I recently took a trip down memory lane by revisiting some of my earlier writings from my childhood and teen years. Most of it is pretty typical young writer stuff (very silly plots and characters!), but I’ve always liked this short piece, which I wrote for a high school English assignment. It’s kind of my riff on The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde. Enjoy!
The sunlight streamed through the open window. The brightness of it practically blinded the old woman’s eyes—eyes that had once been as blue as the sky and now were lifeless, clear as glass. Out in the garden beyond the window, her granddaughter sat on the stone bench sewing a dress while her two-year-old daughter played quietly nearby. The grandmother watched as the sunlight danced off her golden hair, wishing she was the one sitting out there sewing instead of lying in bed.
She got up and staggered over to the full-length mirror. A small, stooped, and shapeless form greeted her sad eyes. Silver hair hung in twisted locks about her hunched shoulders. Her hands, once capable of sewing the finest clothes in the county, now could barely hold a cane as gnarled and twisted as they were. Her once beautiful face was shriveled and contorted with pain.
“Oh, to be young again!” she cried, smashing the mirror with her fist. It cracked and the pieces fell to the floor. She withdrew her hand, startled, and saw the blood on her youthful flesh. AS she wiped it away, it dawned on her what had happened.
“I’m young again!” She glanced in the mirror and gasped in astonishment. The mirror was unbroken!
Running to the window, she looked out over the gardens, bright and beautiful with the vibrance of spring. She fingered her golden curls and stretched forth her hands, admiring the slender, coordinated fingers. Her countenance glowed and her skin was smooth. She spun around the room, laughing in youthful exuberance. Round and round she went till her outstretched hand caught the upright mirror, sending it crashing to the ground…
The sun was setting, lighting the sky in a gorgeous array of colors but the old woman stood amidst the shattered glass, oblivious to the beauty of the world around her.
Welcome to the inaugural B. Throughout this hunt, we hope you discover some new books and get to know a little more about us.
A few things before you dive into my blog:
This hunt is a blog hop. Collect the “clues” (pieces to the longer phrase) at each stop. Enter the individual giveaways along the way, then click on the link to the next stop and repeat until you reach #28, where you will input the full phrase as your entry to the grand prize drawing.
The hunt begins August 30, 2023, at noon EST, and ends September 4, 2023, so you have plenty of time to visit each stop. If you need to step away and come back later, make a note of the last stop you visited, and go to this post with the list of all stops on the hunt.
If you are having trouble viewing the posts, you may need to switch browsers. Chrome and Firefox sometimes work better than Microsoft Explorer or Edge.
Now, on to my blog!
One of the things I loved about starting school (besides the coming fall weather!) was the blank slate each new school year or college semester offered. Even if I was returning to the same school as last year, the chance to learn new things and meet new people excited me. In middle and high school and in college, I also had the feeling I could be whoever I wanted to be, that if I wanted to reinvent myself, I could–especially when I started a new school.
Maybe you’ve felt that way too–that the start of a new school year meant a fresh opportunity to change something about who you were before. In my featured book, The Dark Guest, Violet Lundy has started a new life in Fairfax, Virginia, but she’s done so to hide her true identity. When she’s discovers she’s become a target of a mysterious person, she’s reluctant to share her past with the hero, Dr. Henry Silverton. But events conspire to reveal her past, and Violet and Henry find themselves working together to save themselves.
Patricia Bradley, author of The Natchez Trace Park Rangers series, said this about The Dark Guest, book one in my Cold War Legacy Series: “Once I started reading The Dark Guest, I could not put it down. The story captures the reader in the first chapter and doesn’t let go until the last. Sarah Hamaker has created wonderful characters to root for as she takes them on a dangerous, twisty journey to the truth.”
Want to learn more about The Dark Guest? When Violet Lundy isn’t cleaning rooms at Happy Hills Assisted Living Facility, she loves spending her free time with resident Rainer Kopecek. Hearing his stories of the dangerous life he led behind the Iron Curtain in East Berlin makes her own life seem more tolerable. But when Rainer is found dead and his room in disarray, Violet suspects foul play.
Dr. Henry Silverton lives among his books, teaching and writing about the Cold War. A letter about an East German traitor known only as “The Wolf” propels Henry out of academia and into Violet’s life. Together, they embark on a perilous quest to uncover the truth about Rainer’s death and the traitor’s identity.
Can Violet and Henry uncover the secrets of the past before one of them ends up as The Wolf’s next victim?
If you join my mailing list during the contest, you’ll be entered into a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
PS: If you’re interested in why I named this book The Dark Guest, I explain all here.
PSS: Did I forget to mention The Dark Guest won the 2023 Selah Fiction Book of the Year? Plus the 2023 Selah Award in romantic suspense?
Here is your next clue: which you
Next stop: Stop #10 Kara Leigh Miller https://karaleighmiller.blogspot.com/2023/08/BTSChristianFictionHunt10.html
Celebration runs July 20-31!
- Each day during the celebration (July 20-31), you’ll get an email from me (Sarah Hamaker) promoting that day’s Christmas books by Christian authors.
- Daily winners will be selected to receive a print book and Christmas-themed goodie from that day’s participating authors. Christmas goodies include ornaments, teas/coffees, jewelry, tree skirt, craft kit, kitchen towels, keychains, bells and figurines, many made by the author herself!
- On August 1, a grand prize winner will be selected to receive a copy (ebook or print) of each participating author’s book plus a $400 Amazon gift card.
Sign up here!
The 12 Days of Christmas in July Reader Giveaway Authors
Title: Covert Amish Christmas
Buy Link: Covert Amish Christmas (Love Inspired Suspense) – Kindle edition by Alford, Mary. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.
Item: A Wanda E. Brunstetter’s Amish Friends Christmas Cookbook.
Title: Hope For Christmas: A Small Town Wisconsin Christmas Romance Novella
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Christmas-Wisconsin-Romance-Novella-ebook/dp/B0B4JC6LB2
Item: Hand-knit washcloth in Christmas yarn.
Title: The Mistletoe Contract
Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2IYoeLp
Title: Simply Christmas: A Busy Mom’s Guide to Reclaiming the Peace of the Holidays
Buy Link: https://amzn.to/42QFkOw
Title: As Silent as the Night
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1956098054/
Item: Ornament with “Buon Natale” printed on it
Title: Dangerous Christmas Memories
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Christmas-Memories-Inspired-Suspense-ebook/dp/B07QRPNZVX/
Item: Christmas-themed soup bowl cozy
Title: Rita: A Yorktown Christmas Time Travel Novella
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09X4MH331/
Item: A heart-shaped Christmas ornament by Inge-Glas.
Title: Operation: Camouflage Christmas
Buy Link: https://cherishstore.square.site/
Item: A camouflage bag
Title: An UNSTUCK Christmas Devotional
Buy Link: https://patlayton.podia.com/unstuck-christmas-2023
Item: A Christmas 2023 Planner and Journal
Title: Holiday Suspect Pursuit
Buy Link: https://buy.bookfunnel.com/lzz3hx5iev
Item: An ornament from my mountain home
Title: Blizzard Refuge
Buy Link: https://books2read.com/u/mVRYzZ
Item: A nativity scene Christmas tree ornament
Title: Wreathed in Disgrace
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Wreathed-Disgrace-Page-Turning-Christmas-Romantic-ebook/dp/B09XGHZ2XJ
Item: Christmas Wreath Napkin Rings
Title: Christmas Love Through the Ages (A Christmas Anthology)
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Love-Through-Paula-Peckham/dp/B09FS9DYFN/
Item: Christmas Socks
Sally Jo Pitts
Title: The Lost Box: A Hamilton Harbor Christmas
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Box-Hamilton-Harbor-Christmas-ebook/dp/B0BHTC6ZKQ
Item: Hand-crafted needlepoint item that can be used as a bookmark or an ornament.
Title: We Three Kings
Buy Link: https://www.caraputman.com/books/we-three-kings/
Item: Wooden ornaments
Title: Holiday Havoc: An Anthology
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Holiday-Havoc-Anthology-Inspired-Suspense-ebook/dp/B0041KLE2I
Title: A Mommy By Christmas: A Christmas Ridge Romance
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Mommy-Christmas-Ridge-Romance-Book/dp/1943688893
Item: Christmas-themed earrings
Title: Seeking Joy through the Gospel of Luke: A Christmas to Calvary Advent Countdown
Buy Link: https://christinetrimpe.com/joy
Item: “JOY-SEEKER” vinyl sticker
Darlene L Turner
Title: Explosive Christmas Showdown
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Explosive-Christmas-Showdown-Crisis-Rescue/dp/1335587357
Item: Snowman Pin painted by the author
Title: The Baby’s Christmas Blessing
Buy Link: https://books2read.com/babyschristmasblessing
Item: Christmas Socks
Title: Christmas is Coming, Waiting is Hard
Buy Link: https://karen-whiting.square.site/product/christmas-is-coming-waiting-is-hard/17
Item: Craft kit to make 4 Christmas items (Paper tree, Angel table top decoration, Angel candy holder, and a Christmas card)
Title: A Louisiana Christmas to Remember
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Louisiana-Christmas-Remember-heartwarming-interconnected-ebook/dp/B0BZR54L28/
Item: Christmas Kitchen Towels
Title: Love’s New Beginnings
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BHM1TRM6
Item: Hot chocolate
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website
Courage in the Storm by Laurel M. Blount — Since witnessing the murder of her beloved parents, Miriam Hochstedler suffers from paralyzing anxiety and a deep-seated fear of the Englisch. Unwilling to venture beyond her family’s Tennessee farm, she forms a close bond with a badly injured gelding. Like Miriam herself, the traumatized animal seems unlikely to recover—until skilled horse whisperer Reuben Brenneman arrives. A survivor of an abusive childhood, Reuben understands fear better than most. He’ll do whatever it takes to help a terrified animal, but his compassion doesn’t extend to the church that turned a blind eye to his family’s suffering. Once he finishes this job, he’ll return to the Englisch world, putting his Amish heritage behind him forever. As Miriam works alongside Reuben, battling the horse’s fear—and her own—an unexpected friendship blooms and deepens into romance. But the Amish faith that sustains her inspires only distrust in Reuben, and the Englisch world he’s chosen has already broken her heart once. Falling in love was easy. But staying together will take all the courage they have. (Contemporary Romance, Berkley)
Hopefully Ever After by Beth Wiseman — Sixteen-year-old Eden Hale doesn’t want to be defined by her current circumstances. With absent parents and a troubled past, Eden refuses to become what people expect. When she is sent to live with an Amish cousin she’s never met in Montgomery, Indiana, she welcomes the chance to become the person she wants to be without the burden of anyone’s judgment. Her hopes are confirmed when she meets Samuel, a young Amish man who seems to like her for who she really is. Samuel Byler has grown up with strict Amish parents, and they aren’t happy that their only son is choosing to spend his free time with an outsider. As Eden and Samuel grow closer, disapproval swirls around the young couple. It isn’t long before Eden starts to doubt herself and wonders if she is doomed to repeat the mistakes of her own past, whether she wants to or not. Meanwhile, Samuel finds himself slipping further and further from his faith—to Eden’s dismay. Both Eden’s and Samuel’s futures hang in the balance as they face decisions about who they are meant to be—both as individuals and together. (Amish Romance, HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
Holding on to Hope by Janet W. Ferguson — Hope Rodriguez loves planning weddings. There’s nothing more special than helping a bride become a princess for a day, but she’s not sure that’s her calling in life anymore. If only she had her own special someone. Her only current prospect leaves her with more questions than answers about where she falls in his list of priorities. Yet, when a lifelong friend asks her to plan a destination wedding across the country in only two weeks, she’ll have to figure out how to pull off the impossible…alone. After being burned as a child and deserted by his family, Caleb Donnelly has an intimate relationship with pain. Despite all he’s endured, one ache refuses to leave him—the throbbing in his heart where Hope is concerned. So when Hope needs help with their friend’s wedding, he can’t stop himself from volunteering to travel two thousand miles to Jackson, Wyoming. As long as he keeps his feelings in check, he might not ruin their friendship. Because a beautiful woman like Hope could never love a scarred man like him. When Hope and Caleb’s plans go up in flames, it’s their hearts that might never recover. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Home Away From Home by Penny Frost McGinnis — When Marigold Hayes turned fourteen, her mother died, and her father went missing. For forty years, she searched for her dad and lived a quiet life on Abbott Island, until she met Johnny. As her love for Johnny grows, her sorrow from the relentless search for her father breaks her heart. She begs God to help her move forward with her life before she has no love left to give. Then three mysterious strangers show up who could change her life. Johnny Papadakis moved to Abbott Island ten years ago. His ex-wife had pushed him away and discouraged him from having a relationship with their daughter. After years of hard work, his restaurant flourishes, so does his relationship with Marigold. As he seeks Marigold’s hand in marriage, his daughter shows up on his doorstep, looking for a place to call home. Can Marigold and Johnny settle the past and move toward the promise of a blessed future? (Contemporary Romance, from Mt. Zion Ridge Press)
Now or Never by Emily Conrad — If Tim Bergeron got a lifetime achievement award for anything, it’d be managing the iconic rock band, Awestruck, but he’d trade his successful career for the opportunity to prevent his daughter from repeating his mistakes. When a health scare proves time is short, he talks Isabella into a cross-country road trip. His attempts to talk her out of a hasty marriage drive a wedge between them, and it looks like the best he can hope for from the trip is scouting out promising new talent to represent. That is, until he meets Gabby.
Widow Gabrielle Voss has responsibilities to her daughter and patients, deep roots in the community, and a dream that scares her. Though she’d never utter it to the people she lives and works among, the truth slips out with Tim, who’s not in Many Oaks, Iowa, to stay. As her fiftieth birthday party draws near and an attraction to Tim sparks to life, Gabby realizes she must pursue her dream now—or, more reasonably, never. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
The Baby Inheritance by Tina Radcliffe — After the tragic loss of his best friends, rancher Drew Morgan willingly accepts guardianship of their six-month-old baby—until he learns big-city professor Sadie Ross has temporary custody as well. Opposites in every way, the pair now has eight weeks together on Drew’s ranch to decide who will become the permanent parent. Could this makeshift family turn into something real…before the deadline is up? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired/Harlequin)
The Rancher’s Sanctuary by Linda Goodnight — Could facing her fears…Heal her damaged heart? Physically and emotionally scarred, reclusive cowgirl Monroe Matheson prefers rescue dogs over handsome men. But when Nathan Garrison arrives in town, determined to fix up the guest ranch next door, he needs all the help he can get. Before long, Monroe knows there’s more to this stranger than meets the eye. Can working with a man carrying tragic memories be the key to overcoming Monroe’s wounds—both inside and out?. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired/Harlequin)
Across the Shores by Kelly Goshorn, Angela K. Couch, Carolyn Miller, Cara Putman — Sometimes love finds you where you are, and other times it meets you across distant shores as four women discover in these four historical stories linked by a shared gold pendant. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Dawn’s Untrodden Green by Carolyn Miller — Not much happens in Theodosia Stapleton’s tiny Northumberland village. She has resigned herself to spinsterhood, caring for her ailing mother in the home of her grandfather, known to the locals as “General Contrary.” When her dear friend dies and leaves behind a daughter, it’s simple enough to take the child into her own quiet world. That is, until her ward’s famous uncle unexpectedly arrives and throws Theo’s tidy orbit completely off-kilter. Fame was the last thing Daniel Balfour sought when he fought in the Peninsular War. But his brave exploits caught the attention of the King, and now the honors he was given hound him everywhere . . . even on his rushed trip to rescue his orphaned niece. Theo’s quick wit and warm smile reassure him that Rebecca is in good hands, and he finds himself free to swiftly return to London and his responsibilities. But those caring hands are beginning to look like they could also safely hold his heart, and he’s tempted to linger. Unfortunately, marriage is simply not in the cards; the army is spouse enough for him. Then an accident and a scandal lead both Theo and Daniel to discover that their best-laid plans may not have been what God designed for them after all. (Historical Romance from Kregel Publications)
The Whispering Wind by Janalyn Voight — Phoebe can have her pick of suitors but never the man she wants. Fancy parties and embroidered fans hold little appeal for Phoebe Walsh. She would rather gallop across the open range or help her father with a wounded calf. Of her many admirers, none spark her interest. Ma seems determined to save her from becoming a spinster, but how can Phoebe accept her mother’s choice of suitors when her heart belongs elsewhere? Several years have passed since Will Canfield stole a kiss and her heart. Remembering her passionate response still curls her insides, but how she feels doesn’t matter. Will’s interest in her isn’t serious, as he’s made clear. She needs to get over the man. If Uncle Con will stop throwing them together, that could be a whole lot easier. Will feels guilty about Phoebe, but he can’t risk another heartbreak. Being left at the altar certainly changed his mind about romance. Phoebe is better off marrying someone else, even if the idea sets his teeth on edge. Phoebe and Will must both, with God’s help, conquer an old fear before they can move ahead with their lives. Set during a troubled time in America, the Montana Gold series explores faith, courage, and love in the Wild West. (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)
Charleston Light by Laurie Larsen, Dianne Miley, Annette Wiley, Jody Stallings, Laurie Ingram Sibley, Kelsey R. Budd, Melissa Henderson, Christina Sinisi: — A collection of faith-filled novellas all inspired by Charleston Light, the wonderfully awkward-looking lighthouse that sits on the shore of Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina. The stories range from sweet romance to time travel to fantasy to a modern retelling of a beloved fairy tale. You will definitely find something you love on these pages! (Biblical Romance from Random Moon Books)
Perfectly Matched by Liana George — Nicki Mayfield is getting married! Or is she? Three days after deciding to marry so she can adopt the young Chinese girl who has captured her heart, Nicki Mayfield heads to Texas to become Mrs. Ben Carrington. However, as the unlikely pair prepares to say, “I do,” a shocking revelation threatens their plans to become a family. While searching for the answers to the mystery holding her future hostage, Nicki must also keep Ms. O’Connor’s legacy alive at New Hope Orphanage – whose future is at serious risk. As she and Ben work toward building their unconventional family, they discover that sacrificial parenting requires putting the child first in ways that bring indescribable joy and unexpected heartbreak to everyone involved. In the end, will Nicki find her happily ever after or will circumstances stop her from being perfectly matched in work, life, and love? (General Contemporary from Scrivening’s Press)
War of Torment by Ronie Kendig — hey followed him back. Against his will, against his intention. Now enemies threaten from every direction. Amidst it all Marco Dusan struggles to lead his people, to help them survive, even mayhap win the war. He will take any advantage to even the odds. But only after tragedy strikes does he learn just how much he’s willing to sacrifice. He’s not alone. Droserans fight as one, united against the offworlders—Symmachians who covet their planet. With the aid of unexpected allies, the Droserans battle on longer than anyone could have anticipated. Yet they cannot win. And the Faa’Cris, those supernatural warriors, fair of face and fierce of mien, do nothing. But not all have turned their backs. After a bitter year of pain and loss, Kersei Dragoumis navigates a new heritage, ever intent on defending her people. Like her, light-years away from the Quadrants and even farther from the girl she thought she was, Eija Zacdari must come to terms with a new role. Or, rather, with an ancient one. And her success or failure may determine back in the Quadrants who lives and who dies. In the end, Marco will have vengeance for the torment brought by this war. No matter the price. Not even if the price is his soul. (Speculative Fiction from Enclave Publishing)
Expired Hope by Megan Besing — She battled every fire she ever faced. He’s risking everything for the chance to belong. Veteran and therapist Natalie Atkinson watched her Army career explode in her face. Seeking a new future in Last Chance County doesn’t start so well when she’s the one being rescued from a client’s burning house. To make matters worse, now she’s stuck evaluating the truck and rescue squads for the fire department. When the chief overhears why she left her last job, she’s determined to prove to him and her boss that she’s still the right therapist to assess his crew. No matter if success takes everything she’s got. Fire Chief Macon James is the right man for the job. He doesn’t need a therapist interfering with the running of his crew or putting his position in jeopardy when a counselor is what tore his family apart. He’s got to get his firefighters to be a team, and he can do it without Natalie’s help. After an explosion destroys her car, it quickly becomes clear she might need him as much as everyone thinks he needs her. If these two stubborn hearts will surrender, they could have everything they want. Or it could all go down in flames. (Romantic Suspense from Sunrise Publishing)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
God’s ABCs by Joan C. Benson, With the playfulness of an alphabet tale, the main characters, letters A-Z, parade into the story with their unique talents and interests on display. (Children’s Picture Books)