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Jan Elder: The Story Behind Love, Lies, and Fireflies

jan-elder-head-shotJAN ELDER SAYS:

In writing Love, Lies, and Fireflies, what mattered to me was that my main characters be flawed Christians who went through hard times to ultimately triumph. But … it was also vitally important they be “real” with faults and failings.

I’ve had many discussions with other writers and heard that books that were on the “edgy” side were not likely to be published. Some problems were allowed, but not too many, and certainly nothing “unchristian” could sneak in there. But I didn’t want to write about perfect people. My favorite books tend to be those that bend the rules a bit and humans sin and make mistakes. So, I decided to write what was in my heart.

In LLF, my main character is Didi O’Brien, a twenty-eight-year-old woman who is kind, sweet, loveable, and…a people pleaser. She hates confrontation, hates disharmony with a passion, and especially eschews making anyone angry. She grew up in a fine Christian home and knows the Lord, but because she is so sensitive, she is also quite vulnerable.

And that would be me … so I know her quite well.

So I wondered. What would my life have been like if I had allowed someone to take advantage of my weaknesses?

I had read some books and magazine articles about women who were controlled by the men in their lives. How would I have handled that situation? What if I put myself in Didi’s shoes and created a nefarious character who would use her to his own ends? Would I have allowed such a thing? Would I have known enough to pull away from an unhealthy relationship?

It seems that often when someone is insecure or exceptionally tenderhearted, when they are eager to be loved, they tend to make unwise choices. They pull away from friends and loved ones. They lose their way, ashamed of mistakes they’ve made. Ultimately, they might forget what matters most—how much God loves them, how He forgives their transgressions, and how He longs to be the center of their lives.

So I wrote about that. And I threw in a hero, Jake, who is sent by God to help heal our wounded Didi. Together, they struggle to get back to where God wants them to be. Along the way, they learn what true love is, God’s way. And they are redeemed by a Christ who knows them and loves them, flaws and all.

Book Blurb:jan-elder-cover

Didi O’Brien is engaged—at least she was an hour ago. Now she’s not so sure. Her fiancé, the suave Kevin Cabot, has just revealed that he’s been unfaithful, and he’s not the least bit sorry. Reeling from the betrayal, with her plans for a happily-ever-after life in doubt, she prays for direction. The answer comes as a complete surprise. God has someone better in mind.

Middle school teacher, Jake Montgomery, is struggling with some issues of his own. Sadly, a year previously his fiancée had been killed in a car crash. Battling anger and despair, in a mountain-top experience, Jake wrestles with the Almighty, and is ready to live again. In his youth, he’d felt an unmistakable call to the ministry but, like the prophet Jonah, since then, he’s been running hard in the wrong direction.

Through a crisis of faith, and glimpses of mercy, Didi and Jake find each other. But how do they find the strength to resolve the many obstacles that conspire to keep them apart?




Connect with Jan Elder:






Jan Elder is a Christian romance writer with a zeal for telling stories other women can relate to. She strives to write the kind of book that will strengthen the reader’s faith, while also providing an entertaining and engrossing love story.

Happily married for thirteen years to loving (and supportive) husband, Steve, the two live in central Maryland and comb the nearby countryside in search of the perfect ice cream flavor.


Michelle Griep: A Proud Member of the Sandwich Generation!

By: MICHELLE GRIEPView More: http://bethanyaleshire.pass.us/michellekelly

I’m the pastrami between a slice of young adult and senior citizen bread. My youngest still lives at home while my mother resides in a retirement community. Both are needy, but more often than not, it’s my mom who ends up getting the lion’s share of my attention.

And that’s a great thing when writing a novel with retired heroines.

Lots of inspiration for the zany antics of Zula Hopkins, one of the main characters in Out of the Frying Pan, comes from my experiences at my mother’s senior living community. From walkers gone MIA to bingo party cat fights, there’s not a day that goes by wherein something ridiculous doesn’t happen. Don’t worry. I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent.

That scene with the dumpster diving diva? Yes, I really know someone who looks forward annually to the day after Memorial Day for the best flower pickings. Those questionable culinary casseroles served up in the scene with the BBQ? You better believe I’ve choked down a few “crunchy” egg salad sandwiches. The matchmaking and busybodying are altogether too reality based.

While I wouldn’t choose to fill my schedule with so many elder activities, it has come in quite handy. It would be easy to begrudge so much time spent with my mother instead of using it for writing, but honestly, no time is wasted. Every minute of life can be salvaged for story—even if you’re not a writer. Passing those stories on to the next generation, verbally or in writing, leaves a legacy that shows how you cared for someone other than yourself.

I co-authored this story in particular to highlight how loveable the older generation can be despite their quirks of age, and also how capable seniors truly are to younger folks. It’s easy to discount the old. I wanted to show otherwise.

Step aside Lucy and Ethel, because here comes Fern and Zula.

ABOUT THE BOOK ~ OUT OF THE FRYING PANoutofthefryingpanb-cover

Murder in Paradise whips life into a froth for FERN and ZULA HOPKINS. When the retirement center’s chef is found dead, the two ladies get folded in with the case. Their zany attempts to track down the killer land them in hot water with Detective JARED FLYNN. Should he be concerned about their safety—or the criminal’s?

But there are deadly ingredients none of them expect. Drugs. Extortion. International cartels. And worst of all…broken hearts, especially when the Hopkins sisters’ niece KC arrives on the scene.

Life at Sunset Paradise Retirement Village will never be the same.



Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. Her latest release is OUT OF THE FRYING PAN, but historical romance is her usual haunt. THE CAPTIVE HEART releases in October. Follow her escapades at www.michellegriep.com or www.writerofftheleash.blogspot.com or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.


   THE CAPTIVE HEART…Would you marry a murderer?
   BRENTWOOD’S WARD…Sherlock Holmes meets Dickens in this Regency adventure.
A HEART DECEIVED…Lies Were Born in a Garden–and Just May Be the Death of Miri Brayden

Heather Gray: An Informal Introduction Hits the Market

An Informal Introduction Bk CoverShe saves lives. He protects them. And someone’s trying to stop them both.

Lily Ziminski is an ICU nurse near the nation’s capital where politics are a regular part of hospital policy. Assigned a series of high-profile patients, she finds herself an unwilling focus of the media. Lily would much rather do without all the attention…except where one cowboy-hat-wearing state trooper is concerned.

Caleb Graham runs into the same captivating nurse twice in one day, and he’s not a man who believes in coincidence. When problems at a local impound lot force him into the middle of a bizarre case that threatens Lily, Caleb will stop at nothing to protect her.

From a stranger in a parking garage to Secret Service agents, surprise chases Lily around every corner. In the midst of the chaos, she has two constants – her longtime faith in God, and her growing attraction for a silver-eyed trooper.

Why Heather Gray created these fascinating characters:

I attended my first writers’ conference in 2014. I didn’t even know Christian writers’ conferences existed, so I went to a secular romance writers’ conference.  Talk about an eye opener! I hadn’t realized how much the secular romance market had changed.  Books black-labeled when I was a teen are now mainstream. I was shocked more times in my first day at that conference than I’d been in the entire year prior.  I probably blushed more, too.

On the drive home from that conference, I mulled over the changes in the world and wondered where Christian fiction – romance especially – fit into it all. Was there a place for Christian romance anymore? Did people even read it?

I was in country music territory, too. I’m sure there were Christian radio stations out there, but I couldn’t find them. Every time I passed from one radio signal into the next on my drive home, it seemed like I came in on the exact same song.  I had the words memorized by the time I got home. The song appealed to me, too. It spoke to this deep craving we all have to be loved and to be completely secure in that love.

As believers, we have access to that kind of love through our relationship with Christ.

But what about people who don’t believe in or haven’t accepted Him? After all, this song was written for a secular audience.  The lyrics got me to thinking. What kind of man do women want? Take away the trappings of job, clothes, and even personality. Take away the issue of faith. What do you have left?

A woman – regardless of how she feels about God – wants someone who will stand by her side no matter what, who won’t turn away when things get tough and who will love her even when she’s unlovable.

If I could take that core need of a woman’s heart  then add the other layers – starting with Christian faith and ending with a Southern drawl and cowboy hat – what would I end up with?

My hero has gone through a couple of changes since I first envisioned him. He’s finally here, though, and I like who he’s become. He loves powerfully and unconditionally, and he recognizes that the strength to do so comes from his faith in Christ. I hope you’ll enjoy spending time with him as much as I have.

Heather GrayHeather Gray loves coffee, God, her family, and laughter – not necessarily in that order!

She writes approachable characters who, through the highs and lows of life, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her. Her books almost always include someone who’s infatuated with coffee, too. Some things just can’t be helped. Heather delights in creating characters who, like her, have their share of faults and foibles, characters who are flawed…but loved anyway.

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