One to Watch: Debut Novella

As I’ve learned over the past couple of years. New authors have a steep learning curve. When I first started writing, I didn’t know about everything available out there to help make my writing better. There are writer organizations which provide learning, mentors, critiques, and contests. Only last year did I put a book through a critique group and find out how helpful input from other authors can be. It was through this critique group I first read something written by Jessica Alyse. I even commented on one of her submissions how blown away I was by her vivid descriptions. And now, with her debut novella, you’ll see what I mean.

the trust charm

Avery Sanders has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime, an opportunity to live out a dream—move to Italy and study the art of coffee. When she meets a man she once ran into in a store for a second time, she’s stunned…and excited. The man seems like everything she’s dreamed about and she’s drawn to him.

Police officer Liam Reed can’t believe the pretty girl from the store has crossed his path again, and he plans to make good on his promise. If they saw each other again, he’d ask her out. As the two spend time together, he realizes this woman is the one God planned for him, but when she explains her aversion to dating anyone with a dangerous job—firemen, soldiers, policemen—their future becomes more blurry.

While on the outside, Avery seems confident and cool under pressure, her past hurts have been buried deep causing her to shut herself off from certain parts of the world. And the deeper past pain is buried, the more painful it is to unearth. Alyse does an excellent job of delving into Avery’s past and giving the reader a peek at the reasons behind the character’s decisions.

Sometimes with humor, others with gut-wrenching decisions, this novella is about family, love, and letting go and trusting God. And it will leave you wanting more.

Now now available on Amazon

A New Look at a Semi-familiar Story

There are plenty of people in the Bible we don’t often concentrate on. I mean, everyone know the story of the shepherd how slayed a giant, of the friendship between the shepherd and a king’s son, and the might warrior who became a beloved king. But you know that one part of David’s story we tend to gloss over, the part that shows he was human and let his human desires overrule him when he slept with a married woman? Yeah, there was another person involved in that story who had a story of her own, one that I’d never considered studying.

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From her childhood, Bathsheba heard the stories of the shepherd turned King. A might warrior, a lover of God, a King for the people. But Bathsheba had been given her own prophecy. One that said she would not only be a tob woman, one of great beauty that men would desire, but also proclaimed she would be mother to a great man who would affect the future of Israel.

But the journey to that prophecy was not an easy one. Bathsheba married a man she loved. A man who eventually had to leave her to go to war. A young wife, she longed to give birth to Uriah’s son but that joy was taken away from her the moment the king saw her bathing in her courtyard and decided he wanted her.

After Uriah’s death, she lived as one of the king’s many wives. A solitary life amidst many people. The other wives either despised her or ignored her, and despite her elevated status, she despised the fact she carried the king’s baby and not Uriah’s.

Tragedy and grief connected David and Bathsheba, and she found herself becoming his friend. While she didn’t love him like she had her first husband, she began to forgive David for his indiscretion. She strove to raise her four sons in a manner that pleased God first and then the king.

After reading the first book in Angela Hunt’s Reluctant Beautyseries about Esther, I wondered how she would write an entire book about such a seemingly minor player in the Bible. But there was so much information in this book, which alternated between Bathsheba’s point of view and that of the prophet Nathan.

And once again, after reading Hunt’s book, I was driving to the scripture to read all I could about the mother of the wise King Solomon. Hunt did her research for this book and provides readers with all of the references she used at the end.

I grew up in the church, but Bathsheba’s story (both the fictionalized version and the one I re-read in a chronological Bible) is brand new to me. Proof that God continues to teach us through his Word.

Bathsheba loved one man who was murdered by the man she now called husband. A man who regretted his sin, who loved God above all else, whose family paid for his sins. Today, David is often referred to as a man after God’s own heart. But through her trials and King David, Bathsheba learned to place her trust and fail in her God as well.

And I’m looking forward to learning about another woman in the Bible, one many might view as the villain of the story: Delilah.

***Bethany House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Now Available in Paperback!!!

Greetings blog readers. I know it’s been a busy, busy year and you probably don’t remember book reviews from last March but let me tell you a little story. Sometimes authors go through different journeys with publishing. Dawn Crandall wrote three books in the Everstone Chronicles series that were ONLY released in eBook. Well, a few months ago, she got good news. The paperback versions are coming!!! Actually, the first book, The Hesitant Heiress, is available for sale now. Book two will be available in October and three in November.

These are great books. If you know anyone who enjoys historical fiction, consider giving this book as a Christmas gift (or even better the series). If you want to read more about The Hesitant Heiress, check out my review.

Dawn is also giving away 5 copies of her first book. Enter via rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

From the Mountains to the Sea

This weekend I had the privilege of spending two and a half days learning from and rubbing elbows with authors. During that time, I managed to finish up my latest read but wanted to hold off on the review because the author was nominated for a Carol Award in the contemporary category (these are given by the American Christian Fiction Writers association and voted for by other authors). Guess what? She won!! Congratulation Lisa Wingate on winning the Carol Award for The Story Keeper.

That wasn’t the book I read, though. The one I just finished is the third book in the Carolina Series (The Prayer Box and The Story Keeper are numbers one and two).

sea keeper's daughters

Whitney Monroe is fighting to keep her second restaurant in Michigan open. A crooked business man is thwarting her and her business partner (and cousin) at every turn. The last thing she needs is the phone call that her estranged stepfather is in the hospital. She returns to the outer banks of North Carolina to find her inheritance (a Gilded Age hotel where her stepfather is living) in need of a lot of work. Now in addition to concerns about her restaurant and her cousin, she has to deal with her stepfather who prefers to pretend she’s not there, cleaning up the mess in the hotel, and the shop owners who have businesses on the first floor of the building.

As Whitney begins the chore of cleaning out the second floor, she comes across some old letters. Letters from her grandmother’s sister she never knew existed as she traveled through the state writing stories of the people during the depression era. Alice’s journey is one that fascinates Whitney and brings a group of people together.

Wingate does an excellent job of weaving the letters and stories throughout the book. Whitney’s desire to do the right thing but urgent need for cash will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled with a financial burden, a familial burden, or even a burden of decision. If such a hotel as the Excelsior exists, I would like to visit at some point. The descriptions of the place were vivid and enchanting. The residents of the community are a close knit group and are happy to help each other. A community that I’d like to be a member of.

Available now.

***Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Writers Conference Day 1 Recap

So, I’m back in my hotel room after a full afternoon at my very first writers’ conference. And since it was packed from 2:00 to 9:00, I wanted to get some thoughts down on day 1.

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When I registered for the conference back in the spring, I decided to volunteer. And what better way to get to know a few faces than to help at the registration desk. So, that’s where the fun began for me today. From 2:00 to 5:00, I helped man the registration desk. What I didn’t realize when I signed up for this shift was that I would miss the first timer’s orientation and the first general session with keynote speaker Bill Myers (if his name is not familiar to you and you are over…let’s say 30….you may remember a little cartoon series called Adventures in Odyssey. That was Bill’s project. More on why I’m calling him Bill in a bit).

So registration was fun. A few people I’ve reviewed books for on this blog came through my line—Becky Wade and Courtney Walsh. And a few more people who I’ve seen their names but haven’t read yet—and those people look nothing like what I had pictured in my head. One of the other volunteers at the check in desk and I had fun joking around with each other during the quiet times. Oh, and about ¾ of the way through my shift, I realized I’d been directing people down the wrong hall for the bathrooms.

Dinner was at 5:30. This was a genre dinner and a few people dressed up in costume. I met several new people. Interesting note: This year, 465 people registered, 140 of us are first time attendees. More than ¼ of the authors here are first timers. And while I missed the keynote address, I did get to have dinner with Bill Myers since he sat at our table.

Best story ever: Bill told us about a friend of his who wrote 2500 words a day every day for years. This friend then got thirteen rejections but kept pushing for someone to publish his stuff. The friend? Frank Peretti.

After dinner there were a couple spotlights. Basically panels with different agents and publishers. I wanted this conference to be a learning experience for me so I didn’t sign up for any appointments with editors and agents but I’m interested in hearing what they have to say so I went to one of each. A session with agents and one with a publishing house (Love Inspired). Here’s my take away:

Agents: I believe I did the right thing holding off on the agent thing. First of all, I’m not sure I want to go the traditional publisher route. Self-publishing allows me a lot of freedom. I can write as often or as sporadic as my schedule allows and I can choose my release dates. The thing that struck me most with the agents was sometimes it takes a while to have the right book at the right time. I was actually a tad discouraged after this little q&a session.

But…

I had one more to go to. Love Inspired is the faith-based Harlequin line. I’m familiar with this line as I’ve been involved on street/influencer teams for a couple authors in this line. And they were really encouraging. They take submissions through their website, don’t require you to have an agent, and publish A LOT of books (192 a year) and are always look for new authors with a hook.

Again, not sure I’m going to even pursue that but it’s out there.

Tomorrow is the start of the classes and what I’ve been looking forward to!! Hopefully I’ll gain more knowledge and make more friends. Until then….check out my freebies from today.

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