Saturday, May 30, 2015

Adventures in Odyssey and the OAC Club App | REVIEW

oac-may So, when I was growing up my mom always had the radio on. Come to think of it, she still keeps the radio on a lot ;) But, the best part of that was Saturday mornings and Adventures in Odyssey. I couldn't wait to hear what the next adventure would be! Then we ended up buying the tapes (yeah, no CDs at that time) for some of the series adventures.

Well, it just got so much easier for parents (and kids) everywhere. Adventures in Odyssey now has a club (The OAC or Odyssey Adventure Club) and a very cool mobile iOS app. I have gotten the chance to test out this app and get to share with you about it! The best part, which comes later in this post, is that it's on a major SALE. $1 for the first month! This only lasts until May 31st though so you'll probably want to get a move on with joining up.

Anyway, in review, I will say that the app is pretty great. Sign in is easy as is navigation through the app. I've already used it to listen to a few episodes (yeah, I'm a grown up and I still listen to Adventures in Odyssey) and found that the quality was great. I like that you can search as well as switch back and forth from Episodes to Podcasts and download them as well. There are even some video's included which is awesome. They also have an "Adventures" section but I'll be honest and say I haven't completed one yet. It looks like fun, I just haven't had the time.

The only issue that I've noticed is that, when coming to the end of an episode, the app will sometimes freeze up before allowing you to go back to choose another. It's happened several times and I'm sure it's likely just a bug.

Over all, I'd say it's definitely worth it to join up--especially if you have kids or, like me, enjoy access to endless episodes of Adventures in Odyssey. I highly recommend it to parents with the advice that, inspiring your children to let their imagination dream up all sorts of awesome things leads to innovation and creativity. I know that as a kid, I loved getting lost in the adventures while coloring or playing with toys, and their well-crafted stories and lessons have long since stayed with me. "And don't you forget it!" (BTV anyone?)

Rating: 4*
I received  free access to the OAC for review purposes, 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.

::Check out this info from the Odyssey Adventure Club::
THIS JUST IN: School will soon be out for the summer! Parents, does that fill you with dread, knowing all you'll hear for the next few months is, "I'm bored!"? Keep reading because we have a deal for you—one that will only cost you a buck and that will keep your kids safe online while allowing them to have fun and to grow in their relationship with Jesus.

Buck Oliver is back in the latest Adventures in Odyssey album, and to celebrate, you can try the Odyssey Adventure Club for just a buck for your first month. Sign up before May 31st using the promo code BUCK! *This deal only applies to first-time accounts and is good the first month only.

Members receive:
—24/7 streaming access to more than 750 Adventures in Odyssey episodes (a $1500 retail value).
—A new, members-only Adventures in Odyssey episode every month.
—A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine.
—A web quest of video stories and online activities reflecting the biblical theme of that month's episode.
—On-the-go access with the OAClub mobile iOS app.
—Growing access to Odyssey books, a daily devotion, access to select Radio Theatre dramas and more.

Additionally, a portion of each Odyssey Adventure Club membership benefits Focus on the Family partner organizations, such as Carry the Cure and Mission Aviation Fellowship, providing parents with an opportunity to teach children about the value of serving others. The Odyssey Adventure Club hopes to spend another 25 years hand-in-hand with parents seeking to teach biblical truth to their children while inspiring the theater of their imagination.


Your favorite Adventures in Odyssey characters are also Taking the Plunge in Album 59 and now you can, too! This summer, dive into your faith and grow closer to God by joining the Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine Taking The Plunge Summer Challenge. It includes these simple things:
  • Learn 5 memory verses
  • Get active with 5 family activities together
  • Share God’s love and your faith in 5 different ways
When you commit to the Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine Taking The Plunge Summer Challenge, you'll receive:
  • A promo code for an exclusive Odyssey Adventure Club first month offer (for new members only)
  • Adventures in Odyssey special studio message
  • “Strange Journey Back” book excerpt
  • “Jones and Parker Mysteries” book excerpt
To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Sting of Social Media

Okay, dear readers, I have to confess something. I'm both sad and a little riled up at this very moment. I was just celebrating the completion of a goal (albeit small) for today's word count and scrolling through my Facebook feed when I came across a post. At this point I'm not going to go into any detail about the post, its subject, or even links to the other posts I viewed because it's not relevant. I can make my point without bringing attention to the very thing that upset me.

From Flickr by Ahmed Hashim
You see, here's where it all lands: Our words have power. 
Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 
James 3:4-10
James talked about this very thing and, while we may not always be speaking things, their impact is just as great (if not greater) in written from. Yes, I'm also talking about Social Media. I know...I spent a whole month talking about this not too long ago, but I feel the need to approach it from a different perspective.

From Flickr by Caleb Roenigk
What are you saying? 

I mean really...when we post things on Facebook, shoot out 140 character tweets, snap that perfect selfie for Instagram, even pin things on Pinterest, what are we really saying with our words or pictures? Last month, I wrote a post for Putting on the New that I titled, My Instagram Life. I used the phrase:

Post with a purpose. 

I want to bring that back. Bring that here!

Two of the questions I recommended asking before posting were these:
  • What’s the purpose of this post/idea/shared article?
  • Who am I uplifting in this post/idea/shared article?
The type of post that "set me off" today was one that made a bold statement. Something that pointed to a certain "truth" and backed it up by an article from an angered writer who thought that they knew right from wrong in a situation without having the facts of both sides. Does this sound familiar? Because I feel as if I've just described most posts on social media ;)

From Flickr by Kevin Harber
Really though, at the heart of this all, I want to put out a plea to you, my trusted readers. Watch what you post. Ask yourself if what you're going to share is helpful or just kindling for a fire?

I won't say that I'm great at this all the time, but I do consider what I post and why I post it. I will say that, should I ever take a stance on something, it's directly correlated to the fact that I believe I have relevant, helpful information that is (at least to the extent it can be) unbiased.

What about you? 

Do you like to engage in verbal warfare about topics? Are you the person that will take a stand on Facebook or will you pass on by? Have you ever been persuaded by an argument online? Do you find your feelings are hurt/changed/swayed by online arguing?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Choosing The Choosing: A Look at Rachelle Dekker's New Release

Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for—her Choosing ceremony—would end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. The whispers contradict everything she’s been told; yet they resonate deep within.

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, but she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.
(From Rachelle's website)

Who is Rachelle Dekker?

The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full-time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat, Blair.

Visit her online at
Twitter: @RachelleDekker 
Instagram: @rachelle_dekker

A little bit about the book and Rachelle...

How did you come up with the story for The Choosing?
...This is a hard question because it has many answers. I wanted to write a theme-based novel about identity. I wanted to write a dystopian novel. I wanted to write in a world that was familiar, but in a setting where I could change the way the world worked. It actually is several ideas I’d been toying with pulled into one story. Once I landed on Carrington’s core revelation and story arc, I simply fell in love with her as a character and drew the rest of the story around her. That’s usually how it works for me. I come up with a character, good or bad, and create the story from there.

"Life is a journey of remembering and forgetting.” 

This is one of the story’s most significant lines is. What do you mean by this?
...It means exactly what you probably think. We have these flashes of clarity where we see so clearly who we are—and our connection to the Father—but then, in a single moment, something pulls our attention away and we forget who we are. This is the journey of life, remembering and forgetting. But I believe the more we remember, the more we set our gaze on the Father, the less often we forget.

What do you hope readers will take away from the story?
...I hope readers are filled with joy and power as they either realize for the first time who their Father is and what they are really worth, or as they simply remember this truth.
The Choosing is the first of a three-book series. What can we expect in the next two books?
...More struggles with identity, but in different ways. Familiar characters dealing with fear and worry and forgiveness. We’ll walk with our characters as they continue to understand the true way of Aaron’s Father. More excitement, more romance (of course), and more self-discovery.

Lastly, I have long since LOVED Ted Dekker's books. I mean...I've read almost every single one there is ;) So...what is it like being Ted Dekker’s daughter? Did your father help you with the writing process?
...Being Ted’s daughter is wonderful! He’s the best, but then I hope many daughters feel that way about their fathers. He is a bit of a mystery, though. Sometimes, even sitting at the dinner table, I can tell he’s lost in thought, and I wonder what it might be like to have his mind.

...It’s been a blessing to watch him write and struggle with writing, so that now when I struggle I have an understanding ear to talk off. He is always willing to talk me through the emotional and mental side of writing (which is where the biggest battles lie in wait) but as far as story, for the most part he lets me fend for myself. It’s always been important to me to write through my challenges on my own. To figure out scenes alone. In fact, he didn’t even read The Choosing until I was already in conversations with Tyndale about publication. I think that’s because he wanted me to believe I could do it on my own.

...But when I doubt my ability as a writer, and when I forget who I am, he is the one I call. And he reminds me that life is a journey of remembering and forgetting, and helps me in remembering once again.

Awesome! Love this, Rachelle. So, there you have it folks - a great NEW book on the market that you must check out! I'll be starting it soon for review and I can't wait to share that with you all!

Purchase: The Choosing (A Seer Novel)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Carol Moncado {Writer Wednesday}

Get to know Carol...

When not writing about her imaginary friends, Carol Moncado hangs out with her family and a dog who weighs less than most hardback books. Her favorite activity is watching NCIS, unless Castle is on - or Girl Meets World (with her four kids, of course!). She believes peanut butter M&Ms are the perfect food and Dr. Pepper should come in an IV. If her kids, and dog, aren’t racing around her big backyard in Southwest Missouri, she’s teaching American Government at a community college. She's President of MozArks ACFW and can be found on Facebook, her website, and the InspyRomance blog.

How to connect with Carol...

I blog weekly at:
Purchase:  More than A Princess

Author Interview | Carol Moncado

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing? ...I’ve written off and on my whole life. I co-wrote some stories with friends in elementary school and junior high. I didn’t write as much in high school or college but started writing for fun not long after I got my Master’s degree in 2001. I didn’t get serious until about 2009, though. What keeps me writing? The voices in my head would drive me crazy if I didn’t let them out to play ;).

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?

...My absolute favorite I’ve written has the working title Grace to Save and most likely will release next summer. If you’ve read any of my current releases, you may remember Travis Harders (or his mom, Julie Harders). It’s his story. A story of prodigals and redemption and, above all, grace. I love all of my stories, but (shhh! Don’t tell!) I do have favorites ;).

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

...Last year, after spending five years, and a dozen manuscripts, pursuing traditional publishing, I decided to start my own indie publishing company. It’s not easy. In fact, the writing may be the easiest part. I love the drafting phase (except when I hate it). The creating. The story unfolding as I go. I love having edited. The being done part, the finished product. But I don’t love the process at all. And there’s so much to learn about being your own publisher! Fortunately, I’ve had great friends and great resources (like the Christian Indie Authors group on Facebook) to help me out.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about what you’re working on currently?
...Right now, I’m working on Hand-Me-Down Princess. It’s the story of Prince Malachi of Mevendia. He’s the spare and his father has insisted he follow the laws still on the books regarding arranged marriages for the royal family. Jessabelle is this mousy, super awkward/shy girl happiest in the background. She’s never met Prince Malachi but she knows the Crown Prince refused to marry her. Twice. There’s a whole bunch of twists and turns sort-of-kind-of planned out but I can’t wait to see what happens!

Why are you writing it?
...Why? I started Crown Prince William’s story about five years ago. It’ll probably be a while before I get back around to it, but I’d written these two other royalty stories and finally decided I couldn’t just keep making new pretend worlds with fictional countries in them, so I gave them a common history and that gave me lots of royal relationships to play with ;). The first book was Good Enough for a Princess. The second one is the (still untitled) sequel to Hand-Me-Down Princess. I needed a way to tie it all together. That’s when book 3 in this series, Prince from her Past, popped into place, followed quickly by the foundations of this book 1.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Oh! Prince Malachi! Right now, he’s still totally Prince Charming! I’m sure he’ll have his moments, but /big waffy sigh/ I hope everyone else loves him as much as I do.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?

...Our identity isn’t found in who we marry or what we do or even what our heritage is. Our identity should be found in the King who has adopted all of us into His family. We’re each a “child of the one true King.” (Yes, that’s a Matthew West song ;)) That’s where our identity should be.  


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...A little of both. There’s a bit of me in every character. Some characters are based loosely on people I know but usually it’s more of “ooo! I love this quirk!” from person 1 and “Ee! That’s a great idiosyncrasy!” and smash them all together to make someone completely new.

...One character – Travis Harders, mentioned earlier – was named for my favorite shift manager at my favorite Panera. He insisted I name a character after him. I did and finished the first draft about six weeks later. A couple weeks after that… The real Travis was killed in a car accident. Physically, Travis Harders is a lot like the real one. His personality probably matches some, but it’s more a figment of my imagination.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing? 

...Write. Write. Write some more. And read. A lot. And then some more. And not just books about writing, but good books in all genres you enjoy whether you write them or not. Polish. Put it out there in a crit group or on submissions. Then learn from your experience and do it all again.

From Flickr by xiaopobao


What is a favorite memory you have of your mother?
...My mom died when I was ten. She was diagnosed with cancer in August. My birthday was in November. She wasn’t working and we were broke. Instead of some big thing, she gave me ten envelopes tied together with pink curling ribbon. Each one said something like “10 chocolate chips” or “10 pennies.” The last one said “1 shopping trip with Mom.” I’m not sure if we ever got to go on that trip. A week later, she was in the hospital with pneumonia and never fully regained her strength. She died in March, three days after her 40th birthday.  
...I’ll be 40 this year…

If you had to choose one type of food, what kind would it be?
...Does chocolate count? If so…that! If no, Italian! Hey – I married one!

April showers bring May flowers – or so they say. Do you have a favorite flower? If so, why is it your favorite? ...Carnations are actually one of my favorites. When it comes to having them around the house, I prefer them because of the smell. For purely aesthetic reasons, probably not, but there ya go ;).

Thank you so much for being on the blog today Carol! I'm totally with you on the peanut butter and chocolate combo! And I think that's awesome that you started your own publishing company. Isn't it funny that the things we love often have a lot of things we dislike along with them? Love your take-away there too, I think it's easy to get wrapped up in what we're doing and who we are or are with, but ultimate we are the Lord's and that's first in importance! And wow, what a powerful story about the man your character was named after. Amazing that his "legacy" (in a sense) is carried on in your books! And thank you so much for sharing such a sweet memory about your mother. I love having the chance to have different authors on the blog and to hear their stories! Thank you for sharing so willingly :)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Support Our Troops + Falcon by Ronie Kendig GIVEAWAY

As part of the blog tour for Falcon by Ronie Kendig, I'm excited to dig a little deeper into ways that YOU can help support our troops. In Falcon, we see a strong team fighting to protect against terrorists just as real life military services members fight every day to protect our freedoms. That fight shouldn't go unnoticed! I think it's exceptionally fitting that this post falls on Memorial Day. So, take a few minutes out of your day to take a look at these amazing organizations that you can partner with to help support our troops!

Adopt A Platoon

I've been a participating member in Adopt A Platoon for many years now. It's a great organization that connects you (or a group) with a platoon or an individual. You can send care packages to a platoon or write weekly emails to deployed soldiers. It's a great way to team up with friends to adopt a platoon or use your writing skills to send weekly letters to a soldier who may not get much mail otherwise.

Welcome Them Home

This is a little more limited in the fact that it is for photographers, but I love Welcome Them Home and the whole idea behind it. As a participating member, I have had the chance to get connected with some amazing couples to photograph their military home comings!

The site pairs up couples who are preparing for a homecoming with participating photographers who agree to do the session for free and include a complimentary 8x10 for the couple. Talk about emotion - it's such a fun opportunity and a great way to give back if you're a photographer.

Green Beans Coffee

I don't know about you, but I love me some coffee. I have to assume some of our troops do as well! Green Beans Coffee is an organization that takes donations toward supplying deployed troops with free coffee. Their website says, "...The freshly brewed cups of coffee are served at Green Beans Coffee cafes on the bases where they're deployed." You even have the chance to send a note along with your cup of coffee and often times the soldier will respond with a thank you!

Wounded Warrior Project

This is another popular way to give back and you have likely seen their logo at Under Armour, Amazon, or on shirts. They are an accredited charity that helps support current service members and veterans who have suffered from mental or physical injury. Their website has a lot of information and there are many ways that you can get involved!

For more great ways to support the troops, check out the website:

Lastly, I'm excited to offer a copy of Falcon by Ronie Kendig as this weeks giveaway. I'm so excited for this because I really loved this book and I'm happy to offer it to one of my lucky readers! So, use the Rafflecopter to enter (below) and make sure you check out some of these ways to support our troops! If you missed it (or want a window to my thoughts on Falcon, check out my review here).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Afternoon Thoughts

First off, I apologize because I forgot a giveaway I had going! The lovely Susanne Dietez offered up a copy of the collection her novella is featured in and we've got a WINNER!

Congrats to....

Deanne Patterson
Contact me and we'll get your book out to you!


I know I've been rather silent on here for a few weeks now. Aside from the wonderful author interviews and new novel news posts I've gotten to host, I haven't had much time to write to you, my dear readers. 

I've found myself inundated with freelance writing and photography projects. I love the fact that my writing has taken off a little more, though I do feel a little sad at times knowing that no one will know that I wrote it (since it's ghost writing most of the time right now). But, sad feelings aside, I'm blessed to be doing something I love while getting this >>
view as my "office" for the day. Pretty nice, eh? 

So, what have you all been up to?? I promise to share more of my thoughts and writing tips again soon, but until then I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Amanda Cabot {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Amanda...

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, Christmas Roses and the new Texas Crossroads trilogy. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages. Amanda is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming.

How to connect with Amanda....

Purchase:  In Firefly Valley: A Novel (Texas Crossroads)

Getting to know you again | Amanda Cabot

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I really cannot remember a time when I didn’t write – or at least want to write, and so I wrote sporadically until I was almost twenty-nine. Since then I have come to believe that authors have at least one thing in common with oysters, namely that we need irritation to produce our pearls … er… our books. For me, that irritation was moving to a new area and discovering that what had appeared to be an ideal job was truly awful. Of course, that happened at a time when jobs were hard to find, so I stuck with the one I had for over three years. But the irritation was enough that I decided it was time to become serious about writing and get to work on meeting my goal of selling a book before I was thirty. I started what was to become my first published book just before my twenty-ninth birthday and sold it one week before my thirtieth. If this were a fairytale, I’d tell you that I became vastly wealthy and was able to quit my day job. The reality is, for many years (no, I won’t tell you how many) I wrote on nights and weekends, while I worked full time for Corporate America. Now I’m fortunate enough to be a full-time writer.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...For me at least, books are like children: each is special in its own way, so – short answer – no, I don’t have a favorite. 

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...The hardest thing has always been waiting. I’m not a naturally patient person, so the length of time involved in the traditional publishing cycle sometimes challenges my patience. The easiest part is coming up with new ideas. Unlike Blake, the hero of In Firefly Valley, I’ve never suffered from writer’s block.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why did you write it?
...Like many of my books, In Firefly Valley has the theme of healing. Although I don’t necessarily set out to write about healing, it seems that most of my characters are wounded in one way or another. Marisa, the heroine of In Firefly Valley, has two major things that need healing. The first is easy to identify: she’s been downsized. As someone who was once downsized, I had no trouble knowing how Marisa would react. The second is more difficult: her troubled relationship with her father. I’ve never been in Marisa’s situation, but I drew from the memories of a family friend who went through an experience similar to Marisa’s. Once I started asking “what if?” before I knew it, I had a book. As to why I wrote this particular book, it’s because I wanted to show how God’s love can and does heal even the worst of hurt.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Of course I love Marisa and Blake and the two characters who provide a secondary romance, but I have to admit that I smile whenever I think of Fiona, the little girl with the mismatched socks. If this were a movie, I’d be afraid she’d steal every scene she’s in, simply because she’s so adorable.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...While my characters are never based on real people (including myself), my heroes and heroines frequently embody my personal values. Because I believe in justice and happy endings, readers will find that my protagonists do, too. They’ll also find the recurring theme of the healing power of love, since that’s something I believe in. As for my villains, they tend to be the antithesis of the heroes and heroines, and I’d certainly like to think they’re not based on me.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...I have three pieces of advice. The first is to read extensively in the genre you want to write. That’s the best way to learn what a publisher is buying. Secondly, join a writer’s group. ACFW is wonderful for writers in the Christian marketplace, and Romance Writers of America is excellent for anyone interested in writing romance. A writer’s group provides support, networking and so many other resources to the aspiring writer that I can’t over emphasize the importance of joining one. And lastly, never give up. Rejection is a fact of life. I won’t sugarcoat it: rejection hurts. But if you let it defeat you, if you stop sending out your manuscript just because it was rejected, you’ll never be published. Believe in your book and in yourself. Oh … that was four pieces of advice. Sorry!


What is a favorite memory you have of your mother?
...I was about four years old and living in a small town in Texas when a group of church ladies were scheduled to come to our home for a meeting one night. For the first time ever my mother allowed me to join them. That was exciting enough, but Mother made it even more special by not including my younger sister. It was going to be a big secret, and you know how kids love secrets. Since the meeting was past our bedtime, I had to go to bed and pretend to sleep. Then when my sister was asleep, I tiptoed out of the room we shared and into the kitchen where Mother and I had hidden my clothes in the oven. Yes, the oven. I don’t know why she chose that spot, other than that it was a place no one would think to look for clothes. Or maybe it was simply to make this more exciting for me. At any rate, I put on my fanciest dress and joined the ladies for their meeting, feeling very special and very grown-up. Even now, many years later, I smile at the memory. 

If you had to choose one type of food, what kind would it be?
...Oh, my, just thinking about this is making me hungry. It’s a tough choice, but if I could choose only one kind of food, it would be French cuisine. Part of the reason is that I love the pastries, but the other part is that French food reminds me of an important time in my life. I majored in French in college and was fortunate enough to study in France, which is where I developed my love of French pastries. We won’t talk about eating horse (unaware of what it was, of course) or some of the stranger vegetables, but overall I love French food.

April showers bring May flowers – or so they say. Do you have a favorite flower? If so, why is it your favorite?
...Lilacs. Definitely lilacs. I love everything about them from the variety of colors the can have to their shapes to their sweet fragrance.

Thanks so much for coming back to the blog Amanda!I love your thoughts on writing and characters as well as the sweet story about your mother! How fun :) And your mentioning lilacs reminded me of a lilac bush we had back home - their sweet fragrance was the perfect indication of summer.

Readers, don't forget to hop on over to Amazon and grab a copy of In Firefly Valley!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Falcon by Ronie Kendig | RE:View

High powered action fraught with deception and propelled by secrets. Falcon isn't for the faint of heart!

Salvatore "Falcon" Russo is a time bomb waiting to explode with pent up emotion. Lieutenant Cassandra Walker may be the very person to set that time bomb ticking.

When Raptor, a Special Forces team, finds themselves stuck in between lies and more lies, they band together only as brothers-in-arms can. No one is who they say they are and Raptor becomes tired of deception at every turn. Dealt blow after blow, they are forced to place their trust in Cassandra, though Falcon still feels the sting of her lies from years before.

Action that keeps you glued to the page. Emotion that drives you to finish chapter after chapter. Characters that draw you in with their complexity and realness. One surprise after another. You will not be able to put this book down!

Ronie Kendig does it again with Falcon, the third book in her Quiet Professionals series after Raptor 6 and Hawk. I had high expectations for this book - not only because I'm a die-hard Kendig fan, but because Falcon is such an intriguing character and I was desperate to find out what would happen! I wasn't disappointed. From page one I was hooked to the story and enjoyed the ride through the various perspectives that Kendig seamlessly weaves together. Seriously people - you will not be able to stop reading!

As I say with every book I read by her, go Ronie Kendig and never go back ;) I'd highly recommend Falcon (as I would the rest of this series) to fans of action, adventure, emotion-packed characters, and incredible writing. Basically, you can't go wrong.

Rating: 5*
Purchase: Falcon: (The Quiet Professionals)

Book Description
(from Ronie's Website)
Special Forces operator Salvatore “Falcon” Russo vowed to never again speak to or trust Lieutenant Cassandra Walker after a tragedy four years ago. But as Raptor closes in on the cyber terrorists responsible for killing two of their own, Sal must put his life—and the lives of his teammates—in her hands.

Despite his anger, Cassie is ill-prepared for his resistance and the fallout when she must protect the one asset who can end the attacks.

As allies become enemies and hostiles become unlikely partners, Raptor fights for its very existence.
I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mary Hamilton + GIVEAWAY | New Novel News

See No Evil 
by Mary L. Hamilton

Published May 12, 2015
HopeSprings Books/Chalfont House Publishing
Purchase: See No Evil (Rustic Knoll Bible Camp #3) (Volume 3)

Steven Miller guards a dark secret.

Dad drilled into Steven that blindness should never be used as an excuse. So when Steven finds an old triathlon medallion among Dad's belongings, he's inspired to follow in his footsteps. Maybe it'll quiet the guilt he's carried since Dad's death three years ago.

While Steven continues his triathlon training during his final summer at camp, a serious illness keeps Rustic Knoll's beloved Nurse Willie from managing her clinic. When Steven teams up with his friend Claire to encourage Willie's recovery, his feelings for Claire grow beyond friendship.

But his buddy, Dillon, has started down a dangerous path that Steven knows all too well. Can he keep his friend from falling into that sin without exposing his own past?

Get to know Mary...

What are the names of your pets? If you don't have any, what would you name your pets?
Rudy. I kept trying to find a different name because I didn’t like Rudy. But every idea I came up with, I’d look at him and realize, he’s a Rudy. As in Valentino. He’s a lover.

What's one chore you hate doing?
I’ve vowed to hire a cook before I hire a maid. I hate the planning most, but when my husband and I were searching online for a new home, he commented that one didn’t have any pictures of the kitchen. I said, “No kitchen! That’s the one!” Alas, we’re still trying to find that house without a kitchen.

What’s one thing you must have/do in the morning?
I don’t exercise every morning, but if I’m going to do it, it has to be in the morning. Immediately after getting out of bed is best—getting the body moving before the brain figures out what’s happening. If exercise doesn’t happen in the morning, it’s not going to happen.


Kristy Cambron was on the blog last week talking about her new release A Sparrow in Terezin and she was kind enough to offer a singed copy as a giveaway! I loved getting to read through all of your comments and am excited to announce the lucky winner...

Rebecca Bell

Contact me using the form to the right >> so we can get your book to you!

Thanks everyone! Make sure to leave a comment to enter this giveaway AND don't forget, Susanne Dietze is also offering a giveaway from last week's post which you can see here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Susanne Dietze + GIVEAWAY {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Susanne...

Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others. A pastor’s wife and mom of two, she loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. You can visit her on her website,

How to connect with Susanne...

Website: www.susannedietze.comBlog: Tea and a Good Book ~ 
Twitter: @SusanneDietze

Author Interview | Susanne Dietze

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I think I wrote fiction the moment I could hold a pencil. As a preschooler, I wrote a note to my parents telling them I’d run away to China. Growing up, I wrote to entertain myself, but somewhere along the way God turned it into a ministry.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why did you write it?
...Love’s Reward is a novella in Barbour’s The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection, a 9-in-1. I’m so honored to be included among the other authors! In my story, set in 1886 San Francisco, a rich man offers a monetary reward for the capture of a shy architect’s heart—but the game is on for every female in town except a charity-minded miss who won’t compete for the bachelor’s affections. Just his bank account.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...Selling my novella was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, but writing it was not quite a fairy tale experience. I had a medical issue that turned out to be fine, but at the time, I was tested for autoimmune disease and cancer. I worked on Love’s Reward while waiting for those test results. “Love is love’s reward” (by Dryden) was already set as the theme of the story: the greatest prize of a relationship with God is Jesus Himself, and the reward of our relationship with another is that relationship. Waiting for my test results was agonizing; however, I believe God was teaching me to trust Him with my unknowable future, to dwell close to Him on my journey without questioning the destination. While the particulars of my experience were far different than my characters’, I got to go through the process of trusting Jesus with my journey as well as with my destination, right along with them.
...I hope that others might find encouragement if they are experiencing something difficult, and maybe even look around to see what God is doing in their lives right now. Experience the moment fully in appreciation of all He’s done and is doing.


When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories? 
...My hope is to encourage and entertain readers. I believe God can use fiction to minister to His children, if He wishes. Sometimes when we read, we see ourselves in a story’s characters or situations, and when that happens, we may feel less alone or inspired to act. If He used something I wrote for that purpose, I’d feel blessed, but I’d also be delighted if my story provided someone a bit of escapist entertainment, too.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?

...Writing toward publication is a joyful privilege, but it’s also hard work. One author I know wrote her first proposal, not even a book, and sold it right away; another author’s journey took fifteen years, multiple novels, and multiple rejections first. It’s important to remember that rejections are a big part of writing. Many times rejections have more to do with timing or the market than an author’s skill or craft. That said, cultivating a teachable spirit is important, too. Strive to improve by taking classes, reading books, and learning from those with more experience.


If you had to choose one type of food, what kind would it be?
...Oh my, this is a difficult question, but as a Californian I am pretty attached to Mexican food. Enchiladas, chimichangas, tostadas…Ok, now I’m hungry. If I could have occasional outings to an Indian place for a dish of Malai Kofta, garlic naan and some cucumber raita on the side, however, I’d be set.

April showers bring May flowers – or so they say. Do you have a favorite flower? If so, why is it your favorite?
...I love roses and find them pretty easy to care for, perhaps because my mom has so much success with roses and I just copy what she does. Of my ten rosebushes, the Yellow Peace ones are my favorite because they have such pretty pink and tangerine streaks in the petals, and they smell like candy. That might sound weird, but oh, they are delightful.

I am so thrilled to have my dear friend Susie on the blog today. To be celebrating her first release is amazing! We got the chance to meet - and ride a plane together - to my first ACFW conference and have enjoyed catching up on FB and via email ever since. It's amazing hearing how you've struggled through health issues as well as just figuring out the hard road to publishing, but it's so great to celebrate with you now on this release! Thanks so much for sharing with us here Susie! Can't wait for what's next for you :) 


I loved having the amazing Kariss Lynch on the blog last week (if you missed her interview check it out here). She offered a copy of her book as a giveaway and we've got a winner...

Carol Smith

But don't worry, if you didn't win this, check out Kristy Cambron's giveaway of A Sparrow in Terezin from Monday here. And leave a comment here to enter to win the collection Susie's novella is featured in, The Most Eligible Bachelor.