Friday, January 29, 2016

A little bit of writer fun

If you're following me on social media (which I hope you are) then you may have seen some of these above items shared recently on my FB pages and Instagram accounts. You may be wondering though...what is all this? 

I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to my Society6 shop! I've titled it E.A. Creative (kind of similar to my "E.A. Creative Photography" business name) and in it you will find all sorts of things!

My hope for the shop is to combine two things I'm passionate about: reading and exploring.

What that looks like is fun prints about reading and adventuring into nature, prints of my travels, and fun sayings that I hope will resonate with other reader/explorers out there.

I know it's a slightly "strange mixture" because there are a lot of shops out there that focus on one or the other: all things reading or all things nature. I aim to be a hybrid.

I have lots of plans for the future, but for now you can find the products like you see here in this post as well as others.

I'd invite you to take a look

Visit my shop {click here}

And to join my shopstagram (ha, made that up). The Instagram account for my shop:

Create. Explore. Read.

Join the fun by using the hashtag: #createexploreread I can't wait to start sharing more images of items from the shop. I've gotten a few myself and love them!

Readers: What's your favorite thing: reading or exploring? Or both?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Honest Thoughts: What I really think about things

I realize by nature of me saying that these are "honest" posts may but into question what the rest of my posts are. Am I not being honest there?

No. Well, maybe?

Ha! Just kidding. But really, I am not lying in the other posts, but I've decided to dedicate my Thursday slots to a new series this year (tweet this) where I plan to be honest about certain topics. They may be difficult things I've come across, lies I want to dispel, or maybe just things I've thought about and want to share with you all. I guess it's just a way for me to share my opinions about things with you, my dear readers.

I know I don't need a specific "day" to do this, but it's actually challenging me to think about topics related to my themes for the month and delve a little deeper into what I think. A challenge is good--right? I'm excited, and maybe a little terrified, about what may come out...but you all have gotten to know me (if you've spent any time on this blog) and I think you'll be able to handle it.

The best part with these posts is that I'll be able to share more of me with you. Don't get me wrong, I love sharing about my favorite authors and new writers, but I also want you to get to know who I am and what I'm passionate about. Really, it's the whole reason behind this blog! (Oh there's one other way you can do that here!)

So, I invite you to come back next week when I "officially" kick off this new Honest Thoughts thing and share about something near and dear to my heart...romance. Um, you may be surprised at what I say ;-)

Tweet this
Also, if you didn't know, there are LOTS of ways you can connect with me during the week! I am crazy a little enthusiastic about social media *coughs* and love hearing from you all! Here are some ways we can meet up:

My author Facebook page - I share all my posts there (including guests posts), funny things, silly things, giveaways, and more!
(connect with me on Facebook)

My Twitter feed - Twitter is an interesting beast to me...but I do have fun connecting on it. I share random stuff there as well as giveaway reminders etc.
(connect with me on Twitter)

Instagram - Gaaahhhh!!! I LOVE Instagram. Maybe the photographer in me, but it's true. So, I've got 2 accounts (I know...I'm that girl). But one is for pretty much all things and the other is strictly for nature and reading and showing off my Society6 stuff!
(connect with me on Instagram or @eahendryx)
(connect with me about books and exploring on Instagram or @createexploreread)

Pinterest - *Sigh* I spend too much time on here...sometimes. I don't allow myself to go Pinterest-crazy often, but when I out world!
(connect with me on Pinterest)

Goodreads - Probably my second favorite thing next to coffee in the morning is hoping on Goodreads and just looking at lists and lists of books! And, maybe this is weird, but I LOVE updating my "pages read" status...I just feel so accomplished! Plus I've got a fun group there too - you should probably join ;)
(connect with me on Goodreads)
(join my super-fun Goodreads group)

See you around - reach out to me because I WILL say hello ;)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Vannetta Chapman {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Vannetta...

Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace of Albion, Pennsylvania. Her novel, Falling to Pieces, was a 2012 ACFW Carol Award winner for best mystery. Chapman was a teacher for 15 years and currently writes full time. She lives in the Texas hill country with her husband.

How to connect with Vannetta...

Purchase: Joshua's Misson 

Get to know about Vannetta's new release: Joshua’s Mission

Thank you for allowing me to visit your blog today. I’m very excited about the release of Joshua’s Mission (2-1-16), which is book 2 in my Plain & Simple Miracles series. I’d like to share with you the “story behind the story” – or what inspired me to write this book.

Emilie here: Happy to have you! Readers, stop by again on Monday for a New Novel News look into Joshua's Mission as well.

Cornerstones of our faith. My husband is probably my biggest critic—which is a good thing. He keeps me on my toes, professionally speaking. He’s also very supportive in every way. One night we were talking about an upcoming proposal that was due to my publisher, and he challenged me to think of a deeper plot line—something that would touch on the cornerstones of our faith. Wow! That sent me back to the drawing board. I started wondering what makes us, as Christians, different from everyone else? Certainly our faith in Christ. But how do we show that?

The answer I came up with was …

1. We believe in miracles. I did a poll on my Facebook page. We had an outstanding response and the vast majority (close to 98%) said they do believe in miracles—not that they always happen when we pray for one, but that God does still intercede in the lives of believers. That idea gave birth to Anna’s Healing, book 1 in this series.

2. We participate in missions. As believers, sometimes we send donations, sometimes we pray, and sometimes we actually go and participate in missions. We don’t do this for an award or because our photo might end up in the paper. We do it because God told us “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” He told us that when we do this to the least of those around us, we do this to Him. This commandment to care for others, led me to write Joshua’s Mission, book 2 in this series.

3. We care for orphans. We’re also commanded to “look after orphans and widows in their distress.” In our society, it’s sometimes easy to overlook those in need and to assume that some governmental agency will take care of them. Sarah’s Orphans, book 3 in this series, addresses the plight of the orphans in our day and age, and how we can make a difference in their lives. This book releases in December of this year.

There are certainly other ways that we live out our faith. Miracles, missions, and orphans are three that stood out to me, and they certainly inspired me to write the three books in the Plain & Simple Miracles series. I hope that you will pick up a copy of Joshua’s Mission and learn about the wonderful work that churches are doing across our nation and abroad to help those in need.

Now it’s your turn. What do you consider to be a cornerstone of our faith? And would you like to see a book written about it? Or would you like to write one yourself? I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you so much for being my guest today Vannetta and for bringing something a little new to the blog. I loved reading the story behind Joshua's Mission! I also would love to hear the answers to your questions above. What do you think, readers?

I had the lovely Johnnie Alexander on the blog last week and she graciously offered a copy of her new release Where She Belongs. Our winner is...

Kathryn Voss

Congrats :D

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Honest Thoughts: Blogging - The struggle is real

Can I get an amen? 

Here at Thinking Thoughts I celebrate all the good things like books, reading, coffee (ok, tea too), awesome authors, and writing. As I've been thinking about the purpose behind...well, lots of things but especially things like this blog and my writing, I've come to some interesting conclusions. Um, maybe conclusions is too much of a word. I've started to think about things. Ironic, I know, due to the title of the blog.

One thing that got me thinking about this is the fact that, per a conversation I had with an industry professional back at the ACFW conference last year, the title Thinking Thoughts isn't a "good" title. My younger, start-up blogger self from 2009 cried a little at this thinking, "'s my blog! My baby!" Though the slightly-more-marketing-savvy-blogger-self half halfheartedly agreed with the sentiment.

I've come a long way since my first blog post not only in word count but in understanding of what a blog is and should be. I am by no means an expert, but I've come into a rhythm with myself on what it looks like to write Thinking Thoughts. I've devoted it to readers, writers, and Jesus followers (as I like to say) but is that enough?

Following my super fun and productive weekend in Florida with fellow writer friend Natalie (this is her modeling the "Dream. Write. Inspire." bag from my Society6 shop), I walked away with one major thought that she so graciously pointed out.


Did you just think: Um, what? Well, that's understandable but let me explain. As we talked about marketing, the publishing industry, our books, other people's books, and sooo much more, we started to narrow down the focus for each of us. It's easy to say you want to make an impact on others, but it's another thing to figure out what that impact will bring.

We each started to think through this question: What do I bring to the table?

It's one thing to answer that question for yourself but another to see what other people say about that for you. I so value Natalie's opinions because she nailed down something that had been lightly hidden beneath the surface of all the things I like to do or participate in. It's passion. I'm likely going to butcher the way she explained it to me, but I needed to put it in my own words so that I could grasp it.

I thrive on the passion. I've blogged about it often (like here, and here) but the thing I keep coming back to is how much my own passions--as well as that of others--inspire me. It pushes me to create, to explore, to understand. If I meet you in person I will likely ask you what you do. Here in DC that is a common thing because a lot of people place importance on their day jobs. I don't ask because of that, but because I want to see how people describe what they do. There is a stark contrast between people who describe what they do in a monotone and those who launch into an all-inclusive depiction of their jobs because they love them. Those are the people I love to listen to.

In thinking about this blog (and the numerous attempts I've made to hone in on something specific) I see why I have trouble. I'm not a person who is only passionate about writing. I'm not just passionate about reading. I'm not only interested in photography. It's just...not possible for me. Not in my DNA. I'm not sure, but I do know that I am consumed by more than that. (This is likely why it's hard for me to pick one genre to write in...but that's a whole different blog post).

This passion shows itself in my writing, in my photos, in my social media posts, you name it. It's all inclusive. That passion is the thread that binds me together. That makes up who Emilie Hendryx is.

Ah, wonderful, I think. Now what?

Honestly? I'm not sure. I know (mentally) about the smart steps to branding yourself. I understand the concept of growing an audience and...blah blah blah (um, can I say that?). But I get frustrated with convention. Yes, Thinking Thoughts isn't the most descriptive name and it will likely change at one point, but there are a few things that I realize I'm committed to and passionate about:
  • I'm passionate about sharing about great books and authors here on the blog and through my reviews.
  • I'm passionate about books with great story lines--no matter the genre. 
  • I'm passionate about sharing what I'm learning about writerly things like marketing, design, writing, and the like.
  • I'm passionate about reading (oh soooo much reading).
  • I'm passionate about Jesus and how He is at the center of my life. 
  • I'm passionate about being REAL with everyone. 
There isn't a conclusion to this post. It's a lot of thoughts (again, likely a no-no) meandering throughout, but it's refreshing to admit that I enjoy a lot of creative things. I'll leave you with this: Hello, my name is Emilie and I struggle with being too passionate about creativity. ;-)

What about you? What are YOU passionate about? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Reluctant Melody by Sandra Ardoin | New Novel News

A Reluctant Melody
by Sandra Ardoin

January 11, 2015
Heritage Beacon Fiction (imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
Purchase: A Reluctant Melody

Kit's alcoholism ruined more lives than his own. Now sober, he wants to make amends by opening a mission for drunkards. But the most suitable location belongs to Joanna Cranston Stewart, a love from his sordid past.

Friends of her late husband blame Joanna for his death. Although eager to flee from the rumors, she will let the walls of her rundown property crumble around her before she allows Kit back into her life.

When a blackmailer threatens to reveal Joanna’s long-held secret, will she risk losing everything she owns to Kit … including her heart?

Get to know Sandra...

What's one chore you hate doing?
Cleaning bathrooms. I mean, really, who likes to do that? I especially hate cleaning the shower. The good part: the chore involves my favorite country music!

If your book became a movie, who would you cast for your main characters?
Take a look at my Pinterest board for A Reluctant Melody. You’ll find I’ve imagined Kristen Bell as Joanna Stewart and Chris Pine as Christopher “Kit” Barnes. The latter is appropriate considering the name, don’t you think?

Would you rather go to the future or go to the past?
I’d definitely hop inside that time machine and head for the past. Frankly, I’m not too keen on where the world is headed right now, so I’m not sure I want to see the future. But I’d love to go to the second half of the 19th century to get a first-hand look at the time period in which I write.

Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, antique store prowler. Visit her at and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Join her email community to receive occasional updates and a free short story.


The winner from last week's giveaway from JC Morrows is...

Leslie McKee

Thanks for entering!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snowzilla 2016 | Life in Washington, DC

Helloooooooo from DC!

Yes, we are in the middle of a blizzard - #snowzilla as everyone is calling it. I took a lovely walk this morning through the semi-plowed streets to hit up the U.S. Capitol and see the snow-covered sights. It was great, but very windy. I think my cheeks got a little wind burned...but I'd say it was worth it.

Then I came home and shoveled out my car...let me just say that was painful and exhausting but hopefully worth it. My thought was, dig it out now while there's about 1 1/2 feet and then dig it out again after the rest of the storm. Either way, I won't be driving anywhere anytime soon.

As it is now, we've still got snow billowing around in icy blasts of wind. Looked as if we'd accumulated about 5 inches in two hours so that was surprising. I'm interested to see how much it all comes down to by the end of the storm.

Well, just wanted to give a little update to you all since I get to sit in the warmth of my home and enjoy the blustery, blizzardly day :) For more images of my travels around the snow city check out my Facebook page and Instagram. I'd love to connect with you there!

I'm currently reading The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker as well. Be on the look out for a review coming soon!

If you're in the storm as well - stay safe and warm!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Johnnie Alexander {Writer Wednesday} + Giveaway

A little bit about Johnnie...

Johnnie Alexander writes inspiring stories that linger in the heart. Her newest novel, Where She Belongs (Misty Willow Series #1), is her first contemporary romance. She has won several awards including the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest’s Historical Category. A graduate of Rollins College (Orlando) with a Master of Liberal Studies degree, Johnnie treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, and stacks of books. She lives in the Memphis area with a small herd of alpacas and Rugby, the princely papillon who trees raccoons.

How to connect with Johnnie....;
Facebook Profile
Facebook Author Page  
Amazon Author Page

Get to know Johnnie Alexander

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself and writing...

An interviewer asked me what I would do if I couldn’t write. The question paralyzed me. Other than my relationship with God, writing is my why. (tweet this) I write about the themes that tug at my heart, especially the importance of creating cherished memories with those we love. My hope is that my stories and characters linger in the reader’s heart long after she closes the book.

Emilie here: And what better reason? Love it!

Your Writing 

Tell us a little bit about your book...

This story fulfills a dream my protagonist and I share—to restore a childhood home where happy memories were made. Since circumstances never allowed me to make that dream come true, I created a character who could. But the cost for her was steep, and along the way she found a different dream.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
Material legacies matter—heirlooms, keepsakes, cherished belongings—but our spiritual legacies, because they have eternal value, matter so much more.

What’s the theme? How did you come up with it?
Both main characters, Shelby and AJ, have been greatly influenced by their relationships with their grandparents. Their “present” is affected by decisions and events that occurred before they were born. Our actions influence and affect future generations in ways we may never imagine. (tweet this) I think it’s important to keep truth in mind.

Though my own decisions haven’t always been the best, I love creating memories for my children and grandchildren. Part of that is just being joyful in day-to-day life. This is what I hope they remember about me.

Was there a passage of scripture you came across or used while writing it that you’d like to share?
Years ago, God blessed me with two similar passages that have encouraged me in my spiritual journey:
He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me (Psalm 18:19);
I will be glad and rejoice in your love . . . You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place” (Psalms 31:7-8).
In the novel, Shelby is seeking the “spacious place” God has provided for her and her family.

Did you get to do any fun research for the book?
The story is set where I grew up. It’s a familiar place and a mostly happy place. But I didn’t pay much attention to seasonal things such as exactly when certain crops were grown or flowers bloomed. Since I don’t live there anymore, Facebook was my research friend. I’d ask a question, such as “what time is it getting dark in central Ohio these days?” and I’d get answers. I appreciate everyone who made suggestions, provided photographs, and cheered me on.

We're your characters easy to pin down or did you discover them along the way as you wrote the book?
This may sound strange, but it’s true: my heroine was reticent. Difficult. Hard to understand. Until I changed her name. After that, we got along just fine.

What's the most random thing you had to Google for the story?
It wasn’t a Google search, but I asked Facebook friends what ice cream was best when going through a bad break-up. People really engaged with that one, and it was fun to see all the answers.

Emilie here: Ok, so I have to know! Readers - what is the best break-up ice cream? (tweet this)


Let's talk about your writing life...

What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”?
My advice is to join a critique group for the fellowship and learning-by-doing aspect (tweet this), enter contests for the unbiased feedback, and attend writers conferences for the networking and education. Pray for guidance, wisdom, protection, and opportunity.

Are you a Panster or Plotter?
I think of myself as an intuitive writer, so yes, I’m mostly a pantser. *smile*

What does your writing process look like?
My writing process is as much a work-in-progress as the manuscript I’m now writing. Both Where She Belongs and Where Treasure Hides started out as NaNoWriMo novels, and both went through extensive revisions before they were contracted. The last novel I finished is the first one that was contracted before it was written. That was scary! Now I’m facing that again. Still scary!

I realized, though, that I tend to write in thirds. This isn’t exact, but I write about 1/3 of the story then start over. This time I write about 2/3 of the story then start over again. The third time through, I write till the end. This is reminiscent of writing for grad school—I spent the majority of my time getting the opening paragraphs or pages as solid as possible before finishing the assigned paper. I’m doing the same thing with my story—establishing a solid foundation before moving forward. I’m intentionally using this plan to write my current novel.

Emilie here: What a great idea! I think I do this to an extent - but not intentionally...yet! 

How long did it take to publish your first book?
The short answer is about ten years though I am a published poet and essayist. I fell in love with writing fiction the first time I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2003. Where She Belongs began as my NaNoWriMo novel for 2005. I pitched it at conferences, learned more about craft, and wrote two new novels. That second new novel, Where Treasure Hides, became my debut novel and was published as an ebook in 2013, in Dutch in 2014, and as a print copy in 2015. A Norwegian edition is in the future.

What did you learn along the path to publishing that you’d care to share as encouragement?
Other writers can become your best friends. (tweet this) The Christian writing community is made up of amazing people who encourage, support, and truly care for one another. These relationships are priceless.

Emilie here: I fully agree!

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters?
Sometimes it begins with a heart-tug—like the love of a childhood home or the juxtaposition of saving art and saving children during World War II. And sometimes the characters and I find the heart-tug of their story together.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
Finish a novel. Whether you write a fast and messy draft—which is great for getting words on the screen—or take a more methodical approach, finish the manuscript. You’ll learn so much about moving characters from one place to another, nuances of gestures, character motivation and development, being sure each scene actually has a purpose, and more by writing a full-length novel. This doesn’t mean you’ll end up with publishable manuscript. You probably won’t.

But remember this: you can’t revise a sentence you haven’t written. (tweet this)

And one more tip: so often when I get stuck, the answer is in the story. (tweet this) Sometimes I take a walk or fold laundry or wash my hair before I realize it. But there it is—something I had written, perhaps without giving it a lot of thought—that turns out to be vital. Get the words down. Learn as you go. Then edit, revise, polish.

Emilie here: Such great advice here, Johnnie!
Are there any books or resources you could recommend to younger writers looking to grow in their craft?
Two of my favorite books are Story Trumps Structure by Steven James and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King.

How do you grow in your writing craft?
I believe in lifelong learning so I read books about writing, attend conferences, and critique/edit for others. It also helps to read well-written novels.

What’s one thing you are looking forward to in the New Year?
I am very excited about 2016. Where She Belongs, the first book in the Misty Willow Series, just released. My first novella, The Healing Promise, releases in the Courageous Brides Collection in July. And When Love Arrives, Misty Willow Series Book #2, releases in September. To have three stories release in one year is beyond anything I ever dreamed possible.

What are your writing goals for this New Year? 
I’m working on the third Misty Willow Series story which releases in May 2017. I plan to create another multi-series proposal for my publisher, and I’d love to write more novellas.

What are you currently reading?
This is a crazy list. I’m reading The RVer’s Bible because I have this crazy idea to live in an RV (and travel) someday. I’m also reading:
This weekend I’ll be curling up with Patricia Bradley’s latest manuscript. She’s my critique partner so I get to read her stories before they’re printed. (So fun!)

Thanks so much for having me as your guest, Emilie. I enjoyed your questions and really appreciate you!

Emilie here: You're welcome, Johnnie. Loved having you as my guest! Such great advice and encouragement here. 



 The winner of Potluck by Catherine Stuart is: 

Rebecca Bell

Congrats Rebecca!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Merchant of Alyss by Thomas Locke | RE:View

A fantasy world vibrant with imagination, deep magic, and characters you will cheer for.

I really enjoyed Merchant of Alyss! As Thomas Locke's second novel in the Legends of the Realm series, he follows the solid foundation laid in Emissary (book one) and thrills his readers with yet another fantastical tale of magic, quests, and danger.

We see Hyam, the main character, moving on in the aftermath of his heroic sacrifice from the end book one. He's touted as a hero everywhere he goes in Falmouth, yet he's still the burdened, slightly enigmatic character from Emissary. As I noticed in the first book, Hyam isn't (to me at least) an overtly emotional character. Through events I won't mention here (no spoilers my friends) I expect that he should be more emotional than he is, and yet his stoic, burdened nature doesn't bother me. It allows for the plot and supporting characters to take precedence which suits the genre well.

I love the elements of magic and lore that Locke incorporates in this second book and felt that Hyam's quests unfolded just as I would expect from a fantasy, yet not in an "expected" way. The pull toward the end of the story was strong, the battles just as epic (if not more so) as book one, and the many moving parts and colorful character groups created a seamless story world worthy of Tolkien. I also enjoyed Locke's descriptive writing which allowed me to truly visualize everything that was happening. There is one portion (a character really) of the story I'm not quite convinced on (again, no spoilers) but I have faith that Locke will bring it around in book three.

If you enjoy fantasy of any kind you will love this book. I would recommend reading Emissary first, only for the fact that the story will likely make a lot more sense to you and will, in turn, be more satisfying. I'm already looking forward to book three and what Hyam will accompolish there.

...Oh, and of course, the cover is spectacular. Almost as good as the cover for Emissary (in my opinion).

Rating: 4.5*
Purchase: Merchant of Alyss (Legends of the Realm #2)
Purchase: Emissary (Legends of the Realm #1)
See my review of Emissary 

Book Description
(from Thomas's website)
Life for Hyam is bittersweet. Admired by the citizens of Falmouth for his heroic rescue mission, he cherishes these peaceful days with Joelle by his side. Yet grief over the loss of his magical skills during the great Battle of Emporis threatens to engulf him. Sometimes he even wishes he had never known magic at all.

When Hyam comes into possession of an ancient Milantian scroll, he is thrilled to feel the surge of power that courses through him whenever he touches it. But what he discerns in the text could mean war. He embarks upon another journey to determine its true meaning and forestall any attack. But as Hyam is seeking answers, he is unaware that the merchant of Alyss is seeking him…
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, January 18, 2016

Colleen Coble & JC Morrows | New Novel News

Mermaid Moon
by Colleen Coble

January 12, 2015
Thomas Nelson
Purchase: Mermaid Moon

Mallory’s mother died fifteen years ago. But her father’s last words on the phone were unmistakable: “Find . . . mother.”

Shame and confusion have kept Mallory Davis from her home for the last fifteen years, but when her dad mysteriously dies on his mail boat route, she doesn’t have any choice but to go back to Mermaid Point. Mallory believes her father was murdered and childhood sweetheart Kevin O’Connor, game warden in Downeast Maine, confirms her suspicions. But Kevin is wary of helping Mallory in her search. She broke his heart—and left—without a word, years ago.

When Mallory begins receiving threats on her own life—and her beloved teenage daughter, Haylie—their search intensifies. There’s a tangled web within the supposed murder, and it involves much more than what meets the eye.

As answers begin to fall into place, Mallory realizes her search is about more than finding her father’s killer—it is also about finding herself again . . . and possibly about healing what was broken so long ago with Kevin. She just has to stay alive long enough to put all the pieces together.

Get to know Colleen...

What's your favorite chore? 
Would you believe I love to cook? It’s kind of a newfound love I discovered when I started eating healthy. Now I love trying new recipes.

Would you rather go to the future or go to the past? 
Shh, don’t let this out, but I love the past. I cut my writing teeth on prairie romance, and I still love the occasional foray into historical realm. I’m particularly fond of the early 1900s, and my Mercy Falls series is set during that time. Downton Abbey has fed that love of the past!

What’s one thing you must have/do in the morning?
Coffee! I’m a total coffee nut, but it must be really excellent coffee, preferably roasted on a Dietrich roaster which brings out the full flavor of the bean and is gentler on the stomach. I particularly love it blended with MCT oil and butter. :)

A Treacherous Decision
JC Morrows

December 29, 2015
S&G Publishing
Purchase: A Treacherous Decision

Kayden’s mission should have been simple — she was sent to kill the prince . . . not to fall in love with him.

Within the palace walls, Kayden has discovered that things are not as she expected. Is there more to the royal family, or . . . is there a more sinister depth to Drey’s mission?

Dvarius thought his mind was made up — but will he have the resolve to see it through?

Between attacks from outside the palace — and within, will the Prince live long enough to choose his Queen?

And will Kayden choose to follow her head . . . or her heart — knowing that her decision could very well make her a target as well!

Get to know JC...

Favorite season? 

Would you rather go to the future or go to the past? 
Honestly, I think I would rather go to the past... going to the future seems far too risky. There's no way to know what you would be walking into.

What’s one thing you must have/do in the morning? 
COFFEE! I must have coffee in the morning!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

12 Books, 12 Winners

Hello from Florida! 

I'm taking a quick break to announce the winners from my 12 book giveaway. I know you've all been waiting so here they are...
Happy for the winners
(um, and the beach)

Melanie Backus
Grace Olson
Kara Peck
Beth Schwarzlose
Heather Olsen
Amber Terry
Dana Black
Ralene Burke
Pam Kellogg
Patty Hamblin Rude

Woohoo! Thank you all for joining the giveaway. You'll all be hearing from me soon so I can get your address and send you your surprise books!

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Catherine Stuart {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Catherine...

Catherine Stuart lives in Nebraska and has been a practicing counselor for the past fourteen years. She enjoys reading, writing, travel, and spending time with her family, friends, two shelties, and most of all her six beautiful grandchildren.
How to Connect with Catherine...

Find the book on Goodreads: Potluck: A Sleepy Haven Mystery
Purchase: Potluck: A Sleepy Haven Mystery 

Get to know Catherine Stuart

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself and writing...
I always enjoyed hearing stories when I was growing up and loved it when my parents read to us. I was “that girl” in elementary school who thought of her favorite books as “friends.” Over the years I wrote in secret diaries, and then graduated to journals. For many years, as I would think of story ideas I’d write them in notebooks. I don’t mean the digital ones of course, rather the good old cheap, spiral bound notebooks of various colors to capture these ideas. Potluck actually started in one of these notebooks, as I handwrote much of the story. I realize in this day and age that’s hard for many people to believe or understand. I’m not sure I understand this habit myself, except somehow I find comfort in writing the words out. At some point I do become thankful for the computer! I write because I really enjoy it and it’s one of the very few ways I can experience the same type of passion I did as a child. I relate this to the way gymnastics or dance made me feel. I’m long past those years!

Emilie here: I was "that girl" too! And you really can't replace the feeling of writing...though typing is so much easier *sigh*. I love that you're still as passionate about writing now as you were when you were a child!

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book...

“Potluck” was born out of my interest in the idea that while some sins are obvious, others take place in the interior of the heart. I looked at scriptures connected to this and thought about how these deadly sins can easily sneak into a Christian heart.

My grandfather was a minister and I got to hear stories about the church and core group of church ladies. It was fun to create a fictitious group of church women. The ladies in “Potluck” are well-meaning and are growing, yet in every family there are conflicts and squabbles. The little foxes of sins in the heart can go into the henhouse of the church unnoticed and wreak havoc. The title and story involve a potluck supper and a death/possible murder. I wanted to explore the dynamics of the women as they suspect each other. One of the main characters is not a Christian, however is observing what she experiences when she helps her aunt with church events in order to solve the mystery. Her aunt is concerned about the church splitting over the possible murder, so together they attempt to find the truth. I had fun with the title, as most people have been to potluck suppers, so can probably picture the event. The deeper meaning is how luck may not have much of a role in life, although it may get more credit than it deserves. I hope that people can enjoy this on different levels of entertainment as well as relating and finding food for thought.

Do you have a favorite character in the book?
I love all the characters for various reasons, however if I had to choose one of my favorite characters I would pick Aunt Annie, since for me she is true to her values, while being kind of like a comfort food character. I’m also very attached to Renee, as she is on a journey of her own to find contentment and purpose in life.

What is one take away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
I hope that readers will identify with how important and key grace is for everyone, including themselves. If I could name one more, I also hope readers enjoy attempting to solve the mystery!

What was a challenge you faced while writing it?
I learned a lot about technology, while writing it. I found out that my editing skills need sharpened, and that I had to push through parts of the publishing process.

Emilie here: The story sounds like a lot of fun. Can't wait to read it! And I love that the focus (among other things) is grace. Isn't that so necessary in all of our lives? 


Let’s talk about your writing life...

How long did you write before you got published?
I started the story a few years ago, and got to know some of the characters. It became apparent that the season to write it completely was not at that time. Amazingly, I was able to find that notebook and get going again over a year ago. It took me from October 2014 to October 2015 to complete it start to finish including getting published. I chose to go through a self-publishing company that is part of Thomas Nelson Publishing. I went back and forth about going the traditional route, however decided to self-publish and never sent off the manuscript. I had a lot to learn, but when something is a passion you find a way to push through it.

What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”?
I want to offer encouragement to writers who experience the passion of writing, however find the timing is off. It may be necessary to put it on the shelf for a while. When I was able to resume with writing more seriously I was thankful I’d kept what I’d written. It was like returning to old friends, and I enjoyed the process of getting them on their journey.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of the writing process?
My most favorite part of the writing process is the creative expression. I compared it earlier to dance or gymnastics, where you feel connected to it, as if it’s a part of you. My least favorite part of the writing process is editing. I learned how much I don’t know about the mechanical details, which are vital to a good story. I also firmly believe for myself, that editing is not my strength, and it is a whole professional category of its own. In traditional publishing that is taken care of, however an indie writer must find a way to forge through this. I believe it’s crucial that you get a professional if this is not your strength. Even then there will be a few unseen mistakes that slip through. Hopefully your readers will let you know if they see something, however your family probably will tell you. My family has been an amazing support!

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters?
I find inspiration for my characters in everyday life, as well as in memories or even family stories. An example of a family story is one that my grandmother told. The wonderful core group of women were a very important part of the church family, however there’s no perfect family. A story came to mind that she’d shared with me and it seemed to be a perfect fit for my minister and his wife. My grandmother was told of a young woman in the church who had become pregnant out of wedlock. This was in the 1940’s when people were ostracized many times in those situations. My grandmother found the attitude of the ladies group was to judge and gossip about the girl. My wise grandmother decided to ask the ladies if they would give the girl a baby shower. It still moves me to think about how she saw this as an opportunity to reach out to the young woman, as well as the ladies. The ladies’ attitude was transformed and they gave her a wonderful baby-shower in love. My grandmother came up with this idea after praying and asking the Lord for direction. The women grew close to this young woman and her baby as a result. I love my Sleepy Haven church ladies, yet none of them get to be perfect either! Also, I pray before writing, as my faith is an integral part of my life including my writing.

Emilie here: Great advice, Catherine. I think sometimes we're afraid to put something aside until a later time - maybe it's that we need to be working on (or focusing on) something different. I'm with you on the editing though - I somehow have this idea that I wrote it how I wanted it and that's that. But sadly no...that's only the beginning!


What’s one thing you are looking forward to in the New Year?
I look forward to reading!

What are your writing goals for this New Year?
I am planning to complete the next novel in the Sleepy Haven series.

What are you currently reading?
I just finished reading “Lie Down in Green Pastures,” by Debbie Viguie, which was a really fun mystery! I am currently reading “Seven Women,” by Eric Metaxas, which is so interesting and inspiring, and “Give Yourself a Break,” which is wonderful advice, by Kim Fredrickson and look forward to reading “Abednego,” by Jennifer Zartman.

Emilie here: Thanks again, Catherine! Loved the chance to get to know you better!


Terri Wangard was on the blog last week and we now have her winner of Friends and Enemies:
  Katie Morford

Congrats Katie! I'll be in touch :)