Friday, March 9, 2018

History & Legend of the Dogwood Tree

We're sharing the history and legend behind the beautiful Dogwood tree on the HHHistory blog!

Since Easter is coming up, I thought I’d share a beautiful legend that always comes to my mind this time of year. The legend behind the dogwood trees. Some of ya’ll may have heard it, but perhaps you don’t know some of the other history behind the tree.

Down South, the Dogwood Trees are a symbol of Spring. There are festivals every year that celebrate Spring and the blooming of the dogwood tree. In fact, three states have honored the tree with state plant status. The dogwood is the state tree of Missouri, the state flower of North Carolina, and Virginia loved it so much that it is actually their state flower AND state tree.

In the mid 1500’s, the trees were known in Europe as the dagwood, because the small stems were used for dags, daggers, arrows or skewers. Later, around 1615, the name was changed to dogwood. No one knows for sure why the name changed from dagwood to dogwood. Perhaps it was a pronunciation thing. Or perhaps it was because the tree sometimes made the sound of a dog barking when the branches knocked together in the wind. Or perhaps it was due to the medicinal properties of the bark, that were often used to treat mange in dogs. 

Read the rest of the article on the blog. 

Help Jasper Solve the Case!

Your favorite detective needs your help!

Who will be this year's winner of the Christian Indie Award?
The CSPA is out to find the Book of the Year, and Jasper and I are so excited that Solve by Christmas has been nominated among the other great titles and authors. BUT this is a vote-driven contest, so if you feel that Jasper and Solve by Christmas deserve this award, will you please take a moment to click over and give him your vote?

It only takes a moment to vote. Here's the link:

Solve by March 31st, or all will be lost...

Thank you so much for your support! You're brilliant!

Friday, January 5, 2018

When Reads the Heart with Sara L. Foust

In September 2017, I read Kelly Irvin’s contemporary Amish novel, A Plain Love Song. I am a huge Kelly Irvin fan, having been hooked by her Amish of Bee County Series. I love her writing style, descriptions, and the fact that she can keep me interested in a love story when I am not usually a reader of simple romance. I tend to like romance subgenres, such as romantic suspense. But, I love Kelly Irvin!

In the course of A Plain Love Song, her heroine Adah wants more than anything to sing music and be accompanied by instruments. She loves the sound of modern music, but her community of conservative Amish folk believe singing for any purpose other than to glorify God is wrong. She learns an important and life-changing lesson. God’s will for her life is more important than her desires. Not only does she learn to let go of worldly things, she learns the value of placing self aside in order to serve His higher plan. And finds the joy in doing so.

What a testimony Ms. Irvin was able to share with me through Adah’s story! I am a mother to five homeschooled children under the age of 12. As most moms can contest, my children are my world. Filling their needs and helping provide their wants is one of my primary goals, second only to my faith and my marriage (which is a post for another time, but I have not been perfect with this!). Upon finishing Ms. Irvin’s story, a strong sense of conviction overtook me. How many years had I been dreaming of being a missionary? How many years had I been pushing those thoughts aside with the excuse that my children were too young for me to leave? How many years had I been denying God’s calling to me, always saying, “Someday, God?”

Talk about some intense praying! I realized in an instant that I was putting my desires to be mom, and a continuously present one, above God’s desires for me. There is a reason the burden to be a missionary to a foreign country has always been a part of my make-up. I may not understand why, and for years fear kept me from acknowledging it out loud, but the important thing is this: God understands what we can’t. When He asks me to go down a path that is unfamiliar, and often terrifying, I am selfish to ignore His request.

So, in May 2018, I am traveling with a group of 7 others to Daet, Philippines, to work with a youth camp. I will be gone for 13 days. And I am petrified. I don’t want to leave my children for that long. I don’t want to leave my husband, either. I have never traveled beyond the ‘safe’ borders of our wonderful country. But, I am going because God is asking me to. I’m tired of telling Him, “Someday, God.” And, in part, thanks to A Plain Love Song’s strong message of following God’s will for His children’s lives, I am ready to follow where He is leading me.

Sara writes Inspirational Romantic Suspense from a mini-farm in East Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and their five homeschooled children. Her debut novel Callum's Compass won second place in Deep River Books' 2017 Writer's Contest. She also has a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone. To learn more about her, please visit

Friday, December 8, 2017

When Reads the Heart with Carole Towriss

When I released my first indie book, I sent my street team a necklace along with the advance reader copy. The pendant, a gift from the hero to the heroine, figured prominently in the book. She had never had a home or family of her own, and desperately wanted one. The pendant symbolized love, family, belonging—and home. 

One of my team members lost almost everything they owned a couple weeks after the book released in a massive fire that completely destroyed their barn and house. Thankfully, their entire family of eight, and all their animals, managed to escape. A week later she sent me this email:

Hi Carole,
I wanted to write and let you know what a blessing your book has been to me through this week.  When we left for church Sunday morning I decided to take my necklace off that I wear every day and replace it with your carnelian one.  While I'm sad to lose the other one (it was a mother's necklace with all my children's names on it - that did need to be replaced anyway to add our two newest daughters), the carnelian has been such a wonderful reminder to me of God's presence in our lives.  Like the quote I posted earlier in the week from your book, the fact that God is our dwelling place - not our home on this earth that I loved! - has been so comforting!  I'm sure you had no idea how God would use your book, but I wanted you to know I believe he had you write it at least in part for me!!  

Then she asked me for another signed copy, which of course I was delighted to send her!

I always pray for the readers God has in mind as I write my books. Most of them I will never know. I will never meet them, never know their stories. This time, I was privileged to hear how God used the verses he gave to me as the theme to minister to another’s heart:

Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. ~Psalm 90.1

An unapologetic Californian, Carole Towriss now lives just north of Washington, DC. She loves her husband, her four children, the beach, and tacos, though not always in that order. In addition to writing, she binge-watches British crime dramas and does the dishes for the fourth time in one day.
Find Carole at the following links:
on Twitter: @CaroleTowriss

Friday, December 1, 2017

When Reads the Heart with Amanda Cabot

Today I am honored to welcome Amanda Cabot to our When Reads the Heart series as she shares a heartwarming letter from one of her readers. 
What made me I think I should write this story?  What made me think I could write it?  Those questions bounced through my head countless times as I was working on Scattered Petals, the second of my Texas Dreams trilogy.  Yes, it’s true that I write stories of healing.  Yes, it’s true that I begin each day by praying that my words will touch readers’ hearts and deepen their faith, but why did I feel compelled to create a heroine who’s raped on her way to a wedding? 
The research was painful.  So, too, was the actual writing.  I wept as I wrote the scene where Priscilla’s parents are murdered and she’s attacked.  I wept as I wrote the scenes where she tries to deal with the trauma.  And all the while, I kept asking why?  Why was I writing this story?
The answers began to come soon after the book was published in early 2010, and they still continue in the form of letters from readers. 
Scattered Petals was very special to me,” wrote one woman.  “You see, I have a horrendous past which I have not been able to get over.  So I can very much relate to both Priscilla and Zach.  And I especially needed to read again and again that God has plans for each of us and see the possibilities for my life by seeing what He did to make good out of the bad in the lives of those two.  Even more than that, as I read all the things Zach did and said to love and help Priscilla, I thought about the many things God has done to help me get over my past and to show how much He loves me.  What makes your book special is that you’ve touched my heart so deeply that these thoughts are finally becoming real in my heart.  I’m finally beginning to really believe God loves me.

“And so, when I finished the book, I had a new experience.  My focus was not on my lack of a mature, wonderful Christian husband.  It was on the realization that I already have the most wonderful husband in the world, God. 

“Thank you for working in partnership with God to touch and change me as never before!”
My questions were answered, and so were my prayers.  Why did I write Scattered Petals?  Because it was the story God intended me to tell.

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, the Texas Crossroads trilogy, Christmas Roses, and A Stolen Heart, the first of the Cimarron Creek trilogy. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages.  Amanda is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming.