Friday, September 29, 2017

"Hold the Light" by April McGowan (and a GIVEAWAY!)

WhiteFire publishing has graciously offered to give away a copy of this new release (for US residents: choice of hard copy or e-book; for all other residents: an e-book). You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends October 6, 2017. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information.) 
A word from April...

I suffer from a debilitating chronic illness called Common Variable Immunodeficiency, wherein I don't make antibodies and can't fight off colds or infections. I've always wanted to write about the grieving process of adapting to that, but in a way that would connect to a wider population. I chose a rare eye disease (my immune disease is rare) that had the possibility to connect with readers on a personal level. I think most people have worried about or wondered about what it might be like to lose their sight. Then I poured out my own steps in the process into Amber's process (although the rest of her story is completely fictionalized). It was very cathartic and personal and still brings me to tears.

My review...

Amber thought her life was on track, until it throws her a curveball. As an artist, the news that she is facing blindness is almost too much for her to even fathom. Amber feels like her world is falling apart: loss of a relationship, career, and her independence. Her best friend tries to show Amber that while things have changed, hope is not lost, despite her ex-boyfriend’s attempts to make her believe she can’t survive without him. Will Amber be able to recognize that the plans God has in store for her may be different but still wonderful and fulfilling? Or will she continue to feel that God has abandoned her?

McGowan does a wonderful job of capturing the feelings Amber is undergoing due to a recent medical diagnosis, since fears of the unknown are certainly relatable, as are the flawed characters. The reader is educated on macular degeneration, a little discussed diagnosis. Scenes are detailed and easy to visualize. There are numerous heartfelt, as well as humorous, scenes as the reader is taken along on an emotional ride with Amber. There is strong character growth, and I particularly enjoyed the development of Amber’s relationship with her mother. This book made me consider what would be on my must-see bucket list. I look forward to reading more books by McGowan.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but I wasn’t required to leave a review. Opinions expressed are my own.

About April...

April McGowan loves to write inspirational fiction. She, her husband, and two teens live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. April is an award-winning author and member of Oregon Christian Writers and American Christian Fiction Writers. When she's not writing, reading down her book list, homeschooling her son, chasing her kitten, Saoirse, or playing board games, you might find her at her drum kit, imagining she's on a world tour. Hey, it could happen.

Where you can find her online...

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Wednesday, September 27, 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 best villain ever created...

Happy writing!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Matt Redman: Glory Song

Matt Redman teamed up with several of his worship-artist friends for this album, first releasing the track “Gracefully Broken (feat. Tasha Cobbs Leonard).” Tasha Cobbs Leonard also released her own version of this song on the same day. The album also features Kierra Sheard, Guvna B, Madison Cunningham, and Kim Walker-Smith. 

As many of the songs feature collaborations with other musicians, this is quite a musically diverse album from Redman ... and that's a good thing. The songs cross genres, and one even features a gospel choir ("Gospel Song"). However, Redman's signature pop sound is still there. 

Tasha Cobbs Leonard adds her powerhouse vocals to "Gracefully Broken," making this song the perfect choice for the first release.

You can learn the "story behind the story" for "Gracefully Broken":

And here's the link for the the video:

I'll highlight a few of my favorite songs, though it's certainly hard to narrow down the choices.

  • "Greatest Hallelujah" is reminiscent of Redman's wonderful worship songs, though it may be a bit long for some listeners, as it clocks in at over seven minutes.
  • "Gospel Song" has an infectious chorus, and it is hard to not clap and sing along. 
  • "It Is Finished" has one of the most powerful messages of any song on the album, in my opinion. Here are some of the lyrics: "Amplify Your anthem of grace within my soul. Let me hear the wonders of Your redeeming love, and let me hear those saving words You spoke upon the cross: It is finished. It is finished. O, what else is there to say? Shame is silenced. Death defeated. Hallelujah, God be praised." 

If you are looking for a wonderful album to help draw you closer to God and showcase His majesty, this is certainly one to check out. It releases on September 29, 2017. Here are some purchase links:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this CD from Propeller/FlyBy Promotions. I was not required to leave a positive review.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Monday Motivation

"Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy."
— Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Takeover Thursday with Sheri Yutzy

Here's Sheri...

Breaking the Block: How to move past writer’s block

When I first started writing, it was purely for fun. My stories twisted and turned and often ended up in a tangled mess, but I loved it. I didn’t struggle with what to write next. I rode the current of inspiration wherever it took me.

As I moved into the world of publication, it didn’t take long to realize that tangled messes didn’t make the cut here. I needed clear, neatly woven stories if I wanted to share them with the rest of the world. My method wasn’t getting me what I needed.

So I bought books on outlining, had my books professionally edited, and learned lots in the process. But though I was learning the process of writing, some days I stalled. Some days it was so hard, I forgot why I even wanted to write. This forgetting sent me into a tailspin of despair and confusion. What about all the time, effort, and money I’d expended on learning how to write? Was that all going to waste?

The struggle intensified this summer when I became pregnant and lost my energy and my will to write. Finally, I came before God, broken. I knew He had given me this dream to write. He’d given me a measure of talent, and it was up to me to hone it, no matter how hard I had to work.

In that quiet space with Him, He reminded me why I am writing. It’s not so people know my name. That’s part of it, so they know how to find my stories. It’s not so I feel good about my skills. It is fulfilling to be able to weave a masterful story with all the proper high points and conflicts.
I am writing because He has called me to worship and delight in Him with my words. Even if I was only writing in my journal, never to show it to anyone else, it would be worth it. Yes, I hone my skills because my delight in writing deepens as I further understand its structure. My worship of God takes on another sheen of glory as I see how my writing can turn others to Him.

I am given the gift of writing. Not a burden, though it is hard some days. It is a gift, and as long  as I keep that knowledge before me, I can push on after fading inspiration. I can trust God to reveal the inspiration already inside me, so that I can write a story that touches lives.

About Sheri...

I'm Sheri Yutzy, and I'm a storyteller who believes that words hold unimaginable power. I'm passionate about writing life-changing literature for young people. I edit for Daughters of Promise, an Anabaptist women's magazine, and I am working to get my first two young adult fantasy novels published. In the meantime, I write short stories and articles for blogs and online magazines. I grew up as a conservative Mennonite and still practice that way of life. I live with my husband Dan in Huntsville, Arkansas attend a small church in town.

Where to find Sheri online...

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tuesday Tip: #Hashtags

If you would like to make the most of your social media posts, you may want to try some of these #hashtags. Happy tweeting!

#amwriting or #writing:  These are some of the most popular hashtags. You can use them to connect with others in the writing community.

#1linewed:  This is when writers share one line from their manuscripts on Wednesdays.

#fridayreads:  This allows people to share what they're currently reading. It's a way to connect with readers as well as writers.

#writerwednesday or #WW: This is used to highlight other writers worth following.

#pubtip: You can use this to share or search for publishing tips.

#indieauthor: You can connect with others who are interested in self-publishing.

#writetip: Use this to share writing tips.

 #askagent: If you have a submissions question, you can try using this hashtag to see if you get a response.

Friday, September 15, 2017

"Mercy Triumphs" by Jana Kelley (LitFuse Blog Tour)

My review...

Mia, Halimah, and Rania are three very different women, but they all believe in the same merciful and faithful God.

Mia is an American who's been living in Sudan or three years with her family. She and her husband are helping to bring people to Jesus. Mia met Halimah when she came to stay with them after her family disowned her for being a Christ-follower. Halimah is now working with refugees in Kenya. Rania is Halimah's sister. She is attending art school and staying with relatives in Dubai. When she graduates, she will be expected to follow through on an arranged marriage to a Muslim. All of them want to serve God and bring others to him, but they are worried time is running out for them to do that. Can they learn to wait on God in His perfect timing? Or will God show them that He has better plans than they could envision?

This is the third book in the series, and I have my fingers crossed for sequel! It could be read as a standalone, but a greater appreciation will be gained by reading the series in order.

Kelley's characters show modern-day persecution and the life of Muslims living in Sudan. This book, like the others, is based on real-like events. They challenge the reader to consider things they never thought about in the past, such as the struggles Christians face when under Islamic law and cultural differences. It's a truly captivating and heartwarming tale, with beautiful prose and overall reminder to trust God. He has a plan for everyone, no matter where they may be planted. A glossary (Arabic and Swahili) is included.

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

About Jana...

Author of the captivating novel Side by Side, Jana Kelley is a Texan who hardly ever lives in Texas. Raised in Southeast Asia, Jana developed a love for cross-cultural living early in life. Her love for writing came soon after. Jana returned to Texas to attend East Texas Baptist University. She and her husband married a month after she graduated, and by their second anniversary, they were living in a remote African town. After thirteen years living in Africa and the Middle East, Jana, her husband, and their three boys moved to Southeast Asia, where they currently live.

Wednesday, September 13, 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've never done anything unpredictable, except that one time...

Happy writing!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

"Deadly Proof" by Rachel Dylan

My review...

Attorney Kate Sullivan is set to work on a case that could make or break her career. She is chosen as lead counsel in a corporate cover-up lawsuit against Mason Pharmaceuticals. She hopes to get justice for victims whose lives were ruined by the company’s dangerous migraine drug. Things get even more serious after a whistleblower is found dead. Kate hires private investigator Landon James to do a bit of digging, as she is convinced there is more going on than meets the eye with Mason Pharmaceuticals. Her beliefs are further reinforced when attacks on her life increase as the trial date draws near. Landon prays he is able to keep her safe. Is someone on her own team sabotaging her? Who is willing to kill to keep the case from going to trial?

If you enjoy a legal thriller with a side of romance, then this is a book you want to check out. It is the first in Dylan’s new series, Atlanta Justice. The author’s background as an attorney adds authenticity to the story. Kate is a courageous and determined heroine. Sharp dialogue, realistic details, and a fast pace combine in this page turner.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but I was not required to leave a positive review.

About Rachel...

Rachel Dylan writes Christian fiction, including inspirational romantic suspense for Love Inspired Suspense and the Windy Ridge Legal Thriller series. Rachel has practiced law for almost a decade and enjoys weaving together legal and suspenseful stories. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five furkids — two dogs and three cats. Rachel loves to connect with readers. You can find Rachel at:


Monday, September 11, 2017

Monday Motivation

"You can't think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block."
— John Rogers

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

"The Christmas Blessing" by Melody Carlson

My review...

Carlson is known for her Christmas stories, and her latest is one set during WWII. Amelia Richards has a young son, and she believes her fiance James, the baby's father, was killed when his plane was shot down in the South Pacific. She has no one to turn to, as her family situation is not good. She decides to head to California to meet James' parents and, perhaps, get help from them. Will they welcome her with open arms or question her motives?

Carlson creates characters who are easy to invest in, and they will have you crying and smiling throughout the story. The descriptions are vivid and are perfect for getting the reader in the holiday spirit. Amelia is a brave heroine, who is determined to do all she can to give her baby the best life possible. The story starts to feel a bit rushed as things unfold. This is a novella, so it's a quick read. Though not totally original, there is a nice twist at the end.

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

About Melody...

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women, and children. That's a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a "storyteller." Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in my Flip-Flops), but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, True Colors, etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She's won a number of awards (including Romantic Times' Career Achievement Award, the Rita, and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson visit her website at

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Takeover Thursday with Toni Shiloh ... and a GIVEAWAY!

I want to extend a warm welcome to Toni Shiloh. She's giving away an electronic copy of her book Returning Home. You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends September 14, 2017. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information.) Now, here's Toni...

Back cover blurb...

Jo Ellen Baker is shocked to find out that the boy who teased her mercilessly throughout high school has returned to their hometown of Freedom Lake, and he’s missing a leg. When his mother asks her to renovate their carriage house to give him a place to gain his independence back, she wants to say no. But one look at him brings a rush of forgotten feelings.

Evan Carter can’t believe he has to return home and live with his parents. Every hope and dream he ever had dissipated in a car crash that cost him his leg. Stuck in a wheelchair, he’s forced to re-examine his relationship with God and the local carpenter Jo Ellen Baker.

Will renovating his home open the door for a mended relationship, or are some wounds too deep to heal from?  

Prologue (excerpt)...

Evan Carter stared at his girlfriend, admiring her beauty. Brenda’s pixie haircut framed her pretty face, and a soft smile graced her lips. She wore charm and gentleness like a cloak, as she gracefully changed lanes. She drove his new Altima like it was made for her.

He loved that Brenda suited every aspect of his life. She was a slam dunk in the girlfriend department. He ran his fingers over the velvet box in his pocket. Tonight was the night. The restaurant staff had been informed of his plans. With their help, his proposal would be flawless.

“Should I adjust the temp?” he asked.

“I’m good, sweetie,” she smiled at him, then quickly faced forward again.

Brenda would make the best high-school coach’s wife. His students loved her, and she loved basketball as much as he did. It was so easy to be with her.

“Evan, you made the perfect choice. This car is so quiet. I can’t believe we can’t hear the outside noise.”

“I know. That’s what sold me.” He pointed up ahead. “Make a right at the light.” He hadn’t revealed their dinner location. If he didn’t pay close attention, they’d miss a turn.

“Are you sure you don’t want to tell me where we’re going?”

“I’m sure. I still think you should have let me drive. Then it would really be a surprise.”

She laughed. “Of course, it would have been better, but I’ve been itching to get behind the wheel ever since you bought it.”

“Well now—”

A black truck swerved in and out of their lane.

“Baby, slow down. Watch out for that truck!”

There was nowhere to pull over, no way to avoid the impending collision. The two-lane road had no shoulder, and the truck was picking up speed.

The black truck righted itself. Before Evan could even sigh in relief, the truck corrected, ending up in their lane, headed straight for them.

They were going to collide.

Evan held his breath, clenched his eyes, and braced for impact. Brenda’s scream pierced the air, but it seemed far away. His seat belt locked tight as the car came to an abrupt stop.

A weight dropped onto his leg. Pain exploded. Smoke filled his nose. His body struggled to make sense of what happened. Finally, he closed his eyes and gave in to the darkness.

Buy links...

About Toni...

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the local Virginia Chapter.

Where to find Toni online...

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Tuesday Tip: Websites about agents (part three)

Welcome to the final set of websites pertaining to agents. I hope you have found them useful.

  • Manuscript Wish List ( This is the website for Twitter's popular #Manuscript Wish List (#MSWL). There is an easy-to-search database of agents, each with a detailed bio page with what they're seeking and how to submit.

  • Pub Rants ( Kristin Nelson has politely ranted about the ins and outs of the publishing industry for years. Her site explains contracts and negotiations and how to succeed at queries.
  • QUERYTRACKER ( This contains a searchable database of literary agents and publishers' response times and preferences. You can use this site to keep track of when and where you've queried, as well.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

"All She Left Behind" by Jane Kirkpatrick

My review...

Jennie Pickett uses homeopathic medicine to help others. She longs to be a doctor, something uncommon in the 1800’s. In order to achieve her dream, she would need to overcome a number of obstacles: an abusive husband, her gender, and dyslexia. Her husband and family do not encourage her, and her husband’s poor choices cause her to pursue unexpected options just to get by. Will her own decisions allow her to live out her dreams, or is it as impossible as others believe?

The story starts out quite slowly, but the pace does pick up a bit as the story unfolds. However, it was hard for me to stay engaged. Kirkpatrick obviously did her research with this book, as it blends in historical events and real people. Jennie is a strong and determined heroine. At the core, this story focuses on overcoming challenges, never losing hope, and love.

This is the first book I’ve read by Kirkpatrick. It was not my favorite, but I’d be willing to check out other books by this author in the future. There is a cast of characters listed at the beginning which notes the ones based on real people. There is also a list of herbs and oils included at the end which may be of interest to the reader, particularly as there is a growing popularity for essential oils.

One of my favorite quotes from the story is: “Dreams delayed are not always dreams destroyed.”

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of the Revell Reads blogger program. I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.

Friday, September 1, 2017

"Assaulted Caramel" by Amanda Flower ... and a GIVEAWAY!

To celebrate the release of her latest book, Amanda has graciously offered to give away an Amish-made pot holder (see below) (US ONLY). To enter, see the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. (Contest ends September 8, 2017.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!


"I still can't believe you left!"  Cassandra Calbera shouted into my ear. "They're making the announcement Monday. You have to be here!"

I held the phone away from my face and imagined my best friend standing in the middle of Jean Pierre's test kitchen in the back of JP Chocolates in Midtown, New York. She'd be in her chef whites and have her short, purple and black hair pinned behind her ears to keep it out of her eyes. I prayed that she was alone, considering the direction of our conversation. The fewer people who knew I'd left the city, the better.

While Cass continued to tell me all the reasons why I should immediately return to New York, I parked in the first spot I could find on Apple Street, which ran perpendicular to Main Street. Apple trees lined either side of the narrow lane. In the spring, they look like flowering white torches marching up the road, forming a beautiful canopy. When I was a little girl, I had asked my grandfather why the apple trees never had any apples. He replied that the English residents of the village didn't like the apples because they made a mess on the street and sidewalk, so the Englishers made the trees sterile. At the age of five, I had no idea what sterile meant, but it sounded bad. "It is the English way," he had said. "To change what Gott created into something more convenient."

This late in September, the tree's leaves had turned yellow-gold, and a few fell to the sidewalk in the breeze that rolled over the green hills surrounding the village.

"Bai, are you listening to me?" Cass demanded.

I took a deep breath. "I explained to Jean Pierre before I left. This is a family emergency. My grandfather is sick. Jean Pierre understood. Besides, it's only Thursday. I'll be home in time for the announcement on Monday morning."

"Jean Pierre might understand, but the selection committee will not. They're looking for any excuse to give that skunk Caden the head chocolatier job. Just because he's French, and they think it goes better with the brand of Jean Pierre's empire. Do you think I should run the mob just because I'm Italian?"

"You probably wouldn't be bad at it."

"First of all, that comment is both flattering and insulting. Second, you're completely missing my point."

"What would that be?" I asked, rubbing my forehead and staring out the windshield of the rental car I had picked up at the tiny Akron-Canton Airport. There hadn't been much selection, and the inside of the car smelled faintly of stale cigarettes. The smell was giving me a headache. As I stared out the window, an Amish buggy clopped down the cross street. Inside, an Amish man with a long dark beard chatted with the Amish boy in the passenger seat. The boy was laughing. I couldn't be farther from Midtown if I tried.

My review...

Chocolatier Bailey King is in line for a promotion at the world-famous JP Chocolates in New York City. Her plans change when she learns of her grandfather’s failing health, causing her to head to Ohio. She learns that local developer Tyson Colton wants to buy her grandparents’ shop, Swissmen Sweets, an Amish candy shop. When Tyson turns up dead at the shop, Bailey’s grandpa becomes a prime suspect, and Bailey is determined to prove his innocence. That may prove to be a stickier challenge than she anticipated.

I love cozy mysteries, and this one is no exception. It’s the first installment in the “Amish Candy Shop Mystery” series. Flower has crafted a story with a charming setting (Amish country) and truly enjoyable characters…including a potbelly pig! Bailey’s questions about her purpose, job, and relationships will likely resonate with many readers. An excerpt from the next book in the series, as well as a yummy recipe for Salted Caramel Fudge, is included.

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

Amazon link for purchase.

About Amanda...

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

Readers can find Amanda online at:


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