Sandra Orchard
Taking God at His Word

This week I’d like to share with you a devotional I wrote for Novel Crossing, a wonderful online community for Christian fiction readers.

It opens with a quote from Tom’s beloved father in Deadly Devotion: Sooner or later almost every one of us come up against a side of God that’s hard for us to accept.

You can read the full post here: Taking God at His Word with Sandra Orchard

I hope you have a wonderful week. I hope to write “The End” on the manuscript for the first book in my next series by the end of it. Your prayers would be most appreciated!   :-)

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My Favorite Essential Oils

A post on essential oils probably seems like an off-the-wall topic for a fiction author, but I’ve decided to make my newest heroine a fan of them so it is related.  ;-)

For years I avoided essential oils, because I’m very sensitive to fragrances, particularly floral scents. Many give me an instant migraine.

But I’ve become a huge fan of several essential oils in the past few months, particularly, orange essential oil, which is purported to increase energy and creativity. I’ve been diffusing it in my office for weeks now and the writing has been humming along nicely.

 image of woman happily writing

Sure, I have a suspicion that my loyalty to it is kind of like a hockey or football player’s tendency (at least in the movies) to stick to the same ritual that has kept them on their current winning streak, but…hey, I love the smell and the extra humidity (I use a cool mist diffuser) is a welcome bonus.

My daughter loves it when I sprinkle a few drops of lemon on the furnace filter, too, probably because it gives the entire house a nice just-cleaned scent. This, of course, might be wishful thinking on her part, because between the aforementioned humming-along writing and a strained hip muscle that makes it painful for me to bend, the housecleaning isn’t happening unless she does it.  ;-)

My son loves having a mix of lemon and peppermint diffused in his bedroom at night. He says that it has really helped his sinuses. The rest of the family loves the much more pleasant, non-locker-room smell emanating from his room.  :lol:

I’m also experimenting with using rosemary essential oil in my bath water. Now if you can get past smelling like you’re marinating as you soak in the tub, rosemary is supposed to be good for a wide variety of things that ail you, from constipation or diarrhea, to menstrual pain, to regulating oils in skin whether dry or oily, to…hair loss–stopping it.

That last one was of particular interest to me, since multiple deadlines last year contributed to my hair coming out in droves. Yeah, okay, it probably doesn’t count when you pull it out in frustration, buy hey, it was worth a try.  :-D

Your Turn: How about you? Have you ever used essential oils? Do you have a favorite?

 

(image courtesy of adamr at freedigitalphotos.net )

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Introducing Hidden Agenda by Lisa Harris + A Giveaway

I’m very excited to introduce you to Hidden Agenda, the third book in Lisa Harris‘ Southern Crimes romantic suspense series from Revell Publishing.

Hidden Agenda

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.

I had the privilege of endorsing the first book in the series, Dangerous Passages, which went on to win the Christy Award. Book 2, Fatal Exchange, also did not disappoint.

Fatal ExchangeDangerous-Passage-662x1024

Romantic Times Review called it “a thrill ride from start to finish.”

So I’m eager to read this final installment in the series!

I asked Lisa what inspired the series and what she’s working on now. Here’s what she had to say:

The whole Southern Crimes Series was inspired by my desire to write a romantic suspense series based around a close-knit family of cops. For this story in particular, I loved the idea of an undercover cop having to be saved by the daughter of the man who wants him dead. It brought up lots of trust issues and conflict that I had a lot of fun working with. If you haven’t read books one and two in the series, I don’t want to give too much away, but Michael’s story just had to be told!

While Hidden Agenda will be the last in this series, I just turned in a book to my editor that will kick off my next series with Revell, and I’ve just started writing book two. While I can’t say much yet, it’s another fast paced romantic suspense series that deals with a missing person task force and a heroine (and romance) that I can’t wait to reveal!  The first book will release in October!

Great to hear! For those who are “meeting” Lisa for the first time, here is a little more about her, then be sure to answer the blog question for a chance to receive a copy of Hidden Agenda. Lisa Photo

LISA HARRIS is a Christy Award finalist for Blood Ransom, Christy Award winner for Dangerous Passage, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 from Romantic Times. She has over thirty novels and novella collections in print. She and her family have spent over a decade living as missionaries in Africa where she leads a women’s group, and runs a non-profit organization that works alongside their church-planting ministry.  When she’s not working she loves hanging out with her family, cooking different ethnic dishes, photography, and heading into the African bush on safari. For more information about her books and life in Africa visit her website at www.lisaharriswrites.com.

Your Turn: What books are you eagerly awaiting to read in 2015?

(The recipient of a complimentary copy of Hidden Agenda will be randomly chosen from comments made before midnight EST Saturday, January 17th)

Desperate MeasuresP.S. The preorder price for Desperate Measures, the final book in my Port Aster Secrets mystery series is still under $5 at Amazon (but I’m not sure how much longer it will last)

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Last Day to Get Deadly Devotion & Blind Trust & Desperate Measures for a Steal!

All the E-retailers have price-matched or beat the 99 cent deal on Deadly Devotion!

And…have slashed the price on Blind Trust.

Some…such as Amazon and CBD (epub)…have even slashed the Ebook preorder price for Desperate Measures!!!

Here are some links for Deadly Devotion:

Ebooks:
Kindle US
Kindle Canada
Nook
Kobo
EPub Version from CBD

Koorong (Australia)

Ipad (ITunes Store)

If you know anyone who enjoys fast-paced mysteries, I’d appreciate you letting them know. Thanks so much!

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Boxing Week Blowout & A Cat Question

Just a quick post to let you know that if you haven’t tried the Port Aster Secrets series and would like to read it on a Kobo, from now until January 5th, you can pick up Deadly Devotion, book 1 in the series, for only 99 cents. (Click image or “kobo” above for link)

book-deadly-devotion

I’m hard at work on the first book in my next series. My writing cave doesn’t look quite as cool as this:

Writing CaveBut I am locked away.

I added a heater to the room yesterday, so maybe I’ll be able to think better now. Although… the book is set in February, so all that shivering was inspiring. ;-)

The opening scene happens in Buffalo, so at one point I have:

The chance of scoring a flight home to St. Louis tonight didn’t look good. And the frigid Buffalo temps would be nothing compared to the cold shoulder my cat would give me if he had to spend a second night with only my friend to look in on him. :-D

And here’s my question for you: What kind of cat should I give my heroine?

It is a he–Harold. It came with the apartment she took over from her Great Aunt. She’s never had a cat before so this is a new experience for her.

I snapped this pic of my friend’s cat in St. Louis (it refused to pose!!!), thinking “he’d” make a good model, except…would you say his coat has 3 colors? Because then he’d have to be a she, right?

cat

 

 

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Merry Christmas!

These days I’ve been pretty much glued to my keyboard finishing up copy edits and page proofs for my publishers for my two 2015 books, while also trying to finish the first, very, very, very rough draft of my next book. But…

I wanted to take a moment to wish you, my dear blog readers, a blessed Christmas.

Christmas Greetings

 

Also if you’re on Facebook, I wanted to let you know that I am one “like” away from having a 10-winners book giveaway to celebrate hitting 1000!

The winners will be chosen randomly from all the names that have interacted with my page since the beginning of November, so be sure to check in to see if your name is posted and message or email me if it is. If your name is selected and you already have all my books, (after I tell you how wonderful a person you are ;-) ), I’ll let you have your pick of an advanced copy of either of my 2015 releases as soon as they are available or I can gift the book of your choice to a loved one.

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Will the Real Hero Please Stand Up

Back from his whirlwind tour of the international blogging circuit is the self-proclaimed hero of Identity Withheld. Since he received such a warm response at ICFW, I thought I’d invite him for a repeat performance here.

Golden_Doodle_2 Sandra: Rusty, could you start by telling us about yourself?

Rusty: I’m a really, really, really good dog. Don’t pay no attention to what Tommy’s dad, Jake, says. He’s a firefighter and gets hot under the collar just because I chew a shoe or corner of the couch or something. His parents adopted me for their grandson Tommy who is the nicest boy on the face of the earth. I live with them, next door to Tommy and Jake. Tommy’s mom died not long after he was born so Tommy’s at his grandparents a lot when his dad’s working, and we play and play and play.

Sandra: I hear you took a shine to Kara Grant, too, when Jake brought her to his parents after her house burned down and she had nowhere to go.

Rusty: Oh, yes, I loooooove Kara. She understands dogs. I could tell she was sad so I sat right down beside her and let her cry into my fur and she let me sleep on her bed with her. And she taught my person, Tommy, how to train me so his dad wouldn’t get so mad at me. Of course, I didn’t listen when she told me to stay before she went out for a jog, because I sensed she wasn’t coming back and I knew that would make Tommy real sad.


Sandra: So what did you do?


Rusty: I chased after her. And it worked! She came back to the house to stay a while longer. But…she was more scared than ever, because bad guys are after her.


Sandra: Did Jake have a new respect for you after that, too?


Rusty: More like he was jealous that Kara was always hugging me instead of him.<big, tongue-lolling grin> But after that, at least, he figured “I was smarter than I looked.” Although…I think I look adorable. Don’t you?

Sandra: Absolutely. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Rusty: I don’t want to give away the story, but everyone keeps calling Jake the hero, when I should get top billing. Kara fell in love with me the first time she laid eyes on me and… <glances from side to side and lowers his voice> if you read Identity Withheld, I’m sure you’ll agree that it wouldn’t be much of a story without me.

Sandra: I agree! Thank you Rusty for visiting us. Blog Readers, if you’d like to explore more bonus features of Identity Withheld, including interviews with Jake and Kara, deleted scenes and more, please click here for “Sandra Orchard’s Bonus Features Page

You’ll also find a scrumptious pumpkin muffin recipe. Sending out Happy Thanksgiving best wishes for all my American readers, which…happens to be the day Identity Withheld begins. Have a blessed week!

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Christmas Reads – Part 3 – Christmas in Canada & CD Giveaway

For this month’s Christmas Reads profile, I’m delighted to invite two-time national award nominated singer/songwriter and freelance writer, Sally Meadows, to tell us about her music and newly published stories. I had the privilege of meeting Sally at this year’s Write Canada conference.

Sally and Sandra

She’s  from Saskatoon and just had her first two short stories published in two different anthologies. This fall she is also promoting her Christmas CD Red & White, which is fabulous. Take it away Sally…

Sally:

Thanks so much for hosting me, Sandra! This fall marks the publication of my very first short story, called “Love, Shania and the Whispered Wish” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas in Canada, which has been #1 on The Globe and Mail’s (Canada’s national newspaper) bestseller list for the last two weeks! My story starts on my wedding day – I was married shortly before Christmas, 27 years ago – and the very first feedback I received on my story was that it is “very romantic”! Here’s a scrapbooked photo of my husband and me coming down the aisle just after we said our vows.

 wedding

My story was inspired by my very first wish as a newlywed – that one day I would sing and play the piano in beautiful settings, just like the lovely brunette who serenaded us with Christmas music at the honeymoon resort. Little did I know back then, that not only was that whispered wish going to be fulfilled, but maybe – just maybe – the singer who inspired me all those years ago was none other than one of Canada’s most beloved stars, before she was discovered.

cover_art_44633

My story ends with a mention of my Christmas CD Red & White, so it’s so cool that I can promote these together this fall! My Christmas album includes four original songs and eight Christmas classics, so there’s something for everyone. I am especially proud of my song “This New Year”, which was shortlisted for a 2014 Word Award in the category of song lyrics.

Click Image to buy at iTunes

Click Image to buy at iTunes

 

While my story “Love, Shania and the Whispered Wish” is all about the joyful aspects of my musical journey, my story “Choosing to Praise”, which appears in the book “Organized Obstacles: An Underdog Anthology”, has a more serious note as I discuss the challenges I have faced in music ministry. But it also has a happy ending, as do all the stories in this book. Each story inspires and provides hope as the author chronicles how he or she has turned his/her stumbling blocks into stepping-stones, rising above “underdog” status to become an “overcomer”.

Organized Obstacles BOOK COVER 2014

I thoroughly enjoyed writing these stories and songs, and my sincere hope is that you as reader and listener will enjoy them too! Here’s how you can connect with me: I’d love to hear from you!

http://sallymeadows.com

sally@sallymeadows.com

https://www.facebook.com/SallyMeadowsMusic

http://www.youtube.com/SallyMeadowsMusic

Twitter: @SallyMeadows

Sandra again: Sally is giving away one Free download card for her CD “Red & White”–the full album. To have your name added to the hat, please leave a comment or question for Sally and let us know your favorite Christmas song.

A name will be randomly chosen from all comments on Sat. Nov 22nd.

You can also find the books and music CD at Amazon and Sally’s webstore: http://sallymeadows.com/store

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Who Are You Really?

If you witnessed a crime and reporting it meant you might be targeted by the criminals, would you report it?

That’s the dilemma Nicole faced before the opening of my newest release, Identity Withheld. Her boyfriend tried to talk theIdentity Withheld young kindergarten teacher out of reporting what she believed was a baby being sold, but her conscience wouldn’t allow her to turn a blind eye to what she’d seen.

The Consequence?

The bad guys targeted her and she was compelled to go into witness protection.

The deputy marshal handling her case warned her to never tell anyone who she really was and to trust no one, because the person could be luring her into a false sense of security.

Have you ever confided in someone and later regretted it?

I have.

Could you imagine second guessing everything you said to every person in your life?

If you allowed yourself to fall in love, how would you feel knowing the person loving you back doesn’t even know who you really are?

Or is that true for most of us these days?

Do we only let people see what we want them to see? Or what the world tells us we should be?

ID-10012566_woman in maskOftentimes we don’t even realize how we’re misleading people (maybe even ourselves).

In new relationships, it’s natural to enthusiastically participate in activities that don’t particularly interest us, because they are an opportunity to spend time with the person we’re attracted to. But are we duping the person into believing we share their interests?

Maybe that football fanatic husband has grounds to be resentful after the wedding.

In Identity Withheld, Nicole was given a new name, a new job, a new state to live, her ties to all her friends and relatives were cut, and she was told who to be.

Could you stay true to yourself in that situation?

We actually face it daily on many levels—at school, at work, at church, at home.

Experts, peers, family, friends, the media all tell us how we should act and how we shouldn’t; what we should value; how we should spend our money; what we should think.

Nicole moves to the new state and adopts the new name and the new job. Her faith and fortitude are tested in countless ways.

Thankfully, the kind of tests she faces don’t happen to most of us. But our faith and fortitude are constantly tested, too. Often in subtle ways.

-Being tempted to tell a little white lie to whitewash something we did or didn’t do
-Hearing a friend or colleague or family member say something against God, something we should speak up against

Read Identity Withheld to see if Nicole ultimately turns her back on who she really is.

For yourself, decide who you really are and stay true to it.

Your Turn: What or who has helped you stay true to yourself (or the person you know God wants you to be) in a difficult situation?

 

Masked woman image courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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5 Tips that Could Save Your Life and Those You Love

The cooler winter months tend to bring with them more home fires than any other time of year, so I’ve invited firefighter, Jake Steele, the hero of my new release, Identity Withheld to share his top five fire safety tips that he wished every family would implement.

Because the actions you take before firefighters arrive is what will save your life.

image of fire

1) Maintain working smoke detectors outside all bedrooms in your home and a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home.

Did you catch the maintain part? That means:
-vacuum the dust from them regularly
-install fresh batteries in them TODAY

2) Plan your escape route in case of fire. Practice it. Designate a specific place outside your home where family members will meet.

3) Keep bedroom doors closed at night to slow the spread of fire.

4) Do not leave candles or cooking unattended. Fires can flare up in an instant.

5) Check that your chimneys and vents are clear to allow proper ventilation of deadly gases.

Do you fight the fire or flee?

If the fire is confined to a small area such as a frying pan or trash can and is not spreading, the room is not filled with smoke, and/or you need to move past it to escape, then attempt to extinguish it by an appropriate method:

-A lid on a frying pan to deny the fire oxygen.
-Water on solid fuels such as paper, wood or cloth, but never on oils, gases or electrical fires
-Baking soda or fire extinguisher for class B and C fires.

If the fire extinguisher runs out, smoke fills the room, the fire begins to spread or firefighters arrive, leave immediately.

Your Turn: Have you implemented Jake’s tips?

Fire Image courtesy of Sailom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


About Identity Withheld:  Book Cover for Identity Withheld

WITNESS IN HIDING

After exposing an illegal adoption ring, newly named “Kara Grant” is promised safety in Witness Protection. But someone has found her—and wants her dead. If only she could trust the handsome firefighter who catches her fleeing from a suspicious fire. Jake Steele seems to think she’s guilty of burning her own home. But how can she tell him who she really is and what she’s been through without bringing danger to the widowed father’s door? Yet with the criminals fast closing in, taking such a risk might be her only chance at survival. Because the price she’ll pay for her silence could be her life.

Click Book Cover Image to enter this week’s giveaway!

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Sandra Orchard
Sandra Orchard
Sandra Orchard

 
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