Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tuesday Tip: NaNoWriMo

So, it's almost November. Are you planning to participate in NaNoWriMo? If you're not sure, here are some reasons why you should consider it.

NaNoWriMo is a great way to kickstart your writing. It's a yearly event designed to allow an author to write a novel in a month. Each year, thousands of participants from around the world sign up to write 50,000 words during the month of November.

Here are some things you can learn by taking part in NaNoWriMo:

  1. Discipline: You're agreeing to write approximately four pages every day, or around 1500 words a  day.
  2. How to ignore your internal editor: When you have a set number of pages to write a day that is higher than average, there's no time to be a perfectionist. It's more important to get the words on the page, typos and all. You'll have time to fix it later.
  3. Allow yourself to lose control: Writers like to control every aspect of their story. When writing this quickly, some of that has to be set aside, at least initially. You can edit it later. Just allow the words to come. Be spontaneous.

Will NaNoWriMo give you the perfect novel? Not necessarily, but it's a good way to practice writing habits that you can implement throughout the year. And, if you ask many writers, they'll also tell you that it's fun!

To learn more about NaNoWriMo or to sign up:  https://nanowrimo.org/

Monday, October 30, 2017

"365 Devotions for Living Joyfully"

My review...

This encouraging devotional is designed to help the reader find joy and live a more joyful life. In today’s society, it’s easy to lose focus and become fearful or negative. This book and its readings could help the reader shift their focus and regain that joy. While the book could be enjoyed by anyone, it does seem to have a focus that would appeal more to women.

Each reading, which is set up by the calendar year, contains a verse, message, and prayer. There is a ribbon bookmark, which is quite convenient. The readings are short, making them easy to fit into a busy day.

The passages are relatable. The sturdy cover is cheery, in yellow with a bike and flowers. The pages complement the cover, as they have a yellow hint and flowers. Various Bible versions are used (including NLT, NIT, ESV, HCSB, and the Voice). It is a convenient size, making it easy to use while traveling, as well as at home. A scripture index is included at the end of the book. This devotional would make a nice addition to a daily Bible-reading study plan.

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

Sunday, October 29, 2017

"Live the Let-Go Life: Breaking Free from Stress, Worry, and Anxiety" by Joseph Prince

My review...

I’ve listened to Pastor Prince a few times on television, but I’ve never read any of his books. When I saw this one, I knew it was one I needed to check out, as the topic looked like one I’d be able to identify with on many levels … and I was correct.

The author grabs the reader’s attention with the first paragraph. Prince includes numerous personal stories, as well as testimonies others have shared with him. He uses these to illustrate the various points. Biblical truths are infused throughout the book.

In today’s society, it’s hard to not feel anxious at times.  In this book, Prince tries to show the reader that it is possible to release those problems to God and live the “let-go life” God wants us to have. He points out the destructive power of stress, often called a “silent killer.” There were so many things in this book that jumped out at me, and I highlighted many passages that I will go back to when I need to be reminded to just “let go” of my worries.

A salvation prayer, along with other resources (such as a sign-up for free email devotionals), is included at the end. Prince also gives contact info and encourages the reader to share their testimony with him.

Some of my favorite quotes:

·       “Living the let-go life is a daily journey of faith. Every day, there is a battle for our minds.”
·       “We live the let-go life by letting go of our worries and replacing them with God’s Word.”
·       “When you are being attacked by worrisome thoughts, meditating on His Word is the best remedy.”
·       “If something does not work out, believe that the Lord is setting you up for something greater.”
·       “Don’t let your past cripple you from stepping into His promises for today.”

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

Friday, October 27, 2017

"Callum's Compass" by Sara L. Foust ... and a GIVEAWAY!

Sara L. Foust has graciously offered to give away an electronic copy of this new release. You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends November 3, 2017. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information.) 

The story behind the story...

Callum's Compass came from an idea I originally had in high school. What if I could prove that mountain lions had returned to East Tennessee? The plot line has changed a lot since then, but when you read it, you will find that mountain lion element still makes an appearance. The treasure hunt that Kat Williams goes on was inspired by my uncle Jim. He was a clever man. Growing up, he left clues to 'treasure hunts' for my cousins to find in between chores. And, when we went on family vacations, he created real treasure hunts with gold coins (or chocolate doughnuts) as the prize. The first clue Kat finds is one Uncle Jim created and left for us on a trip to Outer Banks, North Carolina. He had us stumped all day, and we even had to call his son, who was unable to make the trip, for help. We eventually solved all the clues and used a metal detector to find buried gold on the beach. These are some of the BEST memories I have, and I still miss him every day. I started my own scavenger hunt on Facebook for the rest of October, I would love for your readers to check it out! Here is the blog link for the rules and instructions https://saralfoust.com/2017/10/16/scavenger-hunt/

KAT WILLIAMS’S brother died in a gruesome accident in the mountains of East Tennessee. She blames herself.

RYAN JENKINS’S fiancée was murdered. He couldn’t protect her.

With the death of her brother, Kat believes she is unworthy of love from anyone—even God. When a good friend elicits a promise that she will stop living in the past and then leaves her clues to a real-life treasure hunt, Kat embarks on an adventure chock-full of danger. To find the treasure, Kat will have to survive wild animals—and even wilder men. Can she rely on Ryan, the handsome wildlife officer assigned to protect her . . . without falling in love?

Ryan swore off love when his fiancée was murdered, but feelings long-buried rise to the surface around Kat. He volunteers to help with her treasure hunt, vowing to keep her safe. Together they venture deep into caves and tunnels . . . and even deeper into the depths of their unplumbed hearts.

About Sara...

Sara writes Inspirational Romantic Suspense from a mini-farm in East Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and their five homeschooled children. She earned her bachelor's degree in Animal Science from the University of Tennessee and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Tennessee Mountain Writers. Her debut novel Collum's Compass won second place in Deep River Books' 2017 Writers Contest. She also has a story, "Leap of Faith," appearing in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone. Sara finds inspiration in her faith, her family, and the beauty of nature. When she isn't writing, you can find her reading, camping, and spending time outdoors with her family. To learn more about her and her work or to become a part of her email friend's group, please visit www.saralfoust.com

Where to find Sara online...

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Wednesday, October 25, 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:

Make a list of three verbs and three adjectives. Use them all in a story starting with: "If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times..."

Happy writing!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Monday Motivation

"Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer."
Barbara Kingsolver

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

"Blessed in the Darkness" by Joel Osteen

My review...

Osteen’s latest provides a reminder that it is possible to focus on the positive, even in a difficult situation. Numerous personal stories are included to punctuate Osteen’s points. Some of them may be familiar if you listen to his sermons on TV or Sirius Radio or if you have read some of his other books. However, they are stories that are beneficial to hear more than once.

I have read numerous books by Osteen, and I have yet to be disappointed. The books, along with his messages in general, always contain nuggets of wisdom and truth that can be applied to circumstances in my life, since they are very relatable. As with past books, I highlighted numerous passages in this one, and it is a book I will refer back to when I need encouragement and help with focusing on the positive. If that is what you are looking for, I think you will enjoy this book.

Some of my favorite quotes:

  • “Have a new perspective: the dark places are opportunities to grow.”
  • “Do what you can, but trust God to do what you can’t.”
  • “Faith is trusting God when life doesn’t make sense.”
  • “When you’re in the middle, you need to remind yourself that this too shall pass. It’s temporary.”
  • “If you’re waiting for all the details, you’ll be waiting your whole life.”
  • “Be bold, be courageous, and step into the unknown.”
  • “The only thing that can stop you is you.”

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

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Hayley DiMarco's "A Woman Overwhelmed" $75 Giveaway (LitFuse Blog Tour)

A Woman Overwhelmed Hayley DiMarco

Enter Link: http://bit.ly/2ygDATF

My review...

Who hasn’t felt overwhelmed at some point in time? If that describes you, this is a book to check out. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, from our own desires to impress others by trying to live up to unrealistic expectations, to illness, to so many other things. Perfection, control, worry … the list goes on and on. DiMarco reminds the reader that in those circumstances, God is still there. He doesn’t leave us to go through them alone.

In general, this book is a quick read, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not filled with lots of useful tips … because it is! The book is very relatable. The author combines personal stories with Biblical stories and scriptures, on a variety of topics. While some parts are serious, there is a lot of humor thrown in, as well. Each chapter ends with “Thoughts to Ponder,” a place that highlights the key points of the chapter. As a result, this book could work well as a small-group study.

Some of my favorite quotes are:

·       “God never asks the impossible without giving us the power to do it.”
·       “If I’m overwhelmed, it’s because I’m not resting in the knowledge that I’m made for His mission and not my own.”
·       “Unfortunately, our desire to impress can end up being our unreasonable target to aim for.”
·       “…it’s better to dive in and see the depths where God wants to take me than to remain in the shallows, afraid of the sharks.”
·       “God’s mission is never interrupted and is always completed; it’s just not always completed in the ways we might expect.”

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

Landing page:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"Bringing Maggie Home" by Kim Vogel Sawyer (LitFuse blog tour)

Hazel DeFord is haunted by her past and the seventy-year-old mystery of what happened to her three-year-old sister Maggie, who disappeared while they were picking blackberries. No one, including Hazel’s daughter Diane and granddaughter Meghan, knows about Maggie. However, that changes when Meghan goes to spend time with Hazel while recovering from an injury. Diane decides to stay with them as well, as she hopes to convince Hazel to move into an assisted living facility. Three generations are now living under the same roof, which may prove to be a challenge for all of them. Through an unexpected series of events, Meghan and Diane learn about Maggie, and Meghan is determined to help Hazel find out the truth behind the disappearance and whether or not Maggie is still alive. Will Meghan succeed in solving the family mystery?

I read a LOT of books, and I don’t say this often about a book, but this is one of the most engaging books I’ve read this year! I did not want to put it down! The emotions, the depth to the characters, the rich details, family dynamics, beautiful prose… There are so many things to gush over. Three generations of characters (Hazel, Diane, and Meghan) are seamlessly woven together to show God’s perfect timing. The story is told through alternating time frames (1943 and 2013) and POV’s, and the pages just fly by as the reader gets absorbed in the story. Some of my favorite moments are the scenes between Hazel and Meghan, grandmother and granddaughter. It’s a good idea to have Kleenex nearby, as you’re likely to be laughing one moment and crying the next (but in a good way!). An overall theme in the book is choosing God over fear. A reader’s guide with questions is included.

Some of my favorite quotes are these great reminders:
  • “Do you best and trust God with the rest. That’s the way to find peace.”
  •  “Holding a grudge doesn’t hurt anyone except the one who chooses bitterness.”

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

About Kim...

Kim Vogel Sawyer is a highly acclaimed, best-selling author with more than one million books in print, in several different languages. Her titles have earned numerous accolades, including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Kim lives in central Kansas with her retired military husband Don,where she continues to write gentle stories of hope and redemption. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and grandchildren.

Where you can find Kim online...

Sunday, October 15, 2017

"She's Still There" by Chrystal Evans Hurst

My review...

Hurst wrote this book as a reminder that the little girl who dreamed big dreams is still alive. We just need to look for her and fight for those dreams. The author encourages the reader to embrace life and remember that everyone is a work in progress.

Hurst shares numerous personal stories, so this book is a bit like chatting with a friend. She shares lessons God has taught her over the years in an authentic way, and she includes questions so the reader can figure out their direction. It’s easy to get distracted and off-track in life, but Hurst offers ways to get back on course. If you are struggling with issues of low self-esteem and hopelessness, this is a great book to check out, as the author encourages the reader to remember that they are unique and beautiful. Her advice is reassuring and easy to apply, and she references Biblical truths throughout the book. The reader will feel inspired and likely laugh and cry along the way.

Each chapter ends with “Reflections for the Rescue,” and there is a personal self-assessment at the end of the book to help the reader GAIN (Gifts, Abilities, Interests, Nature) a new perspective and determine their gifts and abilities. This book would work well for individual or small-group study, as scriptures and questions are included in the book. Hurst’s sister, Priscilla Shirer, provides the forward.

Some of my favorite quotes:

  • “Focus on what you’ve accomplished, rather than on a long, overwhelming list of what you’ve still got to do.”
  • “In order to change your life, you are going to have to do something different.”
  • “Comparison can kill.”
  • “Don’t be your own worst enemy. Be your own best friend.”
  • “You are not the sum total of how you feel.”
  • “You will believe what you tell yourself, so be careful what you say.”
  • “Be brave enough to believe you were made for more.”

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

"Solve by Christmas" by Amber Schamel ... and a GIVEAWAY!

Amber Schamel has graciously offered to give away an electronic copy of this new release. You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends October 19, 2017. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information.) 

The Message Behind Solve by Christmas...

When the story idea for my first-ever mystery popped into my head, I knew it would be tricky. But I didn’t know just HOW tricky it would be. Mostly because it deals with a very sensitive issue. Suicide and depression. I felt God leading me to explore this issue through one of the most palatable venues possible. A fiction novel. As I researched and prayed, and then began to write, one thing rose to the surface. As Christians, we have the key to unlock the prison cell of depression. We have hope. We have the chance at a change of nature and a better future. We have freedom from guilt through the blood of Jesus Christ.

In my novel, my main character, detective Jasper Hollock, is faced with a challenge of dissuading one of those dearest to him from committing suicide. As I wrote, I didn’t know how the book would end, or exactly how Jasper would solve Mr. Rudin’s case. There were several times during the first and second draft that I just laid my computer aside and hit my knees. “God, I don’t know how to write this!” Some of those scenes were SO hard to write. Having battled depression and suicidal thoughts in the past, I know how strong it can be and how hard it is to turn someone’s thought process around. 

But as I prayerfully worked through to ‘the end,’ I began to see that God doesn’t always work as tidy as we’d like Him to, but He does pull through. We DO have the weapons to defeat depression and suicide. Because Christ has the answer to every question. If it’s worthlessness and lack of love …Christ is love, and He says we’re worth dying for. If it’s guilt … Christ’s blood cleanses that in a supernatural way nothing else can touch. If it’s grief … Christ is there to weep with us as He did with Mary and Martha but also to help us pick up the pieces and start anew. If it’s failure … His mercies are new every morning.

All it takes is a personal, real touch from Jesus Christ. I’ve never been the same. And He will do the same for you, your friend, your loved one, or anyone struggling against these deadly mindsets.

What advice would you give my character who is contemplating suicide? Leave us a comment to get your name in the drawing for an ebook copy of Solve by Christmas!

About Amber...

Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for history, books, and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest." A homeschool graduate from a family of  2 children, Amber found her calling early in life. First published at age 21, she has continued to hone her craft and has been awarded the 2017 CSPA Book of the Year Award in Historical Fiction. Between ministry, family, and working in their family-owned businesses, Amber loves to connect with readers and hang out on Goodreads with other bookish peoples. Find her on the Stitches Thru Time blog or on any of the major social media sites.  Amber is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Where you can find Amber online...

Twitter - @AmberSchamel https://twitter.com/AmberSchamel

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tuesday Tip: These or Those?

Is there a difference between "these" and "those," or can they be used interchangeably?

In order to answer this question, it's important to understand the difference between "this" and "that," since "these" is the plural of "this" and "those" is the plural of "that."

One easy way to distinguish between "this" and "that" is in reference to distance of an object to the speaker. "This" is when objects are close, and "that" is when it is away. For instance:

  • "This is my house." (A woman is pointing to the house beside her.)
  • "That is John's house." (A woman is pointing to the house across the street."

In this same regard, "these" are things close to the speaker, and "those" are objects away. Such as:
  • "These are my books." (A boy is pointing to the stack of books beside him on his desk.)
  • "Those are Sally's books." (A boy is pointing to the books on his friend's desk.)

Wednesday, October 11, 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 story and use this popular quote from Benjamin Franklin: "A penny saved is a penny earned."

Happy writing!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday Motivation

"I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose."
Stephen King

Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Thursday Takeover with Cynthia Toney (and a GIVEAWAY!)

I want to extend a warm welcome to Cynthia Toney. She's giving away an electronic copy of her book The Other Side of Freedom. You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends October 12, 2017. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information.) Now, here's Cynthia...

Back cover blurb...

In a U.S. southern farming community in 1925, thirteen-year-old Salvatore and his Italian immigrant father become involved against their will in a crime that results in the murder of an innocent man and family friend. Will Sal keep the secrets about that night as his father asks, or risk everything he and his family cherish in their new homeland, including their lives? 

Amidst bigotry, bootlegging, police corruption, and gangland threats, Sal must discover whom he can trust in order to protect himself and his family and win back his father’s freedom. Sal’s family, their African-American farmhand, and the girl who is Sal’s best friend find their lives forever changed as dreams are shattered and attitudes challenged in a small community called Freedom.

Inspiration for the story...

“Possibly orphaned but definitely impoverished, one of my great-grandfathers journeyed from Sicily to America as a young boy with a family not his own, and he grew up with their children. He established the strawberry farm that inspired the setting for this novel.”
Written for ages 10 to 17, but with appeal for adult readers, The Other Side of Freedom lends itself to discussions on immigration, segregation, Prohibition, and numerous other topics. The book includes thought-provoking questions for classrooms and book clubs.
The Other Side of Freedom releases October 9, 2017 in both paperback and e-book versions through major online book retailers.

*Thank you, Leslie. I enjoyed my visit with you and look forward to sharing my new book with the winner!*

Endorsement for the story...

A wonderful coming of age story of learning hard lessons of right and wrong, as well as love and loyalty as Sal Scaviano and his family struggle to work their farm in Prohibition Louisiana. Join Sal as his world is thrown off its axis. Will he ever be able to right it? As I read, I found myself asking, what’s he going to do? I couldn’t wait to find out!

Cynthia Toney writes for young adult, but this is a must read for all, young or not-so-young. This book belongs on your bookshelf.

               Angela Moody, author of YA Civil War historical novel No Safe Haven

About Cynthia...

Cynthia writes for preteens and teens because she wants them to know how wonderful, powerful, and valuable they are. The Other Side of Freedom is her first historical novel. She is also the author of the Bird Face series, a contemporary series for girls.

In her spare time, Cynthia grows herbs and helps rescue dogs from animal shelters. She enjoys studying the complex history of the friendly southern U.S. from Georgia to Texas, where she resides with her husband and several canines.

Cynthia loves hearing from readers, who can contact her through her website www.CynthiaTToney.com.

Where you can find Cynthia online...


Facebook Author Page:  


Twitter:  @CynthiaTToney

Instagram:  @CynthiaTToney

Pinterest:  Cynthia T Toney, YA Author

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tuesday Tip: Book Proposal for Novels

A good fiction book proposal should include the following:

  1. Title: Be sure your title is one that will attract readers.
  2. Synopsis: This is a short summary (generally one or two pages) of the novel. If you're unable to describe the major plot points this succinctly, you don't have a clear enough vision of the story. You need to be able to describe it in order to sell and, later, promote it.
  3. Details: length, completion/delivery date
  4. Chapter-by-chapter outline
  5. Marketing: Who is your target audience? How do you plan to reach them? Do you have ideas on how to market your book?
  6. Endorsements: Who can you ask to read and review your book? Contact authors who have written similar books and ask if they'd be willing to endorse your book.
  7. Competition: Are there similar novels already in print? How are they selling? Is there room in the market for another one?
  8. Author information: This can include anything you wish to highlight, such as where you live, your family, education, other publications, etc.
  9. Sample chapters: It's standard to include the first three chapters.

Some authors may decide to include:
  • discussion chapters
  • future books in the series, if applicable

Sunday, October 1, 2017

"Hurt Road" by Mark Lee

My review...

This book gives an inside look at the guitarist for the popular Christian band Third Day. Mark takes the reader through heartache and hope, and he shows the importance of letting go of our own expectations to embrace God’s plans. It’s about choosing “what’s now” vs. “what’s next.” This book is a quick read, overall, and I found it to be thoughtful, funny, and well written. I have followed Third Day for many years, but this book gave me new insights on one of its founding members. There are numerous childhood memories and pictures throughout. You can feel the emotions in this book, from pain to love to joy. This truly is a story of Mark’s life, and not one about the band, though that is mentioned, as well. In fact, singer Mac Powell provided the forward for this inspiring book.

Some of my favorite quotes include:

  • “God doesn’t show us the whole path, and what He shows is rarely clear. Yet He will show us the next step.”
  • “We agonize over so many little decisions were faced with every day, even though so much was already decided for us before we were even born.”
  • “… a lot of times when we feel like we’re completely off course is actually when God is putting us in a position where He can work on us. Only later, after the fact, can we really see what God is doing.”
  • “So we’ve got to make the most of what God has given us for today.”

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