Wednesday, November 22, 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:

The very mystery of him caused her to...

Happy writing!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday Motivation

"If I waited for perfection, I'd never write a word."
— Margaret Atwood

Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesday Tip: Verb Tense

Verb tense is a detail that should be considered before starting your story, as it determines the level of intimacy between the reader and the characters in your book. When verb tense is inconsistent, it jars the reader out of the story. Here are the two most common verb tenses used in fiction:

  1.  Present tense: This includes verbs such as "I want," "she goes," and "we meet." When combined with first-person POV, a greater intimacy is created. This is commonly used in young adult and contemporary adult novels. Some readers feel that using the present tense is a bit too much, but it can be very effective if done correctly.
  2. Past tense: These words are formatted to show that the action took place in the past, such as "I went," "he knew," and "we danced." The story could still take place in the present. Only the verbs are different. By using past tense, there is a bit more space between the characters and the readers, and many readers find this preferable. It is the default choice for many authors.

Monday, November 13, 2017

"A Moment to Breathe" devotional

My review...

I love devotionals, so I was excited to have the chance to review this one. The topic immediately caught my eye: 365 devotions that meet you in your everyday mess.

This book would be a wonderful addition to daily Bible study for women of all ages who looking for a moment to breathe. (In fact, the devotions provide you with that moment to just take a breath and listen to what God has to say.) The devotions are written by numerous women. The format is: title, Bible verse, message, and prayer/reflection question. Many of the women are familiar names in the Christian industry, such as Renee Swope, Emily P. Freeman, Kristen Strong, Ann Swindell, and Lisa-Jo Baker. The personal stories will likely be relatable for many women.

One thing that makes this book a bit different from other devotionals is that it does not specify a calendar day for each devotion. Therefore, the reader can easily start at any time of the year instead of feeling the need to wait until January 1st. It also contains a ribbon bookmark. Each message is short, no more than a page, so it only takes a few minutes to read and get encouraged. It is a small book, so it would be easy to travel with, as well. The one thing that did surprise me was that all of the devotions did not necessarily center around what I believed to be the topic of the book, taking a moment to breathe. However, I still found them useful and relevant, for the most part.
At the end of the book is a list of the contributing authors/bios/devotions written, as well as a Scripture index.

A few of my favorite quotes include:

·       “Store up grace — for yourself and others — by treasuring the truth and beauty that’s found in God’s Word.”

·       “Do you ever wish for a billboard sign to point you in the right direction? Open His Word and seek Him there. Because He promises you’ll find Him when you seek Him with all of your heart.”

·       “Can you look over your life and see a closed door that eventually led to something more beautiful than you imagined? Tell Him how grateful you are for the way He moves in ways, often unseen, on your behalf.”

·       “Whatever unforeseen delay you may encounter today or this week, see it as a gift, a chance to listen, to lean in and hear Him calling you to Himself.”

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the B&H/Lifeway blogger program. I was not required to leave a positive review.

Friday, November 10, 2017

"God Bless the Broken Road" by Jennifer Dornbush ... and a GIVEAWAY!

Jennifer Dornbush has graciously offered to give away a paperback copy of this new release. You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends November 17, 2017. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information.) 

God Bless the Broken Road is a heartwarming story about a grieving army widow who finds her way back to her daughter, her faith, and a new love. Amber Hill never imagined she would find herself a war widow and single mom. She feels robbed and is angry at God, and she doesn’t know how to help her nine-year-old daughter Bree through her grief. Where, Amber wonders, are the Sunday dinners, the picnics, the bike rides, the time together they should be enjoying as a family? Instead, Amber is left with a folded flag and an empty heart.

Cody Jackson has a death wish. Or at least that is what his manager thinks, as Cody pushes his race car and his luck in every race. Is he hiding something, or just daring God and other racers to end the path of destruction he finds himself on as he rounds the last turn? When Cody encourages Bree to join in a Derby car race for local youth, she finds a way to channel her grief into something good—and she likes that her mom and Cody are starting to become friends—or maybe something more.

Cody invites Amber and Bree to see him race, but as they watch Cody narrowly escape a devastating crash, she realizes she can’t lose another person in her life. It’s better to be alone than feel that type of grief again. But when Amber hits rock-bottom, she cries out to God and asks for help. With her faith, her life, her family, and her heart hanging in the balance, Amber is forced to decide between the broken road she knows so well and trusting that God will provide a new path.  Based on the Rascal Flatts song, God Bless the Broken Road is a moving, heart-stirring story about the power of faith to change a life. 

The movie version is coming 2018.

What inspired this novel?
God Bless the Broken Road (GBBR) actually began as a feature film script three years ago. My friend and director, Harold Cronk, who is best known for the God’s Not Dead movies, called me one fine summer evening. He pitched me the seed of the idea and asked what I thought. I said I thought it sounded like a solid story. And then he asked if I wanted to write it with him. Of course, I said yes.

We finished the first draft of the script on Christmas Eve, 2014. Over the course of the next year we refined it while the producers rallied the funds. In the spring of 2016 Harold shot God Bless the Broken Road.

A few months earlier, as we finished the script version, I talked with the producers about penning a novel version. They thought it would be a great idea. So my agent, Julie Gwinn, put a pitch together, and while we were filming, I quickly wrote the first three chapters. Within two weeks Julie had procured a couple contracts. We happily chose Simon & Schuster. I spent last summer scribing the novel, and here it is a year later.  The film version is also “in the can” as we say and will be releasing in 2018.

What do you hope your readers take away from this novel?
 When we were writing the script, the top two takeaways we kept in mind were first, that God is always with us, even if we don’t feel like He is or aren’t seeking Him actively. He is always there, and He is always providing us with amazing blessings, even when/if we don’t acknowledge them. One of the keys to healing and hope on our broken roads is to turn our gaze to Him so that we can start to recognize Him along the path. When we turn to Him and humble ourselves, He can start to guide us and shape our brokenness into blessing.

The second takeaway that was important to us as we wrote this story is community. My signature hash tag is #ConnectContributeBelong. I’m huge on the importance of building actual, physical community (not just having virtual community). We don’t have to travel our broken roads alone. God has given us friends and family to lean on for support and encouragement. This can make a huge difference when we are going through trying times. I think so many people suffer from depression and suicide because they think they are alone. Mother Theresa said the greatest poverty we have today is the feeling of loneliness because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

So many people feel like this. They feel alone. They feel that no one understands or cares what they are going through. What a travesty. It’s so simple to be there for someone. You don’t have to be a professional counselor or therapist to help someone heal from a wounding. Sometimes the very best thing is to just to take a moment from your day to pause, listen, and lend a hug or word of encouragement.

On the flip side, if you are traveling a broken road it can be difficult to let people in to your pain. We see this in GBBR in the character of Amber, who lost her husband in Afghanistan. It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable and ask for help. But here’s the secret … people love you and want to help you and be there for you. Amber eventually hits bottom in order to find this out and finally surrenders. It’s at that moment when her life starts to really find hope and redemption. 

Needing to be loved and cared for is not a sign of weakness. It’s the way we humans need to relate to one another to build real and lasting communities.  By the way, building community this deep requires that you get off social media, look up from your phone, and have actual human contact! Just sayin’….

GBBR Audiobook link:

GBBR Movie Trailer link:

Where you can find Jennifer online:

Author Website:

Facebook: Jennifer Graeser Dornbush

Instagram: Jennifer Dornbush

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 9, 2017

"Blessed Life" by Kim Fields with Todd Gold

My review...

I grew up watching Kim Fields play “Tootie” on The Facts of Life, and I have followed her career ever since. So I was very excited to see that she had a book coming out, and I jumped at the chance to read it.

This book provides insight into her life, both the personal one and the one people know from television. The reader is able to follow Kim’s journey from Harlem to Hollywood and see the challenges she faced growing up in front of the world.

The book is divided into three sections: My Mother’s Voice, My Voice, and That Still Small Voice. Fields provides details on marriages, miscarriages, and motherhood in an open and honest way. While I thought I knew a lot about her, there were many new tidbits to learn on this actor, director, producer, poet, wife, mother, friend, woman of faith, and so much more.

I found this book to be a quick read, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Despite being a celebrity, Fields demonstrates that she is just an average woman who struggles with insecurity, acceptance, etc., just like everyone else. Some of her poetry is included, and I really enjoyed reading it. I love the fact that there are sixteen pages of photos, as they personalize the story even more. It is apparent that God is at work in her life in numerous ways, and I am glad she detailed it in this book. I look forward to seeing what He has in store for her next.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher as part of the FirstWords Blogger Program, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review

Wednesday, November 8, 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:

Write about five things that remind you of your childhood.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

"Love, Welcome, Serve" (cookbook) by Amy Nelson Hannon (and a recipe!)

My review...

If you're looking for some yummy recipes to try out this holiday season, this is one to check out.

It's a beautifully designed book, full of colored pictures for many of the recipes.  It's divided into various sections:

1.  Bites that Welcome
2.  Pickled, Tossed, and Chilled
3.  Meats, Mains, and Sturdy Soups
4.  Comforts and Casseroles
5.  Serve Alongsides
6.  Sweet Tea, Sauces, and Such
7.  For The Love of Sweets

There's also a section on gratitude, as well as a recipe index.

Some recipes seem a bit "fancier" than others, but most could easily be used by your average household. There is a list at the beginning of what should be included in a well-equipped kitchen and a well-stocked pantry. Each chapter begins with an inspiring review. This will make a wonderful addition to my cookbook collection. 

There are a number of recipes I'll be adding to my menus in the near future, such as: Mexican Layered Cornbread Dip, Potluck Broccoli Salad,  Fajita Guacamole Burgers, Creamy Pesto Tortellini Soup, Euna Mae's Macaroni and Cheese, and Loverly Lemon Bars. (There are so many more on my list to try!)

 I received a complimentary copy as part of the FirstWords Blogger Program (from the publisher), but I wasn't required to leave a positive review.

Sample recipe from the book...

Oh my word. Y’all, it’s finally Fall! Fall is my favorite! If I had to list all the things I love about Fall in order of what I love best, it’d be nearly impossible. Football, crisp mornings, jeans and boots, apple everything, pumpkin everything, adding more blankets to the beds, and the anticipation of the holiday season! I mean, how’s a girl to choose?!

One other favorite of mine during this season is sturdy soups - a bowl full of earthy, warm goodness that gets at my soul. What’s the difference between regular soup and sturdy soup you might ask? Sturdy soups have girth. They are spoonfuls of hearty bites. And they fill bellies way up. You know, they’re sturdy. They can stand alone served with only a few fixins on top. Have I got a sturdy soup for you!

This recipe is an adaptation of one found in my church cookbook. Y'all know that if you can ever get your hands on a church cookbook, then it's a keeper. Church cookbook recipes are those tried-and-true, time-tested, crowd-pleasing dishes. I know, because I'm a pastor's wife, and I've been feeding people for more than 20 years. So you learn what's good, what people come back for, and what people request recipes for. And this White Chicken Chili meets the criteria for sure! It is so creamy and loaded with flavor, and the texture is divine with hearty bites of tender chicken and white beans. Sturdy. This recipe is the first soup that my family asks for when the weather officially turns cooler and there’s football on TV. Here’s to fall! And here’s to full bellies and full hearts! - Amy Nelson Hannon, author of Love Welcome Serve: Recipes that Gather and Give

{serves 6-8}

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ - 2 cups yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
3 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
3-4 cups chicken stock
½ cup dry white wine like Chardonnay (optional)
1 bay leaf, broken in half
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
3 cans white beans of your choice, drained
3 jalapeno peppers, minced
3 cups fresh grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
Salt to taste
3 Tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped (plus more for topping)
The juice of 3 limes

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven (around 5-6qts). Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until they're tender and just starting to get color.  Add the garlic oregano, cumin, and ginger, cooking for one more minute. Stir continuously so the garlic doesn't burn!  Add stock, wine (if using) and bay leaf.  Cook uncovered for 5 minutes over medium heat until somewhat reduced.  Add chicken, beans, and jalapenos. Simmer uncovered for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.  Over low heat add a little cheese at a time, stirring until melted.  Add pepper, and taste for salt; add if needed.  Stir in fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro. Simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove bay leaf and serve! Garnish with fresh chopped tomatoes, green onion, shredded cheese, sour cream, or sliced avocado.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Monday Motivation

"We have to continually be jumping off  cliffs and developing our wings on the way down."
— Kurt Vonnegut

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

"Adored 365 Devotions for Young Women"

My review...

This is a new devotional geared toward young women, though I believe it could be enjoyed by women of all ages. The topics are relevant for teens, and they cover things such as: bullying, social media, dating, self-worth, patience, etc.

The book itself is beautiful, starting with the cover. Each day (which goes by number, not calendar date, so it can be started any day of the year) includes a Bible, verse, a passage, and a few lines for jounaling. I was a bit surprised that there was no ribbon bookmark, however.

The book is designed to offer daily encouragement, and the overall reminder is that “You are loved.” The 365 readings are short enough to fit into a busy schedule. Scripture verses are based on the NIV Bible. The cover is sturdy, and the book is a convenient (small) size, so it would be easy to travel with, as well. It would make a nice supplement to a daily Bible-reading plan.

By going to the book’s landing page, you can get a free 7-day download:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from Propeller Consulting, LLC/FlyBy Promotions. I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.