Friday, December 30, 2016

"Grace for the Moment: Inspirational Thoughts for Each Day of the Year" by Max Lucado

My review...

This is the large print edition of Lucado’s popular devotional. It is a daily, year-long plan which allows the reader a chance to pause daily to reflect on God’s message. Each reading is short, comprised of a Scripture and devotional message taken from one of Lucado’s other books.

The book itself is beautifully designed, with a faux leather cover, easy to turn pages, and a ribbon page marker. Various Bible versions are referenced. This is a wonderful collection overall. These devotions can easily be read again year after year. It would make a great gift, as well.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the BookLook Bloggers program. I was not required to leave a positive review.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Tuesday Tip: Bring vs. Take

Tuesday Tip

"The difference between  'bring' and 'take' has to do with the location of the speaker and the location of any other actors who will be bringing or taking something from some place to some other place."

— C. Edward Good, A Grammar Book for You and I… Oops, Me!

Take is a verb which means an action which will proceed away from the location where the person is currently located. You can think of it as the action "to take away." Many writers use the word "bring" when they really mean "take." For instance:

  • Incorrect: He should bring a lunch, as it will not be provided.
  • Correct:   He should take a lunch, as it will not be provided.

Bring should be used when the actors in the sentence are returning or bringing something back. 

The two words get even more confusing when you're writing about two people who are not in the same place. For instance:

  • If James is going on a date with Susan, James will be taking his car, but Susan will think that James is bringing his car. (In such a case,  the use of both verbs is correct.)

Friday, December 23, 2016

"Sleigh Bells Ring" by Sandra D. Bricker, Barbara J. Scott, Lynette Sowell, and Lenora Worth

This novella collection consists of four related contemporary romance novellas. It is a fun, quick read, and it is perfect for the holiday season. While parts of it are predictable, it is enjoyable nonetheless. Each story focuses on one of the Tucker sisters. The stories blend seamlessly, and themes of forgiveness, family, healing, and love are key to the book.

All I Want for Christmas by Sandra D. Bricker

JoJo Tucker is surprised to learn that her father, who recently passed away, left her and her sisters a horse farm in Kentucky. She learned this by receiving a final letter from him. None of the girls had been on speaking terms with their father in some time. JoJo returns home and encounters her first crush, Jed Weatherly. Jed’s been working at the farm since her father died to keep things afloat. She figures it is in everyone’s best interest to sell the farm, and she makes plans to get all of her sisters together for Christmas. However, will they be receptive to her plans? Will Jed be able to help JoJo’s Christmas wish come true?

Her Old Kentucky Home by Lynette Sowell

Bella Tucker decides to spend Christmas at her old Kentucky farm with her sisters, at JoJo's request. Bella's job is shaky, so she figures the timing is perfect. Her boyfriend David will go along to visit his own family. He would love to move back to Kentucky, but he is not sure how Bella feels. JoJo and Bella discover some unopened letters their father had sent to their mother while he was in the military. Will these letters bring clarity to the sisters? Will David’s career plans be the end of their relationship?

I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Barbara J. Scott

The first person Sophie Tucker encounters when she returns home to visit with her sisters is her high school crush Matthew Weatherly. He rescues the vet from a car accident. Matthew knows that their father wanted to make amends with the girls, and he hopes to convince them that there was a different side to their father than they knew. Matt would love for her to stay in Kentucky, but will Sophie’s past make it too painful? Can she admit her feelings and take a chance on an unknown future?

Please Come Home for Christmas by Lenora Worth

Amy Tucker Brosseau is a single mother working at a café in New Orleans. While she had been angry with her father, she does agree to return to Kentucky, despite numerous bad memories. She just wants to let go of the farm and her past. She meets Dan Wentworth, who is interested in purchasing the farm. Amy plans to convince her sisters to sell it to him, but will something change her mind?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

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 your favorite holiday tradition.

Happy writing!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week:

"In my writing, as much as I could, I tried to find the good and praise it."
— Alex Haley

Look for the good, and have a wonderful week!

Friday, December 16, 2016

"A Baxter Family Christmas" by Karen Kingsbury

If you're looking for a new book to try this holiday season, I'd recommend the latest from Karen Kingsbury.

My review...

John Baxter is trying something new this Christmas, and he wants to do it in memory of his daughter Erin, who died in a car accident two years ago. He has invited Kendra Bryant and her husband to spend Christmas with his family. Kendra is the recipient of Erin’s heart. John’s children are less than thrilled with the idea, particularly his daughter Ashley. Ashley and her husband have been raising Amy, the only survivor of the accident which killed Erin and her husband. Kendra agrees to go, but her husband thinks it is a bad idea. How will Amy respond to meeting Kendra? Is it possible for all of them to have a miracle this Christmas?

This is the latest book containing Kingsbury’s very popular Baxter family. Themes of love, redemption, and hope are key, making this the perfect book for the holiday season. It is easy to see why Kingsbury is a fan favorite. This book could be read as a standalone, which is what I did. However, by reading the Baxter titles in order, the reader would have a greater appreciation for the family dynamics. Kingsbury does a wonderful job of giving enough details so that a reader new to the family could still follow along and enjoy the book. The reader is made to feel a part of the Baxter family. Some yummy recipes are included, as well.

Amazon link for purchase...

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Letitia Suk's "Getaway with God" travel bag giveaway (LitFuse Blog Tour)

Getaway with God Letitia Suk

My review...

Is it possible for one day to totally change your life? Yes, if that day is spent alone with God, instead of God just being part of your to-do list. Suk’s latest is designed to encourage the reader to take a personal retreat to spend time with God. It is a step-by-step guide to help you plan your trip, which could be from a few hours to a few weeks. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should be a time away from the daily demands so that the focus can be on strengthening a relationship with God.

Suk shares personal experiences to help the reader determine the best way to plan their own retreat. While this book is titled in a way to appeal to women, men could benefit from this, as well. The book does not provide a one-size-fits-all approach. Relevant scripture is woven throughout. Numerous resources are provided, including a sample schedule for a retreat and feedback from other women. If you are looking for way to recharge, this just might be the book for you.

While this book wasn’t quite what I was expecting, it was an enjoyable read nonetheless. It is well-organized and detailed and likely to be valuable for those looking for a spiritual retreat.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the LitFuse blog tour.

Landing page for blog tour...

Link for purchase...

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tuesday Tip: Double Negatives

Tuesday Tip

"I won't not use no double negatives."

— Bart Simpson

Ah, yes, the wise words of Bart Simpson. Using a double negative doesn't always turn a negative statement into a positive one. However, it can lead to a confusing sentence.

An exception to this rule is to follow the word "not" with an "un-" statement if you are attempting irony, sarcasm, or an understatement.  For instance, you could say, "I'm not unhappy" to show that you are not totally happy.

It is best to stick with positive statements, as they will be more clear and to the point. They will make your writing feel crisp. Negative words can come across as being indirect, which may make it more challenging for your reader. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

"Unwritten Melody" by Tessa Emily Hall

About the book...

Does breaking free require breaking the rules?

Cassie Gilbert lives every day in the shadows of her deceased mom’s rebellion. But now that she’s seventeen, she finds herself longing to break away from her grandmother’s suffocating rules, experience what it’s like to be a regular teenager, and fulfill her songwriting dreams.

James Russo, former American Spotlight contestant, escapes to small-town Willow Creek, SC, hoping to flee from his tarnished past. When a school project pairs him with the shy principal’s granddaughter, he’s determined to get to know this Emily-Dickinson-obsessed and typewriter-using girl. His plan? Convince Cassie to co-write songs for his demo album.

As Cassie gets to know James over “project meetings” (more like opportunities to match her lyrics with his melodies), she becomes intrigued by his sense of adventure and contagious passion for music. But soon, his past becomes exposed. Cassie’s left to wonder—did she make the same mistake Mom did by falling for the bad boy?

Then, Grandma’s control pushes her over the edge. Cassie must choose between remaining in the chains of yesterday or delving into her own freedom by completing the melody her mom left behind.

Q&A with Tessa...

Q:  What was the inspiration behind Unwritten Melody?
 A:  I loved the idea of having a songwriter (Cassie) mesh her lyrics together with a musician (James) and for the pieces to fit together like a puzzle—almost as though the lyrics and songs were created for each another.

I also knew that I wanted to somehow incorporate the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson into the novel. I first learned about this poet in my 8th grade English class. I remember becoming fascinated—not only with her works, but also with the unique story of her life. After I brainstormed the premise to Unwritten Melody, I knew Cassie’s own life would shadow perfectly that of Dickinson’s and highlight the book’s theme in the process.

Q:  What is the message you hope readers will grasp after reading Unwritten Melody?
A:  It’s my hope that, through any book that I write, readers will realize they are not alone in their life’s journey—in the questions they wrestle with, emotions they deal with, situations they experience, etc. And hopefully, through following the journey that my characters take, readers can find a solution for their own problems as well.

I specifically hope readers will come away from Unwritten Melody with newfound hope for their current circumstances and a deeper revelation of the power of God’s unending love.

Q:  Could you give a brief overview of the writing and publication process behind Unwritten Melody?
 A:  I brainstormed the plot when I was seventeen-years-old—the spring of 2011. I was working on my debut novel, Purple Moon, at the time, so I filed the idea away until I could have dedicated time to focus on it. Finally, I wrote the first draft when I was eighteen and working on the edits to Purple Moon. That draft continued to develop and transform as I went through the editing/revision process for over a year.

When I was twenty-one, my agent sent me a long edit letter, detailing the major areas that needed to be fixed in the plot. I was extremely grateful for the feedback—yet at the same time, a part of me was discouraged, because it would require a great deal of “book surgery” to fix the errors in the plot. That was a lot to take on, especially after I’d already spent over a year in edits.

So, I stepped away from the book and poured my energy into another project. Yet the story didn’t let me avoid it for long. I knew that the book didn’t exactly match the original story that was first laid on my heart several years before, and I was determined to make that happen.

To make a long story short—I spent the fall of 2015 applying my agent’s suggestions and rewriting the entire book from scratch. It still has the same characters, premise, and setting, but now the novel matches the original novel I had first brainstormed when I was seventeen.

The book went on for submission to publishers for winter 2016. One day in May, while I was packing to leave for a writer’s conference, I received a phone call from my literary agent with the great news—Clean Reads had offered a contract. J (I knew they were considering it because they had requested the manuscript about a month before.)

The moral of the story? Never give up on the story of your heart!

Q:  What’s next in your writing journey?
A:  I’m currently working on the sequel to Purple Moon (which has been another lengthy project) and hope to finish it by winter 2016. I’ve also been working on a teen devotional that I’m really excited about!

After that? Well, I hope to continue writing inspirational and authentic novels for teens and possibly write another installment in the Purple Moon series. I don’t see myself switching genres any time soon! But I do hope to delve more into non-fiction as well.

Although God is the Ultimate Author of my future, I always ask him to give me the desires He wants me to have. Right now, my burning desire is this: To write books that transform lives — stores that portray the power of God's steadfast love and His unending grace.

Q:  What advice would you like to give aspiring authors?
A:  First of all, stay fueled with a passion for writing. Build your writing journey on a foundation that consists of a love for both reading and writing. Write because you can't not write, because honestly, if you don't begin with this kind of passion, then it's going to be far too tempting to quit when the discouragement comes. (Notice that I said when, not if!) It's important to also find the time to write and stay disciplined with your writing time because perseverance is the only way to produce an actual book.

Then, learn as much about the craft industry as you can through blogs, books, workshops, and conferences. Apply what you learn to your manuscript. Network with other writers on blogs, social media, critique groups, and at writing conferences. Keep a teachable spirit. Remember that, no matter how naturally gifted you may be in writing, every writer could use improvement to grow.

Finally, create long-term and short-term goals for your writing journey. I've met so many writers who never pursued their writing dreams because, A) They didn't push themselves to finish a book, B) They gave up too soon, C) They didn't learn how a book is published, therefore never pursued publication and believed that "being an author" was an impossible achievement.

I love to mentor young writers through my course, Write Now. have you can find more info about this three-month program at this link:

Amazon link for purchase...

About Tessa...

Tessa Emily Hall writes inspirational, yet authentic, YA fiction to show others they’re not alone—and because she remembers the teen life like it was yesterday (or a few years ago). The debut novel she wrote at 16-years-old, Purple Moon (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), was a Selah 2014 Finalist. Her second novel, Unwritten Melody, releases with Clean Reads November 2016. She’s the Founder of, a magazine that inspires teens to embrace their calling. Tessa also enjoys helping writers achieve their dreams through her internship at Hartline Literary Agency.

When her fingers aren’t flying 116 WPM across the keyboard, Tessa can be found making healthy homemade lattes, speaking to teens, decorating her insulin pump, and acting in Christian films. She writes in a small town nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Southeastern coast. Her favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers.  You can find her online at the following;

Twitter:       @tessaemilyhall

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

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:

My favorite hobby...

Happy writing!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week:

"I'm very proud of my flops, as much as of my successes."
— Francis Ford Coppola

Everyone has failures. The important thing is to learn from the mistakes. Don't let them hold you back. Go out and tackle the week!

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

"365 Devotions for Rest" by Christina Vinson

My review...

If you’re looking for an easy and encouraging way to fit some positivity into your day, this devotional may be just what you need.

Many people are looking for rest in their lives, and this book can help the reader achieve that, if only for a few minutes each day. Everything about this book is designed to promote rest from the title, to the purple cover, blue-accented pages, beautiful ribbon bookmark, and devotional titles.

The devotions are short, making them easy to fit into a busy schedule. Each devotion contains a title, Bible verse, message, and a brief prayer. The author uses various Bible versions, and a verse index is included. This is a devotional book to be treasured and used for many years.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the BookLook Bloggers Program. Opinions are my own.

Amazon link for purchase...

Friday, December 2, 2016

"Prose and Cons" by Amanda Flower ... and a GIVEAWAY!

To celebrate the release of her latest book, Amanda has graciously offered to give away a copy of the first book in the series, "Crime and Poetry" (US ONLY). To enter, see the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. (Contest ends December 9, 2016.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!

Q&A with Amanda...

Q:  Your cozy mystery series uses poetry. How did you choose the poets/poems to use?
A:   In Crime and Poetry, I settled on Emily Dickinson's work as the poems I would use to solve the crime. Even before I started writing Prose and Cons, I knew I wanted to use a 19th century American writer. Who is a better writer to choose for a mystery set close to Halloween and Edgar Allen Pope? I knew he was a perfect fit.

Q:  How much research is involved in writing your cozy mysteries?
A:  I do the most research for my novels for the first book in a series because that's the time that I am establishing the setting and the characters. I want to know everything I can about the places and people I create. I know much more about them than ever appears in the final version of the novel, but it's important to me to have a good understanding of the places and people in order to tell a good story. As a series goes on and I know these places and people like the back of my hand, my research is much more specialized. I might spend hours looking for one tiny detail or I might just spend a few seconds Googling something for a random fact. However, in both cases, my favorite way to research is to go to places I'm writing about or ask someone who has knowledge and/or experience with what I am writing about. Having first-person experience is very important to me as an author.

Q:  Do you get your ideas from any real-life people or situations?
A:  Always. Every single day. Everything in my life is book fodder, just ask those closest to me. I change the names and adapt situations. For better or worse, much of my life is cozy mystery like — minus the dead bodies — so I have a lot of material with which to work.

Q:  How long does it generally take you to write a book?
A:  Because of my deadlines, I write a new novel every two to three months.

Q:  What can you tell me about your next project?
A:  I'm currently writing a novel that will release in 2018. It's the second book in my Amish Candy Shop Mystery Series coming out with Kensington. It's the second book in the series. The first book, Assaulted Caramel, releases in September 2017, and it's about a New York City chocolatier who returns to Ohio to visit her Amish grandparents, only to be tangled up in a small-town murder.

Q:  That sounds like a good book! I look forward to reading it.
A:  Thanks.  I would also like to share the following information with your readers. When they buy a mystery, they can help feed a community! Purchase any edition of Prose and Cons between now and Tuesday, December 20, 2016, and I will  donate $1 for every book sold to a food pantry, The Landing, located in Akron, Ohio. The Learned Owl is also making a $1 donation to The Landing for every copy the bookstores sells and is selling personalized and signed copies of the novel. They can ship anywhere.

Q:  That's wonderful! Think so much for doing that in sharing information with my readers. This is a wonderful book, and I hope they pick up a copy and donate to this worthy cause. Thanks for stopping by. I'm sure my readers enjoyed learning a bit more about you and your latest release.

My review...

Violet Waverly is helping her grandma Daisy run Charming Books in Cascade Springs, NY. The store is unique in that the patrons don’t choose the books. The books choose the patrons. Violet and Daisy are gearing up for the local Food and Wine Festival, as well as hosting the Red Inkers, a local writing group, who are planning a Poe-try reading, which will feature poems by Edgar Allan Poe. The last thing Violet expects is to find one of the members of the group dead on-site. Violet knows she must work quickly to solve the murder. She is concerned about how it will affect the bookstore, as the town is preparing for an influx of visitors for the festival. She will need to enlist the help of Faulkner (a crow), Emerson (a cat), Police Chief David Rainwater, and Mayor Nathan Morton (who broke her heart when she was 17). What secrets will Violet uncover along the way, and how well they impact the store? What part will Poe’s works play in the case?

It is such a joy to read the second book in Flower’s “Magical Bookshop Mystery” series. Flower has the ability to transport the reader to an imaginative and wonderful world. The quaint setting is perfect for this cozy mystery, which is complete with charming characters and scenery, as well as a solid mystery. The perfect blend of suspense and comical scenes makes it difficult to put this book down. I truly enjoy the author’s play on words, too. There are a few unique twists, including the method of murder, along the way. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy, but I was not required to write a review. Opinions expressed are my own.

Amazon link for purchase...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday Tip: OK or okay?

Which should you use? OK? Okay? ok?  

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary lists OK as the standard spelling and okay as a "variant." Most book publishers, however, prefer okay. If you're self-publishing, readers are likely to be fine with whichever one you choose. If you're working with a publisher, be sure to check on their preference. It may even be covered in the house style guide.

Friday, November 25, 2016

"The Remnant" by Monte Wolverton (LitFuse Blog Tour)

My review...

What would happen if the Apocalypse happened, and Jesus didn’t show up as expected? That is the premise behind Wolverton’s dystopian release.

Ninety percent of the world’s population has been eliminated, and religion is to blame, apparently, leading to an attack on the remaining ten percent of the population. Grant Cochrin, wife Dana, their two teens, a techie named Bryan, and a few friends escape from a work camp created for people who refused to renounce their religion. Religious books, including the Bible, have been banned. They head out into “The Wilderness.” They know that in doing so, they will never be able to return to the safe zone again. Grant, along with his friends and family, sets out to find other Christians, but they have to be careful to not get caught. They are going on this journey with only a remnant page from the Bible as a guide. Is it possible that their mission can succeed?

I do enjoy dystopian novels, and I had high hopes for this book, as the premise was unique. However, it did not quite live up to my expectations. Overuse of backstory and over-detailing stalls the plot at times. Some flashbacks seem a bit disjointed, as well. The characters were well-developed, but it was a bit hard to feel connected to them. Some of the language is a bit intellectual, which may be off-putting to some readers. The story does reflect racial intolerance and prejudices found in society. The ending paves the way for a possible sequel.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the Litfuse Blogger program.

Amazon link for purchase...

Blog tour landing page...

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

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:

My favorite Thanksgiving memory is...

Happy writing!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week:

"On writing, my advice is the same to all. If you want to be a writer, write. Write and write and write. If you stop, start again. Save everything you write. If you feel blocked, write through it until you feel your creative juices flowing again. Write."
— Anne Rice

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Ace Collins’ Magic of Christmas Prize Pack ("The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Ace Collins, LitFuse Blog Tour)

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year Ace Collins

Click on the graphic above to enter the "Magic of Christmas Prize Pack" giveaway (as part of the LitFuse Blog Tour for this new release).

My review...

December means a time of celebration for many, especially Christians. It is often considered the most joyous time of the year. Collins has penned a unique devotional, perfect for the upcoming holiday season.
This book covers December 1st through the 31st. Each day contains a daily scripture verse and a devotional. The story behind a popular Christmas tradition, movie, or song is also included, along with some holiday crafts. It is as if Collins took the best of holiday books and put them together to create this one. It helps the reader keep the focus on the true meaning of the season instead of focusing on the busyness. It is inspiring and practical, and each reading short, making it easy to fit into your day. I believe this book will become part of my holiday tradition from now on.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the Litfuse Blogger program.

Landing page link for tour...

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tuesday Tip: Indefinite Pronouns

Tuesday Tip

Certain indefinite pronouns are always singular—even though plurality is implied—  it always takes a singular verb.
— The Writer's Digest Writing Clinic

Pronouns referring to one or more unspecified beings, objects, or places are called indefinite pronouns. Some examples include: another, each, either, everyone, nothing, and someone. They may refer to a group, but a singular verb is used. For instance:

  • Everyone on the soccer team gets a new jersey for the season.
  • Someone is knocking at the door.

If you are trying to achieve gender neutrality, this rule needs to be considered. Phrases such as, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion" is incorrect.  Instead, it should be, "Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion."

Sunday, November 13, 2016

"Unblemished" by Sara Ella

My review...

Eliyana has always been treated a bit differently by most people. Only her mother and Joshua treat her like she is normal. She cannot wait to graduate, as she has spent most of her life staying in the shadows. Her life changes after her mom disappears and Joshua, who is only a few years older than her, becomes her guardian. Eliyana quickly learns that what she once believed to be her weakness could actually be her strength. She also discovers that there is another world she never knew existed.

Eliyana is a very relatable character. The world often views people based on their outer, vs. inner, beauty… unfortunately. There is strong character development throughout as she discovers herself-worth. The plot is intricate, but still easy to follow, and the characters are well-drawn. A key theme is the age-old struggle between good versus evil, as well as the importance of not judging someone solely on their looks. Ella uses first person POV and blends love and drama perfectly in this debut fantasy tale. The reader will likely be eagerly anticipating the sequel, as there is a cliffhanger ending. The cover is absolutely beautiful, and it really compliments story.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of the BookLook Bloggers program. A positive review was not required.

Amazon link for purchase...

Friday, November 11, 2016

"Intermission" by Serena Chase ... and a GIVEAWAY!

In celebration of her latest release, Serena is hosting a giveaway. You can find the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of this post. Good luck!

Q & A with Serena...

Q: What was the inspiration for Intermission?
 A: Intermission began eight or nine(ish) years ago as a short story assignment I completed as part of the Apprentice Course with the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. My mentor for that program, author Sandra Byrd, thought it had potential to be expanded into a novel. Many years and many drafts later … it is finally meeting the world.

Q: What would you be doing if you were not an author?
A:  I’d like to say something in the entertainment business, because that has always been my drive, my passion. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of jobs in my area (rural Iowa) in which I can utilize my formal education (my degree is in Music Business—I’d intended to stay in Nashville, where I went to college, but … love brought me back home to Iowa.) I did enjoy being a substitute teacher at some area high schools several years ago, so I might have gone back to school to get my teaching licensure.  Luckily, I’ve found my passion.

Q: What do you consider the hardest part about being a writer?
A:  Social isolation. It is very difficult to balance having a real life off the page with the time and focus necessary to create fictional lives within the pages of your stories.

Q: What can you tell me about your next project? 
A: For November’s NaNoWriMo event I’m heading back to E’veria, the world created in my Eyes of E’veria fantasy series. My original plan was to write a novella about Veetrish Storyteller Rowlen de Whittier, who is a minor character in the existing books. But the more I get into my planning, the more I realize this is a big story, and it will likely turn into a full-length novel before I’m through.  At present, I’m planning it to be a mash-up of two reimagined fairy tales, but I’m not ready to divulge, publicly, which fairy tales quite yet. You’ll have to wait and see!

My review...

Sixteen-year-old Faith Prescott cannot wait to leave her small-town Iowa community for Broadway, much to her parents’ dismay. They, particularly her mother, look down on the music profession. Therefore, they are not impressed to meet Noah Spencer, a nineteen-year-old who shares Faith’s musical theater dreams. Faith doesn’t understand where the dislike comes from, but her parents are determined to keep her away from Noah. When rumors threaten her friendships, and even freedom, Faith must decide what is most important to her: her dreams or obeying her parents.

Chases’s latest is a beautifully written, first person POV coming-of-age story. As a fan of everything musical, I loved it! The characters are likable, and the moral issues and family dynamics are realistic. First love and asserting one’s independence are key themes. I do need to note that there is some verbal and emotional abuse included, though it is handled skillfully. It is nice to read a book where the teen characters have values and a strong faith. Religious themes are woven throughout, but they are not overwhelming. While it is a bit hard to tolerate Faith’s mother at times, she does portray the belief some people have that music is not a legitimate career path. However, dreams are God-given, and the characters accurately depict the struggle of following what is in your heart versus obeying your parents.

One of my favorite takeaway quotes is: “When you’re certain that what you’re holding onto is something true, leap.”

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book. I was not required to leave a review. Opinions expressed are my own 

Amazon link for purchase...

About Serena...

Serena Chase is the author of the critically-acclaimed Eyes of E'veria series and a regular contributor to USA Today's Happy Ever After blog. A lifelong performer who sometimes speaks in show tunes, Serena lives in Iowa with her husband Dave, teen daughters Delaney and Ellerie, and a 100-pound white Goldendoodle named Albus, who is the biggest star of her Instagram account.

Where you can connect with Serena:

Happily Ever After blog;

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

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 a short biography of your favorite historical figure.

Happy writing!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week:

"It's so easy to fool yourself into thinking that you're working hard. It's so easy not to write. So you use any trick you can to make yourself know there's work to be done. That's why I wear a jacket and tie when I sit down to write.
— Robert Caro

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, November 4, 2016

"Trust My Heart" by Carol J. Post ... and a GIVEAWAY!

In celebration of  this release, Carol has graciously offered to give away a hard copy (US) or ebook (outside US) of the book! To enter, see the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. (Contest ends November 11, 2016.) If you are the the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!

Q & A with Carol...

Q:  What would you be doing if you were not an author?
A:  I would still be writing in some fashion or another, because I can’t imagine NOT writing. Although my first novel was published fairly recently (just under four years ago), I’ve been writing for most of my life. I was one of those weird kids that actually enjoyed doing book reports and research papers. As a child and teenager, I wrote poetry. That evolved into writing articles that found their way into some Christian and children’s publications. My husband and I worked with Marriage Encounter for a short time, which involved writing talks that we presented as part of the program. I even did a short stint writing commercials and skits for a radio station.

Q:  Totally not weird! I loved book reports, research papers, and writing poetry too :) That's very interesting that you wrote commercials and radio station skits! How did you start writing?
A:  Although I’ve always enjoyed writing, I didn’t consider trying to write for publication until around 1990. My husband and I were working with Marriage Encounter at the time, and the leader would edit the talks we wrote. After submitting two or three of them, I received a note back that in twenty-five years of leading Marriage Encounter weekends, that was the first talk she’d received that didn’t require edits. That got me thinking that maybe I had a natural “bent” toward writing and should try to write for publication. The thought had never entered my mind previously.

Q:  What do you consider the hardest part about being a writer?
A:  Juggling all the different aspects of the career. I enjoy speaking, doing book signings, blogging, and interacting with my readers on Facebook and Twitter, but all those activities take time away from writing the next book. Sometimes finding that perfect balance is difficult.

Q:  Yes, those things do take a lot of time, but I'm sure your readers are glad to have the opportunity to interact with you! What are your thoughts on the publishing industry in general? In relation to self-publishing?
A:  I’m not someone who keeps a finger on the pulse of the publishing industry, but I can say that I’m glad, for me personally, that self-publishing wasn’t an option when I wrote my first novel. I was so convinced that the plot was riveting, the characters compelling, and the writing just overall amazing, that after those first few rejections, I might have run out and self-published it instead of buckling down and really learning the craft. That said, though, I’m so glad the option is there. I know a lot of incredibly good writers whose books don’t fit neatly into any of the traditional publishing slots, and I think it’s great that they can get their stories out there and into the hands of readers.

Q:  What advice do you have for new authors?
A:  That one’s easy—join a writer’s group. I started my novel writing career back in the mid- to late- 1990s but got discouraged and quit three different times. If I hadn’t found my way to Romance Writers of America and my local chapter, Tampa Area Romance Authors, in 2010, I would probably still be unpublished. Not only have I gained invaluable information from all the workshops I’ve attended, but the encouragement and support I’ve received from the authors in the group have made all the difference for me.

Q:  What is your favorite writing-related book?
A:  Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. It’s actually a book on screenwriting, but it has a lot of really great information for novelists and is written in an easy-to-read, engaging manner.

Q:  What can you tell me about your next project?
A:  My next book is titled Buried Memories and will release in January. It’s being published by Love Inspired Suspense and is the fourth in my Cedar Key series. Tyler Brant is an ex-soldier who is struggling with PTSD and survivor’s guilt. Nicki Jackson experienced a traumatic childhood but is now under attack and has no idea why. She wonders if the answers lie in her recurring nightmares, terrifying visions that may actually be suppressed memories.

Q:  How did you decide to write in multiple genres? What are the challenges of doing both? Which genre is your favorite?
A:  My first seven published books are in the inspirational romantic suspense genre, but many years ago when my daughter was a teenager, we decided it would be fun to write a novel together. It was an inspirational romance, and I think we made it through about three chapters before we ran out of steam. I always loved the story and some time back, I decided to pick it up and dust it off. I changed the setting from a fictional town in the mountains to Murphy, North Carolina, and started rewriting. Not much of the original draft remains, but Jami and Grant are easily recognizable in those early pages, as are a few of the plot elements.

Besides being my first non-suspense, Trust My Heart is my first “single title” length. (With the exception of one novella that I self-published, all of my suspense books are published through Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line, which is “category” length.) I honestly can’t say I have a favorite. My inspirational romantic suspense stories are fun to write because they’re tense and fast-paced and often a bit eerie. My inspirational romance stories are much more lighthearted, with humor sprinkled in, which makes them fun to write also.

Q:  Who are some of your favorite authors?
A:  I have so many I like that it’s hard to narrow it down to a few favorites. I’m currently reading Another Day Another Dali, Sandra Orchard’s second Serena Jones mystery. I loved A Fool and His Monet, the first book in the series. It was fast-paced, full of quirky characters, and laugh-out-loud funny. This one promises to be as good as the first.

Q:  I agree that Sandra's books are quite good. I haven't read her latest book, but I've read a number of her books. What's something that would surprise your readers?
A:  I once chased a car thief across the church parking lot in a dress and high heels. Many years ago, my husband and I arrived at church a little late on a Wednesday night to find a man stretched across my mom’s front seat working on hot wiring her car. He took off, and I lost him when he jumped the fence at the back of the property. As I’ve gotten older, I’m not nearly as impulsive as I used to be. Now I leave the chases to my law enforcement heroes and heroines!

Oh, my goodness! That was certainly a brave thing to do! I certainly didn't expect that surprising info :) You're very welcome, Carol. Thanks so much for being here. I'm sure my readers enjoyed getting to know you a bit better!

Thank you for having me on your blog, Leslie. I enjoyed the visit!

My review...

Grant McAlilister is in Murphy, NC to sell property inherited from his grandmother. He plans to return to the big city and his job as a lawyer as soon as possible. He is totally perplexed as to why the property was left to him, as his grandmother never wanted anything to do with him while she was alive. He meets Jami Carlisle when she tries to interview him. She is looking to make her big break with her latest assignment, which is an article on the McAllister family and their estate. She hopes Grant can help her with that. However, he never really knew his family, and he is not interested in learning about them now. Neither one is looking for a relationship, though Jami’s boss is trying to play the part of matchmaker. Jami uncovers secrets which may cause Grant to look at his family in a different light. Will he also reevaluate his plans as a result?

This is the first in a new series for Post. While there are times when Jami seems a bit too perfect, this is an enjoyable book which is likely to leave the reader both laughing and crying. The characters and storyline are well-developed, and themes of forgiveness, trust, and love are woven throughout. One of my favorite takeaway reminders from the book is: “Bitterness can ruin your life if you let it.”

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book. I was not required to leave a review. Opinions expressed are my own.

Amazon link for purchase...

About Carol...

Carol J. Post lives in sunshiny Central Florida and writes fun and fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense. Her books have been nominated for a RITA® award and an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano. She also enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway