Friday, March 31, 2017

"Maybe It's You" by Candace Calvert ... and a GIVEAWAY!

In celebration of her latest release, Candace has graciously offered to give away a hard copy of the book (US Only). To enter, see the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. (Contest ends April 7, 2017.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!

A Word from Candace...

Hi Leslie! 

It’s a delight to be here with you and your readers—thank you for the hospitality.

Today I thought I’d offer a short, fun glimpse “behind the scenes” in the writing of this hopeful story.  I promise it has zip/nada to do with red pencil edits, deadline panic attacks, or the correct use of semicolons.

It has everything to do with a question every author is asked: “Are your characters real people?”

The usual author disclaimer is NO (in a sentence of carefully worded legalese just inside the cover). But I make no such promises about minor characters who often, in a major way, add just the right flavor to a story. Not only are they “real people,” they are often READERS.

Yes, really. I get a total kick out of spontaneously inviting readers into my stories as characters. I usually do this via Facebook, totally impromptu, and so far nobody’s turned me down. Good folks like . . .

WILMA M who appears as a neighbor to the heroine in Trauma Plan:
 . . . Her next door neighbor clutched a handful of envelopes against her purple blouse, the other hand holding fast to the leash of her rambunctious border collie. “Got some of your mail delivered to my box.” Wilma stepped closer, blinking as Riley’s string of motion sensor floodlights lit her hair like moonlight on Colorado snow . . .

THENA C, real life poet, who became our hero’s aunt in By Your Side:
 . . . Fletcher smiled. Thena was a published poet. He hadn’t had a birthday he could remember—to date—when he didn’t receive a targeted verse or two. Or a single visit when she didn’t proudly proclaim, “I speak in rhyme . . . but not all the time.”

SARAH P, who donates countless hours to kitten rescue, continued her good work in Maybe It’s You:
“We’re a no-kill shelter,” Sarah assured her. She scratched Marty’s chin. “We’re of a mind here that every animal deserves a second chance—as many times as necessary.”

Our daughter-in-law, WENDY M, became “Dr. Wendy” in Step by Step.

And . . .

Also in Maybe It’s You, I borrowed the husband of reader ANN S to become handyman “Jerry Rhodes.” Then—in a first for this author— I made it a family affair by welcoming Ann onboard, adding her elderly mother AND her two adorable dogs:
 . . . “He brought his dogs,” Piper announced, her eyes lighting. “Wiener dogs. I mean, doc-sunns.”
Celeste smiled. “Long-haired dachshunds. So sweet and comical. They’re named—”
“Gibbs and McGee,” Piper blurted, squeezing her hands together with obvious delight. “After the TV show. You know.”
Sloane nodded. “I do.”

They are adorable, aren’t they?

 I love that my novels are peopled with real friends. I like the genuine flavor they add to my stories. And I smile each time I read those scenes. I hope you do, too.

Now, let’s turn that smile into a chuckle or two with a last inside glimpse into the making of this book. Here’s a short collection of BLOOPERS from my Maybe It’s You author video. Enjoy!

My review...

ER nurse Sloane Ferrell thought she had escaped her past by changing her name and address. The pain from her past has made her distrustful, and she keeps her distance from others, for fear of them finding out the truth. Micah Prescott is a volunteer crisis responder who is desperately trying to fill a void in his life. He also wants to improve the image of Hope Hospital, and he thinks Sloane’s recent act of heroism can do just that. Micah will have to convince Sloane to trust him first, which will require both of them to face their pasts.

This book is the highly satisfying conclusion to the “Crisis Team” series. Sloane was quite different earlier in the series, but she has developed into a vulnerable and very likable heroine. Calvert’s background as a trauma nurse adds to the realism of the storyline. Themes of grace, forgiveness, and redemption are woven throughout this touching, hopeful tale. It contains an appropriate blend of romance, medical drama, and action. Difficult topics, such as sex trafficking and alcoholism, are handled in a tactful manner.

One of my favorite lines from the book is: “God never defined you by the past, but the enemy will try to confine you by it.” Definitely a good reminder!

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

Amazon link for purchase...

About Candace...

CANDACE CALVERT is a former ER nurse and author of the Mercy Hospital, Grace Medical, and Crisis Team series. Often called “medical hope opera,” her stories offer readers a chance to “scrub in” on the exciting world of emergency medicine. Wife, mother, and very proud grandmother, Candace makes her home in northern California. 

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Wednesday, March 29, 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:

As I walked in the house, I heard the phone ringing...

Happy writing!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week:

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
              — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Takeover Thursday with Wendy May Andrews ... and a GIVEAWAY!

I want to extend a warm welcome to Wendy May Andrews. Wendy is giving away an electronic copy of her book, Sweet Surrender. You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends March 30, 2017. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information.) 

Sweet Surrender is a 92,000 word sweet, regency romance novel.


Can a lost love be rekindled?


When Lady Julianna ended her engagement to Lord Ackerley, Viscount Beaumont, during her first Season, she left London vowing never to return.

Seven years later she returns as chaperone to her niece and unfortunately Lord Ackerley is also in Town for the Season. Moving around the small circle of the ton stirs up feelings she has kept hidden. Embarrassed and ashamed that she made a mistake in ending their previous relationship, she tries to avoid further contact. Ackerley, stunned by her second rejection, pursues her to discover the truth. Is it ever too late for a second chance at love?

Short Excerpt...

Julianna made a graceful curtsy and finally managed to raise her eyelashes and survey the room. It was not playacting that caused her sudden intake of breath as she saw her old beau again. In fact, it took all the force of will she possessed to keep her reaction within bounds. At that first brief encounter, she had been too surprised to take in his splendour. No one had told her the viscount had grown even more handsome in the ensuing years, the strength of his jawline more pronounced, and just the very slightest of grey at the temples in his nearly ebony hair. Forcing her jaw not to drop open in shock, Julianna felt her stomach flutter with nerves as she gripped tightly to her friend’s hand and tried not to cause an ill-bred scene in Catherine’s parlor.

Buy links...

About Wendy...

Wendy May Andrews has been in love with the written word since she learned to read at the age of five. She has been writing for almost as long but hasn’t been sharing those stories with anyone but her mother until recently. This is Wendy’s fifth book with Clean Reads.

Wendy can be found with her nose in a book in a cozy corner of downtown Toronto. She is happily married to her own real-life hero, who is also her best friend and favorite travel companion. Being a firm believer that every life experience contributes to the writing process, Wendy is off planning her next trip.

She loves to hear from her readers and can be found at her website, on twitter, or on Facebook.

Where to find Wendy online...

Twitter:  @WendyMayAndrews
Instagram:  WendyMayAndrews

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"A Rocky Mountain Romance" by Misty Beller (A Latte of Literature blog tour) ... and a giveaway!

The Writer’s Support Group

Almost every writer knows this writing journey can be a roller coaster ride of excitement and rejection.

Exhilaration when we exceed our word count for a week, or when we get a request for a full manuscript from an agent or editor, or the first time we hold that precious book in our hands. Nothing can compare to these moments!

And then there are the discouraging times, when we're struggling through the muddy middle of a first draft, or when we receive one more rejection letter to add to the pile, and we second guess whether we should really be doing this writing thing at all.

In each of these moments, God has given us a unique gift—friends. Friends with arms to offer an encouraging hug (sometimes a cyber hug!) and the words we need for a strong pep talk. Writer friends are vitally important to every writer, no matter what stage of the journey we're in. They understand the ins and outs of the writing journey and provide the support, loving direction, or listening ear we need!

God has placed a very special group of women in my life who take on the role of "Friend" through all my writing roller coasters: my critique group! These ladies are much more than just critique partners to me. We share our joys, our trials, our frustrations—even good writing tips we find!

We each came to the group in different ways. For my personal path, I had met two of the women through the ACFW Scribes critique group, and they reached out to me when they were thinking of forming a smaller group. It was with nervous concern that I made the decision to leave the larger group (which I loved) and join the smaller group. But I felt God saying this was the right move, so how could I argue?

It was definitely the right decision! I thank God every day for giving me this special group of ladies.
So what about you? Do you have a small group of writer friends who support each other through the good times and the bad? I'd love to hear your experiences!

About the book...

The Wyoming mountain country seems like the perfect place for Zeche Reid to find himself. When a blizzard sends him scrambling for cover, Zeche stumbles upon a lady and her professor father holed up in a remote cabin. His protective instincts won't let him desert them to continue his travels, especially when the father's haunting memories from the War of Succession put his daughter's safety at risk.

Fighting her own nightmares after the war, Gretta Michelly is trying to settle into this rugged mountain land, but her bad memories are nothing compared to the demons that haunt her father. The haven they've found in these Rocky Mountains seems to be the solace he needs to find peace — until a mysterious sojourner appears on their cabin doorstep. She can't help but be drawn to the wild aura that surrounds the man, but that strength seems to be the very thing that intensifies her father's struggles. 

As Zeche is torn between his craving to protect Gretta and the awful realization that he is the one putting her in more danger, he's forced to make a difficult choice. But when a run-in with an elk changes his plans and Gretta is faced with a danger Zeche is powerless to control, Zeche has to find a way to protect her at any cost. Even at the cost of his heart.

Purchase links...


Enter to win Misty Beller’s readers-only gift basket! This book end chest is filled with sweet treats and coffee, perfect for reading time. The chest is filled with …

  • Cashew Roca Toffee chocolates
  • Chamberry Raspberry Truffles
  • Chocolate Covered Almonds
  • Java Bon Coffee Caramels
  • 3 assorted gourmet coffees
  • 2 fudge brownies
  • $15 Barnes and Noble gift card
Enter here: 

About Misty...

Misty M. Beller writes Christian historical romance and is the author of the bestselling Mountain Dreams series and the Texas Rancher Trilogy.

She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty's heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God's abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

Writing is a dream come true for Misty. Her family — both immediate and extended — is the foundation that holds are secure in that dream.

Where you can find Misty online...

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday Tip: The first page

I'm sure you've read many books, but there have probably been some books that you have put down before finishing the first chapter. Have you ever stopped to wonder why?

While some highly successful novels start with dialogue, mundane scene descriptions, or prologues, those openings are not the best options for having an agent, or reader, drawn to your tale.

Agents receive numerous manuscripts daily, and readers have an abundance of choices, as well. They are looking for something that will grab their attention. They want to be drawn in immediately. If they have to wait around for a few chapters, or even a few pages, the story is likely to be left unfinished. So be sure you grab them from the beginning.

What are some of the best opening lines you've encountered in a book? Feel free to share them in the comments. You can share the opening line from your work in progress, too.

Friday, March 17, 2017

"The Illusionist's Apprentice" by Kristy Cambron ... and a GIVEAWAY!

In celebration of her latest release, Kristy 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 March 24, 2017.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!

My review...

Wren Lockhart is a rarity. Not only is she a female illusionist, but she trained under Harry Houdini. She is approached by Agent Elliott Matthews, who wants her help in debunking Horace Stapleton’s claims of bringing a dead man back to life. As they work together on the case, secrets are revealed as suspicious events increase. Will they be able to uncover the truth?

Cambron’s latest takes the reader back to the roaring 20s/vaudeville era in this well-researched historical novel full of complex characters. While Wren is a bit difficult to like at times, as the story unfolds, the reader gains a greater appreciation for this independent character. An intriguing mystery adds to the enjoyment of this tale which looks at light/truth versus the dark side of society.

One of my favorite quotes from the story is “Truth is the illusion we seek.”

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy, but I was not required to leave a positive review. 

Amazon purchase link...

About Kristy...

Kristy Cambron has a background in art and design, but she fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. She is the author of The Ringmaster's Wife, named to Publishers Weekly Spring 2016 Religion & Spirituality TOP 10 and set for release on June 7, 2016 from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson). Her novels have been named to Library Journal Reviews' Best Books and RT Reviewers' Choice Awards Best lists and received a 2015 INSPY Awards nomination for best debut novel.

Kristy is a Speaker and Design Manager at and holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read.

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Wednesday, March 15, 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:

Time was running out. The clock was ticking...

Happy writing!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week:

"Nothing will work unless you do."
— Maya Angelou

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

"I AM" by Michele Cushatt

My review...

Cushatt’s latest is “a 60-day journey to knowing who you are because of who He is.” The book is divided into six parts: Creation, Exodus, Covenant, Presence, Rescue, and Revelation. Each reading contains a verse, a message with a personal touch/experience, a quote, and a “Who Am I?” reflection section.

The purpose of the book is to help the reader learn how pointless it is to compare oneself to others. Instead, Cushatt wants to show that we are valuable because God chose us, and He loves us unconditionally.

I originally intended to read this daily for sixty days, but I was pulled in and found myself reading far more each day. Michele writes with authenticity. She’s not afraid to show the reader that she’s not perfect, and that’s okay, because God loves imperfect people.

Each section contains readings that really “hit home” with me, and I think many readers will find this to be the case. The topics pertain to relatable struggles and resonate with reminders that we ARE enough, we ARE seen, and we ARE accepted (contrary to what society may be telling us). These truths will help the reader grow and gain confidence in their identity in Christ.

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

Amazon link for purchase...

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Takeover Thursday with Gail Kittleson ... and a GIVEAWAY!

I want to extend a warm welcome to Gail Kittleson. Gail is giving away an electronic copy of her book, With Each New Dawn. You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends March 16, 2017. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information.) Now, here's Gail...

With Each New Dawn, the second in my "Women of the Heartland" series, begged to be written. I couldn't leave my readers hanging, wondering how things went for Addie, aboard a Red Cross ship bound for London.

After all, she traveled through the mine-infested Atlantic Ocean in the midst of perilous times. Readers asked me to please write a sequel and put them out of their misery. Besides, I wanted to give more closure to Addie's story, as well as focusing on Katie, her best friend.

Talk about opposites attracting … Annie's quiet and docile, while Kate's a born risk-taker. But, as we all know, best friends don't have to share all the same qualities. What Kate and Addie do share, though, is unfailing loyalty.

Both young women meet others with this same sterling quality — what's more valuable than people we can trust? Addie meets a man of honor in London, and Kate has the same experience making her dangerous World War II contribution.

I think you'll enjoy this historical fiction — and another perk is reviewing what you studied about the war in high school or college.

An excerpt...

A brown stained forefinger  waggled. "I knew your mother." Caressing the English with slow deliberation, his breath wafted onion and a mysterious spice. His full lips twitched under a vagabond mustache, but his eyes held no malice.

"No, Monsieur, that is not possible. I am American."

The fire in his eyes arched higher. "Oui, you come from Iowa." His imperfect pronunciation of the i like an e tightened Kate's throat. How could he possibly know that? A trickster breeze tickled her ankles and she shivered again.


"Without question, you are Madame Dumont's daughter."

That trill of truth skittered her spine. "Monsieur, I'm afraid you mistake me for someone else."

Sharp heels clicked, and the peak of Mrs. Tenney's shiny black umbrella appeared over a slight rise. Her version of Veronica Lake's perfect victory roll upheld a tawny velvet hat, and sunlight emblazoned the Women's Auxiliary pin on her jaunty red plaid wool jacket.

Always the lady, she paused a reasonable distance away but held out a courteous gloved hand with a verbena scent. Although grateful that Mrs. T had allowed her to share her house when her son Charles hired her at his o ce, Kate sometimes resisted her caretaking. But this time, relief flooded her.

"I had begun to worry about you, Katherine. Is anything wrong?" She returned Kate's grasp and, eyes narrowed, faced the stranger. "Good day, sir."

"Bonsoir, Madame."

"This man says he knew my mother. I told him he's mistaken, but nothing shakes him." Mrs. Tenney towered over the Frenchman while questions deluged Kate, along with a weight in the pit of her stomach. Someone who knew her mother, right here on the streets of London — how could this be?

"Do you speak English, Monsieur, and what is your name?"

He shrugged and took a long breath. "A leetle. I am Monsieur Le Blanc."

"You say you know this young woman's mother?"

"Oui, from France."


"She worked as an Allo Fille aat the front." His profuse eyebrows formed a fuzzy caterpillar between his temples. "In ze Great War. Beleef me. Ees true."

Kate's scalp went cold. Her mother did work overseas, though Aunt Alvina never mentioned her being a Bell Telephone Hello Girl. After Kate moved from the East Coast to Halberton when her parents died, Aunt Alvina offered only sparse information. The "Hello Girl" scenario seemed plausible enough. Still, she'd never pictured her mother tending a switchboard at the front in the Great War.

Amazon link for purchase...

Gail's bio...

Gail Kittleson taught college expository writing and English as a Second Language. Now she writes memoir and women's fiction and facilitates writing workshops and women's retreats. In northern Iowa, she and her husband enjoy grandchildren and gardening. In winter, the Arizona mountains provide new novel fodder.

Where to find Gail online...

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Tuesday Tip: How long should a sentence be?

Have you ever wondered how long your sentence should be? In a nutshell, it should be long enough to get the point across. In some cases, that may consist of just one word. In general, it's a good practice to vary the sentence length throughout each paragraph. By doing this, your story will sound more natural. It is also a good idea to not overwhelm your sentences with commas, dashes, or parentheses. Sentence length varies on your readership, as well. More than twenty-five words per sentence may be viewed as a wordy sentence.

The important thing is to not overthink things. Just write naturally. Take note of the sentence length, and whether or not you want to separate or combine sentences, during the editing phase.

Friday, March 3, 2017

"An Uncommon Protector" by Shelley Shepard Gray ... and a GIVEAWAY!

In celebration of her latest release, Shelley has graciously offered to give away a copy of the book (US ONLY). To enter, click on the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of this post. (Contest ends March 10, 2017.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!

A word from Shelley...

Thank you for inviting me to your blog! Here’s a bit about how the Lone Star Heroes Series came to be:

After writing the Chicago Mystery Series (Secrets of Sloane House, Deception on Sable Hill, Whispers in the Reading Room), I was anxious to begin another historical series. However, I wanted to write about something a little closer to home, a western series set in Texas. I lived all over the United States and have lived in southern Ohio for almost twenty years, but I grew up in Houston, and Texas still has my heart.

Anyway, while doing research, I discovered that there was a Confederate Officer POW camp in the middle of Lake Erie. That really intrigued me! I couldn’t imagine how difficult it would have been for those men to be transferred by train to Sandusky then marched across the ice to Johnson’s Island in the winter. A few weeks later, my husband and I drove up to Sandusky and visited a veteran’s home where the whole third floor was a museum about the camp. From there, we made our way to Johnson’s Island and explored the cemetery that is still standing.

My mind kept coming up with stories about the men, so I made up my own band of brothers, led by Captain Devin Monroe. I decided to have these men make a pact to help each other during the war … and then I was off and running!

The first book, The Loyal Heart, took place in Galveston. I loved a lot of things about that book, including how vulnerable the heroine was. For the second book, An Uncommon Protector, I wanted a different tone because my hero in the novel, Thomas Baker, was a rather rough-around-the-edges man. I thought he needed a situation where his impulsiveness and hard edges would come in handy. I also wanted him to have a woman who was as tough and brave in her own way as he was. I was a big fan of Laurel Tracey! I liked how she never took the easy route, even when she was scared to death! I found a lot to admire about her.

I hope everyone will give the book a try and perhaps find something that they like about this couple, too!

The third book in the series, Love Held Captive, comes out in November. Get ready, because it takes place in San Antonio and features two storylines … one with Major Kelly and one featuring Captain Monroe himself.  

Thanks again for inviting me to visit, and I hope y’all enjoy the books! 

My review...

Thomas Baker has had a difficult life. Though he was once a war hero, he is now serving time for an inability to pay off gambling debts. His life is about to change after he is “purchased” by Laurel Tracey to work for her for one year.

Laurel is in over her head. Her parents left Red Roan Ranch to her, and she is determined to keep it running. She lost her father and brother in the war, and her mother and stepfather died soon after. She has step-siblings, but they want her to sell. She hires Thomas to help at the ranch, particularly in relation to the problem she is having with squatters.

Someone is determined to run Laurel off, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. Will Thomas be able to help her save the ranch, or has Laurel made a serious mistake in trusting a criminal?

This is the second book “Lone Star Heroes” series, but it can be read as a standalone. Fans of historical fiction, particularly the Civil War era, will certainly want to check out this book. Laurel is a strong, compassionate heroine who sees the best in others. Thomas is flawed but relatable and has strong character development. Overall, this is a story of love, loss, redemption and how love makes all the difference in the world. There is even a bit of mystery woven throughout.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review. 

About Shelley...

Shelley Shepard Gray writes Amish romances for Harper Collins inspirational line, Avon Inspire, and historical romances as Shelley Gray for  Zondervan and Thomas Nelson. Her novels have been Holt Medallion winners and Inspirational Readers Choice and Carol finalists. Shelley’s novels have appeared on both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.  
To date, Shelley has published over fifty novels for a variety of publishers. Her novels have been highlighted in the Philadelphia Enquirer, Washington Post, Time Magazine, and USA Today. She has also been interviewed on NPR, as well as numerous regional radio stations.
Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor's degree in English literature and elementary education and later obtained her master's degree in educational administration. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full-time. Shelley is married, the mother of two young adults, and is an active member of her church. Shelley is active on Facebook and Twitter.

Readers can find me at:
Or follow me on Twitter @ShelleySGray

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Wednesday, March 1, 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:

Whenever the phone rings...

Happy writing!