Friday, April 28, 2017

"A Fragile Hope" by Cynthia Ruchti (Litfuse Blog Tour)

A Fragile Hope Cynthia Ruchti

When your life's work revolves around repairing other people's marriages, what happens when your own marriage begins to fall apart? Find out what happens to Josiah Chamberlain in Cynthia Ruchti's new book, A Fragile Hope. Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what's left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?

Celebrate the release of A Fragile Hope by entering to win Cynthia's Sign of Hope Giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on May 3. The winner will be announced May 4 on the Litfuse blog.

My review...

Relationship expert Josiah Chamberlain knows exactly how to help couples, but he discovers that he is less-than-equipped to fix the problems in his own marriage, especially when he didn’t even realize they existed. A tragic accident causes him to view his wife Karin in a different light. He must battle feelings of grief, anger, bitterness, and betrayal as he struggles to find hope amidst his doubts.

This is a beautifully written and truly engaging heartfelt story, which will remind the reader of God’s unfailing love. Some of my favorite quotes from the story are:

·         “Grief doesn’t know how to tell time.”
·         “Some storms pass and leave the earth refreshed. Others leave devastation in their path. Either way, you will go on.”
·         “Alone. It’s a feeling. Not a destination or condition. God is especially near to those who think there alone.”
·         “Forgiveness — though invisible — leaves its imprint on every heart it touches.”
·          “The past has history but no breath. Today breathes.”
·         “A quiet moment of gratitude is never wasted.
·         “Where would we be if we hadn’t discovered that seeds of hope can grow in mud?”

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the LitFuse Blogger Program, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.

About Cynthia...

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her award-winning novels, novellas, devotionals, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. Her books have been recognized by honors such as the Selah Awards, Christian Retailings' BEST Awards, and Foreword Book Reviews Book of the Year Awards. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

Where you can find Cynthia online…


Wednesday, April 26, 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:

I remember this game I used to play in elementary school...

Happy writing!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

"Unsinkable Faith" by Tracie Miles - Prize Pack Giveaway (LitFuse Blog Tour)

Unsinkable Faith Tracie Miles
Join Tracie and other readers on April 25th for a fun Facebook Live event and the Anchored in Faith Prize Pack Giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 25. The winner will be announced at the Unsinkable Faith Facebook Live event. RSVP for a chance to connect with Tracie and others searching for unsinkable faith, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

RSVP today and spread the word-tell your friends about the giveaway via social media and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 25th!

My review...

Have you ever struggled with negative thinking and felt like you were unable to change that pattern of behavior? It is easy to become consumed with negative thoughts. The more we focus on them, the more the cycle continues. Miles’s latest strives to help the reader break that cycle by taking the thoughts captive and turning them over to Jesus. The key is to focus on Jesus’ truths instead of what the enemy is telling you. Two powerful tools are required: God’s Word and prayer.

Miles’s book shows practical ways to deal with negative emotions. There are numerous stories, by the author as well as other women, which are likely to be very relatable to the reader.

I really enjoyed how Miles discussed crushing ANTs — automatic negative thoughts. The process for doing so is to notice the negative thoughts, reject the negative thoughts, and replace the negative thoughts. She gives examples on doing this, as well.

Each chapter ends with a section on mind-transforming reflections (which summarize key points from the chapter), mind-renewing memory verses, and a chapter challenge. The author encourages the reader to use a journal along with the readings for deeper reflection. This book would be a great addition to small group use, as well.

Some of my favorite takeaway verses include:

·         “When negative thoughts are controlling us, there is hope. When we learn to change the way we think, we can change the way we feel.”
·         “We can’t always control how we feel, but we can always take authority over our own minds and change the way we think, which then changes the way we view and experience life overall.”
·         “We always have the power within us to choose how we think about our circumstances and our lives overall, despite what’s going on.”
·         “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time.”
·         “Negative thinking is nothing more than a bad habit, and bad habits are meant to be broken.”
·         “Remember, being positive is a daily choice, not a destination.”
·         “Life is not always as we think it should be, but it is always as God planned it to be.”

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the LitFuse blogger program. I was not required to give a positive review.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week:

"It always seems impossible until it's done."
— Nelson Mandela

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

"The Way of Letting Go" by Wilma Derksen

My review...

This is a book about processing grief, letting go, and forgiveness. The author hopes to help the reader find closure. For some people, closure will never occur, but life will continue to go on. Derksen explains that forgiveness is an ongoing process.
The book includes various “letting go” statements to assist the reader. Derksen addresses fifteen misconceptions of grief. She defines acceptance as “a person’s assent to the reality of a situation. This is the beginning of surrendering to the brokenness.” She points out that “accepting means letting it go.”
While this book has many helpful tips, it was not what I expected. It was a bit hard to connect with her tragic story. It’s not one that all readers will be able to relate to. Some readers may find parts of the book a bit shocking, so it’s best for ages 18+.

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

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Takeover Thursday with Krysten Lindsay Hager

I want to extend a warm welcome to Krysten Lindsay Hager. She's here to discuss her latest release, Dating the It Guy. Here's Krysten...

The idea for Dating the It Guy came about when I was watching a biography on TV about John F. Kennedy Jr. They were talking about the stress on his wife, Carolyn, and I started wondering what it’d be like to date someone like him back in high school with all the pressures and scrutiny around him. So I created Emme Trybus, a normal high school girl who begins dating Brendon Agretti, the son of a well-known senator (and the grandson of another senator). Brendon is popular, an overachiever, and seems like he leads a charmed life. His ex-girlfriend Lauren is also an overachiever and has that perfect preppy look, and Emme always feels less than in her presence. Emme begins to feel out of place in his world. However, Brendon begins opening up to Emme about the pressures that surround him. We start to see his “perfect life” comes with more stress and drama than she realized.

This was an interesting book to write because I began it a few years ago and then came back and rewrote and added scenes as I had become aware of more pressures Brendon would be under and Emme’s response to being in his world. Writing the book made me laugh and had me choke up a few times with tears. 

Book trailer...

Short Excerpt:
“By the way, did you hear Lauren got into Senator Agretti’s old school?”

“Seriously? I wonder if she applied there because Brendon did,” I said.

Margaux snorted. “Duh, of course. Seriously, she might as well just pee on him to mark her territory.”

“Margaux, shut up,” Kylie said.

“Whatever. Anyway, the important thing is if Brendon knew she was applying there,” Margaux said. "Em, do you think he knew?”

I hoped Lauren was just trying to follow Brendon, but what if they had planned this whole thing while they were dating? What if he convinced her to apply there so they could go to college together, wear matching American flag sweaters with big scarves while drinking hot chocolate, and jump into leaf piles just like a preppy clothing catalog. At least now I didn’t have to worry about them reciting poetry to one another in South Bend, but still, what if they had made plans to go to school together?

“Don’t worry about it,” Kylie said. “She was probably trying to follow him—like she always does. She’s so pathetic.”

Kylie was trying to make me feel better, but Lauren was far from pathetic. After all, she was pretty much the “Most Likely to Succeed” poster girl. While she was out overachieving and saving the world without messing up her perfect, bouncy hair, I was trying to get through each day. I tried to push away the image of Lauren and Brendon holding hands and drinking hot chocolate under a stadium blanket. 

My review...

High school sophomore Emme never expected that one day she’d be dating the It Guy at her school, popular senior Brendon, who just happens to be a senator’s son and hot! Unfortunately, his ex, Lauren, isn’t quite ready to give up on him, and she is determined to do all she can to destroy the budding relationship between Emme and Brendon. Emme has always relied on numerology and horoscopes to help her with her decisions, but that’s not working for her at the moment, especially with her grandparents’ failing health thrown into the mix. Will she be able to put her insecurities aside and tackle life head-on, trusting her own instincts? Why does high school, and life, have to be so complicated?

Hager’s authentic characters will resonate with readers of all ages as they are immersed in the story—complete with teen drama and angst, but also the relationships which make it all worthwhile. Vivid descriptions will make the reader feel they are a part of the storyline. The teens are realistic and well-rounded, and they clearly demonstrate the rollercoaster of emotions typical of the age group. Reading a book by Hager is like chatting with your best girlfriend. It is likely that readers will see themselves, and those they know, in the characters.

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

About Krysten...

Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends...Forever?, Next Door to a Star,  Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2). Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book. Krysten's work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday Tip: Critique Groups

What exactly is a critique group? Are they worthy of your time? Keep on reading to learn more.

A critique group is composed of a few writers who evaluate one another's work. They often meet once or twice a month. Some groups may meet virtually, as well. The meetings usually take place at a home, local library, a coffee shop or restaurant.

The purpose of a critique group is to encourage, support, and inspire its members, as well as show them ways to improve their writing.

There is no right or wrong way to structure the meetings, but time should be allowed for reading, note taking, correction, and discussion. Each meeting has a leader to keep things focused and on track.

There are numerous benefits, such as:

  • Motivate you to write so you have something to share with the group
  • Encourage you to submit your material to a publisher, as it will help build your confidence
  • Inform you of various markets for submission
  • Make you more objective about your work as you see it through the eyes of others
  • Allow you to develop friendships with other writers in your area

Friday, April 14, 2017

"Life After" by Katie Ganshert ... and a GIVEAWAY!

In celebration of her latest release, Katie 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 21, 2017.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!

A word from Katie...

It started with a news article. I'd just finished writing A Broken Kind of Beautiful, which meant I was on the hunt for a new idea. And here was this true story I found somewhere on the Internet of this horrendous plane crash nobody could have survived. Except somebody did. A small boy, without hardly a scratch. I remember staring at his picture, and the decimated plane ... a story slowly taking shape in my mind.

I sat down and I wrote it —this book about a sole survivor, only instead of a plane crashing, it was a train exploding. When I finished, I quickly realized it was in need of a massive overhaul, one I didn't have the energy for at the time. So I tucked it away and wrote The Art of Losing Yourself. And then The Gifting trilogy. All the while, "the train story" (as I used to call it) languished on my hard drive.

For five years.

And then, one day, it was time to take it out and dust it off. Timing, I guess, is everything.

My review...

This is a highly emotional tale told by a masterful storyteller. With her descriptive writing, Ganshert takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster ride, along with the characters.

Autumn Manning was the lone survivor of a train explosion. As the one-year anniversary approaches, she still finds herself wondering why she was the only one to survive. She wants answers, and she wants to do something to ensure that the twenty-two victims will never be forgotten.

Paul Elliott’s wife was one of the victims. His daughter, Reese, has been writing to Autumn without his knowledge. Reese is searching for a sense of closure, and Paul just wants to move on. He knows that things aren’t exactly as Reese believes.

Is it possible for the three of them to find “life after” this tragic event?

This book is likely to leave the reader pondering something for the first time: what about the survivors? How do they feel and cope with “life after”? Beautiful and heartbreaking scenes abound, and the overall uplifting message is so powerful. There is so much realism to the characters. Told in alternating POV’s, this book will stick with the reader long after the final page. It really demonstrates how something good can come from tragedy.

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

Amazon link for purchase...

About Katie...

K.E. Ganshert was born and raised in the exciting state of Iowa, where she currently resides with her family. She likes to write things and consume large quantities of coffee and chocolate while she writes. She’s won some awards. For the writing, not the consuming. Although the latter would be fun. You can learn more about K.E. Ganshert and these things she writes at her website
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 12, 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:

Write a haiku sonnet. 

NOTE: You can create a haiku sonnet by doing the following:
Write four three-line haiku with a concluding couplet. (A couplet is often written in seven-syllable lines. Rhymes aren't necessary.)

Happy writing!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week:

"I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn."
— Anne Frank

Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Takeover Thursday with Darlene Franklin ... and a GIVEAWAY!

I want to extend a warm welcome to Darlene Franklin. Darlene is giving away a hard copy (US ONLY) of  The Pony Express Romance Collection. You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends April 13, 2017. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information.) Now, here's Darlene...

One of the challenges of writing about the Pony Express, as romantic as it sounds, was how to get and keep the hero and heroine in the same place for very long! So I decided to make my heroine a woman searching  for the father who had abandoned her, whom she believes is the stationmaster at the Chelan Swing Station. I also made her from the South, shortly before the War Between the States. I'm a New Englander by birth and wanted to explore the other side of the war for a few pages.

I was invited to join the Pony Express collection, as I was invited to participate in my first novella collection, Snowbound Colorado Christmas. That novella, Dressed in Scarlet, finaled in ACFW's "Book of the Year" contest (now the Carol Awards). If not for that experience, I might never have turned to writing historical romance. Thank you, Lena Nelson Dooley and Tamela Hancock Murray! That was back at the beginning. This year I'm closing in on fifty unique published titles. That sounds impressive — but it took me fourteen years before had a single book published. That's one of the reasons I tell writers that perseverance is more important than raw talent.

Story blurb...

The Gambler's Daughter is one of nine novellas that happen along the Pony Express route in 1860-1861. 

Gambling debts drive Caroline Adams’s estranged father away from the Chelan Swing Station before her arrival. Can his replacement conquer the temptations goading them both to prove himself worthy of Caroline’s love?

Amazon link for purchase...

Darlene's bio...

Best-selling hybrid author Darlene Franklin's greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. This year she expects to reach fifty unique titles in print, and she's also contributed to more than twenty nonfiction titles. Her column, "The View Through My Door," appears monthly in Bookfun Magazine. Her most recent titles are The Pony Express Romance Collection, Love's Compass, and To Riches Again.

Where to find Darlene online...

Twitter:   @darlenefranklin

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tuesday Tip: "Just Write" (book recommendation)

I'm doing something a bit different today for "Tuesday Tip."  I'm posting information about a book which might be one to add to your writing resources. It would be beneficial for beginning and veteran authors.

Book blurb (per Amazon)...

Enthrall your readers, love the process, and become the writer you are meant to be!

Writers are given a wealth of opportunities to cultivate a successful writing life, break out, and find an audience for their work. Yet so many writers, from beginners to veterans, find their careers stuck in neutral.

The solution is simple: Just write. Write yourself past fears, doubts, and setbacks, and use your desire for writing excellence to deeply immerse yourself in the craft.

In Just Write, best-selling author and veteran writing coach James Scott Bell shows you how to develop unforgettable stories while leading a rewarding writing life. You'll learn how to master the nuances of fiction, discover what readers really want, and persevere through the challenges of getting started, conquering writers block, and dealing with rejection.  Look inside to discover how to:

  • Brainstorm new concepts for your fiction and develop a believable premise.
  • Create memorable characters that keep your readers coming back for more.
  • Study classic and contemporary novels to improve your writing.
  • Manage your time to maintain peak efficiency.
Fulfilling writing careers are developed through hard work, an investment in practice, and complete dedication to the process. Don't succumb to excuses or procrastination. Dive into your career with gusto and enthusiasm.  Fall in love with writing every day.

Amazon link for purchase...

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Smurfs are coming!

Do you love the Smurfs? Are you excited about their upcoming movie? It releases April 7, 2017. In the meantime, be sure to check out the official trailer.

Here's what the new movie is all about...

 In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette on a thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest. Along with her best friends, Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty, Smurfette encounters magical creatures in hopes of finding a mysterious lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does. This rollercoaster journey filled with action and danger leads the Smurfs to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history! Smurfs: The Lost Village is fun for the whole family and, like all good family films, full of themes that can spark post-screening conversations. These discussion starters on the next few pages will help you talk about important themes in the film

This is the official website for the movie. You'll find all kinds of information there, so stop by! You can read about the characters (as well as the voice behind them), view some fun recipes, take a quiz to test your Smurf knowledge, and even learn to draw a Smurf!

Have a Smurfy day 😊 
(Now, go watch the movie!)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

'The NKJV Woman's Study Bible' Grow in the Word Giveaway (Litfuse blog tour)

The NKJV Woman's Bible Study

You're invited to receive God's truth for balance, hope, and transformation in the fully revised and redesigned The NKJV Woman's Study Bible. The new edition features a beautiful, full-color redesign and poignantly reveals the Word of God with Scripture insights and the contributions of more than eighty women from a wide variety of ethnic, denominational, educational, and occupational backgrounds. Special features designed to speak to a woman's heart appear throughout the Bible text, revealing Scripture-based insights about how godly womanhood grows from a woman's identity as a Christ-follower and a child of the Kingdom.

This spring, cultivate your heart's spiritual roots and enter to win the Grow in the Word Giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on April 27. The winner will be announced April 28 on the Litfuse blog.

My thoughts... 
This is not a review of the Bible as a whole, but more of my opinion of this particular redesign, which is a full-color version of the NKJV Woman's Study Bible. Some of the included features are:

  • full-color design throughout
  • character profiles of over 100 biblical women
  • in-text topical articles on over 300 life issues relevant to women
  • essays written by women who are known as experts in their fields (theology, philosophy, biblical studies, and archaeology)
  • outlines in introductions for each book
  • quotes from various women throughout history
  • topical index
  • full-page maps
  • concordance
These features add to the understanding of the Bible, and I really appreciate and enjoy all of them. However, I particularly like the various ways this is tailored to women, such as the following:

  1. Character profiles: Women such as Eve, Abigail, Chloe, Deborah, Dinah, Sarah, Ruth, Martha, Mary Magdalene, and many others are featured. Some of the women are quite well known to many, but it was interesting to learn more about some of the lesser-known women who are just as important.
  2. Sections on life issues relevant to women: Numerous topics are included, so there is likely to be something that "hits home" with every woman. Some of the issues addressed are:
  • Fear: Shutting God out
  • Commitment: The bedrock of a relationship
  • Gratitude: A thankful spirit
  • Inheritance: Passing it on
  • Envy: Discontent with what you have
  • Communication: Exchanging ideas
  • Fitness: A lifestyle of total health

I was also quite interested in these sections: "Flowers and plants of the Bible," "Vegetables of the Bible," and "Herbs of the Bible." I've read a number of versions of the Bible, and I've never seen these items pointed out before in such a clear way.

The  Bible I have is the brown/burgundy leathersoft version. Overall, it is beautiful, with its floral box, softcover, gold-edged pages, fabric ribbon, and colored pages and maps. This is certainly one Bible to be treasured for many years to come.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the Litfuse  blogger program, but I wasn't required to leave a positive review.