Friday, January 31, 2014

Once Upon A Prince by Rachel Hauck | RE:View

There is something about a fairy tale that captures a deep part of my heart. The notion of leading a kingdom, royalty, and elegant balls all resonate with my imagination and leave me daydreaming in a world where nobility is a reality and true love is always found.

Rachel Hauck's Once Upon A Prince, the first book in her Royal Wedding Series, meets all the qualifications (and more) for an honest-to-goodness, real-life fairy tale.

I found Susanna and Prince Nathaniel to be genuine, honest characters. From the moment I was introduced to the initial setting of St. Simon's Island, I was captured by the beauty Hauck described. I felt the soft Gerogian wind and could see the rolling sea oats lining the shore.

Rachel Hauck has a way of painting a story on your heart. Her descriptions are more felt than read and create the type of experience that transports her readers into the book.

For a plot that could be viewed as 'over done' or 'cliche', I didn't get that feeling at all from Once Upon A Prince. Hauck dealt with a fictitious country, politics and laws of this country, and ceremonies and customs all in a believable and understandable way that added to the plot.

I'd highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys Christian Romance, fairy tales, or just good writing in general! It's an excellent book and I'm looking forward to the next in the series.

Book description: 
*Description taken from Rachel Hauck's website
Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a princess—just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn’t going according to plan. When her high-school-sweetheart-turned-Marine-officer breaks up instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life.

The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simon’s Island is the queen of his heart. A prince has duties, and his family’s tense political situation has chosen his bride for him. When Prince Nathaniel comes to Susanna’s aid under the fabled Lover’s Oak, he is blindsided by love.

Their lives are worlds apart. He’s a royal prince. She’s a ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel’s coronation.

It’s the ultimate choice. His kingdom or her heart? God’s will or their own?
Purchase the book here: Once Upon a Prince (Royal Wedding Series)

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, January 29, 2014

Staci Stallings {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Staci...

A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, #1 Best Selling Christian author, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure!

How to connect with Staci...

Purchase Deep in the Heart [here]

Author Interview | Staci Stallings

You and Writing

Who is one of your favorite authors and why?
...I don’t read much fiction at all—only for friends who want me to read theirs. For myself, I read nonfiction—Christian psychology is my favorite genre. I want to read something that will lift me up and give me understanding to be able to help others. So my favorite authors are people like Jeff VanVonderen, Steve McVey, and John Ortberg. All three show how grace living really works, that it’s not too good to be true and it’s where God truly wants us to live. Then I take those lessons and translate them into the stories God writes through me.

Share a writing-related milestone with us?
...In April 2012, I put my book “Deep in the Heart” on Amazon Free and had 47,000 people download the book in 2 days. It hit and stayed at the #1 spot on the Free list for 36 hours and then went on to be the #1 Best Seller in Christian Romance and Christian fiction for a month after that. I have to say that was a pretty cool experience!
How do you balance your time between writing and other actives? Any helpful tips, tricks, or suggestions?
...I don’t. I don’t even try. If I did, it would literally make me insane. Right now, I own or co-own three businesses. I do the bookkeeping for all three. I have three kids, a husband, and a house to keep. I volunteer at my kids’ two different schools. I teach Sunday School. I have two very large, very active extended families—so birthday parties, anniversaries, etc. I have two very active writer’s groups online that I’m the founder of. I have 25 books published and another 20 waiting to be. I have 3 blogs that I manage or co-manage. I do major promotions for other Christian authors…

...Now saying “I” in all of these is very deceiving because “I” don’t really DO any of them. God does them. I’m just along for the ride! He is the best scheduling secretary EVER. Each morning I wake up and the day is in His hands. He gives me step-by-step throughout the day of what to do next. I have a list to remember everything, but He orders my steps through that list. What gets done was in His plan. What doesn’t is either for tomorrow to do or not something He wants done right now. Not only am I sane, but I am very much at peace even though if you look at my list, you would think that would be completely impossible!

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book, Deep in the Heart.
...This is one of my favorites and not only because it’s hit #1. “Deep in the Heart” is the story of how to live love. Maggie literally comes from nothing. She’s got two dollars, a broken down car, and shoes that aren’t even hers. But she’s also got one thing that’s holding her together in the very midst of what should be hopelessness—FAITH. She trusts God for the next step. She believes His promises. And even when things look bleak, she trusts that He knows how this is all going to work out. That inspires me in my own life.

What was one trial you faced when writing it? One success? ...Honestly, I shouldn’t even have written it when I did. You know that list of to-do’s above? Well, add to that list serving on team for a major retreat. Thirteen weeks of meetings and additional tasks that I don’t normally have, not to even mention being the director of the plays for Vacation Bible School that year—and VBS ran almost simultaneously with the retreat. And I wrote a whole book in the midst of that? How?! I truly don’t know. So the trial was writing it at that time, and the success was writing it at that time.

Who is your favorite character and why?
...Maggie and Keith (the guy she falls for) are both wonderful for the different things they can teach. Maggie for just being love even when she gets knocked down and dragged through the emotional mud, and Keith for how miserable we can let ourselves get when we listen to the world instead of to our hearts and God. Different lessons but both very important.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...That no matter where you are, no matter what life is throwing at you or has thrown at you, if you hold onto God, love, and forgiveness, things can and will always get better.


If you could go anywhere in the world for one month (for free) where would it be and why? ...Give me my laptop charged, an Internet connection so I can look stuff up if I need to, warmth, food, and shelter, and I really wouldn’t care. I have thought about going to a hotel for a weekend and just hibernating to write and get some of these stories out of my head and my heart and onto the ether. In fact, you know what? The last three Spring Breaks have been the best vacations ever, and I didn’t even go anywhere. My husband took my three kids skiing (I can’t go to the mountains because of altitude sickness). So I was here, at my house, alone, with nowhere to go and nowhere to be for five days straight. On the first day I got enough Chinese food for the week and several movies. Then I sat and watched back-to-back-to-back movies for three days. Then I started writing and wrote 80 pages. Then my family came back, and it was 7 months before I wrote another word on a novel. *shrug* You’ve got to learn to be content where God puts you!

Thanks for the chance to get to meet you all! God bless!

Thank you so much for returning to Thinking Thoughts Staci!  I loved hearing your perspective on balancing out your busy schedule with writing - what a great reminder that it's the Lord who truly directs our path. I also love how you are so content to write anywhere! I often dream wistfully about vacationing in Europe in a cottage and writing for a month *sigh*. It sounds really great, but in reality I'd probably get more done here at home under deadlines for other things ;) 

Thanks again for this interview and to my readers, make sure to check out Deep in the Heart - it's on sale on Amazon for .99 cents today!!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Three things I've learned about writing from packing

I have had a some thought-time as we've been packing up our offices for the "big move" as I'm semi-affectionately calling it. We have boxes upon boxes of miscellaneous things, random office stuff, and books - lots and lots of books. It's only natural that I'd start thinking about writing in relation to packing, right? Okay, maybe not, but it does make a lot of sense to my over-tired brain.

I got to thinking, as I attempted to fit oddly shaped items into rigid boxes, that writing is kind of like packing.

I thought I'd share three things I've learned about writing from packing...

1) Make sure you have the right box

It doesn't help to pick a box that's too big or too small when you're packing. If it's too big, things will just rumble around in there causing a mess. If it's too small - well, of course you'd hardly be able to fit enough in.

I see this in relation to the plot of a novel. If the plot is "too big" you risk loosing your audience. What I mean by "too big" is that it like eating when you're hungry - you think, "I can eat all that" but about 2/3's of the way through the meal you hit the full mark and can't finish what's on your plate. Your box (that is, your plot) needs to make sense for the size of the story.
  • Plots that are "too big": the novel spans too much time to sustain the core motivation or it undertakes too many different motivations to make sense.
  • Plots that are "too small": the novel isn't fleshed out enough and doesn't have enough motivation to sustain a full-length work.

2) Don't try and fit too much (or too little) into the box

Books are heavy. I mean crazy heavy! If you have a huge box and a lot of books...well, good luck getting that thing into the moving truck.

Plots are the same way. This could mean you hope to fit so much into your book that the actual purpose, the driving and motivating factor, gets overshadowed but a bunch of twists, turns, or subplots that distract rather than add focus or interest.

Ask yourself: Does this plot element fit or take away from the main plot? 

Or, like above in point 1, you don't have enough motivation or enough twits and turns to keep the interest of the reader. The size of your box (your plot outline) will determine what you can realistically fit into it.

3) Make sure it's properly labeled

 Great, you've packed up everything you can and have moved it. Now what?

Without good labels your boxes mean nothing. I have spent several days labeling boxes from several different offices so that they will get to where they need to go on the other side of our move. Sometimes that mean's a room name or the items inside the box, other times that means "fragile" (which we keep saying in an Italian accent like The Christmas Story every time we write it *hehe*).

I'd say the labeling comes in your synopsis and pitch. If your plot is a box and you're telling someone about what's in it, that's your pitch. As writers we need to have our pitches down so they cover the basics of what's in our plot (or our box for this analogy). You may have a great book or even a great idea, but if you can't summarize it quickly, you may not hold anyone's attention for long enough to sell the great idea your book is or can be.

Well, hopefully some of this was informative. I love how life (well, God really) can throw little lessons your way no matter what you're doing!

Which of these points do you struggle with the most as a writer?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jennifer Slattery & Ginger Solomon {Writer Wednesday}

Ok, before you say anything...yes, I know that it's in fact Thursday and I'm still posting a {Writer Wednesday} post. I'm going to beg your indulgence and ask for a bit of grace. We just found out that our church (where I work) is moving offices next week. In addition to that I'm also preparing for our women's conference in two weeks. Needless to say...I've got a wild, semi-crazy look in my eyes that can only be explained by stress and trying to coordinate too many things ;)

I am excited to introduce you to Jennifer Slattery (a returning guest) and Ginger Solomon. Here's an interview they prepared for you all. Enjoy!

A little bit about Jennifer...

Jennifer Slattery is a missional romance novelist with New Hope Publishers. She writes and edits for Christ to the World Ministries, is a regular contributor to, Internet Cafe Devotions, Inspy Romance, and Jewels of Encouragement, and manages the social media for Takin’ it to the Streets, a ministry that serves Omaha’s working poor and homeless. She’s placed in numerous writing contests and her work has appeared in numerous compilations, magazines, and e-zines.

Visit her online at

A little bit about Ginger...

Ginger Solomon is a stay-at-home mom of seven, five of whom she homeschools -- the other two have graduated. When she’s not working or having fun with my family, she enjoys reading, crocheting, and writing.

Her debut novel, One Choice, will be available at Amazon sometime after the first of the year. She’s currently working on a new contemporary inspirational romance while editing a Scottish historical romance.

Visit her online at:

Author Interview | Jennifer Slattery & Ginger Solomon

You both are part of a large group blog, correct? Can you tell me more about the blog and why you joined it?

...Jennifer: The blog is called Inspy Romance, and it’s comprised of 27 contemporary romance authors. I joined because I know it’s going to be a blast. But having a personal blog that’s 100% devotional/Christian living, I knew I wanted an outlet that allowed me to connect and interact with readers on a lighter level. We launch in February, and we’ve got some great launch-prizes! And I mean great! Come check us out! I’ll be blogging on February 18th and Ginger’s first blog appearance is March 22nd.

Tell us your funniest/craziest/most embarrassing blogging story.

...Jennifer: Hm… I’m not sure I’ve experienced crazy-fun in the blogosphere. As to embarrassment, I’ve come to learn that comes with being a writer. At least for me. There’s always an abundance of typos that make it through your umpteen read-throughs. Then for me, there’s always the added face-coloring moments when you misword what you wanted to say. When I first started blogging, those oops drove made my stomach knot, but now they hardly bother me at all. Which might not be such a good thing. Haha.

...Ginger: I’m a little OCD, and I haven’t been blogging that long, so I can’t think of anything embarrassing, and I’m not sure about funny or crazy. I guess the funniest would be the time I had a photo contest. I selected some random pictures from my own photographs and cropped them so readers could only see a portion. The guesses I received certainly made me laugh, especially the picture of my husband’s beard.

So, you both write romance. Tell us about the type of romance you write. What makes it unique? What do you hope readers will take away from your stories?

...Ginger: My debut novel, One Choice, is much like the show The Bachelor, except it’s set in a foreign country, and the “contestants” don’t volunteer, nor do they get to choose whether or not they will marry the bachelor, who happens to be the prince. :) Most of the manuscripts I’ve written focus on trust and forgiveness. I hope readers walk away from my novels understanding that forgiveness is not for the benefit of the recipient as much as it’s for ourselves.

...Jennifer: I write what I like to term “missional romance.” It’s a romance in that there’s plenty of swooning and falling in love, but it takes the romance a step further, showing the couple to be one another’s helpmate in their pursuit of God’s mission. This stemmed from my relationship with my husband. We serve together, whether the ministry is his passion or mine, and I believe we’re ten times more effective for it. There’s something unifying and beautifully romantic about making an eternal impact as a couple and helping one another grow into their giftedness and calling.

Speaking of romance, and with Valentine's Day soon to arrive, what would be your dream Valentine's Day gift?

...Jennifer: This is a hard one! Honestly, I’m not sure I have a “dream gift.” I’m very much a hold-hands-and-talk kind of girl. My husband and I have been married for over 18 years, and it’s been those quiet times of connecting on a heart-to-heart level that have drawn our hearts together most. So I’d have to say, a surprise hike or stroll through a beautiful area followed by a picnic. Maybe a weekend in the mountains.

...Ginger: My dream Valentine’s Day gift? A tour of Ireland and Scotland, especially the castles. I’ve a bit of the blarney in me (and some of the well-known Irish temper, too), and for reasons unknown to me I have latched onto learning as much as I can about these two places. I’ve gone so far as to request an engagement ring with a Celtic knot (as a replacement for my original ring, which I managed to break), and will eventually talk my husband into a Celtic knot wedding band to match. I listen to Celtic music, and well, in general, love most things Irish or Scottish — including the brogue.


Thank you ladies so much for stopping by my blog! I'm excited for your soon-coming blog launch. I love how you both have similar yet different perspectives on your romance writing. That's one of the best things about the different types of writers and readers. We all write and see story so differently but guaranteed there are readers out there who want to read what we write! Thanks again and I know my readers and I look forward to what this new blog will introduce!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

RE:View | Singularity by Steven James and No One to Trust by Lynette Eason

Singularity | Steven James

I finished Placebo Jevin Banks Experience by Steven James a few weeks ago. It was a wild ride with many twists and turns. A great book I'd definitely recommend. It was also my first introduction to Steven James as an author. It took me a little bit of time to get used to his writing style, but once I did, I was hooked.

Singularity is book number two in the Jevin Banks Experience.

Excerpt from Goodreads:
When his friend is murdered, illusionist Jevin Banks is determined to find out what really happened. Drawn into a web of conspiracy and top-secret research on human consciousness, Jevin won't stop digging until the truth is revealed. Soon he uncovers a dark secret--one that could change the very fabric of human life on the planet.
Immediately, when I dug into Singularity, I was once again drawn into Jevin Banks' story. For me, this second book began even more smoothly than Placebo. That could be due to the fact that I was already familiar with the characters though, but I enjoyed the fast paced and intriguing beginning.

The story itself was very entertaining. Often, I found myself literally holding my breath (sometimes with Jevin as he preformed an illusion) wondering what was going to happen next. James is a masterful story teller who knows the best way to weave suspense with a swift, flowing plot.

I would definitely recommend this to any readers who like suspense and are interested in a slightly sci-fi/technical feel. I would highly recommend reading the first book, Placebo, before hoping into this one though - just so the fullness of the story can take affect.

One cautionary thing though - the book is set in Las Vegas and James is not shy about openly explain what the "strip" is like in a very frank (and sometimes shocking) manner. To me, it's what makes the book real, but to some it could be slightly offensive.
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.  

No One To Trust | Lynette Eason

No One to Trust (#1 in the Hidden Identity series) is my first experience with Lynette Eason's writing. I have heard and read her name all over but hadn't yet had the chance to pick up one of her novels. I'm so glad I did though - and I can assure you it won't be my last!

Excerpt from Amazon:
Summer Abernathy wakes up one morning to find her husband missing, three men in her home intent on finding him, and the life she's been living based on a lie. Which Kyle Abernathy did she marry? The computer programmer she met in line at the bank? Or the one who was apparently using that image as a cover story?

The search for her husband--and answers--takes Summer ever deeper into a world of organized crime where people are used one moment and discarded the next. And with her deepest relationship of trust already shattered, Summer doesn't know who to believe.
From the moment you open No One to Trust you will be hooked! Eason does a fantastic job of keeping her readers on the edge of their seats trying to guess what's going to happen next. There aren't too many chances to relax because Eason has set up her plot with one suspenseful blow followed by another action packed sequence.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes romantic suspense or suspense in general. I did find that there was much less romance than I'd expected, but it didn't hinder the story in any way.

The only down side I saw was with the heroines chracter. I felt as if her heart transformation wasn't fully realized - she is definitely a difficult character to resonate with and you don't see much softness to her during most of the book. I found myself really having a hard time with who she said she was faith-wise and how she was acting. Then again, that can be said of many Christians, but I would have liked to see her realized why she was wrong, not just that she was.
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, January 15, 2014

Lillian Duncan {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Lillian...

Stories of faith mingled… with murder and mayhem.

Lillian is a multi-published writer who writes the type of books she loves to read—suspense with a touch of romance. Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

How to connect with Lillian...

Devotional blog:
Twitter: @LillianDuncan
Purchase Betrayed [here]

Author Interview | Lillian Duncain

Tell us about Betrayed.

...Betrayed is the second book in my Sisters By Choice series and will be released in January 2014. In Deception (the first in the series), there is a terrorist. I kept wondering what kind of woman could be married to a terrorist and not know it.

Betrayed is the answer to that question. It is Maria’s story and her struggle to get past the betrayal of her husband and create a new life for her daughter.

What’s the setting for

...Most of the story takes place in or around a small fictional town in Ohio called Sunberry. Coincidentally, we have a small town in Ohio called Sunbury that is very similar to the fictional setting!

How did you come up with the title for Betrayed?

...It was an obvious choice since Maria was betrayed by her husband so horribly. But as the story continues, Maria begins to believe she’s been betrayed yet again. But by whom?

Is Betrayed the first book you published?

...No, I’ve published several others in the past few years, including Deception and Pursued also published by Pelican Book Group along with a novella, The Christmas Stalking.

Why did you write Betrayed?

...I had actually written much of Maria’s story in
Deception, but it was taken out of that book. Maria wasn’t happy about that and begged me to write her story, so I did.

What do you want readers to take away from Betrayed?

...Bad things happen to all of us. How we react to those things will determine the quality of our future. We can make the choice to stay in the past and be angry and bitter, but a much better choice would be to forgive and move on with our own life.

Does Betrayed have a theme?

...Beauty for ashes is a phrase that comes up several times throughout the book and I consider it the theme. It comes from Isaiah 61: 3. A second theme is about honoring God with our choices and our actions even in the midst of a crisis.

What’s the Sisters by Choice series about?

...This series definitely has romance in it, but I also wanted to explore the strong bonds that form between women—through blood or through the choices we make. Each story focuses on a relationship between two women that becomes as important to the story as the romantic plot.

...Deception was the first in the series and it focused on the broken relationship of identical twin sisters, Patti and Jamie. The lesson from Deception was don’t waste time arguing with those you love—you may not get a second chance to repair that relationship.

...In Betrayed, it focuses on two strangers bonding and becoming friends as they face a crisis together. One of the characters teaches Maria about how to honor God by her actions even in the most horrible of circumstances.

What is your writing process?

...I am not an outliner. I wish I were—it seems easier to me. But my mind doesn’t work that way. I never know what is going to happen in my story on any given writing day. It’s as if my mind is a movie screen and I watch that day’s events and then I write it.

...When I start a new story I usually have a clear picture of the main character in mind and what obstacle he/she will face, but anything goes after that. If I’m writing and start to feel bored—then I kill someone or blow something up. And that way it’s a surprise to me and to my readers.

Do you know who the bad guy is when you begin your story?
...Not usually. Most of the time I have several characters who it might be and as the story comes to a conclusion, I am surprised right along with my readers. Betrayed was no exception. I wasn’t sure who it was until the very end.

Most people don’t think of murder mysteries and suspense novels as Christian Fiction. What do you say to them?

...I can certainly understand their point of view. And for some readers my stories might be a bit too graphic or edgy and that’s ok, I understand that. I would say my readers are those who like traditional suspense and mystery novels but are tired of all the explicit language and sex scenes that aren’t necessary to a good story.

...I don’t promote or glorify violence in my stories and show characters experiencing the natural consequences of their bad choices and bad actions. My characters are usually on a spiritual journey as well—but some are further along than others.

Then what makes your stories Christian Fiction?

...I don’t promote or glorify violence in my stories in any way. My characters experience the natural consequences of their bad choices and bad actions.

...My stories always have an element of faith in them. How that plays out depends on the individual plots of each specific story. My main characters are always on a spiritual journey, though some may be further along than others.

...One more word about Christian Fiction, it has changed dramatically over the past ten years. Other than erotica, readers can find their favorite genre as Christian Fiction as well as mainstream fiction. There are Christian Fiction books out there for every book lover—historical; romance; regency; science fiction; even horror novels.

If Betrayed became a movie who would you like to see play your main characters?

...Oh, I can see Angelina Jolie playing Maria. In Deception, Maria was a bit of a wimp, but life has changed her. She’s tough now—like Angelina. I think Mark Harmon, better known as Gibbs (from NCIS), would make the perfect male lead.

What are you working on now?

...I have a devotional blog Power Up With God's Word: Secrets For a Better Life at: I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors this past year and so many of the devotions focus help others who are facing a crisis—physical or spiritual.

...Along with that, the third book in
The Sisters By Choice series (Redemption) is in the process of rewriting. I’m also working on a new mystery novella series, Deadly Communications. It features a crime-fighting speech pathologist. Having been a speech pathologist for almost 35 years, this story was so much fun for me to write.

Any parting words for us?

... To celebrate the release of Betrayed, I’m giving away a virtual gift basket at Tiaras and Tennis Shoes at The virtual gift basket includes a copy of my books, Serenity Springs, Ohio; Dark Alleys; and Geese Mate for Life. Along with the books, a $25 Amazon gift card is included plus a few books from some writer friends. To enter the contest, simply hop on over to Tiaras and Tennis Shoes at , leave a comment on the post titled CELEBRATION! Winner will be chosen and announced on February 14.
Back Cover for Betrayed...
Witness Protection Program claims they can keep anyone safe if only they follow the rules so Maria follows the rules--every rule. She's given up everything--her friends, her family, her past, even her name to ensure her daughter has a future.

Reborn as Veronica Minor in the sleepy little town of Sunberry, Ohio, she struggles to rebuild their life amid the beauty of her flower shop. A life where her daughter can have a happy normal childhood. A life where her daughter will never know that her father was a monster.

When a child disappears, Veronica prays it has nothing to do with her past, but what if she's wrong? Not knowing who to trust, she trusts no one...and that's her first mistake.

Thank you so much for joining us here at Thinking Thoughts. You write in my favorite genre and your latest release, Betrayed, sounds great! I love how you say that you end up killing off someone or blowing something up when you get bored! I also don't do too much plotting before I start writing. Sometimes it's great, sometimes it's a challenge but it is always a mystery to me which is fun!

Readers, make sure you hop on over to Lillian's blog to enter for your chance to win her gift basket! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My Life Line

From Pinterest
I'm computer-less.  Completely and utterly without my third appendage and technological brain. It's sad to admit, but I rely on my computer a lot more than I thought I did. Thankfully, I have a substitute to use through work, but it's just not the same.

Have you ever been in that situation? 

As a writer it's even more difficult because I use an amazing program called Scrivener and, though I can get to my files through my online backups, I can't open it without the program. As a photographer, I also find it annoying because I've taken so many photos over Christmas and the holidays and I can't do anything with them because, again, I don't have the programs.

Well, I may be ranting and a little frustrated, but I have to say it did make my holiday break at home very relaxing. Lots of reading, spending time with the family, and (yes, I'll admit it) TV watching - primarily HGTV. Now all I want to do is remodel an old Victorian house ;)

All of this to say - I apologize for the lateness of some of my replies to you all and the lack of posts. It's been hard to get past not having everything where I expect it to be!

I did want to share that I did a guest post for Ada Brownell who's been a guest on my blog before. In this post, I discuss the challenging year 2013 was but how we can seek rest in the New Year. I'd love for you to stop by her blog and check it out:

And come back tomorrow for a {Writer Wednesday} post!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Giveaway Winners

Hello dear Thinking Thoughts readers! I apologize that it's been so long in coming to announce the winners from my "Spread the Christmas Joy" giveaways. I've been busy with family for the holidays and then getting back into the swing of things at work so I'm finally able to announce who won!

Before I do that though, I want to say thank you to all the wonderful authors who participated by sharing a special Christmas memory. It was so wonderful to read them and be encouraged. I hope that you found their posts just what you needed to "Spread the Christmas Joy" for you!

And now....those lucky winners:

#1 Three Wooden Ornaments

Jenny Blake

#2 Burgundy Scarf

 Connie Hendryx

#3 Vintage Doily & Notepad

Connie Hendryx

#4 Vintage Baking Goodies

Roseanna White

#5 Christmas CD - Modern

Joyce Yong

#6 Vintage Notepad and Frame

Maureen Timerman

#7 Snowman Goodie Bag

Martha Groeber

#8 Christmas CD - Vintage

Tami N

#9 Starlight Star Bright by JoAnn Durgin

Diana Montgomery

#10 Starbucks Card

Kim Peterson

#11 Joy Gift Bag

Lena Nelson Dooley

#12 Small Quilt (made by my talented mother!)

Jennifer Wharton

Thank you all for commenting! I can't wait to ship out these gifts for you so please make sure to email me [here].

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sydney Avey and Giveaway {Writer Wednesday}

Welcome to 2014 Thinking Thoughts readers! I'm so excited to be back to my regular {Writer Wednesday} posts. There are a range of new authors who will be interviewed and a few return visitors (don't worry, their interviews will be different from their previous ones).

Sydney is my first guest of the New Year and has offered an audio book download of her novel as a giveaway prize! Make sure and leave a comment for your chance to win this. I'll announce the winner next Tuesday. And - speaking of winners - check back tomorrow for the complete list of winners from my "Spread the Christmas Joy" giveaways :D

A little bit about Sydney...

Sydney Avey lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Yosemite, California, and the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and a lifetime of experience writing news for non profits and corporations. Her work has appeared in Epiphany, Foliate Oak, Forge, American Athenaeum, and Unstrung (published by Blue Guitar Magazine). She has studied at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Sydney blogs at on topics related to relationships, legacy, faith, and the writing life.

How to connect with Sydney...

Email: sydneyavey@gmail.comWebsite:
Sign up to receive my monthly eNews for Readers and Writers:
Facebook: https://www.facebook/sydney.avey
Purchase The Sheep Walker's Daughter [here]

Author Interview | Sydney Avey 

What has kept you writing?

Writing has always been fun for me, a gift that engages my heart and mind, delights my soul and gives me something to share. Since childhood I’ve been the go-to girl when anything needed to be written: meeting minutes, newspaper articles, and church drama script on top of a career in corporate communications.

As a university student I knew I wanted to be a creative writer but I couldn’t see a path. I didn’t think I knew enough about life to write about it and I needed gainful employment. I have plenty to say now, and the skills I learned in corporate communications have helped me with the discipline that completing and publishing a novel requires.

Early on, Natalie Goldberg’s books Writing Down the Bonesand Wild Mind , helped me experience the difference between news writing and creative writing, but it would be years before I tried my hand at a novel.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

It took me three years to write and publish The Sheep Walker’s Daughter. The sequel, The Lyre and the Lambs, will have taken two years when it’s published this September. For the first book, every single step was hard! Now that I’ve developed a process that works for me, writing the second book is easier.

It’s been a faith journey. I decided I wanted to publish traditionally with an independent publisher, one who liked my work well enough to invest in it. Lynellen Perry of HopeSprings Books has been a joy to work with. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s always been a joy.

My difficulty in publishing is that my work tends toward literary fiction. By choice I don’t have the safety of a genre that delivers an audience with very specific expectations. Finding my audience is probably the hardest thing for me about publishing.

My main character has no spiritual heritage. She is the product of an immigrant culture living an unexamined life in a changing world where she has been cut off from most of her family. Some readers raised in Christian homes may not be able to identify with Dee, but people who did not have this advantage will understand her struggle.

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters?

I processed my own family heritage by writing this book, but the story is purely imagined. My intention in the first book was twofold; to look at why families keep secrets about their heritage and examine what happens when the family narrative is lost. I am fascinated by how different generations communicate (or don’t) with each other. In the sequel, I look at how an extended family pulls together when they don’t have a model.

My intention is to show that faith begins with questions, not answers. Dee finds a mentor in Father Mike. He helps her get honest before God. As her faith grows slowly, her personality doesn’t change, but her heart changes. She will have a powerful effect on her family because she has learned to hear God’s voice.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?

Writing and publishing is a hill climb; an exercise in faith and stamina. Face one hill at a time; be patient with yourself and celebrate your victories; then rest and prepare to climb the next hill. Marketing your book is more like hacking your way through mile-high weeds. Don’t try to tame the whole jungle! Choose the way you are most comfortable communicating with your readers and seek direction from God and a few wise mentors.

What’s one thing you are looking forward to in 2014?

Publishing my second book and attending the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference to learn more about the business of writing and how to connect with readers.

Thanks so much for this great interview Sydney! I appreciate that you are honest about the difficult road it is to publishing. Many writers (including myself) find that it's not just as easy as jotting down some words and ideas and getting that published. I hope that 2014 will be a fantastic year for you and your writing! Make sure to check out her book and leave a comment to win a free Audible download.