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Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd

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01_mist-of-midnightSo I stopped by the library before our trip in the hope that I’d quickly find a book to grab. I was so excited to find Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd right up front with all the new fiction! I’ve heard a lot about it and have been wanting to read it. It’s a little hard to start new books at the moment. With baby feedings and the endlessness of getting Lincoln chocolate milk and snack–or the never-ending sweeping and dish washing–time gets away from me. (P.S. I recently told Jeff that even though I’ve just quit my job, we really might need a maid service. He just looked at me like maybe I am missing something.) Anyway, I find myself re-reading books that I’ve read (and enjoyed) so I can skim if I need to or skip around. But I knew we had a really long drive ahead of us once we got to Virginia, and a new book sounded doable. Luckily, Mist of Midnight drew me in right from the start and I finished it by the time we reached Florida.

It’s a gothic love story (feels a little Bronte-ish), which I like but only if the story isn’t too dark. (I’d always choose Pride and Prejudice over Wuthering Heights.) The heroine is smart and determined but not annoying. I feel like a lot of the female characters in books I’ve read lately are supposedly “strong” but mostly that translates to bossy and stubborn and must have her way. Uncool. The heroine in this novel is likeable and a woman of substance. Her convictions are tempered by her compassion. The story keeps you guessing and the romance isn’t too rushed. The cover is gorgeous and matches the tone of the book. It’s an enjoyable read. I’m definitely going to check out more Sandra Byrd novels.

Something about a Roomful of Readers

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IMG_1206So last night was really fun.

A while back my sister asked me if I wanted to go see author Diana Gabaldon. Sara and I get the same library emails so I knew about the “Outlandish Event with Diana Gabaldon” coming to Denver. But I was about eight months pregnant at the time and felt sure I would still be in recovery mode post-pregnancy. About a week ago I started feeling sad that I hadn’t signed up. Now that I feel like a normal human being again, a night out with other readers sounded delightful. So I got on the long waiting list, and lo and behold, I was able to get a ticket two days before!

I was reminded of how fun it is to be in a room filled with readers. Listening to Diana share her story of writing and being published was so inspirational (and she was so funny!). I loved hearing that she didn’t tell her husband right away that she’d started writing a book, then he found like 80 files on their computer, all named “Jamie.”  (The name of the leading man in Outlander!) She had some explaining to do! To make that easier, she’d written Jamie as a 6’4″ red-haired man, coincidentally (or not so coincidentally!), so is her husband. :)  It was a great night, starting off with a free glass of wine and lots of desserts. Yes, please.

Diana talked about knowing that she was meant to write a novel from a very young age. She went on to do other things, including writing (not novels), but all the while she knew she was meant to write stories. Do you know that feeling? Knowing something is your passion? Having that inward pull to do something–be it write a novel or travel somewhere or start a ministry or record a song or become a mother? My passion for writing stemmed from my love of reading and it’s still part of me today.

You guys know that I just had a baby six weeks ago. My days have been filled with feedings and diaper changes, along with car pool to kindergarten and taking care of my three-year-old. I’ve realized something recently: Being a mom is a lot like being a waitress. This occurred to me as I refilled Linc’s cup of chocolate milk the other day (for the millionth time) after I’d served him his umpteenth snack. And I don’t mind. It’s the season of life I’m in and it’s what I want. I hold baby Lillian and feel this surge of love and contentment because I wanted her so much. Being a mother is huge to me. It was a desire of my heart and it’s fulfilling to me.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have other passions. Reading and writing are two of those passions, and to neglect them entirely would make me less than who I am. Sometimes we need a little jump-start to our dreams and goals. Last night was a good jump-start for me. To hear Diana talk about how she creates scenes in her books was very cool. She places the characters in a room, for example, then she asks herself questions. Is there warmth from a fire? Oh, right. There’s a fire blazing in the corner. What does the room smell like? Oh, there’s the remnants of dinner on the table. Crumbs and empty wine glasses.

Building scenes and weaving together description and storytelling–those things are vital when you want to write words that come alive for the reader. Whether you’re writing under a deadline or just blogging at your own pace, writers need to write. Being in community with like-minded people helps. After spending the evening in what felt like a book club of hundreds of women who were excited about the same book series–I realized how much I need to be back with readers–sharing stories and ideas. For a reader, even just chatting on forums at Goodreads.com can be great! Readers, we need each other!

So, what are you reading these days? ;)

Adventure . . . Write About It

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imagesCAKQ302HI’m linking up with Write or Die today and the topic was adventure. It’s funny because this was the topic at dinner the other night with our small group. We were each supposed to share an adventure story. I feel like I had to go way back to college to search for adventure stories! Not that parenting isn’t an adventure. It is! And publishing books is a fantastic adventure. But as for true-blue, “I went on an adventure”–well, what came to mind was a trip I took the year before I graduated college. My then-fiance Jeff, my friend Monica, one English professor, and myself all joined up with a tour group to visit Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, and France. I tacked Italy on at the end and met up with my dad (who was working overseas at the time). It was a total adventure.

Here’s the thing, I’ve never been much of a journaler–you know, someone who keeps a diary or writes in her journal. Over the years I’ve written in journals–then I would read what I wrote later, feel absolutely ridiculous and throw it away. But on my Europe trip, I took along a small journal and wrote something down every single day. Even a small recap of what we did that day. And it’s something I value so much! A little record of one of my biggest adventures. The flight alone was a scary adventure (I’d never been on a plane for so many hours!). Then getting to Ireland and realizing it was freezing and I had packed for summer (what in the world).

Getting married at Gretna Green in Scotland while my English professor nearly had a heart attack during the ceremony (I think he was worried that he wasn’t supposed to allow students to get married on this school trip. Lucky for him, the marriage was only legal in Scotland).

Walking through ruins of a castle in Wales (where the queen had just been the day before!). Hearing Born in the USA played in French while on the tour bus in Paris. Going to the movies in London and seeing Spiderman. Seeing the Statue of David while in Italy (with my dad–um, a little awkward!). Feeling small and completely in awe of the Vatican. Running to catch a moving train that we were supposed to be on. Falling in love with Edinborough. Lunch by a river in the Lake District. The wind blowing hard at Stonehenge.

Basically it was the trip of a lifetime. It was my adventure and it inspired what would become my novel Looks Like Love. I’m so thankful I journaled on that trip. After all, you want to remember your best adventures.

The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen by Shannon Winslow

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00034]You guys know I love Jane Austen everything. Sara gave me this book for Christmas and I just finished it, and I loved it! Persuasion is one of my favorite love stories. I have both movie versions and have watched them a million times. So this story was just extra fun for a Persuasion fan. Here’s the book blurb:

What if the tale Jane Austen told in her last, most poignant novel was actually inspired by momentous events in her own life? Did she in fact intend Persuasion to stand forever in homage to her one true love?

This story weaves together Jane’s own experience (fictional) as she writes Persuasion. In this novel, it’s Jane’s own love story that inspires Anne Elliot’s! I’m a sucker for these kinds of stories, and I found this one to be extremely well-written and engaging. This was my first Shannon Winslow novel but I have a feeling I’ll be reading more. She’s the author of The Darcys of Pemberley, Return to Longbourn and more. Her website is http://www.shannonwinslow.com. All Austenites should check her out ASAP.

On another note, loveys, my author page on Facebook is up and running! Hop over to LIKE my page and I’ll love you forever! And spread the word! https://www.facebook.com/authorBrandyBruce?pnref=lhc.recent

Quilted by Christmas by Jodie Bailey

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This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Quilted by Christmas

Abingdon Press (October 21, 2014)

by

Jodie BaileyABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A note from the Author: Well, I’m a regular ol’ person. Who just happens to write. A lot. Probably more than I should. I firmly believe that God created me to be a writer. From the time I learned how to string letters together into words I’ve been making up stories. Believe me… I have a very rich imagination. I used to think I was weird; now I know God just put me together that way. I can’t even watch commercials without expanding them into stories in my head. I am humbled and honored all at the same time that God looked down from heaven on me and said, “Jodie, do what you love.” Wow… how awesome is that?

I have always loved to write. I have stories that I wrote when I was in first grade. I used to sit at my grandmother’s yellow electric typewriter for hours, banging out my own little stories. When I was eleven, she bought me a typewriter of my own (It was 1984, okay?) and I would write and write on it. I wrote stories out by hand, and they ran to hundreds of pages. I got my first computer when I was eighteen, and the first thing I did was write a story on it. I wrote for school. I wrote for fun. I wrote for my friends. I’d get them on the phone and make up stories for them. (I earned the nickname “Dreamweaver” for that one. Nobody calls me that anymore, but it still stands as the coolest nickname I ever had.)

ABOUT THE BOOK

Taryn McKenna believes she’s easy to forget. Abandoned by her parents and left behind when her high school sweetheart joined the army, she vows to never love again and throws herself into her love for the outdoors and the pursuit of a college degree—something no one else in her family has ever accomplished. Her goal, as a young teacher in the hills of North Carolina, is to leave a legacy in the lives of the middle-schoolers she teaches. When Taryn’s grandmother Jemma, the only other person who ever held her close, has a heart attack that reveals a fatal medical condition, Taryn is corralled into helping Grandma work on a final project—an Irish chain quilt that tells the story of her history and the love Jemma knows is out there for Taryn. As the pieces of the quilt come together, Taryn begins to see her value. Can she learn to believe that God will never leave her behind even though others have?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Quilted by Christmas, go
HERE.

A Love Undone by Cindy Woodsmall

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This week, the 

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance 

is introducing 

A Love Undone 

WaterBrook Press (September 9, 2014) 

by 

Cindy WoodsmallABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author who has written fifteen (and counting!) works of fiction and one of nonfiction. She and her dearest Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud, coauthored the nonfiction, Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. Cindy’s been featured on ABC Nightline and the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and has worked with National Geographic on a documentary concerning Amish life. In June of 2013, the Wall Street Journal listed Cindy as one of the top three Amish fiction writers.

She’s won Fiction Book of the Year, Reviewer’s Choice Awards, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest, as well as one of Crossings’ Best Books of the Year. She’s been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards, Christian Book of the Year, and Christian Retailers Choice Awards.

Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in their now empty nest.

(Since that last line sounds sad and bare, I thought I’d add an “epilogue” of sorts. Our two oldest sons are married and live only a couple of miles from my empty nest, and below are my three adorable grandchildren! ♥)

ABOUT THE BOOK

A husband and son abandoned to forge a path alone.

A young woman who sacrificed her dreams.

How will the God of grace and hope help them find their way?

At nineteen years old, Old Order Amish Jolene Keim was on the brink of happily-ever-after when everything changed, stealing the future she expected and burdening her with an unbearable decision. For the next ten years, Jolene throws herself into family life—and then she meets Andy Fisher. The horse trainer and father to a sweet nine year-old challenges her and holds up a mirror to issues Jolene has been unwilling to face.

Andy is cautious about his deepening friendship with Jolene, but he believes she knows the truth about him – that he is a grass widower. As a man whose wife has abandoned him six years past, he is unable to divorce or remarry according to the Amish ways. Andy has wrestled with God concerning his reality, and he had found peace with the solitary future facing him…until he met Jolene.

As Andy and Jolene find themselves confronted by difficult choices, will they trust in God’s guidance—or will the allure of their deepening friendship only lead to further temptation?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Love Undone, go HERE.

A Grand Design by Amber Stockton

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This week, the 

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance 

is introducing 

A Grand Design 

Abingdon Press (August 19, 2014) 

by 

Amber StocktonABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Words from the author:

Hi, I’m Amber, but my friends call me Tiff, short for Tiffany, my first name. I am in my mid-30’s, married to the love of my life since July 2007, have a daughter and a son, and live in Colorado. Here, I am content to do what I love—write, speak, and offer virtual assistance.

Thanks to the gentle nudging of a fellow author — Tracie Peterson — in 2002, I joined the American Christian Fiction Writers and wouldn’t be published today without them. For those of you who are also fiction writers looking for a wonderful support group, check them out! My very first book, Promises, Promises, sold in December 2006 and released in February 2008. I’ve been going steady ever since.

ABOUT THE BOOK

When Alyssa Denham, a single career woman, wins a fun getaway for two on Mackinac Island where her grandmother lives, she gives her carefree best friend a call. Together, they tour the old shops and hidden treasures of the quaint island while helping Alyssa’s grandmother piece together an heirloom quilt. Their quest gains them entrance into the homes of many longtime residents of the island, parts of the city that are otherwise off limits to tourists.
As the quilt’s story takes shape, Alyssa gains amazing insight into her grandmother’s life . . . and attracts the attention of the handsome Scott Whitman, an island resident in charge of hotel transportation. Will memories of her past keep Alyssa from letting go? Or will the quest to piece together the heirloom quilt restore Alyssa’s fractured heart—and bring healing to her entire family?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Grand Design, go HERE.

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