Sunday, June 28, 2015

July Featured Book #1 ... and a GIVEAWAY!

Sandra has graciously offered to give away a hard copy of "Emergency Reunion" to one lucky person (MUST live in the US or Canada). In order to be entered, go to the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. You must enter by July 14, 2015 to take part in the drawing. If you are chosen, I will contact you to get your mailing address to pass along to Sandra.

A Word from Sandra...

Emergency Reunion is the final story in a series, featuring members of the Steele family—an FBI agent, a firefighter, and in this one, Sherri, a paramedic. Sherri was introduced in Perilous Waters as the paramedic cousin of Sam Steele, and her character was developed further in Identity Withheld when she treated the heroine.

However, at the time of writing those stories, I hadn’t yet decided what Sherri’s story would look like, although I’d established three things about her:
-           She has a close-knit extended family
-          she saved a baby last year
-          she is competent and emotionally-cool on the job

So when it came time to write her story, I decided to make what should’ve been a wondrous accomplishment—saving a baby—a heartrending pressure point in her backstory. That is, the point when she had to choose between saving a baby and saving her partner from a fatal gunshot wound.

The rest of the suspense plot evolved from there, as I picked the brain of a female EMT about all the potential scary situations paramedics might, and do, face on a daily basis.

As for the romance, I decided to make the story a reunion romance, because of everything Sherri would face, and the unaffected front I wanted her to put on, I needed a hero who already knew her well and who had lots of good reasons to want to help her.

You can read my review on the RT Book Reviews website. Please follow the link:
(I rated it 4.5/4.5 stars!)

About Sandra…

Sandra Orchard is an award-winning author of Christian romantic suspense. She writes for Harlequin's Love Inspired Suspense line and Revell Publishing. A member of ACFW, RWA, and The Word Guild (Canada), Sandra loves to encourage other writers in their journey. Although she'd always dreamed of being a writer, she majored in math at the university and didn't think she had enough imagination to write fiction.While homeschooling her children, she wrote curriculum and reviews and read … a lot. When her husband, frustrated by the growing book piles, suggested she write her own, little did he know what he'd started! She lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband of more than 25 years, and now writes full-time … when not doting on her grandchildren.

Readers can find her online at: and check out fun bonus features, such as location pics, deleted scenes etc. at:
They can also connect with her on Facebook at:

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Reads: In Good Company by Jen Turano (And a GIVEAWAY!)

This Friday, I'm reading and reviewing "In Good Company" by Jen Turano, which will be released on July 7, 2015. 

Jen has graciously agreed to give away a hard copy book to one lucky person (US only). To enter, see the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of the post. Good luck! (Contest ends June 30, 2015.)

My Review...

Millie Longfellow grew up an orphan and now works as a nanny. However, she has a hard time keeping a job, as many employers find her to be a bit too spirited.
            Everett Mulberry just became guardian to three kids, and he needs a lot of help. He is unable to keep a nanny employed due to the mischievousness of the young children.
            Millie and Everett cross paths at the employment agency. The agency determines them to be a perfect match for each other. Everett is familiar with Millie’s track record and is leery to have her around the children, who recently lost their parents under suspicious circumstances. They come to an arrangement to work together for the summer until something more permanent can be decided.
            Everett’s intended, Miss Caroline Dixon, is less than thrilled to learn that Everett has hired Millie. Caroline sets her sights on getting rid of Millie and the children. With her high society standing, Caroline has no place in her life for anyone but Everett. Will Caroline succeed with her plans? Will Millie and Everett learn to work together? Or will the children outsmart them all?
            Millie is a truly endearing character. As a lover of words and books, I was able to easily identify with her. I love the fact that she travels with a bag full of books, as do I the same thing! There are some scenes that may remind the reader of Maria and her charges in The Sound of Music. Turano writes with such flourish, and there is a wonderful rapport between the characters. Numerous comedic scenes are woven together in Turano’s latest, complete with a bit of mystery surrounding the death of the children’s parents. This is the first book I have read by Turano, but it will definitely not be the last! 

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

Here's the Amazon link for purchase:

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tuesday Tip: Conjunctive Adverbs

Most people will remember learning about conjunctions in school. You may even remember the Schoolhouse Rock song, "Conjunction Junction." But in case you have forgotten, conjunctions are words that link words, clauses, and phrases to create a smoother transition.

All writers are familiar with adverbs, and they are often overused in fiction. Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. They can make the writing more interesting, if they are not overdone. Some adjectives are used to show connections between ideas, and they are known as conjunctive adverbs. When used this way, the adverbs show comparison, contrast, or some other relationship between the ideas in the sentence.

There are a number of conjunctive adverbs, but some of the common ones are:
  • accordingly     
  • also
  • besides
  • finally
  • however
  • instead
  • meanwhile
  • still
  • therefore
  • thus
When the conjunctive adverb is used in a sentence, it is set off by commas. It is set off by one comma when it is used at the beginning or end of a sentence.

For instance:
  • Meanwhile, the rain continued to come down in buckets.
  • When the sun came out, finally, a rainbow could be seen in the backyard.
  • The weatherman predicts that more storms will occur, however.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wordy Wednesday: Exit Strategy by Shirlee McCoy

This Wordy Wednesday I'm highlighing Exit Strategy by Shirlee McCoy, a new Love Inspired Suspense release (June 1, 2015). Here's an excerpt:


"If he comes back, I'll fight for you. You will fight for you. Between the two of us, we should be able to keep you safe."

"Who's going to keep you safe?" Lark asked.

"I'm pretty darn good at doing that myself," Cyrus said, taking her arm and leading her around the side of the building.

"I'm pretty good at doing it, too, Cyrus," Lark said as she lowered herself into the passenger seat of the car. "But even people who are good at taking care of themselves, people who have always kept themselves safe, need help sometimes. I learned that while I was lying in that trailer praying that God would send someone to help me. I'm not going to forget that you were the one He sent. And, if you're ever in trouble, if you're ever at the point where you really do need someone to step in, I can guarantee you that I'll be the first to show up."

She closed the door before he could respond. It was for the best. Cyrus wasn't sure what he would've said.


You can read my review from the June 2015 issue of RT Bookreviews Magazine at the following link:
(I rated it 4 1/2 out of 4 1/2 stars!)

Here's the link for purchase:

Happy reading!

Monday, June 15, 2015

June Featured Book #2 ... and a GIVEAWAY

Dawn has graciously offered to give away a copy (e-book) of "The Captive Imposter" to one lucky person. In order to be entered, see the Rafflecopyter giveaway link at the end of this post. The last day to enter is June 30, 2015. If you are chosen, I will be in touch to get your information to pass along to Dawn.

Before sharing my review, here's a bit of information from Dawn.

Q & A with Dawn…

Q.       What inspired your latest story idea?
 A.     Estella Everstone has been someone I’d written about in my first two books over the last few years, but since I write each book from a different character’s first person perspective, I’d only ever seen her through the eyes of others. So once I sat down to get to know her I found out lots! And above all, it was that she needed someone other than the man I’d thought she would end up with! I’d always wanted to write a book set at a resort deep in the mountains of Maine ... and the manager of that resort just turned out to be the perfect hero for my Estella. 

Q.     Please tell us about the spiritual theme of your story you hope every reader is challenged by.
 A.     The spiritual theme running throughout the story has to do with being rescued by God. That He wants us, loves us and knows what is best for us. 

Q.     Always wanted to be an author? Or surprised your path led you to be published?
 A.     I’d always enjoyed creative writing in school (it was actually the only thing I was good at), and I’ve thought the idea of writing a novel was interesting since I was in high school .... however, I didn’t write anything other than what was assigned to me in both high school and college--and after that, nothing at all. It wasn’t until I was married and in my thirties that my husband found out about it and encouraged me. That was all I needed. I started my debut novel {The Hesitant Heiress, August 2014} in 2010, went to ACFW in 2011, signed with my agent directly afterwards, and signed my book contract with Whitaker House in 2013. So yeah, more surprised than anything! 

Q.     What is your favorite characteristic about your story’s hero and heroine?
 A.     I would say it has to be their determination to do what needs to be done. Estella is sent away from her family to be kept safe. She has no say, but is a willing participant. Dexter Blakeley’s personality oozes responsibility, so much so that he does so much for the benefit of others without thinking of what he needs. When he sees a need, he does everything in his power to make things right. 

My Review…

Hotel heiress Estella Everstone is in hiding and takes a position as a lady’s maid, under the name of Elle Stoneburner. She is headed to Everstone, the mountain hotel owned by her father. Along the way, she meets Mr. Dexter Blakely, manager of Everstone. There is a growing attraction between “Elle” and Mr. Blakely. How will he react when her secrets are revealed and he discovers that she is not as destitute as he has been led to believe? Will his feelings change? Is he merely compelled to play the hero to those in need?

Told in first person POV, this is the third installment in the “The Everstone Chronicles.”  While reading them in order could help the reader gain a greater appreciation for the series, this can be read as a standalone. It is a wonderful example of historical fiction, complete with poetic prose, vivid descriptions, and the right amount of romance. There are a number of ups and downs as the secrets unfold. This is the first story I have read by Crandall, but it will not be the last.

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

About Dawn…

     A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming published, he encouraged her to quit her job in 2010 in order to focus on writing her debut novel, The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary. 
     Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a pre-marriage mentor program at their local church in Northeast Indiana.

     Dawn is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.

     The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series and is published by Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a Finalist in 2013. Her debut novel, The Hesitant Heiress, won the inspirational single title category of the RWA Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence in 2015! 

Where you can find Dawn online…
Author Website:
Sign up for my quarterly Newsletter:
Twitter: @dawnwritesfirst /

Here's the link for purchase:
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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tasty Thursday: Ham and Pineapple Skillet

I like to keep things varied on my blog, so a couple Thursdays a month will now be called "Tasty Thursday." I'll be sharing a recipe with everyone.  Feel free to post one of your favorite recipes  in the comments.


Ham and Pineapple Skillet
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup honey
1 (20 ounce) can of pineapple chunks, drained, reserving juice
1 (15 ounce) fully cooked ham steak, cut in bite-sized pieces

1.      Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onions until softened and translucent, about five minutes.
2.      Stir in flour. Add reserved pineapple juice and honey. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly, about five minutes.
3.      Stern pineapple and ham pieces. Reduce heat to medium-low.
4.      Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer for five minutes.
5.      Serve over hot, cooked rice, if desired.

Nutrition facts per serving: 250 cal, 6 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 200 mg sodium, 46 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 39 g sugar, 3 g protein

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tuesday Tip: Creating Realistic Characters

How do you create a realistic character? There are a number of things to keep in mind:

  • Think about the character's childhood. What kind of family did they grow up in? That will have a large impact on the character as an adult. Family and environment, as well as school and other social experiences, play into a character's personality. Was there abuse? Bullying? Did they always get their way? Were they expected to care for younger siblings? Did they have no responsibilities at all? While you don't need to include all of this information in the story, it's important to keep it in mind, as these things shape the character.
  • Next, consider relationships. Is the character an extrovert or an introvert? Do they have a few close friends, or a large circle of acquaintances?
  • What does your character do for a living? While this may not be a key point in the story, knowing this information makes it easier for the reader to connect with the character. It is also important to keep this in mind so that you do not stereotype your character, unless that is your intent. Do they like their job, or are they always looking for something else? Are they liked by their coworkers? Are they recognized for their achievements, or do they just slide along? Are they a workaholic?
  • What do they do outside of work? What are their hobbies? Do they like to travel? Participate in an activity on a regular basis? Do they live a life totally separate from their daytime persona?
  • Are they optimistic or pessimistic? Serious or a clown? Are they religious? Political? Outspoken? Shy?
  • What are their goals and dreams? Do they have any nervous habits? Superstitions? Strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Choose a name that fits the personality that you have created. A name such as "Bruiser" will bring certain images to mine for the reader. If those visuals do not match your intentions, consider a different name.
There are many things to consider, as you want your character to jump off the page at your reader. However, all of these items are important in creating a realistic character that readers will be able to connect with, root for, and love (or love to hate).

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Wordy Wednesday: The Proposal at Siesta Key by Shelley Shepard Gray

I'm reviewing The Proposal at Siesta Key: Amish Brides of Pinecraft Book 2 (The Pinecraft Brides). It was released May 12, 2015. Here is the back cover blurb:


A young Amish woman, yearning for freedom, crosses paths with a handsome Mennonite celebrity in a deeply moving tale of friendship and self-discovery — the second installment in the unforgettable New York Times bestselling author’s new Amish Brides of Pinecraft series.

Penny Troyer rarely disobeys her parents. In the years since her sister’s tragic death, they’ve wanted nothing more than to keep her safe … even if it means never leaving the house.

But tonight, she’s bending the rules because Michael Knoxx, the most famous member of The Knoxx Family Singers, a traveling Mennonite Evangelical family — is scheduled to speak. Penny has heard of Michael — how he lost part of his leg in a terrible accident and uses the experience to inspire others — and knows she must meet him. So, for the first time ever, Penny stands up to her parents and goes out on her own.

Though he speaks about living life to the fullest, Michael knows he needs to take his own advice. Life on the road is grueling and Michael wants to slow down, to rest … to perhaps meet someone who sees him as a man, not just a celebrity. So when a twist of fate allows him the chance to stay a little longer in Pinecraft, Michael knows God is showing him a new path, especially when he discovers how much he and Penny Troyer have in common.

But new friendships can’t stop time. Soon, Michael’s time in Pinecraft will be over and he’ll be back on the road. Her time with Michael has brought her happiness, but will she be able to follow her heart? Or will she be faced with the one thing she’s sure she’ll never have the courage to do?


You can read my review from the June 2015 issue of RT Bookreviews Magazine at the following link:

Monday, June 1, 2015

June Featured Book #1...And a GIVEAWAY!

Lynn has graciously offered to give away a copy (hard copy or e-book) of "Covert Justice" to one lucky person. In order to be entered, see the Rafflecopyter giveaway link at the end of this post. The last day to enter is June 14, 2015. If you are chosen, I will be in touch to get your information to pass along to Lynn.

Before sharing my review, here's a bit of information from Lynn.

A Word from Lynn...

Thank you for having me, Leslie!

I grew up in the mountains of western North Carolina, so I was thrilled to discover that it was the perfect setting for Covert Justice. I can’t imagine the story taking place anywhere else.

Some of my favorite childhood memories are of hiking to waterfalls in the Pisgah National Forest and along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it wasn’t until the mid-2000’s that I first hiked to the waterfalls of the DuPont State Forest. I was amazed that my family had never been there, especially since it’s located just a few miles from my grandmother’s home. How had we missed this beautiful spot?

What I discovered was that the land that now makes up the DuPont State Forest had not been open to the public during my childhood. It had been privately owned by the DuPont corporation until the mid-90s, when it was sold at a very generous price to a conservation group, allowing for its eventual development into a protected state forest.

The trails of the DuPont State Forest are now a favorite hiking spot for our family and at some point I started wondering about a family owned company sitting on acres of undeveloped, waterfall-dotted property. I started thinking about who would live there, what sorts of products they would make in their manufacturing facility, and, of course, what sort of trouble would come knocking on their door and change their lives forever.

I’d been thinking about these characters and their story for a while when I had the opportunity to participate in The Search for a Killer Voice contest in 2014. The story was mostly a loose idea in my head, but jumping into the contest allowed me to finally bring the story to completion. I hope you enjoy it!

You can read my review on the RT Book Reviews website. Please follow the link:
(I gave it 4 out of 4 1/2 stars.)

About Lynn...

Lynn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after at

Where you can find Lynn online...

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