Friday, November 17, 2017

Jaime Jo Wright | Author Chat

What better person to have a coffee with for Author Chat than Jaime Jo Wright aka Writer & Professional Coffee Drinker! I'm so excited to have her as my guest and I think you're really going to enjoy her interview! 

Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher's Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.

Let's get real...

If your book became a movie, who would you cast for your main characters?
Well, I’d definitely cast Tom Hiddleston for Joel (and then I’d be sure I was on set every day). Ivy would be played by me, because otherwise I’d be really jealous of anyone opposite Tom—ahem—I mean, Joel.

Grant would be played by Ryan Eggold from The Blacklist

Kaine would be played by Italia Ricci who is currently starring opposite Keifer Sutherland on Designated Survivor.

Name three places you’d like to travel to & why...
Well I love LOVE to travel. I’ve had the blessing of traveling many places around the world but three remaining on my bucket list are: Ireland (because it’s green), Norway (because my husband is Norwegian), and Russia (because I love cold and snow)

Share one pet peeve you have.
I’m pretty flexible with stuff, so not much gets under my skin. But I really hate arriving at the office in the morning being talked to before I get my stuff in order and coffee poured. I’m sort of the proverbial morning “crank”.

Which of your characters do you secretly have a crush on?
If I had a crush on one my of characters it’d be Joel Cunningham. But mainly because the model for his character was Tom Hiddleston. *Insert swoony-sigh here

Connect with Jaime on her website:

Pre-Order: The House on Foster Hill  (comes out November 21)

Enter the giveaway below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

How to Write A Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson | RE:View

This book is perfect! It's such a great way to think about plotting. I started it thinking it might take me a while to get through (most craft books do) but the way this one is formatted is AWESOME. It starts out as a story that then leads you into the second half (more like later 1/3) that breaks down the process for you.

If you're like me, learning through story and example is SUPER helpful. Randy starts out with a story of someone that could easily be you or I and then has her go through his snowflake process but in a story type of way. The story itself is a little cheesy, but I think that's the point. It's to instruct by example, not to be brilliant.

Then, what I like even more, is at the end he pulls apart THAT story and shows how he used his method (The Snowflake Method) to write the story. Brilliant!

I'd highly recommend this to anyone who is struggling with their plotting process or looking to streamline how they plot. It would even be great for those looking to 'think outside the box' as far as plotting technique goes. I've found it useful in my own stories but also as a tool. I don't do everything exactly as Randy suggests, but that's kind of the point. It's tool, not a rigid way.

All writers should do themselves a favor and read this book!

My Rating: 5*
Purchase: How to Write A Novel Using the Snowflake Method

Book Description 

A Magical Key to Unlock Your Creative Wizard

Are you writing a novel, but having trouble getting your first draft written? You’ve heard of “outlining,” but that sounds too rigid for you. You’ve heard of “organic writing,” but that seems a bit squishy to you.

Take a look at the wildly popular Snowflake Method—ten battle-tested steps that jump-start your creativity and help you quickly map out your story. All around the world, novelists are using the Snowflake Method right now to ignite their imaginations and get their first drafts down.

In this book, you’ll follow the story of a fictitious novelist as she learns to tap into the amazing power of the Snowflake Method. Almost magically, she finds her story growing from a simple idea into a deep and powerful novel. And she finds her novel changing her—into a stronger, more courageous person.

Zany, Over the Top, and Just Plain Fun

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Small Book About A Big Problem by Edward T. Welch |Re:View

A little book to help you face the reality of anger in every day life.

A Small Book About A Big Problem by Edward T. Welch | Book Review

This is a small book that I wish had been a little bigger. Don't get me wrong--I think the content is very good and the format is really engaging in the way that you can go through a section a day, but I think that an opportunity was missed.

I have loved previous books by Edward T. Welch and I know the he has a lot of wisdom to share and good things to say. The book itself is filled with insight and wise statements and that may be something that is just right for you, but for something as big (and prevalent) as the topic of anger, I personally think this book could have been expanded.

I found myself coming to the end of a section and feeling like I wanted more. More ways to think about the topic of that day's section, more insights into how we can combat our own anger, more applicable scriptural passages. I felt a little cheated.

That may sound negative and I don't want it to; I just want to be honest. I think that, if you go into this book with the attitude that you need to supplement with your own Bible reading and journaling to truly flesh out the topic, it could be a great devotional book for you. I also think it could be great to go through with a friend where you could challenge each other to think deeply about what you've read and to be honest with yourself and each other.

All of that to say: Yes, I would recommend this book, but I would give the caveat that it will be best used as a kick-starter to deeper conversations with others and self-reflection. With that in mind, I think you'll find a lot to take away with from this book.

My rating: 3.8*
Purchase: A Small Book About A Big Problem 

Book Description
(from Amazon)
Look closely at any day and we can usually find anger in both our actions and attitudes. Things spill or go missing, we get stuck in traffic, and the people we live and work with often make life even harder. We want to stay calm, but what do you do when you feel your blood pressure rise yet again? Anger is so common yet it also destroys. It leaves its mark on us it s not healthy which is one reason we hear so much about finding peace. And it leaves its mark on others. The wounds we inflict on others when we are angry the loss of intimacy, trust, security, and enjoyment in our closest relationships give us compelling reasons to look closely at our anger and think carefully about how to grow in patience and peace. If you have just gotten irritated for the umpteenth time today, you might wonder if change is possible. Can anyone grow in patience and peace? Yes. But you need a plan. Biblical counselor and psychologist Ed Welch invites readers to take a 50-day journey that unpacks anger and encourages readers to become more skillful at responding with patience to life s difficulties. Along the way, readers will be introduced to Jesus, the Prince of Peace the only one who can empower his people to grow in patience, peace, and wholeness.

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

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Lydia Howe | Author Chat

Author Chat with Lydia Howe

I've been a little behind on the blog recently, so sorry friends! But, I'm excited to introduce you to Lydia Howe. 

Lydia Howe (aka Aidyl Ewoh) spent her teenage years reading and writing late into the night. Now in her twenties, she has hiked the mountains of the Far East and lived in the Andes Mountain Range of South America, built life-size models of dinosaurs, taken road trips across Europe, and explored caves in North America. Lydia grew up in a 135 year-old barn and spent six months in a tipi. An enthusiastic writer of Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, she has three published books to date: Cave Secrets of the Pterodactyl, Action Kids' Club, and Cool Critters of the Ice Age. She blogs regularly at Noveltea.

Lets get real...

Tell us a little bit about yourself...

Some of my earliest memories are of my mom and oldest sister reading to me, so it’s no surprise that I grew up as a bookworm. Becoming a writer was a natural next step, and one that has been a lot of fun, and offered a lot of challenges, over the last decade.

The power of words, and the ability of a well-written book to drag you far into another world or era of time, has been a huge inspiration to me. I’ve learned an incredible amount from books, as well as having been endlessly entertained. The thought of being able to pass that joy and knowledge along to others has kept me writing even when things get tough.

Is there a funny story associated with writing this book?

This book is about cousins and the importance of family. When I was growing up I was incredibly close with my cousins. There were four of us: my sister, me, and our two girl cousins who were also sisters, who hung out together all the time. I had fun pulling various stories from our childhood to add into the book - like the time my older sister convinced us that vanilla extract was actually caffeine, and that if we added it to orange juice we’d get all the hyper effects of having caffeinated pop. (Apparently we were gullible.)

Were your characters easy to pin down or did you discover them along the way as you wrote the book?

The four main characters are very loosely based off of us four girls, so they came together very naturally during the first draft of the book. In fact, they were some of the easiest characters for me to write, and yet they all turned out unique and special in their own way. I also had fun creating the supporting character cast, even though they weren’t based off of anyone in real life.

What’s your favorite snack while writing?

I’ve found I work best when I have something in my mouth, so I drink a lot of water and suck on a lot of ice while concentrating. I also keep flavored lifesavers and jolly ranchers near by. But if we’re talking about an actual snack, then probably fresh fruit - yummy! Plums and nectarines have been my go-to snack recently.

What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”? 

There’s no doubt about it: If you want to be a successful author you’re going to go through a lot of rejection - not just when you get to the querying stage, but when you get to the revising/editing part of writing. Early on in my writing career I had an author tell me that I would need to develop thick skin and learn to graciously listen to and accept advice that I really didn’t like. Boy has that ever been true. But, being willing to set aside my feelings and what I want to try and objectively listen to feedback has been really good for me. That doesn’t mean you should take everyone’s advice when it comes to writing, but being willing to listen to the hard stuff and make changes when needed? Well, that goes a long way.

When you get an idea for a novel, what is the first thing that you do? 

The first thing I do when I get an idea is a lot of brainstorming and praying. Generally, I spend a couple of weeks, months, or even years, developing the idea in my head and praying for clarity as I go about everyday tasks. I also have a couple of good friends that I’ll send texts to, telling them what I’m thinking of and asking for their feedback. Eventually, I get to the “writing it down” stage, but that generally takes a while to arrive there.

September is Classical Music Month so, in keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel?

Ooh, that’s neat, and no, I didn’t know that! One of the books I’ve been working on has a main character who is a classical musician, so I suppose I should have come across that information somewhere in my research. :)

I’m not a huge Jane Austen fan, but I really like Mr. Knightly from Emma.

What is your favorite fall snack food?

Do s’mores and caramel apple suckers count? ;)

What are you currently reading?

Seeking Refuge by Stephan Bauman, Matthew Soerens, and Dr. Issam Smeir. So far it’s a really informative and well-written book. I also just finished My Brother’s Crown by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould.

Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Emilie! I had fun answering your great questions.

Where Dandelions Grow
by Lydia Howe

Cousins are forever, or at least they’re supposed to be.

What happens when your world falls apart and your dreams are mocked by those closest to you?
Destiny’s idyllic childhood full of laughter and cousins abruptly ended when her mom uprooted the family to move them across the country with strict instructions to never talk about Swallow Ridge again. Eleven years later Destiny moves back to her hometown, determined to find her cousins… and answers. 

Plagued by generations of bitterness and manipulation, Destiny hides her life-long goal - unwilling to let anyone else trample her fragile dreams. But living in the cozy town full of dandelions teaches Destiny there’s more to life than what she’s been taught. 

Is it possible Swallow Ridge not only holds the answers Destiny so intensely searches for, but also the hope?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

My favorite things for NaNoWriMo

I am so excited for November and this upcoming NaNoWriMo season. If you don't know what it is, check out their website for more details.

For this post celebrating the FIRST day of NaNo, I thought I'd compile a post of things I find indispensable to make it through the month.

Favorite Things For NaNoWriMo


This may be a given...I mean, I think by now you all know how much I love my coffee, but I couldn't start my NaNo list without it. And, the best news? There is coffee made specifically for book lovers! My friend Shelly over at Book Lovers Coffee makes some of the most incredible blends. I'm telling you...this coffee is delicious and bookish. There isn't anything better in my opinion.

Go check out her website:

Pssst! This Pumpkin Spice autumn blend is AMAZING!

A good mug

Maybe it goes without saying, but what is coffee without a great mug? For me, I find a few things to be majorly important about mugs.
1) They must feel great in my hand. None of these miniature little handles that only allow two fingers in there. Nope!
2) They must hold an immense amount of coffee (or tea) and do so well.
3) They must inspire me. This last one is a personal thing and every person will find certain things inspiring over others. For me, I enjoy bookish mugs which is why I've made fun designs in my Society6 shop to reflect my love of books, reading, and writing.

Check out my shop mug designs here:

Um....just incase you weren't sure, YES the 11oz is worth it. We're talking the perfect hand-hold for the mug 😉

White board

Now were getting into the nitty-gritty of NaNo. The writing! I love to plot things out on a white board because it's visual as well as easy to erase and/or add to as you go. Keep track of the scenes you're on, see your story arc, and jot down new ideas as you go.

Fuzzy Socks

This may not seem crucial, but it is! Those toes of yours will certainly get cold sitting around writing all day. Especially as the weather starts to take a turn for winter, you'll find these fuzzy socks as a necessity, not just a want.

A place

Whether it's your favorite coffee shop, couch, chair by the window, your bed, or your best friends porch, make sure you have a place (or more than one). It may seem like a silly thing, but if you think of going to a coffee shop as "your place" for writing, you're mind will become accustomed to writing there. It's not to say you can't write in other places, but have one spot that's your "special writing spot". Then use that after NaNo is over to keep the magic alive!


This last one is probably the most important (and my favorite, favorite). PEOPLE! You need your people, whether that's locally or globally, you need to have friends who are struggling along in the writing trenches with you as well as those who may not understand this whole crazy writing thing but are willing to support you in it. There are lots of options for this - those in a writers group near you, those online in a writers group or support group (like mine linked below), and those on the NaNo website.

Then, for those non-writing friends, just take a few minutes to tell people in your life why you're doing this crazy 50k words in a month thing. Chances are they will be super proud of you AND will help to keep you motivated by asking you how you're doing.

So, go and write fearlessly!

Join my NaNoWriMo Support & Encouragement group:

Join the NaNoWriMo website and community:

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Time To Rise by Nadine Brandes | Re:View

A fantastic end to a thrilling series, A Time To Rise fulfills all of my hopes for the end--and beginning--of Parvin's story!

From the very beginning with Parvin in book one (A Time To Die) to following her to the end of this book, it has been an emotional roller coaster of highs, lows, excitement, sadness, crazy miracles, and hints of romance. And yet, coming to the end, I really felt as if it was all "right".

I won't go into much detail here since I don't want to spoil anything, but this third book will take you to places you never expected to go with Parvin, Solomon, and the rest of the unique and eclectic cast of characters. The storyline delves deeply into what it means to truly sacrifice.

Skelly Chase is back as well, and proves to be a very interesting character. I think that's one of the things I admire most about Nadine's writing. She doesn't just make cut and dry characters, she creates whole people who are flawed just like you and I. It makes these characters real as well as it connects you to them in a way that is both beautiful and sometimes uncomfortable due to the depth of emotion you experience toward them.

I really enjoyed the setting of this book as well. We see more technology included and I also noticed how the world we saw from Parvin's point of view expanded as she experienced more and grew as a character.

While I'm sad to see the series end, the ending itself was really appropriate for the series as a whole. It left you satisfied with everything all tied up, as good endings do.

I would definitely recommend this series to those who enjoy YA dystopian with a hint of futuristic-ness to their novels. It has a strong Christian theme to it, but this works well with the story.

A Time To Rise by Nadine Brandes
My rating: 5*
Purchase: A Time To Rise #3, A Time To Speak #2, A Time To Die #1

Book Description
(from Amazon)

What more can you sacrifice than your life? 

Parvin Blackwater is dead.

At least that’s what the Council—and the world—thinks. But her sacrifice tore down part of the Wall long enough to stir up hope and rebellion in the people. Now she will rise again. Strong, free, and fearless.
Parvin and Solomon must uncover the mysterious clues that Jude left behind in order to destroy the projected Wall once and for all. Meanwhile, the Council schemes to new levels of technology in its attempts to keep the people contained. Can a one-handed Radical and a scarred ex-Enforcer really bring shalom to the world?

I received this book for free but was under no obligation to 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, October 11, 2017

Lindsay Harrel {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Lindsay...

Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. She’s held a variety of writing and editing jobs over the years, and now juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with writing novels. When she’s not writing or chasing after her children, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time. Connect with her at

Connect with Lindsay...


Get to know Lindsay...

You and Writing 

Tell us a little bit about you and your writing journey...

My love of writing began with a love of reading. I read all the time—I even tried to sneak books at the table during dinnertime. Much as my parents encouraged me, they were not okay with that. J As far as writing goes, I was that little kindergartner who asked for stacks of printer paper so I could fold it in half, staple it, and call it a book. In high school, I took creative writing as my elective. But it was then that I decided writing books was too hard and there was too much competition.

Instead, I pursued journalism and became a writer/editor in a variety of positions for about ten years. When I did my master’s program in English, I remembered my forgotten love of writing fiction and decided to try my hand at writing a book. It’s really cool to look back on that dream I had as a child finally realized.

Your Writing 

Tell us a little bit about your book...

What was one thing (or character) that surprised you while writing this book?
When I originally plotted the book, it was going to be about Megan only (she’s the sister who got the heart transplant and decided to fulfill her donor’s bucket list). Her sister Crystal was going to go along, but be an antagonist of sorts. But when I told the story concept to my agent, she said she thought maybe the sister should have her own point of view—that maybe she had a story to tell. And she did. In fact, I ended up relating so much more to her than to Megan. That really surprised me!

Did you get to do any fun research for the book?
Oh yes! It is set all over the world (Paris, London, Greece, Rome, Peru, China, etc.), so I got to do research on all the places I want to see someday! I wish I could have taken a research trip to see it all for myself, but I had a young toddler when I was writing this. Also, I wasn’t making any money from writing yet so I just couldn’t justify it at the time. But I did try to convince my husband! J


Now let's talk about writing...

How long did you write before you got published?
I got degrees in journalism and English, but I didn’t begin pursuing publication until August 2011. I signed with my agent in November 2013 and got my first contract (for One More Song to Sing) in March 2016. Then I got my two-book contract with Thomas Nelson in late 2016 and signed it in January 2017. (But we all have different journeys!! Don’t be discouraged if your journey doesn’t go as quickly as mine. I have friends on both sides of the spectrum—some who were published before me and some who are still working toward it.)

What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”? We hear this a lot, but dig deeper. Is there something else that helped you?
I absolutely recommend getting training through My Book Therapy’s Storycrafters Online Program or something similar. Spend time honing your craft and don’t be afraid to invest a bit of money to do so. I 100% believe that part of the reason I was able to learn the writing craft and become published is because I did this and really invested in this. I know not everyone can spend the money; that's okay too. Find ways to learn the craft in a way that works for the type of learner you are, even if it means checking out books or audiobooks from the library. There are plenty of free resources online. Remember, this is a career, not just a hobby. Treat it as such and give it the time and energy it deserves. Stay focused and remember the long game.

How do you balance your writing life with “real” life? Any tips or tricks to share?
I have a baby and a toddler and I stay home with them. If I can do it, so can you. I think the biggest tip I have is to carve time out for it every week. Make an appointment on the calendar and keep it as if it were a doctor’s appointment, Bible study, or one of the million other things you have on your calendar. Set realistic goals too—don’t expect to write an entire scene if you’ve crammed the rest of your day so full that you have no energy at the end of the day.


In honor of the fall, what’s your favorite fall treat?
I like the caramel apple spice drink from Starbucks. Oh, and pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

When you were a child, what did you dream of growing up to be?
I did dream of being an author, but also a lawyer. I decided to become an author and married a lawyer, so I think I’m covered!

Will you participate in National Novel Writing Month? If so, what’s your plan to keep your writing on track?
No, because I have a February 1 deadline to turn in my next novel to my publisher, so I’m drafting my book mostly in October! My goal is to write one scene a day, five days a week. If I can do that, then I’ll have finished drafting my book in about 10-11 weeks. Then comes editing!

What are you currently reading?
I just finished Michele Phoenix’s The Space Between Words (highly recommend!) and am about to pick up Lauren Denton’s The Hideaway.

Lindsay has graciously offered an ebook copy of One More Song to Sing as a giveaway! Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Rule of Law by Randy Singer | Re:View

Riveting and relevant, Rule of Law asks questions we need the answers to today in an engaging, fictional way.


This book was good, but it was also hard to read at times. I have long enjoyed fiction that incorporates a military thread or characters and this did just that in such a poignant way (see slight spoiler at bottom of post if you are sensitive to this). I'll admit to having shed many tears as I read this.

Despite the ensuing tears, I really enjoyed Randy's plot, his characters, and his no-nonsense writing voice. It's written in a straightforward way that invites you into the action without too much of the characters emotions clouding the issues. The style is very clean-cut but yet it still digs deep and pulls out reader feelings and creates sympathies for the characters.

I really liked Paige Chambers as a character. She is good at what she does but not an expert. She was vulnerable but not predictable. She was real without being overly emotional. Are you seeing a theme here? More than liking Paige though, I liked how she grew as a character. I won't say much here for fear of saying too much, but I can almost guarantee that you'll be rooting for her as you read through this.

From @createexploreread
As for the plot, it is a little complicated. There are a lot of moving pieces and it's written in a way that doesn't give you all of the answers until the end - something I enjoy. I also feel like it is very relevant. We may not be going through this with our government today, but it feels very feasible for the future. What would happen if...? How will the courts react when...? It's questions like that that made me enjoy this even more because you get to see one persons perspective of what could happen.

I definitely recommend this if you enjoy legal thrillers! Randy is an engaging storyteller and will definitely pull at your emotions while keeping you entertained.

My rating: 5*
Purchase: Rule of Law

Book Description
(from Amazon)
What did the president know? And when did she know it?

For the members of SEAL Team Six, it was a rare mission ordered by the president, monitored in real time from the Situation Room. The Houthi rebels in Yemen had captured an American journalist and a member of the Saudi royal family. Their executions were scheduled for Easter Sunday. The SEAL team would break them out.

But when the mission results in spectacular failure, the finger-pointing goes all the way to the top.

Did the president play political games with the lives of U.S. service members?

Paige Chambers, a determined young lawyer, has a very personal reason for wanting to know the answer. The case she files will polarize the nation and test the resiliency of the Constitution. The stakes are huge, the alliances shaky, and she will be left to wonder if the saying on the Supreme Court building still holds true.

Equal justice under law.

It makes a nice motto. But will it work when one of the most powerful people on the planet is also a defendant?

*Light Spoiler*
For those who are sensitive to reading about loss of life, especially military service members, parts of this may be difficult to read. 
I received this book for free but was under no obligation to 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, October 4, 2017

Tabitha Caplinger {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Tabitha...

Tabitha Caplinger is a wife, mom, youth pastor and professed tv addict. It's seriously a problem but she doesn't plan on getting help anytime soon. Mostly because she loves the stories. She can't help but get lost in the worlds created and invested in the lives of the characters. She brings that same passion for the story to her own writing. The first book in her YA trilogy, The Chronicle of the Three: Bloodline, is currently available with the second book releasing in early 2017. Aside from writing and watching tv, Tabitha can be found singing off key and dancing in the kitchen or car with her two adorably sassy daughters and awesome husband who she thinks is kind of cute.

Connect with Tabitha...

Purchase: The Chronicle of the Three: Bloodline and  The Chronicle of Three: Armor-Bearer

Get to know Tabitha...

Your Writing

How I started writing is a common question and I really have no clue how to answer it. I know I didn’t just wake up one day and think being a writer would be cool. As a kid I want to be a paleontologist or equine veterinarian. As I graduated high school my career dreams shifted toward a life doing pastoral ministry. (I’m also a youth pastor.) I have always liked stories, mostly through tv and movies, but I had never considered writing them. Looking back I was always writing them, in my own mind. My imagination was working overdrive most of the time. In college something shifted. I attended Sweet Briar College for a couple of semesters and ended up a Creative Writing major. I wish I knew how but I don’t, honestly. But I had all these writing classes and I fell in love. When I left school to continue to pursue ministry I put writing on the back burner. I had this itch to write but it just never happened. Ten years later I realized it was because I was trying to write non-fiction devotional type books because that is what pastors should write, right? One day I got this idea for a story and it wouldn’t let go so I started writing it down. One YA trilogy later I can’t not write. My imagination still works in overdrive but it’s not random, it’s becoming books. (EEK!) It has become this way I can connect with people, encourage them, maybe empower them a little and remind them that they are never alone.
Tell us a little bit about your book...

Why did you write it?
The Chronicle of the Three (TCO3) Trilogy has really become a way for me to connect with students, and adults, and speak something that I hope will remind them that they have a purpose. We all are and can be the chosen one, so to speak. It took me getting 1/3 of the way into it to realize that. I think stories reach people on a deeper level and I want young people to see their value and to understand they are powerful, chosen, loved and never alone. A story can do that.

Do you have a favorite character in this work?
If so, why? Maggie, no Lucas. Ugh. Picking favorites is so hard. Both of these have become faves for me. Maggie, who is also a fan fave, is just the girl you want as your best friend. She’s fun but cares deeply for her little demon slaying family. Lucas is snarky and has layers and who doesn’t love a good redemption story?

What was a challenge you faced while writing it?
Potty training a toddler. LOL. But its no joke trying to write a book while potty training. On a more serious note, it was challenging to be vulnerable in my writing, and to be myself and write the story I loved without worrying what someone would think, especially of the faith aspects. (Was it too much, was it not enough?) Knowing that it’s going to be put out into the world is a very vulnerable thing and so there was fear that had to be faced to get it finished.

What did you learn while writing it?
Writing is hard. It takes time and patience.

Is there a funny story associated with writing the book?
Well, I have a little group of young women, who became my beta readers. I would send them chapters as I wrote them to get feedback on the story and they helped keep me accountable to writing and getting it done. A couple of them would reply to each chapter with these long email rants about their feels over the characters. I know I got a chuckle more than once as they yelled at me about what happened to Michael, or who Claire should and shouldn’t love and why we all hate Meredith. It was entertaining and one day I am going to share those emails with the world.

Was there a passage of scripture you came across or used while writing it that you’d like to share?

Not one in particular but if you look hard enough there are several places within the story where the truths of specific scriptures are woven in.

We're your characters easy to pin down or did you discover them along the way as you wrote the book?
I knew all the characters going in, at least all the main characters. What was surprising is how they changed over the course of the story in ways I hadn’t imagined, or when they would do something I hadn’t planned on. They may have been creations of my own imagination but they were also these friends that I was slowly getting to know while writing.

What made you choose the setting for the book?
The setting, Torch Creek, is inspired by the small town where I grew up.

What's the most random thing you had to Google for the story?
Garden of Eden Location theories

What was one thing (or character) that surprised you while writing this book?
Alex! I had a plan for him and he flipped that plan upside down several times throughout writing.

What’s your favorite snack while writing?
I don’t eat while I write, just drink copious amounts of coffee. Which is weird because there is a lot of eating going on in my books, a lot.


Let’s talk about your writing life...

What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”?
Learn your craft, and not just the writing side of it. Learn about publishing and marketing. I wish I had known more about the industry and how it all worked earlier on in the game. Writing the book is only one part of making writing a career.

How many rejection letters did you get before being accepted by a publisher?
Between publishers and agents, at least 50. Every single one of them was disappointing but I kept reminding myself that I didn’t need everyone to want my book just the right one. One a side note, all that rejection helps give you thicker skin to deal with bad reviews.

What does your writing process look like?
I make coffee. Then I sit in my comfy chair, in my pajamas and scroll through Pinterest and Twitter for way too long. Reheat my coffee. Stare at my manuscript for longer than I realize. Reheat my coffee. Write some words. Delete those words. Write some more words. Reheat my coffee.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of the writing process?
I LOVE when a character surprises me. It’s this weird, slightly insane, moment but it’s also the coolest.

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters?

Somethings are just my weird imagination. But somethings come from other influences in my life like tv. I love tv a little too much so much of my style points back to my favorite shows and what I love about them.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, have a favorite artist or playlist to share?
I make playlists that share the vibe I want the book or characters to have and listen to that while writing, and especially when I’m stuck. My two go to songs for TC03 were Demons by Imagine Dragons and Hard Love by Needtobreathe. (You can listen to the full TCO3 playlist here,

How do you balance your writing life with “real” life? Any tips or tricks to share?
The thing that has helped me the most has been setting goals. I read somewhere that Ted Dekker, I think it was Ted, writes 2000 words a day. When I first started and had two small kids that felt like an impossible task. But I could do 2000 words a week. So that became my goal and I would work to achieve it weekly. Sometimes I wrote more, sometimes I feel short, but it gave me something to keep me focused and motivated.


When you get an idea for a novel, what is the first thing that you do? 
I don’t usually get a plot idea to start, but an image or line. For TCO3 I got an image of the Chronicle itself and started asking myself questions about what it could be, who it could belong to, what does it mean? For my new WIP I got the first line of the book. But whatever it is I jot it down and then as it develops I keep scribbling little notes until I have enough to work into an outline.

September is Classical Music Month (who knew?). In keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel?
Does Aslan count as classic?

What is your favorite fall snack food?
I don’t have a fave fall-specific snack per say but I love pie and there are a lot of great fall pies. However, can I take this time to confess that I do NOT like pumpkin spice anything? Cuz I don’t. There I said it. LOL

What are you currently reading?
Unraveling by Sara Ella and I am loving this series.

Anything else you'd like to share with my readers? 
In October I will be hosting a read a long of my books. See information below on how to join:

Join us in Torch Creek! They have tons of small town charm if you can handle slaying a few demons. 😉 Beginning October 8th, we will be reading The Chronicle of the Three: Bloodline and The Chronicle of the Three: Armor-Bearer. Along with bookish fun there will be live Q&As with the author, special guests and some giveaways!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig | Re:View

Riveting and thrilling, Ronie Kendig delivers a truly epic adventure with Crown of Souls.


I eagerly awaited this book after finishing Conspiracy of Silence and I was definitely not disappointed!

I really enjoyed this second installment of the Tox Files and getting to know more about Cole “Tox” Russell. I think one of my favorite things was the fact that we got to see a bit more of the depth of his character in this book. He was already a fully-fleshed character in Conspiracy of Silence but even more so in this book you could see sides of him that he’d kept hidden in book one.

I also loved the blossoming and deepening of his relationship with Haven, whom I love. She's such a sweet and steady character and creates a perfect foil to Tox's internal turmoil. I loved that there was still a lot of tension present as well as a greater depth that can only be found in the midst of dire circumstances.

Ronie is so good at creating emotionally charged situations as well as increasing the intensity of any (and all) relationships whether that be romantic or those based on the brotherhood of the team. We see a lot of this in Crown of Souls, but in the context of an overarching plot that barely lets you breathe. It all makes for a wild and thrilling ride.

Speaking of wild and thrilling, the search for the Crown of Souls artifact is so fantastic. It was such a intriguing yet complex idea (very Indiana Jones) which made for a lot of questions asked and guesses made leading to a good bit of misdirection. I felt like I was on the edge of my seat through the whole book, just waiting for something else to happen – which it always did!

I highly recommend this book to any and all who love suspense, thrillers, military action, tension-filled romance, and excellent writing!

My rating: 5*
Purchase: Crown of Souls

Book Description 
(from Amazon)
Six months after stopping a deadly plague, Cole "Tox" Russell and his team are enjoying a little rest. That peace is short-lived when a sniper shot hits Tox. The enemy is discovered to be one of their own, a rogue Special Forces team operator.

Alec King is perhaps the only person as skilled as Tox, and he's out for justice. Furious with orders that got his men killed, he intends to make those responsible pay. And he insists Tox join him, believing they are the same breed of soldier.

Afraid his old friend is right, Tox battles a growing darkness within himself as he and his team engage in another deadly encounter with antiquity. It appears Alec is cheating--he's using a mysterious artifact, a crown that history has linked to some of the worst slaughters in humanity. Racing to stop Alec before his vengeance is unleashed, Tox must fight the monster without becoming one.
I received this book for free but was under no obligation to 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 13, 2017

Shelly Roark {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Shelly...

Hello! My name is Shelly Roark—wife, mom, sweet tea aficionado, lover of old wives’ tales and writer. My husband Geoff and I have been married 26 years. We have three kiddos—all teens now. Katie is 17, Ethan is 15, and Gracie is 13. Our family also includes a black lab named Rosie and a kitten named Tigger.

Connect with Shelly...


Purchase: The Bubble Who Would Not POP! 

Get to know Shelly...

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing…

I loved writing stories as a child. But when I joined the newspaper staff in high school, I was hooked! Out of college, I worked for a local newspaper. After about 10 years, I began writing for ministries and nonprofits. I have been blessed to share the stories of so many absolutely incredible ministries that feed the hungry, save babies, shelter children, distribute Bibles and more. Today, I’m a senior writer for Focus on the Family. I absolutely love telling stories of people and for people . . . people are so interesting!

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book…

My debut children’s book combines two of my loves—storytelling and children’s ministry. The Bubble Who Would Not POP! was originally written to share a simple message about prayer with kids in children’s church. I told it to my own children when they were very young before I even wrote it down. Some of the parts I made up as I went along. When all three were still, quiet and paying attention during the story, I knew it was a winner! I quickly wrote the early version down before I forgot it!

I love the character Billy Bubble—he’s brave and shows compassion toward the little girl who asks him to take her prayer up to God in heaven. He faces challenges but learns some very important lessons about the power of prayer on his journey, including that God ALWAYS hears our prayers. In fact, God knows our needs before we even pray about them! We are never told what the prayer need of the little girl is in the story . . . but it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t want to put boundaries on what children might need to pray about and thought the kiddos might just insert their own needs into the story. God hears our prayers no matter what they are. Now, that doesn’t mean that we always get the answer we want when we pray for something. But the first step in living a life of prayer is to believe that God will hear you when you talk to Him. He really does! It is as simple as that. One of the Scriptures that inspired this simple lesson is “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24 NIV).


Let’s talk about your writing life…

How long did you write before you got published? 
I’ve been writing since I was a kid. But, professionally, I’ve written for about 26 years. The first decade, I wrote for a newspaper. Since then, I’ve been a ghostwriter for nonprofits and ministries. I write fund-raising copy, newsletters, articles, and even some books. For much of that time, I’ve helped out with children’s ministry at church just for fun. In that capacity, I’ve written little stories here and there, puppet scripts, skits, etc. One day a friend of mine encouraged me to send one of my kid stories to a new publisher. I did and God took it from there!

What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”? 
From a faith perspective, just know that God has your plan. He knows the desires of your heart, your giftings and talents . . . He gave them to you! So, be patient with His timing. Maybe you need to have some specific life experiences before He gives the green flag on your writing career in order to share lessons and encouragement with others. Just keep following your heart, ask His guidance and He will work out the details.

What does your writing process look like? 
The writing process for a children’s book is a little different than for an adult book I think. The message, setting and plot must be simple and easy to digest. They must work together with the visual to capture and keep small attention spans. So . . . when I get a thought, I let it bounce around in my head for a while before I write it out. I start with a simple lesson that I want to share and try to imagine it from a child’s point of view. It is also fun to start with a silly title and work from there.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, have a favorite artist or playlist to share? 
I do love to listen to music when I write . . . especially Christmas music. I listen to Christmas music off and on all year long!

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
Hmmmm. Well, something I’ve learned is that a great story doesn’t go very far if no one knows about it! Ha! Because I’ve always been a ghostwriter, I had no audience of my own to talk to . . . it’s been a little challenging to try and cultivate that. I would recommend anyone who wants to be published eventually to start developing a social media presence now by blogging/posting/tweeting.


September is Classical Music Month (who knew?). In keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel?
Since we are talking about children’s books, can I use The Grinch? It is from a classic children’s book. Hee! Hee! OR, Winnie the Pooh . . . love that little round bear!

What is your favorite fall snack food? 
This sounds so typical, but I LOVE anything pumpkin-flavored or cinnamon-flavored in the fall—pumpkin break, pumpkin muffins, spice bread, pumpkin-flavored coffee.

What are you currently reading? 
Well, my daughter just got Wuthering Heights to read. I haven’t read it since high school so I told her I would read it with her. It’s great because I have forgotten a lot of it (or maybe I just didn’t read it very thoroughly at the time).

Shelly has graciously offered up a copy of her book to one lucky winner! Enter below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway