Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week:

"Writing is its own reward."
— Henry Miller

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

"Talk Yourself Happy" by Kristi Watts

My review...

Kristi Watts, former co-host of The 700 Club, has written a book which explores the factors keeping Christians from being truly joyful. It is designed to remind the reader that “true happiness is not simply acquired but rather cultivated.”

It is apparent that Watts has a genuine faith in God, despite the trials encountered, such as a divorce, being a single parent, and job loss. Watts is very open about a dark period in her life, but she is just as transparent about what helped her through the difficulties. She learned that happiness can be achieved, but it must be worked on. Watts found that it is possible to talk yourself happy. She was able to find power in God’s Word and promises versus focusing on faulty thinking.

The book focuses on eight principles: Compassion, Trust, Identity, Obedience, Forgiveness, Praise, Help, and Promise. In addition to explaining the steps she used, Watts also blends Scripture verses and biblical truths throughout the book. A simple prayer and Scripture wrap-up are included at the back of the book.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book include:
  • “The purposeful act of aligning our words, our hearts, in our minds with God’s word — both Jesus himself and the Scriptures — is the key to happiness. Why? Because our words not only carry power — words are power!”
  • “… not only do our negative words break down our faith in God, but they also create a breeding ground for discontented lives and discouraged hearts — ultimately making us miserable human beings.”
  •  “Words come by way of three different sources: God, the enemy, and ourselves… The question we must ask is, whose word are we choosing to believe?”
  • “When we step aside and allow the Holy Spirit to step in, we will see the impossible become possible.”
  • “Happiness is simply trusting God with every aspect of our lives by acknowledging His hand at work.”

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...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Takeover Thursday with Tanya Eavenson

I want to extend a warm welcome to Tanya Eavenson. She's giving away an electronic copy of her book, To Gain a Valentine. Enter using the Rafflecopter box at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends Feb. 2, 2017.) Now, here's Tanya...

Hello, Everyone! My name is Tanya Eavenson, and I’m an Inspirational Romance author. Today Leslie asked if I’d visit with you and share about my new release To Gain a Valentine. I thought I’d start out a little different since this is “Takeover Thursday” and I plan to takeover—for real! =)

Let’s begin by asking Leslie a question! What do you all think??? Leslie, I think your readers would love to know more about you! So share with us, what are ten of your favorite things (in no particular order). Now, don’t cheat! =)

1) Family and friends
2) Turtles. We have a turtle named Speedy, and I also collect turtle items.
3) Reading, which is great, as I'm an editor and reviewer.
4) Music/singing. I love a wide variety of music. 
5) My favorite season is autumn, as I love the cooler temps and changing colors.
6) My favorite food is pizza
7) My favorite sports team is the NY Giants.
8) My favorite color is purple.
9) I love the Minions (particularly Bob)
10) Pens and Sticky Notes, things every editor and reviewer needs!

Oh, my goodness, Leslie! We have several things in common, but I’ve never heard of anyone else loving Sticky Notes like me! I can’t get enough of them! LOL!

I know what you mean. I use them all the time! But now it’s your turn, Tanya! This works both ways. What are ten of your favorite things?

You got me, Leslie! Okay, but these are in no particular order.

1) Starbuck’s White Chocolate Mocha. Venti of course! Bigger the better! =)
2) Bible
3) Hallmark Channel
4) Writing
5) Sleeping in
6) M&Ms
7) Writing parts of my novel out by hand
8) Spiral notebooks and Sticky Notes
9) When my stories play out in my mind and I can see the entire scene clearly
10) Releasing a new story!

Speaking of which, why don’t you share your blurb from To Gain a Valentine with us, Tanya.


Pediatrician Patrick Reynolds works wonders with sick children, yet when it comes to pets, he’s clueless. But caring for his sister’s menagerie while she’s on vacation is the perfect answer to working through a broken engagement. Hoping to escape the memories, he returns to his hometown, the last place he'd expect to find love.

Life as a single mom is never easy, but pet shop owner Amabelle Durand has found contentment. When an old friend returns to care for his sister’s pets, he enlists her assistance to keep the animals alive. But when Amabelle's young daughter falls ill, she finds herself attracted to more than the handsome pediatrician’s medical skills.

As Valentine's Day approaches, will Patrick and Amabelle miss out on the love they've always desired? Or will their love take flight under the stars on this very special night?

That sounds great! Thanks for being here, Tanya.

Thank you, Leslie! And thank you for letting me takeover your blog for the day and share a sneak peek of To Gain a Valentine with you and your readers!

I’d like to do a giveaway of an e-book copy of To Gain a Valentine. In the comments below, please share a few of your favorite things! I can’t wait to read your answers! 

About Tanya...

Tanya Eavenson is a bestselling and an award-winning inspirational romance author. She enjoys spending time with her husband and their three children. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers International. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. 

Where you can find Tanya online...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tuesday Tip: What drives your story?

Tuesday Tip

Many people believe that the plot is the most important part of a story. While that is true to an extent, characters are what truly drive the tale. If your book contains characters who evoke a strong emotional reaction from your reader, your work  is likely to be more successful. Characters are what keep the reader engaged, and each one does not need to be likable. Readers enjoy characters they can "love to hate," too.

Friday, January 20, 2017

"Second Chance Father" by Renee Andrews ... and a GIVEAWAY!

To celebrate the release of her latest book, Renee has graciously offered to give away a set of books: an autographed hard copy of  "Second Chance Father" AND an autographed copy of her devotional book, "Mondays with Jesus 2017." (US ONLY). To enter, see the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. (Contest ends January 27, 2017.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!

Q & A with Renee...

Q:  What message do you hope your readers take away from the story?
A:  That even though we all face storms in life, God is there, ready to see you through. Jack, Elise, and Cody were all broken by life’s circumstances, but no one is too broken for God’s love.

Q:  I love that! How did you start writing, and what would you be doing if you were not an author?
A:  I actually told my first grade teacher that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I wanted to write stories and often wrote my own “books” as a child. However, I didn’t start out writing fiction. I actually began my career writing computer manuals. (Writing fiction, specifically Christian fiction, is much more fun!)

Q:  I imagine that it must be much more fun to write fiction :) Do you have any specific writing routines or quirks?
A:  I write early in the morning until mid-day. Anything I write later in the day is typically trashed and re-written the next morning. I know my limitations. I can’t write when my brain is spent ;)

Q:  How do you choose the names for your characters?
A:  Sometimes I use real people, such as Jolaine Bowers, my mom. That feisty grandmother in my Claremont series is totally based on her, and she loves it. At other times, the name is simply “there” when I start to write. Cody was always “Cody,” because that’s what he had to be. Jack Simon was “Jack Simon” from the first line. I really didn’t have much of a say in the matter. The characters, whether based on a real person or not, are very real in my mind, and they typically have a name from the get-go.

Q:  What can you tell me about your next project?
A:  My next project is about a woman, Lindy Burnett, who was wrongfully incarcerated and, while in prison accused of murdering her husband, lost custody of her son. She has been released and wants her son back, but the man who is adopting Jerry, Ethan Green, isn’t ready to give up the boy he loves. That book comes out in July, and I’m anxious to learn how readers feel about their story.

Q:  Sounds good! What is something about you that would surprise your readers?
A:  In May of 2010, I met a young man who needed a kidney. No one in his family matched, but God put it on my heart that I would, and I was indeed a “perfect match.” Six out of six antigens, closer than a sibling. We had our transplant on November 11 of that same year. I also competed on the American Bible Challenge television show with my husband and oldest son to raise awareness for the need for living donors – we were team Hello Kidney ;)

Q:  Wow. That's truly awesome. I'm glad you were able to do that, as well as raise awareness. What is your favorite non-literary activity?
A:  Playing with my grandchildren, of course J

Q:  What advice do you have for new authors?
A:  First of all, pray for guidance. I often get stumped on a plot point, or stuck completely, feeling as though I’ve worked myself into a corner with no way out. This morning, while praying with my husband, I asked God to be with me as I write today, to guide the words that I write so that they will convey his glory and touch readers’ hearts. He is the guide through each story, and as long as I remember that, the kinks are worked out.

My review...
(I gave it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars - TOP PICK!)

Amazon link for purchase...

About Renee ...

Renee Andrews spends a lot of time in the gym. No, she isn't working out. Her husband, a former All-American gymnast, co-owns ACE Cheer Company, an all-star cheerleading company. She is thankful the talented kids at the gym don't have a problem when she brings her laptop and writes while they sweat. When she isn't writing, she's typically traveling with her husband, bragging about their two sons and daughters-in-law, or spoiling their grandchildren.

Renee is a kidney donor and actively supports organ donation. In 2013, Renee, her husband J.R., and their oldest son Rene competed as team Hello Kidney on the American Bible Challenge to raise money for living donors and to raise awareness for the need for living donors. If you are considering becoming a living donor, ask her about how you can also save a life by sharing your spare! Or check out the "living donor" section of her website! 

She welcomes prayer requests and loves to hear from readers! Write to her at or visit her Web site at 

Renee Andrews on Facebook:

Renee Andrews on Twitter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

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:

The first time I learned to use _____ it was...

Happy writing!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week:

"Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any."
— Orson Scott Card

Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Takeover Thursday with Dana R. Lynn

I want to extend a warm welcome to Dana R. Lynn. She is my first guest author for "Takeover Thursday." She's giving away an electronic copy of her book, The Colonel's Timely Bride, too. Enter using the Rafflecopter box at the end of the post. Now, here's Dana...

Thanks, Leslie, for having me on your blog! What a pleasant way to spend a snowy day in rural Pennsylvania.

Have you ever finished reading a book and felt bereft at saying farewell to characters you loved? Characters that had become so real to you, at times you forgot they weren’t alive? I have. It’s a bittersweet feeling. On the one hand, I love it when characters finally get their Happy Ever After (HEA in the writing world). On the other hand, I hate letting them go, not knowing what happens next.

That’s one of the joys of being a writer. When I published my first romantic suspense novel for Love Inspired Suspense, I fell in love with my characters. And the town I had created, LaMar Pond, was alive in my mind. I was overjoyed when my readers and my editor fell in love with them, too. I was blessed to be able to write HEA’s for more of the characters. This also allows me to give readers glimpses into the lives of the other characters. I have the next three stories releasing in 2017. Readers who loved Seth, Miles, and Paul will get their stories. After that, we will see. I have several ideas of whose story I want to tell next.

I have had readers ask me which of my couples I love the most. I can never answer that question. They have all been unique and meant something special to me. Usually, whichever book I am working on, that’s my favorite couple for the moment. But it changes.

What about you? Who are your favorite couples from the books you’ve read?  Growing up, my favorite couple was always Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. I have read Pride and Prejudice multiple times, and I have seen all the movie versions. And I read every P&P variation story I can get my hands on. In fact, my very first book published was a variation tale with a small publisher, Clean Reads. It was called An Inconvenient Courtship.

An interesting thing happened, though, as I wrote that novella. I fell in love with some of the secondary characters. Now, I had always liked the character of Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Anne de Bourgh intrigued me. I always thought I would love to get into their minds, see what they really thought about the other characters in the story. And, because I hate to see characters not get a HEA, I decided to tackle their stories next. But I approached it from a different angle. Enter a time portal. In 2015, The Colonel’s Timely Bride released from Clean Reads. Colonel Fitzwilliam finally met his true love. Although not without opposition. The sequel, The Heiress’s Timely Hero, will release at the end of this month. I loved writing these two stories. The fantasy element of time travel was so much fun! I can’t wait to share Anne’s story with readers.

In preparation for the release of The Heiress’s Timely Hero, I am giving away an e-book copy of the first book, The Colonel’s Timely Bride, to one commenter. Also, please feel free to sign up for my newsletter on to get updates on books and events.

Thanks again, Leslie! 

Dana R. Lynn

Where you can find me online...

Twitter:       @DanaRLynn

Author bio...

Dana R. Lynn grew up in Illinois. She met her husband at a wedding and told her parents she had met her future husband. Nineteen months later, they were married. Today, they live in rural Pennsylvania with their three children and enough pets to open a petting zoo. In addition to writing, she works as an educational interpreter for the deaf and hard of hearing and is active in several ministries at her church. Dana loves hearing from readers and enjoys interacting with them on social media.

Enter to win...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tuesday Tip: Weak adjectives

Tuesday Tip

When writing, choose the best (most concise) adjectives to describe the nouns and pronouns in your story. If you find yourself using very and really, odds are you're using a weak adjective. For instance:
  • Gigantic is stronger than really big
  • Horrible is stronger than very bad
  • Tiny is stronger than very small

Even if you're not using words such as very and really before your adjectives, you may still be using weaker choices. Such as:
  • Exhausted is stronger than tired
  • Ecstatic is stronger than happy
  • Petrified is stronger than scared

Friday, January 6, 2017

"Castles in the Clouds" by Myra Johnson ... and a GIVEAWAY!

To celebrate her latest release, Myra is giving away one (1) copy of "Castles in the Clouds" (hard copy - US ONLY). To enter, go to the Rafflecopter box at the end of this post. The last day to enter is January 13, 2017. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I will contact you and then pass your information along to Myra. Good luck!

Q & A with Myra...

Q:  How was your Christmas? Does your family have any special traditions you would like to share with my readers?
A:  Our family Christmas traditions are fairly simple. Christmas Eve candlelight services (my husband and I both sing in the choir) then eggnog and cookies afterward. Christmas mornings vary, depending on whether we have kids and grandkids home for the holidays. This year we did —  our younger daughter, her husband, and their four children (ages 14, 11, 5, and 3) – so it was a fun day!

This daughter and her family have served on the mission field in the Middle East, so one tradition they observe that we enjoy tagging along for is going out for Middle Eastern food on Christmas Eve. It's nice to imagine we're eating a meal similar to what people in the land of Jesus' birth are serving.

Q:  That sounds like a wonderful way to spend Christmas! Castles in the Clouds was released last August. Can you tell me about the inspiration behind the story?
A:   The story was partly inspired by my missionary daughter's experiences during a six-weeks-long college mission trip to Kenya several years ago. I always knew I wanted to include some of what she shared with us in a book someday. Then in 2013, when my husband and I traveled to Africa on a photo safari, our Kenyan guide related a little of the history behind the school system. As Larkspur's story developed, the idea of sending her to Kenya to work at a mission school took root.

Q:  How much research went into this book?
A:  Quite a bit. I had much to learn about life in rural Arkansas during the Great Depression  and also how the school system developed in 1930s Kenya. A fun bit of research involved watching a YouTube video of a ship traversing the Suez Canal in the 1930s, much as my story characters would have done as they traveled from America to Kenya.

Q:  What message do you hope your readers take away from the story?
A:  One underlying message could be stated in the words of Proverbs 16:9 (RSV): "A man's mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." We sometimes think we know exactly what we want from life,  but no matter how hard we strive to make it happen, God may have something entirely different in mind. If we're not open to new possibilities, we may miss the special blessings God has planned for us.

Q:  Oh, that's so true! And God's plans are certainly better than anything we can imagine :)  What is the next project you are working on?
A:  I currently have three new novels in various stages. Two are Love Inspired contemporary romances set in the Texas Hill Country, the first of which should release in September. I'm also preparing to release A Rose So Fair, book 3 in the Flowers of Eden series. Readers of Castles in the Clouds and the first book, The Sweetest Rain, will have met spunky Rose Linwood and her longtime friend Caleb Wieland. Their relationship will take them through many twists and turns before they find their happy ending. Watch for the book this spring!

Q: It sounds like there will be some great books to look forward to later this year! One final question. What are some of the books in your TBR pile?
A:  Actually,  I'm in the middle of a book that's going to take me a while to finish!  A few years ago, for a change of pace, I tackled Ken Follett's epic historical novel The Pillars of the Earth. Later, I picked up a used hardback copy of Follet's World Without End, which takes place two centuries later. It sat on my TBR stack for a long, long time before I felt ready  to dive in to another 1000+ page tome. It's an interesting foray into the history of England in the latter years of the Middle Ages, and definitely a departure from my typical historical fiction read!

Q:  It certainly sounds like you will be busy :) Thanks so much for taking time out of your schedule to stop by and chat with me. I'm sure my readers will enjoy getting to know you a bit better.

My review...

Larkspur (“Lark”) Linwood’s visit to Professor Keene’s office would change her life … in many ways. She agrees to travel to Kenya to gain practical teaching experience as part of a mission program. While there, she meets Professor Anson Schafer, but health problems cause him to return to the United States earlier than anticipated. Lark unfortunately realizes that things with the trip were not as she had been led to believe, so she returns home. Her path crosses once again with Anson, who is looking to start a program to help the uneducated in Arkansas. He wants Lark to help him. She agrees, as it is an opportunity which will allow her to earn money to complete her own education. Anson’s vision for a school to educate students of all colors is not as well received as he had hoped, which will leave Anson and Lark questioning whether they should follow their dreams or their hearts.

This is this second installment of the “Flowers of Eden” series, and it is just as delightful as the first! Precise details combine with touching scenes, and the book is topped off with a beautiful cover. Johnson weaves in numerous historical facts and addresses difficult topics, such as discrimination, in a sensitive manner. The author’s time in Kenya adds to the realism of the story. She also provides historical details related to the story which will educate the reader on things such as Jim Crow Laws, the Dust Bowl, and the Great Depression.

I love the overall theme that satisfaction comes from your heart’s attitude instead of what you are doing. While this book can be read as a standalone, the reader will have a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the family if the books are read in order.

One of my favorite lines is, “But if you’re too focused on falling, it isn’t a leap of faith at all, is it?”

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy, but I was not required to provide a review. All opinions are my own.

Amazon purchase link...

About Myra...

About Myra…

Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. Her historical romance When the Clouds Roll By won the 2014 Christian Retailing’s Best award for historical fiction. Myra is also a two-time finalist for the ACFW Carol Award and winner of the 2005 RWA Golden Heart. Married since 1972, Myra and her husband have two beautiful daughters and seven grandchildren. They reside in beautiful North Carolina near four of their grandchildren, but as a native Texan Myra sorely misses real Texas barbecue and those gorgeous bluebonnets every spring! The Johnsons share their home with two pampered rescue dogs.

Readers can keep up with the latest by subscribing to my e-newsletter( or visiting me online at the links below:

Twitter: @MyraJohnson and @TheGrammarQueen

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

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 goals for the new year are...

Happy writing!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week (and the new year!)...

"Go confidently in the direction of  your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."
— Henry David Thoreau

Have a successful and glorious year!