Wednesday, December 23, 2015

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 a prompt to try today:

"What was the best Christmas present you ever received? Why? Describe it in detail."

Happy writing!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday Motivation: Make It Happen!

Some motivational words to begin your week:

"The indispensable first step to getting the things it you want out of life is this: decide what you want."
                                                                              — Ben Stein

"Some people want it to happen. Some wish it would happen., Others make it happen."
                                                                              — Michael Jordan

"If you really want something, you can figure out how to make it happen."
                                                                              — Cher

"There is no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love; there's only scarcity of resolve to make it happen."
                                                                              — Wayne Dyer

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, December 18, 2015

"An Endless Christmas" by Cynthia Ruchti... and a GIVEAWAY!

In celebration of her latest release, Cynthia has graciously offered to give away a hard copy of the book (US Only). To enter, see the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. (Contest ends December 25, 2015.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!

A Word from Cynthia…

An Endless Christmas was truly a labor of love. Endless love :) I tapped into a beautifully loving extended family (my own) who showed up in a line here, a phrase there, a grace action there throughout the story. It was a joy to use a sweet tradition of giving as part of the story and a tender song that my dear friend's husband used to sing to her every night in the months before he died. As I move through life collecting ideas and snippets of conversation and head tilts and body language and heartache, I pull from that overflowing file to create a story like An Endless Christmas. It tugs at my heart with its unique approach to the holiday that's in risk of being taken for granted unless we let ourselves "land" on it and ponder.

My Review…

Katie does not know what to expect when her boyfriend Micah invites her to spend the holidays with his family for their Binder Family Christmas celebration. She expects it to be extremely awkward after she declines Micah’s proposal. Katie is harboring a secret, which leads her to believe she could never be the wife he deserves.  She is shocked by how much everyone (grandparents, children, aunts, uncles, and grandchildren) embraces her. Everything is so different from her own dysfunctional family. Katie is determined to put her distress aside so that Micah’s grandparents can enjoy what may be their last Christmas together. Will the Binder family show Katie what true acceptance really means?

While this is a quick read, it is certainly not one to take lightly. It is a heartwarming holiday tale, full of faith, family, flawed but realistic characters, and numerous touching scenes. I wanted to jump into the story at times and share the holidays with this family! Some scenes brought back fond memories of childhood Christmases spent with my own grandparents. The reader is left wondering for a while as to what could possibly be preventing Katie from accepting Micah’s proposal. There were a few parts I really loved, such as:

·         Dodie’s reminder that when you are married you are “in it for the long haul,” which this family truly demonstrates,
·         The family bonfire where they “burn the past year’s regrets,”
·         And the importance of honoring family traditions because, “A family without treasured traditions isn’t very interesting.”

Ruchti, through the voice and actions of the Binder family members, reminds the reader how important it is to make the most of every moment while offering forgiveness and unconditional love. This is the perfect cozy read for the holiday season.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon link for purchase…

About Cynthia...

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her award-winning novels, novellas, devotionals, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. Her books have been recognized by honors such as the Selah Awards, Christian Retailings' BEST Awards, and Foreword Book Reviews Book of the Year Awards. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

Where you can find Cynthia online…


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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Regina Jennings’ "At Love’s Bidding" Cozy Winter Night Giveaway

Join Regina in celebrating the release of At Love's Bidding by entering to win her Cozy Winter Night giveaway and RSVPing to her January 5th author chat party!

at love's bidding - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive everything you need for a cozy winter night:
at love's bidding - collage 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 1/5. The winner will be announced at the At Love's Bidding Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Regina and other readers, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!

at love's bidding-enterbanner

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 5th!

My Review…

Miranda Wimplegate and her family run the illustrious Wimplegate Auction House in Boston, which specializes in the finest of antiques. They are used to catering to the wealthy. Unfortunately, their business is put in jeopardy after they accidentally sell a prized painting to an anonymous bidder. Miranda and her grandfather decide to track down the painting, which leads them to Pine Gap, Missouri, where they quickly discover that they are out of their element. However, it is imperative that they track down this portrait, as the prestigious LeBlanc family will bring suit against them if it is not returned within a month. Prior to their trip, her grandfather purchased a local auction house, sight unseen. Grandfather didn’t realize that this auction house specializes in livestock, not antiques. Manager Wyatt Ballentine is frustrated, as it was his dream to own the auction house. He wants them gone as soon as possible, which is exactly what Miranda plans to do. Can they work together to find the missing portrait? Does Wyatt know more than he is letting on?

This is the first book I have read by Jennings, and I found it to be simply enchanting. It contains the perfect mix of romance, mystery, and humor. The faith elements are woven throughout the story and are not overpowering. The relationships develop at a reasonable pace. The cover is a perfect fit for this charming tale.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my review.

To Purchase a Copy...

About Regina…

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and history minor. She has worked at The Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City with her ornery husband and four dangerously charming children.

You can find her online at:

Twitter:        @ReginaJennings

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Rachel Hauck’s "The Wedding Chapel" $100 Giveaway (Litfuse Blog Tour)

Join Rachel in celebrating the release of The Wedding Chapel by entering to win a copy and a $100 cash card—perfect for finishing up your Christmas gift shopping! 

wedding chapel - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of The Wedding Chapel
  • A $100 cash card
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 31st. The winner will be announced January 4th on Rachel's blog.

wedding chapel - enter banner

My Review…

Years ago Jimmy Westbrook put his heart and soul into building a wedding chapel outside of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee to be used for his marriage to Collette Greer. However, that wedding never occurred. For 60 years that chapel has stood as a testament to his love. He feels it is now time to move on and sell it.

After a whirlwind romance, photographer Taylor Branson married Jack Forester. While Taylor’s business is slowly growing and Jack is a successful ad exec, their marriage is strained and in need of repair after only six months. Both are dealing with past secrets and demons. Taylor will have to face hers when she accepts a photo shoot of the chapel in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee.

Despite Jimmy’s insistence on selling, Taylor believes it is the wrong decision and is determined to change his mind. She knows that she feels the heartbeat of God there and is pretty sure Jimmy does as well. Both will soon find that they must confront their pasts to move forward. Along the way, secrets will be uncovered which could change the lives of many.

This is the first book I've read by Rachel Hauck, but I will definitely be adding her books to my TBR pile!  "The Wedding Chapel" is told by alternating characters: Jimmy, Collette, Taylor, and Jack. The story shifts between the present and the past (1948-1951), seamlessly blending everything together to create a beautiful story. At times, the Taylor/Jack storyline is pushed to the side, but stick with it as there is a reason. The characters become more alive to the reader as the story unfolds. While complex, it is very easy to follow and each character is well-developed. This multi-generational tale is full of intricate details and vivid images. It is an uplifting and engaging read which will remind the reader that love requires honesty and risk

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my review.

About Rachel…

Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, bestselling author of critically acclaimed novels such as "The Wedding Dress," "Love Starts with Elle," and "Once Upon  A Prince." She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist Sara Evans. Booklist named their novel, "Softly in Tenderly," one of 2011's Top 10 Inspirationals. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy and a conference speaker. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets.

You can find Rachel online at:

Twitter:        @RachelHauck

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

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 a prompt to try today:

"You decide to volunteer at a homeless shelter. You meet an interesting  woman there. What is her story, and how will it change your life?"

Happy writing!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Monday Motivation: Conceive, Believe, and Achieve!

Some motivational words to begin your week:

"What is in the pencil is greater than what is around it. The talents in you are greater than the environment surrounding you. Your potentials will change your environment." — Israelmore Avivor

"Never doubt, pray and believe." — Lailah Gifty Akita, Beautiful Quotes

"If you believe in something, then you shouldn't give up on it." — Harry Styles

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, December 4, 2015

"Trials and Tribulations" by Rachel Dylan... and a GIVEAWAY!

To celebrate the release of Rachel's latest book, she has agreed to give away a hard copy of the book to one lucky person (US only). To enter, see the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. (Contest ends December 11, 2015). If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and and pass your information along. Good luck!

A Word from Rachel…

I did not plan on writing Trial & Tribulations. I was actually at the beach on vacation and working on a new book. I  had written about ten pages when I stopped writing. I just wasn’t feeling inspired.

But then another idea came to me. A totally different story. A story about a legal battle and a spiritual one. The character of Olivia Murray formed in my mind. And from that point on, the idea was clear to me: a book about two battles—one inside the courtroom and one on the outside. I knew from the very beginning that this book wasn’t going to have a subtle faith message. This book was going to be an in-the-trenches look at spiritual warfare.

I wanted to use my background as a lawyer and write a true-to-life legal suspense. But I wanted to mix that with the spiritual battle that happens around us everyday. I also hoped to write a book that deals with spiritual warfare in a contemporary way—especially taking technology into account.  So that’s how I decided on the book having two New Age tech companies in a lawsuit over an app.

I can say that writing this book was a fulfilling experience and one that only deepened my faith. I jumped in and committed to the story and never looked back. I poured my heart, mind, and soul into this book, and I hope that readers will find something meaningful in reading it. 

My Review…

Attorney Olivia Murray is quite comfortable in her DC office. That is about to change when she is sent to the Chicago suburbs to participate in what will become the trial of her life and a huge test of her career and faith. She will be representing a new age technology company, Astral Tech, against their biggest competitor, Optimism. The opposing counsel is Grant Baxter. It soon becomes apparent that God brought Olivia and Grant together for a purpose… His purpose. While Grant is not a Christian, he quickly becomes an unlikely friend. The two of them must work together and rely on Olivia’s faith as they encounter a spiritual battle like no other. They will be left wondering whether or not they have any allies or if everyone is in the Devil’s pocket. Will Olivia be able to lead Grant to the Lord, or will she lose him to the dark side, especially after he sees the power firsthand? Will she be able to shut down the companies, or will evil flourish?

Even though this is a work of fiction, Dylan does a phenomenal job of depicting the very real battle one encounters when dealing with spiritual warfare. Olivia is steadfast in her faith and a tenacious character, perfect for the fight with good versus evil. The story is extremely engaging, and that only increases as Olivia prepares for her legal and spiritual battle. All secondary characters serve important purposes; none are wasted. Thanks to Dylan’s background, the legal accuracies are spot-on. The visuals will grab you, almost like watching a movie unfold. This is an in-your-face look at the very real presence of evil in the world and how one must be prepared to do battle. This can only be done by putting on the armor of God, which is exactly what Olivia must do if she wants to survive. I highly recommend this book!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

About Rachel…

Rachel Dylan writes Christian fiction, including inspirational romantic suspense for Love Inspired Suspense and the Windy Ridge Legal Thriller series. Rachel has practiced law for almost a decade and enjoys weaving together legal and suspenseful stories. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five furkids — two dogs and three cats. Rachel loves to connect with readers. You can find Rachel at:


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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tuesday Tip: Plan a Work-cation

"As writers, we do most of our work in the privacy of our own minds, but at some point all of us need to take a vacation — a working vacation — in order to recharge the batteries and open our minds to new perspectives, new experiences, and new landscapes."
— Kevin Larimer

Everyone has heard of a vacation, but have you ever heard of a work-cation? Many of us probably do this without even thinking. It's when you combine work with pleasure. As a writer, this can be used to your benefit.

Whatever business you may be in, there is a certain part of continuing education that must take place. For a writer, this may be exploring new locations to be used in your next novel. Everything needs to be as accurate as possible, and the best way to do that is to see the setting in person. Also, it is important for a writer to attend writing conferences, book festivals, and other industry-related events. These take place all over the country. If you have family or friends living in the area of these conferences, or the vicinity of the setting for your next novel, you could combine work and pleasure in your trip. Working remotely is quite common in the typical workplace, so why not for a writer?

If you view your writing as a business, it is important to invest time and money in it just as you would for any other occupation. A work-cation can help grow your business over time. So be sure to schedule them in.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday Reads: "The Christmas Joy Ride" by Melody Carlson

My Review…

Miranda never intended to spend her holiday traveling across the country with her 85-year-old neighbor Joy, but that’s exactly what she finds herself doing. Joy is headed to her retirement place in Phoenix, in an RV covered with Christmas decorations, and she invites Miranda to go with her. Miranda is unemployed and facing foreclosure since her husband left her, so she accepts Joy’s offer. Miranda had helped Joy set up a blog entitled “Christmas Joy.” Joy chose six winners who weren’t feeling the holiday spirit and added them in to the travel plans. Joy is determined to spread cheer on their journey across Route 66 with the assistance of decorations and cookies. Joy neglects to mention her hidden agenda for this trip, and she fails to anticipate the unexpected event that could derail her plans altogether.

This is a fun, heartwarming read. The characters are so enjoyable, particularly Joy. You can’t help but be inspired by this tale. While the religious elements are a bit understated, it is still apparent that the characters understand that Jesus is the real reason for the season. This book may leave the reader with their eyes open a bit wider, making it easier to notice the needs of others. I really enjoyed hearing the stories behind each of the blog winners, too. While the ending felt a bit rushed, this is still a great addition to your holiday reading collection!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book as part of the Revell Readers blogger program in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my review.

Here's the Amazon link for purchase:

About Melody…

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women, and children. That's a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a "storyteller." Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in my Flip-Flops), but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, True Colors, etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She's won a number of awards (including Romantic Times' Career Achievement Award, the Rita, and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson visit her website at

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday Tip: Tackling the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing

Tuesday Tip

Today, instead of focusing on just one tip, I'm going to highlight a book which mentions numerous tips and addresses twelve fatal flaws of fiction writing.  So if you are looking for ways to grab your reader and keep them engaged, as well as make your editor very happy, you will want to pick up this book. It will be released on December 1, 2015, so you still have time to pre-order your copy.

My Review...

The authors address many common flaws found in fiction. These include repetition, weak construction, too much backstory, POV violations, telling instead of showing, lack of pacing and tension, flawed dialogue, weasel words, and flawed writing mechanics. Each chapter includes a checklist of what to look for in your current work in progress, as well as specific advice on how to address each of the problem areas dealt with in this book. Numerous examples are included for each fatal flaw (complete with before and after passages). It really is a step-by-step guide to self-editing your work.

Their tips include:
  • Overuse of "-ing" words tends to weaken and slow down your prose, so use them sparingly.
  • Intersperse description to ground the story's setting and situation and continue to do that as the story plays out. 
  • Strong dialogue is crucial.
  • Avoid too much or too little backstory.
  • Remember that your POV character can't know what others are thinking.
  • It is important to balance dialogue, narrative, and action.
  • Make sure every scene has a point. 

If you are a writer, or hoping to be one, you need this book! It is written by five copy editors, who happen to be authors, and they share their expertise with the reader. There is so much information to absorb and apply. Their advice can help a writer craft a story they are proud of and one which readers will enjoy. Other editors will likely find this information beneficial, as well.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon link for purchase...

Friday, November 20, 2015

"The Gifting Series" by K. E. Ganshert...and a GIVEAWAY!

I am doing things a bit differently with this post, as I will be reviewing all three books in the series at one time. Katie has agreed to do an awesome giveaway: a paperback set of the entire series! In order to be eligible for this contest, please go to the Rafflecopter box at the end of the post. You must enter by November 27,2015 (US ONLY). Good luck!

My Review of The Gifting…

"If science is right, then I am crazy. And crazy is dangerous."

After a séance and an encounter with a Ouija board, Tess Eckhart believes she is slowly losing her mind, especially when she begins seeing things that aren’t there. Her parents worry that she may be mentally ill, like her grandmother. They pack up and move the family so that Tess can receive treatment at the renowned Edward Brooks Facility, where she will be seeing Doctor Roth. Her brother resents her for the move, and she is struggling to fit in at the new school. Things seem to be looking up, as she makes a new friend, Leela, and the most popular boy in school, Luka, seems to take an interest in her. Strangely, she feels a connection to Luka, even though they have never met. She begins to wonder if he is just a delusion, too. All she has ever wanted is to be normal. She knows her parents are still keeping secrets from her, particularly in relation to her grandmother. She is forced to wonder what is real and what’s not. How will she feel when she learns that Luka is apparently keeping secrets from her as well? And just who are “the Gifting”?

This is the first book I have read by Ganshert, but it certainly won’t be my last. I finished this one in less than a day and quickly went to purchase the remaining two books in the series. The fast pace makes it difficult to stop reading. There are so many twists and turns in this YA dystopian novel, which also includes some chilling scenes and supernatural aspects. There is a mild amount of romance sprinkled in. Like Divergent and The Hunger Games, the reader may be left questioning the norms of society, as well as the unseen forces of good versus evil. Themes of hope and salvation are woven throughout. The characters are realistic and scenes believable, even though this book is a bit futuristic. It is a book that is safe for anyone to read, and it is certainly not just for teens. If you are a fan of Frank Peretti or Ted Dekker, you may find yourself adding Ganshert as one of your new faves. Warning: this book ends with a major cliffhanger!
(Note: As of 11-23-15, this book is currently free wherever e-books are sold!)


My Review of The Awakening…

"What is The Gifting? Why are we in danger? Who and where are the others?"

This book picks up right where the first book left off. Tess and Luka are fugitives, and they are finding that no place is safe. The man they believed could help them is now dead.  Equipped with some patient files, they head to Detroit to find others with “The Gifting.” Now that they have a name for what they are, they want to find out everything they can about it. At least Tess knows she’s not crazy.

In Detroit, Tess and Luka find an underground community of people just like them.  Their goal is to awaken as many people with “The Gifting” as possible, but it is a far more dangerous mission than imagined. Even Tess’s dreams are at risk from those out to stop her. She is told that she could be “the One” to save them all. Is that even possible?

While some backstory is included, it is best to read the books in order. This series is so creative and unpredictable, as well as uplifting. There is a depth to the characters, and they seem to jump right off the page. It ends with another cliffhanger, perfectly setting the scene for the final book.

One of my favorite parts pertains to the following message, which is a good reminder for everyone: “Sometimes, the most ordinary people are given the most extraordinary things. Who knows why you were chosen… The gift is yours. You can bury it if you want. You can deny it or ignore it. Or you can embrace it… What are you going to do with the gift you’ve been given? It’s something only you can decide.”

My Review of The Gifting…

“A time approaches when evil will grow to such heights, our kind will face extinction. One will arise with the ability to set captives free. She alone will see evil’s mark and her gifting will be complete in its power. She will be our victory.”

Luka is trapped, but Tess realizes that it is not too late to save him. However, she is not sure that he will ever be the same. She will have to work hard to convince the other members of the Hub that what she saw is true. Their underground community is no longer safe, but neither is above ground. Everyone is focused on the fact that “The Gifting” members are being systematically killed. Tess must decide what she will do with the powers she holds. Can she defeat Scarface and save her grandmother? Will she finally be able to understand the ancient prophecy, of which she is at the center, and fit all the puzzle pieces together? Is she truly prepared for the sacrifice required for victory?

This book is a satisfying conclusion to the series, though it is sad to see it end. It really is necessary to read the books in order. There are great dynamics in the relationships, particularly between Luka and Tess. Like the others in the series, it is an intriguing, multilayered storyline with just the right mix of creepy factor and romance. In general, this series is more hope-filled than some dystopian novels. The entire series is an engaging, quick read which would make a great movie trilogy.

A Word from Katie…

Q: Can you tell us how this trilogy came to be written?

A:  I wrote The Gifting Trilogy—on and off—over the course of three years. It started off as this fun, random idea—what if a girl could see things nobody else could see, and then she met a boy who could see those same things? The idea started to build in my head and with its expanding girth, came an equally expanding excitement to write it. I started to flesh out the characters of Tess and Luka. I started to imagine what sort of world the story might be set in. And then the fun part—I began brainstorming with my brother, who is a total outside-the-box thinker. Sky was the limit, and together, we came up with a pretty cool story world that I couldn’t wait to put down on paper. It took awhile, though, since I had to find time in between my contracted books to work on these, but every time I got the opportunity, my creativity was completely fueled. The change of pace and genre was thrilling. I’ve discovered that I seriously love writing young adult literature.

Q:  How did you make the decision to self-publish this series?

A:  The world of indie publishing has tugged at my curiosity for the past couple years. I’ve had more and more friends who have gone indie and their experiences were largely positive. When I made the decision to do something with this series, I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to give the indie route a try, as it’s very off-genre than my Katie Ganshert novels. I talked to my agent about my plan. She was incredibly supportive, and then I started learning all I could learn about indie publishing. It’s been a very fun adventure so far! I hope to publish more books like these under the K.E. Ganshert name in the future

 I hope we see a lot more books like this in the future, too!

About Katie...

K.E. Ganshert was born and raised in the exciting state of Iowa, where she currently resides with her family. She likes to write things and consume large quantities of coffee and chocolate while she writes. She’s won some awards. For the writing, not the consuming. Although the latter would be fun. You can learn more about K.E. Ganshert and these things she writes at her website

Twitter: @KatieGanshert

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

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 a prompt to try today. Use it as your first sentence.

"If I could live anywhere in the world..."

Happy writing!

Friday, November 13, 2015

"The Girl from the Train" by Irma Joubert... and a GIVEAWAY!

To celebrate this new release,  I'll be giving away a copy of  the book (US ONLY). To enter, go to the Rafflecopter box at the end of this post. The last day to enter is November 20, 2015. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I will contact you for your information. Good luck!

My Review…

Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train headed to Auschwitz. She doesn't know that Jakob Kowalski has different plans for that train. He is planting a bomb on the train tracks. He believes the train is a German troop transport. He is surprised to encounter Gretl, who manages to escape. He vows to help her get to family in Switzerland. However, it must be kept secret that she is Jewish and German. In order to survive, Gretl must change her language, name, and religion. Can Jakob keep his promise, or will the truth come out? Will Gretl be able to grow up in a loving family?

Loneliness, friendship, and loyalty are key themes in this story, which shows World War II from a different point of view than is typical: a six-year-old girl with no home, no family, and no country. The reader follows Gretl through a confusing and scary time in history. It's apparent that this book was well-researched. This character-driven tale contains some emotionally raw scenes and easily captivates, as well as educates, the reader.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon link for purchase…

About Irma...

International bestselling author IRMA JOUBERT was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing. Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical details. She's the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on bestseller lists in The Netherlands and in her native South Africa. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tuesday Tip: Transitional Words and Phrases

Tuesday Tip

Transitions in your writing are needed whenever possible to provide links between thoughts and paragraphs. There are a number of ways to do this. Here are some to choose from, and they are divided into categories according to their use. (This is just a small sample of transitional words and phrases.)

  • Addition/sequence:  additionally, again, also, furthermore, in addition, meanwhile, still, too
  • Concession:  admittedly, certainly, in fact, naturally, of course, surely, without a doubt
  • Contrast:  after all, although, at the same time, but, despite, however, otherwise, yet
  • Examples/emphasis:  after all, clearly, for instance, in other words, specifically, to demonstrate
  • Place or direction:  above, below, near, next to, underneath, wherever
  • Purpose/cause and effect: as a result, because, so, then, therefore
  • Qualification:  almost, always, frequently, nearly, never, often, probably
  • Result:  as a result, consequently, so, then, thus
  • Similarity:  again, also, and, furthermore, likewise, similarly
  • Summary:  as a result, finally, in conclusion, in summary, to conclude
  • Time:  after a while, also, at that time, eventually, first, later, meanwhile, once, so far, whenever
 Look through your current work in progress (WIP). Can you identify places where transitional words are needed?

Friday, November 6, 2015

"The Bronte Plot" by Katherine Reay... and a GIVEAWAY!

A Word from Katherine...

How the story came to be…

As I read C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce, I thought not only about the choices one makes at the end of one’s life, but the little ones I make each and every day. That trail led me to Lucy, the main character, and quickly Helen, her friend and mentor. These two jumped out as interesting and dynamic women and exploring their choices and lives became fascinating—who they were, how they came to see the world as they did, and what might cause them to think differently and try something new.

We’re all on that journey. I think we constantly assess our lives and our purpose deep underneath our daily goings-on. And this book became their story, my story and, I hope, something readers can find enjoyable, relatable, and a compelling read. 

My Review...

Lucy Alling works at Sid McKenna Antiques and Design, and books are her life. She sells rare books and will do whatever is needed to make the best profit on them. She is dating James Carmichael, but that relationship, as well as her job, is in jeopardy when her shady practices are revealed. Surprisingly, James’s grandma, Helen, seems to bond with Lucy and invites her to go on a trip to England. It appears that Helen has some secrets, and ghosts, of her own. Helen wants to right the wrongs of her past, with Lucy’s help, before it is too late. Both Helen and Lucy are about to learn that the past will be key to the future.

This truly is a tale for book lovers, particularly if you are a fan of classic British literature. Reay’s latest is beautifully detailed, particularly regarding England. It is a solid reminder that all decisions have consequences. Some of the scenes with James seem a bit cold and unnecessary, and the reader may occasionally be put off by Lucy’s habitual lies. However, these combine to add to the overall flawed, reflective nature of the characters and storyline. Helen was my favorite character, by far. The details about the Brontë house are so vibrant that I could almost imagine being there with Lucy and Helen. Lucy’s struggles with poor decisions and finding her place in the world will be relatable for many readers.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon link for purchase…

Q & A with Katherine...

Q:  What are your thoughts on the publishing industry, particularly in relation to self-publishing?
A:  The industry is blowing wide open! I think we can all agree on that, and in the end, it means more accessibility to great stories—and that’s a good thing. But it feels a little daunting for the writers, right now, as we struggle with “discoverability” in a rapidly expanding landscape. In the end, it’ll sort out. In the meantime, we do what we can—write compelling books.  

Q:  What would you be doing if you were not an author?
A:  Raising the kiddos, running, eating chocolate, and dreaming of becoming an author—and working on it every single day.

Q: What advice do you have for new authors?
A:  Work on it every single day. As I said before about the publishing industry, the game is changing. While there are so many ways to enter the publishing world, you still have to present a well-crafted product. So, if it’s on your heart to write, keep writing. That is the best and only true worthy advice I can give.

Q:  What project are you currently working on?
A:  I’m having such fun with my current project. In my head, I call it The Pizza Maker’s Wife. The title will most likely change, but it’s a wonderful story of a young woman, an impetuous marriage, a transformative trip to Italy, a little family drama, and some yummy food.

Q:  What is your favorite writing-related book?
A:  Donald Maas’s The Breakout Novel is a must-have. It provides wonderful basic advice on novel construction then takes it further to analyze the elements that make up the truly breakout stories.

Q:  PC or Mac? 
A:  Mac

Q:  City or country?  
A:  Suburb… I love the city but adore my green spaces.

Q:  Cat or dog?  
A:  DOG…. Can I say that again? DOG 
   (and here's photographic proof!)

Q:  Introvert or extrovert? 
A:  Well-trained Introvert

Q:  Tea or coffee? 
A:  Coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon

Q:  Mountains or ocean? 
A:  Tough one… Adore both! But I LOVE the sound of the ocean.

Q:  Winter or summer?  
A:  Summer sun. Winter wardrobe.

Q:  Casual or dressy?  
A:  Casual, preferably with Converse.

Q:  Twitter or Facebook? 
A:  Twitter. Life in 140 characters or less. Does it get better?

Q:  Mexican food or Italian food? 
A:  That is so hard!! I lived 13 years in Austin, TX and get twitchy without a steady influx of Mexican food. But at home, we cook far more Italian. I just spent a few weeks in Italy this summer and am in love with the entire country. 

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Katherine. I'm sure my readers will enjoy getting to know you a bit better :) 

About Katherine...

Katherine Reay is the author of Dear Mr. Knightley, a Christy Award Finalist and winner of the 2014 INSPY Award for Best Debut, as well as Carol Awards for both Best Debut and Best Contemporary. She's also the writer behind Lizzy & Jane. Wife, mother, runner, former marketer, and avid chocolate consumer, Katherine and her family recently settled in Chicago, IL.

 Goodreads:   Katherine Reay

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