Archive | December 2014

An Astraea Press Release


Some things can’t be left behind…

Army veteran Alessandra Castillo just wants to be left alone. Life has been tough since her deployment in Afghanistan, and the holiday season makes it even more difficult. Unemployed and homeless, she’s currently living with her brother, who refuses to let her avoid all things social. Enter Brad Kovac, youth pastor and good friend of Alessandra’s brother. He’s tall, gorgeous, and outgoing, three things guaranteed to catch Alessandra’s interest. At least they would have caught her interest before she survived an assault by a fellow soldier. Now all she wants to do is run from him and avoid anything resembling a relationship. Will God provide a miracle in time for Christmas, or will Alessandra lose her chance for romance?

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E.A. West, award-winning author of sweet and inspirational romance, is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she picked up her pen in a creative writing class and hasn’t laid it down yet. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, knitting, and crocheting. She lives in Indiana with her family and a small zoo of pets.

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For your enjoyment – an excerpt of Running From Christmas:

Her pondering crashed to a halt when a man in his late twenties or early thirties stepped into the hall. Several inches taller than her, broad shoulders, trim waist…as much as she had protested her brother’s attempts to introduce her to people, this was one man she wouldn’t mind meeting. Her heart thumped in anticipation as she took in his light brown hair and friendly green eyes.

Slow down, girl. You don’t want a relationship, remember?

Alessandra inhaled deeply, hoping oxygen would encourage her to think clearly. So what if this guy was gorgeous? She didn’t need a boyfriend for Christmas — or at all. Not when she had enough other stuff to keep her occupied. Although she had to admit a boyfriend would probably be much more pleasant than her annual visit to her best friend’s grave. But a boyfriend meant obligatory time alone with a guy…

“Hey, man! It’s about time you got here.” A warm male voice broke into the memories threatening to drag her down, and she looked up to see the gorgeous guy greeting her brother with a slap on the back. “The natives are getting restless.”

Tony laughed. “We’re early, so any restless natives aren’t our problem yet.”

“And there’s the operative word — yet.” He turned to Alessandra and reached for the box of craft supplies. “Let me take that for you.”

“It’s all yours,” she said, relinquishing the box.

Tony set his burden on the floor and put his arm around her shoulders. “Alessandra, meet Brad Kovac, youth pastor and your cohort in crime tonight.”

Brad’s eyes lit up and sent a little shiver down Alessandra’s spine as he gave her a once-over. “Ah, so you’re Tony’s sister. I’m glad to finally meet you.”

She studied him, suspicion taking the place of some of her interest. “Finally?”

“Yes, your brother’s been telling me about you for quite some time.” Brad winked and leaned closer. “Is it true that you went to Afghanistan to play in the snow?”

Alessandra looked at her brother, and Tony shrugged as he withdrew his arm from her shoulders. “Hey, you’re the one who sent me the picture of a snowball fight.”

She blew out a breath, wondering just how much the big mouth had told Brad and who knew how many others. “Okay, yes. I went to Afghanistan, but it wasn’t to play in the snow.”

“But you played in it while you were there?” Brad lifted an eyebrow, amusement dancing in his eyes.

“Yes, I played in the snow with some other people.” She looked away, trying not to think about the stressful day that had precipitated the snowball fight. “We all needed to blow off some steam.”

“A snowball fight is a fun way to do it.” Brad hefted the box in his arms. “Come on. I’ll show you where we’re setting up the wreath factory, and you can tell me all of Tony’s dirty secrets.”



This entry was posted on December 30, 2014. 1 Comment

Meet Elaine Cantrell

Today’s spotlight is on Astraea Press author, Elaine Cantrell:

Elaine Cantrell was born and raised in South Carolina. She holds a master’s degree in personnel services from Clemson University. She is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary society for women educators and is also a member of Romance Writers of America. Her first novel, A New Leaf, was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, traveling, and collecting vintage Christmas ornaments.



RestThyHead_1600x2400Running away from a fiancé who betrayed her, Peyton O’Malley finds employment at a beautiful bed and breakfast inn called Rest Thy Head. She didn’t expect to live in the haunted room or to fall for the inn’s owner, a fire-scarred, war veteran who uses the inn to hide away from the world. She didn’t expect her sister to show up at Rest Thy Head either, much less her formidable mother.


Now thanks to the aid of a friendly ghost, Peyton has a shot at true love, and so does her sister Ashley, provided the guys cooperate of course!



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My Favorite Christmas Story

the nutcracker and the mouse king 2The Nutcracker and the Mouse King was written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816. It is a delightful story, taking the reader on an imaginary journey that includes meeting a nutcracker that comes to life, an evil mouse king and a magical kingdom inhabited by dolls. Tchaikovsky’s adaptation of this story has become the well-known ballet, The Nutcracker.

The original production of The Nutcracker took place in St. Petersburg, Russia on December 6, 1892. The first complete performance outside Russia occurred in England fifty-two years later, in 1934. From the late 1960’s, The Nutcracker in its entirety became extremely popular and in the U.S. is now performed primarily during the Christmas season.

My first encounter with The Nutcracker was in 1978. As an elementary school music teacher, I accompanied my students to an abbreviated performance and immediately became a fan. Within ten years, little did I know I would have a daughter performing in The Nutcracker with this same dance company, delighting children with this magical story through dance.

Last week I shared how our family is grounded in tradition, especially at Christmas. Watching a live performance of The Nutcracker has been a family favorite for many years. There were some years we missed attending a live performance, but it made the next time more exciting. Our last trip to the Fox Theater to watch the Atlanta Ballet’s performance was two years ago, so perhaps next year we’ll add this to our list of holiday musts.

When I think about the future, it includes many years of sharing this wonderful story with grandchildren, great nieces, and nephews, and it’s not a bad thought. If you’ve never attended a ballet performance, you might want to make your first one The Nutcracker. I guarantee you’ll have a magical time.

Meet Clay Cormany

Today I’m featuring Astraea Press author, Clay Cormany…

Author Bio: Before writing Fast-Pitch Love, Clay Cormany spent over 20 years as a writer and editor for the Ohio Department of Education. His creative work has appeared in the Columbus Dispatch and Spring Street, Columbus State Community College’s literary magazine. He has also edited numerous books, including a three-volume biography of Christopher Columbus and A Death Prolonged by Dr. Jeff Gordon, which received coverage in the New York Times and on PBS. Fast-Pitch Love is his first novel. Clay plans to give half of his first three royalty checks to support girls softball programs.

About Clay’s debut novel, Fast-Pitch Love…

Jace Waldron has romance in mind when he volunteers to assist the girls softball team his mother coaches. It will give him the perfect opportunity to make a move on Stephanie Thornapple, the team’s other assistant. But Jace’s plans go awry, and soon he faces the double challenge of coaching a team of mischievous preteen girls and learning there is more to romance than physical attraction.



Christmas Traditions

Merriam defines tradition as:

A way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular     group, family, society, etc., for a long time.

Let me pause here and introduce you to my immediate family. My husband and I have been together thirty-eight years and married for thirty-six years. Our daughter is thirty-four and our son is twenty-six. This will be the fourth Christmas our daughter’s husband has shared in our Christmas traditions. They were married this past March and he is now officially our other son. Last year we added our Labrador retriever to the holiday joy and this year we have a French bulldog grand pup to incorporate into our holiday madness.

Our family loves tradition, especially at Christmastime. Over the years, we have borrowed or started many holiday activities. Some were short-lived and never qualified as suggested by the definition, to be labeled a Jones tradition. Others, we still enjoy today. As our family structure has changed, some of the traditions we have enjoyed for many years have fallen away, for various reasons, from our holiday celebration. But the memories will live on; driving around to see Christmas lights and decorations, baking the cookies we couldn’t survive the holidays without, watching Christmas movies, buying a new Hallmark ornament every year for each family member to adorn our Christmas tree, and others.

When our children were young, we would shop each year for a Christmas movie, a recording of Christmas music and a Christmas story. Our collection has grown to a vast array of choices for our holiday entertainment. I will admit some items of our collection are laying dormant, waiting for grandchildren to be born. Until then, my husband and I will have to be satisfied with adding a new tradition for the dogs in our lives. This year we bought them matching Christmas pajamas and maybe next year it will be ugly Christmas sweaters. One thing’s for sure, even the dogs will not escape our pursuit of traditions, so they might as well join the fun.

What traditions does your family enjoy during the holidays?



Meet Susan Rush

Today, I’m pleased to feature fellow Astraea Press author, Susan Rush.

Susan has a psychology degree from Furman University and a Masters in Social Work for the University of South Carolina. Not in a million years did she think she would ever work with hospice. She jokes that God didn’t lead her to a career in hospice; He took her kicking and screaming the whole way. Ironically, she is now passionate about end-of-life care and has been in hospice for more than twenty years. She is honored to provide care and counseling for patients during the final chapters of their life story. Susan loves sharing about God’s redemptive grace and unfailing love. Her debut novel, Just Over the Horizon, chronicles the faith journey of a hospice nurse and is a heart-warming story that teaches us how to embrace life fully while never losing sight of our eternal home. Of course, there has to be some romance and suspense thrown in for fun! She presently serves as a hospice director in Columbia, SC where she lives with her adorable hubby and three phenomenal children. You can find her at

Susan is sharing an excerpt from her debut novel, Just Over the Horizon:

Is it possible for a traveling hospice nurse to find romance in a small southern town? After all, she is only passing through and needs to focus on her job. A job that requires compassion and dedication. She can’t afford to have any distractions.

Since her grandmother’s death, Sarah has been alone. No family. No friends. No distractions. Just the way she likes it. Traveling from town to town is an adventure, meeting new people, exploring new places, but could her solitary life be growing lonely?

Much to her surprise, two vastly differing men compete for her attention in the small historic town of Camden, South Carolina. Nate, the adopted son of one of Sarah’s patients, is a true Southerner with a sarcastic wit and genuine warmth. On the other hand, Dr. Joseph Thornton is a caring oncologist who is known as the best catch in the state. Who could say no to his Hollywood smile and emerald eyes?

No distractions. This has been her goal as a hospice nurse. But distractions is exactly what she gets. Will she be tempted to put down roots in the small town?

It’s a good thing Sarah’s eccentric Nana left her a mysterious box. Nana’s gift provides the guidance and comfort Sarah desperately needs as she faces heart-wrenching trials. Not only does she have the stress of caring for the dying, she has to visit patients in the ghetto. What dangers await a beautiful young nurse making home visits at night?

Enduring sadness and trauma, Sarah’s childhood faith is shattered. She tries desperately to hold onto Nana’s godly legacy, but it is slipping away. When a bizarre stranger appears at her door with devastating news about Nana’s past, can her cherished box continue to provide answers and deepen her faith or will Sarah realize her life has been based on nothing but lies?