Free book by April Gardner!

Each month from now until March 2024, I’ll give you a link to a free book by another author. During one month of that time, my book will become free for my subscribers. Scroll down to find out more about this month’s free book.

 On July 2, our church in New Zealand celebrated our annual International Day. In the last ten years our church has begun to fill with international people who have come to New Zealand to study or to build a new life for their families. They are a vital part of our church. We use this special day to celebrate the diversity of people who call our church “home.” You can see by the flags that we have people from the UK, USA, India, Indonesia, Fiji, New Zealand, the Philippines, Korea, Ukraine, and China.

You may remember that my husband, Art, and I are Americans who have served as church-planting missionaries in Taiwan (1980-1996) and New Zealand (1998 until the present.) God has used our experiences to prepare us for the very international ministry we have today. We’ve learned about the different ways international people do dishes, dress, and interact socially. Western cultures often emphasize independence and individuality, whereas Asian people emphasize doing things in large groups. Kiwis (New Zealanders) value independence and a do-it-yourself attitude toward jobs around the house. They celebrate sports stars, push their children to achieve in sports, and often learn a trade. On the other hand, Asians tend to value education very highly. They push their children to achieve academically, so they can qualify for highly skilled jobs. Overall, Asian culture places less value on sports.

Living cross-culturally teaches you to look at life with different eyes than someone who has only lived in one culture. Ideally, it makes you look for the best in other cultures. It teaches you to communicate in a way that is easily understood in different cultures. You learn to value the strengths of different cultures and to be comfortable interacting with people who have a different background than you have.

Most of the books I’ve written, whether they are written for adults or kids and youth, deal with cross-cultural issues and come from my experience or someone close to me.

  • New Beginnings Series: Americans partner with New Zealanders in church planting ministry
  • Art Spotlight Series: an MK from Taiwan works with some Chinese characters in the US
  • Careful Enough? (written under my pen name, Dillon Forbes) features a ministry in China
  • Two Sides to Everything: an American boy goes to live with relatives in New Zealand
  • Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World: an American girl becomes an MK in Taiwan

What cross-cultural experience have you had? What did you learn from it? Feel free to reply in the comment box below.

Today I’m featuring Author April Gardner.

April spent the first two years of her life in Japan while her dad was in the military. When she was ten, she moved from America to Spain with her parents who were, by then, missionaries. At eighteen she returned to the States for college. Two years later, she married and followed her Air Force husband to Germany where they lived seven years. Next, they moved to England for four years and then back to the States where she has lived since 2009. Recently she lived short-term in Italy for a study abroad program.

I think we can safely call her a *TCK (Third Culture Kid.)

 When I heard about April’s cross-cultural experiences, I immediately had two questions and got good answers for them.

 Q1: What languages do you know and want to know?

A1: I speak English, Spanish, and I’m actively working on Italian. Not quite fluent yet with the Italian but getting there! My mid-life brain doesn’t appreciate that I’m throwing a third language at it, especially one that’s so closely related to language #2, but I’m wrangling it into submission. After Italian, I’m donzo.

 Q2: Would you like to share any amusing situations you’ve been in or cultural insights you’ve learned?

A2: During my recent stint in Italy, I learned from Italian friends that it’s not cool to drink cappuccino after 11 (ish). When I ordered one as an after-lunch coffee at a restaurant, they cringed (all but shrinking in their seats with embarrassment), then went into a playful (but totally serious) rant about all the reasons it’s wrong, wrong, wrong. Apparently, a cappuccino is a meal (breakfast.)

“Why would you order a meal after eating a meal?! This is absurd.”

When I asked how a cappuccino could be considered a meal, they answered with a question. “What do babies drink for their meals? Milk! There you go.”

This was all said with the typical animated Italian gestures, which put a beautiful bow on this enlightening conversation. It’s one of my best memories of that semester in Italy.

*In case you wondered, a TCK’s are people who were raised in a culture different from their parents’ culture or the country of their nationality, especially during a significant part of their growing-up years.

Beautiful in His Sight

It’s 1917, and Halifax is at war. Silas Quinn, street sweeper and army reject, remains on the home front, shunning God and society as religiously as they shun him. But the night he stumbles across a half-frozen prostitute, his eyes blink open, and his greater purpose is born: preserve and protect.

There’d been a day when shop girl Helen Fraser was desperate enough to believe a few nights in a brothel would cure her troubles. By some miracle, Major Jack Gordon deemed her worth saving, but Helen knows her meticulously recreated identity cannot last. What she doesn’t expect is for its destruction to come about, not by a john or one of the madam’s goons, but by a force great enough to flatten a city and bury her alive.

Set against the backdrop of the Halifax Explosion, Beautiful in His Sight is a WWI Christian historical romance that explores unequivocal grace and identity in Christ.

Get this book free for subscribing to April’s newsletter.

Find out more about April here.

Deb Brammer’s book, Short Poppies is currently featured in Sheep Gate Digital Magazine along with these Christian books: The Wedding Standoff by Evangeline Kelly, Tender Love by Juliette Duncan, Three Confess by Luana Ehrlich, and The Billionaire’s Teacher by Elizabeth Maddrey. Janet W. Fergeson is the featured author.

 You can find the  authors featured in Sheep Gate and their books here.


Free book by Sharon Srock!

Each month from now until March 2024, I’ll give you a link to a free book by another author. During one month of that time, my book will become free for my subscribers. Scroll down to find out more about this month’s free book.

Deb Brammer at home

If there’s one question adult missionary kids sometimes struggle to answer it’s this one: Where are you from? Both of my daughters have to figure out how much is appropriate to share when someone asks this. To a stranger, it might seem a bit much to say, “I was born in America but I grew up in Taiwan and spent a short time in New Zealand and now I live in Minnesota (or Iowa.) If you ask them where their home is, they have to think about that one as well.

If you ask me what my address is, I have to figure out which one you want. The address of the house I own is often different from my shipping address, and different again from my billing address. This year I’ve had to switch back and forth between our New Zealand home and a series of homes in America. Home can mean different things to me, depending what the question is.

Right now, our house in New Zealand is the closest thing this side of heaven to being my home. We’ve lived here 25 years and when we return to it from the US, we enjoy being home.  With our own bed and shower and internet connection. Where we can actually put our clothes away, not just in a suitcase. Home is where I can find the bathroom in the middle of the night. Where I can easily locate the gluten free items at a nearby Countdown supermarket. As much as anything, I enjoy coming back to my routine, where I can do things the way I’m used to doing them, at the time I’m used to doing them. After all the adventures, it’s so good to return to the familiar places of home.

Still, we are truly grateful for the many people who have shared their homes with us over the years. In the six months we were back in the US recently, we had two different mission houses that we used as a home base for about eight weeks each. To a large degree, those temporary homes became real homes to us. As people have opened their homes to us over 45 years of ministry, we feel like God if fulfilling this promise to us: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29 NKJV)

What does home mean to you? Feel free to share in the comment box below.

Deb’s book is coming out later in 2023.

In Pop In for a Cuppa, Jennifer leaves her home, family, and job to move to a different country ten thousand miles from her old home. Suddenly, she’s not a church secretary, but a missionary wife. Huge changes redefine what home means to her. I’m still working on this book, but hope to publish it later in 2023.

For now, scroll down to link to the free book you can get this month, simply by subscribing the author’s newsletter.

While women’s fiction refers to fiction which delves deeper into character and relationships that some other genres, faith-focused tells you that faith will be an important element in the book. In this case, we’re talking about the Christian faith. Some “Christian” books are little more than clean reads. I joined this group who were featuring faith-focused fiction because I like distinctively Christian fiction. While I haven’t read every book that I’ll be featuring, I sense most of these books will be more than simple clean reads.

Author Sharon Srock

Meet Sharon Srock. She writes about “ordinary women with extraordinary faith.”

When I first read Sharon Srock’s book Callie in 2016, it moved me deeply. Not just because it was a great story, but also because it featured women who ministered to others and showed love through their local church! Finally, a Christian book that focused more on ministry and serving others than it did romance or danger! Finally, a book about mature believers growing in their faith and helping others who struggle!

Normally, I use exclamation marks sparingly. The fact that I’ve just used three in a row reflects the fact that, in 2016, I’d been looking for books like this for a long time. Finally, in Sharon’s book, I found the kind of book that I want to write. Some authors were actually writing this kind of book and selling them! That helped me find the courage to write my series about Americans partnering with New Zealanders in church planting ministry.

Sharon lives in Oklahoma with her husband and three very large dogs. She started writing these books 13 years ago and now has 23 books in 3 different series of books.

  •  Women of Valley View (9 books): Callie and other women of Valley View Church in Garfield, Oklahoma reach out to hurting people in their time of need.
  • Sisters by Design (6 books): Sisters in Christ from a workout group exercise their faith as well as their bodies.
  • Crafted with Love (5 books): Brought together by a craft store, these women find ways to support others in their community.
  • Mercie (3 books): This series of novellas feature a young rape victim who sacrifices her own desires to keep her child.

Click here to get Sharon’s novella that comes free with subscription to her newsletter:

For Mercie’s Sake – Free with subscription

For Mercie’s Sake:

Scottlyn Rich never wanted the title of trauma survivor. Or teen mom. But she’s about to be both of those things. She’s also homeless. And desperate. When a teacher reaches out to her, Scottlyn grabs hold of her one chance for a better future.

Schoolteacher Diana Kensington lost everything when her husband died. She’s been grieving and shut off for so long… but when she notices a troubled teen girl in her class, Diana finds a new purpose.

Can God heal the wounds of two women’s hearts, For Mercie’s Sake?

Sound interesting? Click here to get Sharon’s novella, free with subscription to her newsletter:


Other ways to learn more about Sharon and her books:

Sign up for Sharon’s newsletter

Visit Sharon’s website:


Please visit her AMAZON page to find current info on her books:


You can be a winner!

In almost every Book Blast I give away one free book, usually by another Christian author. As I said in my April Book Blast, for the next eleven months, everyone can get a free book every month. Scroll down to find out more.

April 2 was a special day for my husband, Art, and me. We had the opportunity to express our appreciation to First Baptist Church in Columbia Falls, Montana for being our sending church for over 25 years. We value the role they play in our ministry and the generous spirit they have always shown us. In the photo above you can see the “grateful plaque” we presented to them. We are standing with Pastor Marc Dobson and two other men who flew down to New Zealand to help us with a building project at the church. Sometimes we forget to thank the people in our lives who give us continual help year after year. We almost let this milestone go by unnoticed. I’m thankful the Lord brought it to our attention that our sending church has been doing this for 25 years.

Our furlough is almost over. On May 9 Art and I fly out of Minneapolis to return to our home in Invercargill, New Zealand. The flight should take about 28 hours from the time we leave Minneapolis until we land in Invercargill. We are anxious to get back to our home and our church. If all goes to plan, we will return to the States by the end of 2023 to prepare for retirement from career ministry. That doesn’t mean we’re done serving the Lord. We want to continue to serve him throughout our retirement years as long as we are able. Many changes lie ahead for us, but we know God will lead us each step of the way.

As an author, my goal for 2023 is to finish writing Pop In for a Cuppa, Book 3 in my New Beginnings series. Church ministry must come first, but at this stage, it seems reasonable that I will be able to finish writing this series, publish this last book as an ebook, and print all three books of the series by the end of the year.


Do you have people in your life who give you significant help year after year? Can you find a special way to thank them for what they do? What goals are you hoping to achieve during 2023? Feel free to share them with me and my readers in the comment section below.

If you read my last Book Blast, you may remember that we defined the genre of women’s fiction. Though women usually make up the largest proportion of readers, men may also enjoy it. The main protagonist is usually female, but not always.

Women’s fiction may have elements of romance, suspense, history, even fantasy. But the main focus of the story is about the character’s emotional journey and her relationships. That gives women’s fiction a greater opportunity to deal with deeper spiritual issues and complex themes and emotions.

Today’s Book Blast is the second in a series of twelve monthly articles that introduce you to different Christian authors who write women’s fiction. I am one of those authors. Each month you’ll have a chance to read a novel by one of those authors— for free.  The only obligation to get the book is to subscribe to the newsletter of the author. This is a good opportunity to meet some new Christian authors who write women’s fiction. If, after reading your free book and a few of an author’s newsletters, you really don’t want to read any more, you can always unsubscribe. But we hope you will take the time to find out who an author is before you take that action.

Carol J. Nelson started publishing Christian books after she retired. As I prepare to retire and spend more time writing, I’m encouraged by Carol. If the Lord wills, I hope to have many more years to write for His glory.

Carol J. Nelson lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she spends most days writing Christian women’s fiction. Although she started writing in childhood, it took a lifetime to know what her heart truly desired and needed to write—stories that touch the fabric of women’s lives with hope, grace, and faith, combined with the little spice of clean romance women enjoy. She has three daughters, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. She served as an aid in a nursing home, worked in the purchasing department of a large corporation, spent time as the head cook at an all-you-can-eat buffet, and went full circle to become a care giver before settling in to her first love, writing. When she’s not at the computer, church, gardening, cooking, and playing games keep her busy.

Here’s Carol’s free book.

It’s a beautiful day for a stroll in the park, until one critical word threatens to rip a friendship apart.

 Phyllis isn’t Janna Day’s favorite neighbor, and her two grandsons are aggravating. But when Janna’s friend, Marian, criticizes Phyllis, Janna defends her. After the boys cause serious trouble, and Janna forgives them, the rift between Janna and Marian widens. Gossip about Phyllis and the boys infiltrates the book club at church, and Janna takes a stand. It may fracture her friendship with Marian totally, but she has to do what’s right. And all she can do is hope and pray that God’s wisdom will prevail.

But will God’s wisdom prevail when Janna’s son, Dann, announces he may have to move out of state to escape the clutches of a designing woman? Will God answer Janna’s prayer that Dann stay? Come join Janna and her family as God molds and shapes them in order for His will to be done.

Get Carol’s free book





You can be a winner!

In almost every Book Blast I give away one free book, usually by another Christian author. For the next twelve months, everyone can get a free book everymonth. Scroll down to find out more.

As missionaries, my husband Art and I are currently traveling in the USA, visiting our supporting churches. On May 9 our plans take us back to New Zealand where we minister in Invercargill, New Zealand, home to the Southernmost Starbucks in the world. Usually we try to be “all there” wherever our bodies are. But this furlough is different.

If all goes to plan, our return to Invercargill will begin a time of transition. The church will end its time of having a missionary pastor and wife supported by other churches and will begin to support its first local pastor and wife. We plan an overlap of time where both of us couples will be actively involved and anticipate this phase of ministry will last about six months. Then we’ll return to the States to begin our steps toward retirement from our career missions ministry. This transition is a big step of faith for Art and I, as well as for the couple we hope will replace us and our church.

With all these changes in the air, this six-month furlough has felt like a whirlwind. Our minds constantly shift back and forth between three worlds. One world takes us to our supporting churches where we try to be in the moment, focusing on friends and supporters we’ve known for years. At the same time, we stay in contact remotely with the couple in New Zealand who will replace us, working out details of the transition. Another part of us gathers information for our retirement. In less than a year we could be living in Iowa, in a different house, with different furniture, attending a different church, and finding different doctors and dentists and health care plan in a different country. We already know retirement will demand many big changes in our lives.

All of this would seem impossibly daunting were it not for the fact that we trust God to direct our paths. He has been faithful throughout our 45 years of ministry so we don’t expect him to abandon us as we leave our ministry and enter retirement.

Proverbs 3:5-6 gives us this precious promise: Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (NKJV)

In what way are you finding God faithful today?

You probably understand “faith-focused” fiction is Christian fiction. And you know some of the common genres of Christian fiction: romance, suspense, historical, fantasy. Those are obvious.

But what is women’s fiction?

Is it just for women? Do the author and the main protagonist have to be female?  The answer to both questions is no. In the next year, I’m partnering with ten other writers of women’s fiction and one of the authors, T.K. Chapin, is a man.

Be warned! If you’re like me, you might enjoy women’s Christian fiction even more than some of those other genres. Personally, I like a bit of romance in a book, but would like less raging hormones and formulaic plots than I find in some romances. While watching TV, I fall asleep during car chases but am fascinated by the complex characters on the TV program Monk.

Women’s fiction may have elements of romance, suspense, history, even fantasy. But the main focus of the story is about the character’s emotional journey and her relationships. The protagonist has to overcome internal obstacles or change the way she sees her world to reach her full potential. Women’s fiction focuses more on the character development than heart-pumping action. That distinction allows these books to deal with deeper issues and complex themes and emotions. This genre appeals to me partly because it gives an author greater opportunity to develop some real spiritual depth to her novels.

Today’s Book Blast begins a series of twelve, monthly articles that introduce you to different Christian authors who write women’s fiction. I am one of those authors. Each month you’ll have a chance to read a novel by one of those authors— for free.

What’s the catch?

To get each free book, you’ll have to subscribe to the newsletter of that book’s author. Consider this an opportunity to meet some new authors, maybe even find a new favorite. If, after reading your free book and a few of an author’s newsletters, you really don’t want to read any more, you can always unsubscribe. But we hope you will take the time to find out who an author is before you take that action.

Today I’m pleased to be able to introduce you to Christine Dillon. Though I’ve never met Christine, we have a lot in common.

  • I served as a missionary in Taiwan from 1980 to 1996. Christine served as a missionary to Taiwan from 1999-2021.
  • I’ve lived in New Zealand from 1998 until now. Christine’s father is from New Zealand. She now lives in Australia. These two countries have very strong ties so I sort of feel like her neighbor. (Or should I say “neighbour?”)
  • Christine attended primary school in Malaysia and high school in the Philippines. We have many families in our New Zealand church from the Philippines and other Asian countries.
  • We both write women’s Christian fiction.

These similarities are what drove me to read Christine’s book, Grace in Strange Disguise, in 2017.

 Instead of a wedding, Esther is facing radical surgery and chemotherapy. Where is

God when she needs him most?

Esther is a people pleaser. It’s never been a major problem because she’s just gone with

the flow. Her father has always preached, “Follow Jesus and you’ll be blessed.” And up

until age twenty-eight, Esther has never had any reason to doubt it.

Will she appease her father? Or will she listen to the words of a stranger who challenges

everything she believes?

Grace in Strange Disguise is a soul-stirring contemporary Christian novel. Book 1 in the

Grace series.

If you like compelling Christian fiction, relatable characters, and real emotion, then

you’ll love Christine Dillon’s inspiring series.

Book trailer:

Click here to get your free book.


Christine now has written six books in her Grace Series. After you’ve read one, you might want to read them all.

 My review of Grace in Strange Disguise:

I wrote this review of Grace in Strange Disguise in 2017 when I read her book:

Esther McDonald, a physiotherapist in Australia, gets breast cancer. Her father is the prominent pastor of Victory Church, who believes that God will heal anyone who has enough faith. When she isn’t immediately healed, she becomes an embarrassment to her family, fiancé, and church. What will she do when living out her belief could cause her to seem disloyal to her family?

This book has a strong Christian message with extended sections that deal with the topic, “Does God always heal? What does God promise?” The salvation message is clear. I’m happy to add her book to my list of “distinctively Christian fiction.”

 Get Christine’s free book here:



You could win this ebook! It’s easy!

Since most readers don’t bother to comment or leave a reply, your chances of winning my Book Blast giveaway are much higher that winning most other contests. I’d love to hear from you.

 To enter:

Simply leave a comment in the comment box below or send a comment to this email address:

I will choose a winner to receive this ebook at random from all my Book Blast readers who comment on or before  March 6.

Do you ever wonder about the significance of being a member of your family?

I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. Most of you know that I am a career missionary. My husband and I have served as church planting missionaries, first in Taiwan and now in New Zealand and also speaking in churches about our work, for almost 45 years. What you may not know is that my father, Pastor Ray Allen, also served as a pastor for 45 years. My dad went to glory in 1990 and my mom followed him in 2002. As I creep closer to retirement I ask myself, “What does it mean to be the daughter of Pastor Ray and Florence Allen?

Right now my husband and I are in the States, traveling to present our work to supporting churches. This has given me a chance to visit some of the churches my dad pastored so many years ago. One Sunday in February we visited a church connected to my dad’s first church in Worthing, South Dakota which he pastored in the 1940’s, before I was born. We met the current pastor, Jerry Miller, and sat down in the second row, a few chairs away from a man named Mick. When the pastor got up behind the pulpit, he revealed something that made tears stream down my face. Eighty years ago, my mom led Nick’s mom to the Lord! Lorraine (his mom) lives in a retirement home in town. She’s 94 and still remembers my parents!

Because Lorraine was saved in the 1940’s Mick grew up in a Christian family. He is one of six members from that church that held the church together until Jerry and Crystal, not knowing there was a church in town, came to start a church. Now the four remaining members of the original church are working with the Millers to revive the church which will be the only remaining church in town. With the Sioux Falls area close by and growing quickly, they know they have great potential for growth.

When my dad became the pastor in the 1940’s, the church had experienced some pastors who didn’t really present the gospel clearly. The pastor before him had preached about salvation, but never really challenged church people to make a salvation decision. Out of a hundred people who attended church when they came, only about four really felt sure they were saved. In that first year of his ministry, 45 people were saved during one set of meetings and 20 were saved in another. My dad saw more visible results for his ministry in that church than any of the churches he pastored. Of course, the credit goes to God who worked in such an amazing way in this town of three hundred. But He used my dad and mom make the path of salvation clear to them.

Does it matter that Ray Allen became the pastor of this church so long ago? To some it may not. Few people in Worthing remember his name. But it was a joy to hear of one lady who became a Christian eighty years ago as a product of my parents’ ministry. As I reflect on their 45 years of ministry, I realize that they influenced hundreds of people over their years of ministry. Not only that, their ministry had a trickle-down effect that outlasted that generation.

My dad wasn’t a well-known preacher but he was a faithful pastor who cared about people. God used him and my mom to make a difference in many lives. That’s such an encouragement to me because it shows me that we influence people a lot more than we know. God uses ordinary people for eternal purposes. 1 Corinthians 15:58 tells us our labor for the Lord is not in vain.

How about you?

What kind of spiritual or character legacy have you inherited from your family? How are you building into the lives of people around you today? Don’t forget to comment in the comment box below or send a comment to this email address:

Here’s the winner of my last giveaway:

In my December Book Blast Jan Hall won a copy of If the Creek Don’t Rise by Donna Poole.

You could be the winner of the ebook Breath of Heaven by Deborah Raney.

Remember, all you have to do is simply leave a comment in the comment box below or send a comment to this email address:

Here’s my review:

Natalie returns to a remote Columbian village as a married woman to continue the work her missionary father started. She and her husband, David, face marital issues connected to living life in the jungle and befriending native people. Natalie longs for a child and David thinks the jungle isn’t a good place to raise one. Suddenly they are responsible for Lele, a native girl whose parents are gone. Then Natalie falls pregnant and David tries to come to terms with her pregnancy. Soon Natalie’s life is in danger and their faith and their love is tested in ways they never dreamed.

I really enjoyed this book. It gave a realistic look at this kind of ministry and the deprivations and dangers that come with it. David and Natalie respond with maturity and trust in God, even under the circumstances.