Thursday, June 29, 2017

Takeover Thursday with Mallory McCartney...and a GIVEAWAY!

I want to extend a warm welcome to Mallory McCartney. She's here to talk about her latest release, Black Dawn. Mallory is giving away an electronic copy of  the book. You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends July 6, 2017. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information.) Now, here's Mallory...


The end of an Empire, the rise of a Queen

Emory Fae enjoys leading a quiet, normal life. That is until two mysterious, and handsome, soldiers show up at her apartment, and the life she knew is instantly whisked away. Memphis Carter  and Brokk Foster come upon the magical and war-ridden world of Kiero, and upon Emory's aarrival, she will discover she is the long-lost heir to the Royal Line  and is thrown into the Black Dawn Rebellion with a dynamic role to ignite the rebels and reclaim her throne.

With both men being darkly woven in her past, Emory uncovers hidden secrets, a power held long dormant, and will soon realize there are worse things than supernatural humans, love, loss, betrayal, and a Mad King.

Some things are better left in the shadows.

Purchase links...

About Mallory...

Mallory McCartney currently lives in London, Ontario with her husband and their two dachshunds Link and Lola. Black Dawn is her debut novel, the first in a series. When she isn’t working on her next novel or reading, she can be found dog grooming, book shopping, and hiking. Other favorite pastimes involve reorganizing perpetually overflowing bookshelves and seeking out new coffee and dessert shops.  

Where you can find Mallory online...

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tuesday Tip: Websites for Poets

This week, I want to highlight some websites which may be useful resources for writers of poetry.

  • ( This website has a database of over 7,000 poems, as well as a list of regional events and contests. This is the official website for the Academy of American Poets.

  • Poets & Writers ( Poets & Writers is the nation's largest nonprofit organization serving creative writers. They want to foster the professional development of poets and writers and promote communication throughout the community.

  • Trish Hopkinson ( Trish shares how-tos on writing poetry, calls for submissions from literary journals, editor interviews, and much more. Trish is an award-winning poet.

Friday, June 23, 2017

"Devil in the Dust" by Cara Luecht ... and a GIVEAWAY!

Cara 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 June 30, 2017.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!


June 1933
The wind stopped. The house grew quiet. Lillian kicked the oil rag out of the way and eased the kitchen door open to listen, to see if it was safe.
A single drop of rain splashed down on the rickety porch, and for a brief second Lillian could remember what the wood once looked like. But too soon the drop remembered where it was, that it had no place in the Oklahoma Panhandle, and it rolled, following a parched crack in the ever-present layer of dirt. And then it disappeared into the ground.
Lillian took a step out of the house and stretched her bare toes against the hot, soft dust. The screen door no longer hung in the way, and with a diminished need for the protective layer, no one felt the urge to retrieve it. The frail door had made it through the first summer. But the second summer, when the drought refused to loosen its hold, the winds had ripped it from its hinges, stretched the frail metal spring to the breaking point, and set the door down against the fence. There it rested, with one board broken and a ripped screen, leaning on a fence post that once marked the entrance to the garden. Now the fence marked nothing. An entrance to nowhere.
When the dust settled, she could see for miles from her kitchen door. Miles that once cradled golden fields of wheat, dew-covered footpaths, acres of grasses, and the occasional neighbor walking through to visit. Lillian took another hesitant step, careful not to stir the persistent cloud of soot that coated everything. In years past, the dirt—the rich topsoil of the Oklahoma territories—had been the source of life. Now that hope, the black wealth the old settlers had risked their lives for, smothered the city. It seeped into every crevice, into every building, into their lungs and ears. Their most valuable asset, once under their feet, now smothered their tiny town.
Lillian reached up to shade her eyes from the sun, looking for the stray cloud that had mistakenly dropped its burden.
Another drop fell. And then, another.
Lillian shuffled out of the shadow of the small farmhouse and up the side to what had been their front yard. Now dominated by rippling drifts of fine dirt, there wasn’t much left of the grass that used to dampen the toes of her shoes or her flowers with their heavy velvet petals.
But a neighbor still lived across the street.
Her listless children, long since worn free of the desire to run and carry on with sticks and games, stood in the yard looking up. They’d seen it too.
The sun burned against Lillian’s blonde hair. At least, it used to be blonde. The layer of dust covered everything, including people, and where there had once been defining characteristics, now there was likeness. The Negro man on the old shanty claim just outside of town was the same color as the horde of white children across the street. The dirt made sure of that. It was, if nothing else, an equalizer.
Lillian watched the shoeless children. There were five, and no one left in town thought it strange that they traipsed down the street without shoes. Shoes filled up with the soot. Add to it the summer heat, and the ensuing paste meant the freedom of bare feet outweighed the humiliation of it. At least for the children.
Lillian looked up at the lumbering brown cloud overhead.
“Here, over here!” A young boy jumped up at the sky, waving his arms and stamping around as if performing some kind of rain dance. The others joined in, hooting and calling to the meandering cloud.
Another drop fell, and then another, and for a brief second they watched each other from across the street while the rain crashed against the dirt in impossibly huge drops and a cloud of dust rose and fell from the miniature impacts.
Rivulets of water ran down Lillian’s arms, streaking through the dust. She glanced across the street where the mother of the children stood in the middle of their undignified splashing dance. Lillian lifted up to her tiptoes and waved to the woman.
And then, her arm still in the air, the rain stopped.
The cloud moved on, almost as if it had been a mistake. Where it had blocked the sun, suddenly it didn’t, and it took only a matter of seconds for the hot rays to undo the rain’s damage. Lillian looked down at the unchanged earth and then back up to Mrs. Owen and her children, but she had already retreated into the house.

About Cara...

Award-winning author Cara Luecht lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin with her husband David and their children. In addition to freelance writing and marketing, Cara  and and works as an English instructor for local college. Cara graduated summa cum laude with a. B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Farleigh Dickinson University. Currently, Cara is studying for a Masters of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Cara has four published novels: Soul Painter, Soul's Prisoner, Gathered Waters, and Devil in the Dust. Soul Painter and Soul's Prisoner will be joined by a third novel in the series, Soul's Cry, in 2017.

You can find her online at the following:

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Wednesday, June 21, 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 never set out to save the world, but that's exactly what I did. Here's how it happened...

Happy writing!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday Motivation

"The first sentence can't be written until the final sentence is written."
— Joyce Carol Oates

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

"It's Okay About It" by Lauren Casper

My review...

Casper’s latest is told through the eyes of her five-year-old son Mareto. Using his phrases, the author hopes to help the reader “look inward and live outward.”

This is an encouraging book full of simple reminders designed to help the reader become more aware of the joys of life and to slow down and listen for God’s voice. Adults tend to overthink things, often leading to feelings of being overwhelmed, but that’s not the case with Mareto. He has a different, and refreshing, view of his world. His simple, yet profound, statements caused Casper to rethink situations, and it is likely they will have the same impact on the reader. Casper’s book could be helpful to families who’ve adopted a child or have a child on the autism spectrum. Christ’s examples and applicable Bible verses are woven throughout.

Here are some of my favorite takeaways:
·         “What we see as setbacks or standstills are actually turning points in our story.”
·         “… love doesn’t divide and subtract. It multiplies and adds.”
·         “We don’t have to live constantly searching for the best thing out there; we can look at what brings us joy in life and focus on good enough.”
·         “Who we are is permanently affixed to God.”
·         “We can’t always control what happens around us each day, but we do have control over our perspective.”

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Takeover Thursday with SM Ford

I want to extend a warm welcome to SM Ford. She's here to talk about creating likable characters. SM is giving away an electronic copy of her first book, Alone. You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends June 22, 2017. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information.) Now, here's SM Ford...

Likable Characters

By SM Ford

For the most part, we want our main character in a story to be likable. We want the reader to care enough about the character to keep reading. I know I’ve put books down because I just didn’t care what happened. So how do we create likeable characters?

First, likable characters are multidimensional. He feels like a real person with a personality, background, an occupation, interests, likes and dislikes, etc. She has good and bad traits/habits. Each has their own specific set of problems, strengths, and beliefs.

Second, think about the people you find likable. What makes them likable? People who attract me are friendly, honest, hardworking, interesting, and interested in others. I want to be able to trust what she says. It doesn’t mean I agree with everything he says. It doesn’t mean she is perfect. In fact, perfect people are unrelatable. Interesting people have experienced life and are willing to share and listen. We have some things in common, but not everything. There’s something I can admire—a strength, a talent, a gift. These are the kinds of people I’m willing to spend time with, so those are the kinds of main characters I’m eager to read. Make sure you know and share your main character’s good traits and strengths.

Third, think about the flaws that your main character can have that you’d be sympathetic to. A person who kicks puppies, is always annoyed by little kids, and thinks nothing of lying or stealing doesn’t garner my sympathy. On the other hand, a guy who puts his foot in his mouth, a gal who struggles with her weight, someone who is overly shy or worries too much—those are things I can relate to. This doesn’t mean a main character can’t start out with some detestable flaw, but most flaws will be understandable in some way.

Fourth, your main character has to have a desire or dream and a believable problem. If he wants/needs nothing, why do I care? This dream/desire can’t be reached too easily—the solution to the problem can’t be too simple. The obstacles along the way are what make the story interesting, especially if the obstacles force a main character to make decisions and choose options counter to the desire or dream. I want to see this person work for what they want.

Fifth, your main character needs to change in some way. Living, breathing people are not the same today as they were a year ago—sometimes even yesterday or five minutes ago. Good main characters echo this. What a character goes through should affect him—make him grow, change his opinion, maybe even change his dream or desire. A story shares her journey—the ups and downs along the road, the detours—including the arrival, even if it may not be where she planned to go. That’s change.

We root for the underdog who succeeds, for the hero who isn’t perfect and has struggles, for the ordinary person who does something extraordinary. Help us cheer for your main characters by making them likeable.

Thanks so much for the informative post! I know you have a book out. Would you like to share a bit about that?


Ready for adventure in the snowy Colorado mountains, Cecelia Gage is thrilled to be employed as the live-in housekeeper for her favorite best-selling author. The twenty-five-year old doesn't count on Mark Andrews being so prickly, nor becoming part of the small town gossip centering on the celebrity. Neither does she expect to become involved in Andrews' family drama and a relationship with Simon Lindley, Mark's oh-so-good-looking best friend. And certainly, Cecelia has no idea she'll be mixed up in a murder investigation because of this job. Will Cecelia's faith get her through all the trouble that lies ahead?

Links for purchase...

About SM Ford...

SM Ford writes inspirational fiction, short stories, and articles. Her first novel, Alone, was published in 2016 by Clean Reads. Besides writing herself, she enjoys helping other writers reach their goals. She blogs on her website at and is an instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Where you can find her online...

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tuesday Tip: Websites for Fantasy/Science Fiction Writers

This week, I want to highlight some websites which may be useful resources for those of you who write fantasy or science fiction.

  • Mythcreants ( This site delves into the inner workings of spec fiction. There are daily blog posts, podcasts, and other items which share techniques in world-building, characterization, and writing, in general, which can be applied to your stories.

  • Fantasy Author's Handbook ( This site features Philip Athans, the New York Times bestselling author, editor, and writing coach. He offers practical writing advice with weekly blog posts and through his Twitter account.

  • Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America ( This site offers numerous free resources for the craft, queries, and publishing tips. There is a fee to access some information, and you must meet certain eligibility requirements (such as being published in the genre).

Friday, June 9, 2017

"Sailing out of Darkness" by Normandie Fischer ... and a GIVEAWAY!


About the Book

Author: Normandie Fischer  
Genre: Women’s Fiction  
Release Date: February 25, 2017 (2nd Edition)  

Love conquers all? Maybe for some people.

When Samantha flies to Italy to gain distance from a disastrous affair with her childhood best friend, the last thing on her mind is romance. But Teo Anderson is nothing like her philandering ex-husband or her sailing buddy, Jack, who, despite his live-in girlfriend, caught her off guard with his flashing black eyes.

Teo has his own scars, both physical and emotional, that he represses by writing mysteries—until one strange and compelling vision comes to life in the person of Sam. Seeking answers, he offers friendship to this obviously hurting woman, a friendship that threatens to upend his fragile peace of mind.

But not even sailing the cobalt waters of the Mediterranean can assuage Sam’s guilt for destroying Jack’s relationship and hurting another woman. Soon the consequences of her behavior escalate, and the fallout threatens them all.  

Sailing out of Darkness is the haunting story of mistakes and loss…and the grace that abounds through forgiveness. Awarded: Aspen Gold, Selah, and Maggie Finalist 2014 (1st edition)

My review...

Samantha had a divorce and a rebound relationship with her childhood friend. She plans a trip to Italy to sort out her life. Teo is mystery writer who is trying to mask his own scars and demons. Neither one is in the market for a relationship. In fact, Samantha doubts that she can trust her own judgments anymore. Is it possible for her to learn to love again?

Fisher’s latest is a story of mistakes, grace, and forgiveness. It contains complex characters and is likely to hit home with many women. The characters’ struggles are realistic as they deal with issues such as pain and rejection. The story is told with alternating viewpoints. It is a nice change to have a heroine with grown-up children, as that gives a different perspective to the romance angle. This is the fourth installment in the Carolina Coast series, but it can be read as a standalone.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the Celebrate Lit blog tour program, but I was not required to leave a positive review.

Guest Post from Normandie Fischer

In Sailing out of Darkness, the female protagonist longs for something, anything that will validate her after her husband leaves. She’s propelled into such an emotional wasteland that she becomes vulnerable to what seems a safe friendship.

It isn’t. And so she flees to Italy, but the repercussions of her actions continue to affect her and others—as consequences are wont to do.

After my divorce, hurting women seemed to flock to my vicinity. (Either that, or suddenly husbands in the church were leaving in droves.) These were abandoned women, angry women, women searching for love in the wrong places. I wasn’t in any shape to minister to them as I too was struggling at the cross, but that period helped me understand how woefully ignorant and unprepared many church goers are when it comes to hearing the cries of the hurting. I know of two women (to whom I dedicated the book) who actually killed themselves because no one listened or reached out a hand when they needed it.

The process of divorce and healing taught me about grace in a way that I’d never fully internalized. I’d ministered and counseled for years about the Love of God. I’d preached and written about it, but part of me, the part that needed healing, still held on to the idea that I had to be perfect to be loved by God and by man. I knew better, but the heart and the head weren’t working well together, especially during my years of living with an alcoholic husband and during divorce recovery after he left. As I wrote about Sam’s guilt and helped her find peace, I think new pieces slid into place for me as well. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God. And that’s probably the most powerful message we have to share with this hurting world.

Blog Stops

This giveaway is hosted by Celebrate Lit. Follow along with the tour for a list of stops!


To celebrate her tour, Normandie is giving away a Kindle! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

About Normandie...

Normandie Fischer is a sailor who writes and a writer who sails. After studying sculpture in Italy, she returned to the States, graduated summa cum laude, and went to work in the publishing field as an editor. She and her husband retired from cruising Pacific Mexico on their 50-foot ketch, Sea Venture, to care for her aging mother and enjoy her two grown children and her grandchildren. She is the author of six books: Becalmed (2013), Heavy Weather (2015), Twilight Christmas (2016), Two from Isaac's House (2015), From Fire into Fire (2016), and Sailing out of Darkness (2013 and 2017).

Wednesday, June 7, 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:

Imagine you are someone's shadow for a day.

Happy writing!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week:

"If you want to be a writer, you have to write every day… You don't go to a well once but daily."
— Walter Mosley

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

"Women Who Move Mountains" by Sue Detweiler

My review...

Detweiler’s latest is filled with stories from women who have overcome many things, so there is likely to be something relatable to every reader. In addition to the testimonies, there are numerous Bible verses throughout to reinforce the message. There are also prayers and questions for reflection to help the reader go even deeper. The author tries to demonstrate how it is possible to pray with confidence, boldness, and grace, and find freedom in Christ.

A twenty-one-day devotional guide to spiritual breakthrough is also included, which is a nice addition to the book. Each devotion includes a journal activity, a verse for meditation, the message, a prayer, and a declaration. This section was my favorite part of the book.

That said, this book wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It would be very useful in a women’s small group, and it is extremely important to have a Bible handy when reading this, as many of the verses referenced (especially those in the “application/reflection” sections) are not listed in the book itself. Therefore, I didn’t find this as user-friendly as other similar books I’ve read. However, there are links provided so the reader can go online to access bonus material, such as journaling pages, videos, and worksheets.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the Bethany House blogger program, but I was not required to write a positive review.