Monday, August 31, 2015

Bat Crazy by Carole Brown | New Novel News

Bat Crazy 
by Carole Brown

August 25, 2015
Story and Logic Media Group
Purchase: Bat Crazy

Monster Bats with red eyes that attack humans? Denton doesn’t think so and Alex hopes not, but who are they to quibble with the local gossip?

Transmission problems and a blown tire land Denton and Alex Davies right in the middle of a dilapidated, unfriendly town that’s welcoming no strangers, least of all nosy ones with a bent toward solving mysteries.

But with support from the town detective--an admirer of the Davies--and their own tenacious personalities, Denton and Alex aren’t easily scared off. Not when warnings in the form of painted bats show up on the porch of their rented cabin, not when the mayor threatens to run them out of town and not even when Denton finds the bones . . .

An ancient story, a bit of a map, a lost jewel and even a bat clan serve to provide the Davies and their sidekick, Taffy, the dog, their hardest case so far.

Get to know Carole...

What are the names of your pets?

One dog: Taffy, who looks like a Jack Russell. Showed up at our place and no one ever claimed her. At about the same time one of our horses died and the other one was grieving. When my husband and son came home that day, Taffy sat close to Shyenne. Whatever Taffy said to Shyenne we’ll never know, but from that day forward, Shyenne was fine! 
Outdoor cats: Tipper (tiny, touchy/grouchy and found by son #1 in a school building being torn down when she was a kitten), Simon, Sandy
One horse: Shyenne

What are you reading right now?

Mary Ellis’s Midnight on the Mississippi (a mystery!)
Renee Blare’s To Soar on Eagle’s Wings
Norma Gail’s Land of My Dreams

If you were stranded on an island what are three things you couldn’t live without?

My husband
My grandsons
My computer! (Yeah, I know: probably no internet, but I could still write my novels on it! Oh, I’d have to have hubby rig up some kind of electricity gadget (whatever!). :)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Winners & Such | A Time To Die by Nadine Brandes

Welp, I'm back from vacation! It was a lovely trip (check out my Instagram for some pics if you'd like to see the Oregon Coast where we camped).

And, as promised, we have a WINNER from last weeks author interview with Nadine Brandes (check out her interview here if you missed it).

Drum roll...

Brittany Valentine 

Yea! Congrats Brittany :D

But, don't worry! There are still TWO chances to win things on my blog...crazy, right?

Leave a comment on this post to enter to win a copy of Battered Justice by Linda J. White.

Enter on the Rafflecopter giveaway and sign up for my new newsletter to enter this fun giveaway!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Linda J. White {Writer Wednedsay}

A little bit about Linda...

--> Linda J. White is a former journalist. She writes FBI thrillers from her home in rural Virginia. Her husband worked at the FBI Academy for over 27 years. She has three traditionally published novels out, including the HOLT Medallion-winning “Seeds of Evidence.” Her fourth novel, “Battered Justice,” is an Indie.
How to connect with Linda...

Purchase: Battered Justice

Author Interview  | Linda J. White

--> You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing? ...Twenty years ago, recovering from knee surgery, I had an idea for a story in the middle of the night: What if a confident, self-assured FBI agent had his life spin out of control when he son was kidnapped by the drug gang he’d been investigating? I told my husband about it the next day, and (bless him!) he said, “That’s a great story! You ought to write it.”

...Yeah, sure. Me? A mom at home?

....He was a video producer/director at the FBI Academy and began taking me over there and introducing me to agents. They were so helpful! A year later, I had a novel on my computer. It was amazing.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...I have to say, “The Tiger’s Cage,” that first book, is still my favorite. Yes, I’ve learned a lot and I am a better writer now, but what can I say? It was my first baby!

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...The hardest thing about publishing is the inevitable disappointments. So much is out of a writer’s control. Waiting for contracts, then patiently accepting the rejects and downturns in the market, is tough.

...The easiest, for me, is writing—getting lost in a book I’m working on.

--> Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it?
...“Battered Justice” takes two FBI agents from my first published book, “Bloody Point,” and extends their story. Jake, a non-custodial father of two, remains determined to be a great dad and a terrific agent. Those goals conflict, and when a case he and his partner, Cass, are investigating gives indication his ex-wife’s new husband, Senator Westfield, is corrupt, life really gets complicated.

...“Battered Justice” deals with both domestic abuse and injustice. I wanted to explore both issues. And I couldn’t get “Bloody Point’s” characters out of my head! However, my agent and I agreed no traditional publisher would take it, so I self-published “Battered Justice.”

Do you have a favorite character in this work?
...I love Jake’s masculine tension and his secret love for Cass.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, and he will exalt you in due time.” From I Peter 5:6.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...Hmmm… my sister gave be a sweatshirt with an applique that reads, “Watch out or I’ll put you in my novel!” I have to say I have drawn characteristics from people I know and combined them into unique characters. Just one character—Aunt Trudy—in “Bloody Point” is actually based on a real person. I got her permission to do so. Her story is amazing.

...I am close friends with a number of FBI agents, and many more have shared stories or their expertise with me over the years. One said to me, “You’ve gone over to the dark side! You’re thinking like an agent.” That was a compliment!

...The stories may come from the news (I was an editorial writer for thirteen years) or just from my head.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...My goal is to share my passion for Christ through “white-knuckle fiction.” I want to create books that keep readers up all night. And I want to depict characters struggling with the same spiritual questions we all do.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Persist. If God calls you to writing, then just keep writing. 


What is your favorite activity during the summer?  
...The beach! And a lot of my novels are set on or near the water.
What are you currently reading?
...“Ordinary,” by Tony Merida, and four books on dogs (research!).

Apparently August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day (who knew). What is your favorite dessert?
...I don’t do dessert much any more! 

Thanks so much for being on the blog again Linda! Readers, I've had the pleasure of meeting Linda a few times in person and she's the best. I'm so excited she's offering a copy of Battered Justice here. Remember, I'm on vacation so I won't be able to respond to your comments but NOT TO FEAR - I will read them all :)

As for last week's winner, the contest is closed as of today (August 26th) but I will announce the winner of Nadine's book on Saturday when I get back from the coast. This post was scheduled and I won't have any way to update it. Thanks for understanding!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

From the Start by Melissa Tagg | RE:VIEW

I love picking up a book that takes me along for the ride. One that's comfortable, meaningful, exciting, and sweet. From The Start is that type of book.

I found I could really relate to Kate Walker and her desire to have her writing be filled with substance. Her quirks, and the quirks of her family, were endearing and she was easy to emotionally connect with.

Colton Greene is everything I like in a hero. Handsome, caring, talented, and a hard worker. The fact that he's got things to work through (and how he works through them) make him that much more intriguing.

Melissa weaves a beautiful story that highlights each characters growth in a natural and organic way. The romantic tension is fantastic and the setting, vibrant.

I highly recommend this to anyone who's a fan of Christian romance. Melissa has some awesome twists and turns in here that keep the story from being predictable. I also found myself tearing up a few times with the beautiful truths she incorporated.

Get this book - you won't be disappointed!

Rating: 5*
Purchase: From the Start
*Pick up the prequel novella Three Little Words for FREE

Book Description
(from Melissa's website)
Kate Walker used to believe in true love and happily ever after. While her own love life may have left her brokenhearted, it hasn’t kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays…until a major career slump and a longing to do something meaningful send her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley.

Permanently sidelined by an injury, former NFL quarterback Colton Greene is temporarily hiding out in a friend’s hometown to avoid the media and the reminders of all he’s lost. Maple Valley seems like the perfect place to learn how to adjust to normal life. The only trouble is he’s never really done normal before.

While Kate plays things safe and Colton is all about big risks and grand gestures, they both get what it’s like to desperately need direction in life. An unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their new lives, but old wounds and new dreams are hard to ignore. Starting over wasn’t part of the plan, but it just might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them.
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.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Found My Heart In San Francisco

Yep, that's the golden gate bridge up there! I've been having a blast all over California (or at least it feels like all over). I spent some time with my family then headed down to Sacramento to visit my friends Adri and Ryan...yes, we're a goofy lot! {evidence below}

On Saturday we headed over to San Fran and enjoyed the amazing weather. I'm talking about mostly clear, low 70s, and some wind but my-oh-my what a view!

I did family photos for Adri & Ryan and then we explored the city. Cue adventure!

I ate lots of Ghirardelli ice cream, enjoyed the view from the top of Lombard Street, and even captured a few images from Treasure island. It was rather magical.

Now I'm back at my parents house in Northern California and we're about to head off to the Oregon Coast. I can't wait! But, I wanted to make sure to let you all know I'll be pretty MIA this week. That happens when your camping and without power ;-)

Please don't let that stop you from interacting here. I've got a great author already scheduled for this Wednesday and I'll be sure to come back and check on my comments this weekend.

And don't forget (while you're at it) to stop by my Newsletter Giveaway post. I'll be picking out my final prize this weekend *rubs hands together* I wonder what it will be :D

What are YOU up to this weekend?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Through Deep Waters by Sarah Sundin | RE:View

Take a journey back to 1941 and the Boston Navy Yard with Sarah Sundin's latest release, Through Deep Waters.

Filled with historical gems, romantic tension, and a mystery to solve, Through Deep Waters will draw you in and have you thinking like Nancy Drew right along side Mary Stirling and Ensign Jim Avery.

I have an affinity for WWII era novels and have loved the books I've read from Sarah. With that in mind, I had high hopes for this first book in her new series, "Waves of Freedom". I really enjoyed this first book and the story Sarah weaved through the lives of shy and orderly Mary Stirling and calm and easygoing Navy man Jim Avery.

One of my favorite things about Through Deep Waters was the ability to see the surroundings of Boston, the Navy Yard, and the Navy ship the Atwood. I loved all of the details about life during this time period and can trust that Sarah has done her homework with regards to accuracy in the time period. You will actually feel as if you're right there, jumping pack in time with the characters.

I also loved the element of mystery. Being a Nancy Drew fan myself, I enjoyed the suspicion of sabotage at the Navy Yard and Mary and Jim's efforts to find the culprit. There's nothing better than the element of mystery and a well equipped sleuthing team.

Through Deep Waters will appeal to fans of historical romance, mystery, and anyone who enjoys the tension of romance lingering in the air. It has the atmosphere of the 1940s that you'll remember from movies like Shop Around The Corner, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Sergeant York. My recommendation? Read it!

Rating: 4*

Purchase: Through Deep Waters
Get to know Sarah Sundin here

Book Description
(from Sarah's website)

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges–and dangers–await them.

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.

Friday, August 21, 2015

4 Tips to Successfully Using Instagram as a Writer

My oh my...who doesn't love Instagram? Maybe I'm jut crazy about it because I'm a photographer? That's more likely I'm sure, but I did want to take a few minutes to chat about using the Instagram platform as a writer. Not to worry, if you aren't a writer you'll still enjoy this post because I'll include pretty pictures ;)

4 Tips to Successfully Using Instagram as a Writer

1. What to post

Ok, I'm not really going to tell you what to post, but I will give some helpful tips in how to decide what you should post.
1) Ask yourself what type of account you want to have. Writing/book promotion, for fans, personal use, or a mixture of these.
2) Think about sharing photos that fit with the type of account. For example, my Instagram account is for my photography business and writing but it's got a personal flair to it. My point of consistency is in the look of my photos though. We'll talk about that later.
3) Like with any/all social media for promotion sake, think about sharing things that fit with your brand. This picture of a typewriter fits with my writing and I could talk about what I'm up to writing wise in the comments (also more on that in a minute).
4) Consider your audience and followers. If your account is personal, then 10 pictures of your kids may be expected. BUT if you are trying to gain followers, consider their feeds. 10 pictures of your kids in a row (though they may be the cutest kids EVER) will quickly have your followers considering unfollowing  you.
5) Ask why you are posting each picture. This may seem extreme, but if you're serious about gaining followers and posting within your brand (to an extent) then have a purpose behind your post. No, this doesn't have to be some grand concept and you could use a random photo to tell your fans you just wrote "The End" but it helps to have a reason for each post - even if that's just to share a fun quote.

2. What to say

The comment section of Instagram is a hugely untapped resource (in my humble opinion). I know there are Instagramers out there who are super clever and just post one word captions (or no captions). I've done this. BUT, we're writers! Use your words ;-)
I've personally found that people are more willing to connect with me (and like my picture) if I've got something worth saying. Again, that's not to say that my captions are life changing, but they should be relevant to you, your brand, and your followers.
Use Instagram to give out fun info about your day like you do Twitter, but tie it to a picture. Maybe it's your work space, your coffee, your editing screen, or your TBR pile. Whatever it is, share about it. People can love your images, but they can also begin to love your voice even over Instagram.

3. How to make it pretty

Yes, I know that Instagram comes with it's own filters...but there are some awesome apps out there that give you even more control over what your photos look like.

This is my personal favorite! It's what I edit every photo with on my phone. Maybe that's because I like to tweak things (the photographer in me) but they've also got some great presets.

There are some fun things with this app, like the ability to add some old-school flair to the side of a photo, overlays, and great presets.

This app gives you a LOT of control. Maybe too much for those of you who just want to snap a shot but hey, here it is.

Want to combine two photos - or more like I did here? Use this app! It's one of my favorites for the ease and ability to do a whole bunch with it.

P.S. I was in our local Christian bookstore and saw one of my author headshots on the back of this lovely novel. Eik! See that...E.A. Creative Photography. That's ME :D Ok...back to Instagram stuff...

4. How to be Effective
  • Make your account public (and don't post anything you wouldn't want "everyone" to see)
  • Use hashtags (research popular writer/genre hashtags like #amwriting or #books or #scifi etc.)
  • Tag people and products (as long as it's relevant to the photo of course)
  • Use personal captions when possible
  • Post around 2AM or 5PM and on Wednesdays (so they say...?)
  • Follow Instagramers in your "field" as well as book bloggers/reviewers and comment on their images
  • Be interactive! Comment and reply to those who comment to you (don't for get to tag them specifically with the "@" sign or else they won't see it)
  • Be consistent! Build up a fun gallery of images that represent YOU and what you like. Your readers will love seeing that. 
I hope this has been helpful! Instagram is a great platform and can definitely help you connect with more readers on a personal and fun level.

Are you in Instagram? I'd love to connect with you! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Nadine Brandes {Writer Wednesday} + GIVEAWAY

A little bit about Nadine...

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. Her dystopian trilogy, the Out of Time Series, challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by 'bumbershoot'.) When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai, editing fantasy novels, or being a Harry Potter super-nerd, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: "hubby") are out chasing adventures.

How to connect with Nadine...

-->Website: http://nadinebrandes.comBlog:
Purchase: A Time To Die

Author Interview | Nadine Brandes

--> You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I can’t remember a time when I didn’t enjoy writing. As a kid, I processed through words and through story. I’ve journaled since I knew how to hold a pen. When I hit college, that’s when I realized I wanted to be an author… as a career. Nothing else “fit” me so I started pursuing it in a more serious way—writers conferences, research, editing, etc.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...Well, I’ve written only two books – A Time to Die (book 1) and A Time to Speak (book 2, releasing this fall) – but book two is my current favorite. You’ll have to wait until it releases so you can find out why. :P

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...I think the hardest thing about publishing is how much changes once you’re contracted. Suddenly there are deadlines (when I previously took a leisurely three years to write book one.) I had to learn to be a more dedicated writer, whether inspiration was there or not.

...The easiest thing for me about publishing is all the “tech stuff” because I don’t have to do it! The glories of going through a traditional publisher is that I pretty much focus on writing, editing, and marketing myself. All the formatting and logistical steps are on someone else’s plate. [grin]

--> Your Writing

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Parvin Blackwater is my favorite character because I feel she asks all the questions that many of us asked at one time. She’s not afraid to admit she feels distant for God or doesn’t “get” the whole relationship-with-Him thing. She’s a searcher and I can relate to those years of searching for answers. I hope my readers can, too.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...I hope that my books cause readers to think about how they’re pursuing life and God. I took both for granted through my own teenage years. Life demands pursuit, and God’s given us the perfect amount of time with which to catch it. I want my readers to re-evaluate their pursuit of God and of shalom. Our lives are given to us for a purpose and I hope to live mine out. :-)

Coming out October 1, 2015

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...My inspiration comes from a mixture of real life, scripture, and imagination. But the idea for A Time to Die came from the death of a young acquaintance of mine. His death started me asking myself, “How would I live if I knew the day I’d die?” and I channeled that into a story. :-)

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Funny you should ask. I just wrote a blog post on the 8 pieces of advice I have for writers, but if I had to narrow it down it would probably be to attend a writer’s conference.


What is your favorite activity during the summer?
...Hunting for morel mushrooms! That’s usually early summer. And then hunting for huckleberries in late summer. I live in the perfect place for both. Yum!

Apparently August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day (who knew). What is your favorite dessert?

...I’m an old-school chocolate-chip-cookie inhaler. But, if you want to get really fancy (and deadly)… I’ll never say no to sticky toffee pudding. I had it when living in England for a few months and it’s now our go-to specialty dessert. It’s AMAZING! Come over. I’ll make it for you. :P

Thanks so much for being my guest today. Readers - I got to meet this awesome author at the Realm Makers Conference after having connected with her online and now I get to host her on the blog! How fun? I haven't gotten a chance to read A Time To Die yet but it's in my TBR pile and I can't wait to get to it. And Nadine, it's really amazing to hear how you came up with the idea for this book. Real life sometimes provides us the opportunity to ask deep (and sometimes hard) questions. Thanks again and I hope to have you back to talk about A Time To Speak ;-)


It's time to announce the winner of this beautiful book from Sarah Sundin. I had her on the blog last week introducing this WWII romance and talking about her writing journey. She's offered one lucky winner a copy of her book. 

Congratulations go to...
Rachel Gheen

AND...because there were so many awesome comments left, I'm going to contribute another copy for the giveaway!

My second winner is...


Contact me using the from to the right so we can get you your copies! Don't worry if you didn't win here, there's still my awesome, month-long newsletter GIVEAWAY! Enter here!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Story Creation: How Creators Create

I was chatting with some friends the other day and I was sharing some ideas I'd recently had for my next book. One of my friends asked me how I did it. Um...did what? Sound crazy while talking about characters as if they were real people? Because yes, I definitely do that!

She wasn't asking about that. She wanted to know how I came up with my story ideas. Admittedly, they can get a little crazy because I like to dive deep into my characters, thinking about their internal motivations in addition to the external ones. But, at the end of the day it's more than that.

 My explanation to her was this:

I literally feel like it's all “out there” in my mind and I’m just pulling down these threads of the story, waiting and pulling, until they become clear.
Before you go and lock me up, I fully believe that the ability to have these ideas comes from the Lord. He is the ultimate Creator but He has created us to create (wow that was a lot of "create" going on there). Because God has a huge imagination--if I may be so bold--we have been given the ability for some of that creation because we are made in His image. How amazing is that?

I wanted to share some ways in which I go about "creating" things, whether that's plot, character motivations, setting, or ideas. These are by no means the only ways you can create or maybe even the best ones, but sometimes it helps to see another perspective.

5 Ways To Create

1. Visually
When I'm struck with an idea one of the ways I flesh it out is by taking it to the drawing board. The literal drawing board ;-) I have a way too small white board that hangs right above my desk area. I usually start with a time line then draw/write in things to help me visualize my plot arc. If that feels stiff, it's really not. It's just a way for me to see what's going on, not necessarily a way for me to write out everything that will happen. This usually covers the basics and I leave the gritty details to my notes.

2. Mentally
Never underestimate the power of a great walk. It may seem trivial, but taking that amazing idea and giving it room to breathe is essential. This is where I "see" those threads and start to pull. I will usually try and focus on one aspect of what I'm working through. For example, with my new book simmering just beneath the surface, I'll take walks with my characters. The other day my main character and I had a bit of a chat (in my head of course - don't want to look like a lunatic talking to myself). I found out some pretty deep and personal things about her during that walk. I'd call that a win!

3. Verbally
Talk. It. Out.
Make sure you have those friends who you can turn to who will listen to all your crazy ideas. I've got a few of them and there are times that I think back to what I've told them and am super thankful that they didn't turn me into to be evaluated. I'm not crazy...just imaginative ;-)

4. Physically
There are times we create out of what has already been created. We look at something and we think, "what if". Those are magical words. When you're formulating an idea, take in what's around you and think about it. For me, that looks like the field I've been walking through each morning near the house where I'm house sitting. I'm thinking...this is the perfect place for one of my characters to live near.

5. Coffee
Ha! I couldn't resist this last one. Honestly plays a BIG role in my writer life and I have to give it a shout out every once in a while.

No, the coffee itself doesn't do anything, but I would say it plays a role in my creation on several levels. On one side it helps me stay awake to think things through BUT it's also great for socially connecting with others. I can sit down with a cup of coffee and discuss a plot idea with a friend.

What about you, writers? How do you create? 
For my readers out there, what "created things" (like plots, worlds, or characters) have stuck with you over the years? Why do you think they have?

Friday, August 14, 2015

The next step in the journey + GIVEAWAY

Fun things are happening people! I've started up a newsletter.

Oh wait, did you just tune out? Don't! I know that it may sound kind of boring...but this is no ordinary newsletter. This baby will be packed full of awesome things like hilarious pictures of me, fan-girl selifes with my favorite authors (as I meet them), awesome giveaway opportunities, insider info on my writing, and let's not forget the hilarious stories of things that happen to me (I just can't make this stuff up).

See, that doesn't sound too boring or overly-inbox-filling, does it?

Well, if you've got an adventurous spirit, an obsession with great books, some curiosity about what I write, or maybe just a lot of time to kill...then sign up for my newsletter!


Yes, I'll admit that I'm totally bribing you all to sign up. I wouldn't do it if I didn't think you'd enjoy it though - honest! I'm giving away some pretty legit prizes (which you can read more about in the newsletter *wink wink*) AND everyone who signs up for the newsletter between now and September 14th will automatically get three additional entries (on top of how you can enter here). As you can see, it's to your benefit to sign up ;)

Sound like a plan? Okay, awesome! I can't wait for you all to see my first update (I had a lot of fun crafting it for you) and make sure you hop back over to Sarah Sundin's interview from this week - she's giving away a copy of her latest release Through Water's Deep.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Love Adventures in Odyssey? Get Access To Every Episode Ever!

Oh my it time for school already? 

Aside from prepping your kids for their new teachers, new classes, or maybe even a new school, it's important to prep their faith. Sign your whole family up for Adventures in Odyssey's Odyssey Adventure Club for a special price of $9.99/month. The club is an essential tool to teach your children to share their faith at school, to be bold, and to grow in their relationship with God.


Join during the month of August for $9.99/month, and you'll receive these benefits for being a member:
  • Unlimited streaming of Adventures in Odyssey library (800 episodes) retail value over $1,500 USD
  • New monthly exclusive episodes
  • Monthly Web Quests
  • Monthly Clubhouse magazine subscription (U.S. Residents Only)
  • Daily devotions based on Adventures in Odyssey episodes
  • OAC monthly member newsletter
  • OAC exclusive video stories
  • Animated Odyssey videos, Last Chance Detectives, and more!
Spend the last few weeks of summer vacation with your kids listening to Adventures in Odyssey episodes and build their faith!

Ready to join? Head over to the website and sign up today!

Seriously though, this is a FANTASTIC deal! I grew up listening to Adventures in Odyssey (and yes, I totally still listen to them). They are great for sparking imagination, teaching Biblical lessons, and helping your kids connect the dots of their faith. Check out my review of this awesome app and the club. And make sure to take advantage of the special price - you won't regret it!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sarah Sundin {Writer Wednesday} + GIVEAWAY

A little bit about Sarah...

Sarah Sundin is the author of seven historical novels, including Through Waters Deep (Revell, August 2015). Her novel On Distant Shores was a double finalist for the 2014 Golden Scroll Awards. A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school.

How to connect with Sarah...

Purchase: Through Waters Deep

Author Interview | Sarah Sundin

You and Writing
Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...Writing was not my original career choice. I majored in chemistry and became a pharmacist. Then in 2000, I was slammed with a story idea that wouldn’t leave me alone. I had to write it. So I did. Very badly. However, that book led me to connect with a writers’ group, to start attending conferences, and to learn the craft of writing. 
...What keeps me writing now? I can’t stop. Stories and characters keep bombarding me, and I’ve fallen in love with storytelling.

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?  
...Coming from a health-care field, where objectivity is valued and job security is guaranteed unless you do something stupid, the subjectivity and insecurity of the writing profession is a continuing challenge for me. I don’t know if anything has truly been easy, but so much has brought me joy and fulfillment—I love the research, plotting, writing, and editing. I love speaking and teaching. I love meeting readers on social media and in person. And I love that I have to lean on God to help me through the lack of objectivity and security! 

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it? 
...Through Waters Deep is the first book in the Waves of Freedom series, which follows three American naval officers based in Boston in WWII. Through Waters Deep is set in 1941, as America teeters on the brink of World War II. Mary Stirling works at the Boston Navy Yard and renews an old friendship with naval officer Ens. Jim Avery. Jim’s destroyer escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic, but problems on his ship point to a saboteur at the shipyard. As Mary works to find the culprit and Jim battles U-boats, could their friendship blossom into something more? Or could the dangers they face keep them apart?

...I’m currently working on my publisher’s edits on the second book in the Waves of Freedom series, Anchor in the Storm (summer 2016), and writing the third book.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?  
...I don’t like to play favorites (says the mother of three), but I really loved working with Jim and Mary. Jim is so upbeat and easygoing and fun, and Mary has this delicious quiet sense of humor that came out of nowhere. She also thinks a bit like me—she likes to take notes and make lists and charts—so I understand her.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?  
...I hope readers will be encouraged to hoist their sails and allow the Lord to guide their paths.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?  
...This story was sparked by historical research—the unrest in America in 1941 as isolationists and interventionists argued and as reports of espionage and sabotage ran rampant. But it was fueled by imagination—what if a saboteur was working at the Boston Navy Yard? What would it be like to serve on a US destroyer when the nation was officially at peace—but U-boats were attacking? Of course, I had to throw in a love story!

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...Overall, I hope my stories encourage people and draw them closer to God. I also hope they deepen appreciation for the events and people of the World War II era.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Read a lot. Write a lot. Connect with other writers through groups like ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) or a local writers’ group. And attend writers’ conferences—the single best way to learn the craft, learn the business, and meet fabulous people!


What is your favorite activity during the summer?  
...I love swimming in our pool and holding barbecues for friends. This summer, our favorite event was our daughter’s wedding!

Apparently August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day (who knew). What is your favorite dessert?
...Only one? I have serious sweet tooth. I’m partial to gumdrops right now. And black jelly beans. And anything chocolate. And ice cream. And my homemade cheesecake. And my homemade Boston cream pie. And yes, I’m fond of lemon meringue pie too. I chew a lot of gum to keep the sweets out of my mouth!

Thanks so much Sarah! I loved having you back on the blog. I love that you are open and honest about the fact that it is difficult and there is an element of insecurity to being a writer. I think that's universal for us all. And yes and amen to attending a writers conference! As I mentioned in Monday's post, conferences are great encouragements for writers. And YES to black jelly beans! I love licorice flavor though I know most don't - glad to see I'm not alone :D

So, readers, make sure you leave a comment to win this book. First off, isn't the cover amazing? Secondly, I'm currently reading it for review and loving it so far. Third, if you don't happen to win it's okay because currently Through Waters Deep is on SALE - I included it in my "20 Paperbacks under $11" post which you can see HERE. So one way or another you'll be able to get your hands on this incredible book. Oh, and check out the awesome GIVEAWAY button to the right side of my blog that Sarah is hosting from August 8-24th.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Realm Makers Wrap Up: Coming back to real life...sort of

I don't know what you've been up to this weekend, but I was on an adventure!

I attended the 2015 Realm Makers Conference and had an absolute blast! And yes, that is me wearing a cape. But, it was the only picture I had of my travel buddy (and amazing author) Ronie! We took off to the conference and definitely had an adventure getting to the conference location (taking me along pretty much guarantees an adventure).

So, for those of you who have no idea what Realm Makers is, here is part of the definition from their website: "[Realm Makers] provide(s) a faith-friendly symposium for writers and artists, focused on science fiction, fantasy, and all their sub-genres." There were amazing speakers like Robert Liparulo, David Farland/Wolverton, Steve Laube, Julie Gwinn, Amanda Luedeke, Kirk DouPonce, and many many others! The conference was focused on Christian Speculative Fiction and it was just amazing.

I not only attended the conference, but I was also the conference photographer and did headshots from some awesome writers! I'll share some of the highlights...

First off I did some fan-girling with two of my favorite authors (you'll recognize my travel buddy there). It was awesome to snatch a photo with Tosca Lee and Ronie Kendig. As you can see in this last photo we were having way too much fun. Tosca is hilarious and so sweet and Ronie and I couldn't help but laugh with her :)

This lady was amazing! She was definitely the go-to person (along with Becky & Scott) for anything and everything. I learned really quickly that not just anyone could step into her shoes when she left my friend Andrew and I "in charge" for a few moments. We managed not to help two people and, in the long run, probably confused them more but hey...we tried to help!

Then there were my roommates (picture above) who were amazing! Julie Gwinn, Bethany Kaczmarek, and Ronie. We had a blast in our "dorm-style" housing.

From Suzanne Hartmann
And yes, that's me dressed as "Super Photography Girl" with my trusty camera and maroon cape (on loan from my friend Jenn). And even superheros have jobs to I also took photos of the amazing costumes ranging from baby raptors to steampunk to a black hole. We had it all at Realm Makers!

So, when we weren't dressing up (and even when some of us were) we attended classes. Everything was geared toward the Christian Speculative Fiction genre and was so really informative.

There were some amazing quotes from the great instructors and I had a blast tweeting them back when possible.

 Then there was the Zombie Apocalypse Nerf War....

 [Enter dramatic voice] 
There I stood, surrounded by nerf guns and the threat of zombies, and I decided it was worth it...I would photo the war. I had no other choice but to show the truth! 

From Suzanne Hartmann
Ok, but really it was a BLAST and I did feel a little like an embedded photo journalist. Thankfully I only got hit once in the forehead...sad to say he was actually aiming for me too, despite my lack of affiliation to the humans nor the zombies. But it was worth it. Can't wait to show the pictures I captured of this fun event. 

Another fun aspect of the conference was getting to meet amazing people (like Amy here). We connected on Facebook...I'm not sure when? But being able to meet in person was so awesome! 

 Lastly, I was so encouraged by the keynote speaker Robert Liparulo. He started the conference off by explaining his computer had crashed and he'd stayed up until 4am fixing his slides - ouch! But then, as he shared, he told us the word he heard from the Lord was "Stop!" He explained that we as writers tend to compare ourselves with other writers or let things get us down etc. when we just need to stop and put all of that aside.

Then, at the end of the weekend, he shared that the last word was "Go!" And that we should go and write the story that God has placed on our hearts to write. It was the perfect thing for all of us writers to hear because we often feel like we should wait and rest and he was telling us to go for it!

Well, after all of that, I was sad to go home but was SO happy to get some Starbucks at the airport since we'd been without great coffee all weekend. Yes, I'll admit right now to being a coffee snob!

Anyway, that's where I've been all weekend!

What about you, dear readers? Do you enjoy Christian Speculative Fiction (like Sci-fi, Fantasy, and the like)? If so, who are some of your favorite books/authors?

*Special thanks to Suzanne Hartmann for some of the photos she took of ME! Check out Castle Gate Press for another look at Realm Makers!*