When He wrote I Love You on my day


  I like to jam while I’m driving. I’m that crazy person sitting behind you at stoplights, fingers tapping the steering wheel, singing along to the radio. No, before you ask, I don’t crank the music up loud (sensitive ears), but, yes, I have been known to burst into tears or spontaneous laughter merely on account of a song.


On my way to school one morning, a line or two of one of my time-tested favorites drifted into my mind, completely random and out-of-the-blue. Boy, would I love to hear that one. I didn’t know it well enough to sing it a cappella, so I let it slide.

Guess what happened?

What is One Thing You Wish You Had Known...

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What is one thing you wish you had known 
(or someone had told you) 
about blogging before you started blogging?


{source}

I'm doing a presentation next week for my writers group -- about blogging! And I'll be posting here soon about what I've learned about blogging as I've worked on how to teach others...which means, if you comment an answer to this question, I might quote you!

Remember the Sistine Chapel?

Broken-Heart and Ceiling-Staring Days




(No, I am not making this up.) 

The Sistine Chapel, God? 

Yes. 

My brows furrowed as I tried to excavate every fact I know about the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo painted it. And he painted it well. 

Imagine that for a moment. 

So I did. I imagined Michelangelo. Caressing the ceiling with a tiny brush. Making broad swipes across the expanse. Rubbing the crick in his neck and the ache in his back as he let go and let loose one of the pieces of art that causes people to ceiling-stare, wonder, pray.


A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer ~ A Book Review


A Tailor-Made BrideWhen a dressmaker who values beauty tangles with a liveryman who condemns vanity, the sparks begin to fly! 

Summary

Jericho "J.T." Tucker wants nothing to do with Coventry, Texas's new dressmaker. He's all too familiar with her kind--shallow women more devoted to fashion than true beauty. Yet, except for her well-tailored clothing, this seamstress is not at all what he expected. 

Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery. The unsmiling fellow riles her with his arrogant assumptions and gruff manner while at the same time stirring her heart with unexpected acts of kindness. Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man? 

When Hannah decides to help Jericho's sister catch a beau--leading to uproarious consequences for the whole town--will Jericho and Hannah find a way to bridge the gap between them?

What I Loved


I started reading A Tailor-Made Bride immediately after I finished Head in the Clouds. Though nothing could send Head in the Clouds toppling from it's place at the top of my favorites list, A Tailor-Made Bride certainly catapulted onto that list, as well. 

Just as hysterically funny and well-researched as the other, A Tailor-Made Bride is an engaging read that will leave you thinking about the characters long after you've turned the last page--which in my estimation makes it the best kind of book.

Hannah loves to exercise. She's energetic and I really liked that about her. She's also devoted to her dream, which easily made her a heroine to cheer for! 

Jericho isn't as easy to decipher, but he's male, so I understood that. Witemeyer did an expert job at pulling me inside his point-of-view, though, and making the process tons of fun. 

The love story unfolds like a rose at times and other times whirls like a waterfall. The clashes between the characters made me smile and laugh (I've discovered that the author's witty style has a way of coaxing those reactions from me). Also, the bit of intrigue woven in, though it ended somewhat anticlimactically, certainly added a dash of adventure.

Why I Recommend This Book


I heartily recommend this book to those looking for a light summer read, as well as those who like a snippet of suspense stirred in. The Christian undertones to this book are thought-provoking...I loved how both Jericho and Hannah worked through their prejudices. 

Also, the romance? The book ended too soon, but with a happily-ever-after worthy of a western fairy-tale.

About the Author


Karen WitemeyerTwo-time RITA® Finalist and winner of the coveted HOLT Medallion, CBA bestselling author, Karen Witemeyer, writes historical romance fiction for Bethany House, believing that the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. 

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The Embittered Ruby by Nicole O'Dell ~ A Book Review

The Embittered Ruby
"There's no place like home..."

"There's no place like home..."

"There's no place like home."

But then reality sets in, and Carmen concludes that ruby slippers are mere fiction. Constant prayers that her parents will patch things up remain unanswered...and her hurtful world becomes too much for her to bear. Trapped by resentment and anger, Carmen lashes out the only way she knows how and soon finds herself at a crossroads. 

Will Carmen find the path to ultimate peace and contentment that her heart longs for? Or will her troubled soul remain forever embittered?

What I Loved


As soon as I finished The Wishing Pearl I knew I wanted to read The Embittered Ruby. 

Nicole O'Dell has a real talent for opening up the heart of a troubled teen girl with serious issues...and helping the reader sympathize with her.

Sometimes I got so mad at Carmen! I just wanted to shake her by the shoulders and tell her to trust God, confide in her parents, and stop acting like she was...but I learned a lot through reading this book, too. 

Like shaking someone by the shoulders is not the best way to drive a truth home.

The things that Carmen goes through aren't often easy to swallow. A few times I put down the book because my heart was breaking for her (and those girls out there who are going through similar experiences). 

But this is a fabulous book of redemption. God's unfailing love, which Carmen eventually comes to know, is a central theme all the way through and that makes this book worth reading. 

Why I Recommend This Book


Carmen's journey is a very raw and real one that will tug at your heartstrings and even bring a few tears. The ending is almost wistful. I wish the book were a bit longer. I would have loved to travel more with Carmen after she accepts God's love for her...but somehow I know she is going to be okay and that is enough.

I look forward to reading the third book in the Diamond Estates Series, The Shadowed Onyx.

About the Author


Nicole O'Dell, founder of Choose NOW Ministries is a youth culture expert, who writes and speaks to preteens, teenagers, and parents about how to prepare for life's tough choices. She is the author of a bunch of YA books, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the upcoming Diamond Estates Series, the first of which is The Wishing Pearl. Her non-fiction for teens includes Girl Talk, which she wrote with her two daughters based on their popular blog column by the same name.

The host of Teen Talk Radio where "It's all about choices!", Nicole dives in on topics like peer pressure, dating, purity, drugs, alcohol, modesty, popularity, decisions about the future, and many other things that might come up along the way. Over the years, Nicole has worked as a youth director, a Bible study leader for women and teens, and a counselor at a crisis pregnancy center. She lives in Illinois with her husband, Wil and her six wonderful kids--including a set of toddler triplets.



A sincere thank you to the author for sending me the book to review!


Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland ~ A Book Review



Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success

Writers often look upon outlines with fear and trembling. But when properly understood and correctly wielded, the outline is one of the most powerful weapons in a writer’s arsenal. 

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success will help you choose the right type of outline for you, guide you in brainstorming plot ideas, aid you in discovering your characters, show you how to structure your scenes, explain how to format your finished outline, instruct you in how to use your outline when writing the first draft, reveal the benefits of outlining, and dispel the misconceptions.

What I Loved


Intimidated by the thought of plotting out your book or planning a character arc? K.M. Weiland has the answers and they're all neatly compiled in

This book is chock full of great advice, pithy tips, and expert analysis of what makes outlining work.

One of my favorite additions to this writing how-to book were the author interviews at the end of each chapter. K.M. Weiland asked the same questions of ten different authors. They each gave different answers, proving that the writing road looks different for everyone. What gems of knowledge are found in this book. 

My absolute top favorite part of the book are the checklists found at the end of each chapter. I'm a big fan of to-do lists and having the author provide detailed but doable goals to work toward helped cement in my mind what I'd learned.

Why I Recommend This Book


I recommend this book to all my writing friends. Even those who may not think outlining is for them. Outlining Your Novel is not just about outlining. It's about understanding story structure and character journeys and making sure you've hit all the checkpoints found along the path to a successful novel. I can tell I'll be returning to this book again and again!

About the Author


K.M. Weiland is the author of the historical western A Man Called Outlaw and the medieval epic Behold the Dawn. She enjoys mentoring other authors through her blog Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors, editing services, and her instructional CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration. She lives in western Nebraska.

Extras


Find K.M. Weiland
Wordplay // Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads // Pinterest // Google+

Read my review of Structuring Your Novel.


The Destiny of A Galaxy by Sarah Holman ~ A Book Review


I have the great honor of writing the summary/back cover copy of Sarah Holman's The Destiny of a Galaxy and now it is time for my stop on the Blog Tour

Without further ado, I give you...

One Girl, One Galaxy, One God…

“I’m just an ordinary girl, thrown into some extraordinary circumstances.”

Time Has Passed…

Three years have come and gone since Maria Morris found the crown jewels and the farmer-boy-prince. The Followers are now going strong. Wyndemere’s empire is cracking at the seams as unrest rises and the Legatee orchestrates the planning of the Rebellion.

Danger Has Not Disappeared...

The overthrow of the tyrannical regime seems imminent, but Maria’s role as the “woman who started it all” is not widely known. So why is she plagued by an ominous foreboding of approaching danger?

Neither Has Hope…

Promise floats in the air, the promise of better lives, of breathing in freedom. Many around her seem to find happiness, even as the tension starts to spiral toward a breaking point. But Maria flounders, feeling unneeded, out of place. She returns to the question: What does Maria Morris want to do with her life? What is her destiny…now?

Rendered Powerless, Maria Must Make A Painful Choice…

One That Will Alter the Future of The Galaxy 
Forever.

When James invites her to headquarters and Maria starts to take seriously her role among The Followers, tragedy strikes and her worst nightmares come true. The enemies she had thought long gone are capable of far more than she imagined. Will she have the courage to stand for what she believes in, no matter the cost to her and those she loves? Will she have the strength to surrender her dreams when all seems lost and she can do nothing at all?


About the Author


Sarah Holman, a homeschool graduate, lives in central Texas. When not pursuing her passion of writing, she can be found taking long walks, reading, sewing or spending time with her family. You can find out more about her at her blog, The Destiny of One. 

How did she begin her writing adventure?

Visit her Amazon author page, where you can find links to each of the books in the Destiny Trilogy.

Find Sarah
Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads


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Wings of a Dream by Anne Mateer ~ A Book Review

Summary


Rebekah Hendricks dreams of a life far beyond her family's farm in Oklahoma, and when dashing aviator Arthur Samson promised adventure in the big city, she is quick to believe he's the man she's meant to marry. While she waits for the Great War to end and Arthur to return to her so they can pursue all their plans, her mother's sister falls ill. Rebekah seizes the opportunity to travel to Texas to care for Aunt Adabelle, seeing this chance to be closer to Arthur's training camp as God's approval of her plans.

But the Spanish flue epidemic changes everything. Faced with her aunt's death, Arthur's indecisiveness, and four children who have no one else to care for them, Rebekah is torn between the desire to escape the type of life she's always led and the unexpected love that just might change the dream of her heart.

What I Loved

I'm staring at my copy of the book right now, trying to narrow down exactly what it was that I loved...so many things to choose from! 

I love how Rebekah grows. She seemed to me to be a little shallow at the beginning of the novel, but she travels states to care for the children her aunt was responsible for. 

And she falls in love with the children. I love the children. They were each unique with true-to-childhood voices. I've read books where the children seemed stilted. Wings of a Dream isn't one of them.

I love that Rebekah's story is told in first-person. I've found this is rare in Christian fiction outside of YA, especially historicals. The uniqueness and Rebekah's personality lend itself well to this choice. 

I love how the love story is soft and sweet. This book reminded me of the gentle way of Janette Oke in Love Comes Softly, that quintessential classic romance.

What I Didn't Like As Much

I would have liked to learn a little more about the hero, Frank. But it was enough to see Rebekah falls in love with him without the grand adventuresome fireworks and fanfare she thought she wanted so much. The last line? Oh, I won't spoil it, but it encapsulates her journey just perfectly...

About the Author

Anne Mateer Anne Mateer has loved reading and writing historical fiction since childhood. In 2000, she began studying and working to hone her craft, finally resulting in a publishing contract in May of 2010. Along the way she reached the finals of ACFW's Genesis contest three times and saw her short essay, "Let it Snow", published in A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts.



Anne lives in Texas with her equally history-obsessed husband. They have three children, now in various stages of high school and college, who have spent many a family vacation touring historical sites.

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Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer ~ A Book Review



When a recovering romantic goes to work for a handsome ranch owner, her heart's not the only thing in danger!

Adelaide Proctor is a young woman with her head in the clouds, longing for a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a staid governess position on a central Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her romantic yearnings behind. 


When Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America's wool industry, he never expected to become a father overnight. And five-year-old Isabella hasn't uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon--and intrigues him at the same time. But he can't afford distractions. He has a ranch to run, a shearing to oversee, and a suspicious fence-cutting to investigate. 



When Isabella's uncle comes to claim the child--and her inheritance--Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man's evil schemes. And soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?

What I Loved


This book is filled with ironic twists of phrase and a humorous glint in the style of Mary Connealy and Kelly Hake. The stunning and uh-oh glimpse of Adelaide on the cover is in every way indicative of the adventure to be found within the pages of Head in the Clouds. 

This story kept me reading. The characters were altogether engaging and loveable. Gideon was such a clash of cultures. An English nobleman now a sheep farmer? 

And Adelaide. I could relate to her on so many levels, yet she pulled me into circumstances so unique...the pages turned of themselves.

By the way, she's a great fan of yellow, books, fairy tales, and twirling her hair around her finger. So I adored her, of course. This is definitely a keeper story that holds a treasured place on my bookshelf. I'll be rereading and rereading this one!

What I Didn't Like As Much


Truly, I just studied the front and back and flipped through a couple pages just now, but I don't think there is anything about this book I didn't agree with or enjoy. Scanning a few sentences puts a grin on my face and puts Head in the Clouds right back on my to-read list.

Why I Recommend This Book


For Christian fiction lovers, this book presents the faith-filled life in a way that is neither over-the-top or under-done. For romantics like myself, Adelaide's oft-addlepated escapades are hysterical while Gideon is just plain loveable. And if you are looking for a book that will make you laugh and smile at regular intervals, well, pick up this one. Karen Witemeyer is now officially on my favorite authors list!

About the Author

Two-time RITA® Finalist and winner of the coveted HOLT Medallion, CBA bestselling author, Karen Witemeyer, writes historical romance fiction for Bethany House, believing that the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: www.karenwitemeyer.com.

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Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland by Roseanna White ~ A Book Review


In 1784 peace has been declared, but war still rages in the heart of Lark Benton.

Never did Lark think she’d want to escape Emerson Fielding, the man she’s loved all her life, but then he betrays her . She flees to Annapolis, Maryland, the country’s capital, and

throws herself into a new circle of friends who force her to examine all she believes.

Emerson follows, determined to reclaim his bride. Surprised when she refuses to return with him, he
realizes that in this new country he has come to call his own, duty is no longer enough. He must learn to open his heart and soul to something greater…before he loses all he should have been fighting to hold.

Buy from Amazon
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What I Loved


Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland is an exquisite book. It is probably the best Christian historical I've read this year (and it's only May)! The characters grow soooo much and the plot twists and turns in a soft, subtle way that kept me ever guessing. Especially right around the middle, which is, in my opinion, the best part of the whole book! {No spoilers, though!}

The way White writes is stunning in its authenticity to the times. She has had a lot of education that helps her to that end. The result is the feeling that I'm reading a book written in the 1780s not just about the 1780s! The character's voices have an almost musical cadence that draws me straight into the story and paints a picture of what newborn America was like. This is one of my favorite time periods so the writing's ability to draw me in like that was fascinating.

And... I must say that Sena was an absolutely captivating character. She was so much fun to read about. I loved the way her story ended just as much as I loved how Lark's did.

What I Didn't Like As Much


It was quite a new feeling to begin the book and feel such sympathy for the heroine...and dislike the hero so strongly. Oh, Emerson made me so mad! I could have just clapped for Lark when she decided to "escape" him by going to Annapolis.

Thankfully, though, I grew to like him by the end. Although he does leave her on the street at one point -- that was my least favorite scene because I thought he could have at least offered to escort her home or something alone those lines. Oh, well, it worked out just fine in the ending -- which was woven together seamlessly.

Why I Recommend this Book


The characters...the story...the voices...the rich history... All of these facets combine to make Annapolis shine. I thoroughly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction, lovers of Christian fiction (the strong message is neither preachy nor pushy but brought tears to my eyes), and lovers of romance (she made me love a guy I very much disliked at the beginning of the book ~ that's talented).

About the Author

Roseanna M. White  Roseanna M. White grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, the beauty of which inspired her to begin writing as soon as she learned to pair subjects with verbs. She spent her middle and high school days penning novels in class, and her love of books took her to a school renowned for them. After graduating from St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, she and her husband moved back to the Maryland side of the same mountains they equate with home. 

Roseanna is the author of two biblical novels, A Stray Drop of Blood and Jewel of Persia, both fromWhiteFire Publishing, and Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland, a historical romance, with Summerside Press. She is the senior reviewer at the Christian Review of Books, which she and her husband founded, the senior editor at WhiteFire Publishing, and a member of ACFW, HisWriters, HEWN Marketing, and Colonial Christian Fiction Writers.


Extras

Find Roseanna
Blog // Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest

Read my reviews of Roseanna's other exquisite books

Ring of Secrets // Fairchild's Lady (a FREE novella in the Culper Ring series)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Guest Post on Go Teen Writers!

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I blew off the idea of yWriter when K.M. Weiland first mentioned it in Outlining Your Novel. I thought I wasn’t techie enough for special “writing software.”

I was wrong. 

Read the reason I tried yWriter, after all, and why you should as well. Thank you, Stephanie, for the honor of guest posting on GTW last week!

My College Journey: Daring to Leap

Today I graduate.

Again.

Two years ago I walked across the stage of a small white church and received my high school diploma. 

Two years later... a few hours from now... I'll walk across the stage of a huge coliseum and shake a president's hand and receive my Associate's degree. 

Two years ago I wore blue. A blue I wasn't even sure I liked at the time, but that looks all right in the pictures I have of that day. 

Two years later I'll wear black. Which is blah. Oh, well. I do get to wear an honor cord.

Which I think is pretty cool.



I'm feeling like doing this today.

I'm that excited thrilled giddy.

I'm not even sure why. Could it be the sense of accomplishment? The sense of ahhh, I'm done with that now--time to move on? 


Two years ago I threw a party. With a beautiful cake decorated with peach flowers. With a peach rose bouquet. With peach blooms and peach pebbles on all the tables. And me in a peach dress.

{Quick, who wants to guess what my favorite color is?}

Two years ago, two short months after my peach party, I started community college

With oh-my-goodness-I-didn't-know-words-could-cost-that-much books, a peach-swirled binder, and a bag that attests to my love of silver and bows. The purse I carry today could pass for its close cousin (I didn't even realize that until I examined this picture).


Oh, and I still have those capris, too. My fave pair. I guess my fashion-sense hasn't morphed all that much.

 Which makes me giggle.

Like it looks like I'm doing in this picture, taken on my first day of college.

I still have that wild, riotous, mass of curls, too (it's even a bit longer). And that smile that makes my eyes crinkle. 

But I have a lot more. Two years of college under my belt. Things I've learned. Things I'm glad I've learned. Things I wish I hadn't learned. Some stuff some might call smarts. Know-how. Book learning.

The most important thing I've learned in the two years since I walked across the stage of that little white church and walking across that stage tonight is described fairly well by this song.

Confidence...sure of myself...ready to take on the world...wise enough to look both ways before she leaps.

Do I always feel confident? No. I think I would prefer an invisibility cloak quite often, actually. 

Do I feel ready to take on the world?

Absolutely not.

Define ready.

Do I look both ways now before I leap?

Most of the time, if by looking both ways you mean look up to Him who holds my life-map.

The thing is, even after two years, I am still 
ready 
willing 
eager 
daring 
to leap.

That college hasn't pilfered from me, though at one time I feared it just might. That college can never pilfer from me. 

That daring to leap nothing can pilfer from me except I let it.

Nothing. 

Ever.

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