Friday, October 20, 2017

Freebie Friday

The Christmas books are starting to come out and today I have a freebie for you from Liz Isaacson, Christmas in Three Rivers! The weather is getting colder where I'm at and this looks like the perfect anthology to curl up with!

You can get your free Kindle copy here

Here's the back copy:

Isn't Christmas the best time to fall in love? The cowboys of Three Rivers Ranch think so. Join four of them as they journey toward their path to happily ever after in four, all-new stories in the Amazon #1 Bestselling Three Rivers Ranch Romance series.

THE NINTH INNING: The Christmas season has never felt like such a burden to boutique owner Andrea Larsen. But with Mama gone and the holidays upon her, Andy finds herself wishing she hadn't been so quick to judge her former boyfriend, cowboy Lawrence Collins. Well, Lawrence hasn't forgotten about Andy either, and he devises a plan to get her out to the ranch so they can reconnect. Do they have the faith and humility to patch things up and start a new relationship?

TEN DAYS IN TOWN: Sandy Keller is tired of the dating scene in Three Rivers. Though she owns the pancake house, she's looking for a fresh start, which means an escape from the town where she grew up. When her older brother's best friend, Tad Jorgensen, comes to town for the holidays, it is a balm to his weary soul. A helicopter tour guide who experienced a near-death experience, he's looking to start over too--but in Three Rivers. Can Sandy and Tad navigate their troubles to find the path God wants them to take--and discover true love--in only ten days?

ELEVEN YEAR REUNION: Pastry chef extraordinaire, Grace Lewis has moved to Three Rivers to help Heidi Ackerman open a bakery in Three Rivers. Grace relishes the idea of starting over in a town where no one knows about her failed cupcakery. She doesn't expect to run into her old high school boyfriend, Jonathan Carver. A carpenter working at Three Rivers Ranch, Jon's in town against his will. But with Grace now on the scene, Jon's thinking life in Three Rivers is suddenly looking up. But with her focus on baking and his disdain for small towns, can they make their eleven year reunion stick?

THE TWELFTH TOWN: Newscaster Taryn Tucker has had enough of life on-screen. She's bounced from town to town before arriving in Three Rivers, completely alone and completely anonymous--just the way she now likes it. She takes a job cleaning at Three Rivers Ranch, hoping for a chance to figure out who she is and where God wants her. When she meets happy-go-lucky cowhand Kenny Stockton, she doesn't expect sparks to fly. Kenny's always been "the best friend" for his female friends, but the pull between him and Taryn can't be denied. Will they have the courage and faith necessary to make their opposite worlds mesh?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Freebie Alert!

I came across a YA thriller being offered for free by author Cindy Hogan. It's called Kate, Unmasked and it looks really good, so I thought I'd pass the deal along!

You can download your free Kindle copy here

Here's the back copy:

The mysteries of her past consume her.

Seventeen-year-old Kate has never stopped searching for the secrets of her past—the secrets that began with her missing birth parents. After years of every lead drying up and every hope turning false, Kate finally lucks onto a promising lead.

Determined to find the truth once and for all, Kate travels to the gritty New Jersey shore. But what she finds is worse than she ever could have imagined. She can’t hide from who she is, and now she must face the awful consequences of finding the very people she should have been hiding from.

Some secrets should stay dead and buried.

A young adult action/adventure novel filled with mystery, suspense, romance, and lots of thrills, sure to thrill both teens and adults.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

In The Non-Fiction Corner & A Giveaway!

Today in the Non-Fiction Corner, Lauren is reviewing 100 Favorite Verses From the Old Testament by Shauna Humphreys.

Be sure to scroll all the way down to enter the giveaway!

In The Non-Fiction Corner
by Lauren B.

Ok, wow, first can we just talk about the look of this book? It is beautiful! It is very well done with a nice color and stitching, definitely one that you need on your shelf. And what is inside is even better.

I have never met someone who is completely confident with his or her knowledge of the Old Testament, so I thought this was an awesome idea for a book. The author has done 100 verse books in the past, but I am glad that she chose to do one specifically for the Old Testament. Clearly, because she came up with the idea, the author is brilliant and if the title doesn’t sell you on that, her messages in the book definitely will. The Old Testament is often looked over I feel like, so focusing on some of the gems that you can find in there is golden. But that’s not all! It’s not just the Old Testament; Humphreys uses verses from every standard work as well as quotes, hymns and personal insights. It expresses lessons from the Old Testament in an extraordinary way.

I particularly liked the seventh verse the author chose, about the Mountain of the Lord. I feel like there is so much to learn about the temple in the Old Testament and sometimes it is overlooked. Like Humphreys says, going to the temple really is a mountaintop experience. We are separated from the craziness of the world, we have a path to follow, we can see more clearly, and it is a peaceful time to connect with the Lord. This is just one example of the many insights you can gain from reading this book. It was an excellent reminder for me of some of the forgotten verses and stories I had read in seminary, and has helped remind me why the Old Testament is one of my favorites.

Here's the back copy:

Studying—and truly understanding—the Old Testament can feel like an insurmountable task. But in this wonderful compilation of 100 of the most beloved Old Testament verses, author Shauna Humphreys reminds readers that this sacred book of scripture is brimming with treasures of wisdom for those prepared to seek them. Presented with complementary spiritual insights, vibrant explanations, and personal applications, each verse will motivate readers to delve into these sacred and powerful teachings as never before. Whether used in personal study or incorporated into family discussions or Church lessons, this inspiring volume is sure to enlighten the mind and stir the heart.

You can purchase your copy here

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Hawaii Five-O Recap & Review: The Ep Where A Lot of People Get Killed

Well, this ep is marked with a lot of murder and violence, but also the return of Harry Langford, (who I wish was a recurring character). But I digress . . .

The show starts out in Waikiki with a waitress bringing drinks to a back gaming room where a heavily guarded man is arguing with someone about the best place to get a manicure. (Do crime bosses really get manicures? Like, so their shooting hand looks especially good or something?) The FBI has a surveillance van listening in, whining about how boring this assignment is, when gunfire breaks out. The FBI guys try to run in, but their back door is blocked in by another car. (Can't they go out the front? More than one exit seems like something surveillance guys would plan for, but hey, what do I know? Apparently these are smart criminals and we have bumbling FBI guys.)

Back in the Restaurant of Dreams, Steve is sanding down a counter with Kamekona looking on when Danny brings in fabric swatches for the restaurant booths. He pretends, but doesn't really want Steve's opinion on what color fabric to use, because he's already ordered garnet. Not to be outdone, Kamekona offers up T-shirts he ordered that will bring people in. It has McDanno's Bar and Grill on it, with Danny and Steve in the Lady and the Tramp pose. Danny hates it (as would most people I would imagine, yikes!) Steve tries to be diplomatic and tell him it's going to be a different kind of establishment than the one he's used to running, but Kame has already ordered 400 of the shirts. (Maybe they can use them as rags?) Steve's phone rings, thankfully, and it's Harry! He wants to hang out with them.

The audience gets a nice shot of Harry coming out of the ocean in small swim trunks that Danny compares to Daisy Dukes. (Which was a bit strange, but okay.) Harry gives him a nice wet hug, using his shirt for a towel, but Steve gets a handshake. Apparently, Harry has retired at 45 and is traveling with world with his girlfriend Veronique who meets them as they walk down the beach. When Danny sees Veronique he comments that she's so pretty, but then adds, it's painful. (I'm not sure what that means. So pretty it hurts his head? Eyes? Heart?) Anyway, she invites them to lunch, but Steve gets called to the FBI's I-Can't-Get-Out-Of-My-Van crime scene.

The murder victim was Jimmy Okada, head of the Okada crime family and nine of his terribly inept bodyguards were killed as well. Lou starts to give the boys a recap when Tani comes in to finish it off, saying that after the shooters barricaded the feds in their own van, they came in the emergency exit, shot everyone, and left without being seen. Steve looks very concerned at this news because whoever did this, just started a war. Dun, dun, dun.

Back at the Show and Tell Talking Table, Tani is showing a deposition video of Okada giving one stiff line about how this is a waste of time and then we hear an even more stiff voice from the off-camera female attorney laying out his crimes. (I mean, I know lawyers have a reputation for having no feelings, but they don't talk like robots!) Jerry runs in breathless for the "tell" part of the show and tell, because he found out that the witnesses and staff are all accounted for except the waitress, Annie Hughes, who was last seen five minutes before the shooting. The team breaks without any high fives with Lou and Tani going to talk to Okada's son, Derek, (who isn't helpful, but definitely wants some revenge) while Danny and Steve go to see a CI. But of course they have to argue more about booth colors. (Steve wants black booths, Danny still wants red.) The scene is obviously filler, but then Harry shows up in the office elevator to save it! He wants to help them out on their case because retirement can be so tedious.

Steve and Harry talk about the booth colors. Harry votes for plain colors so they can liquidate it after the restaurant fails. (No one has been positive about a restaurant. Literally no one, so why are they still doing this?) They end up at Kamekona's for lunch (he's their CI) and to see if he knows who might want to take over Okada's turf and pull off a hit like that. (Honestly, how would Kamekona know? Hasn't he been out of the game forever?)  Kame gives them the name of a gunrunner, though, and they send Harry in to see the guy, since he knows all the "cops" on the island and the boys will run backup and listen in.

Harry is the ultimate professional, and gets hit on at the restaurant by a woman who is intent on taking something of Harry's if she can't have him herself, (in this case, she takes his drink) while he waits for GunRunnerLoto. Once the gunrunners finally arrive, Harry isn't intimidated at all by Loto and his crew. (I admit, I love listening to Harry's British accent). Loto asks him to get in the back of his van to do business (no, don't do it! Never get in a creeper van with graffiti all over it!) He does, though, and surprise! Once it's moving, a fight breaks out, which escalates to gunfire and the driver is shot. When the van stops, Steve and Danny hurry over, but Harry has things under control. (Of course!)

Danny can't get Loto to talk with his "good cop" persona, so Harry and Steve convince him. (Man, I would love to see those two work together on a regular basis.) They end up in a warehouse on Pier 17 and surprise a crew who bought a massive amount of guns from Loto. After a brief gunfight (where the bad guys once again are terrible shots), Steve pops a guy running away and they take him to the Blue Room of Doom. Victor, the BloodyGunRunnerGuy, admits they were trying to take over Okada's turf, but they didn't kill him. He knows someone at the FBI (bumblers AND with a mole? The poor FBI looks terrible in this ep) and they were waiting until the feds took down Okada before they made their move. But, Victor isn't the killer, and Lou confirms that since the guns from the warehouse and the Okada murder scene aren't a match.

But, good news! They actually found a gun match---with a gun that was reported stolen three days ago. Everyone is surprised the Okada murders (ten guys!) were done by a lone gunman, but Jerry shows them how it could have been done. (And the audience gets to see all the murders happen. Ew). Once the Jerry show is over, Harry meets Tani and is impressed with her shiny badge and wedge espadrilles meant to impress (but which aren't practical for her line of work. A lot of women on cop shows wear shoes that would never work. Why is that? Remember Castle? Some of Beckett's shoes/boots had four inch heels!) Anyway, Tani got a lead on the missing waitress, so the team breaks again and Steve and Danny go to talk to her, while Lou and Tani follow up on the guy who reported his gun stolen.

In the car Danny can't stop talking about how he wants to retire. Harry used to think the same thing, but he didn't realize he'd miss the buzz of the job. (So, let Danny retire, Harry become Steve's full-time partner, and they can go eat lunch at Danny's dream restaurant every day. Everyone wins!)

The boys get to the hotel and the waitress is dead on the floor, so that lead is gone. But, all is not lost! Tani and Grover are at the piano teacher's house and he's acting suspicious from the start. He doesn't know what was stolen besides the gun, says maybe a camera, when a large expensive camera is sitting on his coffee table. There's also an expensive tea set that didn't get stolen. (Plus, the guy's got shifty eyes.) When a cell phone rings on the coffee table, Lou goes ahead and answers it (which was weird), but it's Steve on the other end. PianoTeacher was the last phone number the waitress called before she died. Lou pulls a gun on him, just as a lot of men in dark cars and suits pull up. (Have you ever noticed that a lot of Crime Family Goons dress nice for work?) Tani takes the little piano student to safety in the bathtub and then joins the gunfight with Lou---after he tells her to make sure she kills who she shoots at. (Didn't he see her last week? She picked off a ton of people. Some of them from a moving car!) Oddly, they have piano music playing as they're killing people. (Like that makes it more classy? I'm not sure.) Oh, and Grover dares PianoTeacher to try to get away during the gunfight and he does! Never trust a shifty-eyed piano teacher.

Steve and Danny arrive on scene and Lou tells him that the guys Tani and Lou killed were identified as crew from the Okada family. Everyone is surprised PianoTeacher is behind it all, but then they find his secret room with all kinds of guns and weapons, books and DVDs on weapons, topped off with surveillance pics. Jerry figures out that Okada ran over the piano teacher's kid and killed him, so the Okada murder was a revenge play. (Well, for all the training he did, he sucked as a criminal by not having his stolen gun story straight. It totally gave him away!) Oh, and the waitress, Annie Hughes, was PianoTeacher's girlfriend.

Well, Derek Okada is mad that the piano teacher got away. (How did he figure out who killed his dad? We'll never know) and he orders his men to be on guard. After the piano teacher calls to tell him he's next, he wants to get his place locked down. Yeah, good plan. (PianoTeacher has definitely lost it. I mean, an hour ago he was teaching a little girl to play a piano piece!)

Next thing we know the piano teacher is killing everyone in his way as he works up to Derek Okada. He shoots all kinds of guards and even shoots someone through the eyehole in the door! (Ew). (It's pretty violent, especially when you consider all the murders at the opening of the show, the warehouse, the van, the murders at the piano teacher's house, and even the waitress.) When PianoTeacher finally makes it to Derek, he shoots him in the leg and shoulder, before he holds a gun to his head, Steve, Danny, and Harry come in quiet and tell him not to do it, but he wants Derek to pay. You see, Derek tried to buy the piano teacher's silence, and then his dad threatened to kill the rest of his family (Who? Did he have a wife or other kids? Because their lives are screwed now with their husband/dad being a serial murderer) if he went to the cops about Okada's role in his son's death. Harry says he's lost someone he loved very much and that this won't bring his son back or change anything. The piano teacher coldly shoots Okada anyway. (They even show the blood spatter on his face. Gross.)They take him into custody, but he doesn't look sorry.

Harry says he needs to make things up to Veronique since he told her he was only going out for sun cream. Danny and Steve offer to make them dinner, but can't get anything edible on the table, so Harry takes her to Kamekona's instead. Kame lectures the boys on customer satisfaction as they awkwardly watch Harry and Veronique eat. (Did they follow them there? It was so odd that they were just standing there drinking, watching Harry and his date.)

Anyway, the best part of the ep for me was definitely Harry's appearance. The rest? Yeah. A little much.

Did you watch? What did you think?

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Writing Con Is Over--And I've Got Good News & Bad News

As you all know, I went to the InD'Scribe conference over the weekend. I had some wonderful experiences!

Brenda Novak was a keynote speaker and she had some really inspiring things to say about how powerful fairytales and dreams are because they tie to our hearts. But the one thing she said that really resonated with me as an author, was to write fearlessly and create something you love. I think that's every author's dream, really. And you wouldn't think that would be hard to do, but it is, so this was a nice reminder and call to action!

Here's me and Brenda doing a booksigning years ago. 

Here we are at the conference. A little bit of a difference for both of us! LOL

I also got to sit in on a workshop with Anne Perry. She talked a lot about what makes a good story and said, "You build up tension by making the hero unafraid when the reader knows how much danger there really is." I loved that!

The first night of the conference featured a costume ball and this lady made this authentic costume herself! Isn't it amazing? If there was a prize for best costume, she would have won hands down.

Here's me in my costume. I'm a medieval commoner, in case you can't tell. (Or at least that's what I'm saying I am, no matter what anyone else thinks! Haha)

The RONE awards were the last night of the conference and my novel, The Captain, was a finalist for Best Suspense/Thriller. I didn't win, but I was thrilled to be nominated, and so excited for my friends who did win in their category.

The conference did offer a nice dessert bar for the losers. Here's what I chose, and it was yummy!

I am really glad to be home. And my cat was happy to see me as well, as you can plainly see from this picture since she lifted her head in greeting before going back to sleep.

So, the good news is that the conference was fun, I met some wonderful people, (including an audiobook narrator that may want to audition for me in the future!), but the bad news is, I didn't win the RONE. Although, I was so motivated with what I learned at the conference, I dove right back into my stories and hope to have some great new release news, soon!

In the end, I just want to thank everyone who has supported me on this writing journey. I couldn't do any of this without my readers, friends, and family. You are amazing and very appreciated!

Friday, October 13, 2017

The RONE Awards---Cross Your Fingers For Me!

I'm in California at the InD'Scribe Conference and the RONE Awards are tomorrow night. If you recall, my novel, The Captain, is up for the RONE Award for Best Suspense. Woohoo! So, I need you to cross your fingers and toes for me!
I'll be sure to post tons of pictures when I get back. (Or you'll see them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram if you follow me there.)

Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Movie Review for The Stray & A Freedom Factor Spotlight!

I was so excited to see that Mitch Davis who directed The Other Side of Heaven, a favorite movie of ours, had a new movie coming out called The Stray. We all sat down as a family to watch it.

It starts out with the Davis family in California and they're struggling. Dad is working 24/7 and their oldest son Christian is being bullied at school. Everyone is stressed and frazzled. Out of the blue, a stray dog appears to help Christian and his bullies and since Dad had suggested they get a dog and mom said they could only if God sent a stray, they decide to keep the one that was sent to them. They name him Pluto.  But things at home aren't really improving and when their two year old daughter goes missing when everyone is busy and not paying attention, the family makes some big changes. The question is, are the changes too late? Can they reconnect again, or will their chance for happiness be snatched away just when it's within their reach?

I thought this was an inspirational show about what's really important in a family and how much a dog can come to mean to their humans. There are some really touching moments and my six year old cried his eyes out at the end which made me misty-eyed! We were able to talk a lot about how much we love our pets and then we gave ours an extra love after seeing The Stray. This is a very sweet show that will pull on your heartstrings!

Get more information here

Here is the official trailer:

Here's the teaser:

The Stray tells the inspiring true story of a stray dog, "Pluto," who appears from out of nowhere just in time to save a family that is falling apart. Pluto is not only a guard dog--he's a guardian angel. Sometimes help comes in the most unlikely forms. Sometimes prayers are answered in the most unlike ways. Sometimes one dog can change everything.

The Freedom Factor

Have you heard of the Freedom Factor? Stan Ellsworth, best known for his work on American Ride, is helping to spread the message of better understanding the U.S. Constitution. As an inspired document, it is important to know what it protects and what its purpose is. Especially in an increasingly high tension political climate, every effort should be made to unite Americans on the three things the Constitution was designed to protect: peace, prosperity and freedom. The Freedom Factor is trying to give out 100 million pocket Constitutions to give everyone the chance to learn more. You can help!

You can find more information here