Friday, May 26, 2017

"Return to Huckleberry Hill" by Jennifer Beckstrand... and a GIVEAWAY!

About the Book

Author: Jennifer Beckstrand  
Genre: Inspirational Amish Romance  
Release Date: May 30, 2017  

When it comes to matchmaking, Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin’s unstoppable octogenarians Anna and Felty Helmuth never seem to run out of opportunities—or grandchildren…

Reuben Helmuth is plenty bitter. John King, his best friend—or so he thought—is engaged to the girl Reuben loved. Humiliated, Reuben flees from Ohio to his grandparents’ home on Huckleberry Hill, where he knows he’ll find comfort. He’s enjoying wallowing in his misery—until John’s sister, Fern, shows up. She won’t stop pestering Reuben about forgiveness—or trying to help him find love again. Yet Fern’s efforts only reawaken Reuben’s long-buried feelings—for her…

With her brother too ashamed to face Reuben, it’s fallen to Fern to help mend fences. But as she and the Helmuths do all they can—even organizing a knitting club event filled with eligible girls—it may take one more challenge to inspire Reuben to forget his heartache, recognize his own blunders, and embrace the true love that’s right in front of him…

My review...

The matchmaking grandparents, Annie and Felty, are back again. This time, they want to help their grandson Reuben. He’s bitter after his friend John becomes engaged to the girl Reuben loved. John’s sister Fern wants to help mend fences between John and Reuben, and she may give Reuben a reason to consider giving love a second chance.

While there is some predictability, this is still an enjoyable story which easily captures the reader’s attention. It contains sincere characters and a quaint setting. The author places the reader right there along with the characters. Forgiveness is a key theme. Don't be surprised if you fall in love with Annie and Felty. They truly make the series!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy as part of the Celebrate Lit Blogger Program. However, I was not required to give a positive review.

About the Author

Jennifer Beckstrand is the award-winning Amish romance author or The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series and The Honeybee Sisters series for Kensington Books. Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth and the Honeybee sisters' aendi Bitsy. Jennifer has a degree in mathematics and a passion for Jane Austen and Shakespeare. She and her husband have been married for thirty-two years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and soon-to-be six adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.

Guest post from Jennifer Beckstrand

Anna Helmuth is starting a knitting club, but that’s not all she’s got up her sleeve.

In Return to Huckleberry Hill, Anna Helmuth and Fern King decide to start a knitting club in order to introduce Anna’s grandson Reuben to some girls from Bonduel, Wisconsin. Anna is a very good knitter, with years of practice making baby blankets, scarves, mittens, and potholders. One of Anna’s scarves actually saved someone’s life, and her potholders have helped her make many a match.

When I was a young teenager, I learned how to knit and crochet. My mom taught me how to sew and quilt, and I made several of my own dresses in high school. I never learned to love sewing, but it was an invaluable skill that I am so grateful to have. Now that I’m a little older, I love putting together simple quilts for baby gifts and making quilts for the local children’s hospital. There is nothing like a homemade gift to say, “I care about you.”

I have a friend who is a wonderful cook. Making a delicious, beautiful meal is how she tells her family she loves them. I don’t consider myself a great cook, but I still take pride in putting something nutritious and satisfying on the table for my family.

It seems to me that some of the “home arts” that our mothers and grandmothers practiced are dying out. Who knows how to tat anymore? Or embroider? Some of these arts have died because of expediency. Who doesn’t think today’s stocking choices are more comfortable and practical than knitted wool ones? Others have died out because so few people want to learn.

What about you? Do you still practice any of the home arts that your grandmother did? What do you want to pass on to the next generation?

Blog Stops

This giveaway is hosted by Celebrate Lit. Follow along with the tour for a list of stops!


To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away a $15 Amazon gift card to three lucky winners!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Writing Prompt Wednesday

If you're feeling stuck in your WIP (work in progress) or just want to shake things up a bit, here's something different to try today:

I was completely captivated by...

Happy writing!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week:

"Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader - not the fact that it is reading, but the feeling of being rained upon."
— E. L. Doctorow

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

"Never Give Up" by John Mason

My review...

This is an inspiring and motivational book full of bits of information designed to encourage the reader to never give up on their dreams. The chapters are short, so they are easy to digest, as well as fit into a busy daily schedule. Some of the tips are common sense, but the stories illustrate the points well and may give the reader new insight. It is a quick read, but I chose to read just a few nuggets each day and really focus on the message of each one.

The book is broken into three parts: “Looking Inward,” “Looking Outward,” and “Looking Upward.” Scripture is woven throughout the book, and the author frequently reminds the reader that God isn’t finished with them yet, so don’t quit. Quitting prevents us from reaching God’s goals.

Some of my favorite takeaway quotes are:
·         “Worry is a route that leads from somewhere to nowhere. Never let it direct your life.”
·         “The most influential person you will talk to all day is you. So, you should be very careful what you say.”
·         “Faith is like a toothbrush: everyone should have it and use it every day, but we shouldn’t use someone else’s.
·         “A mistake is temporary — quitting is forever.”
·         “Take a chance. It might give you a brand-new life.”
·         “A goal changes everything.”
·         “The struggle today builds strength for tomorrow.”

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the Revell Reads Blogger Program. I was not required to leave a positive review.

Friday, May 19, 2017

"Behind the Scenes" by Jen Turano

My review...

Miss Permilia Griswold is viewed as a wallflower, so no one would guess she was actually a gossip columnist who knows everything about everyone important in New York. She overhears a murder plot, and she is determined to warn Asher Rutherford that his life is in danger. He finds Permilia unlike anyone else he knows, as she does not seem to be intimidated by his position. Can she convince him she is telling the truth, or will she have to take matters into her own hands?

This is the beginning of the “Apart from the Crowd” series. In typical Turano fashion, it is an entertaining read, complete with delightful characters, excellent descriptions, and a bit of mystery. However, it is a bit slower to engage than some of her others. Occasionally the main threat seems to be pushed aside, and there is some predictability. This may have worked better as a novella. Permilia is a no-nonsense heroine, but Asher can be a bit annoying at times. While this was not my favorite Turano book, it is an enjoyable read overall.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but I was not required to leave a positive review.

About Jen...

Jen Turano is the best-selling, critically acclaimed author of The Ladies of Distinction series and A Class of Their Own series, published through Bethany House Publishers. Her novel, After a Fashion, was chosen as a top pick from Romantic Times, as well as being named a top 10 romance of 2015 from Booklist. Her book, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, was chosen as a top 10 romance by Booklist in 2013. Playing the Part, her latest release, will be followed by a new four-book series, The Wallflowers. When she's not writing, Jen spends her time outside of Denver with her husband and neurotic Cattle Dog, enjoying life as an empty-nester because her son recently abandoned her for the college life.  She can be found at or visit her on the web at She is represented by Susan Brower of the Natasha Kern Literary Agency.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tuesday Tip: Websites for YA (Young Adult) writers

This week, I want to highlight some websites which may be useful resources for writers of YA (Young Adult) fiction.

  • Kidlit411 ( This site is a one-stop shop for authors and illustrators. There is information on writing, publishing, and marketing books for a younger audience (such as picture books, middle-grade, and YA). You can even learn tips for school visits, which can help you promote your story.

  • YA Interrobang ( This site has all the latest related to YA. They regularly list announcements of new releases, excerpts, book deals, and more. There is even a section for writing advice.

  • Go Teen Writers ( This site is run by YA authors. It features practical tips for writers. There is a free newsletter and also various groups designed to connect writers and teens.

Friday, May 12, 2017

"A Season to Dance" by Patricia Beal ... and a GIVEAWAY!

In celebration of her latest release, Patricia has graciously offered to give away a hard copy of the book (US Only). To enter, see the Rafflecopter box  at the end of this post. (Contest ends May 19, 2017.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!

A Word from Patricia...
Writing a novel was an old dream. It first crossed my mind in 1987 when, growing up in Brazil, I read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. But for years I didn’t have a good idea. In January of 2011, on I-40 (somewhere between Nashville and Winston-Salem), I had a good idea. I wrote a chapter every Saturday and finished the first draft before the end of the year.

I hired coach Gloria Kempton via Writer’s Digest to look at the whole thing and tell me if it was any good.

She saw potential in the story of a small-town professional ballerina with big dreams but explained I needed a clearer quest, more telling details, better scene structure, and better balance between sequels and dramatic scenes. I joined Gloria’s critique group and spent almost a year rewriting.

In the summer of 2012 I started querying. Days passed. A week passed. A month passed. And all I did was collect rejections. I became bitter. Bitterly sad at first. Then bitterly discouraged. And then bitterly ugly. I’d never been ugly before. Not like that.

Up to that point, I’d believed that there was some kind of “god” out there and that being good was right and that it paid off. But with the disappointments of the publishing journey, those beliefs became a joke to me. I stood in the middle of my empty kitchen—husband deployed, kids at school, my first dog had just died. And I looked at that inbox full of rejections and stated to whomever or whatever was out there: “God is dead.”

Mercy. Surely I said that to the “god” of my imagination, and not to the real God—God as He reveals Himself in the Bible. But I know that He was in that kitchen with me. He was about to show me I was wrong.

My newfound lack of restraint and selfishness didn’t really make me happy. I wanted to go to therapy. I wanted a job. I still dreamed of that book deal that had to be just around the corner. I wanted, I wanted…

But nothing happened, and it didn’t matter how hard I tried to get help, get happy, and find any kind of relief for the pain I felt. Nothing. Happened. I’d never seen so many closed doors—slammed-shut doors—ever in my life. Even the shrink kept double booking, closing early, and somehow cancelling on me. It was ridiculous.

There was one open door. When God planted our family in the El Paso desert, He planted us two blocks from a friend from the Fort Benning years. A friend whose claim to fame was church shopping whenever the Army moved her family. I asked her to take me to church on the first Wednesday of January of 2013. 

I fell in His arms. Surrendered, defeated, and dependent. Or what God likes to call—ready. I was born again two weeks later and was baptized on Super Bowl Sunday that February.

I had tickets to go to New York for the Writer’s Digest conference that spring, but sometime in March, it dawned on me: “A Season to Dance is a salvation story without the salvation piece.”

The novel isn’t just the story of a small-town professional ballerina who dreams of dancing at the Met in New York and the two men who love her. It’s also the story of a girl desperately trying to fill the God-shaped hole in her heart with often misguided career and romantic pursuits.

Now, I had work to do. I spent 2013 and the first half of 2014 rewriting the whole thing. Five ladies from my Sunday school class read chapter after chapter as I produced them and cheered me on through that gruesome process. I couldn’t have done it without their support.

Jeff Gerke edited my novel in the summer of 2014 and had me read Robert McGee’s The Search for Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God's Eyes. I was ready to do it right. The novel was ready. It was time.

I went to my first Christian writers conference, the ACFW 2014 in St. Louis. Two weeks later, Les Stobbe offered to represent me, and in early 2016, I signed with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

Can’t wait to see how many people will journey to their own season to dance with me and with ballerina Ana Brassfield.

My Review...

Ballerina Ana Brassfield has always dreamed of performing at the Met. In addition to pursuing her goal, she is also planning her wedding to Peter Engberg. However, one mistake changes everything. A broken engagement has Ana travelling to Germany with her first love, German dancer Claus Gert. He has had his eyes set on winning Ana back for some time. Ana hopes that a position with Claus’ company can help her fulfill her dreams. Has Ana finally come into her season to dance?

A Season to Dance showcases the beauty of dance and transports the reader on a cultural journey, along with Ana. The heroine’s struggles are realistic in this multi-layered tale. The story provides an insider’s look at a professional ballerina’s life, with added depth from the author’s personal experience as a dancer. Beal’s debut shows that she has a bright future ahead!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy, but I wasn’t required to write a review. Opinions expressed are my own.

Q & A with Patricia...

Q: What advice do you have for new authors?
A:1) Don’t quit. 2) If you have a great novel that’s not selling because of the market, write a different novel. If you have a great novel that’s not selling because the writing is not as mature as it needs to be, keep improving the same novel, or you’ll repeat the same mistakes in the next one.

Q: Great advice! What can you tell me about your next project?
A:I wrote a second book, but I’m still editing it. It’s called The Song of the Desert Willow, and it’s a split-time military romance. The contemporary and central part of the novel is the story of a college graduate (Clara) who thought she’d sworn off soldiers forever and of a young Army captain (Andrew) whose first shot at love and marriage imploded on the steps of a West Point chapel on graduation week.

She takes a break from a long and unfruitful job search to travel to Fort Bliss, Texas, to deliver her grandmother’s last love letter, a letter to a retired general Clara has heard about since she was born. When he is delayed in Germany with a weak heart, Clara’s stuck in Texas and Andrew is put in charge of her well-being.

The story has a lot of my grandma’s history in it—life in the German colonies of the south of Brazil before WWII, the beginning of the shoe industry there (still famous worldwide, with women’s shoes always available at stores like Neiman Marcus), the life of the richest family in town, the most influential man (my great grandfather), his death, loss, change. It’s fascinating to me, and I pray I can paint a vivid picture of this most unusual slice of history and get people to care.

Q:That sounds good. I look forward to reading it. What is your favorite writing-related book?
A:The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke. I love his voice (you'll think he's next to you sharing cool tips over a cup of coffee), the material is fantastic, and he uses movies to illustrate writing/plotting technique. If you're not familiar with a movie, you can become familiar in two hours. If you're not familiar with a novel, it takes longer. A lot longer. I also like Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson. Here’s another gem: Victim of Grace by Robin Jones Gunn. Robin shares her path to publication, the many times she wanted to quit, the blessings in disguise, and the many troubles of the early stages of the writing/publishing life. She bares her heart and makes us stronger. A wonderful and encouraging read for the frustrated, rejected, tired, and everything in between.

Q:You definitely listed some gems. What is the message you hope readers take from your book?
A:That Jesus is still the answer and that no amount of professional success and/or romantic love will ever fill the hole in the human soul that only God can fill. And for those who already know that, that the lost sheep you pray for and who seems a million miles away from the Lord could be closer to conversion than you think. Keep praying.

Q:So true! What is something about you which would surprise your readers?
A:I’m autistic. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 2014.

Thanks for sharing, Patricia. I'm sure my readers will enjoy getting to know you a bit better.

About Patricia...

Patricia Beal is a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. She is represented by Les Stobbe of the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency, and A Season to Dance is her debut novel (Bling! Romance/Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, May 2017). Patricia writes from El Paso, Texas, where she lives with her husband and two children.

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