” – Elizabeth Olmedo, Radiant Lit
“From the sceneries, to the refined cuisine, every detail of the land is sketched with precision and care, embarking readers on an unforgettable journey that will leave them breathless for more. Laureano not only seems to have a knack for breathing life into a place few of us truly know, but also for breathing life into characters that will take you by the hand and run away with you.”—Amazon reader review
“The setting was inviting and gorgeous. The characters, especially the hero, felt real and had fully-rounded back stories. Of course, there was a lot of chemistry and fun, but I was drawn in by the deeper themes of making peace with the past and trusting God with the future as well.” –Amazon reader review

“While I was reveling in luscious details and having a grand time, Laureano managed to remind me that life is about more than working hard to earn good things. Taking a moment to breathe, to lift your head and appreciate creation, to let go of mistakes you've made and allow people to love you--all these gems are embedded in the pages of Five Days in Skye. You'll come away from this novel refreshed and craving good food, good times and the company of loved ones.” –Amazon reader review

OH BABY, WEEK 28



Terri sat in Dr. Rayburn’s waiting room surrounded on all sides by the haves and the have nots. Mothers with brand new babies mingled with ladies in waiting. The have nots ohhed and awed over the new, while the haves shared stories of midnight feedings, doubled laundry, inept husbands, and bodies that refused to return to normal. The have nots took it all in with rounded eyes and murmured words of support. Who was kidding who?

Terri looked up when Callie called her name from the staging room door. She took a deep breath, levered her seven month belly out of the too soft chair, and waddled across the rom. She stopped at the door and motioned to the room full of women. “That’s quite a game they’ve got going on in there.”

Callie looked over Terri’s shoulder. “A game?”

“Yeah. All those new mommies cuddling their precious new babies, trying to tell us to take advantage of this time while we have it. How we won’t have a minute to ourselves once the baby gets here. How there’s no time for rest much less the exercise needed to get our bodies back into shape.” She took a seat next to the counter. “Do they expect us to buy into that?  I mean…I just heard one woman telling another about going out to the store for the first time, alone, and her husband called her to ask if the diaper tabs go in the front or the back. I guess they’re trying to make our wait seem easier.  It isn’t working!”

Callie chuckled as she fastened the blood pressure cuff around Terri’s upper arm. “Sweetheart, you’ve been pregnant too long.”

Terri leaned back in the chair with her eyes closed as the cuff inflated and then deflated.  When Callie removed it she placed her hands on the sides of her swollen belly and rubbed. “Agreed. I’ve waited my whole life for this. I intend to enjoy every moment of being pregnant, fat, and tired, but no one can convince me that this is better than holding the finished product in my arms.” She looked down. “I already love this little person so much.”  Two quick kicks acknowledged her words. Terri’s eyes filled with tears. “Oh baby…”

While you're here, Please take a few minutes to visit the tabs at the top of the page. Our AUTHOR SPOT LIGHT guest for this week is Normandie Fischer. Normandie is here to talk about her debut novel, BECALMED.  Normandie will be giving away a copy of her book at the end of the week. On this week's SNEAK PIQUE page, Mary Ellis and Cynthia Hickey treat us an advance look into their upcoming releases.

Grace's Pictures by Cindy Thomson


Welcome! Today we are taking a look at recent Clash Contender, Grace's Pictures by Cindy Thomson. First, take a look at that gorgeous cover! Love it! Now "turn the book over" to read the back cover blurb:

About the book

Grace's Pictures
Grace McCaffery hopes that the bustling streets of New York hold all the promise that the lush hills of Ireland did not. As her efforts to earn enough money to bring her mother to America fail, she wonders if her new Brownie camera could be the answer. But a casual stroll through a beautiful New York City park turns into a hostile run-in with local gangsters, who are convinced her camera holds the first and only photos of their elusive leader. A policeman with a personal commitment to help those less fortunate finds Grace attractive and longs to help her, but Grace believes such men cannot be trusted. Spread thin between her quest to rescue her mother, do well in a new nanny job, and avoid the gang intent on intimidating her. Grace must put her faith in unlikely sources to learn the true meaning of courage and forgiveness.

***


A review from the Library Journal 

Irish immigrant Grace McCaffery came to New York City for a better life. She takes a job as a nanny to make enough money to bring her mother over from Ireland. When her employers are slow to pay her, she decides to take her new Brownie camera and earn some extra income by selling her photos. A trip to the park puts Grace in danger when she photographs some local gangsters, raising the attention of policeman Owen McNulty. But Grace, who was taken by police to the workhouse when she was a child, has a distrust of men in uniform. Still, she never expects to find one so kind—or attractive. VERDICT Thomson (Brigid of Ireland) has penned a delightful story of overcoming obstacles. Lynn N. Austin fans will savor this historical series debut.

Gotta see more? You can purchase Grace's Pictures on Amazon and read a preview right now!

***

About the author

Cindy Thomson is a writer and an avid genealogy enthusiast. Her love of history and her Scots-Irish heritage have inspired much of her writing, including her Ellis Island series with Tyndale House. Cindy is also the author of Brigid of Irelandand Celtic Wisdom: Treasures from Ireland. She combined her love of history and baseball to co-author the biographyThree Finger: The Mordecai Brown Story, which was a finalist for the Society for American Baseball Research’s Larry Ritter Book Award. In addition to books, Cindy has written on a regular basis for numerous online and print publications and is a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She is also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Historical Novel Society. Cindy and her husband have three grown sons and live in central Ohio. Get to know Cindy at her blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, or on Pinterest.

Click here for a great interview with Cindy on Tyndale's website

Be sure to visit COTT for next month's clash!

OH BABY, 24 WEEKS






Terri pulled the tank top over her rounded belly. She yanked it back up and stared at the thin, red vertical line running  length of her taut skin. A stretch mark? She abandoned her exercise plans and rushed for the lotion and the book. She sat on the bed and rubbed lotion into the skin of her belly with one hand while flipping pages of the book with the other.
“Twenty-four weeks…Twenty-four weeks. Here we go.”  Terri sat straighter and giggled as the baby’s foot connected with her bladder. “Easy there, Sport.” She continued to rub until the movement subsided. It was an amazing thing that she could comfort her baby before it even got here.
“OK, let’s see.” She read out loud. “Your baby at twenty four weeks. Baby should weigh in at about twenty two ounces and  be almost a foot long.” Terri frowned down at her belly. “Skinny Minnie you. If you only weigh twenty two ounces, how is that I’ve gained eight pounds and have my first stretch mark?”  She continued to skim the page. “…the top of your uterus has risen above your belly button and is now about the size of a soccer ball.” She stood and returned to the mirror and viewed the mound of stomach in profile.
“A soccer ball, huh?”  Terri molded her hands around her abdomen. “Yep, thats about the size of it.” She poked at her distended belly button. “I have a soccer ball and a stem.”  She picked up her iPod. Two sets of ear buds dangled from the machine, one white and one green.
 “These,” she said as she attached the green ones to the underside of her belly, “are called belly buds.” Once the tank was adjusted she clipped the iPod to the strap. “Now when we go for our walks, we can listen to the same music.” Terri turned on the music and adjusted the sound. Praise music from Casting Crowns poured through at a comfortable level. She looked down at her shirt as the baby did a soft flip. “Like that, do you? Oh, Baby!”



***My apologies for not posting this for you guys last week. I'm working, frantically, to get book four written and the days just got away from me. The good news? We're just 5000 words from THE END!!! Pray for me if you think of it. I always want the words to be His.***
While you're here, Please take a few minutes to visit the tabs at the top of the page. You will notice some changes. I've relieved the women of their individual pages. The titles have changed, the content is the same. Our AUTHOR SPOT LIGHT guest is Cheryl Martin. Cheryl is here to talk about her book, UKULELES UNDERCOVER.  Cheryl will be giving away a copy of her book at the end of the week. In this week's SNEAK PIQUE page, Burton Cole gives us an advance look in to  BASH AND THE PIRATE PIG.