Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Michelle Griep {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Michelle...

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. Her latest release is OUT OF THE FRYING PAN, but historical romance is her usual haunt. THE CAPTIVE HEART releases in October.

Connect with Michelle...

Website: or

Purchase: Out of the Frying Pan

Get to know Michelle...

You and Writing

-->I started writing when I first discovered Crayolas and a blank wall. Yeah. My mom wasn’t too happy about that. But I did eventually grow up and now a MacBook Air is my utensil of choice.
I write to figure out the world. As an author, I’m the god of my storyworld and can work out all the what if’s and how come’s in a safe environment . . . for me, that is. It’s never save for my poor characters.

Your Writing

Out of the Frying Pan is a zany romantic mystery.

Here’s a blurb:
Murder in Paradise whips life into a froth for FERN and ZULA HOPKINS. When the retirement center’s chef is found dead, the two ladies get folded in with the case. Their zany attempts to track down the killer land them in hot water with Detective JARED FLYNN. Should he be concerned about their safety—or the criminal’s?

But there are deadly ingredients none of them expect. Drugs. Extortion. International cartels. And worst of all…broken hearts, especially when the Hopkins sisters’ niece KC arrives on the scene.

Life at Sunset Paradise Retirement Village will never be the same.
Why are you/did you write it?
My writerly buddy, Kelly Klepfer, snagged me by the collar one day and asked me if I’d like to co-author this crazy story idea that she had. I said, “Why the heck not?” And the rest is history.
Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?

Detective Flynn. The man is positively dreamy. Kelly wrote his perspective and let me tell ya, this girl can write the male point of view like none other. He’s strong and handsome but he’s also considerate, compassionate and ultra caring.

What was a challenge you faced while writing it?
Kelly stopped writing when we were only halfway through the story. Yep. Just like that. She was poke-a-fork-in-her done, done, done. I think it was a combination of things going on in her life, but I was persistent, kind of like a toenail fungus gone bad. I nudged her until she was black and blue, but she finally got her second wind—and wrote better than ever.
What's the most random thing you had to Google for the story?

I don’t know how random it is, but this is certainly gruesome. Because there’s a drug cartel involved in the story, I checked into the Mexican drug scene. Here’s a warning for you . . . do NOT Google image that. Eew.


How long did you write before you got published?
8 eternal years. It seemed like forever.

What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”?
Rejection is going to happen. You will fail. But (and I’ve always got a big but) that does not mean that you are a failure. What you did failed. Not you. So change the way you’re doing things until you hit upon a writing style that’s successful. That takes time and a whole lot of perseverance.

How many rejection letters did you get before being accepted by a publisher?
Oh sweet mercy, at least a bajillion. Okay, realistically, probably at least 25-30 rejections before one took a chance on me.

What does your writing process look like?
I usually have a vague idea of setting and characters in mind, but before I start writing the synopsis, I figure out what the goals, motivations, and conflicts are for each of the main characters. Then I pen a synopsis, and finally plot out each scene just by writing a general idea on a sticky note. The sticky notes go on a huge canvas and I can move them around or change them as needed.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, have a favorite artist or playlist to share?
Absolutely. I make a play list for each of my books. Whenever I come across a song that I think might work as inspiration, then I put that on my inspirational playlist. When I’ve got a new book to write, I go to that playlist and pull off songs that will fit. Spotify is awesome.


When you get an idea for a novel, what is the first thing that you do? 
I write down a sentence or two and save it in my “New Story Idea” file on Word.

September is Classical Music Month (who knew?). In keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel?
Jane Eyre, the main character in Charlotte Bronte’s classic.

What is your favorite fall snack food?
Maple Walnut Scones with Apple Butter and a steaming hot Chai on the side.

What are you currently reading?
The King’s Folly by Jill Williamson

Emilie here: Thank you so much for being my guest Michelle! You're hilarious and I always enjoy having you on the blog :) 

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Sarah's Orphans by Vannetta Chapman | New Novel News

Sarah's Orphans
by Vannetta Chapman

Published: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Harvest House 
Purchase: Sarah's Orphans

Sarah Yoder belongs to a Plain community in Oklahoma, but her days are far from simple. Life suddenly gets complicated when a series of tragic events unfold, leaving her in charge of the household.

Alone with her younger siblings, Sarah is exhausted but finally at peace. Then she nearly runs over a small Hispanic boy with her buggy…and somehow finds herself sheltering two more orphans.

Paul Byler moved to Cody’s Creek to help his brother in a time of need. But now that Joseph has recovered from his heart attack, Paul’s ready for a quiet place of his own. The only problem? His new property lands him next door to the orphaned Yoder family—and a calling from God he can’t seem to ignore.

A story of extraordinary grace and love in the face of desperate need, Sarah’s Orphans is the third standalone novel in the Plain and Simple Miracles collection by Vannetta Chapman.

Get to know Vannetta...

Who is your favorite secondary character? 
In Sarah’s Orphans, my favorite secondary character is Mammi, the grandmother who arrives at Sarah’s door and insists that she’s staying as long as they need her. Sarah hasn’t had any dependable adults in her life, and it takes some time before she learns that Mammi’s love is both deep, wide, and dependable.

What’s one thing you must have/do in the morning? 
Coffee. I’ve cut it down from 2-3 cups to only 1, but those first few minutes of caffeine are very important. I also MUST take my dogs for a walk every morning before I sit down to work. Cola is 35 pounds and a beagle mix. Phoebe is 100 pounds and a Labrador.

Favorite place you’ve traveled to? 
I traveled to England/Wales two years ago and absolutely loved it. A few years before that I was able to go to Ireland. Both trips were awesome…and don’t be surprised if you see some stories come out of the places I visited!

Connect with Vannetta:

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

See the Newsboys in Concert with Adventures in Odyssey


Want to be entered for a chance to win a free trip for four to hear the Newsboys, the award-winning Christian music band, in Dallas? Sign up to be a part of the movement to protect religious freedom for future generations: Bring Your Bible to School Day! Students from kindergarten to college will be bringing their Bibles to school and sharing God with their friends on October 6.

By completing the information on this page, you're automatically entered to win the chance to see the Newsboys with Focus on the Family and Adventures in Odyssey. Don't miss out on the chance to see a fantastic band with your family!

Plus Sign Up for a Free Two-Week Trial of Odyssey Adventure Club


Getting used to a new school isn’t easy, especially for someone as paranoid as Buddy Norman. In “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” he envisions wacky worst-case encounters with townsfolk who seem like mobsters, snoops and fairy-tale tyrants—until he gets to know them. He’s also a little confused about Bring Your Bible to School Day. What’s it about? Should he participate? See Odyssey through Buddy’s eyes in this witty celebration of religious freedom.

Listen to this story through a two-week trial only on the Odyssey Adventure Club.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Siren's Song by Mary Weber | RE:View

Siren's Song is a story that will encompass you in its creative telling and leave you satisfied at the end. This is a story you don't want to miss!

I thoroughly enjoyed Nym's story through the last two books and this third and final installment was no different. Filled with fast-paced action, dire circumstances, and romance, Mary Weber creates a stunning ending to this thrilling fantasy trilogy.

The weight of her peoples future rests on Nym's shoulders. Filled with this sense of purpose and the release (kind of) from the dark power that consumed her in book 2, she is set on a course to save the kingdom, or die trying.

I found Nym's journey in this book to be intriguing. Aside from one "battle" (not really a battle) that she doesn't get to fight herself, she is in the midst of the activity and fighting to make things right. She's suborn, but smarter in her actions (to me at least) than she was in previous books--I attribute that to her growth as a character. The romance is also there, but stilted (not in a bad way) and filled with tension, which I tend to like. There were a few times I wished that Eogan was more communicative, and his silence just seemed silly. Like...say what you're thinking. Then again, guys don't always do that, so I get it (hehe).

Then there was the ending...I just...I loved it. *sigh* I won't go into details here, but it was just what I wanted. Filled with hopes, fears, excitement, twists, happiness, and so much more. I will say I wished some of it had been a bit more drawn out, but I am still completely satisfied with how it ended so it wasn't a "big" deal.

As a theme, I really liked how Mary incorporated the issues of slavery and cutting into this YA series. These are such important topics and very relevant to today's youth. I won't spoil the ending, but I love what happens regarding Nym's scars. Just beautiful!

I definitely recommend this whole series to lovers of fantasy (YA or not)! You'll find yourself swept up in the imaginative world Mary has created with its crazy animals, genuine characters, and vivid fantasy elements. (Oh! see what I did there? Elements! Anyway...) Go read this if you haven't already, friends!

P.S. I think Lord Myles is one of my favorite characters...Just saying!

My rating: 5*
Purchase: Siren's Song

Book Description
(from Mary's website)
After a fierce battle with Draewulf, Nym barely escaped with her life. Now, fleeing the scorched landscape of Tulla, her storm-summoning abilities are returning; only . . . the dark power is still inside her.

Broken and bloodied, Nym needs time to recover, but when the full scope of the shapeshifter’s horrific plot is revealed, the strong-willed Elemental must race across the Hidden Lands and warn the other kingdoms before Draewulf ’s final attack.

From the crystalline palaces of Cashlin to the legendary Valley of Origin, Nym scrambles to gather an army. But even if she can, will she be able to uncover the secret to defeating Draewulf that has eluded her people for generations? With a legion of monsters approaching, and the Hidden Lands standing on the brink of destruction, the stage is set for a battle that will decide the fate of the world.
This time, will the Siren’s Song have the power to save it?

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Johnnie Alexander {Writer Wedesday}

A little bit about Johnnie...

Johnnie Alexander writes stories of heritage and hope while raccoons and foxes occasionally pass by her window. Where Treasure Hides, her debut novel and a CBA bestseller, won the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest. Where She Belongs, the first book in the Misty Willow Series, was a Library Journal Pick of the Month. She is marketing director for the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference and president of the ACFW Memphis chapter.

Johnnie lives near Memphis with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, the princely papillon who trees those pesky raccoons whenever he gets the chance. Join Johnnie at to experience the charm of country living, the love of ambling travel, and the joy of treasured memories.

Connect with Johnnie...

Her blog: Blog
Facebook: Facebook Profile (Friend or Follow!)
Facebook Page: Facebook Author Page
Twitter: Twitter 
Goodreads: GoodReads
Amazon author page:Amazon Author Page

Get to know Johnnie...

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about your writing journey...
 The dream of writing has always been with me, but it was too big of a dream to do more than dabble here and there. After all, this was a dream that came true for other people—I never thought it would for me.

An important turning point happened in 2003 when I heard about a relatively new challenge called National Novel Writing Month. I joined other participants in writing a 50,000-word novel in the thirty days of November.

And despite ending up with an incredible mess, I loved how the characters came to life, did the unexpected, and became “real.”

A few more years passed before I decided that if I was ever going to make a go of this, I couldn’t wait any longer. (A milestone birthday probably had something to do with this “now or never” attitude.)

I attended conferences, entered contests, and wrote more stories. My debut novel came out in January 2013—a little over nine years after that first NaNoWriMo experience.

Your Writing

Let's talk about your book...

What’s the theme? How did you come up with it?
The hero of When Love Arrives is Brett Somers, the “bad boy” of the series’ first story (Where She Belongs). From what I already knew about him and as part of his character growth, I knew he needed a heroine unlike anyone he’d ever been attracted to before. Additionally, she needed to be immune to his famous dimpled smile.

In my thinking-about-how-they’ll-meet stage, I realized the heroine intensely disliked Brett because of something he had done. Though it took a long time—months in fact—to understand exactly what that was, the themes of vengeance and forgiveness were a natural part of the story.

Was there a passage of scripture you came across or used while writing it that you’d like to share?
Two Scriptures are important to the story. The first only appears at the beginning of chapter one:

Praise be to the Lord, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege (Psalm 31:21).

Brett is definitely “under siege” in this story, and his eyes are gradually opened to the wonders of God’s love.

The second occurs in one of my favorite scenes. When Brett experiences his darkest crisis, his moment of confronting who he’d been, he is comforted by his cousin’s fiancée’s seven-year-old daughter. She tells him a verse she learned when her father was killed:

I trusted in the Lord when I said, “I am greatly afflicted” (Psalm 116:10).

This verse sticks with Brett and becomes a kind of mantra for him.

Did you get to do any fun research for the book?
I tried. One of the early scenes is set in the historic Ohio Theater, and I very much wanted to go inside and look around. But I live in Tennessee, and the timing didn’t work out.

I was only able to stop there one Saturday on my way to the airport and take photos of the exterior. Fortunately, one of my cousins had once taken interior photos which he shared with me. (Thank you, Tom!)

What’s your favorite snack while writing?
Twizzlers. And Coke. The closer I get to deadline the more Twizzlers I eat and the more Coke I drink.


Let’s talk about your writing life...

Are you a Panster or Plotter?
On that spectrum, I’m more of a pantser, but I prefer the term organic writer. I begin with a few ideas about the characters and things that should happen. Then I write and wait to see what surprises will show up. Sometimes it’s rough going, but the characters haven’t failed me yet.

However! My next contracts are for two cozy mysteries. The proposal for the first required a chapter-by-chapter summary. So now I’m writing my first story as a plotter. I’m eager to see how the process will be different.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
I always answer this question the same way: attend writers’ conferences, enter reputable contests, and join a critique group. Each of these proved to be an invaluable milestone on my own writing journey. I learned so much from workshops, the feedback from judges, and my critique partners. Conferences are also a great place to network.

Are there any books or resources you could recommend to younger writers looking to grow in their craft?

Two of my favorites are Story Trumps Structure by Steven James and The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass. Next up on my reading list is The Art of Character by David Corbett.


What's one chore you hate doing?

The litter box I do not like.
It makes my nose go closed.
But kittens go then go again.
“Outdoors! Outdoors!” I propose.
They stare at me with cattish eyes
While I scoop scoop scoop the gross.
And after taking a few cleansing breaths
A silly poem I compose.

What's your favorite chore?

I love to run errands.
To the post office, gas station and store.
The dry cleaners, the car wash, the vet.
B&N, Target, and more.
Then lunch with my Kindle
And the story du jour.

This is why I’m better known for my fiction than my poetry.

If your book became a movie, who would you cast for your main characters?
In Brett’s eyes, Dani is an adorable “slip of a girl” who is nothing like the women he usually dates. A brunette Shailene Woodley, the star of the Divergent movies, is perfect to play Dani.

But who is perfect to play Brett?
I haven’t a clue.

The guy is too handsome for his own good with blond hair, blue-eyes, deep dimples, and a charming smile. And he’s thirty years old. Any suggestions?

September is Classical Music Month (who knew?). In keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel?
Oh, yes! One of my favorite novels is Les Miserables and its protagonist, Jean Valjean, is an amazingly complex character.

I’m also going to say Milly, Adam’s bride in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The movie may not be classical music but it’s a classic musical. :)

What are you currently reading?
After watching the first season of Poldark, I got hooked on the twelve-book series written by Winston Graham. I’m on the eleventh one, The Twisted Sword. Mr. Graham also wrote Marnie which Alfred Hitchcock turned into a movie.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Author Chat: Sarah Sundin

Hello friends--Emilie here. I invite you to come have a chat with author Sarah Sundin and I! Go get some coffee (or tea) and sit back and relax while we talk about fall, books, and Sarah's novel Anchor in the Storm.

What’s your favorite fall drink and snack?
When I was in Boston researching the Waves of Freedom series, I bought some cranberry black tea. I will be severely sad when I run out. As for snacks, I’m not very seasonal. However, I love baking and I’m looking forward to cooler weather when I don’t feel guilty about heating up the house. First on my list: snickerdoodles and almond sandies.

Ooh yum! I love snickerdoodles. I'll be right over hehe! So, do you have any fall traditions?
This is my first year without kids to send back to school. I’m going into withdrawals not buying school supplies. I may have to hang out at the office supply store and live vicariously through others.

I hang out there and I don't even have kids (ha!). I bet that will be a big change for you. Becuase we're nearly there, what is your favorite part about fall?
Fall is my favorite season. School, cool weather, sweaters, football—I love it all. Living in California, we don’t get a lot of the gorgeous fall colors, but I adore those we have.

Ah yes, I remeber that from when I lived in Southern California. About the time it hit "fall" it was actually near Christmas. I'm looking forward to 4 seasons in Ohio! Speaking of fall and Anchor In the Storm, I thought we'd have a little bit of fun. I've got a few questions for your main characters, Lillian and Arch.

What fall activity do you think Lillian and Arch would enjoy doing together?
Living in Boston, I can definitely see them touring the New England countryside to see the fall colors. They love going on outings, and who can resist that riot of color?

Oh I bet! I'd like to tag along...But, along the way, if they stopped at a pumpkin farm to carve pumpkins, what would Lillian and Arch make their punkin faces to look like?
Hmm. This made me laugh. My first thought for Arch was a pirate, so I’m going with that. There are a few scenes in the novel to back this up. Ha! As for Lillian, she’s no girly-girl. I can see her making a frightening, sharp-toothed monster face.

Yes, I can definitely see that! Can you tell us a little bit about the research you did for this book?
My favorite research was on the ground—exploring Boston and the WWII-era destroyer USS Cassin Young. But most of my research is via books and the internet. For Arch’s story, I read about US destroyers and the U-boat war off the East Coast in 1942, including the war diary for the Eastern Sea Frontier. For Lillian’s story, I read about pharmacy in World War II. As a pharmacist myself, I was fascinated about how much the corner drugstore was affected by rationing, shortages, and scrap collection. Since I’m cruel to my characters, I had to read medical information about PTSD (called combat fatigue at the time) and prostheses.

Wow! That all sounds facinating! Can you share with us a little bit about your creative process when writing?
I’m very much an outline-oriented writer. I need a thorough map before I can take the road trip of the rough draft. Since I do a lot of pre-writing, my first drafts are pretty clean and I don’t have to do super-heavy editing. In my pre-writing process, I fill out character questionnaires, do a hero’s journey analysis, and fill out a plot chart. By the time I start the rough draft, I know my characters and the story intimately, and the story is bubbling out of me.

That's great. I know a lot of authors who write that way as well. It's funny how different all of our processes are. I know too that, during the writing process, its not hard to fall into a slump. How do you regain writing inspiration when you’ve lost it?
I read what I’ve already written, or I review my plot and character charts. These usually give me the kick-start I need. If not, I give myself permission to write junk. Just write something! I tell myself I can delete it later—I just need a running start. However, I often find those “junk” beginnings become my favorites.

Oh-that's a great idea! I think I'll try that the next time I'm stuck :-) What books are you looking forward to reading this fall?
I’m so far behind on my reading, it isn’t even funny. I highly recommend a novel I read for endorsement that’s coming out this week—You’re the Cream in My Coffee by Jennifer Lamont Leo—a fun but deep story set in 1920s Chicago. Next up in my reading pile: The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson, The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron, and The Things We Know by Catherine West.

I'm also behind on my reading and have The Red Door Inn and The Ringmaster's Wife on my TBR list!

Do you have a verse or some sort of encouragement you can share with us as we transition to a new season?
The theme verse for Anchor in the Storm seems appropriate. We live in tumultuous times with too much anger and bitterness, and we’re tempted to despair. Hebrews 6:18-19 reminds us, “We might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast.” We have to cling to Christ, cling to hope, and refuse to give in to strife and despair.

Wonderful! Thank you for this fun chat Sarah. I always enjoy your novels and loved getting to meet you at last years ACFW conference. Can't wait to have you back next time for the releae of When Tides Turn!

Sarah Sundin is the author of eight historical novels, including Anchor in the Storm. Her novel Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award, won the INSPY Award, and was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school.
Please visit her at

Anchor in the Storm 
by Sarah Sundin

For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. She loves the wartime challenges of her new job but spurns the attention of society boy Ens. Archer Vandenberg. As Arch’s destroyer battles U-boats along the East Coast, Lillian uncovers a black market drug ring. Arch and Lillian work together on the investigation, but can he ever earn her trust and affection?
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Monday, September 19, 2016

Jennifer A. Davids & Rachel McMillan | New Novel News

Brides of Ohio
by Jennifer A. Davids

Published: July 1, 2016
Publisher: Barbour Publishing
Purchase: Brides of Ohio

Visit Ohio in the latter half of the 1800s, when rebuilding the country also involves rebuilding lives stripped of hope. Katherine has lost her home, Adele has lost her husband, and Anne has lost her dreams. Can each have their joy restored when in romances with men who are also deeply wounded by their own pasts?

Get to know Jennifer...

If your book became a movie, who would you cast for your main characters?
I love, love, LOVE to cast my characters and Pinterest and IMDB really get a workout when I’m looking for faces to go with the names in my head. Since Brides of Ohio is three books in one I actually have six names to share. For Yankee Heart, Daniel is Bradley James and Katherine is Emmy Rossum. In Wounded Heart, Jonah is David Sutcliffe and Adele is Samantha Mathis. Finally for Restored Heart, Peter is Chris Pine and Anne is Deborah Ann Woll.

Favorite season?
I am completely and totally in love with autumn. I adore the changing colors, the cooler weather, not to mention all the pumpkin spice goodness and Ohio State football – that’s right I’m a Buckeye. I wish it was a season that could last all year.

Favorite place you’ve traveled to?
England. I am so blessed to have been able to tick this off my bucket list multiple times, three to be exact. My third visit was just back in July and I fall more in love with the country every time I visit. The highlights for me this past trip was eating at the Eagle and Child in Oxford, the same pub where JRR Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and the other Inklings used to meet, walking around Tintern Abbey, and visiting Puzzlewood which is a beautiful forest where the newest Star Wars was filmed along with Doctor Who and Merlin. We hope to go back again in two years.

Connect with Jennifer on her website.

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A Lesson in Love & Murder
by Rachel McMillan

Published: September 1, 2016
Publisher: Harvest House
Purchase: A Lesson in Love & Murder

From political danger to personal drama, life is about to get explosive...

The legacy of literary icon Sherlock Holmes is alive and well in 1912 Canada, where best friends Merinda Herringford and Jem Watts continue to develop their skills as consulting detectives.

The city of Toronto has been thrown into upheaval by the arrival of radical anarchist Emma Goldman. Amid this political chaos, Benny Citrone of the Royal North-West Mounted Police arrives at Merinda and Jem's flat, requesting assistance in locating his runaway cousin—a man with a deadly talent.

While Merinda eagerly accepts the case, she finds herself constantly butting heads—and hearts—with Benny. Meanwhile, Jem has her hands full with a husband who is determined to keep her out of harm's way.

As Merinda and Jem close in on the danger they've tracked from Toronto to Chicago, they uncover a sinister plot to assassinate presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt. Will they be able to save the day and resolve the troubles threatening their future happiness before it's too late?

Independence, love, and lives are at stake in A Lesson in Love and Murder, the gripping second installment of the Herringford and Watts Mysteries series.

Get to know Rachel...

If your book became a movie, who would you cast for your main characters? 
I really love this question because although I see Jem, Merinda, Jasper and Ray very clearly in my imagination, I have found some pretty interesting real-life counterparts. Merinda: Kelly Reilly (the new Sherlock Holmes films) Jem: Erin Krakow (When Calls the Heart), Ray: Chris Messina –especially the smile (The Mindy Project), Jasper: Andrew Buchan (Garrow’s Law)

What's your favorite chore?  
I really like doing laundry because I feel productive while the machine does all the work and I am in another room, well, doing nothing. I don’t even mind folding it. Also, I love washing all my bedding because getting under the covers with that fresh dryer smell is a favourite thing.
If your main characters were animals, what would they be?  
Can I take a moment to say this is the best question of all time? I think Jasper is a basset hound, Ray a fox, Jem a refined Cavalier King Charles, and Merinda a Siamese cat.

Connect with Rachel here.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

An Opportunity for Converstaion: Commit to Bring Your Bible to School October 6 | Adventures In Odyssey

Emilie here: 

Do you have kids? Know college students? On October 6th, students across America will be celebrating religious freedom on Bring Your Bible To School Day. As things are continuing to get more and more clouded about what separation of church and state really means, it's the perfect opportunity to have conversations with your kids, friends, neighbors, and family. I have a feeling some of these questions will come up:

  • What does it mean to have religious freedom? 
  • What does "tolerance" really mean and how is it expressed? 
  • Can you still be friends if you disagree with what someone else believes? 
  • How do you love someone well (like Christ would love them) if you don't agree with them?
These questions (and many others) are so important and I believe as Christians we need to be thinking about them, talking with other Christians about them, and--above all--praying about them! 

Adventures and Odyssey is also joining in for Bring Your Bible To School Day. As they are known for, their episode “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” will tackle issues and questions kids may have or face in a fun and helpful way that can stimulate conversation between children and parents. See details below...

Celebrate religious freedom with other students across the U.S. on October 6—Bring Your Bible to School Day! Students from kindergarten to college will be bringing their Bibles to school and sharing God with their friends in just a few short weeks. Sign up to be a part of the movement to protect religious freedom for future generations.

By signing up, you’ll receive a free guide with tips, downloadable posters, sticker and T-shirt designs, information on your legal rights, and other fun, interactive activities.

You’ll also be automatically entered for a chance to win a free trip for four to hear the Newsboys, an award-winning Christian music band, in Dallas!

Plus Bring Your Bible to School Comes to Adventures in Odyssey


Getting used to a new school isn’t easy, especially for someone as paranoid as Buddy Norman. In “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” he envisions wacky worst-case encounters with townsfolk who seem like mobsters, snoops and fairy-tale tyrants—until he gets to know them. He’s also a little confused about Bring Your Bible to School Day. What’s it about? Should he participate? See Odyssey through Buddy’s eyes in this witty celebration of religious freedom.

Listen to this story through a two-week trial only on the Odyssey Adventure Club.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Welcome Fall + Fall Giveaway

"It's beginning to look a lot like...fall?"

By now it's probably obvious that I have an obsession with all things Christmas (including listening to Christmas music way before it's "allowed") but coming in at a close second is my obession with fall. The minute September hit's--no matter the weater--I start to look for any indication that leaves are changing color and I wish for a crispness to enter the air.

As I mentioned in this post, I am focusing on the start of fall (if I focus on it does that mean it'll come faster?) so today I thought I'd share a look at the fall-ness that's popping up in my still-slithgtly-barren apartment.

I have quite the obsession with antiques and, as you can tell from the picture, I've utilized them already even though half of my things are still packed. This awesome 40's vintage fan was a gift from my dad and I've got some antique books under my new fall sign ($4 a Walmart people!).

I also--obviously--have an obession with owls AND Ronie Kendig...
P.S. Did you know that the second book in her Fantasy series, Accelerant, is coming out in October!!!!??? See more details here.

And last but certainly not least, my new bookcase has been fall-ed out! This is my writing shelf and I love it so much! And, if you like that mug, you can find it here along with all the other things I've designed :D

So, there you have it friends! Some touches of fall that bring a smile to my face and happiness to my heart. And, as promised, I've got a giveaway for you all to celebrate the start of fall. I'll be giving away this beautiful Gratitude coloring jorunal from Tyndale (I ended up with an extra--see my reivew here), a Just Read bookmark from my Etsy shop, and a $10 starbucks gift card!

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

365 Pocket Morning Prayers | RE:View

"Prayer is a privilege." 
- Dave Veerman, Pocket Prayers

I love the reminder from the introduction of this handy little book. It is a privilege to come to the Lord in prayer, though I admit that sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I roll out of bed without a thought to the fact that I woke up at all.

365 Pocket Morning Prayers is a wonderful collection of prayers and scripture, one for each day of the year--even though they are not marked by date, just day. I like this because it means you can start at any time of the year and read through, no feeling like you've "missed" something. I also enjoy the diversity in topics of the prayers and the fact that there is a topical index at the end.

The book itself is of great quality and has a soft, leather-like cover that bends smoothly to read any portion of the book with ease. The writing style is personal and yet instructing. One thing I would have like to see done differently would be to put the verse at the top. This is really only for the sake that some of the prayers reference the verse but the verse comes at the end of the prayer. It just didn't make sense to me but it's not hard to remember to read the verse first and then the prayer.

I would recommend this little prayer book for those who are looking for a way to encourage a habit of prayer in their daily routines (um, I suppose we all could use that). It would also make a great gift! The prayers are short as are the passages of scripture, but it can be a great jumping-off point for the rest of your devotional time.

Rating: 4*
Purchase: 365 Pocket Morning Prayers
Book Description
(from Amazon)
Each morning when you arise, take a moment to talk with God about the day ahead. Ask Him to prepare your heart so that you can be ready to face any challenge that comes your way. 365 Pocket Morning Prayers can guide this time of life-changing conversation and help you express your needs and concerns to God. Don’t worry about what the day will bring. Instead, release your troubles and concerns into God’s care by reading and meditating on the prayers featured in 365 Pocket Morning Prayers. Begin your day in joyful anticipation, trusting that God is in control of your life and wants only the best for you.
I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Susan Anne Mason {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Susan...

Susan Anne Mason describes her writing style as “romance sprinkled with faith.” She loves incorporating inspirational messages of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness into her characters’ journeys. Irish Meadows, her debut historical romance won the Fiction from the Heartland contest sponsored by the Mid-American Romance Authors chapter of RWA.

Susan lives outside Toronto, Ontario, with her husband, two children, and two cats. She loves red wine and chocolate, is not partial to snow even though she’s Canadian, and is ecstatic on the rare occasions she has the house to herself. Learn more about Susan and her books at

Connect with Susan...

Website: (new revised site will be launched by the end of the week)
Blog: (my blog be incorporated into the new website)
Twitter: @samason
Purchase: Love's Faithful Promise

Get to know Susan...

How did you start writing?
I first started writing when I was in Grade 6, so about the age of 12, on the advice of my teacher, who noticed my love of stories. After several years, I did complete one horrible manuscript which I was brave enough to send to a publisher and received a very polite rejection. I set writing aside for many years and somewhere around my 40th birthday I started to get the urge to write again. I started scribbling in notebooks whenever I had a few spare moments and 2 years later had a finished book — one that is so bad that it will remain unpublished! But the love of writing had come back to life and so I joined my local Romance Writers of America chapter where I learned a great deal AND met people like me who had characters and plots living in their heads!

Let’s talk about your writing life. How long did you write before you got published?
It took over ten years before I finally got my first contract. I hope this doesn’t discourage anyone because I’ve found that every writer has a unique journey. I had a lot to learn about the mechanics of writing and slowly figured out what worked and what didn’t. My biggest challenge was the plot. I would run out of things for the characters to do! So once I learned to become a plotter, things improved greatly for me!

What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”?
My best advice is to enter writing contests. Getting feedback from judges really helped me figure out where I was going wrong in my stories, and what I was doing right. In the end, my first historical romance with Bethany House came about directly from a contest win. Once my writing got better, I targeted contests with judges who were editors from the publishing houses I was hoping to publish with, and in this case it worked! So keeping learning and improving your craft because you never know what contest might be the ticket to a contract!

Are there any books or resources you could recommend to younger writers looking to grow in their craft?
I would recommend anything by Susan May Warren and her company My Book Therapy. She is a great writer and has really honed teaching the craft. I recently attended a workshop with her and Rachel Hauk at the annual ACFW Writers conference in Nashville. Her methods of plotting the story using the character’s background is fabulous. It really helps get to the crux of the story you’re trying to tell.

I would also highly recommend the Seekerville blog. It’s packed with great writing information and author interviews!

Tell us a little bit about your book.
Love’s Faithful Promise is the third book in the Courage to Dream Series. This story takes place in 1922 Long Island, New York and focuses on Deirdre, the youngest member of the O’Leary family and her journey to find her place in the world. She is forced to set aside her dream of becoming a doctor to help look after her mother who has suffered a stroke. A Canadian doctor specializing in physical therapy comes to Irish Meadows to work with Mrs. O’Leary and Deirdre finds herself wanting to help the emotionally scarred widower and his young daughter. Soon she will be faced with the choice between medical school and a future with Dr. Clayborne.

Part of the fun in writing this book was making the hero a Canadian and doing research in the city of Toronto. I have been to the city many times but never with such a focus on its history. So that was interesting. The best part was exploring old City Hall which is now used as a courthouse. The architecture and the interior have been largely preserved as they were in the early 1900s so it really felt like stepping back in time — except for the security and metal detectors at the entrance!

The challenge in writing this book was of course the research. Finding out about physical therapy in 1922, as well as trying to find out anything about court custody battles for children at this time. Luckily I found a few such cases in the law archives of the Toronto Reference Library and used it as a basis for part of my storyline!

I truly hope you’ll love Deirdre and Matthew’s journey to love!

Emilie here: Thank you so much for being my guest Susan! I saw you at the conference but never was able to stop and formally meet you! Next year perhaps? And you have a fantastic middle name...*cough* mine is Anne as well *cough* (hehe). I've heard wonderful things about this whole series and am so excited to introduce this book (and book 1 & book 2) here as well! 

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

You Never Know: Life is Short, Live Well

I debated about writing this post. Who am I to talk about death as if I understand it? Who am I to share words of caution when I’ve never had anyone snatched from me in the prime of their life? Sure, I’ve lost older relatives and I’ve had a few acquaintances pass in an untimely manner, but never anyone “really close”.

But then I stopped myself with one thought: We all need a wake-up call. And maybe, because I know I need it, it’s okay to talk about it.

Yesterday, I was scrolling through Facebook and caught a post of a friend, one from college that I hadn’t seen or talked to in a very long time. You probably know how it goes. You “keep up” on Facebook which is just glorified stalking, but you feel a part of their life in a little, small way. I knew she had just been married recently and I wasn’t completely understanding what I read in the post. Cue further exploration on her page only to discover the horrible news that she had just lost her husband of five weeks. FIVE weeks. I am devastated for her, but my emotions can’t hold a candle to the floodlights of her grief.

My thoughts spiraled. Anyone—and I do mean anyone—can be snatched away in the blink of an eye. I know we don’t like thinking about death, I know I don’t relish the thought either, but the fact is that we will all die at one point.

To me, the bigger question isn’t how we’ll die, but how we’ll live.

As a Christian, I don’t fear death. I know it’s coming—hey, it could even be today for me as I sit in my comfy chair writing and editing photos like a mad woman per usual—but I know that death won’t be the end for me. Because of that hope, I live differently. I have to! Not because I’m commanded to, but because I want to. I want to please God, love people like crazy, write my heart out for Him, and ultimately live a life that mirrors Christ’s as much as possible.

That’s hard. Living life well is hard. But in the end, I want no regrets. Sure, I’ll make mistakes (I already have, and I’m sure we can all relate) but I will rely on His grace and strength to pull me through. Yes, I’ll mess up. Like a little child trying to help in the kitchen, I’ll spill flour everywhere and break a few dishes, but God will correct me, guide me, and help me.

The struggle, though real, is hard, but so worth it.

So today I challenge you to face your own mortality. Have you told those close to you that you love them? Can you rest in the comfort of knowing that there is life after death? Do you live in a manner that shows Christ’s love to all? I know it’s not something we wake up thinking about, but in order to live well, we must realize life is short (even if it holds 80 years for us) and living it well is what’s important.

For my friend, the grief is still very fresh, but I know that she clings to the fact that she’ll see her husband again. Please pray for her comfort and, if you feel led, there is a GoFundMe page set up to help with funeral expenses.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sewn With Joy by Tricia Goyer | New Novel News

Sewn With Joy 
by Tricia Goyer & Sherry Gore

Published: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Harvest House
Purchase: Sewn With Joy

Sometimes Dreams Come Together
One Piece at a Time

Joy Miller wanted nothing more than to be a wife and mother—especially now that her relationship with Matthew Slagel, the bishop's son, was deepening. But when a television crew rolls into Pinecraft, Florida, to film a new show about the Amish, tension threatens to rip apart their relationship...and the entire Amish community.

Joy is initially hired to sew costumes for the show, but she soon finds herself becoming increasingly involved in the production—a fact that upsets Matthew and his father. Yet the more Joy befriends the Englischer production crew, the more she senses God working in their lives through her. Can she turn her back on this opportunity to share God's love? Will she and Matthew somehow be able to stitch together their dreams for the future?

Experience love, heartbreak, and hope in this sweet story of two worlds uniting in unexpected ways.
Get to know Tricia...

What's your favorite chore? 
I actually love doing laundry! I love folding the clothes when they are warm and smell so wonderful. BUT my least favorite chore is putting away the laundry and with eight kids at home that tends to pile up!

Would you rather go to the future or go to the past?
I would love to journey into the past. I love history. It's one of my favorite things to research and study. I'd love to jump back and be a part of it!

What are the names of your pets? 
We have a dog named Zelda. She's a Shiba Inu and she's adorable, but she's not a cuddle dog. If you try to cuddle with her she gives you a look like, Seriously why are you touching me?

What are you reading right now?
The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler's U-Boats. It's very good so far! I'm also reading (and loving) Heart Made Whole by Christa Black Gifford.

Share one pet peeve you have. 
Okay, I've never shared his before. It REALLY bothers me when people post pictures of their kids and say things like, "Just slow down." We should be celebrating that are kids are healthy and growing. I've had friends who have lost children and who would give anything to see them growing older, and stronger, and experiencing life.

Connect with Tricia:

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Things We Knew by Catherine West | RE:View

Deep family ties, past secrets, and a house that brings them all together--The Things We Knew shows how one family's struggle becomes their saving grace.

Per usual, I didn't read the description of this book before I jumped in to read it. I've read several of Catherine West's books before and was eager to see what this new one would be about. I know from her other books that she isn't afraid to tackle the "real" things in life--that is to say, the hard things. The Things We Knew was in keeping with that, which is something I really appreciate about her writing. It's not dark by any means, just real and always infused with hope.

Lynette Carlisle was an interesting character to me. Seemingly the most innocent of the whole family, the weight of caring for her elderly father rests mainly on her shoulders. She's smart and talented but crippled by responsibility. Then there was Nick Cooper *sigh*. I liked his character a lot, though I would have liked to see even more of his past. Things were alluded to that made me think there's a lot more going on to him that even we know, and I'm not just talking about the mystery.

Speaking of mystery, I appreciated the light touches of a mysterious past and secrets kept. I do feel as if the secrets were not quite as "big" as I wanted them to be and that the characters seemed to hold things back for no apparent reason. I would have like to have even more mystery present, then again I like suspense so that's probably why (ha!).

One final character mention: Gray Carlisle. I just loved his character. Actually, part of me was hoping we would never find out about his past so that he could have his own book *grins*...but I digress.

When I finally had the time to sit down and finish this lovely book (moving is stressful, people) I was drawn in by the light touches of mystery, the sweet romance, and the haunting questions of what would happen. Not sure if there's a plan for a second book, but I could totally see the opening for one. Or maybe a novella about Gray? *grins*

I'd recommend this to those who enjoy women's fiction, romance, and light mystery.

My rating: 4*
Purchase: The Things We Knew

Book Description
(from Amazon)
When their tragic past begins to resurface, can he help her remember the things she can’t?

After her mother’s death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to blame their father for their mother’s death, but nobody will talk about that tragic day. And Lynette’s memory only speaks through nightmares.

Then Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, bringing the past with him. Once Lynette’s adolescent crush, Nick knows more about her mother’s death than he lets on. The truth could tear apart his own family—and destroy his fragile friendship with Lynette, the woman he no longer thinks of as a kid sister.

As their father’s failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets surface that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. But pulling up anchor on the past propels them into the perfect storm, powerful enough to make them question their faith, their willingness to forgive, and the very truth of all the things they thought they knew.

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.