Saturday, October 20, 2018

"A Gathering of Sisters" by Darla Weaver (Read with Audra blog tour)

An interview with Darla Weaver,
Author of Gathering of Sisters

Once a week Darla Weaver hitches up her spirited mare, bundles her children into the buggy, and drives six miles to the farm where she grew up. There she gathers with her four sisters and their children for a day with their mother. In Gathering of Sisters: A Year with My Old Order Mennonite Family (Herald Press), Weaver writes about her horse-and-buggy Mennonite family and the weekly women’s gatherings that keep them connected. On warm days, the children play and fish and build houses of hay in the barn. In the winter, everyone stays close to the woodstove, with puzzles and games and crocheting. No matter the weather, the Tuesday get-togethers of this Old Order Mennonite family keep them grounded and centered in their love for God and for each other, even when raising an occasional loving but knowing eyebrow at each other.

The rest of the week is full of laundry, and errands, and work that never ends. But Tuesday is about being sisters, daughters, and mothers.

Q: Gathering of Sisters tells about getting together weekly with your mother and sisters. Tell us a little bit about your family.

There were five of us sisters, growing up together with our four little brothers in the white farmhouse our parents built. The nine of us kept this five-bedroom house brimming with life, and crowded with both happiness and some inevitable sadness. We did a lot of living and a lot of learning in that house.

And then we all grew up.

I was the first to leave. On a warm and sunshiny day in September 2000, after the leaves on the lofty silver maples had faded from summer-green and before they wore brightly flaming autumn shades, I was married to Laverne Weaver. It was the first wedding in that mellowing white house we all called home. Four more were to follow in the next several years. Except for my youngest brother, we’ve all left home. Most of us live close, but one brother lives in Alaska.

Q: Why did you decide to make an effort to get together once a week?

That left Tuesdays. Tuesday really was the perfect in-between sort of day to spend with Mom and my sisters. On Tuesday the five us sisters still come home. We pack up the children—all eighteen of them during summer vacation—and head to the farm.

We go early. I drive my spirited little mare, Charlotte, and she trots briskly along the six miles of winding country roads. Regina and Ida Mae live much closer. They married brothers, and their homes are directly across the fields from Dad and Mom’s farm. They usually bike, with children’s noses pressed against the bright mesh of the carts they tow behind their bicycles. Or they walk, pushing strollers over the back fields and up the lane. And Emily and Amanda, who also married brothers and live in neighboring houses about five miles away, come together with everyone crammed into one carriage.

Q: Do all the kids enjoy Tuesdays as well?

The children love Tuesdays. On warm days they play on the slide and the swings in the cool shade of the silver maples, jump on the trampoline, run through their grandpa’s three greenhouses, ride along on the wagon going to the fields where produce by the bushels and bins is hauled to the packing shed. They build hay houses in the barn and explore the creek. The boys take poles and hooks and bait and spend hours fishing and playing in the small creek that flows beneath the lane and through the thickets beside the pasture fence. They catch dozens of tiny blue gills and northern creek chubbs, most of which they release back into the water hole, a deep pool that yawns at the mouth of a large culvert, to be caught again next week. They work too, at mowing lawn, raking, lugging flower pots around, or anything else that Grandma needs them to do, but most often Tuesdays on Grandpa’s farm are play days.

Q: What do you do when you are all gathered together?

Every day is different, yet every Tuesday follows a predictable pattern that varies with the seasons. Winter finds us inside, close to the warmth humming from the woodstove, absorbed in wintertime pursuits which include card-making, crocheting, sewing, puzzles—jigsaw, crossword, sudoku—and reading books and magazines. But as soon as spring colors the buds of the maples with a reddish tinge, we spend more time outside. The greenhouses are loaded with plants, the flowerbeds full of unfurling perennials, and the grass is greening in the yard again.

In summer, while the garden and fields burst with produce, the breezy shade of the front porch calls. It wraps around two sides of the house and is full of Mom’s potted plants and porch furniture. We sit there to shell peas, husk corn, or just sip a cold drink and cool off after a warm stroll through the flowers.

Then autumn echoes through the country, the leaves flame and fall, and we rake them up—millions of leaves. Where we rake one Tuesday is covered again by the next, until at last the towering maples stand disrobed of leaves, their amazing seventy-foot branches a wavering fretwork against a sky that is sullen with winter once more.

Now onto some frequently asked questions about life in Mennonite communities.

Q: What does daily life look like for a Mennonite?

In some ways being a Mennonite is not so different from being anyone else. We have one life to live, we work to make a living, take care of our families, make time for the things we enjoy, eat, sleep, pay our bills and taxes. Some days are better than others as for anyone else.

In other ways it’s vastly different from the culture around us. Partly in the conservative way we live; perhaps even more in the way we look at life.

The most important goals for most of us are: Faith in God and in his Son who died on the cross for sinners; growing into a closer walk with him; learning to love, serve, and obey his commandments. These beliefs help shape our lives as we grow older.

Old Order Mennonite life is family-oriented. It centers around our church, our families, our schools and neighborhoods. It has been said, “Destroy the home and you destroy the nation,” which has been proved true in various eras of history. God’s plan for one husband and one wife, working together to care for their children, is a most important foundation for our lifestyle.

But, of course, we are far from perfect. Although the majority of us strive to live lives that demonstrate a faith and love and steadfastness rooted deep in God and his word—the Bible—we make plenty of mistakes too. Stumbling and falling and getting up to try again, praying that God will help us do better tomorrow, is a part of life, too.

Q: Do Old Order Mennonites believe in the new birth?

Of course. We believe the Bible truth: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

It is when one believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God that God’s Spirit comes into one’s heart. It is by repenting of and turning away from our sins that they can be forgiven. It is by faith in God’s power, and asking in prayer, help us break away from sin’s strongholds. And it is because of that new birth that we desire to live a life that God can bless and sanctify.

But those who grow up in Christian homes may not always be able to pinpoint a certain day or year when their new birth occurred. To say, “When were you born again?” is a little like asking, “When did you grow up?” Sometimes there is a specific date to remember. Just as often there isn’t, because we grew so gradually into the awareness of our need for a personal Savior.

Was there ever a time I didn’t know and believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to die for my sins? If so, I can’t remember it. I did have to come to the place where I was willing to accept that for myself, acknowledge all the sin in my life, and turn to God for help and forgiveness. That day came, gradually. When I asked Christ into my heart to be Ruler there, it led to more years of growing up, and into what it means to be one of his disciples.

When I was born physically I still had much to learn. When I was born again spiritually I had just as much to learn about living a Christ-centered life. I’m still learning about it. I imagine I’ll be learning more for as long as I live.

Q: What could a visitor expect at one of your church services?

Church services last around 2 to 2 ½ hours and are in the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, although the Bible reading is done in German. They begin with everyone singing together. One of the ministers then has a short sermon, which is followed by silent prayer. Then a second minister explains a chapter from the New Testament, or part of a chapter that he had selected and studied previously. Services are closed with an audible prayer, more singing, and the benediction.

It’s a special time of singing, praying, and worshiping God together with our congregation, and is full of encouragement and inspiration.

Q: Throughout most of the country, we would find most businesses open at least part of the day on Sunday. Would we find any businesses in your community open on Sunday?

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt though labour and do all thy work” (Exodus 20:8-9).

When Sunday comes around, those of us who own businesses do close them, and most of our work is put aside. Sunday is kept as a day to go to church to worship God, then spend it socializing with family and friends. It is a day to get together for meals, visit families who have a new baby, or just relax at home.

Sometimes when it’s warm we go fishing or hiking at nearby state parks or in our own woods. Sometimes we go on picnics or visit the neighbors. In the evening, the youth group gathers at one of their homes to play volleyball, sing and eat.

Sunday is set aside for worship, rest, and family time. It’s refreshing, both spiritually and physically, to have one day each week reserved for that. Work almost always waits. Worshiping God is first priority, then being with family.

Q: What kind of activities are your youth groups involved in?

Most of the young people are part of a structured youth group that gathers each Sunday evening in one of their homes. If it’s warm they play volleyball before singing hymns. A snack is served, unless everyone is invited for supper, then an entire meal is served. This can be quite an undertaking for the hostess, depending on the size of the group.

While Sunday evening gatherings are a regular thing, there are sometimes “work bees” during the week, when they get together to help someone who needs it. They might go to sing at a nursing home, go skating in winter, fishing in summer, or other upbuilding activities.

The majority of the young people are a part of this group and are dedicated to serving God. However, the upper teen years can be hard whether you’re Mennonite or not, and there are always some who drift away and choose not to live as part of our culture.

Q: Can you tell us about your private schools?

Parochial schools are a vital part of our neighborhoods. Three men serve as the school board for each one, and they are in charge of hiring teachers, handling the financial part of running a school, upkeep of the building, and any other need that comes up. They serve in three-year terms and are up for one re-election at the regular yearly community meeting where all directors and trustees for various things are selected.

Most schoolhouses have two classrooms and two teachers. The number of children attending each one varies greatly. Parents pay a yearly tuition which covers the teachers’ pay, books and supplies, and building repairs.

Most children start first grade in September after their sixth birthday. They graduate after completing eighth grade.

Each school day starts with a Bible story, reciting the Lord’s prayer together and singing. Lessons include, but are not limited to, reading, writing, math, spelling, English, vocabulary, history, geography, some science and nature study. Curriculum varies a little from school to school and from one area to the next, but these are the basics.

Religion is not taught as a subject. Rather, faith in God, and Christian living as based on the Bible, is woven into almost every textbook and lesson. It’s a way of life for us and can’t be separated into a single subject.

My review...

Weaver gives the reader an inside look at her family, and the Plain (Old Order Mennonite) lifestyle, in her latest release. She shares the time she spent gathering with her sisters on Tuesdays, with each chapter depicting a different month. The stories are easy to visualize, allowing the reader to feel a part of the community/family. It’s easy to see that people, in general, are more alike than they are different. Some parts feel a bit disjointed, but for someone wanting to learn more about the followers of this religion, it is informative. Bible verses and even some recipes are included. (I look forward to trying the German Pizza, page 145, Mock Ham Balls, page 247, and Walnut Frosties, page 254). There is a section entitled “A Day in the Life of the Author” which is very information, as is the Appendix, where the author provides some FAQs about the Old Order Mennonites.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the Read with Audra blog tour/from the publisher. I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.

About the Author

Darla Weaver is a homemaker, gardener, writer and Old Order Mennonite living in the hills of southern Ohio. She is the author of Water My Soul, Many Lighted Windows and Gathering of Sisters. Weaver has written for Family Life, Ladies Journal, Young Companion, and other magazines for Amish and Old Order Mennonite groups. Before her three children were born she also taught school. Her hobbies are gardening and writing.

Friday, October 19, 2018

"Lethal Target" by Janice Cantore ... and a GIVEAWAY!

Janice is here to share a bit about her latest release, Lethal Target.  Her publisher has offered to give away a hard copy of the book (US ONLY).  You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends October 26, 2018. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you.)  Here's Janice...

“And yet we adore a romance in which a defiant struggle against weakness turns to a virtue, and a physical wound becomes a metaphor for the healing power of the beloved.”
Eloisa James

The Strength of the Wounded Hero

I think the wounded hero appeals to readers, especially readers of romantic suspense, for a couple of reasons. First, people like to root for the underdog. A wounded hero, someone who’s lost something or someone and who is shut down and hesitant to get involved with life again, and often doesn’t unless forced, is someone we can cheer to change. If the character is sympathetic—and usually we see flashes of virtue and unshakable loyalty in these heroes—we root for them to change, to overcome the pain. Second, the wounded hero’s story raises questions: Will the hero’s vulnerability turn into an asset? Is his or her struggle against the pain a virtue? Will true love serve to heal the hurt? Will hope triumph and the hero rise above the pain?

I have to go back to one of my favorite movies: Casablanca. I consider Rick the classic wounded hero. His heart was shattered by a woman, something that he’s never recovered from. And suddenly that woman is back in his life, at a time when the world is in upheaval, and she needs a hero. You can’t watch that movie and not root for Rick to step up, to be the hero, to set aside the hurt and do the right thing. Even after he lashes out at Ilsa, we want to see him win over the bitterness. And because eventually he delivers, the story ends up satisfying, even though he doesn’t get the girl.

In one of my favorite novels, Demolition Angel by Robert Crais, the wounds are not only emotional, but physical as well. Carol Starkey is a bomb tech shattered by an IED that killed her partner and nearly killed her. Years later, she’s still trying to hold it together, and another IED takes the life of another tech. We see the turmoil inside this detective who is hanging on by her fingernails, when this second death sends her right back to the day her partner died. And the bomber isn’t finished; more IEDs explode. Can Starkey pull it together and help catch the bad guy? We so want the answer to that question to be yes. It’s an action-packed novel, but the story is Starkey’s redemption and salvation from the specter of past tragedy.

We want to see the redemption; we want to see our hero healed and whole again, triumphing over whatever it is that wounded him. Whether the wounds be physical, emotional, spiritual, or even imaginary. A more recent movie comes to mind, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. There was no explosion or broken romance that wounded Walter; rather, life has beaten him down. His father died when he was in his teens and he was forced to grow up fast, set aside his life plans to go to work and support his mother and sister. At the movie’s beginning we see a man who has carefully and steadfastly fulfilled his obligations and let life pass him by in the process. He’s finally ready to strike out for something he wants, finally pursue a romance, but we see the struggle inside as he simply tries to send a woman a “wink.” It’s engaging and sad, and as the movie progresses, we really root for Walter to win, to break out of his shell, to find his true love and live his life.

People like to hope, and they like to see hope fulfilled. The wounded hero and his or her journey is enduring because it gives people hope and it keeps people turning pages, cheering the hero on. The wounded hero will continue to be the foundation of many great stories.

My review...

Police Chief Tess O’Rourke must confront the drug problem in her small town once again. She thought she’d taken care of things, but that was before an eighteen-year-old is found dead, likely of an overdose. She believes local pot farms are involved, as well as even deadlier drugs, which could result in even more deaths. As the anniversary of her father’s murder approaches, she continues to hold on to her anger, which is adding to the problems in her relationship with Sergeant Steve Logan. On top of everything, someone from her past has returned, and Tess doesn’t see anything positive coming out of this new development. Will Tess be able to win her war on drugs in her town before someone decides to silence her?

This is the second installment in Cantore’s “Line of Duty” series, though it could be read as a standalone. The author’s experience as a cop adds credibility and insight into the inner workings of the police force. Thankfully, for me, the mystery angle overshadows the romance, making this an interesting crime drama/police procedural. The drug epidemic is a timely topic. While there is a bit of over-detailing at times which stalls the pace, the characters are authentic and the plot realistic. To get a better grip on the characters’ history, it could be beneficial to read the books in order.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.

About Janice...

Janice Cantore is a police officer turned writer. She retired from the Long Beach (California) Police Department after twenty-two years—sixteen in uniform, six as a non-career employee. She is currently writing romantic suspense for Tyndale House, and her upcoming release, Lethal Target, second in the Line of Duty series, following Crisis Shot, is set in a small town in Oregon. 

Where you can find Janice online...

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tuesday Tip: Me or I?

Are you confused about when to use me vs. I? The two are not interchangeable. It's something that confuses many people.

Me is a pronoun that is used as an object of a sentence. For instance:
Grandpa took me to get ice cream. (Grandpa is the subject, and me is the object in the sentence.)

I is a pronoun that is used as a subject of a sentence. For instance:
Grandpa and I went for ice cream. (Both Grandpa and I are subjects of the sentence, and went is the verb.)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

"The Year of Living Happy: Finding Contentment and Connection in a Crazy World" by Alli Worthington

About the book...

How would your life be different if you were just a bit happier every day for a year? What would you do to enjoy life just a little more day by day? Take your first step toward increased happiness with The Year of Living Happy: Finding Contentment and Connection in a Crazy World by Alli Worthington.
You do your best to live life well—you work hard to be present in the moment, take care of the people in your life, knock it out of the park at work and home. And yet somehow, you still have days (perhaps more than you'd like to admit) where you're simultaneously stressed and bored, and you wonder if you even know how to be happy. Is happiness a worthy goal? Does happiness matter to God, or does He only care about holier things?
Alli Worthington gets it. As a wife, mother of five boys, author, speaker, and entrepreneur, she knows a thing or two about being busy, stressed, and happy in the midst of a crazy world! Over the years, she's seen how happiness gets a bad rap in Christian circles, and now she is standing up to shout the good news from the roof (or the internet, as the case may be): You are allowed to be happy! Yes, you! You can be happy right now!
Get rid of the common Christian misconception that happiness is somehow not holy, and grasp God’s intention for His children—that happiness and holiness can coexist for a beautiful life.
Join Alli for The Year of Living Happy: Finding Contentment and Connection in a Crazy World and find the roots of your happiest life yet! With 100 inspirational devotions, beautiful art, and journaling pages throughout, this gorgeous devotional offers practical ways to make your life happier day by day.
Don’t miss the great big beautiful adventure God has for you right in your own life. Let this be The Year of Living Happy!

My review...
I love reading devotional books, and I’m happy (no pun intended) to add this one to my collection. The book is a collection of Worthington’s “favorite and most helpful insights, research, and truths.” It’s designed to help the reader find happiness, because God wants us to be happy.

The book is a nice size, and the cover is inviting. The devotions are short, making them easy to fit into your busy schedule. Scripture verse are mentioned in each one, as well. The author’s personal stories blend with the verse to give the reader something to ponder. Each devotion contains a box at the end for journaling/reflection.

Worthington’s latest is divided into twelve parts, and some of the sections are: Choosing Happiness, Finding Your Happy Thought, Happy In A Crazy World, A happy Heart Is Good Medicine, and Building a Happy Life. There are one hundred devotions in all. An attached bookmark is also included, which is always a helpful addition to a book. This would make a wonderful gift, as well.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from BookLook Bloggers, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.

About the author...

Alli Worthington is the author of Fierce Faith and Breaking Busy, she's a speaker, and a business coach. Her goal is to help women live the life they were created to live.

Alli is a sought after coach and consultant who has helped individuals, small business owners, and Fortune 500 companies be more successful.

Alli's no-nonsense, guilt-free take on motherhood, parenting, and balance has lead to appearances on The Today Show and Good Morning America.

She lives outside Nashville with her husband, Mark, their five sons, and the only golden retriever who refuses to retrieve.

All spends way too much time on Instagram at @AlliWorthington, and you can find out all about her at

Friday, October 12, 2018

ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference 2018 (Nashville, TN)

I recently had the privilege of attending the ACFW Conference in Nashville, TN, which was held at the beautiful Gaylord Opryland Hotel on September 20-22, 2018. Close to 500 attendees were given the opportunity to attend various workshops designed to hone the craft of writing. Agents and editor appointments were also available. There were over 150 first-time attendees! The conference attracts aspiring and established writers (both independently and traditionally published). For a book lover, who also happens to be an editor and reviewer, this trip was a fabulous experience.

Here are a few photos from the hotel.

One of the highlights of the conference was meeting bestselling author Debbie Macomber. She kicked the conference off on Thursday (September 20, 2018) with her keynote speech. In addition to being a wonderful writer, she is an encouraging and inspiring speaker, as well. (I'll admit to some massive fangirling! 😊) I learned that she loves devotional books. I talked to her about how I'd written some, and I asked if she'd like a copy of the book which contains ten devotions I wrote ... and she said, "Yes." What an honor this moment was for me!

In addition to Debbie Macomber, I was able to meet three authors I've wanted to meet for some time, as I've edited two books each for them.

with author Marilyn Turk (I've edited two of her books: The Gilded Curse and Shadowed by a Spy)

with author/agent Linda S. Glaz (I've edited two of her books: Fear is Louder than Words and Blow Out the Candles)

with author Rachel Dylan (I've edited two of her books: Fatal Accusation and Surrounded by Darkness.)

The first day ended with the Milestones Celebration Dinner, where authors were honored for reaching significant publishing milestones (25, 50, 75, 100, or 100+ published novels). The amount of talent on the stage at one time was truly amazing to witness.

Friday began with the Zone Breakfast, where attendees could interact with other writers in their general area. This was also the first full day of workshops, with learning tracks designed for various levels, and they included information on starting your career, indie and hybrid publishing, and more.

Friday evening was open, and some authors met with their publishing houses or explored the area. My husband and I decided to attend a show at the famed Grand Ole Opry, which is something that's been on my bucket list for years. And it did not disappoint! I was super excited that John Schneider (who played "Bo Duke" on The Dukes of Hazard) was on the bill, along with Aaron Lewis, Debbie Boone, The Swon Brothers, Connie Smith, Kelsea Ballerini, and a few others.

Saturday was another full day of sessions. Workshops included topics such as "Writing a Series Your Readers Will Love" (by Tamera Alexander), panels on women's fiction and romantic suspense (hosted by authors such as Colleen Coble and Deborah Raney), Business for Indies, How to Grow Your Newsletter List and Maximize Your Impact, How to Write a Proposal that Sells, and Covers that Sell.

My morning was spent participating in two panels (Emerging Trends Experts Panel and Count Your Stars - What Professional Reviewers are Looking for in a Story). It was an informative and fun time spent with a number of wonderful ladies. That afternoon, I had the honor of interviewing some amazing authors (Carrie Stuart Parks, Leslie Gould, Heidi Chiavaroli, Lynn Blackburn, and Rachel Forhdam). I'll be posting about the interviews at a later date.

The conference wrapped up Saturday night with the Awards Gala, which celebrated the winners of the best-of-the-best in Christian fiction. Here we are prior to the gala.

Author Liz Curtis Higgs won the Lifetime Achievement Award, Jim Hart (Hartline Literary Agency) won Agent of the Year, and Revell's Andrea Doering won Editor of the Year.

Here are the Carol Award winners. (And if you're looking to add some books to your TBR pile, I've listed all the winners and their books below the photo.)

Carol Awards winners at the ACFW Awards Gala 2018. Pictured (from l-r): Heidi Chiavaroli, Sarah Tipton, Melanie Dobson, Morgan Busse, Tamera Alexander, Carrie Stuart Parks, Susan May Warren (not pictured: Candace Calvert, Melissa Tagg, Susan Sleeman).

Contemporary: Maybe It's You By Candace Calvert
Historical: Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson
Historical Romance: A Note yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander
Mystery/Suspense/Thriller: Portrait of Vengence Carrie Stuart Parks
Novella: One Enchanted Noel from Enchanted: A Christmas Collection by Melissa Tagg
Romance: A Matter of Trust by Susan May Warren
Romantic Suspense: Fatal Mistake by Susan Sleeman
Short Novel: Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander
Speculative: Awakened by Morgan L. Busse
Young Adult: Betrayal of the Band by Sarah Tipton
Debut: Freedom's Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli

Thursday, October 11, 2018

"Burden of Proof" by DiAnn Mills ... and a GIVEAWAY!

DiAnn is here to share a bit about her latest release, Burden of Proof.  Her publisher has offered to give away a hard copy of the book (US ONLY).  You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends October 18, 2018. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you.)  Here's DiAnn...

5 Decision-Making Lessons Learned from the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group
 By DiAnn Mills

As a writer of many novels that feature FBI special agents, I’m always looking for ways to apply the research to my personal and professional life. Making solid and responsible decisions is one of those areas.

Think critically.
Using critical thinking skills means exploring all the facts that are relevant to solving a problem or reaching a goal. We are to analyze the findings in search of the best possible solution, be objective, put aside personal biases, and open our minds to embrace plausible answers.

Always be ready for the worst possible scenario.
None of us want to be labeled as overreactors or negative thinkers. Yet every decision requires the person to be responsible for his/her actions and to understand the consequences of making mistakes. We are to look at the worst possible scenario and examine how our choices could have an adverse effect.

In the midst of controversy, negotiation is a priority.
Angry people are seldom rational. They usually make poor choices that aren’t retractable. Words are powerful; violence is often a crime. When we are in a confrontation, we either need to walk away until the other person’s rage is under control or attempt to talk the person down from potentially harming him/herself or others. If we are the ones with the inappropriate emotions, we need to apply the same two principles.

Rely on our training.
Most of us are not in law enforcement and haven’t received training to negotiate in high-risk settings. But everyday life requires one decision after another. We’ve learned through education, media, role models, and life experiences the importance of sound and reliable decisions. We’ve also learned not to place ourselves in areas where we are not qualified to advise. If a decision regarding a matter is beyond our expertise, we seek guidance or find another person more qualified.

Evaluate the outcome.
While we seldom have a formal debrief after a decision has been made, we should keep ourselves accountable because this is how we learn. Evaluate the entire situation, the choice(s) made, and the outcome. If a poor result occurred, examine how we can improve next time. If the decision proved favorable, record it for the future.

I heard a pastor say that when we make a mistake, we should keep the receipt. Some consequences are too costly to repeat.

When I read these five techniques to making logical decisions, I know I have a lot of work to do. Are there any areas in your decision-making that need improvement?

My review...

Surprisingly, this is the first book I have read by Mills. I have heard many good things about her, so I’m glad to have had the opportunity to read one of her books. It did not disappoint.

April Ramos is a skilled negotiator for the FBI. However, she never expected to find herself on the other end of the equation.

Jason Snyder is caring for his baby girl after losing his wife. His world is turned upside down when his best friend is killed and his daughter kidnapped. How far will he go to find his daughter and get justice for his friend?

Mills has crafted well-developed, realistic characters for this tightly plotted suspense. While things started a bit slowly, the pace did pick up and build throughout. April and Jason are strong leads, and I couldn’t help but root for Jason and his daughter. Scenes were easy to visualize. Forgiveness and healing are key themes. As the first book in Mills’ “FBI Rapid Response” series, this installment sets the stage for further engaging reads, particularly as this book contains an ample amount of action and suspense.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.

About DiAnn...

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She creates action-packed, suspense-filled novels to thrill readers. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne du Maurier, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian fiction books of 2014. Connect with DiAnn at

Other places to find DiAnn online...

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

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:

If I could change one thing, it would be trusting Jason.

Happy writing!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Monday Motivation

"The hardest part is believing in yourself at the notebook stage. It is like believing in dreams in the morning."
— Erica Jong

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

"Next Level Thinking" by Joel Osteen

My review...


I’m always interested in reading new releases from Joel Osteen. So, I was excited to have the chance to review this book. While some of the material is not necessarily new to those who follow Osteen’s teachings, the information is still a valuable reminder. 

Osteen presents ten thoughts to help the reader advance their thoughts to next level thinking, which is needed for a successful and abundant life. Chapters include: The Odds Are for You, Recognize Your Value, Know You Are Loved, Approve Yourself, and Remove the Shame. Encouraging and relevant stories (many of which were shared with the author by church members, friends, or those he’s met around the world) are included, along with pertinent Bible verses, to reinforce the ten points. Many stories demonstrate God’s power when circumstances seemed bleak. If you are looking to reprogram your thinking in an effort to help reach your goals, this is a book to consider.

Some of my favorite quotes include:

·        “God didn’t create you to be average.”
·        “Where you start is not important. Where you finish is what matters.”
·        “You are valuable right now. God calls you a masterpiece. You are one of a kind.”
·        “The past doesn’t have to hold you back.”
·        “Don’t let negative events from your past become your identity.”
·        “Fear doesn’t have any right to you. It doesn’t own you.”
·        “Since God approves you, why don’t you start approving yourself?”

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher as part of the FaithWords blogger program. I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.