Thursday, July 24, 2014

An Announcement

Y'all, I received amazing news yesterday.
I am the overall winner in the RWA Touched By Love Award Contest!
Truly I did not expect to win, but I'm thanking the Lord for His blessings.
He gives me far more than I deserve.
Praying your week is going great as well!

The Sky We Walk Upon by Lissa Marie Niederer
(Image via Bing)
The Sky We Walk Upon is a contemporary novel written by Lissa Marie Niederer. The story follows Hannah Mackenzie, a girl in her senior year of college, whose life has been somewhat ordinary until she goes on a winter vacation with a friend (a boy) and his family.
 I didn't know what to expect with this novel. I suppose it is classified as New Adult. The writing was episodic which I'm not used to, but I loved the author's description. The giant icy pond. The toilet paper rolling like a ceremonial carpet outside the outhouse. The snow. I appreciated how Ms. Niederer made the setting breathe as if it were another character in the story.

While there is no foul language, this is not your typical Christian novel. The heroine herself does not come to know the Lord until late in the book which is absolutely fine, but the spiritual aspect lacked a bit for me until about three-fourths of the way through the book. After that, the lesson of trusting God always is presented beautifully.

Let me warn you, this book will hook you once you are into it. At one point, I could not believe the direction the story had gone--I had to know what would happen next. Until the last page, I wasn't sure if the ending would satisfy me or not.
Oh goodness, I better not say anymore for fear that I'll spoil something.

Every once in a while I do like to read something different than the typical Christian fiction, so I'm happy I was able to read this one. There were a few things not to my taste, but the Biblical message was poignant. God is in control even when our scariest fears come to life. He is there. And He wants to carry us.
That, my friends, is a beautiful truth.

From the Back Cover:

Hannah Mackenzie has never given her faith, or lack thereof, a second thought. Between her mother's emotional estrangement and a seemingly uninterested man of her dreams, Hannah is too preoccupied with her worldly relationships to think about a God who may or may not exist. But when she begins to reach beyond her comfort zone, finding the hope of love in the most unexpected place, something begins to take root in Hannah's heart-something that requires her to trust in a truth that is beyond what she can touch and see. Will the ice and storms of a brutal winter prove too much for Hannah to handle? Will her fledgling faith be strong enough to carry her through the trials to come?
*I received this book free from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Why Don't You Give Up?

Writing is hard.
Yet easy.
And frustrating.
But wonderful.
If you read enough blogs, follow enough Tweeters (I'm not sure what Twitter-users are called, as you can tell), or scroll through some Facebook statuses, there is a high possibility that you'll 1) become jealous or 2) believe you'll never be a published writer.
I've read agent blogs that tell me how amazingly awesome my story has to be in order to be chosen--plus the market has to be right, plus I must have a platform, etc. All these things make perfect sense. Publishing is a business. A somewhat discouraging business.
So why don't we quit? Devote ourselves to real jobs? Put away our laptops and remove the craft books from our desks.
Why don't we give up?
I'll answer with a picture.
This is me (and my sister with her bright blue eyes) at a ballgame when I was a teenager. I like baseball. It's pretty much the only sport I can stand to watch.
But I'm reading. Reading in a stadium full of people watching a ballgame.
Books, writing, reading--those things are a part of me. That sounds cliché, but hey, clichés become cliché for a reason. They're true.
Over the past couple of weeks, I've had some nights where I would lay in bed praying, pleading with God to show me direction. If He didn't want me to write, I asked Him to stop me. To take away the desire.
This happened twice. The days after the prayers, I received two affirmations that I shouldn't give up, one that almost drove me to tears in the bank drive-thru. 
The Lord didn't have to bless me with hope, but He cares, folks. He cares in a way that we can't comprehend. He listens. He understands. He's guiding me when I write. He's holding my hand when rejection comes. He's whispering in my ear, "No worries. I've got this."
And He's the only reason I won't give up. I couldn't write a word or come up with a single plot without Him. Each trial reminds me that He's the One who deserves glory. He's the one blessing me. Nothing can happen without His permission. This is His world. If He wants me or you published, He will make that happen if we walk with Him and put in the effort.
Writing is hard. You send your heart out to people who sometimes have to scrape it.
But if He's the One guiding you to write, then write.
He has a purpose.
Maybe you don't understand now, but He has a purpose for you. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Match of Wits by Jen Turano

First Line:
"Sometimes, no matter how independent and self-assured a young lady believes herself to be, certain situations demand a good dose of screaming."
My thoughts:
The title of this novel fits the characters perfectly. A Match of Wits is full of wit and hilarity. You can tell that from just the first sentence, can't you?
Every once and awhile, I'll review a book that is a tad...boring. This, however, is not one of those books. Jen Turano's writing voice is one of my absolute favorites. In fact, I'm going to browse Amazon for a couple of her other novels that I haven't yet had the pleasure to read.
This novel has romance, humor, a layer of suspense, and a pig named Matilda. Honestly, what more could you want?
Agatha Watson has appeared in Turano's previous novels, and she is a heroine to love and giggle over. She's excellent at finding trouble which makes her a joy to follow. Zayne Beckett is the perfect guy for Agatha. He matches her wit (hence the title). I can't give too much away, but as Zayne uncovers the art of romance, I guarantee you will laugh. He is such a guy.
Another reason I love this book is because it breaks the rules. Don't use too many adverbs? Well, Turano uses them...and they fit her style perfectly! She's a skilled writer, one that I've grown to respect.
I cannot wait to see what she releases next!
From the Back Cover:
After his departure from New York two years ago to meet up with his almost-fiancée, Zayne Beckett is the last person Agatha Watson wanted to stumble upon in her travels as a reporter with the New York Tribune. Quite pathetically bedraggled, he clearly needs to be taken in hand and sent back East to his family. Although she no longer has feelings for him, Agatha realizes--by hook or by crook--she'll have to be the one to get the obstinate man home.
Zayne has no desire to be taken anywhere and is prepared to drag his heels all the way home. . . until he finds himself slipping back into the familiar banter of his former friendship with Agatha. Once they arrive in New York, Zayne realizes Agatha's determined nose for news has earned her a few enemies, and he hopes to repay her help with some help of his own. When she rebuffs his attempts to prove himself a knight in shining armor, the lengths to which they'll go to win this battle of wills lead to some memorable antics.
Everyone else may think them a match, but nothing could be further from the truth--until Agatha finds herself in real trouble. Have these two stubborn, too-smart-for-their-own-good people been meant for each other all along?

*I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, July 14, 2014

I'm Reading...
Image via Bing
 A Match of Wits by Jen Turano is one of those novels with enough humorous situations and witty dialogue to keep you cheerful even while you wonder who is determined to murder the heroine.
This is my second full novel by this author, and I'm loving it. Y'all probably know I'm a huge fan of sarcasm (when done well), and Turano's books don't lack in it by any means.
Writers tend to want to avoid adverbs, right? But Turano uses them in the most delightful way possible. I love her verbose writing style.
And I'm not a fan of pigs, but Matilda is awesome.

What I Want To Read:
Image via Bing
This is not the type of novel I normally read, but I've heard a ton of positive things about Kristy Cambron's novel. Plus, isn't the cover beautiful? So unique. I definitely need to add this book to my Wishlist.
Image via Bing
Sarah Loudin Thomas's novella is free on Amazon, so you should head over there now and grab it for your Kindle. Miracle In A Dry Season is her full length novel I'm highly anticipating after reading the excerpt released at the end of her novella. Her descriptions and settings are so authentic that you will truly feel as if you're living the story--perhaps that's cliché, but it's true.
Well, that's what I'm reading and what I want to read, folks.
Any other book recommendations?
As if my bookshelves need any more occupants.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

So You Didn't Final

Imagine that moment when your hope is crushed. After you've checked your email approximately 1,752 times and finally realized that, no, you didn't final in that writing contest. 
What do you do now? 

Step One: Don't open the judges' comments until you're in a better place emotionally. As a woman, my emotions tend to roll over me like ocean waves. If I'm not meticulously careful, I'll let the things loose--not a good thing, my friends, not a good thing. 
Give yourself some time. Eat some buffalo dip (or whatever your favorite snack food happens to be). Watch the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (if you have a few hours to spare). How can you possibly be mad after watching Mr. Darcy on screen?
When you're ready, open the comments. Remember that this is your story, but the judges could one day be your readers. They aren't critiquing to make you feel atrocious. 
No, they're trying to help.

Step Two: Revise. Fun, huh? Now you have new ideas to make your story better! Start typing and backspacing. It might sting (I changed the beginning of one of my novels more than a few times. It does sting.) Ultimately, however, revising means progress. You've worked out for a little while, exerted your muscles. You might be sore, but doesn't that achy feeling make you proud? Like you've accomplished something?

Step Three: Enter another contest. I recommend you check out Seekerville's monthly contest updates. Find one with an agent or editor judge that you want to see your work. Since contests do cost money, I don't recommend chasing after every one you see. Research. Then stick your entry out there to be reviewed.

The first time I received a call about a contest final, I was giddy. Was it possible that someone else liked my work??
Why yes, indeed it was. And that's amazing.
I do caution you not to rely on contests for validation though. You won't final in every one (well, you might...). Depend on God to reveal your next step. If He wants you to write, you will be able to write. Simple as that.

The journey to publication is incredibly similar to your walk with the Lord. Lean on Him. Be willing to learn. Wait on His timing.

Monday, July 7, 2014


I'm a fan of author newsletters, mostly because I can be a tad forgetful and (*gasp*) not remember a writer I'm interested in has released a new book.
Y'all, I'm not published...yet. But I do believe in preparation. 

So, I created a newsletter! (This deserves applause because that took some serious time to figure out.)

Go ahead, friends. Subscribe here.
Who knows? There might be big news coming soon...Lord willing. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert

Image via Google

This is the kind of book that has plenty of quotable moments. Moments that made me tear up. The theme of A Broken Kind of Beautiful is, in fact, beautiful. Redemption, grace, forgiveness, inward beauty...
"...the hard is what makes us who we are. The hard is usually what God uses to draw us closer. If I have to choose between what's easy or what will bring me closer to Him, I pray my choice will be Him." - A Broken Kind of Beautiful
First Line:
"The girl with the haunted eyes reentered his life on the other side of a lowering casket, humidity and the shrill song of cicadas tangling together in the South Carolina heat."
Ivy Clark isn't your typical Christian fiction heroine. She doesn't know the Lord, and she isn't interested in hearing about Him. Her own father wanted nothing to do with her, so why would God? She's a model, but that life is rapidly sucking the life right out of her until she believes she's nothing more than a beautiful shell. Sure, men are attracted to her and she's known fame. But what does that matter when she's miserable?
 Watching Ivy discover the power of redemption--the fact that the Lord loved each and every one of us enough to pay the price to save us--was a pleasure. Everything about this book is realistic. Ivy doesn't hear about Jesus once and decide to follow Him right away. No, she's too broken, too calloused, to accept that the Creator of the universe wants her, of all people. Through friends such as Davis Knight, she realizes the truth. That God most definitely wants her. He wants to redeem her and make her His. To wash away her sins and make her whole again.
Is there a greater message to be shared in a novel? I think not.
I could go on about Davis and Sara and Marilyn, but I truly recommend you buy this book and discover these characters yourself. The author's writing style is lyrical, sticking you in the Southern summer setting so fully that you'll feel the itch of mosquitoes and gritty sand sliding over your fingers. 
A Broken Kind of Beautiful was my first taste of Katie Ganshert's novels, and I'm looking forward to reading her other two.
From the Back Cover:
Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four-year-old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she's learned a sacred truth--appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows--so when it starts to unravel, she'll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother's bridal wear line--an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white.
If only her tenuous future didn't rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the façade she works so hard to maintain. In fact, it seems that everyone Ivy comes across in Greenbrier challenges what she has come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her--a woman stained and broken by the world--yet wants her still?