It has been a long time since I posted a card or anything I have created. I have been creating but lately spending time with my family has become more important to me. When I finally find the time to post something – I am usually falling asleep! So I am starting a slow comeback and I hope you get inspired to do a little creating yourself.
I created these cards using Art Impressions Bible Journaling Watercolor Rubber Stamps-As The Deer. I have fallen in love with Art Impressions stamps and the beautiful ways you can watercolor with them. I plan on using them in my Bible Journaling soon.
I use Tombow Dual Brush Pen Art Markers as my watercolors. In fact, I didn’t use any ink pads, I just used the marker straight onto the rubber and stamped it on my watercolor paper. Then I dampened my brush, squeezed off the excess water and dragged some of the colors from where I stamped into the images. Then using the palette I gently added more colors to the picture.
As you can see I am not perfect with this technique but I am having fun practicing and learning. I hope you learn something new too and if you have questions please feel free to ask!
A Cowboy Never Quits
by Cindi Madsen
Publication Date: 12/31/2019
These hardworking cowboys give everyone a second chance…
When single mom Jessica Cook is at the end of her rope, she takes her 16-year-old daughter to Turn Around Ranch. The ranch has a great reputation for teen therapy, and Jessica prays there’s room there for her and Chloe.
Wade Dawson’s first priority is to keep the ranch afloat to help teens and their families. But he can’t seem to keep his boundaries when it comes to Jessica—she’s talked her way into a job on the ranch so she can stay near her daughter and her tenacity and courage are truly impressive. Not to mention she’s a natural beauty and sparks fly whenever he’s in her vicinity.
But as one crisis after another befalls the ranch, Wade is going to have to decide whether he can afford to let a woman get under his skin…
Cindi Madsen is a USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance and young adult novels. She sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting, revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children.
A hint of sympathy flickered through Gruff-and-Grumpy’s eyes, but then the firmness crept back in. He reached up and readjusted his cowboy hat, which set off some kind of wave that made the other two brothers do the same.
Seriously, why do they have to look like they belong on the cover of Ride a Cowboy Weekly?
Wait. That sounded dirtier than she meant it. Not that she’d exactly take it back.
They practically dripped masculinity, their bodies speaking to hours of manual labor, and the effect kept hijacking her jumbled thoughts. It’d been so long since she’d more than half-heartedly checked out a guy that apparently now she couldn’t even handle being in the presence of handsome men.
Back when she was in her early twenties—before guys discovered she came with baggage and a five-year-old—she used to be fairly decent at flirting her way into getting a guy to help her out with things like clearing that late fee or giving her a few more weeks on the rent. Once she’d even talked her disgruntled landlord into mowing the overgrown lawn he was harping on and on about. Clearly, she’d lost it, because the expressions aimed her way were immovable ones that conveyed disbelief in exceptions or wiggle room. Or the charity she’d shed her pride to ask for.
A spinster failure-of-a-mom at thirty-one. Well, it took fifteen years, but Mom was right. Just when she’d been so cocky about how much she’d accomplished. Now she wanted to Frisbee the employee-of-the month plaque she’d received from her boss last week, for all the good it did her.
“We’re sorry you drove all the way here only to have to turn back,” Mrs. Dawson said, tucking behind her ear the sandy-brown and gray strands of hair that’d fallen from her bun. The woman had a frail sense about her, her skinniness and the dark circles under her eyes speaking to a recent—or possibly even current—health issue. “I can give you some referrals, and I’ll see if my contacts know of a good counselor in your area.”
In a daze, Jess blinked at the woman, defeat weighing against her chest and tugging down her shoulders. She truly had failed. And curse her DNA for passing on traits she wished it would’ve held back. In a lot of ways, her daughter was too much like her: stubborn to a fault, blind when it came to guys, spurred on by the words no and can’t, and turning the word guideline into loose suggestion.
If they simply returned home, it’d be harder and harder to keep Chloe from bad influences. This past year she’d struggled to fit in at school, and her solution had been to find the worst possible group of “friends.” Friends who ditched and smoked pot and encouraged Chloe to sneak out at night so she could go meet a guy like Tyler. He was two years older and a whole mess of bad influences on his own. Rebellious, disrespectful, and mysterious—the same things Jessica had been attracted to at Chloe’s age.
Not that her daughter was blameless. Chloe had made plenty of bad choices. She’d dived fully into the party lifestyle, snuck out yet again, and gone on the joyride in the stolen car while under the influence. It was a slippery slope, which was why Jess wanted her at the best place in the state.
Even the others were out of her price range. A counselor might be as well. Maybe they’d just move to a different state entirely. Leave it all behind and eat…ramen. Get a nice box hut under a bridge. Really live out the scenarios people had thrown at her when she’d refused to give her baby up for adoption.
Feeling both levels of failure, Jess shakily stood. “Thank you for your time.”
“I’ll walk you out,” Gruff-and-Grumpy said, and she wanted to shout that she didn’t want chivalry. She wanted her daughter enrolled in their program and a way to pay for it.
“It’s fine. I’ve got it. Unless you’re scared I’ll just drive away without my kid, and then you’ll have to take her.”
“Well, I am now.” An almost-smile crossed his face.
She almost returned it, but her lungs constricted more and more as she walked toward the door.
There in the corner, she caught sight of a wall of flyers on a corkboard. Along with a schedule that outlined class time, equine therapy time, and a few other events she couldn’t quite make out, she saw a neon-yellow paper with the words Help Wanted across the top. Even better, it was for a job here at Turn Around Ranch.
“You guys are looking for a cook?” It was as if she’d stepped out of her body and someone else had taken control—someone crazy and reckless, personality traits she’d tried very hard to suppress through the years. When you had a kid who depended on you, impulsiveness went out the window, and recklessness wasn’t an option. Still, even as she told her mouth to hold up before it landed her in trouble, the next words were pushing from her lips. “You’re in luck. I just so happen to be one.”
Those dark eyebrows lowered again, only visible under the brim of his cowboy hat when he was giving the signature scowl he’d given her from the moment she’d stepped inside the office. “You’re a cook?”
“Oh, we’ve been looking for a cook for forever and a day,” Mrs. Dawson said, scooting to the edge of her chair.
Hope edged in desperation bobbed up inside Jess. She’d told her boss she needed some time off, and he’d been super understanding. He might not be as cool about her taking…a month? Two? Whatever. This was her daughter. Jobs came and went, but if she lost Chloe, she’d regret it forever. “Perhaps we could help each other out. If you let my daughter into your program, I’ll stay and cook while she’s here. The only other thing I need is a bed to sleep in. I’m not even picky as to where that bed is.”
“Under the stars, then?” the looming cowboy next to her said.
“Okay, I’d prefer a roof over my head. Like a lean-to, at least.”
That almost-smile quivered his lips, but he tamped it down. Why was he so determined to keep up the steely front? Or maybe it wasn’t a front. Right now, she didn’t care, and since she clearly wasn’t going to get anywhere with him, she turned to Mrs. Dawson. “I can have a list of references to you within a matter of hours. My bosses all love me.” At least that was true. At one point she hadn’t known how to balance books or create databases, but she’d learned. Cooking had never been high on her priority list, but she could learn to do that as well. There were Google and the Food Network, and she could make a box of mac and cheese like nobody’s business. How hard could it be?
Excerpted from A Cowboy Never Quits by Cindi Madsen. © 2019 by Cindi Madsen. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Way Back to You
by Sharon Sala
Publication Date: 12/31/2019
What do you do when your whole life is turned upside down?
Sully Raines sets out to find his birth mother, and ends up in Blessings, Georgia. A new surprise awaits him here, but of the best kind—his childhood sweetheart, whom he hasn’t seen since she moved away when they were teens, is living in Blessings now. He’s not sure she’s as happy to see him as he is to see her, but it’s been a lot of years, and a lot of water under the bridge…
Sully’s heartfelt search for answers about his past might just turn out to be the key to his future…
SHARON SALA has over one hundred books in print and has published in five different genres. She is an eight-time RITA finalist, five-time Career Achievement winner from RT Book Reviews, and five-time winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award. She lives in Norman, Oklahoma.
Sully drove straight to the flower shop. A bell rang as he walked in, and an older woman in a colorful floral smock appeared from the back.
“Hello. I’m Myra. How can I help you?”
“I want to get a bouquet of flowers. Do you have some made up?”
“Yes. Here in the cooler behind this stand of stuffed toys. But if you don’t see what you want, I can easily make something else while you wait.”
“Okay, thanks,” Sully said. “Let me check these out first.”
“Seeing as how fall is upon us, we have several different sizes of fall bouquets, and with different kinds of flowers. And, of course, the roses,” Myra said.
He pointed to a bouquet of red roses in a crystal vase with a ruby-colored base.
“Those, in that vase with the ruby-colored base. How much are those?”
“Well, it’s a dozen American Beauties, and the vase is crystal, which makes it a bit pricier than others. It’s one hundred and ten dollars.”
“I’ll take it,” Sully said.
Myra beamed. Her husband, Harold, had fussed at her nonstop because she’d used a vase that expensive, and now she could say “I told you so.”
“Wonderful,” she said, as she removed the bouquet from the cooler and carried it to the register. “Will this be cash or credit card?”
“Card,” Sully said as he pulled it out of his wallet.
“If you want to sign a card to go with the flowers, you can pick from these,” Myra said, pointing to the little rack on the counter.
“No card, I’m handing them to her in person.”
Myra pulled up a new screen on the computer. “Your name, sir?”
Myra gasped. “You’re the man who saved Melissa Dean’s life, aren’t you?”
“This is wonderful. I’m glad to meet you. Everybody loves Melissa.”
Sully smiled. “I’m finding that out, but I’m not surprised. She was a sweetheart when we were kids, and she’s only gotten better with age.”
“You knew each other! Wow. Then you must have been really frantic when you were trying to get her out of the burning car.”
“I’d only arrived in town about an hour before it happened. I didn’t know anybody here, and I sure didn’t know it was her until we were in the ER. The last time we’d seen each other, we were thirteen.”
“Oh my! What an amazing story. If these are for her, please give her our best.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Sully said, and then they finished the purchase.
He made the drive back to Melissa’s house slowly and carefully, and he was happy to see her car in the driveway when he arrived. He got out carrying the vase, and then instead of using the key she’d given him, he rang the doorbell.
When Melissa opened the door, her eyes widened in delight.
“Delivery for the prettiest woman in Blessings,” he said.
She laughed. “I think you must have the wrong house.”
“Nope. I know exactly where I am, and these are for you. Where do you want me to put them?” he asked.
“I think here on this table in the foyer. That way I’ll see them all the time, coming and going.”
He set them on the table, then turned around and hugged her.
“Does this mean Elliot gave you good news?” Melissa asked.
“He gave me news,” Sully said, and felt the knowing of meant to be when he kissed her.
Melissa’s heart fluttered from the gentleness of the kiss, but she was dying for information.
“But what news? Did he know where she was?”
“That man talks around a subject more than anyone I’ve ever met. He told me my birth father’s name, thinking I already knew.”
“Oh my gosh! What is it?”
“Marc Adamos. I never found the name on any papers, but now I know.”
“And your mom? What did he say?”
“He told me not to leave Blessings.”
Melissa frowned. “But what does that mean, exactly? That she’s here? Then where?”
“He just kept repeating, ‘Don’t leave Blessings,’ so I’m not leaving.”
Melissa laughed and hugged him. “Don’t expect me to be sad about that.”
“He also said you were my soul mate and wished us a long and happy life together.”
She gasped. “Did he really say that?”
Melissa sighed. “Well, it took us long enough to find each other again. Maybe that is why it was so easy to fall back into this.”
“Works for me,” Sully said, then kissed her again until he heard her moan. “The feeling is mutual.”
Melissa felt like her whole body was humming—like someone had turned up the energy in the room.
Sully saw her shiver. “Are you afraid? Don’t be afraid. This is not anything to act on until we’re ready.”
“Afraid? Of you? No, Sully. I just don’t know what to do with what I feel.”
“Then don’t do anything. When the time is right, there won’t be any confusion. That I can promise.” He wrapped his arms around her. “It’s all good, love. It’s going to be all right.”
“I feel like a forty-something idiot. This should not be so hard,” she muttered.
He chuckled, and when he did, she started to push away, then felt his heartbeat. Without moving, she put her other hand on her own. Their heartbeats were in rhythm.
“What’s wrong?” Sully said.
She reached for his hand and put it over his own heart, and then put his other hand on hers.
“Feel that?” she asked.
“Feel what… Oh, wow! We’re in sync.” Then he laughed. “I love this.”
“I know,” she said. “It’s pretty amazing. I adore the roses, and I adore you, too, Sully Raines.”
“Is this where I sweep you off your feet and take you to bed, or is this where we go eat pie?”
Melissa burst into laughter, and once the joy bubbled up, more kept coming, and she laughed until there were tears in her eyes.
Sully grinned and then put his arm around her and led her to the kitchen.
“I think it’s pie.”
“Just because you went to see a psychic doesn’t mean you’re turning into one.”
He stopped in the middle of the kitchen floor. “Are you saying it’s not pie?”
“Not pie. Cake!”
“You and your sass,” Sully said, and kissed the laugh right off her face.
Excerpted from The Way Back to You by Sharon Sala. © 2019 by Sharon Sala. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Book:
She is kidnapped by terrorists blackmailing her father, a Supreme Court Judge. He leads the team sent to rescue her.
Trekking to safety through Ladakh… They are in danger of falling in love. But, Lt. Col. Arjun Rathod knows that Naina Ahuja, engaged to politics’ rising star, is not meant for him.
Forever changed by her trauma, Naina walks out of her controlling family and forges a new life.
And then, she meets Arjun again. But this time, he is engaged to someone else.
“Miss Ahuja? Naina?”
The almost soundless whisper had Naina’s eyes snapping open in the dark. A hard hand came up to cover her mouth even as a terrified squeak left her lips. A pair of dark, intense eyes in a face streaked with camouflage paint floated into her vision. “I’m here to rescue you. Your father sent me. I need you to stay completely silent when I remove my hand. Can you nod if you understand?”
Keeping her eyes on his strong, reassuring ones, Naina nodded quickly. The stranger waited to make sure she wouldn’t scream, and slowly lifted his hand from her mouth. Slipping a knife out from seemingly nowhere, he cut the rope binding both her hands and feet within seconds and levered her up from her prone position. Helping her to her feet, he watched intently to see if she was steady on her feet. Reassured that she wasn’t going to faint at his feet, Arjun moved quickly to the door and looked out. The guards were still unconscious from the light taps to the back of their heads administered by his teammates, and so far there was no sign of any other movement in the camp. Coming back into the room, he put his lips close to her ear to whisper, “Can you walk?”
Nodding mutely, Naina craned her neck to get a glimpse of his face from this angle. The stranger was so tall that he towered over her by almost a foot. Dressed all in black, with a mini arsenal strapped on to him, he looked like he’d arrived straight from hell. Apparently, the devil was her hero tonight.
by Anna Schmidt
Publication Date: 12/31/2019
Return to a time when the West was Wild…
Captain Max Winslow was once a pathfinder for the Army, blazing trails and keeping his brothers-in-arms safe. Now he’s the star of a Wild West show, reminding curious audiences of days long gone. The world around him may be changing, but that doesn’t mean he has to accept it—not when there are frontiers yet to be explored.
When Max first sets eyes on no-nonsense Harvey Girl Emma Elliot, he knows that anything between them would be impossible. She’s a realist embracing what the future holds, while he’s a dreamer, determined to preserve the West he once knew. And yet something about Emma’s strength of will calls to him. It isn’t long before Max must decide: is there room in his dream for love, or will his resolve to hang on to the past jeopardize their future?
Award-winning author ANNA SCHMIDT delights in creating stories where her characters must wrestle with the challenges of their times. Critics have consistently praised Schmidt for the reality of her characters—exposing their flaws as well as their strengths as she delivers strong tales of hope and love in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. She resides in Wisconsin and Florida.
Having practically counted the ticks of the large clock in the lobby, marking time until the supper shift ended, Emma changed out of her uniform, released her hair from the bonds of its chignon, and fastened it with a barrette at the nape of her neck. George had mentioned a surprise, but she wasn’t sure what she should do. Wait in her room? Wait outside the kitchen door where he had come before? Of course, the surprise might be tomorrow or next week for all she knew.
In the end, she settled on a compromise. She would sit in one of the rocking chairs on the hotel veranda. It was not at all unusual for her to do that before retiring for the night. No one would think it odd. Yes, that was the right choice. She carried along a basket of knitting. She could form stitches even in the dark if necessary, although there was always light coming from the lobby windows.
Knit one, purl one, repeat.
As she worked, she kept an eye out for Diablo. The stallion would be the clearest sign of Max’s arrival. As the minutes clicked away, she counted out the pattern, nodding politely to guests returning to the hotel for the night while she waited. She was about to pack up her yarn and needles when from behind her, she heard the unmistakable sound of dishes rattling on a metal tray.
She turned and saw Max struggling to keep two glass ice cream dishes plus spoons and napkins at an even keel.
“This is harder than it looks,” he grumbled.
Emma set her knitting aside and relieved him of the tray. “What on earth?”
“I promised you ice cream.”
“That you did,” she said, setting the tray on a small side table.
“I can’t take full credit. I had help. George is responsible for the whipped cream and the cherries. He insisted. Truth is, he was so set on getting it all perfect, I figured you’d be long gone by the time I got here.”
“How did you know where to find me?”
Max chuckled. “Folks tend to keep an eye on you, Emmie. One of the waitresses came through the kitchen while George was fussing with the sundaes, and I reckon she just assumed this was all for you. She reminded George vanilla is your favorite and then told me you were out here.” He handed her a cloth napkin and spoon, waited for her to drape the napkin over her lap, and then presented the stemmed glass bowl brimming with the sundae.
“Thank you. It looks delicious.”
“It’s not for admiring, Emmie. Take a bite before the whole thing melts.” As if to demonstrate, he filled his spoon with a heaping bite of his chocolate ice cream and savored it. “Mm-mm.”
Emma took a much smaller bite and relished the cold sweetness that filled her mouth. “Oh, that’s so good,” she murmured and quickly took another bite.
“If you think that’s good, try this,” he said, offering her a bite of his.
The gesture seemed far too intimate to be proper, and yet it was hard to resist his enthusiasm. She opened her mouth, and he slid the spoon between her parted lips. The chocolate was rich, almost decadent. She closed her eyes. Slowly, Max withdrew the spoon. When she opened her eyes, he was watching her, the spoon still suspended between them.
“Do you really prefer vanilla?” he asked, his voice husky.
“I prefer variety,” she replied and, to prove her point, took a bite of her ice cream.
“You could share.”
This was getting out of hand. She was not immune to the game he was playing, but really, they were seated in a public place where they might easily be observed by anyone. Instead of filling her spoon and feeding him, she handed him her dish. “Help yourself.”
He set his dish on the tray and accepted hers, filling his spoon not once but twice before she objected.
“I didn’t say take it all,” she protested with a laugh. When she reached for her dish, he turned away, protecting it. “Very well,” she announced. “Two can play this game.” She picked up his dessert. Caught up in the silliness of their contest, she ate three small bites of his chocolate sundae in quick succession, then closed her eyes as the cold went straight to her head, giving her a sudden headache.
Max set the dish he was holding aside and took hers from her, then clasped her hand. “Are you okay?”
She nodded and smiled as she shook off the headache. “One forgets ice cream is to be savored, not gobbled like a last meal.” She leaned back in her chair as did he. She noticed he did not let go of her hand. They set the rockers in motion.
After a moment, he said, “You gonna eat that last cherry?”
She laughed. “It’s all yours.” She watched him pop the fruit in his mouth. “How did the first show go?”
“I think we were a hit, as they say in this business. Folks were definitely on their feet cheering.”
“Someone mentioned they could hear the roar of the crowd all the way in town.”
Max chuckled. “I kind of doubt that, but it’s nice to think about. You should have seen Reba in that blouse you fixed up for her.”
“You didn’t tell her I did the work, did you?”
“No, but why shouldn’t I?”
“I just think Pearl should have the credit.”
She heard him let out a long breath. He sounded exhausted, and it occurred to her that if she thought her day had been long and hard, his had begun well before dawn and included not just the parade and the show but also the emergency of Reba’s costume. And that was just what she knew. Yet he’d made time to come to meet her.
She stood and set the dishes and her napkin on the tray. “Thank you, Max, for this lovely treat.”
“You’re leaving me here alone?”
She couldn’t help laughing. “Tomorrow is another day. I have four trainloads of people to serve, and you have two performances to deliver. I think we could both use some rest.”
“Are we still going to meet your friends a week from Sunday?”
“Are you sure you have time?”
“Show’s up and running, and we don’t perform on Sundays, so the answer is I’m looking forward to it.”
“Me too,” she admitted.
“I’ll rent a buggy if that suits.”
“That would be fine.” The playfulness they’d shared while eating their ice cream had disappeared. Emma wondered if there would ever come a time when they could be completely at ease in each other’s company.
Max took a step toward the back of the hotel.
“There’s no need to see me to the door,” Emma protested.
The lamplight from the lobby caught Max’s smile. “Now what kind of gentleman allows a lady to walk home alone?”
“It’s no more than a few steps,” she reminded him.
“You’d be surprised what can happen in just a few steps,” he replied.
They walked along the path that led around the side of the hotel and on to the kitchen entrance. Emma balanced the tray with their dishes while Max reached for the door.
“Well, here I am, safe and sound,” she said, wishing there were more time. “Good night. Thank you for the ice cream.”
She looked back at him with a questioning smile. Gently, he relieved her of the tray, setting it just inside the door, then took hold of her shoulders and turned her so their faces were only inches apart. He was wearing his hat, and his face was in shadow, and yet she knew what he wanted—what she wanted.
As if driven by outside forces, she placed her hand on the back of his neck and raised herself to her toes. “Yes,” she whispered, although he had not asked, at least not in words.
She felt the warmth of his breath and then the fullness of his lips meeting hers. She felt as if she could stand in that place all night.
Excerpted from Pathfinder by Anna Schmidt. © 2019 by Anna Schmidt. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.