Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Serena Chase {Writer Wednesday} + GIVEAWAY

A little bit about Serena...

Serena Chase lives in Iowa with her husband, two teen daughters, and a big white dog named Albus. A frequent contributor to USA Today's Happy Ever After blog, Serena is an avid reader of young adult fiction and inspirational romance and has become a respected influencer within those communities. When not engaged in her varied roles within the publishing industry, Serena can be found watching action movies and dreaming about someday living in a cottage by the sea.

How to connect with Serena...

[visit her website to subscribe to her newsletter to gain access to exclusive, subscriber-only content]
Twitter: @Serena_ChaseOther
Instagram: @Serena_Chase
Purchase: The Sunken Realm

Author Interview | Serena Chase

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 I wasn’t writing something, whether it was poetry or short stories or song lyrics. As far as what keeps me doing it . . . I guess I don’t know how to stop!

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...The Ryn (Eyes of E’veria, book 1) will probably always be the “book of my heart” -- it was the fulfilling of a calling for me; but I do enjoy re-reading The Seahorse Legacy (book 3.) And once I have a little more distance from The Sunken Realm (book 4), I think it will be fun to revisit. Those last two books read kind of like movies, so that makes them fun to visualize while reading.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it?
...Ah, The Sunken Realm. You see, I left poor Erielle in a bit of a bad way at the end of The Seahorse Legacy, so I had to resolve that. *winks* It’s the series ender… at least for now… so I had no choice but to write it or risk a lynching from my readers.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Cazien! I love that snarky pirate. He’s just . . . there are no words. That’s not true. There are a lot of words. Tons. But you’ll have to read the book to see them.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...There is no mistake beyond redemption.


You are an indie author. Tell us a little bit about what went into making the decision to self-publish?
...I had a story to tell. At the time The Ryn was ready to go, no one in CBA was buying YA Fantasy. I hadn’t planned on indie publishing, but it was a spiritual decision, in a way. I felt a deep urging to get that book out in the world, as if there was one person that needed to hear what it had to say. I honestly published it for that one person. But it turns out there were more. I know it was the right thing to do, because of the letters I’ve received from readers. The Ryn needed to be published exactly when it was published, and indie publishing was the only way to see it happen.

What are some challenges you face by being independently published? Some benefits?
...Win, lose, rise, or fall on my face, it’s all on me. And it is expensive! Marketing, editing, cover design . . . These days, anyone can self-publish whatever they want (and many do), but I believe in striving for excellence, and there’s a lot that goes into putting a quality book out there in the world. That’s a lot of pressure. Mentally, sometimes physically (chiropractor and massage therapist on speed dial, anyone?) and certainly financially. My book production budget comes out of our family budget a lot of the time and it is sometimes difficult to justify even necessary expenses. Sometimes the money isn’t there to do all you want to do and you have to wait. That’s hard. On the other hand, I am a certifiable control freak, and . . . I AM IN CHARGE! *LOL* I can’t imagine not having a say in my cover art or marketing plan. I’m my own boss, and if I fail, I fail. But no one else will sink with my ship. That’s a comfort, in a strange way.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for indie publishing?
...Hire quality editors, both developmentally and for line/copy editing. I cannot stress that enough. And for the love of monkeys, study relevant cover art in your genre and make your book covers competitive and eye-catching! If you don’t have the skills (I don’t) then save up and hire out your design needs. No more stupid clip art covers, k?


When you get an idea for a novel, what is the first thing that you do?
...I write down my ideas using the Evernote app--and I also have a Word doc where I keep random ideas. I also daydream. A lot. And I annoy my children by talking about my imaginary friends too much.

September is Classical Music Month (who knew?). In keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel?
...My favorite classical literature is in play form. I love Shakespeare’s comedies, specifically Much Ado About Nothing. Readers may see a Beatrice & Benedick/Erielle & Cazien parallel or two in The Seahorse Legacy and The Sunken Realm! Even in The Remedy one particular character (Taef) was created in homage to one of The Bard’s Much Ado characters. But in classic novels, I’ll go with Elizabeth Bennett from Pride & Prejudice. She’s classy and spunky.

What is your favorite fall snack food?
...Pumpkin bread! Delish.


Emilie here: Eeikk! I'm so excited to have Serena on the blog today. So, fun story about how we met. We were both at the ACFW Conference last year and attending the post session with amazing teacher and writer Randy Ingermanson. During one of the breaks I turned around and started talking to Serena. She was warm, welcoming, and supremely funny! Since then we've connected over social media-everything and I've been drooling over her books. I haven't yet had the chance to jump into her Eyes of E'veria series but you better believe it's on my list (and my Kindle hehe).

Not only is she my guest today, BUT it's her release day!!! How lucky am I to have her? So, please leave her a ton of awesome comments of congratulations which will also get you entered in to win an eBook copy of the coveted last book of the series.


I had Katie Ganshert on the blog last week and offered an eBook giveaway of An October Bride. The lucky winner is....

Bonnie Roof

Congrats Bonnie! Contact me using the form to the right and I'll get your eBook sent to ya. 

Thanks again everyone :D

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Intersect: Where Your Story and God's Story Converge | RE:View

Ever wanted to have a tool to engage your neighbors and friends in deep conversations? Worried about how to start those conversations? Intersect by Rob Peabody and Cris Rogers creates the perfect opening for those very conversations. It's a great resource for anyone interested in hosting a small group that goes beyond the surface and that opens the door for spiritual discussion.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I first popped this DVD in but I was pleasantly surprised by what it had to offer. With sections dealing with things like disappointment and trust, I appreciated the fresh approach to starting a conversation.

The short videos, well done and creative, each follow a shared story told with honesty and openness. The diversity of backgrounds of those who share spans from a stay at home mother to an ex-con. It's about realness and the truth of what we all face in an easy to understand context that isn't overly Christian (in respect to the language used). I liked this fact because, living in a spiritually-adverse city like Washington, D.C. I can see how these videos could be helpful for opening doors to talking about faith and personal beliefs.

A few gems I took on my first listening:

"Real life is not a dream." - Rest

"The suffering that we experience might not be the wrath of a divine being but the chaos and evil of the broken world." - Disappointment

I'd definitely recommend these videos to small group leaders. They discuss topics that are relevant to most ages and people of all walks of life. I would recommend that the small group leader listen to them first. Because of the nature of the videos, the elements of faith are less overt (though not ignored) and I would advise being prepared with a few scripture references to go along with the stories that are told in the videos. You can also check out the Intersect website for more interactive material and more information.

Rating:  4*
Purchase: Intersect DVD

Video Description

Follow the journey of five individuals as they tell authentic stories of circumstances that have forced them to examine how God might fit into their lives.

This five-week small group resource helps spark spiritual conversations. Starting spiritual conversations with those outside of the church is a worthy, yet often difficult and intimidating task. Intersect was designed to help overcome those barriers. It is an easy-to-use resource, perfect for sharing with co-workers, friends, neighbors, and family to enter into meaningful conversations.

Each film is accompanied by thought-provoking questions designed to encourage participants to examine the world in which they live and the life they are pursuing, always ending with a conversation on how Jesus intersects the current topic. Allow this powerful new film resource to engage those you are in relationship with and then propel them forward in their next step with Jesus.

I received a free copy of this DVD for review purposes, but was under no obligation to watch it 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, September 28, 2015

Myra Johnson + Richard Mabry | New Novel News

The Sweetest Rain
by Myra Johnson

September 18, 2015
Franciscan Media
Purchase: The Sweetest Rain

As the drought of 1930 burns crops to a crisp, Bryony Linwood will do whatever it takes to ensure her family’s survival. When she accepts employment at the Heath mansion, it’s just a job at first, a means to ward off destitution until the drought ends and Grandpa’s farm is prosperous again. But Bryony’s forced optimism and dogged determination disguise a heart as dry and despairing as the scorched earth . . . until she forms a friendship with the plantation owner’s reclusive son, Michael, and is entranced by his beautiful botanical illustrations. As their relationship deepens, friendship soon blossoms into healing for wounded souls and a love that can’t be denied.

Get to know Myra...
If your book became a movie, who would you cast for your main characters?
It’s hard for me to begin writing until I have some clear images of my central characters, so I like to find photos online that come close to how I picture the characters. As I started brainstorming The Sweetest Rain, I pictured a young Liv Tyler as Bryony and Matt Bomer (wearing glasses) as Michael. I was delighted when the Franciscan Media art department captured Bryony so well without any input other than how she was described in the book!

Who is your favorite secondary character from this novel?
Secondary characters do have a way of stealing the show, and I often get attached to mine. Sometimes they’re even more fun to write about than the hero and heroine! In The Sweetest Rain, I’d have to say my favorite is Odette, the cook for the Heath family. She’s quite opinionated and will speak her mind when necessary (or at least when it won’t get her into too much trouble), and she’s loyal to a fault.

What’s one thing you must have in the morning?
Enough time to wake up. Yes, it’s true. I am NOT a morning person! From the time I roll out of bed until I have enough brain power to be moderately functional takes a good 90 minutes to two hours. First comes breakfast, then a pot of Earl Grey with the morning paper and Good Morning America. By the time I’ve worked through the daily crossword puzzle and Sudoku, the brain cells are beginning to fire. Then, and only then, do I feel ready to sit down at the computer and begin my writing day!

 Miracle Drug
by Richard L. Mabry, M.D.

September 15, 2015
Abingdon Press
Purchase: Miracle Drug

The infection wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did. The treatment was supposed to take care of it, but it didn’t. Then Dr. Josh Pearson discovered why—the patients had another infection, one that was universally fatal. The only chance for their survival was treatment with an experimental drug, but the manufacturer might already have discarded its supply.

The stakes were high because the patients were the former President of the United States and a nurse with whom Josh was falling in love. The situation was bad and getting worse by the minute. Overcoming all this would take more than a miracle drug—it would take a miracle.

Get to know Richard...

Favorite place you’ve traveled to?
Probably the Black Forest of Germany. Lovely hotel there, enjoyed walking in the area (although Kay almost got us lost when we walked through the woods. I thought I was the only one who could say, “I know a short-cut,” but be wrong).

Share one pet peeve you have 
People who don’t know how to handle a four-way stop sign where two streets converge. Some don’t stop, some don’t know when to go, and some just sit there talking on their cell phones, oblivious of other people.

Coffee or tea? 
Two cups of coffee in the morning (half-caf), maybe a glass of iced tea once a month with a meal. Otherwise, water or a diet soft drink.

Make sure you leave a comment for these wonderful authors. I'm sooo excited they each offered to give away a copy of their new releases. Make sure you let me know if you have a preference. If not, you'll be entered in to both :)


Carol Smith

Congratulations Carol! I'll be sending you and email so we can get you your copy!

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck | RE:View

A multi-generational story of healing and restoration. 

The intricate tapestry of The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck creates a complex picture of interwoven lives. Each character thread is specifically placed. No one thread can shape the image by itself, but together they weave a tale that speaks of the power of healing and restoration.

The story of Taylor Branson and her new husband Jack is juxtaposed to an older tale of aging high school football coach, Jimmy Westbrook and his estranged love, Collette Greer. Battling miscommunication and the damaging toll that keeping secrets can take, these four lives are forever changed through the course of the story and their encounter with the wedding chapel Jimmy built for his true love.

I enjoyed this dual-time story set in past and present day New York and Hearts Bend Tennessee. Of course, the fact that Taylor was a photographer appealed to me as well, seeing as how I am also one. As I've come to expect with Rachel's books, her descriptions painted a vivid image for me and the depth of each character was strong. Emotions came off the page, affecting me in a personal way. I also enjoyed the ending and the strong themes that were wrapped together cementing the importance of restoration.

One thing I did want to see more of was Taylor and Jack's story. I felt like--at a certain point which I won't say so as not to spoil anything--I wanted to see more of why they changed not just how, but maybe I'm being nitpicky ;)

I'd definitely recommend this to fans of Rachel Hauck as well as those who enjoy romance, historical romance, and dual-time novels.

Rating: 4*
Purchase: The Wedding Chapel

Book Description
(from Rachel's website)

For sixty years, a wedding chapel sat silent, waiting for love. But times have changed and the hour has come when it just might be too late.

Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy “Coach” Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love—the wedding chapel he built for Collette Greer, the woman he fell for back in ‘49. But now an offer has come to turn the chapel into what it was meant to be—a place for love—and Jimmy sees no reason to hang onto his dream any longer.

Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family’s abysmal marriage rate. But love surprises her when she falls head-over-heels for Jack Forester, a top ad man. Their whirlwind romance results in an elopement, and a mountain of doubt. Jack, while genuine in his love for Taylor, can never seem to overcome his own demons to find the words of his heart.

When Taylor takes an assignment in Heart’s Bend, the job does more than send her back to her hometown, but into a world of family secrets buried beneath the sands of time.

When Taylor’s journey intersects with Coach’s, they rediscover the heartbeat of their dreams and that the love they long to hold is right in front of them. And worth every waiting moment.
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.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

People You Look Up To: Celebrate the Whit Award with Adventures in Odyssey

Emilie here: I've loved Adventures in Odyssey - you know this if you've spent some time on the blog. Nope, I'm not a mom, but I do love the commitment Focus on the Family has made through the years to promote creative, God-honoring episodes that tackle real life issues but are just plain fun too. I'm really excited to share this opportunity for you with the "John Avery Whittaker Award". Check it out - I'm sure you know someone who qualifies!


Most people can think of one or two figures whose love and life example had a great impact on the formation of their spiritual foundation. It might be a coach, a Sunday school teacher or a parent or grandparent. Whatever the role, it’s hard to put a value on the investment these people make on a daily basis. In an effort to bring honor to these countless, quiet heroes, Adventures in Odyssey announces the John Avery Whitaker Award. Named after Odyssey’s resident leader and the namesake of Odyssey’s most famous attraction, Whit’s End, the award will be bestowed annually on one deserving mentor.

Like the Adventures in Odyssey character John Avery Whitaker, or “Whit” as he’s known by fans of the show, the person should be someone who is passionate about innovatively teaching children the truths expressed in the Bible. Those who create Adventures in Odyssey know that while Whit might be a fictitious character, there are thousands of real people just like him. “Our hope is that by bringing those people into the light, others will be inspired to follow their example,” says Dave Arnold, the executive producer of Adventures in Odyssey. “If we can spur mature believers in Christ to mentor and influence a generation being barraged with messages of compromise, we can turn the tide and encourage revival in our youth.”

Nominations are being accepted now through October 31 for the “Whits” out there in the world. Beginning on November 1, one nominee will be selected daily and awarded with a prize package including Adventures in Odyssey's latest album, Taking the Plunge, and a DVD of the movie Beyond the Mask. One grand prize winner will be chosen and announced on November 20. This worthy recipient will receive more than $500 worth of Focus on the Family resources, including an Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC) membership. The OAC offers 24/7, on-the-go access to more than 800 episodes of Adventures in Odyssey, as well as a new, members-only episode every month. It is a safe, fun environment where the whole family can explore, create and imagine, all while learning biblical truth.

Nominations can be submitted via this form, or the information can be emailed to (See the Official Rules for all the details.)

To learn more about the John Avery Whitaker Award, visit Discover the Odyssey Adventure Club at or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

15-FOTF-0297-482513_PM_AIO_Whitaker_Award_Web_Ads_Disk_525 x 300

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Katie Ganshert {Writer Wednesday} + Giveaway

A little bit about Katie...

Award-winning author, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her family. When she’s not busy penning novels or spending time with her people, she enjoys drinking coffee with friends, reading great literature, and eating copious amounts of dark chocolate. You can learn more about Katie and her books by visiting her website or author Facebook page.

How to connect with Katie...

Purchase: The Art of Losing Yourself
FREE on Amazon: The Gifting by K.E. Ganshert 

Author Interview | Katie Ganshert

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I was the little girl in bed, filling up notebook after notebook with penciled stories—most of which went unfinished, since I’d always think of another idea. I didn’t write my first novel, though, until I went on a mission trip to Kenya in college. I came home from that trip with a story inside, so I sat down and I wrote it. It’s not publishable, but it was the spark that set my journey in motion. As far as what keeps me writing … a lot of different things. I feel like it’s the way God made me. I can’t not write. I also feel spurred on every time I get an encouraging note from a reader. The satisfaction of finishing a book and seeing it in readers’ hands. And then, of course, the enticing whisper of a new story idea.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...The hardest thing is definitely working under a deadline. A deadline doesn’t care if you’re feeling inspired or not. It doesn’t care if your life has turned into an F-5 tornado. The book is due when the book is due. The easiest is probably cover design. Since, you know, I don’t have to do it. Seriously though. I’m not sure any part of the publishing process is easy. At least not for me!

Your Writing
Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it?
...My most recent Christian fiction novel is The Art of Losing Yourself. It’s the story of two estranged sisters who come together to fix up a derelict motel. The story was inspired by the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. I just love that we worship a God who is able to breathe life into that which is absolutely dead—whether it be a marriage, a womb, or a person’s faith.

My most current project is a young adult series called The Gifting Series, which I’ve put out independently under the nom de plume, K.E. Ganshert, since it’s an entirely different genre than what I typically write. I’ve had an absolute blast with this trilogy! I started writing it as a creative outlet and had such positive feedback from friends and family that I decided to officially put it out there.

Do you have a favorite character The Art of losing yourself? If so, why?
...My favorite character in The Art of Losing Yourself is Gracie Fisher, the younger of the two sisters. She’s 17 and troubled. I love her honesty. I love her grit. I love her sass. I love that beneath her tough exterior, she’s just a girl who desperately wants to be loved and accepted.


When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...My prayer for my Christian novels is always the same—that God would use them to draw hearts closer to Him, to plant seeds, and to encourage readers in their faith. With my secular young adult series, my overall intention is entertainment. I want to give readers a really fun, engrossing reading experience. A mini getaway from real life. With that said, there are some deeper seeds in there that I hope will make readers think and ponder as they dive into Tess’s world.


When you get an idea for a novel, what is the first thing that you do?
...Write it down, otherwise I’ll forget. And then I usually talk to a friend or my husband about it.

September is Classical Music Month (who knew?). In keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel? 
...Mr. Darcy, of course!

What is your favorite fall snack food?

Thank you so much for being my guest! I love hearing your thoughts on writing (I'll give you an AMEN about deadlines...) and 100% yes to Mr. Darcy. I think he's my pick as well!

Readers - this woman is amazing! Not to mention she's also a Carol Award Winner for her novella An October Bride. I thought it would be fitting to give away a copy of her award-winning book so make sure you leave a comment for her to enter to win the eBook giveaway.


 Almost forgot to announce last weeks winner...

Samantha B

Congrats and make sure to contact me to get your copy!

Plus...I forgot to announce:

Terrill Rosado 

She won Pam Hillman's Stealing Jake. Woohoo, winners all around! 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

ACFW Conferences Recap + My BIG News

I'm not sure what you did last weekend, but I spent five days surrounded by writers of all kinds and it was glorious! I, well flew, (begrudgingly) away from the 2015 ACFW Conference with a few major takeaways that I thought I'd share here.

5 Takeaways from the 2015 ACFW Conference

1. Worship

Rachel Hauck not only inspires me with her writing and heart for the Lord, but through music as well. Most of you know that I'm a musician on the side (when I'm not writing or taking pictures) and to be able to worship with 500+ writers is one of the most amazing experiences--EVER! I was blessed by her heart and I'm sure everyone else was!
2. Friendship
This year's conference was a special experience for me because I finally met (in person) so many amazing friends who I'd first made contact with online! It was the most amazing thing to put a hug to the name that I'd seen for so long throughout the year. It also reminded me that no matter what, whether we meet through ACFW or through a mutual love of books or writing, we're real friends - meeting in person is just icing on the cake.

3. Knowledge
There were so many amazing classes this year. Though I was running around taking pictures through a lot of them, I found myself picking up tidbits in every class during the few minutes that I was in the room. I can't wait to get the conference flash drive to listen through them all, but more than that, I can't wait to see what everyone else walked away with. 

For me, my "writing takeaway" was a reminder (from several authors and speakers) of how important it is to give our writing over to the Lord. No matter what, I want the Lord in every aspect of my writing and I am excited to jump into projects with this fresh on my mind.

4. Belonging
Where else can you go and be surrounded by people who just get you? There was so much laughter! Yes, a lot of it was coming from me. I fully admit to this and apologize publicly for the fits of giggles that struck me around midnight each night. ;-)

I walk away from ACFW with a renewed sense of belonging in the writing community. It's the perfect time for all of us to come out from behind our computers and to meet face to face and remind one another that we are not alone in this. We never have been.

I love that reminder and it fuels me to press on. To write more, write often, and write better.

(P.S. Natalie we miss you in this picture...)
5. Hope 
Lastly, I walk away from the ACFW conference with a renewed sense of hope. A reminder that--no, I'm not crazy for wanting to write stories about fictional people.  I'm not acting foolishly on some fanciful whim that fades with reality. The deep seated sense of purpose and direction I have is from the Lord and I'm not meant to go it alone, but with a community of like minded people who are focused on encouraging one another to better their craft. I have hope to strive for excellence. To dive into rewrites--again--and to put words to the page even when the inspiration lacks. 

I am a writer and I will write. 


Lastly, if you didn't see my Facebook post - I am thrilled that one of my photos of the amazing and talented Francine Rivers was used in this article for Publishers Weekly. Francine won the 2015 ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award and was at the awards gala to receive it. It was such an honor to photograph her there. I've long looked up to her and her amazing writing (The Mark of the Lion series will always be a favorite) and am so happy that she was recognized like this. 

If you attended I'd love to hear what you took away from the conference! If not, what inspires you and leaves you encouraged afterwards in what you're passionate about?

My BIG News....
All right - I've made you wait long enough, haven't I? I announced on my Facebook author page yesterday that I had some big news and I do...

I've signed a contract with Tamela Hancock Murrary of The Steve Laube Agency

I am so excited! It actually happened just before we left for the conference but I wanted to wait until the paperwork (and craziness of the conference) was over.

For those of you who may not know what this means, she is a literary agent and we'll be joining forces to get my books published. It's a long process (which includes me doing LOTS of writing) but having representation is a huge step. I am so pleased to be with such a wonderful agency and look forward to what the Lord has in store next.

Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter (click here). I'll be sending out an update at the end of this week that will include more stories from the conference and a special peek into how my novel Runaway got started!

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Methuselah Project by Rick Barry | New Novel News

The Methuselah Project
by Rick Barry

Published September 27, 2015
(but it's out now!)

Kregel Publications 
Purchase: The Methuselah Project

Nazi scientists started many experiments. One never ended.
Roger Greene is a war hero. Raised in an orphanage, the only birthright he knows is the feeling that he was born to fly. Flying against the Axis Powers in World War II is everything he always dreamed—until the day he's shot down and lands in the hands of the enemy. Captured, Roger becomes an unwilling guinea pig in a hush-hush experiment intended to outlast the war.

The Methuselah Project is a pulse-pounding blend of history, suspense, patriotism, and romance you’ll have a hard time putting down!

Get to know Rick...

Favorite place you’ve traveled to? 
I’ve been blessed with many, many opportunities to travel. Just this last summer I visited Chernobyl, Ukraine, and toured through the deserted buildings there. But one of my favorite destinations was Ireland. I love the Irish accents, the castles that dot the landscape, the stone fences, the food… I hope to go back!

Would you rather go to the future or go to the past? 
I’d rather go to the past. To me, the future is in God’s hands, and He’s already revealed as much as He wants us to know about it for now. But the past holds so many fascinating moments that I’d love to see in person—especially if I could be an invisible spectator whom no one could see.

If you were a superhero, what would be your super power? 
Wow, what an interesting question. I’m sure comic book writers and illustrators have repeatedly considered all kinds of possible superpowers. But if I could invent one? Perhaps I would choose the power to make people truly love others as themselves. It seems to me the world is rife with selfishness. Yet, if I could wave a wand or sprinkle mystic powder to make people care more about others and less about themselves, I would do it—even without a cape and a costume!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Brenda S. Anderson {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Brenda...

Brenda S. Anderson writes gritty and authentic, life-affirming fiction. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and is currently President of the ACFW Minnesota chapter, MN-NICE. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, theater, roller coasters, and baseball, and she loves watching movies with her family. She lives in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area with her husband of 28 years, their three children, and one sassy cat.

How to connect with Brenda...

Google Plus:
Purchase: Hungry For Home

Author Interview | Brenda Anderson

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. Back in grade school, I even wrote plays that our class put on for the rest of the school. But I didn’t pursue my dream of writing a novel until ten years ago. I was a stay at home mother at the time, and our kids were finally all in school full time. I had a choice of writing or getting a job. I chose writing, and I haven’t stopped. I’m also blessed to have full support from my husband and family. They keep me going.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...Oh boy, each book is special for different reasons, but I’d have to say my favorite is Memory Box Secrets. I love the complexity of the story and subplots and how they all weave together at the end. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to write one like that again.

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

...I was initially published by a small press that is now defunct. The hardest part was making the quick transition from traditionally pubbed to indie pubbed as I was in the middle of the series.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it?
...My upcoming release, Hungry for Home, is the final book in my Coming Home series. It’s about a woman who is mugged by a homeless teen. Instead of pressing charges, the woman and her husband take that teen into their home. I wrote this after I learned of the startling number of homeless teens in my county. Telling this story is one way to increase awareness of this problem.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

After a troubling encounter with a pregnant teen, Sheila Peterson-Brooks hurries from the crisis pregnancy center into the frigid Minnesota winter where she is mugged and left for dead. After a frantic search, Richard, her husband, finds her, and the police quickly nab the mugger …

A hungry, homeless teen.
The brother of the pregnant girl Sheila had just counseled.

The girl pleads for her brother, and Sheila and Richard choose not to press charges. Instead, they open their home to the boy, a move that could cost them their possessions, and their hearts.

And, in the process, teach them the true meaning of home.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...A favorite character would have to be Austin Lang, the homeless teen. In order to write him authentically, I had to really get into his skin, know why he was homeless, how he survived, what, if anything, he planned to do about his situation. He taught me so much about seeing life from his different perspective, one I thankfully have never experienced personally.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...That a home isn’t held together by four walls, but by the faith and love of the family living within the home.

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...Most of my stories are centered around modern-day issues. It’s my goal to see those issues from all perspectives, and write a well-rounded story around the characters.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I love to write stories that resonate with the reader and make them think and see life from a new perspective.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Write what’s on your heart and your passion will show through your stories.


When you get an idea for a novel, what is the first thing that you do?
...I mull it over in my head for days, weeks, sometimes months, trying to see if the story will grow or fall flat. If I can get the first chapters worked out in my head, and know where I want to end up, then I’ll write the story.

September is Classical Music Month (who knew?). In keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel?
...I didn’t know that, and I love classical music! No doubt my favorite character is Jane Eyre. She’s an atypical heroine, which I love.

What is your favorite fall snack food?
...It’s probably cliché, but I do love candy corn, especially the corn that’s chocolate on the bottom. :)


Thank you so much for being on the blog Brenda. I am with you on thinking about new story ideas. Sometimes I get so distracted thinking about a plot! Great choice on your favorite charter - I really love that novel as well. Readers, make sure you leave a comment for Brenda to enter to win an ebook copy of Hungry for Home!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Winners & A Special Request

Remember my new, totally awesome newsletter? Yeah, the one that is so entertaining all of the cool kids are signing up for it? don't? Well, let me remind you!

I've got a semi-monthly newsletter that I'll be sending out with lots of fun stories, insider info about my writing, and lots of funny pictures...because you know that's one of the best parts about newsletters! If you haven't had a chance to sing probably should :D

Well, I did a giveaway in association with the birth of this newsletter-baby and I've got 5 fantastic winners! Yes...I did decide to add another winner for funzies (as I am known to say). Thanks so much for everyone who took the time to enter. I won't get these out to you until I get back from the conference...sorry!But you will get them ;)

$15 Starbucks
Jan Elder
$15 Amazon 
Josh Hardt
Natalie Walters
Oregon Fun
Cathrine Bonham
California Gold*
Trixi Oberembt
*Nope, it's not real gold ;) 

Fall Starter Kit Winner
Last week I had Lori Bates Wright on the blog talking about one of my favorite subjects: FALL! She graciously offered an awesome giveaway (what I called the perfect "fall starter kit") and I'm happy to announce the winner...

Sally Davidson

Congrats Sally! Contact me so Lori can get you this amazing gift just in time for fall!
My Request

Lastly, I've posted an abbreviated version of this on my Facebook page, but I wanted to leave it here as well. I'd like to ask you, my dear readers, something personal.

I head off for the ACFW Conference tomorrow morning (bright and early) and, though I am completely thrilled and excited, I'm also very tired at this point. I've been working very hard these last few weeks to catch up on photography clients which as left me little time outside of that. I know that the Lord can (and will) sustain me, and for that I am so grateful, but I also know I could use the extra prayers ;-)

I'm really looking forward to meeting new friends, to strengthening the friendships I've already made, and to learning more about the writing craft through the workshops and sessions. I'm also going to be meeting with editors *insert squeal of excitement & nerves* and more than anything I want all of this to be covered in prayer. I write for the Lord as much as I write for myself. Everything that I pen (um...well, type I guess) is for His glory alone. I know He's moving and working through and for me, and I can't wait to share what He does at this year's conference!

Thank YOU, my dear readers. You are why I write--yep, YOU! Make sure to check back next week for an update about how things go and, if you're brave...join me on my Facebook, twitter, and Instagram platforms to follow me through the ACFW Conference. I'll try my best to post the most ridiculous photos as well as me totally fan-girling with authors that I meet :)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Waters of Separation by Carol McClain | New Novel News

Waters of Separation
by Carol McClain

September 11, 2015
Desert Breeze Publishing 
Purchase: Waters of Separation

Africa’s secrets resurrect the despair physician assistant Anna Haas buried in America. Her pregnancy and the discovery of boys bound by slavery in the cacao sector of the Côte d’Ivoire revive her childhood guilt. Her mother’s suicide claimed the lives of the two small sisters Anna had vowed to protect.

Her failure to save them was unforgivable.

It will not happen with these boys.

Her interference prompts a corrupt government to threaten the thriving mission and the lives of Anna and her friends. Her action also threaten her marriage.

However, doing nothing will destroy her.

The story weaves from past to present and across two continents as Anna fights for love, faith and redemption.

Get to know Carol...

What actor/actress would play you if your life was a movie? Without a doubt, Meryl Streep would play my life. First of all, she’s mature. I know I resemble a blonde Scarlett Johansson, but I believe she’d strain credibility. Furthermore, she’s not as versatile as Streep. If anything defines me, it’s versatility (no, not being jumbled or fragmented. I like more things than there is time to pursue it).

One of my daughter’s students once said I looked like Streep. Granted, this young man had autism, but I like Streep’s ability to play anything: a divorcing wife (which sadly had happened to me), a witch (which of course, I’d never be) or a coffee baroness (which sounds good to me and my addiction).

What are the names of your pets? If you don't have any, what would you name your pets? Currently we have two cats which we adopted when we returned from Italy. They are Ciao and Allora. Our Springer spaniel is Callie—on her pedigree papers she’s Calla Lily Sunbird Mac—named after my favorite flower, and our bow-rider boat. The Mac is a derivative of McClain.

Our cat who died a year ago was Mustar (moosh-tar). She was named for the Romanian translation of mustard. I was going on a mission’s trip when I got her and came across the word. My daughter liked it better than Cat-astrophe, so voila. Moosh was named.

My previous dog was Lily Bark named after an Edith Wharton character, Lily Bart in House of Mirth.

Share one pet peeve you have.
I HATE the term: “put a smile on his/her/your face". Where else is someone going to smile?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Robin Patchen {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Robin...

Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, released in April, and its prequel, Chasing Amanda, released in July. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website,

Connect with Robin...

Robin’s Red Pen:
Amazon Author Page:
Purchase: Finding Amanda

Author Interview | Robin Patchen

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I always loved to write, but when I was young, I lacked the confidence to believe I could ever make a living as a writer. I majored in Journalism in college, but then I took a job in Marketing and Public Relations, which seemed more secure (and paid better) than a straight writing position. I quit work to raise kids and then home schooled them, and though I read voraciously during that time, the only writing I did was in my journal. I’d never attempted to write fiction and didn’t believe I’d want to, but I had this story bouncing around in my head, and I thought that if I didn’t put it on paper, it might just drive me mad. So when my husband gave me my first laptop for my fortieth birthday, I decided to write that story down. From December through March, I wrote my first book, a 700+ page epic women’s fiction/romance/suspense novel that will never see the light of day. The book wasn’t good, but it taught me that I was made to write fiction, and I’ve been writing stories ever since.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written?

...I was sitting in church when the pastor asked a question that shook me—“What are you unwilling to sacrifice for Christ.” I’m sure the rest of the sermon was good, but I wouldn’t know, because my mind went immediately to my answer, which led to an idea. By the time I got in the car that summer morning, I had an entire story plotted and ready to write. It was the only time I’ve ever felt the Lord gave me a story. I wrote the book last year, and it’s about a woman who reaches out to her creepy neighbor because, as she tells her boyfriend, “God loves creepy people, too.” Unfortunately, the creepy neighbor happens to be a rapist. It’s the most unique thing I’ve ever written, and I think the story is beautiful. My agent wasn’t as impressed, unfortunately, and it’s outside of my brand—I’ve been focusing on suspense lately. So it’s still on my computer, but someday, I’m going to publish it.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book . Why did you write it?  
...My first full-length novel, Finding Amanda, released in April. It’s about a woman who writes a memoir about the psychiatrist she had an affair with when she was a teenager. She plans to publish it—until the psychiatrist finds out. It’s also a love story about a married couple struggling to cope with their own sins and shame. 

...I love this story, because I believe there are a lot of women who have things in their past they aren’t proud of, situations and choices they regret. This story is about facing those accusing memories and realizing that we who are in Christ are valuable and worthy and forgiven. So it’s a story about overcoming shame, but it’s also a fun, fast-paced suspense. I also released a novella this summer, Chasing Amanda, which tells the story of how Amanda and Mark, the protagonists from Finding Amanda, meet. He’s a marine about to ship out to Afghanistan, and she’s a college student and the target of a stalker. I loved writing the novella, because I had already fallen in love with Mark and Amanda, and it was so fun to write them as younger versions of themselves as they walk through their romance.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Mark, because he’s such a flawed but loving man. He has no idea how to convince his wife he loves her, but he tries so hard. I feel like a lot of our husbands are just like Mark. The feelings are there, but they can’t figure out how to show them.

Click Here

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I believe that, first and foremost, stories are meant to entertain. My goal is to write stories my readers can’t put down, characters they’ll remember long after they’ve reached the end. If my readers learn a little something or find some encouragement for their lives, too, all the better. But first, I want to entertain.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Most great writers read all the time. They read in their genres and outside, they read Christian and general market books. They read fiction and non-fiction. And they make a point of reading great books. Great writers skip the mediocre—that’s not who they want to emulate. They read the best.

...And great writers write. Often. Maybe not every day, but more than once or twice a month. Great writers practice writing. The best writers practice all the time.


Thanks so much for being my guest Robin! I love that your favorite work is yet unpublished. That may sound strange, but I think that's really neat. You love it no matter what happens to it :) I also love your advice - reading is the best way (in addition to writing)! Thanks again and I look forward to hearing about more books from you :)

Almost forgot our WINNER from last week! 

I had the lovely Caryl McAdoo on the blog sharing about her book "Daughters of the Heart". Our winner is...

Kim Amundsen

Congrats Kim! Contact me via the form to the right and we'll get you your book :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Feeling Fall by Lori Bates Wright | Guest Post + GIVEAWAY

Two things you should know about me:

First of all, I absolutely love (cartwheels through the pumpkin patch ADORE!) autumn.

Secondly, I am first and foremost a romance writer so I obviously I like prose that makes me feel something. Emotional elements are vital to taking a story beyond good to flat out fabulous.

So combining the two makes perfect sense. What better inspiration to practice multi-sensory writing than from a glorious autumn backdrop? Fall can be a treasure trove of sensory prompts. By the time September finally arrives after another scorching summer of Texas heat, I am more than ready to break out the big plastic tub of fall decorations and delight in each cherished piece. One by one each item evokes a memory, transports me to another time when through sight, smell, touch, taste or sound and I am stirred to feel what fall means to me. Good writing can accomplish much the same thing by using words to evoke a certain tone , setting the stage for what you want your reader to feel.
“When a story, even when crafted with beautiful sentences, fails to have the all-important quality of ‘emotional resonance,’ often the writer has rendered only the surface, the external shell, the things that happen— the plot —without dipping beneath that surface of story events.”

~ Q. Lindsey Barrett
How do you craft a story to engage the heart as well as the head? You make your reader feel what your characters feel through descriptive imagery using all five senses. Beyond saying your forlorn protagonist is sad, show her staring off into a variegated sunset while the lonesome call of a violin plays from somewhere behind her. You get the picture. Good descriptive phrasing can make the difference between flat, one-dimensional writing to prose that comes off the page and lingers in your mind long after you’ve turned the page.
“We read textbooks to comprehend; we read literature to feel.”

~ Jessica Morrell, Master Writing Teacher and Editor
With the crisp fall breeze comes the promise of all things cozy and familiar. I love the vibrant colors, the smell of wood burning in the fireplace, and the sounds of a high school football game. Even better if I’m wrapped in a warm hoody and enjoying hot cocoa in a thermos. What other fall-ish things prompt your descriptive imagination?

Here are a few suggestions to get you going: 

  • Amazing Colors – leaves start their gorgeous transformation
  • Huge, lit-up ferris wheel at the State Fair
  • Days get shorter and the big Harvest Moon makes an appearance
  • Perfect rows of an apple orchard Pumpkins everywhere! 

by Sam Wheeler

  • The crackle of leaves beneath your boots
  • In Texas it’s cricket season – not the kind you play with a ball and mallet – the chirping kind that can get so loud by dusk it’s hard to hear yourself think. (would be great backdrop for a suspense scene)
  • It’s also pecan season here, so the sound of shelling pecans is definitely an autumn staple
  • Falling asleep to the sound of rain (its been 41 days without rain as I write this in August. Sooooo ready for this one!)
  • The smell of smoke from fireplaces
  • Downy Fabric Softener– Yes, I use Downy in the rinse cycle mostly in cooler weather months for sweaters, blankets, scarves, flannel sheets, etc. So, Downy smells like fall to me.
  • Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla bean, ginger, and clove
  • Thanksgiving - oh my goodness! Where to start?
  • It’s harvest time at Farmer’s market, so root vegetables are in abundance
  • Chili and stews
  • Apple, pecan and pumpkin pies
  • Carmel apples
From Flicker by Browniesfordinner

  • Warm cozy sweaters
  • Hot pumpkin-spiced latte
  • The crisp breeze though an open window
  • Cuddling

Helping your reader identify with your characters is what will cause your reader to care about your characters and ultimately care about what happens to them. You don’t need to use all five sensory prompts at once, just layer in a couple at a time to make your work come alive. And in the mean time, enjoy the magnificent sights, sounds, tastes and smells of fall!

How does fall inspire you? 

Readers, Em here: Make sure you leave a comment for Lori to enter for a chance to win this amazing giveaway. Lori has picked out some amazing things of fall here!!! Can't wait to see who wins the lovely "fall starter kit" as I'm affectionately calling it. Thanks again for being on the blog Lori!

Lori Bates Wright has been writing for over 20 years. She spent 7 years as a reviewer for The Literary Times and Romantic Times magazines. She's written several allegorical Bible studies, is on the road to seeing one of her three historical romance novels in print. As Women’s Ministry Director for her church, she enjoys speaking and interacting with women of all ages.

Raised in New Mexico, Lori now lives in Texas with her husband of 35 years. They have two grown children and four adorable grand boys.
Find Lori on Twitter @ladylbw