18Dec

Fiction Friday: Interview with Erica Vetsch

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Serving Joyfully.

I am especially excited about today’s interview, for a couple of reasons. First of all, I had the pleasure of meeting Erica at the ACFW conference back in September, and she is so sweet! The second reason is that I have read and enjoyed so many of her books that I feel confident I can pick up anything with her name on it and get a great story.

Erica is always posting fun little surveys on her facebook page, and you can head over to her website for a fun story about her book, A Bride Sews With Love in Needles, CA.

Interview with Erica Vetsch

erica vetsch

 

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I think deep down in my heart, I always wanted to be a writer. I fell in love with reading fiction somewhere around third grade, and that love stayed with me. I have always led an intensely vivid inner life, often more vivid than what was going on around me. J I would take characters from the stories I read and continue their adventures every night in that sweet twilight between waking and sleep. I took those fictional friends with me onto the playground, on family car trips, in math class…I didn’t know I wanted to write, but I did know I spent a lot of time creating stories.

Love that! I did a lot of that reading and daydreaming about characters as well :) So, when did you start writing to be published?

I started writing for publication sometime around 2005, and I received my first contract in 2008.

Awesome! So, what was your specific journey to publication?

When I started, I did everything wrong. I wrote a story without learning how to write fiction, just spilling out the scenes in my head. When I finished it, I sent it to everyone in the Christian Writer’s Market Guide who had ever represented fiction. When I got a raft of rejections, I buckled down and began learning the craft of writing, studying and attending conferences and entering contests. I procured an agent, then at the 2008 ACFW Conference, I received my first contract from Barbour Heartsong Presents. That year I won third place in the Historical Category for the ACFW Genesis contest and won the Lit category.

It sounds as if those rejections really inspired you. Were there any notable encouragements you received along the way?

I received good feedback from the writing contests I entered, and getting to the finals a couple of years in a row was certainly encouraging. I liked best those judges who took the time to show me what I could do better rather than just telling me to change something.

That sounds great. Before we finish up…what is one last tip you would offer to aspiring writers?

Writing is hard work, and it can be discouraging at times, but don’t give up. And don’t wait on a project. Get one out the door and start on another. You can’t sell out of an empty warehouse, so keep those stories coming. If one misses the mark, the next one might hit it squarely on the head.

Love that! Thanks again for joining us today :)

Erica’s Books

Okay, Erica has pretty much written too many things for me to list them all, so I’ll just list a couple favorites.

A Bride Sews with Love in Needles, California. (Get it on Kindle right now for just $1.99) I’ve talked about this story a couple times before. Why? Because this story contains one of my favorite heroes ever. Something about this strong, handsome, stubborn, determined, yet broken man just really drew me in. He had been misunderstood and judged harshly by others, including Meghan at first. But when she learns the truth, she is the perfect person for him.

North Star Brides (Get it on Kindle right now for just $1.99) I won’t go on and on about this, but I loved this series, and getting all 3 of them for just $1.99 is a steal! Very heartwarming stories in this series. Loved seeing these brothers meet their matches :)

Colorado Dawn (& Giveaway)

 

Erica’s most recently published work is a series of 3 novels, all packaged together for one low price. Gotta love that! And, like I said, these are great stories!

Colorado Dawn

Get it now for Kindle ($6.15) or Paperback ($7.99).

In Before the Dawn, I loved reading about David and Karen’s story. I loved seeing this strong man who was knocked to his knees, and had to come out stronger on the other side. Erica has a beautiful way of writing stories, writing strong characters, and getting us in their heads. And this was no exception. I could feel the pain and humiliation that David felt when he thought he could never be the man and provider he needed to be. And Karen’s unconditional love for him was very inspiring as well.

In Light to My Path, I enjoyed reading about Sam and his easy generosity, and Ellie who had been through so much in her life, along with the rag tag group they traveled with. It was a beautiful and heartwarming story from start to finish.

Stars in Her Eyes was just plain fun. The story of Silas and Willow was very simple and sweet, but then all around them were complications abound, including a scheming mother from his congregation for Silas, and a jealous sister for Willow, who would stop at nothing to have her way. Silas is a wonderful pastor and leader throughout, and I really respected his integrity, along with Willow’s as they were willing to suffer in order to try and keep from hurting others.

Giveaway

Erica has very generously sent me an extra autographed copy of this book for a lucky reader! Enter to win via the rafflecopter options below. PS–an easy way to share about her book, just share this facebook post.

The giveaway is open to US only, and will end at 11:59 12/26/2014

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Connect with Erica

Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and romance, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical romances. Whenever she’s not immersed in fictional worlds, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.

Find Me On Facebook

Find Me On Twitter

Find My Website

17Dec

Thriving Thursday 12/18 {& A week in review}

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Serving Joyfully.

Don’t miss my great list of nearly 40 free books for kindle that you can get right now…all from the best publishers and authors in Christian fiction, so definitely check that out.

This Week on Serving Joyfully

Keeping Christ in Your ChristmasIn this post, I shared some of the ways that we keep Christ at the center of our Christmas celebrations.

Christ in Christmas

‘Tis so sweet to trust in JesusI love old hymns, and enjoy researching about the stories behind them. In this post, I share the story that has been passed down about the origins of this particular hymn.

So sweet

A crazy good Dayspring Deal

DaySpring is pulling out a GREAT sale for last minute shoppers!!! Lots of gift ideas on this page for just $5!!! Even more for under $10, and under $20. And, the best part is…free shipping on any size order!!!

Yes, you read that right! Use code FREESHIPDAY to get FREE SHIPPING on any size order! That is a great deal and it’s good only on Thursday 12/18. Check it out right here. 

dayspring sale

 

What have you been up to this week?

There were so many FANTASTIC posts linked up last week and I can’t wait to see what you ladies have to share this week :)

Thriving Thursdays Link Up!!!

Thriving Thursdays is a link up for family-friendly bloggers, who are choosing to THRIVE in their lives. It’s a place for us to encourage and inspire one another to live life to the fullest–in Jesus Christ. Link up your posts about thriving–in marriage, faith, parenting, homemaking, relationships, in the kitchen, in frugality.

Everything we do can be a ministry and worship to our Lord. Link up as many posts as you want, and I hope that you’ll take the time to visit some other participants as well.

I am so blessed by the posts you all share! I really look forward to seeing all of the encouragement shared here each week. Keep it coming! Sometimes I highlight posts here, and I also pin my favorites to the Thriving Thursdays Pinterest Board.

15Dec

Keeping Christ in Your Christmas

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Serving Joyfully.

 

Christ in Christmas

It is really important for my husband and I for our family to keep our hearts focused on Christ–throughout the year, but especially throughout the Christmas season. In our society of abundance and plenty, it’s so easy to be swept away by the current of commercialism. Like my pastor reminded us on Sunday while preaching about Daniel, it’s much easier to go with the flow of things. But we can’t do that. As Christians we have to fight against a society that turns this blessed day into a day about shopping and dollars and who can accumulate the most things.

Here are some of the things we do to keep our hearts centered on Jesus at this time.

We Don’t Do Santa

*Gasp* I know, this tends to be terribly shocking to most people. I wrote an entire post about this one, but it bears mentioning here because this is one of the biggest ways that we choose to keep the focus on Jesus–we don’t open the door for “competition.” In fact, we feel that there are a lot of aspects of the modern day commercialized “Santa” story that detract from the real meaning of Christmas, so we don’t participate in it. (You can read more about that here.)

Serve Others

There really is no season for this–we should do it all year round! However, this is a season during which this is especially important, and when we are especially tempted to get turned around. It’s tempting to focus on our own Christmas wish lists (or those of our own family), more than the wishes of others. It’s easy to focus on all the lights, decorations, and fancy packages more than the hearts and needs of those around us. For this reason, I think humbling ourselves to serve others is especially important during this time.

Check out my friend Sheila from Pennies of Time for some great ideas for serving with your little ones! Also, Not Consumed has some printables and ideas to help with your RAK’s this year.

And, my friend Heather from Cultivated Lives (www.heatherhaupt.com) has this great post about giving and serving at Christmas (even if it doesn’t come naturally to you).

Countdown4

Keep it Simple

Christmas is a simple affair for us. We make a conscious effort to focus on that baby in a manger more than we focus on gifts. We also don’t do hundreds of dollars worth of gifts. Last year, we had a blessed, happy Christmas, and we spent around $15-$20 on each child. We bought things on sale or clearance. We bought one larger item and a few smaller ones, including things they needed like toothpaste, etc. (Yes, toothpaste. My boys are still at that young, sweet age where even toothpaste is a fun gift for them! Love that!)

We don’t feel comfortable spending tons of money on gifts while other people are in such great need. It just doesn’t sit well on our hearts, so we do what God has led us to do in this area. And He convicts different people in different ways. Furthermore, it is more important for us to teach our boys contentment, than to provide them with a lot of fancy things.

Finally, it is amazing how much more enjoyable the Christmas season is when you take the pressure off to have the biggest, best, most decorated Christmas ever.

Advent Calendars

You can see our Advent and Christmas Countdown in this post. But basically we do a devotion and a candy countdown each day, along with our random acts of kindness. We use this tabletop advent calendar from Dayspring and we just love it! It’s short enough to be very manageable and stress-free, but still thought-provoking.

Advent Calendar

They have a newer one from their Redeeming Love line that looks great as well, and you can find it here. It’s $14.99, but will probably go on sale :)

The candy/box countdown we use is this one from Karen Foster that I decorated back in my scrapbooking days. Our boys love taking turns passing out the candy and treats. The boxes are kind of small, so we are limited in what we can put in here, but it’s fun to get creative.

Christmas Countdown

You can also check out this great list of printable nativity activities for more ideas for little ones.

Books & Media

The first book we turn to is our Bible. We make the Christmas story a focus on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and other times during the holiday season. We try to make sure that everything points toward Him. Here are a few more of our favorite books that point to Christ during the Christmas season:

  How do you keep Christ the focus of Christmas in your family?

14Dec

Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus {The Story Behind the Hymn}

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Serving Joyfully.

I love old hymns. I love the heart, the theology, but  most of all the testimonies of faith that they offer up. Men and women who walked through the fire. Men and women who suffered through trials and tribulations–the worst that this world has to offer–and whose faith remained stronger on the other side. Those who trusted in the sovereignty of God and took comfort in Him, even in the trials.

So sweet

So, I’m going to be sharing some of these stories in hopes that they will inspire and encourage you as well. Maybe you already know them and maybe you don’t. But either way, I pray you’ll be encouraged.

‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

{The Story}

As the story goes, Louisa M. R. Stead had a deep faith and desired to be a missionary to China. However, her frail health prevented her from doing this. She was married in 1875. One day, around the year 1879-1880 (there are varying accounts to the details), she went picnicking with her husband and daughter. They heard the screams of a young boy, and her husband tried to rescue him from the water. Instead, she and her daughter Lily watched helplessly as both her husband and the young boy drowned. Some actually say that he saved their daughter who was drowning as well, but most accounts I have read said he died saving a young boy.

Louisa was surely devastated by the loss of her husband, but in addition to that, she and Lily were left without a means of support and were poor and destitute. Yet the Lord always provided, sometimes through the kindness of strangers. She and her daughter made it through this time and eventually became missionaries in South Africa.

However, it was in the midst of her trials that Louisa Stead penned the following words…

{The Hymn}

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Refrain:

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.

11Dec

A Better Way to Shop! {Save $10 + FREE shipping + FREE Bonus Pruduct}

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Serving Joyfully.

Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary package from ePantry to try out their service. This post contains affiliate links. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

ePantry

I have shared with you our desire to use more natural, eco-friendly, and less chemical products in our home. Eating real food, using essential oils, and brands like Mrs. Meyers, Method, Seventh Generation, etc. for household products that we don’t make ourselves. Better for us and the environment. A win-win.

It’s a great plan.

The problem for me is that I live in a tiny town with very limited shopping. There are two grocery stores, a family dollar, and a general dollar. Other than a couple of small Amish-owned stores (which I LOVE, by the way!), that’s it. The nearest Wal-mart is about 35 minutes away, and even then, they don’t have a great selection of natural products.

So, I was excited to get an email a few weeks ago from Crystal Paine (www.moneysavingmom.com) inviting me to try ePantry.

Enter ePantry.

ePantry is a service similar to Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program. Except they specialize in natural, eco-friendly brands (all those I listed above and more!).

Epantry Guarantee

It’s very simple and hassle-free. When you set up your account, you’ll be prompted to answer some simple questions about your family, and you will get customized recommendations.

How it works

  • Sign up with this link–that will qualify you for a free $10 credit, free shipping on your first order, and a free bonus Mrs. Meyer’s handsoap. (They do require a minimum of $20 after credits for the first shipment. After the first shipment, you can order whatever you want–even a single item.)
  • Answer a few questions about your family and the brands/products you prefer.
  • ePantry will generate personalized recommendations for you. At this point, you can accept their recommended shipment, or you can customize it even more by removing items from your basket and/or adding items that you need.

Then, just sit back and wait for your items to be delivered right to your door. I love the convenience of shopping online, and my boys really love the excitement of getting packages in the mail. They don’t even care if it’s “boring” stuff like household cleaner–if it comes in a box from the package truck, they love it.

It is Very Flexible.

This is a subscription type service; however, it’s completely customizable. You are in complete control of your shipments. You can log on to your account and change products or delay shipments at any time. You can also cancel at any time.

Some of the items they offer: oral care products, environmentally responsible paper products, cleaning products, bath products, personal hygiene products, and more.

Check it out for yourself.

And, as you’ll see from the image above, epantry offers a 100% happiness guarantee. I always love to see companies offering a money-back guarantee because it tells me 2 very important things about them:

  • They value their customers;
  • They believe in their product.

This makes me feel good about using and recommending their service!

A Special Bonus Just for Serving Joyfully Readers!

MrsMeyersHandSoap

One of the big reasons I agreed to participate in this promotion is that it means I get the opportunity to bless you with a bonus free product! So, if you sign up with this link, you will not only get a $10 credit on your account, and free shipping on your first order, you will also receive a FREE Mrs. Meyers handsoap! Score! We love Mrs. Meyers products, and ePantry has a great selection of them.

PS–When I signed up, I had the opportunity to get a bonus $2 credit by answering a chat question, so look for that as well!

PSS–Their customer service is phenomenal! In fact, my contact made sure to ask when this would post so they could be sure to have customer service staff available to answer any questions. So, if you encounter any issues at all, make use of the chat feature.

Claim your free handsoap by ordering now

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