Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Afloat" by Erin Healy

Eagle's Talon is an impressive new housing development on the water. While all of the buildings aren't finished, Building 12 is and actually has occupants. Suddenly, death and destruction become part of Eagle's Talon. What caused the crane's collapse? Is anyone safe? 

Vance Nolan is an architect who loves what he does most of the time. The developer of Eagle's Talon, Tony Dean, wants things his way no matter the cost, which causes problems periodically. When the crane disaster happens, he wants to affix blame without an investigation, while Vance wants the truth and to save lives. Not everyone escapes before the torrential rain and flooding cut off the project from the land. Danielle Clement is a single mother "hired" to sell units. When the crane hits their balcony and they fall into the water, her son Simeon notices some strange lights. What are they? Zeke, a blind man with a message, and his dog Ziggy, join the group and try help in any way possible. As darkness falls and the power fails, will people listen to Vance and his message that all who stay will be safe, or will they follow Tony and his command of leaving? Will anyone find out what really caused the disaster?

Erin Healy never disappoints me! Her characters and stories are always well written and developed, and draw me in quickly. This book also can make the reader think about topics like: selling out, compromise, faith, blindness, and truth. I really enjoyed the book and recommend it to readers who enjoy suspenseful novels. I received my free review copy from Litfuse Publishing in exchange for participation in the blog tour.

           Book Info 
About Afloat:

Who will you trust when dark waters rise?
Eagle's Talon is an architectural marvel-shining residential units afloat in a protected cove of the gorgeous Rondeau River. The project is nearly complete, partially occupied, and ready to make investors rich when a sinkhole gives way. Then torrential rains and a flood leave a ragged collection of builders, investors, and residents stranded in one floating building, cut off from the rest of the world.
They're bitterly divided over what to do next.
Architect Vance Nolan insists they should sit tight and wait for rescue. Developer Tony Dean wants to strike out into the darkness. And single mom Danielle Clement, desperate to protect her young son, Simeon, struggles to hold their motley band together.
Power failure, a pall of unnatural daytime darkness, explosions in the distance, then a murder ratchet tensions to a boiling point. But Danielle's young son, Simeon, has spotted something strange underwater-beautiful, shifting lights in the dark water below.
In this watery world where everyone's secrets will eventually come to light, salvation may mean more than just getting out alive.
Another stunning exploration of the human spirit and supernatural possibilities from best-selling author Erin Healy.

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Meet Erin:

Erin Healy is the best-selling co-author of "Burn" and "Kiss" (with Ted Dekker) and an award-winning editor for numerous best-selling authors. She has received wide acclaim for her novels "Never Let You Go", "The Baker's Wife", "House of Mercy", and "Afloat". She and her family live in Colorado. Erin can be contacted through her website or through Facebook at erinhealybooks.
Find out more about Erin at
Book Trailer


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 Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, May 17, 2013

"The Cat that God Sent" by Jim Kraus

Jake Wilkerson is a pastor who has just been called to a church in Coudersport, Pennsylvania. This small town has much in store for Jake, especially Petey, a cat who always seems to be around. What can Jake learn from a cat? How can Petey help the town?

Jake suffered the loss of many things in his life when he questioned his faith. Now, he has a new church in a small town where he hopes to realize a renewal of spirit and faith. He is met by a cat with a wounded paw. The vet takes care of the paw and Jake has a friend for life. Petey wants to be everywhere Jake is, including church, which intrigues the congregants and brings more of them to church. Is Petey just what is necessary to bring life back to the church and to Jake? Come meet Petey, the Cat that God sent.

This is a wonderful story that shows the way that pets help us overcome difficulties. They don't judge and just want to be with us. But they can talk to us as well, and sometimes it seems that they are telling us to get our act together. If you enjoy stories about cats, or know someone who is discouraged and could use a lift, this book is for you. I am happily part of the Litfuse blog tour!

Book Info
About The Cat That God Sent: 

Meet Petey, your not-so-average cat-on a mission from God

Disillusioned young pastor, Jake Wilkerson, has just arrived at his new assignment in the small rural church of Coudersport, Pennsylvania. Also new on the scene is Petey, a cat of unknown origins and breed-but of great perception.

As Jake sets about doing the business of ministry, Petey's continued interference brings chaos to the community of curiously off and eccentric people-residents like the faith-avoiding veterinarian Sally Grainger and Tassy, a young runaway with a secret. An expert at hiding his fears, Jake wonders if all this-and the cat to boot-is more than he can handle. What is Petey's real "mission"? Perhaps something larger than Jake---or even Petey---can possibly know.

Purchase a copy:
Meet Jim:

Jim Kraus grew up in Western Pennsylvania and has spent the last twenty years as a vice president of a major Christian publishing house. He has written more than twenty books and novels, including the best-selling The Dog That Talked to God. He and his family live outside of Chicago with a sweet miniature Schnauzer and an ill-tempered Siberian cat named (of course) Petey.
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"The Dog Who Talked to God" by Jim Kraus

Mary Frasier has lost her family. Her loneliness causes her to pull away from the very people who could offer comfort and support. Then, a puppy enters her life. How will it change her?

Mary's family was taken from her in a tragic accident. Now she buries herself in her work at home, trying not to delve into the painful memories. But, she is drawn to the idea getting a dog and selects a puppy. Or, did he select her? Rufus seems very intelligent, patient, and quick to learn. But, can he talk to God? Mary needs someone to talk to who won't react or judge, someone to be a sounding board. Rufus fits the bill. Opening this book will give you the opportunity to understand Mary's story and why Rufus seems to know the answers to her questions and dilemmas. Will Mary continue to blame God for the loss of her family or will healing come?

I loved this book. Rufus is a wonderfully smart dog, who is a great listener. This book will make a wonderful gift for animal lovers, and for those who have suffered loss. God can use anything or anyone to provide what we need. We just need to be open and willing to listen. I am happily part of the Litfuse blog tour!

Book Info

 More about The Dog That Talked to God:

Be sure to check out Jim'sThe Dog That Talked to God which was nominated as an ECPA book of the Year (2013).

Publishers Weekly said, "Judge this book by its cover... and be charmed." 

"The Dog That Talked to God is a moving and powerful read, inspirational long after the last page has been turned." 
- New York Journal of Books
"Jim Kraus has written a funny, heartfelt novel in the tradition of Garth Stein and John Grogan. For a long time dogs have been man's best friend. It only made sense one would finally come along to save our souls." 
- Rob Stennett author, Homemade Haunting and The 
Almost True Story Of Ryan Fisher
"I loved this story. Quirky and unusual, this unique tale wove a spell around me and drew me in. It wasn't what I expected at all, and when I turned the last page, it left me wanting more." 
- Ane Mulligan, senior editor Novel Rocket
"Anyone who has loved a pet knows the sense of connection, of deep familiarity and acceptance, and even of a possible spiritual awareness. In The Dog That Talked to God, Jim Kraus offers a hard-to-put down story of Rufus, a miniature schnauzer who make a giant difference... Kraus has created an enjoyable and often hilarious read. Highly recommended." 
- Congregational Libraries Today
Recently widowed Mary Fassler buys a Miniature Schnauzer, Rufus, and her world is turned sideways in the midst of her grief. It seems that Rufus speaks. And not just to her. He also talks to God. When Rufus begins sharing advice that could result in major changes, Mary gets the feeling the pooch might not be steering her in the right direction. Or, is she just afraid to take the leap and discover something she desperately needs? Only Rufus...and God...knows.
Meet Jim:

Jim Kraus grew up in Western Pennsylvania and has spent the last twenty years as a vice president of a major Christian publishing house. He has written more than twenty books and novels, including the best-selling The Dog That Talked to God. He and his family live outside of Chicago with a sweet miniature Schnauzer and an ill-tempered Siberian cat named (of course) Petey.
 Blog Tour Schedule

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Saturday, May 11, 2013



The day had come.
My mother lay pressed against her pillow, her skin like baking paper, her limbs disposable chopsticks. She had not moved or spoken for days.
In those last days we rarely left her side, my three siblings and I. Between us we had eleven children, the youngest my newborn, whom we had baptized a week ago right here by my mother’s bedside. The children tumbled and danced around the hospice floor, admonished by us to keep quiet, keep quiet! They had already said their good-byes to Nana. Now it was our turn.
The hospice nurses had told us of the final signs. She will cease to wake, even briefly. Her fingers and toes will turn blue. Her breathing will grow shallow and ragged.
Then we heard it. My mother took a breath. That’s all it was—a sip of air. We knew it was time. We rushed around her, my siblings and I, and all together began to sob.
And this is what I said to my mother before she died: “I’ll be all right, Mommy. Don’t worry. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be all right.”
Not “I love you.” Not “I’ll miss you.” Not “thank you for everything.” Why? I asked myself that night as I cradled my colicky newborn, both of us wailing. Why did I choose that moment to inform my mother of my own well-being? Why did I feel this was the very thing she needed to know as she drew her last breath?
It took me years as a parent to understand: As mothers, that is exactly what we want to know. We want to know our children are safe. We need to know they’ll be all right as they journey into the world without us by their sides.
I don’t know if my mother heard me. But if she did, I hope my final words eased her journey just a hair. That she believed and trusted in my well-being, and then let go.
The Pastors Wives_LisaTakeuchiCullen_cr Matt DineLisa Takeuchi Cullen is the author of Pastors’ Wives, a new novel from Penguin/Plume, and The Ordained, a 2013 CBS drama pilot. Previously, she was a staff writer for Time magazine. Readers can friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @lisacullen, or visit her website at



In my early mommy-ing years, I was all about perfection. I wasn’t going to be just a good mom—oh, no. I grabbed the virtual performance bar and shoved it way out of my reach.
It didn’t take long for that bar to come crashing down on my head. Perfection was toppled by the harsh reality that, at times, I was an angry mom. I hit my knees and begged God for forgiveness, for patience, for the ability to love my children one day at a time . . . sometimes one hour at a time.
I embraced 1 Peter 4:8: Love covers a multitude of mistakes, even altering it a bit so that it met my need. My version of 1 Peter 4:8 became: Love covers a multitude of mommy-mistakes. There was no way I could pretend that I was perfect, but I could do everything possible so that my children knew that I loved them, despite my imperfections.
Fast forward through toddlers and teenagers to being the mother of a twenty-something son, two late-teen daughters, and one (surprise!) elementary-school-age daughter.
During lunch one day with Katie Beth and Amy, my two oldest daughters, Katie Beth looked at me and asked, “Do you want to know what the best thing was about you as a mom?”
Did I? How could I say no to an unexpected “her children will rise up and call her blessed” moment? I assured Katie Beth I absolutely wanted to know the best thing about me as a mom. She looked at me and said, “The best thing about you as a mom was that you weren’t perfect.”
Oh. I admit I expected something . . . more. I joked with my daughter, telling her I wished she’d told me this sooner, as I wasted too much time trying to be perfect. We all laughed and the conversation moved on.
A few weeks later as a prepared a talk on motherhood and perfection for a moms group, I asked Katie Beth, “Can you tell me again why not being perfect was the best thing about me as a mom?”
She emailed me a letter that read: So many kids grow up thinking their parents are up on this pedestal. They think their parents can do no wrong, but then when they fail at something or make a mistake . . . it can tend to devastate those kids. Also, it taught me that being a Christian does not equal perfection. So many people think because they are a Christian they have to be perfect, and I learned from you that, while you are a very loving mother, you are not perfect. It helps me know you don’t expect me to be perfect. 

Our children don’t want perfect moms—but they do want to know we love them. And maybe by admitting we’re not perfect, our kids will avoid the perfectionist trap too.
Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best is often behind the doors marked “Never.” After being a nonfiction writer and editor who said she’d never write fiction, Beth has proudly authored two novels, Wish You Were Hereand the newly release

Thursday, May 9, 2013

"Once Upon a Prince" by Rachel Hauck

"Once Upon a Prince" is the first book in the Royal Wedding series by Rachel Hauck. What happens when an ordinary American girl meets a real prince?  Come on and find out if this is the stuff that dreams are made of!

Susanna Truitt has her life all planned out. She is in love and plans to marry her boyfriend, a Marine, when he asks. But, her heart is shattered when he breaks up with her. She didn't see it coming and she wasn't prepared for the pain. Life, as she knows, it has changed drastically. But life has to move on even if it is without love. But, what if???

Prince Nathaniel is on an American holiday trying to get some rest from the royal life. He will be crowned king someday, and to make peace, his family has chosen his bride. That doesn't sit well with him, but, he has his duties. Life as a royal has many sacrifices, and he has to make this one. He didn't intend for anything different to happen.

So, what happens when these two meet? Can two people working on doing the right thing find love? Susanna is skiddish due to the break up and wonders if this new feeling can be real or simply a wishful notion. Nate knows his family has his life planned for the good of his country. But he can't forget her and she receives an invitation to his coronation. Will love find a way for them to be together? 

What a fun book! This is like a modern fairy tale and I enjoyed it very much. Rachel Hauck puts you into her story so that you can see and feel what is going on. If you enjoy books that let you escape, this is for you. I received my free review copy from Litfuse in exchange for participation in the blog tour.

           Book Info 

About Once Upon A Prince

The Royal Wedding Series Book One

Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a princess---just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn't going according to plan. When her high-school-sweetheart-turned-Marine-officer breaks up instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life.
The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simon's Island is the queen of his heart. A prince has duties, and his family's tense political situation has chosen his bride for him. When Prince Nathaniel comes to Susanna's aid under the fabled Lover's Oak, he is blindsided by love.
Their lives are worlds apart. He's a royal prince. She's a ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel's coronation.
It's the ultimate choice. His kingdom or her heart? God's will or their own?

Purchase a copy:

Watch the Trailer: 
Once Upon a Prince, Book Trailer - Rachel Hauck
Once Upon a Prince, Book Trailer - Rachel Hauck
 Meet Rachel:

Rachel Hauck is the bestselling author of Carol Award winner "Sweet Caroline", and RITA Finalist "Love Starts With Elle", and of the critically acclaimed fiction collaboration with multi-platinum country artist Sara Evans, "The Songbird Novels". She lives in sunny, though sometimes hurricane plagued, central Florida with her husband and their ornery pets. Rachel earned a degree in Journalism from Ohio State University and is a huge Buckeyes football fan. She is the past President of American Christian Fiction Writers and now sits on the board as an Advisor.

Find out more about Rachel at:
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Forty years ago a single, young woman was about to give birth. She didn’t know how she could afford a child without her parents’ help. She hadn’t talked to her former boyfriend in months. She had no idea how to reach him, how to tell him she was having his child.
This young woman attended church some, yet her dialogue with God was stilted. How could God let this happen to her? What would her life be like now? A baby girl was born, and upon holding her child this young lady knew things would be okay. Perhaps this baby was a gift, not a burden as she supposed.
This woman raised her daughter the best she could, and while she wanted to give her child more than she had . . . history has a way of repeating itself. When the daughter became a young woman, she found herself in the same situation—living at home, pregnant and scared.
The daughter knew she could raise this child. After all, her mom had done it. But what would her life be like? How could God let this happen to her?
If you haven’t guessed already. I was the daughter born to a single mom and as a teenager became a single mom myself. At age 17, God gave me a son. My boyfriend was out of the picture, and I faced raising a child alone with little education, no money and, maybe according to the world, little hope for my future.
Now if you take this story at face value, I am nothing more than a statistic. According to government research, most daughters of young mothers will be teen mothers themselves. They face lives of hardship, living on welfare for the most part — becoming a burden rather than an asset to society.
Yet, I am not a statistic. Why? Because God doesn’t do them.
As a 17-year-old pregnant teenager I prayed a simple prayer, “God, I have messed up my life big time. If you can do anything with it, please do.” I dedicated my life and my heart to him and things changed. I had hope in my heart and I started walking God’s way. God brought an amazing, Christian man into my life. John was a wonderful husband and a father to my son. When had a daughter and another one on the way, God did something else unexpected. He gave me the desire to write books.
This Mother’s Day, my heart is filled with thanksgiving. I’m thankful for my mother who chose life for me. I’m thankful that when I questioned my future, God gave me hope.
History has a way of repeating itself in families, but even more important that our history of mess-ups is God’s history of setting things right. God has a history of seeing something no one else does . . . like seeing a king in a shepherd boy named David, seeing an apostle in a young zealot named Paul, and seeing a mighty warrior in a frightened nobody named Gideon. God’s X-ray eyes see right through any outward characteristics or national statistics. His X-ray eyes scan down to the heart.
Where have you felt you’ve fallen short of God’s perfect plan? Trust that God’s dream is to turn a mess-up into a miracle. He’s a BIG God with BIG dreams. A God who has made an agreement with us that is eternal, final, and sealed. A God who is strong in our weakness. A God who sees the future, sees the past and has a perfect plan for me . . . and for you. It’s something we can all be thankful for.
Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of two, and wife to John. Somewhere around the hustle and bustle of family life, she manages to find the time to write fictional tales delighting and entertaining readers and non-fiction titles offering encouragement and hope. Tricia is also on the blogging team at and other homeschooling and Christian sites. In addition to her roles as mom, wife and author, Tricia volunteers around her community and mentors teen moms. Tricia, along with a group of friends, recently launched, sharing ideas about simplifying life. She also hosts the weekly radio podcast, Living Inspired. Learn more about Tricia at

Wednesday, May 8, 2013



RedBirdAlong with the visit of winter comes the wet, dull, silent days and gray landscape, even in Southeast Texas. On the other hand, there is always a turn between the seasons. The brightness of spring is just around the corner. And God, in His unique, loving way, proves to us a sign through the things we love and when we need it the most.
I love birds, truly, any kind of bird! However, one of my favorites is the cardinal. It’s indigenous to some parts of North and South America. An attractive bird to say the least! Bright red feathers, black bill, a metallic chirp with a sweet, crystal clear melodic song . . . and my most favorite feature, for the most part, the male and female are always together.
For the last two weeks, right outside our bedroom at daybreak there has been a cardinal singing, loudly, wakening me morning after morning. In the deepest sleep, I would hear the bird’s song, and smile, knowing God is near. The daily morning concerts continued. Then, one particular day for my daily devotion, I opened my Bible and my eyes fell upon this scripture:
“. . . one arises to the sound of the bird, and the daughters of song sing softly.”  Ecclesiastes 12:4
Wow!  How personal God truly is to you and me. He knows how much I love birds. The little feathered beings always reminded me of the Creator. He placed it in a strategic place to sing, then He led me to His Word and gave instruction for the moment: while waiting for the desire of my heart to become a mother; daughter, sing softly. In our waiting the Creator of life desires for us to worship Him.
In doing a word search about the cardinal, I found some interesting characteristics. The word “cardinal” originates from the Latin word “hinge.” A hinge helps a door or gate to turn. Could this sweet bird be a sign there is a turn in the change of seasons of our lives? Could the waiting to become a mother or answer to a long awaited prayer be a turn from winter’s silent, dull barren landscape to spring?
I believe He is saying to us, “As the season turns, Daughter . . . sing softly!”
Scripture for reflection: 

“Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.” Psalm 86:17
A prayer for the day:
 “Heavenly Father, I ask that you show me a sign of your goodness! I need it Lord. I thank you for your faithfulness to me, even in the littlest things. Comfort and help me as I wait upon you for the desires of my heart!” 
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(All scripture from The Holy Bible, New International Version, Thomas Nelson Inc., 1991.)
Westfall - author photo smLesli Westfall, author of Dancing Upon Barren Land, enjoys her moments in life by teaching cooking and etiquette to children, finds pleasure in spending time with family and friends, traveling and eating dark chocolate!  Most of all, she enjoys sharing God’s love and teaching His Word to women. She is happily married to her man of faith, live-in comedian and best friend, Larry, of twenty years. Visit her website.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013



For years, a friend and I met weekly for prayer and Bible study. More than twenty years older, Jackie often prayed for her high school children while I prayed for my toddler children who were supposed to be napping.

As any mother will attest, when we get serious about praying for our children, we can find plenty to pray about.
Jackie and I often laid our Bibles in front of us, open on the table. The day I learned the meaning of water spot mothering, Jackie and I had prayed intensely for our children and their wide variety of crises—large and small. We prayed about their uncertain futures and the certainty that God loved them even more than we did. Tears formed, unbidden, as we poured our hearts out to God.
A series of whispers from the stairway told me my children had found dozens of ways to bypass their naps. But they’d grown to respect the time I prayed with my friend. Even at their young ages, they waited patiently for the “Amen” before interrupting.
When Jackie left and life pulled me into other things, my Bible remained open on the dining room table. I walked through the room a short time later to find my four-year-old daughter Amy kneeling on a chair, tenderly flipping through the pages of my Bible. I knew she was unable to read more than the simplest words on the page, so I asked, “Amy, what are you doing, honey?”
Her answer resonates now, decades later. She said, “I’m looking for the tears.”

She knew I’d prayed for her. Finding the water spots, the tear stains, meant something to her young heart. She wanted to see evidence that my prayers for her had moved me to tears.
How triple true that would be through her teen years! We were just getting started on the water spot mothering concept.
I’ve relived that scene many times since that afternoon. My daughter bent over my Bible, her tiny hands turning the pages reverently, her eyes searching for a wrinkle in the page, looking for the assurance that I cared so deeply, prayed so fervently, and wasn’t afraid to let the tears fall on the sustaining resource for parenting and all of life—God’s Word.

Water spot mothering. Praying with the Bible open. Letting the tears fall on the pages.
I wear the picture of my daughter kneeling on the chair, bent over my Bible, close to my heart, like a silver locket I click open to remind me of my primary responsibility as her mom…even now.
Cynthia Ruchti_green_couch
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her fiction, nonfiction, and speaking events for women or for writers. Her recent release—the novel, When the Morning Glory Blooms, observes the heart-and-faith journeys of three eras of unwed moms. Her July release—the nonfiction book Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices—touches on life circumstances that send us to tear-hemmed prayer for those we love. Connect with her at, Facebook, Twitter, or other network spots.



On April 14, our family’s precious Pongo passed away. This beloved Chihuahua was with our family for nearly fourteen years. He played with my daughters during their childhood and comforted them during the challenges of adolescence. He rested by my side during breast cancer treatment and worked alongside Dave in his home office.
Yes, Pongo was always a source of surprises. Before he was one, he somehow swallowed a brownie patch attached to a string of beads and a safety pin. That was his first stomach surgery. Then, the following year he bit off the sharp edge of Mr. Potato Head’s ear. That was the second stomach surgery. Throughout the fourteen years, we were in and out of the ER for dogs. He ate a bag of cough drops in the pantry. He jumped on the table and ate the kids’ chewable vitamins. And the list goes on. . . .
House guests would always have to place their purses on a table without chairs. Otherwise, Pongo would rummage through the bags in search of his addiction: chewing gum! But above all, Pongo’s greatest gift and lesson to us was unconditional love. Yes, Pongo brought such joy to the family for so many years. No one could believe that he actually smiled! He knew how loved he was. I think that is why he outlived his life expectancy by three years after being diagnosed with a heart condition. It was his kidneys and stomach cancer that ultimately claimed his precious life. He passed away peacefully in his sleep at home.
The day after Pongo died, I read a beautiful Bible verse: Genesis 31:49
And Mizpah; for he said, The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.
Isn’t that beautiful! Mizpah signifies an emotional bond between people who are separated by death or circumstance.
Perhaps, instead we can say:“Mizpaw” to express this same emotional bond between people and their precious pets.
Pongo, I love you and miss you so very much. Thank you for being a blessing in our home. You have left a “fur-ever” heartprint in our lives. Mizpaw!
Margaret lives with her husband and two daughters in a Chicago suburb. She is the author of Aftermath: Growing in Grace Through Grief, Mother of Pearl, Pearl GirlsA Mother’s Heart Knows  and the co-author of Go Back and Be Happy. She is the founder and collaborator of Pearl Girls. All the proceeds of books sales from Mother of Pearl (2012) and Pearl Girls (2009) to go support the work of two charities, WINGS AND HANDS OF HOPE. Margaret would love to meet you too. Follow her on twitter (@McSweeney) or friend her on facebook. You can also keep up with M