Friday, September 27, 2013

What do readers want?

I read a tweet the other day by the ever-wise, Emily Rodmell about what readers want.

This really got me thinking. I mean, I'm a reader...and yes, I do want that too! But, then I felt discouraged (as a writer) thinking, "But what if I don't want the first two characters to be the hero and heroine?" I guess that was the rebellious side of me speaking out.

From a reader-perspective, I'd say that I totally agree. I want to know soon into the book who is who because I start to form opinions about the characters right off the bat. If it appears to be the hero and heroine, I immediately start to wonder, "How will they end up together?" or "How will X-issue be solved?"

I remember reading one book where, when I was introduced to the hero, I had a mental image of him with grey hair and wrinkles (not that these are bad) so I was thinking, this guy is older. But then, a few chapters later, I realized that he was the hero/main character and was supposed to be young, manly, and athletic (of course). I remember having the hardest time getting the wrong image of him out of my mind. He was forever and older man when I pictured him in my mind. Now, I'm not saying that was purely the writers fault. It is entirely possible I misread a description or added characteristics that were never there. Either way, it really colored the story for me (in a not-so-good way).

From a writer-perspective though, I want to push the envelope. Obviously, Emily Rodmell knows exactly what she's talking about - this post isn't to debate her tweet at all because I agree.

But I want to know if it's possible to stretch the limits of readers?

>>How do YOU, reader, feel when you read a book?
>>If you weren't introduced to the hero until later in the novel, would you be angry, or just intrigued?

In any case, these things would have to be done well. I understand you have to satisfy your reader with a legitimate plot and an understandable (practical?) explanation as to why things work out the way they do.

I want to hear what you (readers and authors alike) have to say on this subject. I'm so interested to hear thoughts and opinions on this. I don't think there's a solid right answer, but it could be fun to discuss!

Please feel free to comment below :)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Margaret Brownley {Writer Wednesday}

Please welcome Margaret Brownley to the blog! I'm excited for you to get the chance to know more about this wonderful author.

A little bit about Margaret...

Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance; Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with that—except she happened to be writing for the church newsletter. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took her aside and said, "Maybe God's calling you to write fiction."

So that’s what Margaret did. She now has more than thirty books to her credit, is a New York Times bestselling author and past Romance Writers of America RITA finalist—not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.

How to connect with Margaret...

To purchase her books:
She prefer readers to support local bookstores, but the book can be purchased on line here:

Author Interview | Margaret Brownley

You and Writing
Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I wrote my first book in fifth grade—a mystery I didn’t know how to end (still don’t). After flunking eighth grade English, my teacher told me not to even think about being a writer and for many years I didn’t. School, work, marriage and babies took up most of my time, but the writing bug never left. After being encouraged by my pastor to go for broke, I started writing my first novel. I was teaching at the time so I got up at 4 a.m. and wrote for two hours before waking the children and getting myself ready for work. Five years and four books later I sold my first novel.
...What’s kept me writing? The stories that keep popping up inside and letters from readers.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...This is like picking out a favorite child, but I have to say that Gunpowder Tea tops the list. I’ve always wanted to write a mystery and this book allowed me to go places I’ve not gone before...It has everything I love in a book; romance, laughter, mystery and faith, but I especially love the chemistry between the hero and heroine

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...I’ve been in the business for twenty-five years and I would say the hardest thing has been keeping up with all the changes. Back then, the bookstore was king. Now it’s the Internet. Just when I think I’ve got a handle on social media, it changes. My grandkiddies just informed me I’m behind the times because I’m not on Instagram. The easiest? There is no easy.

Your Writing
Tell us a little bit about your book

...The heroine of Gunpowder Tea is a Pinkerton detective trying to track down a notorious outlaw suspected of hiding out on the Last Chance Ranch. She has good reason for suspecting Taggert of being the outlaw; mainly because he robbed her on the train. Little does she know that he’s a Wells Fargo detective also working undercover.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...It was a lot of fun writing about a female Pinkerton detective. I really love the interaction between Annie and Taggert. They start off suspecting each other of being the bad guy. Then they’re in competition to see who can track down the outlaw first. It’s just so much fun!

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...The Pinkerton logo is an eye and the theme running through the book comes from John 9:25: I was blind, now I see. How true that is on so many levels. Sometimes we see only what we want to see or that which is the most evident. God encourages us to look beyond the surface and see the person inside.

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...Actually Annie was inspired by a real person. Kate Warne was the first female detective and worked as a Pinkerton operative during the 1860s. She helped stop the first assassination attempt on Lincoln’s life.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I’m afraid my goals when writing are far from lofty. My first consideration is to entertain and delight the reader. Second, my goal is to make them care about the characters. My aim for the end of the book is to leave readers smiling and feeling more hopeful.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...First, enjoy the process; it’s easy to get so caught up in making that first sale that we forget the sheer pleasure of putting words on paper and telling our stories. Each step of the writing journey is exciting. Mine it for all its worth. Beginners have the luxury of giving a novel all the time and care that it needs. Professionals have deadlines to meet.
...Second: Rejections are not the end of a story; they are only the beginning. Think of them as an opportunity to find a better publisher or improve the work. I had one book rejected seventeen times before it found a publisher—and then it helped launch a new line. Thank God for those seventeen rejections.

When you get an idea for a novel, what is the first thing that you do?
...I run it by my agent or editor.
September is Classical Music Month (who knew?). In keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel?
...Jo in Little Women was my role model growing up. I loved her spunk and that she was a writer. I wanted to be just like her.


Thank you so much for joining us at Thinking Thoughts today, Margaret. I know when I first read your short bio I laughed--hard--and could completely relate (working for a church myself). Fiction does seem a lot more fun to write versus bulletin inserts ;)

I also love your intentions for your books! You say they aren't lofty, but I think they are fantastic. Who doesn't want to be encouraged and feeling more hopeful after reading a great book? And when you said that you were rejected 17 times I'll admit that I was encouraged! To look at you and your prosperous writing career now gives us all hope to keep writing.

Readers, make sure you mark your calendars. Gunpowder Tea will be released on Amazon October 8th. It'll definitely be worth the wait, I'm sure!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Awakened Love Giveaway Winner

I just love giveaways! What's better than winning a book??? I'd say, not much :)

I'm excited to announce the winner of Laura Hilton's book Awakened Love ....

Wendy Newcomb

Congrats Wendy! I'll send your contact info to Laura and she'll get you your copy of Awakened Love!
If you didn't see my interview with Laura, be sure to check it out [here]. And, if you didn't win, you can still find her book on Amazon.

Check back tomorrow for another {Writer Wednesday} interview :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Giveaway Reminder and A Question

Don't forget, my Thinking Thoughts readers - you have until 9pm TODAY to comment on Laura Hilton's recent {Writer Wednesday} interview for a chance to win her latest release, Awakened Love! She has asked that you leave your favorite fall snack in the comments. Just reading them makes me hungry ;)

You can find the post here

In other news, I've had a blast going through all of the photos I took at the ACFW Conference! One thing I've noticed is that Frank Peretti loves to make funny faces!!! Ah, the things you learn about your favorite authors at a writers conference.

Boots and leaves!
Also, the onset of fall is finally upon Southern California! Ok, so it's not that cold and it's not that fall-like, but hey, this girl will take what she can get. On my run this morning I saw the sunrise threading its fingers through the leaves of a nearby oak and thought...yes, it really is becoming fall. I've learned to adjust my expectations having lived in So. Cal. for 6 years now. Unfortunately, it will more than likely be over 90 degrees today, but I can rest assured that a change in season isn't too far off.

What is your favorite part about fall?? 
I'll share mine in a post later this week!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

ACFW Recap (part 2)

The monument

As I said in my previous post, I attended the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis last weekend. I had the privileged of meeting so many amazing authors and writers - some published, some on their way. It was such a blessing to spend time with hundreds of like-minded people.

As Brandilyn Collins (the MC for the weekend) said, we just had to remember that there were "normals" about. When you get that many authors in one location, we tend to be a little lax about the interesting life a writer leads. It's not uncommon to hear writers talking about their characters as if they were real people or even see someone talking to themselves, more than likely arguing, because their character is trying to do something the author hasn't anticipated. Yes, normal people may not understand, but at ACFW there were hundreds of people who would!

View from our hotel beautiful!

I had the personal privileged of rooming with my critique partner Deb, JoAnn (a former {Writer Wednesday} guest), and Laurean. We had so much fun! It's always great to meet people online through the ACFW email loops, but nothing beats being in person. We all shared our experiences at the conference together and there was always lots of laughter in our room!

Deb and I at the airport

It was also such a fantastic thing to talk over new projects and get feedback from Deb. She's such an encouragement to me and being able to chat in person was so great!!

**Shameless plug: check out Deb's books!!!

Tosca and I <3 br="">
 In addition to all this writing fun, I also got to have some photo fun too! For those of you who don't know, in addition to creating suspenseful and romantic plots, I also love to photo real-life people too ;) Check out my photo blog if you get the chance: E.A. Creative Photography. You can also find me on Facebook here.

I had the distinct pleasure of taking headshots for many authors and agents in attendance at the conference! Not only was it great to have a bunch of sessions lined up to capture the beautiful natural light and fun setting of Indianapolis, but I got to meet some amazing people! I met multi-published authors, aspiring authors, agents, and even New York Times Bestselling Author Tosca Lee (pictured at the right). As I like to say, I kind of have a bit of an author crush on Tosca and it was such a fun opportunity to share my passion for photography with her. She is such a beautiful person and a fantastic author :)

Hayley and I

THEN - as if that wasn't enough - I got to spend a night on the town with my dear friend Hayley! She attends college in Indianapolis and we were able to spend some time hanging out, sight seeing, having dinner, and catching up on life!
The monument at night
Beautiful fountain by the monument lit up at night!
Capital seen from the monument
Love the lights :D
Well...there you have it. A snapshot of my time at ACFW. In between the photo fun/craziness, I also attended sessions, met with some wonderful agents and mentors, and tried my best to soak it all up. I've come to see that this is definitely a direction the Lord is taking me in. I don't know yet what that will look like or just how He is going to direct my steps, but I have confidence in His plans.

It's last thing I'd like to share is just more of a feeling than anything else.  I don't know if you've experienced something like this, but the whole time I was in Indianapolis, I had the overwhelming feeling of being exactly where I needed to be. I was a peace. Sure, I was nervous as anything to meet with agents and to "pitch" my book or even just to talk about those things, but the whole time I never once doubted my presence at the conference. I know the Lord prompted me to sign up to go (even when I wasn't sure how I'd pay for it) and I know that He sustained me while I was there. To sum it all up, the Lord taught me (again) how good and trustworthy He is. What a blessing!

For anyone who attended ACFW - what's one thing you walked away with (writing or spiritual or both)? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Laura Hilton {Writer Wednesday} GIVEAWAY

You may remember Laura from her post here on my blog back in April (you can find that post here). I'm excited to announce another GIVEAWAY as well. Laura has offered to give away a copy of her latest release, Awakened Love. In return, she'd love for you to answer my last interview question in the comments below! Enjoy getting to know Laura!

A little bit about Laura...

Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools three of her children. Her two oldest children are homeschool graduates and are in college. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor.

Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love. Surrendered Love and Awakened Love. A nonAmish book The Appalachian Ballad Quilt will release November 2014 from Abingdon Press. She is contracted for another three book Amish series with Whitaker House, The Amish of Jamesport, releasing in April 2014, September 2014, and April 2015. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Laura is a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with over a thousand book reviews published at various online review sites.

How to connect with Laura...

Twitter: @Laura_V_Hilton

To purchase her book you can find it on Amazon, Deeper Shopping, or CBD

You & Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I always wanted to write. Ever since I was a little kid I dreamed up stories. Writing has been a lifelong passion. So happy God allowed me to do it!

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...Surrendered Love. One of the characters in this one reached out and grabbed my heartstrings and won’t let go.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...The easiest thing about it is writing. I love the creative process. The hardest is marketing.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it? 

...Awakened Love
Katie Detweiler grew up Amish, never knowing she was adopted as an infant. Now an adult, her new job as cook at an Amish bed and breakfast doesn’t bring about the euphoria she hoped for. Just as she’s getting her menu perfected, the Englisch family and severely ill sister she never knew existed enter her life and strain her Amish relationships. Plus, Katie suddenly has two different men vying for her attention—one Amish, one Englisch—and she wonders if one of them could be the man of her dreams. But when her Englisch sister’s health worsens, Katie must find a way to balance her heart and her job.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...I loved both Katie and Abram

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...I’ll leave that up to God and the reader.


What is your favorite fall snack food? 
...Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and apple cider. 

Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today. Don't forget to answer the last question - about what your favorite fall snack food is - below in the comments. You'll be entered in to win a copy of her novel Awakened Love. I'll announce the winner next Tuesday - September 24th. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Winner & ACFW Conference Recap (part 1)


Double WOW.

I had the most incredible time at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference this past weekend in Indianapolis, IN. I met so many people - authors, agents, editors - and was encouraged not only in association with writing, but in my very soul. I came back exhausted, but refreshed. How's that for an oxymoron?

I wanted to give an overview of everything...but I'm still pretty tired and working on things related to the photography that I did at the conference.

Instead, I'll just leave you with the winner for Shannon's book...

Connie Hendryx

Congratulations....Mom! And no, there was absolutely no specialty picking here! Every name was thrown into a cup and tossed around. She won fair and square ;)

Thanks everyone so much for stopping by my blog and I hope to see you back soon :) 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Shannon Taylor Vannatter {Writer Wednesday} GIVEAWAY

You may remember Shannon from her previous post (you can find that here). I've happily invited her back and am excited to announce that she will be offering a GIVEAWAY of her novel Arkansas Weddings. This giveaway will run until 9pm next Monday evening (when I return from the ACFW conference :D) and I will announce the winner on Tuesday September 17th. To enter, please leave a comment below. I will enter all names of the commenter into a hat (ok, let's be honest, it's going to be a bowl...) and draw a winner! 

A little bit about Shannon...

Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom and pastor’s wife. Her debut novel won the 2011 Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. When not writing, she runs circles in the care and feeding of her husband, their son, and church congregation. Home is a central Arkansas zoo with two charcoal gray cats, a chocolate lab, and three dachshunds in weenie dog heaven. If given the chance to clean house or write, she’d rather write. Her goal is to hire Alice from the Brady Bunch.

How to connect with Shannon...

Twitter: @stvauthor
Purchase her book [here]

Author Interview | Shannon Taylor Vannatter

You & Writing

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing?
...Deadlines. It can be stressful when I’m writing a book with a deadline. Midway through when I’m really on a roll with the book, I get edits from my publisher on a different book with a different deadline. I have to stop working and do my edits. Get them turned in on time, then pick up where I left off on the book I was writing. I finally told myself if I want to be a writer—this is it. Deal with it. I don’t stress out as much anymore and remind myself that deadlines are a good thing to have.

The easiest?
...The books are easier to write these days. They seem to just flow out of me. 

Your Writing

...Arkansas Weddings is a 3 in 1 collection of my first three published books. Each story is set in Romance and Rose Bud. Both small towns are real and in west central, Arkansas. The Romance Post Office provides a re-mailing service. People send their Valentine cards and wedding invitations there to be re-mailed with a unique hand-stamped postmark from Romance. Couples also go there to get married at the post office or the Romance Waterfalls. Rose Bud’s claim to fame is the Darden Gifford House. The house was built in the late 1800’s and is on the historical registry. I incorporated the local flavor into all three stories.

Here’s the back cover copy:

Arkansas Weddings: Love’s never easy in three Arkansas romances.

Pastor Grayson loves his wife. The problem is, Sara was killed by a hit-and-run driver two years ago. He knows he needs to move on, but it’s not until florist Adrea Welch arrives at his church that the seeds of healing are planted in his heart.

Laken left home eight years ago and never looked back. Who knew when she applied for the promotion to postmaster that she’d end up in Romance, Arkansas, and much too close to her past—and Hayden Winters?

Shell doesn’t have a good reputation. But no matter what everyone in Rose Bud, Arkansas, thinks of her, she’s back in town with a job to do. Ryler also has reasons for being in Rose Bud, and they don’t include Shell.

But God’s love can soften the hardest heart and overcome the darkest past. These hearts may not know it, but they’re about to change.

Why are you/did you write it?
...The first story—White Roses came from my dad getting my mom and me flowers or a balloon every Valentine’s Day. And I thought if anything happened to either of us, he’d probably continue the tradition and take his gifts to the cemetery. Once I caught the interest of an editor, the publisher wanted to make the book into a series. 

...Book 2 was based on this line from White Roses: Sylvie’s husband, an alcoholic, never stepped foot in church. Their two children, both grown and gone with lives of their own, never came for a visit. Instead of having empathy for the plight of Helen and Wade, since alcoholism controlled Sylvie’s life as well, she took all her heartache and picked apart the lives of others.
...That’s all I had to go on when I decided that one of Sylvie’s children could be female. After I delved into Lauren Kroft’s psyche, I decided she never came home because her mother is a gossip maven and her father is the town drunk. Enter the heroine for White Doves.

...Book 3 came from this line from White Roses: Just two years ago, she’d been the soon-to-be bride blissfully planning her own ceremony. Until three weeks before the big event, when Wade crushed her illusions with his curvy blond floozy, clad only in a towel.
...From the time I wrote that line, I wanted to delve into the floozy. What would make a woman bust up an engagement? Why was she like that? I soon learned Shell Evans had a chip on her shoulder. Raised by a promiscuous mother, Shell learned everything in the school of hard knocks. And it skewed her view of the world. Low self-esteem put her on a constant search for love and she looked for it in all the wrong places just as her mother had. And Shell became the unlikely heroine of White Pearls.

Do you have a favorite character in this work?

If so, why?

...I love taking a bad girl character, finding out what made her that way, and redeeming her.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...All my books are geared toward one theme: Love doesn’t make the world go round—God does. I don’t think we can have a truly fulfilling love without God in the center of the relationship.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...I find inspiration for characters everywhere. Real life, headlines, snippets of conversation. When I see someone acting in a unique, strange, or interesting way, I wonder why they act that way. And those ponderings often become a character.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I write in the hopes that a reader struggling with similar issues will gain insight on their situation from my characters. And my constant prayer is that a reader will loan my book to a non-believer and my characters will plant seeds.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Join a local writing group, attend local conferences. Join American Christian Fiction Writers, take their online classes, and attend as many of their national conferences as you can afford. Also, Seekerville is a great place for writers to learn the craft. One of my critique partners never belonged to a writer’s group or attended a conference. She learned everything from the Seekerville archives and sold the first book she ever wrote.


When you get an idea for a novel, what is the first thing that you do?
...I write it down. I have what I call an idea book. It’s a thick, heavy, nicely bound journal. Every idea goes in that book. I go to bed with it on my nightside table and have often awakened in the middle of the night and written my dreams down. I have a book that comes out in April next year that’s based on a dream.
September is Classical Music Month (who knew?). In keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel?
...Scarlett O’Hara. She’s so selfish and manipulative. But I end up rooting for her anyway.

What is your favorite fall snack food?
...Sunflower seeds. That’s pretty much my year round snack food. Especially when I’m doing edits for my publisher. When I’m editing, I’m not reading the story or getting involved. I’m simply looking for inconsistencies, plot problems, and character issues. It makes me so sleepy and I’ve found that sunflower seeds keep me awake. But, this summer my feet kept swelling. I finally figured out it was the salt intake and laid off them. I might have to find another snack.


Thank you for joining us on the blog again, Shannon. I loved being able to "get into your head" a little bit about your book Arkansas Weddings! I am right there with you, always intrigued by peoples character and what makes them tick. I will admit right here and now that I'm a people watcher ;)

I love that you have a book coming out based on a dream as well. I have definitely gained inspiration from dreams. Instead of a notebook, I use a handy app called  Evernote, and it already holds 10 ideas I have for future books!!! You need to check it out, writers, if you haven't already. It keeps everything updated on all my devices plus it's so much easier to type something in than turn on the light in the middle of the night ;) But to each her own!

Thanks again - we hope to hear more from you in the future, Shannon.

Don't forget to post a comment for a chance to win a copy of Arkansas Weddings...

Monday, September 9, 2013

A little story and a RE:View | Lifeline by Christy Barrit

Late nights of reading, writing, frantically organizing clothes to pack, and stressing over pitches. This has been my life for the last few weeks. Know why?

The ACFW Writers Conference

That's why! I am so looking forward to this weekend and cannot wait to spend five days surrounded by writers talking about the things we all love. Plots, books, characters, description...if it has something to do with writing, we will probably talk about it!

It was during one of those later nights while I was enjoying a few minutes of "me" time (a.k.a. reading time) that we set the stage for a funny, Emilie-story.

There I was, home alone at night, not a care in the world, hoping to catch up on some of my review-reading (because I've been quite behind as of last). I was really enjoying my current read, Lifeline by Christy Barritt (more on this in a moment) when suddenly a knock on the door shattered the silence.

Immediately my heart was beating. My eyes were wide. My hands frozen in the air, suspending the book in front of me. You see, my roommate and I don't often get house calls and it was late (in my opinion) for an unannounced visit.

That's when the questions began - do I answer it? Do I pretend I'm not home though the lights are on? Do I even hazard a peek through the window?

Well...eventually, when I was breathing regularly again (almost) I made my way to the door and peeked out at a young gentleman holding a pizza box. Apparently, he had the wrong door I went through all that fright for nothing.

Either way, this is a great transition into the fantastic book that had me fearing for my life at the knock from a pizza deliverly guy.


Second in the Security Experts series, Christy Barritt does it again with Lifeline! Her first novel in this series, Key Witness (find my review here) introduced us to Eyes, a private security organization.
In Lifeline, Eyes once again plays a role in the novel with familar characters Elle Phillips and Mark Denton (from Key Witness).

Julianne Grace doesn't trust men, and for good reason. Her ex-fiance, Darrell, was abusive and, when he passed away in a training accident, she couldn't help but feel relieved. The only trouble is that Julianne has reason to believe Darrell didn't actually die. There have already been two murders and Julianne fears she will be the next. In a panic, Julianne turns to the only person who can help, Bradly Stone.

Bradly works for Eyes as a security analyst and was there at the time of Darrell's accident. If anyone can shed light on the reality of Darrell's death, it's Bradly. But how can he believe Julianne if he saw Darrell die with his own eyes?

Will Julianne and Bradly discover the truth behind Darrell's accident in time to save their lives?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel! It held me captive with wonderful, descriptive writing and action-packed suspense. The danger was almost palatable! I completely recommend this novel to anyone who is interested in romantic suspense done right.

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.  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

RE:View | Awakening by JoAnn Durgin

I had the pleasure of introducing JoAnn Durgin to you as a {Writer Wednesday} author back in July. You can find that post [here]. Now, I'm pleased to post a review of her debut novel, Awakening, which is book one in The Lewis Legacy Series (click here for more books in this series).


Lexa Clark meets her match in Sam Lewis. He's handsome, direct, and god-fearing to the core. From the moment he gives her a ride to the 8-week Team Work Mission camp, Lexa is intrigued by the attractive camp director. 

Sam immediately notices there is something different about Lexa. Not only is she beautiful, but she is full of "spice". She's also determined to get herself into difficult situations due to her stubborn nature.  He wonders what the extent of her relationship with the Lord is, along with the circumstances that have brought Lexa to his camp.

Sparks fly, but they aren't caused by the hot San Antonio weather. Sam and Lexa - Lewis and Clark - are a dynamic duo in every way. At times, they are like oil and water, arguing over deep theological issues or past history, but at other times they fit together perfectly. It's in those times that we see something beautiful forming. 

Lexa and Sam don't have it easy though. Strange things are happening at the camp and Lexa may be the key piece in solving the mystery. Can they make it though the 8-week camp without mishap? Will they find something even more beautiful together on other other side?

As I read this book,  I reflected back to my own experience on a mission trip to Ensenada, Mexico many years go. I could relate to a few of the situations, especially when Lexa finds joy in working with less fortunate school-aged children. I loved the dynamic relationship between Sam and Lexa. There were times when I was angry with Lexa for how she acted or with Sam for something he would say, but those issues only make the characters more believable. I love how real Sam and Lexa are.

I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in a fun, spark-flying romantic novel that touches on the heart of service and the dedication we all have to waiting on the Lords timing.

Great read, JoAnn - thank you for sharing!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Deanna Klingel {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Deanna...

Deanna lives in the mountains of western North Carolina in a log house with her husband Dave and golden retriever, Buddy. Their seven children have grown and gone, leaving an empty nest. Deanna writes in the loft overlooking lofty peaks and hillsides of rhododendron and mountain laurel. She loves the quiet.

How to connect with Deanna...

Blog: www. (1st page of the website; previous posts on the last page) Goodreads: Deanna K. Klingel
Facebook: Deanna K. Klingel 
Linked in: Deanna K. Klingel

Author Interview | Deanna Klingel

You & Writing
Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I’ve always been a writer, since I was a small girl, writing with crayons. I’m a compulsive list maker, diarist, greeting card maker, any excuse to write. I wrote a lot of skits and short stories for school plays and Scouts, and stories for my kids. But writing for publication? That didn’t happen until my family was raised and I could put all my concentration into it.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...Oh dear, like asking which is my favorite child. Probably the one I’m working on when the question is posed. The one that needs me right then.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...The hardest thing for me is waiting for it to happen, to hear that a publisher wants my work. Then waiting some more. The next hardest part is the marketing. Not that it isn’t fun, it is. But it really cuts into my writing time. The easiest part? The writing, the rewriting, the reworking. That’s what I love most, so that’s why it’s the easiest. It’s really a lot of work, but I enjoy it so much it seems easy.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are did you write it?

...I’ll talk about Cracks in the Ice, teen and women’s fiction. This is the story of Gina Mangalli, niece of a mafia don. She has the dream of Olympic gold as a figure skater. She’s almost there. It’s all in place. Then tragedy derails her, and as happens to many athletes who can no longer compete, she loses sight of her identity. Off the ice she doesn’t know who she is. We see her spiral into despair and alcoholism. Two people who never gave up on her, who never stopped loving her, are able to show her she is still loveable, still a child of God, still worthy of love. They help her through recovery and back to the Church of her childhood. Gina is able to reinvent herself and begin life anew.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...I love Gina. The reader will know her in every stage of life, as a plucky little ten year old, naïve to the world outside her family compound, as a lonely teen, as a dedicated athlete.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...I hope my young readers will see how easy it is to slip into alcoholism without ever intending it, and how devastating it can be for dreams of a future. But, there is always hope.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...I’ve often wondered this myself! Where do my story characters come from? I can’t truthfully say I make them up. They come to me. They tell me their stories. I write them. Sometimes they come to me already named! My daughter says, “Mom, you might not want to tell people that about yourself; you know.” My son says, “These, uh, characters, they talk to you? Does Dad know this?”

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...Well, I don’t think I’ve delved into my intentions quite deep enough; I can’t answer this. My intention is only to write a good piece of literature with characters that will live in the readers’ hearts. Then if they do all those other things, great! But that’s not me, it’s the story.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...The best advice I can think of to an aspiring author is to write. Write, write, read and write. Don’t beat up on yourself or take yourself too seriously. When you don’t enjoy it, stop. As long as you enjoy it, then write. Good writing is a skill; skill takes practice.


When you get an idea for a novel, what is the first thing that you do?
...I stew. I steep. I wake up early and compose in my head while I’m still in bed, kind of in the Twilight Zone. Over and over. Then I make a really rough outline, who is it, what’s he up to, where’s he going with his story. Then I stew some more, then I start researching. Then I pray, put it in God’s care, and just start writing. About 40,000 words later rewrite.

September is Classical Music Month (who knew?). In keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel?
...You know I write YA, right? So, probably Jo March from Little Women.

What is your favorite fall snack food?

...Cider. And chocolate, but it doesn’t have to be fall for chocolate.

Thanks so much Deanna for being my guest here on Thinking Thoughts! Your little bio has me feeling extremely jealous - it sounds like your cabin is a little slice of heaven. I love how you say you've always been a writer. I can completely identify with you on that. The same with how you described where you "find" your characters. Something happens to those of us who write - it's the closest thing to magic (if I can get away with saying that) that I know because, out of the unknown-the abyss of our creative minds-comes living, breathing, thinking, and acting characters. I love that about writing!

For you readers out there, make sure you stop by your local book store or go to amazon to get your copy of Deanna's latest novel, Cracks in the Ice!