To celebrate my 25th book release I held a party at a boutique that showcases local artists and authors. I created a special scavenger hunt to get everyone checking out the store.

I hid small signs of my book covers all around the store. Each one included a number of the release order. As people arrived, they received an alphabetical list of the titles so they could fill in the corresponding numbers as they spotted the signs and turn them in to win pries. The newest titles included a devotional cookbook The Gift of Bread: Recipes for the Heart and the Table and a teen book on communication Girl Talk Guy Talk. Prizes included little recipe books and fun items.

I also demonstrated how to make bread centerpieces such as

muffin bouquets and provided a variety of breads for everyone to taste. My oldest daughter snapped photos. We can design anything to celebrate milestones.

I recently attended a show where singer Jimmy Wayne spoke and signed his new book. To celebrate, he had a video made of signing the first copy as he signed his name and circled the number one on the book. I received the first copy.


Hurricane Harvey

And Speaking of Harvey     Elizabeth Ludwig




If there’s one thing I’ve learned living on the Texas Gulf Coast, it’s that life can…and often will…change in an instant. I was reminded of this again when Hurricane Harvey lumbered into my hometown on the Texas/Louisiana border and left a swath of devastation that stretched south past Corpus Christie, and west as far as Victoria.

My home did not flood.

But my church did. The homes of many of my friends and co-workers did. The school where I work did. I could go on and on.

Several times, I have had to remind myself to stop and lift my eyes from the flood waters so I can focus on God. He’s been here, taking care of me and mine in countless ways, both big and small. I heard Him in the voice of the car rental person on the phone, who told me, “God bless you,” and “I’m praying for everyone in Texas,” before she hung up. I saw Him in the sweet woman at the church we visited after we evacuated who gave my daughter twenty dollars and with tears in her eyes said, “I wish it was more.” I felt Him as I stood on my porch and saw the rain fall and the water rise.

But what I am most grateful for is when He met with me in my prayer closet. My prayer was heartfelt and desperate—God, please help me. I need You. I don’t know what to do. I don’t have any strength…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned living on the Texas Gulf Coast, it’s that God is…and always will be…good. And because of this, I saw people who were not ashamed to ask a blessing in God’s name. I saw people who were not ashamed to ask for prayer. Mostly, I saw people jump in to help their neighbor. It’s given me strength and hope for the state and the country that I love. People can be good. They can be kind. If they want to. That’s something I don’t think Hurricane Harvey expected when he blew into Texas with a vengeance, but God did. And I am so very grateful.

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20, NKJV)

Elizabeth Ludwig is an award-winning author and speaker whose

books have been featured in Southern Writers Magazine, More

to Life


Magazine, and Christian Fiction Online Magazine. Book three in her popular Edge of Freedom series, Tide and Tempest, was recently named a finalist for the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Along with her husband and children, she makes her home in the great state of Texas. To learn more,




Who is a Hero?  by Darlene Franklin


Who is a Hero?

Who is a hero? What makes a hero? I never saw myself in that light until I faced my own hero’s challenge. I had to battle back from a month-long hospitalization. I had never fully recovered from the crippling weakness and arthritis which had led to my moving to a nursing home.

On my first day of therapy, my physical therapist worked with my lower extremities and core strength. The occupational therapist focused on “activities of daily living.” Could I raise my arms enough to brush my hair? Dress myself? We had a hundred days (according to government mandated guidelines) to accomplish the task.

Weakness and pain nibbled at my motivation. In one of my first sessions, my physical therapist asked me to stand up.

I pushed myself to my feet and tottered there for a few seconds.

“Sit down. Don’t plop.”

I reached for the wheelchair arm and carefully lowered myself into the chair. I was spent.

“That was good.” She applauded “Do it four more times.”

Every muscle screamed with pain. I adapted the mantra of the winner of The Rock’s competition as my own: “I will not let pain or fear defeat me. I will stop only if I’m physically unable.”

I stood four more times. I learned an essential lesson in facing an overwhelming task: success has more to do with attitude than with ease.

My health continues to fluctuate. I’ve just completed another hundred days of therapy.

I will not let pain and fear defeat me. I began with enthusiasm, drive, and a definite goal: to walk around the nursing home.

More lessons headed my way.

  • Accept a different normal.

Another hospitalization reminded me congestive heart failure has created problems for my other organs. They pick and choose when to work. I decided to stop waiting for things to get better.

  • Do it anyway.

So what if I’m sore and tired? Go ahead and write. Sing. Attend church. Live life in the now, because that’s all I have.

And sometimes. . .

  • Miracles happen.

For four years, I’d worked to improve range of motion in my arms. We’d worked as hard on it as much as we’ve worked on everything else, but nothing had changed.

Until one day this session, my arms lifted a few inches higher. I can wash my hair and tie on a chin strap.

  • The miracle you receive may not be the one you wanted.

My arms can move farther but I can’t walk around the building. My legs will support me but my lungs won’t.

A hero is a person who is admired for. . .courage.

A lifetime has taught me courage is not the absence of fear, but acting in spite of fear.

In that case, maybe I am a hero. Maybe you are too.

 Best-selling hybrid author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. Mermaid Song is her fiftieth unique title! She’s also contributed to more than twenty nonfiction titles. Her column, “The View Through my Door,” appears in five monthly venues. Other recent titles are Wilderness Weddings and Opposites Attract. You can find her online at: Website and blog, Facebook, Amazon author page

Plot Twists and Adventures

Plot Twists and Adventures by Mary L. Hamilton

When the unexpected happens in a story, we call it a plot twist. In life, it’s

Plot Twists and Adventures

Plot Twists and Adventures

sometimes called an adventure.

My husband’s retirement meant a chance to move from the big city to a smaller town, with a lake to satisfy me, and a university to satisfy him. But initially, our move wasn’t the sort of adventure I’d envisioned.

Thinking it wise to rent until we decided what part of town we wanted to buy into, we arrived at our temporary quarters on a cold January day. Mind you, this was Texas, not North Dakota, but it was still cold to us! And there was no heat in the house, thanks to a mix-up with the utility company. Thankfully, we found a hotel for the night that accepted us, and our 80-lb. dog.

The next day, the movers unloaded all our furniture and boxes, the heat came on, and that night we climbed into bed—only to hear the storm siren go off. Did they really use the storm sirens for a hard freeze? It turned out to be a malfunction.

Apparently, the house hadn’t been occupied for a year or more. Built in the 1960’s, it also hadn’t seen any updates, recent or otherwise. The single pane windows leaked cold air in drafty waves, and rattled whenever the jet propulsion company, located over ten miles away, tested their rocket engines. The dining room floor sloped toward the back yard, thanks to a cracked foundation. One of the toilets leaked. And there were no three-prong outlets in the house, forcing us to go out and buy adapters for all our electronics. We also couldn’t figure out why we had hot showers, but no hot water in the kitchen—until we discovered a second water heater, which soon needed to be replaced.

With no gas hookup for our clothes dryer, we had to buy an electric model. It was delivered a week after we moved in, and I could finally wash our clothes. But of course, the drain was plugged, resulting in flooded floors in three rooms.

Then the furnace quit…twice. My husband and I still laugh about crawling into bed under four layers of blankets wearing long underwear, wool socks and ski hats. The electric heating pad helped, too.

Since we weren’t planning to stay in the house for long, we unpacked only the things we used on a daily basis. But when my daughter visited and asked me to help her sew up a hem, I couldn’t even find my needle and thread!

More than once in the seven months we lived in that house, I became overwhelmed and frustrated. But most of the time, I laughed it off and reminded myself this was an adventure.

I wish I could say I always keep that kind of attitude when things go wrong. Too often, I develop a short fuse and vent my anger and frustration. But I think I’ve found a way to hold onto that perspective. In John 9, when asked about the cause of a man’s blindness (surely a reason for frustration and despair), Jesus answered, “…this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

What if I look at the things that go wrong in life and see them as an opportunity for the work of God to be displayed in my life? Now that sounds like an adventure!

Mary L. Hamilton

Mary L. Hamilton


Bio: Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a youth camp in Wisconsin, much

See No Evil

See No Evil

like the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. Her experiences during twenty years of living at the camp, as well as people she knew there, inspired many of the events and situations in her novels. Mary is currently working on a women’s mystery/suspense. When not writing, she enjoys a little amateur photography, knitting, reading, and spending time with her family. Mary and her husband live in Texas.



Express Line Prayer By Darlene Franklin

Waking up early is one thing. Waking up for a date with a needle is another.

“Good morning!” A cheerful, African-accented voice called out. “I’m here to draw your blood.”

I placed my right arm on top of the blankets and closed my eyes so I didn’t have to watch. Needle sticks often took three attempts or more. My hands and arms stayed black and blue from broken blood vessels. I prayed that somehow, this time would go more easily.

When you need an answer to prayer now!

When you need an answer to prayer now!

Imagine my surprise when I peeked and saw a vial filling with my blood. I hadn’t even felt the needle go in. “That’s another express-line prayer answered.”

“Express-line prayer?” The worker repeated. “What do you mean?” Toby’s bright smile and infectious faith always made my day brighter in spite of his occupation.

“It’s like the short line at the supermarket, when you need an answer NOW.”

He thought about it. “I get it. Like when the people of Israel were at the Red Sea.”

Great example, but I was thinking more about Nehemiah. He committed the cardinal sin for a man in his position of cupbearer to the king: he was visibly upset in Artaxerxes’ presence. The ruler asked, “Why are you sad since you’re not sick?”

Nehemiah explained about the ruins of the city of Jerusalem in his homeland, and the king followed with “What do you want?”

Nehemiah’s response? Express-line prayer. “I prayed to the God of heaven, and I said unto the king. . .” (Nehemiah 2:4,5 KJV)

When there’s no time to call a prayer meeting, that’s an express-line prayer.

Earlier that week, God answered another express-line prayer. Our Bible study leader asked for prayer. The elderly man was subject to dry throat and high blood pressure. I prayed that he would be able to share the lesson he had prepared because Christ promised to give him strength.

Brother Ray perked right up. He made it through the entire lesson without even needing a sip of water.

I wish all my prayers were could be answered that quickly. But when they’re not, I shouldn’t abandon the practice of praying for emergency answers.

What makes express-line prayers work? Relationship. Nehemiah had prayed about Jerusalem for months before his opportunity came. The ruler understood his cupbearer well enough to invite his confidence and to grant his request.

When I prayed for Ray, I drew on a Scripture I had memorized years ago.

Do I need something? “My God shall supply all your needs” (Philippians 4:19, KJV). Am I uncertain what to do next? “I will…teach you…the way you should go” (Psalm 32:8, NIV).

Other times, I appeal to God’s character. “Lord, You love this person! You don’t want anyone to perish. You are our fortress, our healer.” The list is endless.

When a need strikes in the supermarket of life, head straight for the express line. God will meet you there.


Best-selling hybrid author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. In July, she will reach fifty unique titles in print and she’s also contributed to more than twenty nonfiction titles. Her column, “The View Through my Door,” appears in five monthly venues. Her most recent titles are Cinderella’s Boot, Runaway Brides and Colorado: 2 contemporary romance novellas and 2 historical

Website and blog