Wednesday, August 31, 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 skit about losing a winning lottery ticket.

Happy writing!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week:

"Do be kind to yourself. Fill pages as quickly as possible; double space, or write on every second line. Regard every new page as a small triumph. Until you get to page 50. Then calm down and start worrying about the quality. Do feel anxiety — it's the job."
              — Roddy Doyle

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, August 26, 2016

"Crime and Poetry" by Amanda Flower...and a GIVEAWAY!


Amanda has graciously offered to give away a copy of the book (US ONLY). To enter, see the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. (Contest ends September 2, 2016.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!

A word from Amanda...

At the end of 2014, my editor at Penguin Random House expressed an interest in doing another mystery series with me. I had been writing the "Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries" for them since 2011 under the name Isabella Alan. She said the new series could be under my real name, so even though I was under contract to write for two other publishers, I jumped at the chance. I pitched her several ideas and even wrote a partial with one of those ideas. She said she loved my writing, but she wanted a magical bookshop theme to the book. I said I was willing to make that happen. I wrote three chapters and the series was sold.

Q & A with Amanda...

Q:  What would you be doing if you were not an author?
A:   Working as a librarian like I am. If I wasn't writing or doing my librarian thing, I'd most likely be traveling and possibly be a travel writer. I love to travel and have been to so many beautiful places. I'd love to share those adventures.

Q:   What do you consider the hardest part about being a writer?
A:   Lack of time. I never feel like I have enough time to get done everything that I must get done. I have the extra challenge of being a full-time librarian as well as being a full-time author.

Q:   What advice do you have for new authors?
A:   Don't give up. My analogy of getting published is beating your head on a closed door over and over and over again. Eventually the door will open enough for you to get your foot in there. When your foot is in the room you will be golden, because it's your chance to show them what you can do.

Q:   What can you tell me about your next project?
A:   My next novel to release is Prose and Cons, which is the sequel to Crime and Poetry. This time, Violet uses the works of Edgar Alan Poe to help her solve the murder. It's great fun, and I hope readers will love it as much as they did the first book. It releases on December 6, 2016.

Q:   I'll have to check that one out! What's something that would surprise your readers?
A:   I've always secretly wanted to work at Starbucks. I think it would be fun because you get to meet so many people, and they have coffee  :)

My review...

Violet Waverley is headed back to Cascade Springs for the first time in twelve years. Grandma Daisy told her she was in ill health and asked her to come home. However, when Violet arrives, it is apparent that she has been tricked. Daisy runs a magical bookstore, Charming Books, and she hopes to convince Violet to stay and become the next caretaker of the store. Violet, on the other hand, plans to return to Chicago as soon as possible. However, things take a turn when Violet discovers a dead man near the shop. The victim turns out to be Benedict Raisin, who was quite close to Daisy. Violet decides to extend her stay when her grandma becomes a suspect in Benedict’s murder. Daisy tells Violet to listen to the books in the store, as they will lead her to the killer. Is it possible that there is something magical about the books, or is Grandma Daisy losing her mind? And just how are Emily Dickinson poems connected to the case?

This is the first installment in a new series by Flower, who is also known for her Amish mysteries (written under the name Isabella Alan). It is a delightful mystery with well-crafted characters, human and animal. While there are clues along the way, the conclusion is a bit of a surprise. I enjoyed the use of Emily Dickinson poems throughout the story, which added an extra element to the mystery. The small town of Cascade Springs is the perfect location for this appropriately paced magical tale. As a book lover, I wish I could visit Charming Books, as Flower’s tale confirms that books truly are magical. This is a fun, quick cozy mystery which quickly engages the reader and keeps them guessing throughout. It was the first book I have read by Amanda Flower, but it will certainly not be my last.

Amazon link for purchase...

About Amanda...

Amanda Flower, a national bestselling and Agatha Award winning mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she 'd found her calling of making people laugh with her words. She also writes mysteries as USA Today bestselling author Isabella Alan. In addition to being an author, Amanda is a librarian in Northeast Ohio.

Readers can find Amanda online at:


    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Tuesday, August 23, 2016

    Tuesday Tip: Malapropisms

    Tuesday Tip

    A malapropism is when a writer misuses words or phrases in a ridiculous way, especially by confusing words that sound similar. The word or phrase means something quite different from the word the writer intended to use. This results in something which is generally nonsensical. A few examples are:

  • I have no delusions to the past. (allusions)
  • You could have knocked me over with a fender. (feather)
  • You lead the way and we'll precede. (proceed)
  • Unfortunately, my affluence over my niece is very small. (influence)
  • A rolling stone gathers no moths. (moss)

  • It is important to remember that malaproprisms do not belong in the narrative portion of story, but characters can say just about anything. 

    Friday, August 19, 2016

    "The Last Time She Saw Him" by Jane Haseldine


    A reporter searching for her kidnapped son must untangle the connection to her brother's long-ago disappearance.

    Julia Gooden remembers nothing about the worst night of her life. 30 years ago, her nine-year-old brother Ben — the person who promised he would always protect her — was abducted from the room they shared. Try as she might to recall any clue or detail, there is a black hole where Julia's memories of that terrible event should be.

    Now a crime reporter at a Detroit newspaper, Julia tries to give others the closure she's never found. But guilt and grief over Ben's disappearance have left her fearful that whoever took her brother is going to come back. Nowhere seems safe — not the city, not the suburbs, not even the secluded lake town where she plans to raise her children. And then, on the anniversary of Ben's disappearance, Julia's worst fears are realized when her two-year-old son, Will, is snatched from his bed.

    Convinced that the crimes are related, Julia tries to piece together memories from her final day with Ben. Are the sudden reminders of her brother clues that will lead her to her son's abductor, or merely coincidence? Julia knows she has hours at best to find Will alive, but the deeper she digs, the more personal and terrifying the battle becomes, and an undying promise may be her only hope of saving herself and her son.

    Link to my review...
    (I rated it 4/5 stars.)

    Amazon link for purchase...

    Wednesday, August 17, 2016

    Writing Prompt Wednesday

    "Simple means getting rid of extra words. Don't write, 'He was very happy' when you can write 'He was happy.' You think the word 'very'  adds something. It doesn't."
    — Scott Adams

    Entire stories can be told with fewer words. It is rumored that Earnest Hemingway once wrote a short story with just six carefully chosen words: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Even though there are not many words, the heartache is still evident. 

    Try writing a story in as few words as possible, as though you were writing a tweet. Then, tell that same story with fifty words. You can try reversing this as well, starting with more words and reducing it to less than ten.

    Happy writing!

    Monday, August 15, 2016

    Monday Motivation

    Some motivation to begin your week:

    "If you want to be a writer, stop talking about it and sit down and write!"
    —Jackie Collins

    Have a wonderful week!

    Sunday, August 14, 2016

    "Giddy Up, Eunice" by Sophie Hudson

    Hudson’s latest is designed to show that while women need Jesus in their lives, they also need other women. She intends to showcase in this book that “what we have in common far exceeds any perceived generational differences.”
    In her latest book, Hudson brings a biblical approach to female relationships by using Elizabeth and Mary, Naomi and Ruth, and Lois and Eunice. In addition to incorporating Scripture throughout, the author shares personal tales, as well. She uses cross-generational mentors to show that older and wiser women have a number of things to share with younger women, and vice versa. The pairs deal with heartbreak, redemption, legacy of faith, and finding your calling. The author is likely to have the reader laughing and crying throughout this thought-provoking book. This book would work well for a small group study, too.
    It is apparent that Hudson has a heart for God and other women. She incorporates a number of modern references (television shows, cell phone apps, etc.) to keep things relevant for today’s reader.
    Hudson has a southern wit to her writing which is very engaging. If you want to try out some of Sophie’s writing before buying one of her books, you can check out  This is a blog she’s had for over ten years.

    Disclaimer: I received a free copy as part of the B&H blogger program in exchange for an honest review.

    Amazon link for purchase:

    Saturday, August 13, 2016

    Family Christian Stores

    Music, books, and jewelry…oh my! What can I say about They have so many great products to choose from. I was given the opportunity to check out their deals, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

    Family Christian is a Christian retailer, operating in 250 stores across the country. They offer a wide variety of Christian books, music, Bibles, DVDs, clothing, gifts, and more. You are likely to find something here to meet any need. There is a place on their website where you can search to see if you have a store near you. If there is not one in your local area, it is extremely easy to order off their website, which is what I did.

    Family Christian has a wonderful summer sale going on at the moment. It is a Buy 1, Get 1 50% off sale on ALL books, movies, and music. You can even mix and match within the departments. This sale ends on August 25, 2016, so you still have time to take advantage of the great deals.  It was wonderful to see that when you shop with Family Christian, all purchases support their efforts to unite with ministries which help children and families in need all around the world.

    I had a hard time deciding what to purchase, as there are so many great items. For instance:

    ·         Select Bibles are 30% off through August 25. Journaling Bibles are the latest trend, so to speak, as they offer space for the reader to jot notes right in the Bible. Some even include illustrations to be colored. They have a huge selection available.

    ·         Author Dee Henderson has a new book out entitled Traces of Guilt. This novel appears to be full of suspense and the first in a new series for Henderson.

    ·         The band NEEDTOBREATHE has a new album which just came out on July 15, 2016. It is the sixth album for the band, and the tracks I checked out sound great!

    ·         They have a new line of products called Active Faith. Family Christian is the exclusive retail partner for this line of clothing. It was formed by a group of Christian athletes, and the apparel offers Christian-inspired designs and messages for encouragement.

    After careful consideration, I decided to order the following:
    ·         How Can It Be (Deluxe Edition CD) by Lauren Daigle (
    ·         The Illustrated Words of Jesus for Women: A Creative Daily Devotional (

    Once I figured out what I wanted to purchase, it was so easy to place my order (and I received my items in less than a week!). Family Christian even offers a Norton shopping guarantee to protect online purchases, which is a bit unique to their site. I’m pretty sure I’ll be ordering from Family Christian in the future!

    Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising): I did receive a sample of one of their products in exchange for this review and post.

    Friday, August 12, 2016

    Dana Mentink’s Sweetness Unleashed Pack Giveaway ("Fetching Sweetness" by Dana Mentink - Litfuse blog tour)

    Fetching Sweetness Dana Mentink

    My Review...

    Stephanie Pink believes that her meeting with reclusive author Agnes Wharton will be the big break she needs to fulfill her dreams of becoming a literary agent. However, her plans are put on hold because of a dog named Sweetness, who has run off. Until Stephanie finds Sweetness, she will not be receiving the long-anticipated sequel from Agnes. Stephanie meets Rhett Hastings, and he reluctantly agrees to help in her search. Rhett and Stephanie have different views on God and His plan in their lives. Will they be able to work together to find Sweetness, as well as a happy ending?
    This book is second in Mentink’s “Love Unleashed” series. While there are some amusing scenes, particularly with a dog, this book is not quite as engaging as the first one. Sweetness is a bit overshadowed by the human characters in this one, which was not the case with the canine star in book one. There are some surprises along the way, even though it is a bit predictable at times. If you are looking for a quick, easy read, this is one to pick up.

    Disclaimer: I received a free copy as part of the Litfuse Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review.

    Landing page link for tour...

    Tuesday, August 9, 2016

    Tuesday Tip: Breaks

    Tuesday Tip

    There are three types of breaks commonly used in fiction. These include:
    1. Chapter break: A chapter break comes at the end of each chapter. This indicates the start of the next chapter on a new page. It is best to use a page break to indicate a chapter break, as this will keep the page numbering continual without having to change anything.
    2.  Soft break: These occur when you need to break a scene into separate sections. These breaks are used when there is no lapse in the time, but the author switches from one character's POV to another. This may also be used to continue the same scene and character, but with a bit of a time lapse. In a book, these are often designated by an empty line between sections of a scene. To indicate this in your manuscript, (space) would be centered on a blank line between the sections to be broken up.
    3. Hard break: This break occurs when a large amount of time has gone by in the action or when starting a new scene in a different place within the same chapter. Hard breaks are often used when switching POV characters when they are in a different place than they were in the prior scene. These breaks in a manuscript are generally shown by centering no more than four characters on a blank line, such as #### or ~~~~.

    Friday, August 5, 2016

    "Deep Shadows" by Vannetta Chapman...and a GIVEAWAY!

    In celebration of her latest release, Vannetta has graciously offered to give away a copy of the book (US ONLY). To enter, see the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. (Contest ends August 12, 2016.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!

    A Word from Vannetta...

    My editor at Harvest House asked me if I could write anything I wanted, what would it be? I’ve always loved the dystopian/survivalist genre, and I’m a news junkie. I’d recently come across a news article about NASA scientists warning Congress about the possibility of a massive solar event. That was all it took to spur my imagination on, and Deep Shadows was born.

    Q & A with Vannetta...

    Q:  What would you be doing if you were not an author?
    A:  I adore teaching. If I could do both things at once, I would! So yes, I’d return to teaching in some capacity.

    Q:  I used to be a teacher, and I really enjoyed it, too! What are your thoughts on publishing/self-publishing?
    A:  I think publishing in general is a difficult thing, as it has always been. There’s a lot of criticism and rejection and hard work involved! That said, writing is a job I absolutely adore, and it is a passion as well as an occupation. As far as self-publishing, I think it’s a valid means of getting your work in front of readers.

    Q:  What advice do you have for new writers?
    A:  Keep writing. The 9th book I wrote was the 1st book published.

    Q:  What are three books in your TBR (to-be-read) pile? 
    A:  Charles Martin, The Mountain Between Us
          C.J. Box, Off the Grid
          Deb Raney, Finally Home

     Q:  Those sound good! I think my TBR pile will soon be a bit larger :)  What are three things about you that would surprise your readers?
    A:  I have a phobia about driving over tall, tall bridges.
          I don’t eat most white foods.
          I love hiking, gardening, and playing the piano.

    Back cover blurb...

    to Plunge the World into Darkness

    Life in Abney, Texas, is predictable and safe—until the night a massive solar flare wipes out all modern technology.

    Shelby Sparks, novelist and single mom, had one goal: to provide for her diabetic son. In the wake of this global disaster, her mission hasn't changed. Only now, medication is a priceless commodity and the future resembles an apocalyptic nightmare.

    Max Berkman and Shelby were once sweethearts, but he lost his chance at claiming her love years ago. When the abrupt loss of power ushers him into a leadership role, he rises to the occasion. But his highest priority—to keep Shelby and her son safe—could prove to be the biggest challenge of all.

    As the brilliant northern lights give way to deep shadows, Max and Shelby's faith will be tested like never before. Only one rule remains: Find a way to survive.

    In this first book in an eerily plausible dystopian series, a memorable cast of characters must navigate a familiar world thrown into chaos.

    I rated this story 4/5 stars in the August 2016 issue of RT Bookreviews Magazine.

    Amazon link for purchase...

    About Vannetta...

    Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace, including romantic suspense and Amish romance novels. She is the author of seventeen novels, including the Pebble Creek Amish series, The Shipshewana Amish Mystery series, and Anna’s Healing, a 2016 Christy Award finalist. Vannetta is a Carol award winner and also received more than two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups.  She was a teacher for 15 years and currently resides in the Texas hill country. For more information, visit her at

    Readers can find Vannetta online at:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Wednesday, August 3, 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 story centered on a song or a memory associated with music.

    Happy writing!

    Monday, August 1, 2016

    Monday Motivation

    Some motivation to begin your week:

    "Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on."
                  — Louis L'Amour

    Have a wonderful week!