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Grand Prize Winner

Congratulations, Pam Lunsford!! You were the lucky winner! 

Betty Grand Prize copy

 

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Writing from the Trenches: Tips and Techniques from Ten Award-Winning Authors

400YOU … and an Army of Ten!

TEN-HUT! Gear up for your writing with tried-and-true tips from the trenches. Ten award-winning authors share invaluable tips and secrets they’ve gleaned the hard way, offering a broad range of insights and opinions on the best way to tackle subjects such as the following:

Plotting Techniques
Research
Characterization
Villains We Love to Hate
Dynamic Dialogue
Sigh-Worthy Heroes
The Right Heroine for the Job
Hooking Your Reader in the First Chapter
Scene Endings to Lead Your Readers On
Creating a Movie Set
Making your Readers Cry
Deep POV
Copyediting your Manuscript
Indie Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Marketing for Those Who Hate Marketing

At last … a writer’s tool that provides the experience and expertise of ten authors who’ve been on the front lines of publishing and lived to teach about it: Connie Almony, Lynnette Bonner, Hallee Bridgeman, Louise Gouge, Michelle Griep, Julie Lessman, Elizabeth Ludwig, Ane Mulligan, MaryLu Tyndall, and Erica Vetsch.

My Thoughts: This was a terrific overview of writing. There were so many sections covered that it’s a must-read for aspiring authors. The beauty of it was that it was compiled together by ten different authors so you’re getting the strengths from each author. I found it so helpful that I immediately offered to buy a copy for the aspiring author that I’m coaching.
As a published author, I didn’t really find “new” information but rather a new way of explaining old information which I found really helpful. I kept finding myself quoting something from this book as I pulled my notes together for the aspiring author I was critiquing.
The layout was perfectly arranged so that one point naturally flowed into the next. The beginning opened with all ten authors sharing how they plot their novel. While it did start to feel a tad repetitive with each author giving nearly the same intro, all ten authors had vastly different styles of plotting. I found this section really interesting and I didn’t find any one author who did it exactly like myself, so I certainly walked away with some ideas for things I could try in the future.
I do feel obligated to share a warning for more conservative writers. There’s a section on how to create a great hero which was extremely well thought out and packed full of outstanding material. The author even shares a vast selection of examples from her writing. I’m the sort who learns best by example so I double appreciate that sort of effort. But in this particular case, I found the majority of the examples a bit steamier for my personal tastes. While I wholeheartedly stand by the information, for more conservative writers, I would just caution you that may find yourself skimming. But the information itself should NOT be skimmed over but soaked up instead.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 5 stars and highly recommending it to aspiring authors looking for a solid overview and to published authors looking to finetune some areas or seeking a great teaching aid.

~ I received a copy from the authors. I was not compensated for my review. All thoughts are my own.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Romancing the Bride by Melissa Jagears

403Marrying a stranger to save a ranch is one thing; losing the land on their wedding day is another.

Desperate to keep the ranch where three of her children and a husband lie buried, Annie Gephart must marry or sell. Which of the few bachelors in town would consider a surprise proposal to wed a plain widow with a rebellious daughter, a spirited boy, and unpaid taxes—without laughing in her face?

Jacob Hendrix has never fully let go of his ranching dreams despite ending up as a small Wyoming town’s marshal. The job wouldn’t be so bad, except he’s more errand boy than lawman. When Annie proposes marriage without a single coquettish bat of an eyelash, can he commit himself to a woman he hardly knows for a choice piece of property he’d be an idiot to pass up?

But taxes aren’t all that threaten Annie and Jacob’s plans. Cattle rustlers, crumbling friendships, and wayward children make this marriage of convenience anything but. When they lose what they’ve sacrificed everything to save, will the love of a stranger be enough?

Romancing the Bride is the first book in the Frontier Vows Series by award-winning Christian romance author Melissa Jagears. If you like heartwarming marriage-of-convenience stories, you’ll love this sweet romance filled with endearing characters.

My Thoughts: One of the things that I came to admire from Jagears’s last series, Teaville Moral Society, was that she took on a difficult subject, creating a novel that was more than simply romance and historic western culture. And while the “realness” featured in Romancing the Bride wasn’t overly in-depth, it does bring a genuine feel to the story. Cattle rustling, corrupt leaders, gangster type of bullying, and land theft were all intricately woven into the tale. Add in a rebellious teen and the death of loved ones and you have something that modern readers can relate to as well.
But I don’t mean to make this sound like a somber book because it wasn’t! That’s the beauty of it. Jagears brings the essence of a tough reality inside of a highly entertaining novel. It was romantic. Jacob and Annie had great chemistry together and their plight was realistic. The supporting cast was authentically crafted.
From beginning to end, the religious content was properly in focus. Accepting Christ’s gift of forgiveness and salvation without earning it was among one of the greater themes, although there were others woven in.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Romancing the Bride 5 stars and highly recommending it to those who enjoy Christian historical fiction, Christian western, or marriage of convenience stories.

~I received a copy from the author. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Posted in About the Book

RELEASE DAY: Yesterday’s Christmas by A.M. Heath

Every release sparks a measure of excitement. But this one sparks something a little more. This is my first full-sized Christmas story. It contains all the warm, cozy Christmas moments someone could hope for. There’s a sweet romance set in 1954 that will thrill the heart of any Hallmark Christmas movie fan. But there’s more … Yesterday’s Christmas is also a love story about a couple on the brink of divorce after thirty years of marriage. 
Ouch. 
Divorce and Christmas are two things we don’t want to see together. But they’re two things that often are together in our fallen world. And that’s what makes this story so beautiful. Along with the warm, fuzzy, entertainment is a story for the heart and a lesson for the soul. 
The characters, Betty and Glenn, do not represent my life and marriage, however, I did draw inspiration from the personalities and differences found in my own marriage. And the Lord has blessed it greatly. Readers are messaging me with these comments (actual quotes): “It was like she wrote it for me.” “It has spoken to me especially the part about God changing Betty not Glenn. It was like God was saying that to me. Thank you for this story.” “I could relate to her feelings and emotions.” “I’m a Betty married to a Glenn.” 
I don’t glory in so many struggling marriages but I do glory in the ability to pen a story with a message that was clearly needed. 
I think this is a story that readers can enjoy whether they’re married or not. And for those who are, I pray it blesses your heart in a special way. With every release, there is a slew of exciting activities happening, so let’s take a look: 

Betty Party

There’s a party taking place today! You can join me on Facebook. If you’re unable to make it at 10 a.m. (central) you can join me later that day or the next. I prefer to keep my parties extended for those who aren’t able to make the specific hour. Did I mention that I’ll be giving away two paperback copies at the party? 

There’s also a blog tour. You can visit other bloggers to hear their thoughts on the novel, as well as earn bonus entries for the grand prize giveaway. 

Betty Tour

Tour Schedule: 
Nov. 5: 
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny
Spotlight

Nov. 6:
A. Kaylee Harrison @ Kaylee’s Kind of Writes
Plus Interview!

Nov. 7:
Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings

Nov. 8: 
Raechel Lenore @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae

Nov. 9:
Debbie Curto @ Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
Plus Interview!

Nov. 12: 
Deana Dick @ Texas Book-aholic

Nov. 13:
Robbie Pink @ Captive Dreams Window

Nov. 15:
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny
Plus Interview!

Nov. 16:
Faith Blum @ Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections
Spotlight and Interview

Betty Grand Prize copy

You can enter the grand prize giveaway here. It closes Nov. 16, 2018.
I’ll announce the winner here on the blog.
I’m sorry, the giveaway is only open to Continental U.S. residents. 

Final 1600x2400During a snowstorm, Betty Tanner finds herself stuck with her estranged husband. Spending Christmas with Glenn wasn’t what she had in mind, and her thoughts reluctantly travel back three decades to their first Christmas together, when another snowstorm caused her to wreck her car outside the Tanner home … 

1954: Stranded with the Tanners over Christmas, Betty is forced into the company of Glenn, who has spurned her for years. But as the snow falls outside, the walls between Betty and Glenn begin to melt, revealing a side of him she never knew existed. A side she longs to know better.

Pride and bitterness can make a beast out of anyone. And the hardships they face in their relationship are of their own making. But can following Christ’s ways lead Betty and Glenn to the reconciliation they long for?

A.M. Heath invites you to spend Christmas with the Tanners in a dual-timeline novel loosely inspired by Beauty and the Beast. You’re sure to fall in love again and again.

Christmas Ebook Sale

You can add Yesterday’s Christmas to your TBR list on Goodreads or pick up your copy today at Amazon. You’ll find both novels in A Season Passed on sale for a limited time.

Hold on with date

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Time Will Tell by Anne Mateer

36Returning home after two years at the Buffalo Ladies’ Seminary, Annis Jackson believes God has blessed her with the perfect homecoming: a whirlwind romance with a man she’s loved from afar during her time at school. Except the object
of her affections, Hugh Hylton, is related to her father’s most bitter enemy, a man determined to see Toledo firmly in the grip of the state of Ohio and the very one funding Hugh’s newspaper venture. 

After several years of newspaper work in Buffalo, New York, Hugh Hylton jumped at his uncle’s offer of financial help to start a newspaper on the opposite shore of Lake Erie. And when he discovers during the steamship voyage to his new home that the woman he’s been dreaming about for the past year, Annis Jackson, loves him back, his future seems secure. He arrives in Port Lawrence, part of the newly named town of Toledo, ready to approach her father and declare his intentions toward her. 
But Annis fears Hugh doesn’t understand the depth of the personal conflict over the positioning of Ohio’s state line and persuades him to conceal their relationship until she can prepare her father to accept Hugh in spite of his family connections. Then the Michigan militia arrives in the Toledo Strip, determined to prevent Ohio elections, and the situation gets out of hand, making their secret more difficult to guard. Suddenly the future of the newspaper—and their relationship—is as unstable as the fate of Toledo itself. 

Will Hugh and Annis survive their feuding families? Only time will tell. 

What I Loved: This is the Anne Mateer that I love and miss! I thoroughly enjoyed the historical detail about a conflict that I knew nothing about. The creator in me geeks out at the thought process behind developing a story based on a microscopic moment in history. The characters were endearing and well-crafted. I especially adored the relationship between the sisters and the “Whoa, Philly” remarks. I wasn’t sure if the romance would keep my attention as well since it was about an established couple trying to navigate the difficulties surrounding them versus falling in love for the first time, but I found myself really enjoying it. And Mateer weaves all of this together with a solid message on repentance and trusting Christ to care for even the details of your life.

Rating and Recommendations: I give it 5 stars and recommend it to those looking for a Christian historical novella or those interested in Michigan/Ohio history.

Posted in About the Book

Preview: Yesterday’s Christmas by A.M. Heath

We’re just a week away from the release of my latest novel, Yesterday’s Christmas! My team and I have worked so hard this past year to bring you books 1 and 2 of A Season Passed so close together. I hope you’re as excited about this as I am!
Originally, If Only It Were Yesterday was meant to be a standalone novel. But I was aching to write another Christmas short story and had been on the search for the perfect idea. I was collecting virtual teapots for Betty’s character in If Only It Were Yesterday when I came across a picture of Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast. The very second I saw that image, inspiration struck. BETTY could be Belle in a Christmas version of Beauty and the Beast! It was perfect! I simultaneously crafted 2 plots: a young woman being stranded with a man and his family during Christmas AND a married couple being stranded together during Christmas. BOTH plots pulled at me, and I struggled to pick just one. … Until I realized that I could choose both. And thus, Yesterday’s Christmas was born.
It is both a story of falling in love for the first time and recommitment. Yesterday’s Christmas isn’t quite a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but I think you’ll find the moments of inspiration easily enough as you read the novel. It’ll be a fun little treasure hunt. Until you can get your hands on the full novel, please enjoy the first full chapter of Yesterday’s Christmas

One

The wise woman builds her house, but with her

own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

~ Proverbs 14:1

Christmas Eve, 1985

I shouldn’t have been on any twisted backroad in the middle of a snowstorm, but I most certainly shouldn’t be on this road. I turned on my lights and whispered another prayer.

Why had I been so persistent in leaving the safety of my daughter’s house when I could have very well stayed put?

Because I’m miserable, that’s why.

Because as much as I tried to pretend nothing was wrong, all I wanted was to be home alone to wallow in my self-pity in any way that I deemed appropriate. This was to be my first Christmas without Glenn.

Pretending there was nothing wrong between us had slowly taken its toll on me until I couldn’t bear it another moment. Living apart these last three months hadn’t been easy, but, at least with our separation, I finally knew where I stood. A woman likes to be told that she is still beautiful in her man’s eyes. That she is still an important part of his happiness. Especially once she is past her prime. But whatever Glenn felt, he kept to himself … or kept for another. I had stood under a cloud of doubt for so long concerning his affections for me that I could barely stand up under it. He always claimed he’d never cheated on me, and I never found proof otherwise, but if the man wasn’t passionate about me anymore, whom was he passionate about? After spending countless years feeling like he had one foot out the door, I had finally snapped and pushed him the rest of the way out.

Self-preservation required distance, and it seemed to have been working. And, yet, there I was on the verge of tears with a darkening sky and snow so thick I could hardly see in front of my car.

I shouldn’t have been there. In fact, none of this should have been happening. If only Glenn had deemed our family more important. Deemed me more important. Those endless hours at work and distant hours at home had only succeeded in killing our marriage.

It didn’t do any good to blame Glenn, even if he was at fault. I had learned over the months that hating him for it didn’t change anything. It just made it harder for me to cope. Ignoring him, ignoring the memories, was my best option right now.

I popped the tape out of the cassette player on the dashboard, putting an end to Kenny Rogers’ and Dolly Parton’s Christmas tunes.

I gripped the steering wheel a little tighter, my knuckles as white as the powder gathering outside of my window. Leaning closer, I paid more attention to the upcoming curves in the road. I knew them by heart, but the snow distorted things until I was no longer confident of anything.

Lord, please see me home safely. I was such a fool, but, Lord, have mercy on this fool.

I rounded one bend, but there were more just up ahead. My stomach flipped. I hated this curve. I hated that house just around the curve. I hated this road.

This road was a shortcut, and, at the time, it had seemed important. In the heavy snowfall, it certainly was important; however, this was no place to be in the middle of a snowstorm.

But it was more than just slick roads. It was the Tanner house just around the corner. Just up ahead sat Glenn’s family home. Just up ahead, my estranged husband was probably sitting inside the house.

My nerves twisted and jumped like that of a school girl out on her first date. Glenn certainly wouldn’t see me as I drove by. He wouldn’t be looking out the window, and, yet, I couldn’t help but feel as if thousands of pairs of eyes were watching me as I inched around one curve and got closer and closer to the next.

A flash of brown shot out in front of my car. I sucked in a screech and slammed on my brakes. The brown, which I now recognized as a deer, jolted from his momentary stupor and finished his leap across the road. My tires spun, first locking up and then turning to one side. I gripped the wheel and yanked it in one direction, but it only turned my car in the other. I yanked it back, and again, it spun harder–too hard–in the other direction until my car suddenly stopped, its nose dipping down into the ditch.

I sat there in the ditch on the side of the road, first stunned and then angry.

No. No. No! This cannot be happening. How could You let this happen, Lord? Why now? Why here? Somehow my prayers of protection had turned into me being delivered into the ditch in front of Glenn’s house. With more frustration than pain, I opened the door, the blistering wind and a mixture of snow and ice drilling my face. I sucked in an involuntary gasp and tightened the scarf around my neck.

I bent over and grabbed my purse out of the passenger seat–no, make that the floorboard, where it now sat.

I checked my car again. There was no one around, and my car was safely tucked far enough into the ditch that no one should hit it if they were to venture down this treacherous road. Not that anyone else was foolish enough to bother. Folks in Tennessee knew to stay indoors when it snowed, so I had no excuse for being out in the weather.

I slammed the car door closed with more force than necessary, but it didn’t release any of my pent-up steam. I knew what to do. There’d be no choice in it. Looking left and then right only confirmed what I knew was true. There wasn’t another house on this road for quite a ways. Why did the Tanners have to build their house on the other side of this curve?

I hiked up the long gravel driveway. The hollow sound of crunching snow under my leather-fringed boots filled my ears, but I didn’t delight in any of it. Nearly three inches of snow had already fallen. The snowfall was a rare beauty, but I wasn’t taking the time to admire it.

I bypassed the front door and walked straight to the back. It had been the entrance most commonly used when his mother was alive. I knocked on the door and waited, but I didn’t hear any movement inside. I knocked a little harder, and then the door was snatched out from underneath my hand.

Betty?” Glenn said in a question, blinking back his surprise. “Wh-what are you doing here?”

I gave a shrug and an ill-humored grin. “Just thought I’d pop in,” I answered sarcastically.

His brow, a dark brown dusted with gray, lowered over his right eye–a look I had long ago memorized. He stood before me in sweats and knee-high socks. I knew they were knee-high with the red stripes around the top because I remembered buying them. They looked in need of a wash, but what did I expect since I wasn’t here to do his laundry? I fought back the urge to roll my eyes. I’d hate to see his hamper. It was probably empty while his clothes lay all on the floor around it, because he never could put his clothes inside the hamper. The man could shoot basketball like a pro, but socks in a hamper? Humph, forget about it.

I tamped down all of these ill feelings. I wasn’t here to complain about his housekeeping. I had done enough of that over the last thirty years of marriage. Nope, as much as I hated to admit it, he would be my savior this hour, and there was nothing I could do except thank him.

He still hadn’t caught on to the reason for my visit, but, again, I wasn’t shocked. He seemed to notice so little concerning me unless I spelled it out for him. A new dress, a new hairstyle. Nope. Didn’t matter.

He scratched his shoulder, revealing a slight tear in the sleeve of his t-shirt. “Umm,” he started, looking over my shoulder at the covered carport behind me. “Where’s your car?”

I gave him another one of my mirthless smirks. “I parked it out front.”

His eyebrows shot up, clear to his hairline. But now, at last, he seemed to understand the nature of my visit. Glenn stepped down the concrete steps and onto the carport, peeking around the side of the house.

I just watched and waited for it.

Silently, a hand slapped across his mouth as he viewed my crafty parking job. Glenn slid his hand down his face. He turned to me, his lips pinched and his brows still high. He didn’t say anything, his chest filling with air, deflating, and filling again. He gave a slow shake of his head. “Well, Betty, I didn’t think it was possible for lightning to strike twice, but you proved ’em wrong.” He looked down at his watch, as if it might tell him more than the time. “And on Christmas Eve, too?”

I snorted, a short bubble of laughter rising and dying on my lips. “Do you mind?” I asked, knowing that he wouldn’t. I was the mother of his children, after all. Laura and Peter wouldn’t be here without me, nor would the countless father-of-the-year coffee mugs that he had collected since the kids had been born.

He welcomed me into the house with a tilt of his head and a wave of his hand toward the door. Glenn was right about one thing: lightning had struck twice.

Two

There was once a very rich merchant …

~ Beauty and the Beast

Thirty-one years earlier: Christmas Eve, 1954 …

Final 1600x2400

During a snowstorm, Betty Tanner finds herself stuck with her estranged husband. Spending Christmas with Glenn wasn’t what she had in mind, and her thoughts reluctantly travel back three decades to their first Christmas together, when another snowstorm caused her to wreck her car outside the Tanner home … 

1954: Stranded with the Tanners over Christmas, Betty is forced into the company of Glenn, who has spurned her for years. But as the snow falls outside, the walls between Betty and Glenn begin to melt, revealing a side of him she never knew existed. A side she longs to know better.

Pride and bitterness can make a beast out of anyone. And the hardships they face in their relationship are of their own making. But can following Christ’s ways lead Betty and Glenn to the reconciliation they long for?

A.M. Heath invites you to spend Christmas with the Tanners in a dual-timeline novel loosely inspired by Beauty and the Beast. You’re sure to fall in love again and again.

You can pre-order Yesterday’s Christmas on Amazon for .99
or add it to your Goodreads’ list. 

Rich Merchant with date (1)

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson

15Ninety years ago, Millie Sullivan’s great-grandmother was a guest at oil tycoon Howard Dawkins’ palatial estate on the shore of St. Simons Island, Georgia. Now, Millie plays a 1920s-era guest during tours of the same manor. But when her grandmother suggests that there is a lost diary containing the location of a hidden treasure on the estate, along with the true identity of Millie’s great-grandfather, Millie sets out to find the truth of her heritage–and the fortune that might be hers. When security guard Ben Thornton discovers her snooping in the estate’s private library, he threatens to have her fired. But her story seems almost too ludicrous to be fiction, and her offer to split the treasure is too tempting to pass up . . .

Get ready for a romantic escapade through dark halls and dusty corners that will have you holding your breath and sighing with delight as two charming characters get caught up in the adventure of uncovering the past and finding their way to an unexpected future.

My Thoughts: A Sparkle of Silver was absolutely delightful! It was romantic. Millie and Ben had great page-turning chemistry together. The mystery was engaging and had snagged me completely. I really enjoyed watching Millie’s great-grandmother Ruth’s story unfold and the romance and intrigue that went along with it. Johnson hooked me with the prospect of dark halls and dusty corners being the setting of a fascinating puzzle and she did not let down! I thoroughly enjoyed slipping away into a world, both past and present, that Johnson had created for us. And beyond all the romance and mystery was a sound message centered on trusting Christ with your needs and forgiving yourself. Johnson became a new favorite author with The Red Door Inn and she secured that spot with A Sparkle of Silver.

Rating and Recommendation: I highly recommend this one to Christian fiction fans who enjoy dual-timeline novels, great escapes to vacations along the shore, and light mysteries. I’m giving it 5 stars.

~ I received a copy from Revell through NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.

Posted in About the Book

A Peek Inside my Workshop and the Drafts in Progress

I’m giving you a tour inside my workshop today! I want to warn you upfront that each author approaches the writing life a tad differently, so you don’t be surprised. However, I’m sure there will be plenty of similarities as well.

For me: I’ve come to notice that I use two different sides of my brain while I’m working. I have a creative side, that typically feels very free. And then there’s the side that edits everything it touches. The editing portion tends to stress me, so I like to keep at least one draft in progress open that I can pick up and do some freestyle creative work in. But the moment that draft becomes a complete first draft, it shifts over to the editing section of my brain.

The graphic below is the one I’ve been using for months now to show my Street Team the progression of a variety of novels. And here’s a quick rundown of the various steps involved in a novel:

Progress Chart Layout

Plotting: Some authors take more time to plot their novel than I do, which is why the plotting portion is a sliver.

First Draft: This is that freestyle moment that I mentioned. Since I’m not using a strict outline, it really does require a great deal of freestyle work. I listen to my characters, write with my gut, and enjoy the ride. 😉 Or most of it at least. I can and do get stuck from time to time.

There are two major phases to the revision process. The first step is to revise the actual content. And this section is broken into two portions as well. My first goal is to read over my manuscript on my own and make as many revisions as I can spot on my own. Then I begin working with the critique team. I send the manuscript out to a group of readers who return it with some suggestions for ways to better the story as a whole. They’re looking for things like character and plot development. They’re also pointing out areas that may appear inconsistent, unclear, or where the story may lag. I work with their feedback and then often resend the manuscript to see how the story sits with readers. Once I have a draft that I’m confident in and that readers are enjoying, I’m ready for the next phase of revisions.

So it’s off to the editing staff. I work with a group of volunteers who bless me more than I can ever convey. I send it to the first pair of line editors who are poring over the document, looking for grammar errors. Once I make the corrections they’re pointing out, I send it to a second pair. After those corrections are made, I send it to yet one more team. I call them my Spotters. They read the almost ready manuscript and help me sniff out any lingering errors. I make those corrections then read the novel myself for the last time.

Once the manuscript is polished, I’m ready to format. Formatting is always a bit of a headache for me, but I’ll not get into that here. You only have to read my Facebook page to hear what all goes on during this phase. But here, I make a spare copy of the document, then make two more copies. One for paperback and one for ebook. Then I sweat and toil until the files are ready to go. Also during this time, the paperback cover is being designed and I’m test-printing it to see how the coloring works when in print. And once all the pieces are together, the book is ready for publication! The only thing that remains is to promote the novel.

So now that you know the general flow, here’s the breakdown of what’s actually on my desk:

Progress Chart For Blog

As you know, Yesterday’s Christmas releases 11/5/18. Also in the revision process is Dance With Me and The Accident. Dance With Me is currently hanging out with the first grammar pair. The Accident is in between critique teams. I had sent it out once and am not finished with those revisions. And I plan to send it to a new set of readers when it’s ready.

In the writing department, I happen to have a total of seven novels in progress!! I’m not even sure how that happened! I won’t be able to go into too much detail just yet, but I’ll share with you a bit about the drafts currently sitting on my desk.

#2 Art of Love Novel: I’m not sharing the title or the cover until I have the first draft. But suffice it to say that this story has stolen my heart in a special way and I often find myself reaching for tissues while I’m writing it. I really think you’re going to love it.

The Birth of Grace: This is a standalone novel that I had shared with you before. It was inspired by my grandmother and carries a pro-life theme. I’m really looking forward to finishing this one and bringing it to you.

The Hope of Yesterday: Book 3 of A Season Passed. Already readers are eagerly awaiting the completion of this series, and I long to give it to you! Unfortunately, the stories weren’t quite ready to be told so we’ll have a gap in the publication. But fear not, the Lord has given me some other great stories to share in the meantime. But I will tell you that this is Logan’s story.

Yesterday’s Trouble: And Book 4 of A Season Passed is Ruby’s story. In both of these novels, we’ll be in 1885 and we’ll find out what really happened to the Hillman siblings that we met in Liz’s dream in If Only It Were Yesterday.

Top Secret Project: I recently stumbled upon a bit of local history which inspired a fiction story. And as often as I told myself that I wasn’t ready to work on it, the characters came to life and I had little choice but to follow them around. I think I’m going to sit on the details of this one until I have the first draft. But it’s remarkable and a bit different than some of my other novels. I can tell you that it’s set in the 1930s, so this is a different era than I’ve been working in so far. But I’m loving it there! In fact, I love it so much that it’s not the only story I’m writing that’s set in the ‘30s.

Top Secret Novella: For the first time ever, I’m teaming up with 3 other authors to write a novella set! We’re all extremely excited about this venture, but we’re not quite ready to go public, so I have to be quiet here too. I can tell you that our stories will be connected. Sadly, we’re all busy with other projects so this is something that we’re kinda playing with on the side at the moment. Lord willing, it will move up in importance at the right time and become a story you can’t wait to read. 🙂

Ancient Words Spin-Off: I had created a set of stories that feature the next generation of Maple Grove, and I’m attempting to write them as novellas and publish them as a set. I’m currently uncertain whether or not these stories can be contained to a short plot that a novella requires so I thought I’d give it a try and see what shakes out. So I’m currently working on the story titled The Runaway Bride which features Frank Harper’s daughter, Louise. As much as this particular set will interest readers, I can tell you now that it’ll be a long wait before these are released. But I am working on them already with the hopes that they’ll be released shortly after books 4 and 5 of the Ancient Words series … which are just sitting off of my “currently writing” list. Lord willing, once some of these are completed, I’ll be back in Maple Grove!

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my workshop. It’s almost wrong of me to tease you with the stories that are still in the early stages of taking shape, but this will give you an idea of what you’re praying for. You’ll have to let me know which of the stories I mentioned that you’re most eager to see come into completion.

Fall Writing Campaign: Now that Yesterday’s Christmas is wrapping up and Dance With Me is spending time off of my desk, I find myself with more writing time and plenty to write! It’s a personal goal of mine to finish one or two of these drafts by the end of the year, but if I don’t make it, hopefully, I’ll finish them by the end of winter. So I’ll be sharing more updates on my writing progress in the weeks to come. And now you know a bit about the drafts I’m working on!

Follow me on Facebook where I’ll give weekly and sometimes daily writing updates during the Fall Writing Campaign. You’ll also find more info on the older drafts here.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear

401Thomas Bledsoe and Kate Gruener are traveling the Wilderness Road when conflicts between natives and settlers reach a peak that will require each of them to tap into a well of courage.
A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

Love and Adventure Are Discovered on the Wilderness Road
In 1794, when Kate Gruener’s father is ready to move the family farther west into the wilderness to farm untouched land, Kate is eager to live out her own story of adventure like he did during the War for Independence and to see untamed lands. And she sets her sights on learning more about their scout, Thomas Bledsoe. Thomas’s job is to get settlers safely across the Kentucky Wilderness Road to their destination while keeping an ear open for news of Shawnee unrest. But naïve Kate’s inquisitive nature could put them both in the middle of a rising tide of conflict. Is there more to Thomas’s story than he is willing to tell? Is there an untapped courage in Kate that can thwart a coming disaster?

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear.

More in the Daughters of the Mayflower series:
The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (February 2018)
The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (April 2018)
The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (June 2018)
The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (August 2018)​
The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (October 2018)
The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (December 2018)

My Thoughts: The Cumberland Bride is a strong historical novel with a strong plot twist. The depth of research and attention to detail struck me almost immediately. McNear weaves in such an authentic feel to the everyday lifestyle as well as the scenery. I did feel like it took me longer to get into, but once I was hooked, I was WAY in. I don’t want to ruin anything but wow! The plot twist was remarkable and it completely changed the course of the story. I was enthralled by the new tidbits of Shawnee culture that I had never heard of before. And McNear brings all of this together with a strong Christian message of saving faith and living out your faith in Christ. I appreciated all the Scripture she weaved in for the reader.

Rating and Recommendation: I’d recommend this one to Christian Historical fans, especially those interested in Native American stories. I’m giving it 4.5 stars.

~ I received a copy from the publisher. I was not compensated for my review and all thoughts are my own.

Posted in Book Reviews

Interview and Book Review: Bittersweet by Krista Noorman

262He owns a food truck. She owns a bakery. He walked out on her four years ago without a word. Will his return bring them a second chance or is it a recipe for disaster?

Harper Hensley’s greatest joy is baking. She’s co-owner of a cute little bake shop, creating delicious treats to her heart’s content, and happily dating a successful lawyer. Life seems perfect. Until Logan Riggs, the man who walked out on her without a word four years ago, rolls into town in his new coffee food truck, living the dream they were supposed to share together.

The last thing Logan ever wanted was to leave Harper, but unforeseen circumstances forced him to make that choice. He never meant to hurt her or ruin their plans of starting a food truck. Now he’s back to make things right, hoping to convince her to work with him, and longing for a second chance with the woman he loved from the start.

Coffee and cupcakes belong together. But is the truth about Logan’s disappearing act too much to forgive? Can Harper move past the bitter to get to the sweet?

*****

Second Chance with You is a series written by a group of sweet, clean romance authors connected by the the idea that past loves, broken apart for a myriad of reasons, can be brought back together—some by chance, some by circumstance, some by choice.

Bittersweet is part of the Second Chance with You series. All books in this series are standalone and can be read in any order.

My Thoughts:

If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you would have already been introduced to Krista Noorman. She’s one of my favorite Indie authors, and not just because we’ve become friends, but because she happens to write a particular style of story that I’m quite fond of. I thoroughly enjoy a good friction-filled romance. And once again, Noorman delivers! Here are 3 quick reasons you should give Bittersweet a try:

Cupcakes and Coffee really do go together! If you enjoy those novels that involve your favorite foods and that make you hungry and cozy all at the same time, you’ll feel right at home here!

Friction. Filled. Romance. 🙂 These two really start off with a bang. Logan wants her back, but Harper isn’t ready to forgive him. If you like to witness the sparks, you’ll want to grab this one … and any all the other Noorman novels while you’re at it. 😉

If you like your romance plot to contain unexpected twists and turns, you’re in for a treat! I’ve read a lot. And I’ll be honest, there was one point about a third of the way in where I questioned what in the world she was intending to do with the rest of the pages. LOL I wasn’t questioning for much longer! She truly did fill out every one of those pages and some of those ways, I didn’t see coming!

Disclaimer: I typically review Christian fiction, so I feel better about pointing out that Bittersweet was written for the clean fiction genre. The main difference is that clean fiction doesn’t require a faith element. The characters in this book did allude to Christian beliefs but their faith never became a focal point. One disclaimer to point out is that there is a single use of the phrase, “Go to H…” Otherwise, the language content was clean. And the romance was clean as well. I’d still gladly recommend it but to the right reader. 🙂

I took the chance to interview Krista about her latest release, and I was surprised to learn something new about my friend. Check it out: 

Now let’s talk, cupcakes and coffee, shall we!! In your novel, Harper runs a bake shop. Is this something you’ve ever considered doing?

Not at all. Though I love cute little shops like this and always enjoy their yummy treats, I am not much of a baker.

Likewise, Logan runs a coffee food truck. If you weren’t writing, would you consider opening a coffee shop?

I don’t think I’d ever want to run a coffee shop or food truck. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes logistics, permits, and business stuff that just don’t sound like very much fun. But maybe working in one might be fun to try for a day. 😉

One of my favorite scenes is when Harper had a lot on her mind and kept messing up her cookies. Lol We’ve all been distracted cooks at some point or another. Can you tell us one of your own personal mishaps in the kitchen?

Oh goodness. One time, I made peanut butter cookies and I’m not sure if the baking soda was bad or I put too much in, but it left the nastiest aftertaste ever. I also made homemade biscuits once and they were dry and nasty—pretty much paperweights. My husband has teased me often over the years about both of these little mishaps.

I understand there’s a whole collection of second chance romance novels in the works. Who are the other authors we’ll be hearing from and where can we find them?

The series is called Second Chance with You. There are nine authors, including myself, and the common theme of our novels is a second chance at love. Each is a standalone story, so the series can be read in any order. You can learn more about the books and authors on our Amazon series page here:
https://www.amazon.com/author/secondchancewithyou

Which character did you most relate to? Why?

I think Savannah, Harper’s business partner. She’s kind of the mom figure to Harper, being a little older than her, and her reactions were a lot like mine would’ve been in the situations Harper finds herself in.

Lightning Round:
If you were forced to open a food truck, what would sell?

Can you sell toast in a food truck, because that’s pretty much all I can make. haha! Kidding. I think the coffee food truck idea would be fun. I’d go with that.

Do you watch Food Truck Race or baking challenges on Food Network?

I don’t (we don’t have the Food Network), but when we used to have cable years ago, we watched Cake Boss all the time and the occasional cooking competition show.

Favorite flavor of cupcake?

CHOCOLATE!

Favorite coffee?

Mocha latte, please.

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You can pick up your copy from Amazon today. And it’s on sale this week only! 

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