Monday, August 3, 2015

Book Review: Maybe Today

Today I want to tell you about a little book that could change your life.  It's called Maybe Today A Simple Approach to A Soul-Satisfying Life by David Butler and Emily Belle Freeman.

One of my life goals this year has been to seek peace in my life.  I have had some amazing experiences as I've actively tried to be a more peaceful person doing peaceful things.  This little book is definitely something that I will read over and over because it offers quotes and thoughts that touched me and that I want to keep foremost in my mind.  Soul-satisfying and peace seemed to go hand in hand for me, and this book uses patterns and scriptural references to the Savior's life in a way that I hadn't thought about before.

The book starts out with how life can be so ordinary. You roll out of bed, plug into the world, and know it will be one of those days.  But what if you made it something else?  Then it discusses five Holy Patterns from our Savior's life so we can live a soul-satisfying life. They're simple. Nothing earth-shattering, but it made me think, yeah, I can do that. Wow, I'd never thought of that. And, okay, let's do this.

I've started actively trying to implement one pattern into my life per week.  Honestly, I've noticed a difference and I think this is something I'd like to make a habit.  For example, taking a compassionate detour.  My life is busy and I have a list of things I have to do in a day, but lately I've been looking for those compassionate detours that help me serve someone else.  It's hard to explain, (you have to get this book!) but it's such a simple thing, and when you truly notice the opportunity and take it, what a difference it makes!

There was a quote in the book by James McNeill Whistler that I want to put on my fridge and my mirror and in my car so I can read it and remember. It was exactly what I needed to hear the day I read it and many days since.  There are quotes by Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Frost to name a few. They all are used to illustrate the patterns discussed in the book and they add a perspective that gives extra meaning to the points the authors are trying to make.

It's a short little book, but it's filled with a lot of big ideas that can change your life. They've definitely changed mine for the better.  This is one for the keeper shelf.

You can get your hardback copy here for $12.17

Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Freebie

Today's Friday Freebie is Reluctantly Married by Victorine Lieske.  It definitely looks like a fun afternoon read! Click here to download your free Kindle copy!

Here's the back copy:

Megan Holloway can't stand her local morning show co-host, Adam Warner, even though he's a total hunk. He goads her on-air until she says things she regrets. But since ratings increase each time they have an on-air fight, the producer encourages his behavior.

When a relationship specialist comes onto the show purporting that Adam has hidden feelings for her, she reluctantly agrees to go out with him--on camera. What starts out as one date turns into a viral dating show with Megan and Adam alternating between locking lips and knocking heads.

As Megan fights her growing attraction to Adam, their popularity increases and ABC takes notice, offering them their own program. Not a morning show like Megan is hoping, but a dating show in which she and Adam must marry at the end. With the promise of a hundred thousand dollars and the possibility of scoring what she really wants, her own national program, she signs on.

What she doesn't know is that Adam has fallen in love with her, and his objective is to get her to do the same.

This is a sweet romance, appropriate for any age.

And just because I like to pass along the deals when I find them, I saw this boxed set from eight YA authors that features all new, clean novellas for your teens for only .99 cents! Download your Kindle copy here

Here's the back copy:

From gorgeous heroes that make us swoon to the super sleuths and feisty heroines that make us cheer, this exclusive collection has something for everyone. Eight clean, sassy and BRAND NEW novellas--a delicious mixture of fun, addictively romantic, action-adventure stories -- each handpicked by an award-winning gathering of some of today's most popular YA/NA authors.

Eight Bestselling Authors
Eight never-before-released novellas spanning 500+ pages
Over 98% off retail for the individual books sold separately (a thirty dollar savings!)
Only available until September (so get your copy today).


REBECCA ETHINGTON ~ Monsters are real... Through Glass

RASHELLE WORKMAN ~ Alice is a Dark Moth trainee in Wonderland, Arizona where the days are hot and the guys are hotter. The Dark Moth Society

CINDY M. HOGAN ~ Some secrets are better left dead and buried. Kate Unmasked

ELLE STRAUSS ~ Time traveling is wonky enough... and this time it's worse than ever. Counter Clockwise

CHRISTINE KERSEY ~ College is murder... Witness

JULI ALEXANDER ~ Solving mysteries is in her blood, but it might just get her killed. Paxton Private Investigations

LILA FELIX ~ Fasta is an artist, not by choice, but by force. Sketchy Love

AMBER ARGYLE ~ A storm is raging and not everyone will survive. Of Ice And Snow

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Is A Strong Storyline Enough?

I'm reading a book right now that has a really strong storyline.  It also has a strong female character in it that I really enjoy.

Buuuuut . . .

It also has grammatical and spelling errors that are driving me crazy and the hero jumps between tenses. (It's written in first person, but sometimes lapses into third.)

But I'm still drawn to this story because I want to see how the conflict ends.  Am I crazy?

So, let's talk for a minute. What makes a strong storyline?

For me, it's these three things:

1.  Strong and relatable characters.

Having a strong hero and heroine that are placed into circumstances that makes a reader wonder what they would do in the same situation draws me in every time.  I love characters that I can care about and would want to be friends with.

2.  Great conflict

The conflict has to be something believable that I could see happening and, again, asking myself how I would react to it.  And I love the stories where problems seem to get bigger and bigger until the characters are twisted around trying to figure out how to get out of the trouble they are in when there doesn't seem to be a way out.  That keeps me turning pages.

3.  A world that the reader can feel a part of and experience with the hero or heroine.

When the world around them is realistic and somewhere I can envision it only adds to the story. Setting is the third leg on this three-legged stool and can never be overlooked.

So, this is what I've learned from reading this book:

  • Great characters and conflict can make it easier to overlook grammar and spelling and other mistakes, but generally it doesn't.   
  • But most of all, what this book drove home for me is that an editor is worth their weight in gold.  Some authors have incredible storytelling talent, but an editor polishes that story and makes it shine. If I leave one thing with you here today, my writer friends, hire an editor. Make your story the best it can be so your readers can truly enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Writer Goal Wednesday

photo credit: plnaugle via photopin cc 

Well, this has been a productive week. I finished my novella last week, sent it out to beta readers, and am now putting in all their feedback. Beta readers are so important because they catch all the stuff that I couldn't see since I've been "with" the story for so long.  I'm still waiting on two more to come back and I admit, I can't wait to see what they thought of it. This is the very first novella that I've done that is all romance.  Since it's a departure for me, I've been a bit nervous! But so far, the feedback has been positive.

The other thing that happened this week is that I got a new critique partner! I'm moving forward with my new Navy SEAL series and my new partner is going to hold my feet to the fire (as I will do for her) in getting our goals accomplished.  I hope it's fun. So far it's been great!

So my goals for next week are:

  • Finish editing my novella using the feedback from the beta readers.
  • Finish ten pages on my new series.
  • Approve the audio book for Ashes Ashes.
I can do this!

How did your week go? Did you accomplish your goals?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Book Review: Pandora

I got an advanced copy of Jennifer Griffiths new book, Pandora (Goddesses and Geeks Book 1), and boy was it one wild ride!

We meet Blake who is a young congressman jaded by life in Washington.  All of the women seem shallow and selfish and he just needs a vacation.

So he heads to Bermuda, and while he's on vacation he takes a swim in the shallow pool himself and falls quickly into infatuation with a girl named Cressida and her looks. Blake doesn't need to know anything about her, can't even pronounce her entire name (granted, it's a long crazy name) but she looks good on his arm and he's smitten. As soon as she agrees to go out with him, though, Blake ends up in one crisis after another, including a lightning strike and a really funny zoo break just to name a couple.

His conspiracy theorist assistant figures out pretty quickly that all the crises have to do with his trip to Bermuda.  And then he narrows it even further to the beautiful goddess that Blake has fallen for. When the assistant hears Cressida's entire Greek name, he realizes that she is Pandora of Pandora's Box fame.  But Blake is having a hard time wrapping his brain around it.  Could it be true? And how could he ever have a relationship with Pandora---someone who is cursed?

This book is full of zany scenes that will make you laugh and shake your head.  There is some really great melding with Greek mythology and Blake is lovable even when he's clueless. He does have this heroic side that make you cheer for him even at his lowest point. I liked Cressida and how she handled the situation and the relationship. It makes you think about how hard it would be to be cursed!  It was definitely a fun romantic comedy for me.

This book is currently only available in paperback. You can see it here

Here's the back copy:

Blake Wells seems to have it made: the wealthy bachelor life, Kennedy-esque good looks, rising political star. The tabloids love him. But one barracuda date after another drains his hopes for finding a girl who’s sincere. So when his Chief of Staff insists he take a beach vacation, Blake doesn’t go expecting to meet Cressida, the perfect girl. Shazam! She’s seriously a goddess. And even though she protests that she’s bad luck, he’s a goner. But when a string of crazy (albeit hilarious) coincidences threatens sink his career, Blake must choose whether to save his campaign or save the love of his life. If he wants to get this goddess, he’ll have to break her curse. Pandora is the first book in the Goddesses & Geeks fantasy romance series from bestselling romantic comedy author Jennifer Griffith.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Operation Christmas Stockings

Today I was so privileged to be a small part of Operation Christmas Stockings. This is an organization that makes handmade Christmas stockings for our troops that are serving overseas.  Ten ladies made 1000 stockings! Then it was up to us to fill them with some fun and essential items for our troops.

Because my books generally have military characters in them, I've been privileged to talk to several people in the military during my research.  So many of them, especially those deployed during holidays and away from their loved ones, were so grateful for any remembrances from back home. They missed things like Skittles candy, and drink mix-ins to help their water taste better. Anything that would make things a little easier and let them know they're not forgotten.

You might ask yourself, why are they doing stockings in July? Well, with the needs and the time it takes to package and ship all the stockings, it all has to be done in the summer. But it gave me a chance to take time out of my celebrating the patriotic holidays with my family, and remember that there are those protecting my freedoms abroad who are sacrificing their time with their family.

So, yes, filling up a stocking is just a small thing on my part, but I know it will mean so much to a soldier far from home.

And I want to let them know, today and every day, they are never forgotten and always appreciated.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Freebie Friday

Today's Freebie Friday is a clean contemporary romance by Stacy Claflin called Seaside Heartbeats. I recently discovered this author and I'm excited to read this one! You can download your free Kindle copy here

Here's the back copy:

Sometimes love shows up when you least expect it.

After years of hard work, architect Lana Summers just wants a relaxing vacation in the beach town of Kittle Falls. Instead, she suffers unexpected heart problems, and finds herself in the office of a gorgeous cardiologist—who only makes her heart work harder.

Brayden Hunter left his successful cardiology practice in Dallas to be closer to his aging parents. Focused on building a health care clinic in his hometown, he doesn't want any distractions. However, the beautiful Lana is one he can’t seem to avoid.

As their attraction grows, they stumble upon a 160-year-old mystery. Brayden catches her adventurous spirit as they chase after answers, and he can’t help falling for her. But can he convince her to stay in the small beach town and with him?

Seaside Heartbeats is part of the Seaside Hunters collection, a series of sweet contemporary romances featuring the Hunter brothers set in the beach town of Kittle Falls. If you like heartwarming romances with a side of suspense, then you'll love the latest entry in the fun, romantic beach series. Budding romance and great chemistry abound with fully-developed characters that you'll fall for over and over again.