Thursday, December 28, 2023

Move Forward

     Many people believe the old days were the good days. They blame the state of the world on all sorts of things from the Internet, to the lax attitude of people toward religion, to the influx of migrants, along with a variety of other difficulties in these modern times. They seem to think that if we return to the Dark Ages, everything will be better.

     I agree with C.S. Lewis. Going backward isn’t a way to live. Move forward in faith. Things may look murky now, but if we work together we can solve problems. There are better things ahead.

     Wishing you a Happy 2024. 



Thursday, December 21, 2023

Sale at Smashwords! 3 FREE Books and 3 at Half-Price!

     Smashwords is holding the End of the Year Sale and I am giving away three of my paranormal romance books for FREE. Another paranormal is half price and two of my Christian inspirational romances are also half price. There's something for everyone. 😊 

The sale lasts until January 1, 2024. So, load up your ereaders now. Then when the snow falls, you can cuddle up under a blanket and enjoy an adventure.

Click on the links next to the book's image to go directly to Smashwords. Remember to use the coupon provided at each book webpage to get your free and half-price books. ENJOY!

Christian Inspirational Romances

A Rush of Light

Heaven's Blue
First Place Winner for Inspirational Romance

Paranormal Romances

Irons in the Fire

Prince of the Mist

Have a wonderful holiday and take time to READ! 


Wednesday, December 13, 2023

The Joy of Christmas Music

The Christmas Band at the Elks Club in 2019

     Most people know Christmas songs—the words and the melodies. After all, aside from church services, Christmas songs—secular and sacred—are piped into stores after Halloween. Although, this year I heard Christmas music in stores before Halloween. Some people like rushing the season. 
     I have special memories of my childhood Christmases. There was one wonderful night when it snowed just before Christmas. Big, fluffy flakes fell gently from heaven. My mom put one speaker of our old Magnavox on the edge of the windowsill and played an album of Christmas songs. Some of the other children on our block joined in singing the carols. We walked around in circles in the front yard in the snow belting out the familiar old songs. What joy we had in our hearts!
     When I was in college, I joined a madrigal choir. We sang at the Women’s Club in Jersey City. There are plenty of fa, la, la’s in a madrigal choir.
     As the Brownie leader for my daughters’ troop, we took the Brownies caroling one night. Hubby played the accordion until his fingers froze and we went house to house. The girls thought it was terrific. At every house, they got candy canes simply for singing. They were delighted.
      When our daughters were in the high school youth group at church,  hubby would accompany the teenagers as they caroled at various nursing homes or other senior citizens’ housing facilities. Soon hubby received more invitations to entertain the elderly or the disabled at Christmas. For many years, hubby gathered together his musical friends and played at the Christmas party the Elks club put together for disabled citizens. It was the best party of the year!
     Hubby and I are still providing accompaniment for the church youth group at Christmas when they carol at the senior citizens’ housing facility. We are there at the church’s tree lighting as well. We are also entertaining at other seniors’ facilities during the holiday season.
     Every generation has their own music, but most people are quite familiar with the music of this season—whether it’s Frosty the Snowman, O Holy Night, I Had a Little Dreidel, or Feliz Navidad. The holiday season is a part of American culture. It's sweet when we all know the words and we all sing together. 


Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Guest Post: A HILLTOP CHRISTMAS by Kathleen D. Bailey

     My guest today is Kathleen Bailey, a journalist and novelist with 40 years’ experience in the nonfiction, newspaper, and inspirational fields. Born in 1951, she was a child in the 50s, a teen in the 60s, a young adult in the 70s and a young mom in the 80s. It’s been a turbulent, colorful time to grow up, and she’s enjoyed every minute of it and written about most of it.
     Bailey’s work includes both historical and contemporary fiction, with an underlying thread of men and women finding their way home, to Christ and each other. She has published five titles in the “Western Dreams” series: “Westward Hope,” “Settler’s Hope,” “The Logger’s Christmas Bride,” “The Widow’s Christmas Miracle,” and “Redemption’s Hope,” all with Pelican/White Rose Publishing. Her first Hilltop story, “A Hilltop Christmas,” was published by Elk Lake Publishing November 15, 2023. In addition, she publishes local history nonfiction with Arcadia Publishing and has co-authored “Past and Present Exeter, New Hampshire,” September 2020; “New Hampshire War Monuments: The Stories Behind the Stones,” August 2022; and “Growing Up in Concord, New Hampshire in the 50s and 60s” in 2023.
     She lives in New Hampshire with her husband David. They have two grown daughters.
For more information, contact her at; Kathleen D. Bailey on Facebook and LinkedIn; or

Her latest release is A HILLTOP CHRISTMAS!


   When Jane Archer comes home to tiny Hilltop, New Hampshire, her goal is to take care of her convalescing grandmother and get back to Boston as soon as possible. She doesn’t expect to be saddled with the direction of the Hilltop Christmas Festival, three days of activities exalting the birth of a God she no longer serves. But Gram asks her to take over the Festival this year, and she can’t say no to the woman who saved her life.
     The Rev. Noah Hastings didn’t want to come to Hilltop in the first place. Too small, too cold for this California boy. And he has trouble figuring out these Yankees, with their “thin sharp faces and sharper wits.” It’s his first church, and his goal is to amass some “ministerial brownie points” and be out of there. But his early life with his father has left Noah with damaged confidence, and despite his call, he’s not sure he can handle a pastorate, let alone Jane Archer.
     Though the people of Hilltop have never stopped loving her, coming home reawakens memories for Jane of a childhood no child should have to live through. She feels her carefully-constructed world crumbling, even as she resists the pull of Christ on her life. But when the integrity of the Festival is threatened, Noah must call on his Lord, and Jane on the God from whom she's drifted, to find justice and restore Hilltop to what it is.

Want to read more? Here's an excerpt:

Chapter One

“You want me to what?” Jane Archer stared at her grandmother.

Was Gram getting addled, like older people sometimes did? No. Alice Merrill said what she meant and meant what she said, even while recovering from a hip replacement. And what she meant now bore no good tidings for Jane.

“I want you to direct the Christmas Festival for me.” Gram sounded as though her request were perfectly logical. “You have the time, and a lot of the work is already done.”

Well, it would be. Gram’s festival prep was legendary, at least in Hilltop.

But if Jane wanted to get out, now was the time. “Gram, I’m not sure I’m the right person to do this.”

“Oh, honey, you cut your teeth on the festival. And you’re so organized.” 

“I’ll be taking care of you.” It wasn’t much of a gauntlet to throw down, and Jane knew it, but she threw it anyway.

And Gram tossed it back. “The visiting nurse comes every day, I’ve signed up for Meals on Wheels, and I have my books and my DVDs. I’m perfectly capable of amusing myself. And a lot of the work is done.” She waved a graceful hand toward her desk. “You have the notebook.”

The notebook. The two-inch-thick loose-leaf binder that helped a busy widowed schoolteacher run the legendary Hilltop Christmas Festival. That was before a hip replacement sidelined Gram, as much as Gram could be sidelined, and brought Jane home to Hilltop. Not kicking, not screaming, but also hoping not to engage any more than she had to. Especially with the festival.

“I’m not much for Christmas,” she said. “I’m not, well, religious.” There was more, a lot more, but Gram didn’t need to know.

Gram sighed. She had always been the cool grandmother, wearing jeans and hiking boots on her weekends, keeping up with the granddaughter she hadn’t expected to raise, keeping current with the fifth graders she taught, serving as a stalwart member of the Hilltop Community Church. She was still slender, her silver hair in a pixie cut, her skin unwrinkled except for the laugh lines. 

But for the first time in Jane’s memory, she looked fragile. “Janie, Janie. What happened to you?”

It was a valid enough question from the woman who had shepherded her to Sunday School, worship service, youth group. Jane had gone with Gram every Sunday until she left for Cornell University and stopped the week she moved into her dorm room. 

But it wasn’t Gram’s fault, wasn’t even Hilltop Church’s fault. They had done their best. Jane had been damaged before she came to Hilltop.

Would Gram understand? Probably. Could Jane bear to open that box? No. She’d sealed it the day Gram met her at the bus and took her home.

Gram had done so much for her–everything, really. Taken her in, provided for her every need, inspired Jane toward her own teaching career. She owed Gram. Owed her for things even Gram didn’t know about. Could anything she asked, even the Hilltop Festival, be too much?

Jane was organized. She could run a festival, couldn’t she? Even if she no longer believed in what it celebrated. Faith in anyone but herself was no longer an option.

But Gram had asked her.

Jane heaved herself out of the wing chair and headed for the desk. The notebook was heavier than it looked, with color-coordinated tabs. Well, Jane liked tabs. “Where do I start?”

Gram smiled. “Meet with the pastor. Well, old Reverend Clarke retired, so we got a new one. You should be able to catch him at the church.”


Noah Hastings shaded his eyes from the sun-dazzled snow on the church lawn. So much snow, blinding white mounds of it, like the icing their housekeeper Graziella used to slather on birthday cakes. Still, didn’t it feel good to be outdoors? Noah had never been a desk kind of guy. But the love of God and his people was making him one. He could still hear the crashing ocean waves calling him back to California and a lifestyle a younger and more worldly version of himself had left behind long before he traded his surfboard in for a Bible.

He could prove himself here. In Hilltop, New Hampshire, among these reserved Yankees, with their thin, sharp faces and sharper wit. Even if he didn’t get half their jokes. 

His shovel scraped against the sidewalk, and he lifted another flat piece of ice and flung it on top of the powdery snow from yesterday’s storm.

“Excuse me? I’d like to—”

Noah turned too sharply, and the shovel he barely knew how to wield hit the young woman at the knees. She lost her balance and tumbled into a snowbank as he tumbled down beside her, all flailing arms and kicking legs. He fought for purchase. There was none. The ice scraped against his cheek, colder than anything he’d ever felt, and stung his bare hands. Gloves. That’s what he forgot. 

What must she be thinking? In his first month on the job, would he put someone in the hospital?

The woman struggled to her feet first, a blur of color that sorted itself out to a pair of high black boots and a fitted red coat. She looked too slim to lift more than a bag of groceries, but her gloved hand gripped his. 

“Hang on, and I’ll pull you up.” she said. “I’ve got some footing now.”

He gripped her hands, heaved himself out of the snowbank—and looked down at the prettiest face he’d seen all day, maybe since coming to Hilltop. Creamy skin with a hint of pink from the cold, delicate features, and big green eyes framed by a tumble of dark brown hair under a red knit cap. Who was she? Why hadn’t he seen her before? Was she a Christmas angel?

“Listen, I’m sorry. Really. Are you okay?”

The woman probed at one knee, then another. “I don’t think you broke the skin. It’s just a bruise. But you should put some ice melt down.” She had a sweet voice, laced with irritation. “Anyone knows that. Talk to your boss, I’m sure the church has an account down at Gregson’s. Someone could get seriously hurt, and I doubt the church wants a lawsuit.”

Not quite an angel but still pretty. Noah retrieved his shovel. “Can I help you?”

“May I, and yes.” The woman shook ice crystals from the ends of her hair. “I’m looking for your pastor.”

Noah leaned on his shovel, sighed inwardly, and gave the response he’d already used too many times in Hilltop. “You found him.”


He has to be joking. Jane looked up, past the broad shoulders to ice-blue eyes and a sculpted face crowned by too-long blond hair and a fading but natural-looking tan. Reverend Clarke, who had pastored the church in her childhood, retired. But she hadn’t expected the church board would have picked this surfer dude.

She looked him up and down. “You’re the pastor?”

He smiled. “Yeah, I get that a lot.”

“When did you—how long—”

“I took over in mid-October. Been here a month. And yes, I’m from California. Long Beach specifically.”

“I’m sorry. I thought you were—”

“The gardener. That’s one of my favorites. Better than pool boy.”

It wasn’t funny. Not really. She worked to keep her lips straight. “I’m Jane Archer,” she said. “I’m here to talk about the Hilltop Festival.”

“Noah Hastings. The Reverend Noah Hastings.” He rested the shovel in a bank of snow. “I’ll take a break from this, and we can talk. In my study. The pastor’s study.” He held the side door open for her.

Wherever Jane stood with God, she had always admired the Hilltop Community Church. The gray stone building had been constructed before the turn of the twentieth century by sturdy mountain people who built it to last. Over the years, they added on an office wing, a Christian education wing, and a function room with a kitchen and small stage in the basement. Dozens of ministries fanned out from here. She remembered sorting used clothing, assembling Thanksgiving baskets, and packing boxes for missionaries back when she believed in things like missions. 

Today the cold sun shone through the stained-glass windows, casting colored shadows over the gleaming golden-oak pews. The room smelled of lemon furniture polish and a faint tinge of candle wax. 

“Dazzling, isn’t it?” Hastings said at her side.

Jane shrugged. “It’s a church.” She turned away, but not before she saw his expression tighten.

He led her down the office wing to the first door on the right and motioned her inside. Jane wove her way through crates of books, and stubbed one booted toe on a duffel bag, before she reached a folding metal chair. One small diploma graced the wall behind a chaotic desk. How could the man work like this?

Her fingers fairly itched to straighten the pile of papers near the edge of the desk. She sat on her hands. “Maybe I should wait till you’re settled.”

As he eased his long frame into his desk chair, Hastings shoved another teetering pile of correspondence to one side. “I am settled. You’re here about Hilltop?” 

“I’m Alice’s granddaughter. She asked me to—” Jane swallowed. She could never replace Gram as chair. Or anything else. “To help her coordinate the festival this year.”

The pastor leaned back, testing the strength of the chair. “I’m glad she found someone and glad it’s someone close at hand. We think a great deal of Alice around here. We’re all praying for her swift recovery.”

“Yes, well, I’m happy to help. She’s amazing. She’s done so much for me.”

Noah nodded. “She’s done a lot for this town.” He returned his chair to all four legs and steepled his fingers. “So, I understand the Hilltop Festival started in the fifties as a place for families to go to experience the true Christmas spirit.”

Jane forced herself to look at him, and an unexpected heat flushed her cheeks. So what if he was attractive? She cleared her throat. “Hilltop incorporated as a separate entity in 1985, making all sales go into a separate festival account to fund next year’s event. And by the nineties, it was drawing people from all over New England.”

“Fine with me.” He nodded. “The town lets us use the old library, the new library, the town hall, and the school. The elementary chorus performs in my sanctuary. Are there really no issues with church and state?”

He was sharper than he looked. “Not really. Half the kids in school go to your church. It’s really a community festival with everyone involved.”

Noah Hastings homed in on her with those clear blue eyes. She looked away, scanning the titles on a randomly-stuffed bookshelf.

 “It all ramps up Christmas Eve afternoon, with the big parade. Then there’s a free community supper at the American Legion, choirs, a children’s pageant, and you. The Christmas Eve service is the culmination of everything Hilltop.”

Noah nodded soberly. “I’m told we can expect a crowd.” 

“Up to five hundred. They can pack everyone in, though it’s standing room only.”

Noah Hastings shook, muttering something she couldn’t hear. “But we’re just a little country church.”

Jane shrugged. “There’s a—a feeling to Hilltop. People I grew up with bring their children, people Gram knew bring their grandchildren. For those three days, it’s not like any other place on earth. It’s community.”

“Alice and some others have told me they sense a real presence of God.”

Under her coat and sweater, Jane’s heart hammed. “I really wouldn’t know.” She flipped through Gram’s voluminous notebook. Better than looking at him.


Her pretty face was closed, locked tighter than a bank vault. So, Alice’s granddaughter wasn’t a believer. What had happened to this Jane Archer?

But she was devoted to Alice and willing to work. That would have to do.

And she was beautiful, with that waterfall of dark curls and green eyes like the inside of a wave off Big Sur. She must get her tall stature from her father. Might be fun to get to know her better.

But he had a festival to run.

No place in his life for a woman. He was on enough of a learning curve without that. But surfing in competitions and being son to his stoic father had made him to be resilient under pressure. In a little over a month, he’d made a few friends and a dozen mistakes.

Noah seriously contemplated the old, retired Reverend Clarke’s offer to call him with any problems.

This polished Ms. Archer could probably run the church better than he could. There she was with a loose-leaf notebook thick enough to use as a weapon. One of those. Probably had lists for everything, planned her wardrobe with an Excel spreadsheet.

Could he preach to five hundred people? Should he have stayed in California? There were churches there. He could have just kept trying till someone took a chance on him. But there was also his reputation as a party boy, surfer dude–and Dad. He’d wanted to get away, as far away as possible.

Hilltop, New Hampshire, was probably it.              

Hilltop’s people had been kind in his first month, overlooking or gently correcting his mistakes, everything from how to pronounce the Native American name of a hill town to how to run a meeting. He would return their kindness.

Noah smiled at Jane. “So, we meet on Wednesdays. We’ll see you at the next meeting?”

Find it at Amazon!