Friday, December 18, 2015

Come Meet A.M. Heath, Author of the Ancient Words Series!

As a follow-up to my review of A.M. Heath's In the Shadow of Thy Wings (HERE), I thought that you might like to meet the lovely lady who pens the arresting Ancient Words series. :-)

Pour yourself a cup of coffee... or perhaps chicory might be more appropriate, given the Civil War background of A.M. Heath's novels! :-) I know that you'll find her as warm and engaging as I have... and will soon be thinking of her as a friend.

How did you become interested in Civil War history and fiction?
I've always had a love for history. My dad also loves history. He's always told us little stories growing up, and I craved that sort of thing. But Civil War history, in particular, I've grown so fond of because I love the clothes. Lol What can I say?! I'm a woman. While I genuinely love to study any historic period, I've grown to appreciate Civil War history for a couple different reasons. Growing up in the south, this history is still so alive. There are battlefields everywhere down here. One of the major battles in TN, Stones River, is right across the street from our doctor's office. The park where I played as a child, the cavalry once skirmished there. I was visiting a friend the other day and he was telling me that there's still a Civil War fort on the back part of his property. Living where I do, it's an easy subject to immerse yourself in.
This war is really interesting because the two sides weren't so easily marked. It was called a War Between Brothers for a reason. This makes for VERY interesting circumstances. Which make for some very interesting fiction. ;)

That is interesting! I'd love to know what your research and writing process looks like?
I'm what writers call a pantser. Lol What that means, is that, not only do I like flying by the seat of my pants, but I also thrive in it. I do my best work with less planning. I plan some. And I've learned to take the time to do my character sketches. But I can't work with a detailed outline. I need the freedom to feel out the story as it's being written. My research follows this rule. I typically research as I write by keeping civil war journals open at all times and reading a little as often as I can. As I'm writing and specific needs arise, I'll research as needed. But for the most part, when I'm excited about a new project, I can't slow down long enough to outline or spend three months on research. I like to jump in with both feet and get started. It's a happy sort of chaos that I work well in, I'm afraid. Lol

It's a wonderful thing to leap with both feet into something God has called you to. :-) Do you have a “missions statement” for your writing? Care to share?I simply want to glorify Christ and share Him wherever I go. Whether I'm penning a story, typing an email, talking to a friend, or tending my family at home, I try to keep that goal always before me.

Who do you see as being the most interested in reading the Ancient Words series?As a history lover, I first and foremost imagine people that love history, particularly Civil War history, will really enjoy it. But I'm a romantic to the very core, so while the first book of the series was a bit lighter in the romance department, I imagine that Christian romance fans will be satisfied. Or those that love a great Christian fiction novel.

After Book Three – which I am highly anticipating! – I understand that the Ancient Words series will be going from the 1860s to the current day. Yet, despite a 150-year-gap, the books are connected. That’s an intriguing twist. Could you tell us how it came about?

I'd love to! This is probably the most unusual way to write a series. You'll see what I mean in a minute. Lol

First of all, I'll explain how they connect: All throughout this series, you should have noticed the letters that were passed between characters. ;) Of course, you noticed. The books are built around these letters. Book 4, His Love Endures Forever, is a story about a teenage girl, Allie Redman, who moves into the Harper home. She finds the letters written between the characters and it's that salvation message that Claire sends Frank in Book 1, Where Can I Flee, that impacts Allie 150 years later.

In the beginning, I was only writing Allie's story. I loved the idea of telling a multi-generational story and also of telling a story through letters. But as I wrote the Harper letters, I fell in love with these characters. They were so much larger than their letters allowed them to be. I started off writing short stories that featured these characters and told their story through their eyes. Parts of the short stories overlapped the letters, but it told richer details that the letters couldn't have. My plan was simply to tack it on at the end of the novel as some bonus reading material. But again, God changed my plans, and the Harpers outgrew even that space, demanding a series of novels of their own. So I set aside Allie's story and focused on telling the Harpers' story first. Allie has been a patient gal, but I'm looking forward to bringing this new generation to my readers and letting them see the Harpers' impact on people they've never seen.

I find that so interesting -- that you started with Allie and went back in time to the Harpers. And as I'm sure your readers can testify, you're not the only one who "fell in love" with the Harpers! ;-)

Last of all, do you have a favorite verse of Scripture?Proverbs 4: 14, 15 “Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way.”
I can't tell you the amount of trouble this verse has rescued me from simply by doing exactly as it says and aiming to stay far from sin rather than draw near it.

Places readers can connect with you online?
You can connect with me on Goodreads, Pinterest, and Twitter. However, I'm most active on Facebook and through my weekly blog. You can also catch a lot of behind the scenes stuff on my series on my website.


Thanks for visiting me today, A.M.! :-) It's my prayer that your writing goes forth more and more to the glory of God -- for the furtherance of the gospel -- and for the edification of believers. 

Have a wonderful weekend, friends! :-)

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Book Review: In the Shadow of Thy Wings by A.M. Heath

Literarily-speaking (if that's a word!), I live in dread and anticipation of sequels to books I love. Do you? :-)

For me, my dread stems from my fear that the second book will - just - not live up to the first. And my anticipation finds its root in my hope that maybe - just *maybe* - the sequel will live up to the high standard set by its predecessor.

So, last spring, when my friend and fellow indie-author A.M. Heath mentioned that she was nearly done with writing the sequel to Where Can I Flee? - which was such a lovely, redemption-saturated Civil War novel - my heart both quaked and leaped. Could the sequel, entitled In the Shadow of Thy Wings, measure up to the heart-expanding Where Can I Flee? I hoped so.

Then, when A.M. asked me to join her beta-reading team, I was able to read In the Shadow of Thy Wings early. And, friends, I admit it: I was wrong to hope.

To merely hope, I mean. ;-)

In the Shadow of Thy Wings exceeds Where Can I Flee? If that's possible. :-) Now when I recommend the Ancient Words series (which will have a total of 5 books altogether, eventually) - I'm starting to say, "Where Can I Flee is excellent - but wait until you get to In the Shadow of Thy Wings!"

This eloquent sequel continues the story of the Harper and Chandler families, two southern households with young men fighting in the Civil War and young women who have stayed behind, yet are intricately involved in the war effort. A.M. Heath brings us readers along with her well-rounded characters as they struggle not only with their flesh-and-blood enemies, but also with their consciences, with the Scriptures, and with family relationships and friendships as the Civil War commences on it blood-soaked final leg.

As a Christian reader, I particularly appreciate the way this author puts the relationship of her characters with the Lord Jesus at the center - and does it in a natural, easy-as-breathing manner. This is not a "preachy" book - and yet the Gospel pulses from its every page. And this is no weak-kneed, warm-and-fuzzy Gospel; it is the strong, muscular kind that lives and fights and sees clearly that our battle is not against the things that are seen. You may not always agree with the choices her characters make, but A.M. will make you think hard - will force you to search your heart - about why you disagree. This sort of fiction encourages and exhorts and urges us to live a more holy life, while at the same time drawing us irresistibly into the story-world of 1860s Maple Grove, with all its intrigue, danger, and sweetly sacrificial love.

Today is the release day for In the Shadow of Thy Wings! It's available on Amazon HERE (clickable), and I encourage you to get a copy for yourself or for a historical-fiction lover you know. 

You'll want to learn more about the Ancient Words series and its truthful and gracious author. From 12/8 to 12/10, A.M. Heath is hosting a Facebook release party for In the Shadow of Thy Wings, and she'd love to have you join her. There will be prizes (Did someone say "giveaway"?;-)), lots of bookish chit-chat, and fun. Here's the link to join in - Feel free to participate as much or as little as you like! CLICK HERE to check out the FB party.

You can find out more about A.M. Heath and connect with her - 
On her website: CLICK HERE
On her author Facebook page: CLICK HERE
On Pinterest: CLICK HERE

*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. I received no other compensation and was under no obligation whatsoever to provide a positive review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.*

Friday, December 4, 2015

First Friday: December 2015

Well, December has certainly arrived here in New England!!! :-) We don't turn the heat on upstairs in our house until *we absolutely have to* -- so I am sitting here writing to you all well-wrapped against the cold, a bit like Jo March:
{click for source info}
The advantage that I have over Miss March, warmth-wise, is that I have a pug, whose purpose is To Keep Others Warm. ;-)

Now, in this wonderful month of the Child-Child's birth, let me share a bit of what I'm up to with you, friends. It is, after all, the First Friday of December. :-)

In December, I'm looking forward to...

  • The fresh, cold scent of new-cut pine
  • The taste of warm sugar cookies, pulled just-now from the oven
  • The feeling of frozen feet gradually gaining warmth from an old pair of Irish stepdancing socks
  • The sight of the first *real* snow -- We can hope for a white Christmas, no?
  • The sound of my family's exaggerated "ooh"s and "ahh"s at the Christmas tree's first lighting

And right now, I'm currently...
  • Reading (fiction) - Francine Rivers' A Voice in the Wind - So far, I am loving it!
  • Reading (nonfiction) - John Piper's When the Darkness Will Not Lift - Good thus far. Will be beginning Eric Ludy's Wrestling Prayer soon, which comes highly recommended from both my mama and my husband.
  • Reading (in Scripture) - 1st Peter - I'm trying a new kind of Bible journaling/study pattern and perhaps will share how I like it in the weeks ahead. :-)
  • Writing - Book Three in A Time of Grace! Please pray for perseverance for me. :-) (You can check to see my progress in the little word-count meter on the side-bar here.)
  • Thankful to the Lord for - the wonderful way in which "the pug book" has been received; the joy of having kindred spirits in my sisters and Mama; and the way in which the Lord from on high descended to earth, bringing - *being* the Great Gift to each of us. 
  • And pinning this: 
    {click to repin or for source info}
What are you anticipating, reading, or doing this month of Advent, friends? :-)

Grace and peace,

Friday, November 27, 2015

Hurray! It's a Christmas ~ Softcover ~ Sale! :-)

You asked for it, friends! :-)

A CHRISTMAS SOFTCOVER SALE on the A Time of Grace books, perfect for gift-giving!

From November 27 through December 19, both softcovers of The Fragrance of Geraniums AND All Our Empty Places will be on sale for less than $10 each OR for less than $20 for both!

This offer is available only through Amazon:

(If you’d like autographs for your copies, please feel free to contact me!)

Grace and peace,


Friday, November 20, 2015

It's Release Day! Mr. Portly Finds His Purpose

“Come on, Mr. Portly,” the Lady said. “You can do it!”
“Can I?” he thought glumly. “Aren’t Pugs Useless, after all?”

Many of you have been waiting for this day for some time! Thanks for being patient with me and for cheering me on as I navigated the tricky (for me!) waters of children's book formatting. What a true delight it is to present to you this new title today!

When Miss Cat-Next-Door informs Mr. Portly the Pug that he is Useless, Mr. Portly is heartbroken. He decides to find out for himself whether or not the Cat is telling the truth...and discovers that everyone - even the most seemingly-useless among us - has worth.
A sweet and encouraging read-aloud story for children, the childlike, and all pug-lovers!
This book is available in paperback only, and it is currently available exclusively through Amazon. My hope is that sharing and reading it with your children or grandchildren will bless you with sarcasm-free, humorous enjoyment that also encourages each of us to be thankful for the worth God with which our Creator has endowed us. :-) 

Find MR. PORTLY FINDS HIS PURPOSE here (clickable link):

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Grace and peace,

Friday, November 13, 2015

When Thanksgiving Becomes Thanksliving

It's the month of thankfulness in the United States. Driving today, I saw signs on everything from churches to businesses proclaiming, "Give thanks!"

And I should. I have so much.

I think of Christians in China, severely beaten for owning a non-state-regulated copy of the Scriptures, and my heart sinks to know how paltry is my own gratefulness for having not one but several copies of God's saving Word and for not being beaten for possessing them.

I think of Christians in North Korea, torn from their families for life - for *life* - and brutally worked to death in labor camps. And I remember how quickly my "thank You for my family" turns into frustration when serving them in some way interrupts my plans.

I think of street preachers in the UK and in Canada, fined beyond their means for proclaiming the full, naturally-offensive message of the Gospel -- because we must know how lost we are before we can be found. And my mind recollects how often I've secretly desired to store up treasures on earth.

And I wonder...

On Thursday, November 26th, 2015, I'll sing songs of praise to God, thanking Him from Whom all blessings flow. I'll pray and ask for God's blessing on our beautiful meal, my dear family. I'll spend time basking in the delightfulness of the Father God's mercies and grace, poured out in so many tangible and intangible ways.

And this is right and good.

But my thanksgiving *must* overflow daily in thanks-living - in the deliberate giving back of myself in thanksgiving to God, as a living sacrifice on His altar.

And if it doesn't overflow?

Then I have to ask: Is it real? Is it true thankfulness - or is it just a happy feeling that I have nice stuff and nice people around me who make me feel good?

May God change our hearts more and more to beat like His - that He would take my thankfulness and yours, that He would convert it in us to living utterly for Him, day-by-day, living out our thanks to Him.

Grace and peace,

Friday, November 6, 2015

First Friday: November 2015

What a month of activity October was! :-) From helping my dear sister and her family move halfway across the country to finishing up the launch of All Our Empty Places, October fairly bulged with hustle-and-bustle. But here I am, in one piece :-) -- and looking forward to what this new month holds.

What am I looking forward to in November? 
What am I doing now?

Scents: The new sharpness in the air as the last leaves drift from the trees / the smell of roasting turkey and pumpkin pie / the dusty odor of the earth as we finish tucking our gardens and yard to bed for the winter.
Sounds: The late fall rains against the window panes / the melodies of hymns our family sings at Thanksgiving / the happy laugh of the robin when he lands in our bare crab-apple tree
Sights: The joyful, well-loved faces around our holiday table / filled boxes for Operation Christmas Child (click to find out more) / the clear skies of a late autumn night

Bible: I'm reading the Book of Judges - written so long ago, yet with messages so pertinent to my life today.
Books: I'm still reading Gold by Moonlight (taking my time to mine it well) and am also reading Living Water by Brother Yun, a Chinese house-church pastor and survivor of intense persecution. His book is truly excellent - Every Christian should read it. Expect to hear more about this one soon. :-)
Writing: I finished up the main work for "the pug book" -- Some of you may remember that I ran into severe formatting issues last year with it and never finished it. Well, I decided to try again :-) and am happy to say that this little fun read-aloud about a pug who *thought* that he was useless should be ready for release within a few weeks, Lord willin' and the crick don't rise. :-)
I'm also working with intensity on A Time of Grace Book 3. If I come to your mind, would you keep my writing on this one in your prayers? Thank you! <3

What are you looking forward to, friends? :-)

Grace and peace through Him who died for us,

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Guest Cover Reveal Tour: Faith Blum's Lily of the Valley

Today we have a blog post with a cover reveal. But, there’s a catch. The author, Faith Blum, has split her cover into 15 different pieces! In order to enter her giveaway, you need to put it together and email her your cover. Or, if you don’t want to enter the giveaway, but you’d still like to see the cover, stop by her blog on Thursday. I haven't yet had the chance to read Faith Blum's work, but her contest - and her book - sounds like fun! :-)

The Prize

The winner will have to be patient, but the prize for this cover reveal is a signed paperback copy of Lily of the Valley. Unfortunately, due to the high cost of shipping internationally, Faith won’t be sending a paperback outside of the U.S. If you are international and would like to participate and win, you will receive an ebook copy of any TWO of my published books including Lily of the Valley.

To help you a little with putting together the cover, here is the description:

Howdy, Teacher! You don’t know me, but my kids talk bout you a lot. I been lookin fer a wife and mother fer a few years and was wonderin iffen we cood meet and get to no each other a bit. I’ll come after school to git yer answer. Grover Miller

Unruly schoolchildren, three suitors, and too many things to do. When Ruth Brookings rejects one of the suitors, he refuses to accept no for an answer.
To make matters worse, when she prays for guidance, she’s answered with a challenge instead: To encourage her friend to find a wife—whether he wants one or not.
Will she lose her friend just when she needs a friend the most? Will she be able to weather the storms she’s about to face?

  • Stop by each blog listed below to get their piece of the cover.
  • Use a program like this website to put the cover together: If you get a little extra space between each piece, your cover will still count toward the prize. It doesn’t have to be perfect as long is each piece is in the correct place.
  • Email your completed cover to Faith at faith[dot]blum[dot]@gmail[dot]com NO LATER THAN October 14th at 9:00 PM Central time. (If you have problems with time zones, shoot Faith an email and she’ll help you out).
  • Stop by Faith’s blog to see the cover and who won.

Piece of the Cover #14:

Faith Blum is a 24 year old home school graduate who enjoys doing many right-brained activities such as reading, crafting, writing, and playing piano. Her favorite genre to read and write is Historical Fiction, more specifically, Westerns. In the Hymns of the West series, she has endeavored to create clean, fun, and challenging Western stories for the whole family.  She currently has three novels and three novellas published. You can find her in various places online: Website | Blog | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | Amazon

Here's Where to Find the Rest of the Pieces:

October 12
Rebekah Lyn Books—with Author Interview

October 13
Rachel Rossano’s Words—with Author Interview

October 14

October 15
Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections—with full cover and winner announcement

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Release Tour Wrap-Up & Cozy Autumn Reading Giveaway Winner

Thanks to everyone who followed the Release Tour for All Our Empty Places! I hope that you each enjoyed it and that you might have found some new reading/reviewing/writing blogs that interest you through it! :-)


*** Drum-roll, please. ***

Our winner is:
Sarah Sue!

Sarah, you'll receive an e-mail shortly, asking for your mailing address. Congratulations! :-)

Thanks to EVERYONE who entered the giveaway! :-) If you didn't win and would like to get a copy of All Our Empty Places, Book Two in the A Time of Grace trilogy, you'll find it HERE on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.

Have a most blessed weekend in the Lord!

Grace and peace,

Friday, October 2, 2015

RELEASE TOUR: Day 5 - Last Day to Enter the Cozy Autumn Reading Giveaway!

Happy Friday! :-) I hope that you've been enjoying this Release Tour week for All Our Empty Places as much as I have. If you haven't yet entered the Cozy Autumn Reading Giveaway - or if you'd like to collect the once-a-day entries for today - you may do that by clicking HERE or by going to any one of the excellent blogs who are kindly hosting Book Two of the A Time of Grace trilogy today (all are clickable links). Some of these are spotlight the book, while others will have interviews and reviews of it. 

With A Joyful Noise
The Overactive Imagination
Iola’s Christian Reads
A Writer’s Heart

You might wish to stop back here tomorrow to find out who has won our Giveaway! I know I'm looking forward to sending off this lovely box of goodies to the winner. :-)

And before I head off, I want to let you know that Amazon has finally :-) caught up and All Our Empty Places is available for purchase there in both softcover and Kindle - Thanks for being patient, dear readers! Clicking HERE will bring you to the Amazon page for the softcover.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

RELEASE WEEK: Days 3 & 4

Days 3 & 4 of Release Week for All Our Empty Places, Book Two in the A Time of Grace trilogy!

Our stop WEDNESDAY is at:

Seasons of Humility (clickable link).

Our stops THURSDAY are at:

Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections (clickable link)

Christian Author A.M. Heath (clickable link)

I personally follow and enjoy each of these blogs - both for their excellent content and also for their kind hosts! I hope that you'll join me in stopping at their "front porches." :-)

And, of course,  you may enter the Cozy Autumn Reading Giveaway on their blogs or HERE, if you wish!

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Release Day: All Our Empty Places ~ A Time of Grace, Book 2

Rejoicing in the Lord! :-)

It's Release Day for All Our Empty Places, Book Two in A Time of Grace!

You can now find All Our Empty Places on Amazon in both softcover and Kindle.


Amazon is still playing catch-up with displaying the softcover (though they should have it up very shortly), but if you would really like to order the softcover today, it's available here:

Book One, The Fragrance of Geraniums, now has an updated cover as well, reflecting that it's now part of a trilogy. :-)
Find both the softcover and Kindle HERE.

And we're continuing the Release Tour Week with stops at (all clickable links):

Ready to be Offered - who also has reviewed the novel

Rachel Rossano’s Words

Letters from Annie Douglass Lima

I'd love to have you click on over and read their reviews and/or spotlights on the novel! :-)
You'll also be able to enter the Cozy Autumn Reading Giveaway on each of those sites, as well as by clicking HERE. This giveaway was so much fun to create, and I hope that you enjoy it!

Grace and peace to you,

Monday, September 28, 2015

Hurray! It's Release Week for ALL OUR EMPTY PLACES {& We're Having a Cozy Autumn Reading Giveaway}!

I am so delightedly-delighted :-) to announce that, by God's grace, it's RELEASE WEEK for All Our Empty Places, Book Two in the A Time of Grace trilogy. May the Lord Jesus see fit to make His Name more beloved and honored through this novel.

While the book doesn't officially release until tomorrow, Tuesday, September 29, 2015, we're going to start today, Monday, September 28, kicking off with a special, week-long autumnal giveaway -- and you all know how much I love giveaways! :-)

You'll also want to stop by and visit the other blogs taking part in this release celebration week. Some of them will simply be highlighting the book, others will be offering their honest early-reader reviews, and still others will be interviewing yours truly. :-) Hint: If you stop by at least one each day, you'll be able to pick up more giveaway points by "following" their host! I will be linking to each participating blog each day right here on A Brighter Destiny so that you're able to follow along easily.

Today, I'd love to have you visit Raechel at her review blog, God's Peculiar Treasure Rae: CLICK HERE to go there! (She also has reviewed All Our Empty Places; you can read that by clicking HERE.) At Raechel's blog, you'll find Biblically-sound, reliable reviews of many Christian fiction books, as well as Raechel's own challenging musings.

And now - drum-roll, please - for our GIVEAWAY! :-)

Looking at that picture makes me want to curl up with a good book, a crackling fireplace, a lap-rug (or, in my case, a lap-pug), some yummy snacks, and a mug of pumpkin spice white hot chocolate.

And that's what the winner of this giveaway will receive! :-) Minus the lap-pug and the fireplace, of course.

To sum it up, the winner will receive: A signed softcover of All Our Empty Places, a beautiful floral mug with 2 Corinthians 12:9 inscribed on it, Nonni's Caramel Apple Biscotti, and a canister of Harvest Spice Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate!

Enter below and feel free to share! :-)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Intended Audience for All Our Empty Places / A Time of Grace Trilogy

Just popping in here to answer a couple of questions that have come my way, pre-release!

Who is the intended audience for All Our Empty Places?

All Our Empty Places (actually, the whole trilogy) is intended to be women's fiction. Now, having 
said that, I know that there are men who do read the A Time of Grace books (and I'm glad for it!). The themes in the books are often universal for Christians, regardless of gender. But, when reading, remember that they are written with women and women's issues in mind.

What age is "old enough" to read the All Our Empty Places?

This question usually comes from mamas who want to know if the trilogy is good for their young daughter to read. My short answer is: This is realistic, Christ-centered fiction intended for women who want to see how the grace of God can transform lives, from the inside-out. The trilogy deals - in a Gospel-driven, redemptive manner - with very real-life issues in 1930s New England. In particular, All Our Empty Places portrays both a serious courting relationship (through the characters of Grace and Paulie) as well as a sometimes-troubled marriage relationship (through the characters of Sarah and Sam). Other issues include: unbelieving family members, poverty, and dealing with memories of past abuse/neglect.

So, I would say that the novel, while intended for adult women, may also be read beneficially by older teens. Any age younger than that is up to your own discretion -- You know your own children; different people are ready for things at different times. :-) 

If you have any other questions or would to hear a little more about the two I addressed above, please feel free to e-mail me at aliciagraceroque (at) gmail (dot) com -- or by using the contact form at the right side of this blog. :-)

Have a wonderful Sunday of worship! I'll "see" you on Monday.

Grace and peace,

Friday, September 25, 2015

Of Emptiness... And of Being Filled ~ Thoughts on All Our Empty Places

"If only God would give me different circumstances." No one understands your circumstances but God, and He has given you the fighting chance to prove you can be more than conqueror in all these things. Let God lift you out of the broken place, out of the bedraggled place.
~ Oswald Chambers

We all have broken places, don't we?

Scars from hurts given to us.

Scars from hurts we've given to others.

Memories that haunt us, reminding us who has failed us... and how we've failed, too, all on our own.

The chinks in our armor that mock us in the mirror, telling us, day-after-day-after-day: "You don't measure up."

And sometimes, when we become Christians, we figure that those scars will disappear, that the "old injury" won't bother us, that our armor will become whole and strong, so that we can fight our way through life with ease and jollity. 

But they don't disappear, do they?

Actually, they seem to widen, stick out even more, reinterating that even as Christians, we still have broken places. Emptiness. Holes of darkness that it seems no light will pierce.

It's enough to make us despair, isn't it?

It's enough to make me despair - that's for sure.

And then, one day, years ago now, shedding tears over my Bible - admitting to God that I was utterly incapable of living this life He'd given as it ought to be lived - He spoke to me.

And the verse that I read was this:

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

I can't adequately express what that meant to me, other than this:
Christ's grace was sufficient for me - He would be my Sufficiency - He would pour His ability into me - because - His strength would be perfected - made complete - in my weakness - in my inability - in my incapability.

I realized - and what a humbling realization! - with the sureness of it being seared into my heart that my emptiness was good - my inability was good - my brokenness was good...

His strength can only be shown in weak people, people who know that they are weak, people who need His strength.

His grace could repair all the broken places, could fill me utterly because I was empty of myself - of my own abilities, of my own "wholeness."

When we're whole, shiny, and brimming with everything good, we don't think we need Him. We still do, of course, but we don't think so. We're so easily self-satisfied.

He wants broken hearts, broken lives, empty people whom He can fill with Himself.

And that is the theme of All Our Empty Places, releasing 9/29/15 (click here to preorder the Kindle edition).

I hope that you enjoy it, friends. May God use reading it to minister to your heart as writing it did mine.

Grace and peace,

Friday, September 18, 2015

I'm Going a Visitin' :-)

Just popping in to let you all know that I'm over at Iola's Christian Reads today -- a fantastic review blog -- revealing 15 authors who have been most influential on my life and writing.  Come join us:

Amanda Tero's "Peace, Be Still" - Review & Release with a Giveaway!

A couple of weeks ago, I received an e-mail that brought a huge smile to my face. It was from my writing friend and fellow author Amanda Tero -- She planned on publishing a new short story and needed early readers. :-) Did I want to be one?

Oh, yes! :-)

"Peace, Be Still" tells the story of a twelve-year old boy who must tend the lighthouse in his father's absence - and in the midst of a great storm.

My thoughts: This sweet yet compelling tale will appeal to both younger and older readers - perfect for a family read-aloud. Told from the perspective of the pre-teen, it gently teaches personal responsibility and endurance while encouraging deeper trust in the Heavenly Father. This is perhaps one of my favorites of Amanda Tero's stories and well-worth reading, whether you're two or ninety-two.

About the Author: Amanda Tero is a homeschool graduate whose desire is to provide God-honoring reading material that challenges the readers to consider their walk with God. She has currently published several short stories which can be found on Amazon on her website.

Author Links:

Amanda is hosting a giveaway in celebration of this story's release! :-) Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 11, 2015

September: First Friday (A Week Late!)

Yes, I know! :-)
It's not a "first Friday"! I'm a week late - but better late than never? ;-)

What am I looking forward to? What am I doing now?

Scents: The smell of burning leaves in barrels; the aroma of my mom's apple pie baking in the oven; the new crispness of the air as it enters my lungs.
Sounds: The crackle of fallen leaves under my feet; the honking of Canada geese as they gather to fly to warmer climes; the crickets harmonizing through the evening hours.
Sights: The glorious, watercolor sunsets of autumn; the first time I see my breath clouding in the morning air; the cold-weather coats coming in on the house rabbits.

Bible: I'm reading the Book of Hosea and seeing in it so much of our Heavenly Father's love for us, each, individually.
Fiction: Correlating with that, I'm reading Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love, based on Hosea. There is a story to why I'm reading them together - a complete God-incidence. :-)
Nonfiction: Amy Carmichael's Gold by Moonlight. One of my favorite missionaries of the near-past.
Writing: I'm - oh, this is so exciting to my soul! - working on the plot for A Time of Grace, Book 3. :-D
Releasing: This month, All Our Empty Places releases in softcover and on Kindle on Tuesday, September 29, 2015! There will be a grand giveaway and fun posts associated with that, so stay tuned, friends! :-)
Other: I'm starting a "Street Team" over on Facebook - basically, a group of folks who love my novels and want to get the word out about them to others! :-) If you'd like to join, send me a message at aliciagraceroque (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll get you signed up. :-)

May the Lord bless you and keep you in His love.

Grace and peace,

Monday, September 7, 2015

Heads-Up: Special Treat Ahead! :-)

Just popping in here today to let you blog readers and friends know that I'm preparing a special treat for my e-newsletter subscribers this week! :-) Heads-up: Subscribing to my blog by e-mail is one thing -- My author e-newsletter is different. :-)

YES -- The treat has something to do with All Our Empty Places. :-)

If you'd like to make sure that you receive that secret special treat this week, you can sign up for my e-newsletter here:

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway for Jason McIntire's New Release FLIGHT SCHOOL

Well, I promised that we'd be having a busy - and fun! - week here at A Brighter Destiny. Thus it continues with this review and giveaway (How I love those!) for Jason McIntire's FLIGHT SCHOOL, the stand-alone sequel to THE SPARROW FOUND A HOUSE.


First of all, what's Flight School about? :-)
For those of you who have read The Sparrow Found a House, you'll welcome back the Rivera-Sparrow family. For those of you who haven't read the previous book in this series, you'll love meeting each member of this household, from parrot-raising youngster Moe right on up to the highly-disciplined but loving Sergeant.

This story (which could certainly be read as a stand-alone) continues to detail the personal, educational, and especially spiritual growth of the Rivera-Sparrow children as well as their close friend, concentrating on the three eldest: Ben, Chris, and Jessie. In one spring and summer, these three face difficult decisions and must learn how their faith in Jesus Christ applies to real life situations -- career choices, romantic relationships, and friendships.

What Did I Think?
In Flight School, Jason McIntire has created another wholesome, engaging contemporary story that affirms traditional values, all done with the author's trademark gentle humor. The interesting plot - surrounding Christian movie-making as well as law internships - not only entertains but also encourages young people to think more deeply about the consequences of their behaviors and actions.

Because the novel focuses on the upper-teen members of the family, the story is of most interest to ages 13 and up. However, younger children would surely enjoy the majority of the story, especially the parts about the family as a whole. Indeed, this is a wonderful read-aloud story for the whole family - The story - the characters and their choices, their motives and their thoughts - provide a truly excellent jumping-off point for family discussions.

Overall, highly recommended. I'm planning on giving this book as a Christmas gift to a younger cousin.

What I Loved:
There was a lot! :-) I'll stick with three points.

1. The discussion that Jessie has with "Sarge" (her stepdad) near the end of the book. The focus on Christ was so excellently interwoven here, pulling all the mini-storylines of the novel together. Quoting:

"'Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.' Not 'keep the rules' like John or 'make it up as you go along' like Galen. Walk in the Spirit," [Sarge explained.]
"That seems hard to define," Jessie doubted.
"It is hard to define," Sarge agreed. "That's one of the reasons you and I can't do it on our own, by 'trying our best.' It requires constant dependence on the only One whose life can empower us to live for Him. And people do fear that, Jessie. The law seems safe and predictable by comparison to the Spirit, and they gravitate toward it.... Or else.... they proclaim 'liberty' and proceed to do what they like without regard to God and His Word. Either way, the Spirit is shut out and they're defeated before they start.... Each person no matter what their heritage or denominational background, can know and follow God by faith. He doesn't deal with institutions, but with individual hearts. And if someone is open to Him, He'll send them more light."

2. How the spiritual growth of the characters was so integral to the novel, yet never preachy! McIntire handled this deftly. Having worked with them, I believe that teenagers are starving for spiritual guidance that is relevant (in the best sense of that word) to their actual, contemporary decisions. In particular, Jessie provides an excellent role model for upper-teen girls.

3. The way that the family reached out to those around them with the love of Christ. This is a central aspect of the novel, and the Rivera-Sparrow parents demonstrate this the most, with their children learning from them. In line with this, the redemption theme for many of the minor character is excellent - hinting, in some cases, that there may be a third book! :-)

Parents of young children might want to know:
As I mentioned above, Flight School focuses on the teenagers in the Rivera-Sparrow family. That means that mentions of romantic attractions (though these mentions are mild by my conservative standard), particularly in the case of aspiring lawyer Ben and Chloe. What I loved about the handling of these romantic attractions was the way that McIntire brought the focus back to how Ben/Chloe's walk with Christ should direct their paths. Well-done.

Flight School is published by Elisha Press. You may purchase e-book OR print copies directly from their website or on Amazon / other online booksellers. Click HERE to go to Elisha Press' website.

{Giveaway is administered by Elisha Press.}

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Guest Cover Reveal: Lauren Lotter's BE STILL, MY SOUL

This looks like it will be a busy week at A Brighter Destiny! We have a guest cover reveal today, a guest book review/blog tour on Thursday, and, of course, First Friday. :-)

Today, I'm so pleased to help author Lauren K. Lotter reveal the cover and blurb of her upcoming release Be Still, My Soul. While I haven't read the book yet, Lauren has proven herself a fine writer with the release of previous titles for younger readers, such as her book Rustlers and the Texas Trail. She branches into new territory with this release.

The Cover:

About the Book:
Adah's world is turned upside down by the sudden death of her fiancée. After years of declaring that she will always be single, David broke down her walls and she fell hopelessly in love.
But just three weeks before their wedding, he is killed in a car accident. A happily-ever-after ending becomes a distant dream. Adah is lost without him and she tries to drown her grief in a crazy social life, but finds no peace.

In desperation, she heads off into the mountains, searching for a cure for  her broken heart. Her lack of wilderness experience gets her into many predicaments as she attempts to live life as the pioneers did. No running water, no electricity, a rock slide, an uncooperative wood stove and an unexpected late spring blizzard nearly overwhelm her. As if that wasn't adventure enough, a nearly frozen man appears on her doorstep in the middle of the raging blizzard. Adah is shocked to discover a young child cradled in his arms.
While the little girl, Sarah, seems unharmed, Adah works desperately to save the man's life. With limited medical knowledge, she does the best she can, but a high fever and other injuries threaten his life. The man, whose name is Ethan, regains consciousness and seems to be recovering just as the storm abates. But flooding, mud slides and avalanches force the trio to remain in the cabin for the unforeseeable future.
Adah is disturbed by Ethan's talk of God. Raised to be an Atheist, any talk of religion bothers her. But the more Ethan speaks of his God, the more curious Adah becomes. Something about the relationship Ethan has with his God calls to her. It is more than just a religion. Could God be the answer? Can He heal her broken heart?
Join Adah in her search for the truth. Will she finally find the love she has been searching for all her life?

For more information about the novel and its author, visit:

Friday, August 28, 2015

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: All Our Empty Places

"Excited" doesn't begin to describe how delightedly happy I am to reveal the cover for All Our Empty Places!

This novel is the second in what is now the "A Time of Grace" trilogy. (The first book, as most readers of this blog will know, is The Fragrance of Geraniums.)

All Our Empty Places officially releases on Tuesday, September 29, 2015. It will release both in softcover and also as an e-book.

Right now, the Kindle version is on pre-order at for a special early-bird-gets-the-worm price of $0.99 -- My "thank you" to those of you who pre-order! :-) (That price will rise to its normal point as soon as All Our Empty Places releases.) This link will take you to the novel's Amazon page: CLICK HERE.

Thanks to all of you who have supported me and this book with prayer and encouragement during this writing process. Every book is a wholly different experience for me as a writer, and I'm thankful for the ways God has already used this one in my own life. I'm praying that He uses it in yours, as well!

Thus, the journey begun for Sarah, Sam, Grace, and Paulie in The Fragrance of Geraniums continues...

By the way, to CELEBRATE this cover reveal, I'm hosting a GIVEAWAY on Facebook! :-) Drop on by and check it out here:

OR you can enter right here if you're logged into Facebook! :-) Read the post for more info:

I'm so delightedly happy to share with you the cover for ALL OUR EMPTY PLACES, Book 2 in the "A Time of Grace" trilogy!...

Posted by Alicia G. Ruggieri on Friday, August 28, 2015

Have a wonderful weekend!

Grace and peace,

Friday, August 7, 2015

First Friday: August 2015

This post is part of a once-a-month series on A Brighter Destiny. Each "First Friday," I'll glance over my mental list for that month and reveal to you some of the things to which I'm looking forward this month - both writerly and more personally.

I'm hoping that your summer is going well, friends! Mine is going... FAST! My favorite time of year is just around the corner. :-)  Without further ado, let me draw back the curtain on what I've been doing and thinking over the past month or so, and what I'm looking forward to in the month ahead!

What I'm thankful for: The unchanging Truth Who is Jesus Christ, in the midst of a constantly-shifting culture - that He will "never, no never forsake" His children.

What I'm anticipating in nature: Oh, my favorite season! Autumn is coming - Crisp air that stings our noses, the scent of burning leaves, the sight of chubby squirrels gorging on nuts before the winter, the sound of the Canada geese flying south.

What I'm reading in Scripture: Right now, I'm in 1st Timothy and then will be moving onto 2nd Timothy, I think. In response to John Pollock's book The Apostle, I've become fascinated with Paul's writing. I spent July reading 1st & 2nd Thessalonians over-and-over because of John Pollock, too! (If you haven't read The Apostle, I give it my highest recommendation.)

What I'm reading in fiction: In July, I cried as I read Joanne Bischof's This Quiet Sky on the beach - My one-sentence review? If you like nostalgic historical fiction that asks questions that are relevant for all time, this is a wonderful novella. :-) This month, I'm just starting in on Kate Breslin's Esther-inspired novel For Such a Time. I ordered it from the library, and it came in today! :-) I was a happy camper. I'm also starting in on Michael Phillips' Heather Song, the sequel to Angel Harp, which I really enjoyed overall.

What I'm writing: Nothing! (gasp!) INSTEAD, I'm editing - editing - editing All Our Empty Places. And I believe that - by this time next week - you'll know what the cover looks like! (I am grinning widely as I type that!) Hoping, by God's grace, to release this second book in the A Time of Grace trilogy within the next few weeks. Please keep the book and me in your prayers as I work with my early readers, editor-helpers, and cover designer to make this the best offering to our God that it can be. 

What have you been up to? What are you looking forward to, friends?

Grace and peace,

Friday, July 24, 2015

Yes, I'm Alive {and I'm finally responding to this blog tag!}

Well, waaaay back in the beginning of July, Amber from the lovely blog Seasons of Humility tagged me with a fun "award" -- and after a VERY full July, I'm responding. :-) Thanks, Amber! Stop by Amber's blog to read her own responses, too! I think you'll enjoy them - and find a wonderful source for Christian fiction reviews, as well.

The rules for the Real Neat Blog Award:
  • Put the award logo on your blog.
  • Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
  • Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
  • Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog, etc.).

1. Dream vacation this summer, if you could go anywhere?
Hmm... I have a few places I'd like to visit! Maybe we could make this into a Grand Tour? ;-) When I vacation, I'm more into historical sites, so I'd love to go to Italy, the United Kingdom, India, and Israel. (You did say "dream vacation"!)

2. Classic (book) you're most interested in revisiting sometime?
I'd loved to re-read The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis, Hamlet by Shakespeare, and Donal Grant by George MacDonald.

3. Favorite period drama?
Sorry, but I'm choosing three. :-) (And that's hard!) I love the BBC version (with Colin Firth) of Pride and Prejudice... I have no idea how many times we've watched it! Also, I really love Nicholas Nickleby (the version with James D'Arcy and Sophia Myles) - I will warn you that there is an attempted rape in that version and some mild sensuality which we "skip" with our remote. :-) And I love Ben-Hur (with Charlton Heston) - inspiring and truly beautiful.

4. One summer book release you're super excited about?
Does All Our Empty Places count? :-) Other than that one, I'm looking forward to reading Beverly Lewis' The Photograph, A.M. Heath's In the Shadow of Thy Wings, Rachelle Rea's The Sound of Diamonds, and Sarah E. Ladd's The Curiosity Keeper. Yes, Amish fiction, Civil War, the 16th-century and Regency - My reading varies pretty widely. :-) When I was a child, my mama would say that I'd read anything with words on it!

5. Music you can't get enough of at this moment in time?
Chris Rice's Peace Like a River: The Hymns Project CD - soothing and fills my mind with eternal Truth. I especially love the last song: "Before the Throne of God Above," which you can hear playing on this blog. :-) And a friend and sister-in-Christ brought Tenth Avenue North's Worn to my attention; I listened to that a lot while writing All Our Empty Places this spring/summer. :-)

6. Most exciting discovery this year (book, movie, or music)?
John Polluck's book The Apostle, which has so deeply enriched my understanding of the life and ministry of the Paul. If you've ever struggled to make sense of how the epistles fit into the Book of Acts or the scheme of first-century history as a whole, I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy!

7. Favorite Jane Austen hero?
Oh, it's a toss-up between Mr. Knightley in Emma and Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility. :-) I love their gentlemanliness and their refusal to do wrong even when doing right is to their own hurt.

Fellow bloggers, if you would like to answer the questions above, consider yourself tagged! :-)

Well, that's it, folks! Be assured that I am working hard on editing All Our Empty Places - AND should have a cover reveal and release date for you soon! :-)

Grace and peace,