Friday, July 18, 2014

Nicole Jarrell {Writer Friday}

As you can see...


We are having a BLAST on our road trip! This was us in Idaho Springs, Co. - a fun stop for me because one of my novels was set there! I got to experience the town just a little bit and then we pressed on to Denver.

We're resting today at a friends house in Arkansas and then hitting the road again tomorrow to visit Nashville (which I'm SO excited to see!). 

I'll be posting another update once we hit D.C. but until then, enjoy getting to know more about Nicole and her writing for {Writer Wednesday} but the "Friday" edition ;)

A little bit about Nicole...

Nicole Jarrell is a self-published author who writes edgy fiction that inspires. When she isn’t doodling ideas in her notebook, she’s enjoying time with her husband and son.

How to connect with Nicole...

Twitter: @nejarrell 
Purchase A Light in the Darkness

Writer Interview | Nicole Jarrell

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I wrote my first story in third grade in a wide ruled spiral notebook. While my characters and plots have matured since that time, I still enjoy writing with nothing more than a crisp new notepad, ball point pen, and my imagination. Writing has been a part of me for so long, I don’t recall a time when I didn’t find comfort between two light blue lines on a sheet of paper. I love reaching out to others through the characters and ideas running around in my imagination.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...I self-published my first work, a novella, and have written a full length novel that was selected as a semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis Contest. While these two tales hold special meanings to me, my favorite book is my current work in progress. It doesn’t have a title yet, but it touches on emotional issues that many people face in their daily lives such as the pursuit of perfectionism.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...I’m self-published which has been a great experience. There are many rising authors that are pursing the world of indie and self-publishing. I’m humbled to be amongst them.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it?
...It’s about a nineteen year old girl named Chloe who travels to Nashville, Tennessee hoping to be reunited with her estranged older brother Caleb. But she discovers that he’s been keeping a secret that will rock her engrained morals, and make her question allowing him back into her life. She must learn if there is room for failure and flaws in her perfectly crafted world. She questions her own path, her parent’s definition of success and how she fits into God’s world which is filled with sin and imperfections. I hope that readers will see a bit of themselves in Chloe’s struggles and learn about God’s unending love through the plot.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?

...I love my heroine and hero, but it’s my supporting character, Caleb, who I consider my favorite. Even though he doesn’t show up until late Act Two, his presence is felt throughout the whole story. I even considered writing the book from his point-of-view, but it works better from Chloe’s voice. Plus, Chloe is an amazing young lady on the verge of independence. Her story needed to be told.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?

...Love. Jesus said to love one another as he loved us and that includes loving our flaws. No one is perfect, but we’re all worthy of grace and being accepted into God’s kingdom.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...Most of the time, my ideas come from social issues rather than specific people I met. I study a specific issue and allow the plot to form around that concept, then the characters take shape. A bit of my stories are from real life and a bit are from imagination, but before I start any project, I always pray that God gives me the words to write.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?

...I love to write edgy fiction that inspires, which means that I write about controversial topics in a sensitive yet thought provoking manner. The greatest compliment would be for someone to read my stories and say that it got them thinking of a social issue from a different point-of-view. Whether someone disagrees or agrees with what I write, I would like for God to use me to inspire respectful conversation.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...I’ll give the same advice that I’ve been given multiple times. Write your book for God. Glorify him through your words. Pray for his guidance and don’t be afraid to do his work. God’s given you a unique voice for a purpose. Use it.


How do(did) you like to celebrate the 4th of July?
...Cheeseburgers! I love to grill and spend time with my husband and son, so on July 4th we keep it casual. Just some burgers, watermelon and family time.
How are you making the most of your time this summer for writing and relaxing? Do you do anything different in the summer months?
...It’s difficult to find time to write. I have a very active little boy whom I homeschool during the school year and whom I stay home with year round. But we have a nice system where he can watch Spongebob Squarepants for a half hour each day while I do my writing. Yes, this is bribery. No, I don’t have a problem with that. A half an hour isn’t a large window so I have to make the most of it. I also have an amazing husband who supports my writing and gives me Saturday mornings off “Mommy duty” so I can go to a coffee shop and work on my story.

Do you enjoy hot weather or cold better?
...I’ve always lived in hot states but secretly I love the cold. I dream of living in the north and getting away from 99 degree summers with 100% humidity! Maybe I could write a story about a woman who lives in Maine and convince my family we need to move there for “research”. Sounds like a plan!

Thank you so much for this great interview Nicole! Happy to have you on the blog and I'm excited to be visiting Nashville (maybe I'll meet Chloe there? *hehe*). And good luck on finding time to write this summer despite the activity of your son ;)

Monday, July 14, 2014

On the Road

 Well, I'm on the road! We've hit Beaver, UT tonight and will be making our way to Denver tomorrow. I'm completely exhausted and looking forward to sleeping but I wanted to announce the winner of last weeks giveaway.

Congratulations are in order for...

Steffani Webb

Woohoo! Congrats and we'll get the book to you soon :)

In the mean time, what are some of your favorite travel locations Thinking Thoughts readers??? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Redeeming the Rancher by Deb Kastner | RE:View

Griffin Haddon is successful, handsome, and looking for a place to put down roots. The only qualification he has is solitude - and lots of it.

Alexis Grainger has a heart the size of Texas and a problem to match! Her ministry to teens,  Redemption Ranch, is struggling and there doesn't seem to be a way to change that.

Enter Alexis' twin sister and a little bit of matchmaking and you have a wild ride ahead.

Redeeming the Rancher is everything you'd want in a western romance. Horses, wildlife, and love. A winning combination that will capture your interest to the end of the book. You'll soon find yourself intrigued by Griff's character and rooting for Alexis as she battles the difficulties of ministry life.

This is a must-read! It's fun and quick but will leave you smiling to yourself and completely satisfied with the ending!

Purchase Redeeming the Rancher (Serendipity Sweethearts)

Book Description
(from Amazon)
Successful businessman Griffin Haddon just wants a quiet place to start over again…alone. Griff doesn't realize that in a small town like Serendipity, Texas, solitude's hard to come by. Especially at Redemption Ranch, where the stunning Alexis Grainger struggles to keep her ministry for troubled teens afloat. The last thing Alexis needs is a distraction like slick city-boy Griff with his designer jeans and boots. But her meddling, matchmaking twin has other plans. As Alexis and Griff work to save the ranch, can they also heal his broken heart?

Find more in the Serendipity Sweethearts series here, and see my review of The Soldier's Sweetheart. Visit Deb on her website as well!

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Beth K. Vogt {Writer Wednesday} + GIVEAWAY

I am so excited to introduce you, my dear readers, to an amazingly talented author who's recent release I've had the pleasure of reviewing (you can see the review here). And not only that, but Beth has graciously offered to do a GIVEAWAY of her novel, Somebody Like You!

Just leave a comment below to enter to win. 

{I will be posting the winner on Tuesday, July 15.}

* * * 

A little bit about Beth...

Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A nonfiction writer and editor who said she'd never write fiction, Beth is now a novelist with Howard Books, with her third novel, Somebody Like You, releasing May 2014. She enjoys writing inspirational contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. Beth is also the Skills Coach for My Book Therapy writing community. Connect with Beth on her website or check out her blog on quotes, In Others’ Words.

How to connect with Beth...

Purchase Somebody Like You

Author Interview | Beth K. Vogt

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing?
...There were never enough books around the house to read, even with frequent trips to the library, and so I started writing stories to keep boredom at bay. When I went to college, I asked myself this question: What one thing do I love doing that I could imagine doing it every day for the rest of my life? The answer: writing. 

What has kept you writing?
...I’m stubborn, I guess. And I have a wonderful community of writing friends and mentors who encourage me and pray for me – that makes all the difference.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? 
...I don’t play favorites. Each book is special for different reasons.

What was the hardest thing about publishing?
...The hardest thing about publishing was – and still is – keeping my head screwed on straight. This business will mess with your sense of self on a daily basis if you don’t know who you are before you sign a contract and after you sign a contract. I have to stay strong in my faith to do that.

...Hmmmm. The easiest part? Spending time with other writers and sharing the love of story.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it?
...I wrote Somebody Like You because I’ve always wanted to write about twins – I have a fraternal twin sister – and because I wanted to explore the often difficult relationships within families. Just because we love one another doesn’t mean our relationships are easy.

Do you have a favorite character in this work?
...I love my heroine, Haley. In Somebody Like You, Haley discovers who she really is – and lets go of who she thinks she has to be. That’s true freedom.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...One takeaway: That relationships are messy … and they are worth fighting for. 


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...My stories are always based on real life. I like to write “real,” even though I am writing novels. My characters are fictional, although I might give them quirks that I’m familiar with because they’re mine – or maybe someone I know does or say something similar. And I like to write about true-to-life issues that we all struggle with.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I am an encourager at heart, so yes, I want people to be encouraged. I also try to weave humor into my stories. But I also want people to pause and think about relationships and the choices we make … and maybe even think about who God is and who he says we are.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Persevere. Connect with other writers and encourage one another, share advice with one another. If this is your dream, don’t let anyone – including yourself – talk you out of it.


How did you like to celebrate the 4th of July?
...July 4th is a favorite holiday because my husband served in the military, so we have a strong patriotic streak. We like to get together with family and friends and grill outside. Our family motto is “There’s always room for one more!” All of us like to cook, so we’re always trying new recipes, which make it lots of fun. If we can end the day watching fireworks, all the better – but that’s not always possible in Colorado because of the fire bans the last few years.

How are you making the most of your time this summer for writing and relaxing? Do you do anything different in the summer months?

...I am on back-to-back book deadlines right now, so it’s a working summer for me. My family knows this and we adjust and make the best of it. We make time for fun and for the deadline.


Thank you so much for a great interview Beth! I love that you mention the community of friends you have praying for you and how you mention knowing who you are before and after a book contract. Reminds me to always be giving my writing to the Lord and not to try and do any of it on my own! It's great that having a twin played a part in Somebody Like You! Fun fact: my mom's a twin.

Lastly, I absolutely love this line: "If this is your dream, don’t let anyone – including yourself – talk you out of it." Sometimes we can be our harshest critics and convince ourselves of all kinds of things. Our focus should be on what God has for us despite our weakness - kind of like God choosing David to be king when he was the forgotten brother.

>>Readers, don't forget to leave a comment to enter to win a copy of Somebody Like You. I'd love to hear your favorite part of this interview or possibly what you did for the 4th!

Monday, July 7, 2014

My Writing Process | Blog Hop

I was invited by the lovely Amanda G. Stevens (whom I had the blessing of meeting and photographing at the ACFW conference last year) to join a blog hop! You can see the previous post [here].

Today we'll be talking about my writing process and answering 4 questions. I'm pretty excited to join in on this and hope you'll enjoy it!

My Writing Process

What am I currently working on?

Revisions. Revisions. Revisions.

Ugh. I have to say that working on them isn't the best, or most exciting thing I've ever done, but I am realizing that the writing process is really that - a process.

My current work in progress is (tentatively) titled Runaway. You've probably heard me talk about it before, but I'm excited about where it's finally headed. I've plotted my changes and am working on them as quickly as I can.

In a brief snapshot:
Where can you run to that no one will find you? When Zoie Wells, an accountant at a prominent corporate law office in Los Angeles, is caught stealing evidence of the company’s unlawful business dealings, she attempts the impossible: to disappear.

On the verge of winter, Zoie flees to the historic town of McCloud, in Northern California, where she meets Grant Patten, a local woodworking artist. His friendship is exactly what Zoie is avoiding, but Grant’s special training as a Navy Seal may be the only thing between her and a hit man hired to hunt her down.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Good question. I guess you could say it's slightly different in the fact that, though it is suspenseful and action packed, I still try and write the more emotional scenes with a lot of feeling. I think that the emotion can sometimes become lost, creating an action-packed novel without the deeper connection of characterization.

For me, this is a strength and a weakness.  On the positive side, it strengthens the reader's connection to the characters but on the negative side I find myself spending too much time on the emotional and then I need to go back, cut out a lot, and push forward to more action. It's balance I'm striving for.

Why do I write what I do?

I just love suspense and action whether it's movies or books. I've become really interested in all things military as well and I like incorporating that in my writing. It's funny because, looking back, I used to write strictly romance and enjoyed that, but now I feel like the minute I think of a plot it involves some from of action and generally a life threatening situation (or several). It' just comes naturally to me now and I can't imagine not including some form of suspense or action in my writing now.

How does you writing process work?

It's hard to say. Most of the time I can't get away from ideas. I could look at an empty glass on a table and be inspired just as much as I could reading a true life story about a soldiers heroic service to his country. No matter what it is though, I start to get a sense of excitement generally followed by goosebumps (no joke!). Then sit down and start to write (if possible) or I add it to an Evernote page on my phone.

Just a week or so ago I was flying back from a visit with my parents and an idea struck me while reading another book. It had nothing to do with the story I was reading, but all the sudden this plot was vying for my attention and I had to get out the opening scene. Good thing I can type quickly with my thumbs (hehe).

Well, thanks for stopping by the blog and I hope you "hop" on over to my friend K. L. (Kelly) Bridgewater's blog next Monday for her answers to these questions!

K. L. Bridgewater is an active member of My Book Therapy and ACFW. Two of her short stories, Letting Go and Moving on, have been published. She finished her Bachelor and Masters degree in English at Indiana State University. She has completed two complete manuscripts, Missing and Deadly Hunt, which she hopes one day will be published. Currently, she's working on a three part trilogy that she's in the process of plotting and can't wait to introduce Devin Sanders and Chloe Walker to the world. She proofreads her friends' manuscripts to help them with the writing process. Besides here, she also blog on Hoosier Ink and Sleuths and Suspects. Feel free to check them out. She resides in Western Indiana with her husband, their three sons, and their two dogs.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Meet Annie from Operation Zulu by Ronie Kendig

First off, if you don't know about Operation Zulu Redemption by Ronie Kendig, you should  know ;) You can learn more about the O.Z. serialization from Ronie's site but you can also join the team by going to and be a part of the community!

I have the amazing opportunity to be a part of Ronie's Rapid-Fire Fiction Task Force which means I get to share some pretty amazing insider info with you. We're talking top secret, highest security clearance stuff here! Ok, maybe it's not that top secret but I do get to introduce you to one of the characters from O.Z. today!

If you haven't started the seirilaztion, you NEED to (trust me on this). And guess what? The first episode is FREE!!!

Download Operation Zulu Redemption: Overkill - The Beginning today for free and make sure you pre-order the next episodes as well!
Meet Annie

Name: Annie Palermo aka Ashland Palmieri

Age: 26

Eye color: Blue

Hair color: White-blonde, curly

Height: 5’5”

Unique skill: highly perceptive

Quirk: no real sense of humor

Favorite movie: While You Were Sleeping

Snack of choice: yogurt and granola

Resembles: Aly Michalka

Other: focused, tenacious, loves discourse and theology, classy, intelligent, prefers slacks and blouses, formidably tenacious, athletic


Well, what do you think? Annie sounds pretty interesting right? Take it from me, from what I've read so far you will *love* this series! It's like an amazing television show but for readers! So, make sure you pre-order to get each episode so we can see more fiction like this. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Cynthia Toney {Writer Wedneday} & 2 Amazing Things!!!

There are several reasons why today is important to me. Two of which start with a 2!

1) There are only TWO--count that 2-- days left until you can read Operation Zulu by the lovely and talented Ronie Kendig. Two days people - this is exciting news!!!  Hop on over to and join the team there so you'll be ready to download the first episode in this amazing serialization.

2) And my second reason is that today is my BIRTHDAY!!!! That's right, July 2 :D Looking forward to a day spent with friends and having fun! What are you up to on this amazing day?

3) Our winner from last weeks book giveaway (which I forgot to announce on Tuesday) is...
Megan Lee

Congrats, Megan. I'll get you in contact with Connie about receiving your book!

4) We have a guest here on {Writer Wednesday} and I'd like to introduce you to Cynthia Toney and her interview below. So, stick around for a while and enjoy getting to know Cynthia!


A little bit about Cynthia...

Cynthia writes historical and contemporary teen fiction with a touch of mystery and romance. She holds a BA in art education with a minor in history, and her career began as an advertising designer and marketing copywriter. She has a passion for rescuing dogs from animal shelters and encourages people to adopt and save the life of a shelter dog. In her leisure time, she enjoys cooking Italian and Cajun and studying the history of the South, where she resides with her husband and several dogs.

How to connect with Cynthia...

Facebook Author Page:
Twitter: @CynthiaTToney
Purchase Bird Face

Author Interview | Cynthia Toney

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...For a long time I wanted to write a story for shy kids who need help making friends and for kids of divorce, to let them know how wonderful and powerful they really are. I hoped to use story to show them that they have the ability to direct their lives and become the people they want to be.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why? ...My two completed works are very different, but I can’t choose a favorite. Bird Face is published, and I like how it helps parents and kids with those difficult junior high years. But my second work, The Other Side of Freedom, is also near and dear to my heart. It’s historical fiction set in the 1920s about a boy and his immigrant father who are involved in a crime against their will.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...Both the hardest and the easiest was dealing with the excitement of having a book about to be published and trying to be patient while waiting for all the necessary steps to be taken. I’ve found throughout life that everything always takes longer than I expect. 

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it? ...I’ve started notes for the sequel to Bird Face in hopes that readers will be as responsive to it as to the original. I’m incorporating some of my favorite characters from the first book, and I hope readers also will let me know the ones they’d like to see appear again.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Not yet, but I’m pretty sure there’ll be one! If it happens as it did with the original Bird Face, he or she will be a surprise to me.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...That it’s never too late to reach out to someone. That person may be too shy or afraid to reach out to you but may hope that you will make the first move if he or she can’t.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...I take fragments of characteristics, qualities, or features that I’ve seen in real people and combine them into imaginary characters.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories? (Examples: To encourage people, to inspire people, to make people laugh, to provide an imaginary place to get lost, to provoke theological insight, or to have people see themselves in your characters and then act upon that introspection?)
...I write realistic fiction, and the only one that doesn’t apply is providing an imaginary place to get lost in.


How do you like to celebrate the 4th of July?
...We try to remember to hang our flag on the house! And we grill for a small gathering of friends or family.

How are you making the most of your time this summer for writing and relaxing? Do you do anything different in the summer months?
...This summer there won’t be much new writing, but lots of self-editing on my current manuscript before I query. And I’m still working on marketing opportunities for Bird Face. Having a small publisher means an author must do a lot on her own such as getting the novel into bookstores and libraries and setting up events. One of the relaxing things is travelling a bit to visit with family.

Do you enjoy hot weather or cold better?
...In-between weather, which is rare in the Deep South. Seems like we go straight from winter to summer, then a yucky rainy season to winter again. If we’re lucky, we see a week or two of what you might call spring or fall.

Thank you so much for joining us at {Writer Wednesday} Cynthia! I've worked with both high school and Jr. high school students and love the fact that it's deal with those tough issues. I also would subscribe to the "pick and choose" method of characterization. I love using little things my friends do and incorporating that in my books (*hehe*). And - good luck on your next book and your rewrites! Being in the middle of that myself, I know that it's a joy but a pain sometimes too.