Category Archives: inspirational fiction

Expecting Santa!

Tis the season for stockings being hung by the fire, cookies baking in the oven, and books with Christmas themes being opened. This season I am re-releasing a book I wrote years ago and recently updated. It was originally published under the title Open in Nine Months, but the original title was Expecting Santa.

All Sam McCall wants for Christmas is a traditional holiday for his five-year-old daughter, Lacey. The last person he expects to find when he moves to a cozy town in Colorado is the woman who broke his heart: Joy Chase. Joy’s hiding a secret under her grandfather’s Santa suit. When Sam learns she’s carrying his baby, he has to win Joy’s heart fast. But can they learn to trust again? Can Santa deliver a Christmas miracle?

Open in Nine Months (Expecting Santa) is a touching, emotional story, a perfect way to put yourself in the holiday.” Judy Christenberry, best selling author

Leanna Wilson (Ellis) has penned a warm romance with good characterization.
RT Book Reviews

Here’s the brand new cover, and the inside is all updated too! It’s available as a Kindle ebook and also in paperback! Merry Christmas, y’all!


Deep in the Heart of Giving

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year, iCoverFinalMD-ADaughter's Heartsn’t it? It’s a time to get off the roller coaster of life and enjoy family and friends. It’s a time to give thanks. It’s a time to be grateful for all we have been given. And it’s also a time to give. I love giving to food banks around the area. But this year, I wanted to make you aware of another way I am giving and I hope you will join in too! With each purchase of A Daughter’s Heart, I give ALL proceeds to charities that promote life and help mothers and children in need. A Daughter’s Heart was born from my heart and passion for the sanctity of life and the desire to help mothers and children. I prayed about this book for a long time before writing it, and one day I felt the Lord press on my heart that this book should be a gift to Him. It’s not just my first new book to write for indie publishing but it’s completely for God in every way. I hope that you will find encouragement in the pages of this book and be inspired. I also hope that it will raise awareness and money for the tiniest among us to struggling mothers to children in need. In my e-newsletter, I’ll profile a few charities that I give donations to.  A Daughter’s Heart is available as a Kindle ebook and also in paperback. I hope you will enjoy it and also let others know about it!


My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys

It was a cold night in the Texas Panhandle, and I was a little girl going to the rodeo with my family. This was not a slicked up rodeo but a nitty-gritty rodeo out in the country with real cowboys, some of which were my older cousins. I remember sitting on one of my cousins’ laps. She already had children of her own but she helped warm me up on that chilly night as we watched the cowboys rope steers and ride bulls.

strongsilentcowboyMaybe that’s where my love of cowboys began. Because most of my cousins were many years older than me, I didn’t know them well and simply watched and admired them. My dad also raised me on John Wayne movies. My favorite movie growing up was True Grit. Just the opening song could get my blood pulsing.

As I grew up, I fell in love with country music. One day, I was driving around Dallas, to and from work, listening to Rodeo by Garth Brooks when a character came to me. He was wearing chaps and boots and he had a slight stutter. I immediately fell in love with Kirk and had to write his story, Strong, Silent Cowboy, which became my very first published book.

So began my writing career, which started with writing about cowboys. I love cowboys’ strength, ingenuity, traditions, and love for nature. I love that they are real men, with a bit of swagger, but also a touch of humility. They know God created the land and bow their heads to pray. I’m proud that I know real cowboys, and I’m blessed to have been able to write about them.

christmasinjulyChristmas in July was my second published book and a sequel to my first. This book features not only a cowboy but also a cowgirl–a barrel racer. These girls have courage and big hearts. Geena, a young widow, has more than her share but she also has a wall around her heart that the right cowboy is going to have to jump.


Finally, my latest release, For the Love of Cody, is actually a re-release of my 5th book. It garnered the National Readers’ Choice Award when it was published. Since then, it went out of print but I gained the rights back to it and recently brought it out as a Kindle ebook. But now, it’s also available in paperback! You can click on the titles of my books to find out more about them.

So for a long while, my heroes have always been cowboys. Next year, I’m publishing a brand new cowboy story! Hope you’ll hang around until it’s ready.

So what about you? Do you love cowboys? Country music? Western movies?

Contest: For a copy of the paperback For the Love of Cody. At the end of this week, I’ll draw a name from those who leave a comment below for a winner.

Exciting News for FORGIVEN!

This week, I was informed that PLAIN FEAR: FORGIVEN had been chosen for a special promotion by Barnes and Noble. It goes on sale today as a NOOK book.

Samuel Fisher committed a sin of biblical proportions—he killed his own brother, Jacob. Samuel’s guilt overwhelms him as he struggles to understand the choices Jacob made which led to his death. Haunted by doubts and questions, Samuel starts down the same dark path of destruction. In the gripping final battle between hunters and vampires, Samuel must choose where his loyalties lie. The decisions he makes not only threaten the lives of those he loves, but determine if he will ultimately be forgiven.

You can read a preview here.


“An unlikely, yet fresh idea that completely works, thanks to her ability to blend the genres in a tasteful manner.” – RT Book Reviews –

“A richly detailed and atmospheric tale of suspense.” – Library Journal –

I hope you’ll help me make PLAIN FEAR: FORGIVEN a big success during this special promotion! Thanks for all your support!

Giveaway: To celebrate this promotion, leave a comment below and I’ll draw a name of a winner to receive the paperback copy of PLAIN FEAR: FORSAKEN and PLAIN FEAR: FORBIDDEN, the first two books in the series. I’ll draw a name on Monday, April 7th.

Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a blue moon. You’ve heard the phrase. It really means something that’s rare. Tomorrow, Friday, August 31st will be one of those rare occurrences where there is a blue moon, which is actually the second full moon of the month. It won’t happen again until 2018. So be on the lookout for it. It’s also the day of Neil Armstrong’s memorial service. Once in a blue moon, an individual comes along who changes our thinking. Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon in 1969 opened up our minds to so many possibilities. He inspired so many. And that event impacted so many lives.

When I was five years old, I remember lying on our gold shag carpet and watching our Zenith television as the event unfolded. It inspired me in ways I’m still not sure I fully realize.

One day a few years ago, I was thinking about that event and how so many people remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when that space suit boot touched the lunar surface. What a moment! But I wondered, ‘what if that moment wasn’t a happy memory.” And so my crazy brain started going on a weird and wacky plot, challenging me about my own beliefs, skepticisms, and gullibilities.

Recently there was a post on The Huffington Post about the Roswell, New Mexico crash in 1947. Was it a UFO or not?

Aliens. Do you believe they exist or don’t you?

Elvis. Is he dead or alive?

Kennedy’s assassination. One man or conspiracy?

Conspiracy theories abound in the American culture. What do they say about you if you believe or don’t believe? Are you by nature a sceptic or are you easily able to take a leap of faith. Or do you consider the leap of faith the equivalent of jumping off a cliff without benefit of parachute or parasail?

Maybe you are a sceptic of the suspicion that all these things are working together for one world dominance. Or maybe you doubt everything that comes from government bureaucracy.

Sceptic. Gullible. Believers. Where are the fine lines that define these character traits? And where do you fall?

In my book, Once in a Blue Moon, (Click on the link to read chapter one) I explored these questions and much more, challenging my non-believing character Bryn to take a leap of faith. So what about you? Does this article on Roswell affirm your beliefs that there are aliens or does it make you more of a sceptic?

Shrouded in clouds, the observatory in Marfa, Texas, where I visited for research for Once in a Blue Moon.

I need to give away a copy of Once in a Blue Moon! So leave a comment, and I’ll draw a name Friday night.

Elvis Front and Center

Thirty-five years. Seems unreal that much time has passed since Elvis’s death. I distinctly remember that day. It was a hot, August day in Dallas, where I lived. I was still a schoolgirl, but my older brother had introduced me to Elvis’s music that summer.

My brother was home that summer from college. He’d call me into his bedroom and play You Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog for me. Then he’d call his girlfriend (who later became his wife) and without saying ‘hello’ or ‘how are you?’ he’d signal for me to put the needle on the right groove. Elvis’s voice would boom out of the speakers, and we’d laugh together. It was one of those rare moments, a bit silly now looking back and of course very immature, and yet I treasure it. My brother and I, separated by seven years, were not all that close growing up. I idolized him, cheered for him at all his football, baseball, and basketball games, and yet he was off doing teenage things from the time I was little. To me, he and his friends were like rock stars, and I had crushes on all of his friends. So somehow my love for Elvis’s music is tied up in all of that childhood adoration for my brother.

That adolescent love for my brother and for Elvis was like a shiny toy, glittery and sparkly. When on August 16, 1977 I heard the tragic news of Elvis’s death, it felt like that pretty gift, wrapped in the innocence of childhood, was smashed.

I remember going to a school event that day and saying to someone, “Did you hear the news?” But most of my friends hadn’t. And to most of them it meant nothing. Some didn’t even know about Elvis. It would take me thirty-five years to understand how Elvis was tied up with my own emotions for my brother. I even wrote a book about Elvis called Elvis Takes a Back Seat, and looking back at the metaphors and symbolism in that book, I can see now that the death of Elvis began the dethroning of my innocence.

Do you remember when Elvis died? Did it impact you? What event shattered your world as a child?

Here I am paying homage to Elvis a few years ago when I visited Graceland for research for Elvis Takes a Back Seat. For a peek at chapter one of Elvis Takes a Back Seat click here.

Dining With Joy

Hi, y’all! I’d like for you to welcome Rachel Hauck today! She’s discussing her latest book and it sure looks good!

Dining with Joy by Rachel Hauck

Thanks for having me today!

I’m no genius in the kitchen, but my heroine, Joy Ballard, finds herself doing a job she can’t do for all the right reasons. She’s a cooking show host who can’t cook!
When I started this book, that premise got a good laugh from those who heard it. Then, I’d ask, “But what’s that story about?”
The person would shrug. “I don’t know.”
“Yeah, me neither.”

I had to ask a lot of questions about what a woman hosts a cooking show when she can’t so much as fry eggs. I didn’t want an insincere, lying heroine. She’s not a manipulator or conniver.

Joy simply found herself filling a job she was asked to do – by her father. She was great in front of the camera. Just not behind the stove.

Not long ago, I stood on stage at church with my worship team praying before the service started. Head back, eyes close, I said in my heart, “Lord, help us. You have to help me. I’m so weak in leading worship. I cannot do it without You.”

While I’m a decent singer, and I can lead the people to worship Jesus, I’m not a musician. I’m not one who can skillfully bring the band and the worship sound together. And until I found myself with a “starting over” band, I never realized how gaping this weakness was for me.

A few days later, I was thinking of all the great worship leaders, singers and musicians. Of great writers. And I just felt weak and inadequate in the two main callings of my life.

Again, I went to the Lord. “Why can’t You find a good worship leader for church? Why can’t you help me be a more successful writer? I see people who are good at what they do, succeeding.”

This is what He said to me. “… most people won’t give me their weaknesses.”

I was stopped cold. I understood that a lot of times God invites us on a journey to participate with Him in some aspect of our lives or others, but because we are not good at that thing, or because we are weak with fear or shame or whatever, we say no.

It’s in our weaknesses His strength is manifest. God is not looking for mighty men and women, He’s looking for weak men and women in which HE can show His might.

Don’t misunderstand, God loves excellence, skill and devotion. While leading worship practices, I have to be excellent as I can be to bring the team and songs together.

I’ll never have a recording or national ministry as a worship leader, but for our little church in Florida, I’m God’s girl. For now.

That, in some ways, is Joy’s journey. She said yes to her father’s desire.
Can we say “Yes?” to our Father’s desire for us? Offer Him all of our strengths AND weaknesses? He’s more than willing to overcome.

In my story, Joy’s secret is revealed and takes a pretty good tumble, but love is waiting to catch her. In the form of cowboy chef and hero, Luke Redmond.

Sigh… Love wins.

One of the things Joy discovers along the way is her father’s banana bread recipe. It’s delish!

Here it is:

Charles Ballard’s Banana Bread
From Connie Spangler

1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1t. baking soda
1/2t. salt
1/2t. cinnamon
2 eggs
3 mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup oil (I use canola)
1/4 cup plus 1 T. buttermilk
1t. vanilla
1/2 cup choc. chips
1/2 cup p.butter chips

In a large bowl stir together flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In another bowl, combine eggs, bananas, oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Fold in chips. Pour into a greased 9-in. x 3-in. loaf pan. Bake at 325 for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until it tests done. Cool on a rack 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Tips for baking banana bread:
DON’T over mix the batter, just until moistened. Banana bread is always best if after its cooled to wrap up and serve the next day.


Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and writes books from the second floor of what she calls her “turret tower.” A gift from the Lord. Besides “Dining with Joy,” Rachel has written fourteen other novels. Also out is “Softly and Tenderly” which Rachel wrote with country artist, Sara Evans.

Visit her web site at


Candace Calvert and Winter Winds!

Hi, Candace! Thanks for stopping by today! What is your favorite kind of a pet? Dog, cat, guinea pig? And why?

My answer is the same now as when I could first utter the incredible word: Horse. It’s in my soul to love them—I think it’s that way with some people. Just. There. A fascination for these big, lovely creatures and the yearning to connect with them. It’s genetic: my daughter has it.

How many pets do you have today?
Sadly, none at present: we lost our mini-schnauzer nearly two years ago. And my favorite horse, Winter Winds, long before that.

Have you ever rescued an animal?

Feral kittens that lived in the bushes near the entrance to my ER—we adopted two.

Do you ever incorporate animals into your novels?

Yes. All of my Mercy Hospital books have pet subplot. Critical Care has Smokey the one-eared cat; Disaster Status has three: a yodeling Chihuahua, a horse, and a geriatric goldfish named Elmer Fudd. (Book three) Code Triage features a horse known as Frisco and his pal, a rescued miniature donkey, Tag. Animals are great characters, and they reveal much about their human friends.

They do, Candace! What was your favorite character animal?

Oh, tough to choose: probably Tag, the donkey. He was a victim of abuse (“tagged” by gang graffiti, lost an eye in the incident) yet had such a sweet, nurturing, spirit.

Has one of your own pets been the inspiration for a pet/character in a novel?

Frisco the skittish, “hot house” thoroughbred was a bit like my young gelding, Nate. He’s the rambunctious son of my beloved mare, Winter Winds—and the infamous horse that broke my neck (among other bones). That dramatic true story, “By Accident,” appeared in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul and started my writing career. Despite the trauma, I own him for that.

That is an amazing story, Candace! Truly wonderful to see how God has worked in your life. You have such a joyful spirit. I still love how you find humor in things. What is the funniest thing you’ve seen one of your animals do?

My elegant bay mare, Winter Winds, would “laugh”: shake her long, blaze-embellished, face and flap her lips, clown-like, making the steel bit rattle against her teeth. I’d be riding her (singing “Waltzing Matilda,” her favorite song) and she’d trot me along, laughing and laughing for miles. I sometimes wondered if she was critiquing my singing ability.

She probably would have bucked me off if she’d heard me sing. ☺ Is there a secret that only your pet knows?

Winter Winds knew all of my secrets. I would sit in the corner of her stall at night and listen as she snuffled and chewed her oats—talk to her, even cry during some tough times. She would listen, never judge . . . solid, warm, quiet. Just. There. A perfect friend. My best friend.

Ah, that is so sweet. What is your pet’s pet peeve about you?

I insisted that she and I compete in horse shows—braid her mane, shave her whiskers, polish her hooves, wedge her into a trailer and drive down the highways before dawn. She would have preferred to sleep in. Especially after I wallpapered her stall in Ralph Lauren. Seriously. It was beautiful. And our vet was speechless.

That’s hilarious! So, what is your pet peeve about your pet?

I suspect she learned to fake a limp—it always was “cured,” by cancelling the trip to the horse show. Coincidence? Not sure.

Like a kid having a tummy ache. Funny. Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us! Now, I’d love to ask your pet a few questions. I’m sure Winter Winds is answering from the Rainbow Bridge.

Hi, Winter Winds! What would be the title of your autobiography?

Spoiled Rotten And Worth Every Single Penny.

Oh, I can tell you gave Candace a run for her money! If you were to write a novel, would your friend inspire one of the characters?

Oh yes. A comic mystery. Candace would play a very gullible but good-hearted woman. Who can’t carry a tune in a bucket. And suspects her horse is conning her. In my friend’s own novel, she’d probably be Dr. Leigh Stathos in Code Triage. In truth, they both deserve a happy ending.

Oh, Candace certainly does! As do you! So, what’s your favorite movie?

Vintage TV Show, actually: “Mr. Ed.” That smart aleck Palomino who had a phone in his stall—now he knew how to live.

You mean Candace didn’t give you a phone in that posh stall she wallpapered? Unbelievable! What musical instrument would you like to play?

Steel drums. Here: listen, if I rattle this metal bit between my teeth, I can get a pretty decent reggae beat going . . .

Oh, very good. Now we know which of you has the musical abilities. ☺ What do you think about cats? Dogs?

I’m okay with barn cats, as long as they don’t have kittens in my stall. I have big feet, too risky. Can’t abide Australian Shepherds, always nipping at my heels—I’m 1200 pounds; do I look like a sheep, for goodness sake?

No, you certainly do not. Where do you (or should I say ‘did you’) sleep at night?

In a stall with a rubber mat floor and a nice mound of soft pine shavings. No phone—but a night light, Dutch door, barrel of chrysanthemums. I’m a little embarrassed about the wallpaper. The vet thinks my friend is crazy.

Yes, well…she is a writer and you know what they say about writers, don’t you? So, what did you do when your friend was writing?

Eat pasture grass. Try to open the gate so I can eat the lawn around the house. Fake a limp when she looks out her office window.

I bet she came running to check on you! What is your idea of bliss?

A warm summer night, a bucket of molasses-laced oats, topped by a few carrots—maybe some apple wedges. And my friend . . . sitting in the corner of my stall. Just content to be with me. Like I’m her best friend, too. Priceless.

Oh, I love that! What is your friend’s idea of bliss?

An autumn evening, dusk, wood smoke in the air: we’ve had a gallop along a cornfield and now we’re walking in quiet solitude. She slips her boots from the stirrups, lets them dangle along my sides. Pats my neck, gives me a long rein. As we head toward home, she starts to sing Waltzing Matilda. And I laugh . . .

Sounds perfect! Thank you so much for being with us today and for sharing your special relationship with us!

Thank you for having us, Leanna—though Winter’s been gone many years, she’s with me, always. Her bridle hangs on a brass hook in our home. And her name appears in the Acknowledgements of my third Mercy Hospital book, Code Triage:

“ . . . in memory of a bay mare named Winter Winds—you gallop on in my heart. Forever.”

Oh, Candace! You made me cry! Thank you again for sharing with us.