Monday, December 1, 2014

December Book of the Month

My book of the month is a holiday treasure from Ruth Logan Herne. Before posting my review, here's a bit of background information from Ruth.

A Word from Ruth...

I come from a big family. So does my husband. And then we went and had six kids. What were we thinking??? Wouldn't you think we learned from experience? Clearly not! So when I was putting together Max and Tina's romance, Max was adopted into the big, beautiful, close-knit Campbell clan in Kirkwood Lake. A Latino boy, dumped by his mother and then given a great second chance. But Tina has almost no family except for an aunt and cousin who have nothing to do with her. She's lost so much: her family, her business, and some of her self-respect with romance gone bad. Giving Tina her happy ending wasn't easy because she's a stubborn, independent, do-it-myself type, so she needed a hero who could stand his ground. Who better than Max Campbell, a special ops soldier who goes the distance for God… And his country. A man who comes home to face the past in order to help his family face the future: the loss of the father he loves so much.

My Review...

HER HOLIDAY FAMILY by Ruth Logan Herne: Tina Martinelli watches her dreams go up in smoke, right along with her café. She is forced to reevaluate her future plans. She considers starting a new in another town, where she would be away from the nagging reminders of her past. Her childhood crush Max Campbell is in town to begin his life after leaving the military. The Army and death of his best friend changed him. He regrets his time away from his family and friends and wants to start over. He would love for Tina to be part of his future plans. He is praying that God grants him the opportunity to have a do-over. Tina finds it hard to focus on anything other than broken engagements, loss, and burned-out dreams. Can she trust God for direction?

Herne’s characters remind the reader that it is ironic to believe that our plans are better than God’s. In life, one is often given a second chance, though moving on without facing the past is impossible. Faith, family, and forgiveness abound in this charming holiday-themed treasure

To Connect with Ruth...

I love hearing from readers! E-mail me at, find me on Facebook, stop by my website, or hang with me and a bunch of delightful readers and writers in Seekerville

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. This is a time when people tend to reflect on what they are thankful for in their lives. I thought I would do the same.

Thankfulness, or gratitude, is just another way of counting our blessings. Studies have shown that daily reflection and gratitude exercises can increase the quality of one’s life. It’s easy to overlook life’s little blessings at times. I have tried to focus on this during the past two years. In 2013, I created a Gratitude Jar. Perhaps some of you have seen this same idea floating around the Internet or on Facebook, which is where I first heard of it. Throughout the year, I wrote down the positive things that happened and placed them in a jar. I kept the jar on my living room coffee table so that I was reminded to look for things to include. On December 31, 2013, I opened the jar and dumped out the slips of paper. There were numerous things that had happened throughout the year I had forgotten, and I found myself smiling frequently. In many ways, I had not looked positively on 2013. This activity put things in a new perspective.

For 2014, I decided to do things a bit differently. I purchased a spiral-bound notebook, and I tried to list at least three positive things every day. Some days, it was difficult to come up with one item, but I am proud to say that I have not missed one day all year. 2014 has been a challenging year in various ways, and I must admit that I’m looking forward to 2015. However, I want to reflect on the countless things I am thankful for this holiday season. Here are just a few of them:

  • I am thankful for my husband, who loves me unconditionally (and I know it’s not always easy!). He truly is the best man I know and the perfect match for me. God certainly knew what he was doing J
  • I am thankful for my family and friends (even the virtual ones). They have been there for me through all the ups and downs.
  • I am thankful that I have a warm house to come home to every day. While it’s not perfect, and it probably never will be, I realize that there are many people who are not as fortunate.
  • I am thankful for the challenging situations that I have been placed in this year, as they have helped make me a stronger person.
  • I am thankful for our turtle Speedy, as he is the best pet anyone could ever have J
  • I am thankful for the talents that I have been blessed with, and the fact that God knows exactly how I will be using them (even when I do not).
  • I am thankful for the changing seasons, as they remind me of God’s beauty.
  • I am thankful for the love and laughter I have experienced this year.
  • I am thankful for the opportunities I had this year which I didn’t think possible (such as attending the ACFW conference and witnessing my brother marry the love of his life).
  • I am thankful for all of you, for taking the time to read this and be a part of my life. You are much appreciated!

What about you? What are you thankful for this holiday season?

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Importance of Reading (Even if it’s a Bad Book)

You have probably heard that in order to be a better writer, you should read more. As Stephen King once said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” It is equally important to read from various genres. You need to have a good idea of what is out there in the market today. However, what you may not know is that reading bad books, as well as books that are different from anything you believe you would ever write, can also be extremely beneficial to your writing.

At some point in your life, you are bound to read a book that will be a struggle just to finish. And if you are not required to finish reading it, you are likely to put it aside. Perhaps you have even asked yourself, “How do so many bad books end up being published?” Granted, everyone has different interests. But to be honest, some books have so many errors in them that it is hard to find the redeeming parts.

From a writing standpoint, try to determine why you would consider a book to be bad before leaving it unfinished.

·         Are the characters unappealing?
·         Is the dialogue stilted?
·         Is the plot unrealistic?
·         Was it poorly researched?
·         Did it move too slowly/too quickly?
·         Were there places that the story lagged?
·         Is it all telling instead of showing?
·         Was the ending unsatisfying?

Once you have identified the issues that caused you to become disengaged with the book, take a look at your own writing. Are you able to find some of these problems in your own WIP (work in progress)? If nothing else, reading what you consider to be a bad book can help you learn what not to do in your own work.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bonus Book of the Month

Initially, I had planned to feature one book a month on my blog. However, there is a second great release this month that I couldn't let slide by without sharing with everyone.  So, here is a bit of information from Dan, followed by my review.

A Word from Dan...

"I actually got the idea back in the mid-90s and made it the subject of my first, unpublished book. It was unpublished for a reason. It was over 600 pages long, the plot moved far too slow, and it was overly complex. but I loved the concept. Personally, I love studying history and when I do, I often spend time trying to imagine what it would be like to actually go back in time and see these events firsthand. That's when I got the idea for this book. I've learned so much more about the craft of writing since the first draft, so it seemed like a good time to dig it out and rewrite it. I should add, this novel doesn't contain a strong Christian message like most of my other books. Think of it as more of a clean, suspenseful read. The main characters are Christians, but their faith is not the main theme of the book. My goal was to create an exciting set of circumstances — the kind you might find in any good thriller — and throw a credible Christian man and woman in the middle of it to see how they'd react."

My Review...

WHEN NIGHT COMES by Dan Walsh: Sgt. Joe Boyd moves to the quiet college town of Culpepper, Georgia. He wanted to avoid the high crime rate found in the city. Unfortunately, deaths seem to have followed him. A number of students are turning up dead, dying of seemingly unsuspicious reasons. Even though they are labeled natural deaths, he knows that something isn’t right.

At the request of his former history professor, lecturer Jack Turner arrives in Culpepper. Jack is working on a book, but he agrees to present a series of lectures with Professor Turner. While in town, Jack reconnects with Rachel Cook. Rachel is the teaching assistant for Professor Turner. Unbeknownst to Jack, she has had a crush on him for years.

Jack begins to experience dreams that are all-too-real, finding himself smack dab in the middle of World War II events. He finds the dreams, as well as the unexpected deaths of students, extremely troubling. He also believes they are somehow related. Rachel wants to help him, but she's not sure that she believes him. Jack claims that history comes alive in his dreams, which seems impossible. Is Professor Thorton involved?

It appears that someone's sinister plan is starting to unravel, and Jack’s life is in danger. Will Jack and Rachel be able to convince the police that his claims are valid, not ludicrous?

Though Walsh steps into a different genre, fans will not be disappointed. He continues to infuse facts, bringing history to life in this typically Walsh, character-driven tale. It combines historical with present day, as one may have come to expect from his other stories. It is carefully plotted and imaginative. The pace increases as events unfold, making it challenging for the reader to predict the twists and turns. It contains intrigue, suspense, historical facts, and a little bit of romance, making it an appropriate read for fans of any age. If you have never read a book by Dan Walsh, I would recommend giving this one a try. I do not believe you will be disappointed.

To Connect with Dan... 

To connect with Dan, the easiest thing to do is visit his website. On the homepage, there are buttons to connect to his blog, send an email, or follow him on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest. He is on Facebook every day and answers his own emails. Here’s the link:

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Book of the Month

I had the opportunity to get a bit of background information from author Susan Sleeman regarding her latest release, and my featured Book of the Month, Silent Night Standoff. You can read my review after reading what she had to say.

A Word from Susan...

"One thing you should know about me right up front—I have the utmost respect for law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics and EMT’s, and the brave men and women in the military. In my opinion, these are the TRUE heroes of our world. So when I finished writing the Justice Agency series, I knew I wanted to feature heroes or heroines in one of these professions in my next series.

Problem was, I respect them all so much, I couldn’t decide which one. That got me to thinking about how I could include all of the professions in one series, and my First Responder series was born. When I couldn’t come up with a logical reason for having a firefighter on a crisis response team, I decided to give a nod to that profession by having my team live in an old remodeled firehouse.

The elite six-member First Response Squad includes two hostage negotiators, a sniper, a bomb technician, an EMT, and an intelligence coordinator. I’ve written the first three books already and love the men and women of the FRS. Their strength and courage. Their willingness to rush into disasters to help victims. They don’t let emergencies fluster them. They do their job and save lives. No matter the toll it takes in their own lives. No matter the peace it steals.

The series kicks off this month with a bank robbery in Silent Night Standoff, and it’s kind of a funny story how this book came about. Sitting in our bank while waiting for a customer service rep one day, I looked out at the secluded peaceful setting amongst tall pines and a tranquil lake. As usually happens, I ignored the peaceful setting and started thinking what a wonderful setting this would be for a suspense novel. My thoughts got away from me, as they often do, and I was soon plotting to rob the bank. Then I realized that bank robberies often fell under the FBI’s jurisdiction and knew it was a perfect opportunity to add that profession to my series via this book, and that meant Skyler would be my negotiator.

Thank goodness the bank customer service rep couldn’t read my mind as I carefully studied the building noting entrances and exits, the bullet-proof glass, and other security features, or the day might have ended quite differently.

The First Responders books will release from now through December of 2016. I’m so excited that thee of the six books will come out in December and be Christmas themed, as I love, love, love to add the Christmas element to the books. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about my First Responders as they work to recapture that missing peace and find love. I know you’ll agree, they are what true heroes are made of, and our lives are so much better for the real heroes in the world."

My Review...

SILENT NIGHT STANDOFF:Susan Sleeman: Hostage negotiator Skyler Brennan was at the scene of a bank robbery. Unfortunately, she was one of the hostages, and at the mercy of unpredictable “Bonnie & Clyde” duo. Her ex-, FBI agent Logan Hunter arrives at the scene. She always felt he put his job first, proving himself to his father second, and her, third. Logan has a huge promotion on the line, so the stakes are high. He is striving to reach FBI milestones at a younger age than his father. Since he broke her heart, Skyler turned inward to avoid heartache. She is not convinced that Logan has changed. Can he put his plans aside and keep her safe when she becomes a target? Will he choose love over proving himself to his father?

 Logan demonstrates that while we all want to be in control, most of the time it is out of our hands and we must learn to turn it over to God. We can not be controlled by our worries and fears, and it is impossible to live up to others’ expectations. Sleeman is off to a strong start with her latest series, complete with a thrill ride of suspense. Once you read a book by Susan Sleeman, you will be back for more!

To Connect with Susan...

SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of inspirational and clean read romantic suspense books. Awards include Thread of Suspicion-2013 Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Best Book Award, No Way Out and The Christmas Witness, Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence finalists. In addition to writing, Susan also hosts the popular website She currently lives in Oregon with her husband, but has lived in nine states. They have two daughters, a son-in-law, and an adorable grandson.
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