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Talking books and such

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Here’s the deal. I write stories. Sometimes. When there’s a free moment between being a waitress for my kids and folding laundry and watching OC marathons on the Pop channel. I do it because I love it. And I’ve done it for a really long time. When I was a young thing, I’d read the latest Babysitter Club book and then sit down and immediately write my own sequel. (Sorry, Ann M. Martin. That’s what fan fiction looked like in the 80s.)  My best friend and I started writing our own series together in the sixth grade, called The Hawaii Twins. When we studied WWII in high school, I wrote a novel about swing kids who were trying to escape the Nazis. I love stories. Movies. Theater. Music. Anything that tells a good story.

During great times in my life, I’d write. During difficult times in my life, I’d write. I went off to college and in my Liberty University dorm room (which was in no way as cool as the dorm rooms are now), when Leah, then Courtney, then Laurie (year after year of roommates) would take off to class or to hang out with friends, I’d turn on Caedmon’s Call (or Matchbox Twenty or Dave Matthews or Rich Mullins or Christmas music or whatever) and I’d write.

But even before those fun college days . . . a story came to me. I spent a year at a school in Longview a very long time ago. It was a difficult year for me, to be honest. But it’s where I met Amber. And Joy. And Krisha. And Lois. And Micah. And Charisa. And Mary Jane. And Karissa. And Wes. And Paul. And Erika and Efrain. And Leticia. And Dairisha and Blanca and Melissa and Rachel and Sharon and Tim and Miss Michelle and SO many more awesome people. And in that tiny little dorm room that I shared with FIVE other girls, I started writing a story about seven friends. Seven twenty-somethings who are in and out of each other’s lives. Who love each other like family.

Over the years I’ve written and rewritten that story. Reinvented certain characters. I’d go back to it when I had the urge. The story, the characters had been there for me when I’d needed an outlet, when I’d needed to feel creative, when I’d needed solace. I didn’t want to give up on them. The bottom line-it was a story in my heart that still wanted to be told.

So, while I was pregnant with Lily, I pulled up a blank document and decided to start fresh. I’d write it all over again, the way I’d want to tell it right now. So I did. And I loved every minute and I cried at times. It’s hard to describe how I feel about this novel, because it’s been part of me for so long. It’s who I was then, and it’s who I am now.

And I’m ABSOLUTELY thrilled to tell you that it will be published, and as of now, will most likely be released at the beginning of next summer (I’ve just signed the contract so I still need to dive into the editing and rewriting process, and books, you know, take a super long time.) I’ll keep you posted on the process. I cannot wait to share this story with you, loveys. I just know that when I finally see it in print, I’ll bawl and howl and laugh and jump up and down like a crazy person.

Can’t. Wait.

Just a thought. Having the heart of a writer means that there are stories inside of you that you need to tell. Some, you will write and they’ll stay in a drawer or on your laptop for forever (and if you pull them out and take a look, you’ll think, Yeah, that needs to stay hidden in this drawer!) I’ve written stories that will never see the light of day. They were and are stepping stones, learning opportunities, practice and so on. And for some of us, it takes a very long time to get any traction with our writing. Doors close. Opportunities seem to dry up. We get discouraged. I think this happens to 90 percent of writers. (Some people are super lucky and everything always works out. I am not one of those people.) Sometimes, things happen when we’re not expecting it. We’re busy living life and loving our people and working hard. And sometimes we need to take initiative and make things happen, or at least try. Start that business. Indie-publish that novel. Save up for that trip.

By the time my novel will be published, it will have been nearly twenty years since those characters first showed up in my mind. (Crazy, I know. Now I feel super old.) But you know, there doesn’t have to be an expiration date on our dreams and goals. Life changes and we change and our hopes change. Good things can happen. Go after it, lovey.

My new editor sent me an email, telling me why she connects to the story and how excited she is for us to work on this project together. I couldn’t stop smiling after reading that email. It’s been a long road, but there’s an end in sight and a story to be told.

Coming soon, Loveys. Good things.


P.S. In the meantime, my sister is doing a giveaway of my novel Looks Like Love!  Go here to try to win a copy!

Also, follow my author page on Facebook to keep up with the publishing process as I go along!






Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay

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Loveys, so this was the latest book club read over here! I really love to read so much that I wish I could read a book a month and get together to discuss. But amid the craziness of raising kids and doing life, I have to be careful with how much I take on. After the lovely chaos of the holidays, I started thinking it was time to find a book for book club. As usual, I get all my ideas from my sister Sara. She’s an amazing reader and always has a pile of books she’s reading. She recommended Lizzy and Jane to me a while back, and if Sara recommends it to me, it’s usually a very good read. So I emailed all the girls from book club to see who was up for it, and we got a good group together!

Here’s the scoop on this book (via Amazon):

Lizzy and Jane couldn’t be further from Jane Austen’s famous sisters for whom they are named. Elizabeth left her family’s home in Seattle fifteen years ago to pursue her lifelong dream—chefing her own restaurant in New York City. Jane stayed behind to raise a family. Estranged since their mother’s death many years ago, the circumstances of their lives are about to bring them together once again.

Known for her absolute command of her culinary domain, Elizabeth’s gifts in the kitchen have begun to elude her. And patrons and reviewers are noticing. In need of some rest and an opportunity to recover her passion for cooking, Elizabeth jumps at the excuse to rush to her sister’s bedside when Jane is diagnosed with cancer. After all, Elizabeth did the same for their mother. Perhaps this time, it will make a difference.

As Elizabeth pours her renewed energy into her sister’s care and into her burgeoning interest in Nick, Jane’s handsome coworker, her life begins to evolve from the singular pursuit of her own dream into the beautiful world of family, food, literature, and love that was shattered when she and Jane lost their mother. Will she stay and become Lizzy to her sister’s Jane—and Elizabeth to Nick’s Mr. Darcy—or will she return to the life she has worked so hard to create?

*My thoughts: I really enjoyed this story. It’s full of emotion (though sometimes you want to strangle the sisters!) and there are a lot of layers for discussion. For this reason, especially, I think it works well for book club. There are parts to love and parts to pick apart. I loved the food element woven throughout. One of the sisters is a chef, so food is almost a main character in the book. (Which I love!) When it came time for book club, I decided to host a potluck dinner. Last summer, our book club read 800 Grapes (good choice!) and wine was an important part of the book. So a night of appetizers and wine went well with book discussion. This time, a potluck dinner sounded super fun to me. So we sat around my table and, over pasta and salad and bread, talked about the complicated family relationships in the book, the decisions the sisters made, and more.


Especially for Austen fans, you’ll enjoy the mentions of Austen’s novels and characters. For people who’ve experienced difficult illness, you’ll appreciate the family dynamics in conjunction with stress and hurt feelings. For foodie’s, you’ll love the ties to food and cooking.

More than anything, what I love about book club is simply coming together to share our perspective and our own stories. I’m very grateful to all the lovely ladies who took part. Good times. Can’t wait till next time!

For my reader friends, check out Lizzy and Jane!

Looks Like Love

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Loveys, I’m super excited to tell you that my novel Looks Like Love is ON SALE on Amazon Kindle. I’m buying it immediately and it’s my book! 🙂 Hop over and download it on your Kindle for $2.99. Whohoo! Very exciting! Click here for the link. And pretty please with a cherry on top, leave a review after you’ve read it. It’s so encouraging to get feedback from readers, and it means the world to me. If you’ve already read it but never left a review, please sign into your Amazon account (or Goodreads or B&N) and write up a review. Looks Like Love was the first novel I had published and will always be close to my heart. There’s romance, travel, adventure, and soul-searching. So I truly hope you’ll run to Amazon and try it out for $2.99. It’s the perfect book to read as we get closer to Valentine’s Day!

A Refuge at Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

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Refuge-at-Highland-Hall1In A Refuge at Highland Hall, Penny Ramsey wants nothing more than to find a lasting love. Having been disappointed before, she’s a bit cautious when she meets pilot Alex Goodwin–but not that cautious. She’s bold enough to be the one to initiate writing letters to each other. The drama and chaos of World War One keeps Alex away fighting and takes Penny back to the magnificent Highland Hall, where she helps care for several orphan children. Right away, Penny’s letters become a lifeline to Alex. Both of them seem to grow attached to each other quickly, however, I think that is probably realistic to many relationships that formed during war-time. There are some twists and turns, and Alex is left very affected by events that happen while he’s at war. I thought the author did a good job with character development, especially with Alex. She also obviously did so much research to make the war events so realistic and true to circumstance. The cover of the book is gorgeous! Overall, it’s a very good read for fans of Christian historical fiction. The story is very faith-based. I do recommend reading the series in order, so you’re more familiar with the characters.

**I received an advance reader copy from the author for an honest review.

Finding Unauthorized Faith in Harry Potter by Nicole L Rivera

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41UIgwEIztL__SX322_BO1,204,203,200_So the very cool Nicole Rivera sent me a copy of her book Finding Unauthorized Faith in Harry Potter for an honest review. Nicole is the creative team manager for Mugglnet, which is, you know, awesome. If you know me, you know my love for Harry Potter is very real and very true. So I was thrilled to get the chance to read this book. And I really liked it! This book almost reads like a devotional. The chapters are mostly very short; it’s easy to read this in pieces. And the faith element is strong. Every section begins with a quote from one of the Harry Potter books (the quotes are great and lots of fun–C’mon, it’s HP. You can’t go wrong.) For believers who are fans of the Harry Potter series, this is a fun read, but it also has poignant faith observations. The theme is love throughout, which connects so well with Harry’s story. Check it out on Amazon!

The Great Christmas Bowl by Susan May Warren

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9781414326788_p0_v1_s192x300It’s Christmas in August over here, loveys. I’m reading a couple of holiday novellas. The other night while Jeff and the bigger kids were backyard camping, I was inside, weeping as I finished reading The Great Christmas Bowl by Susan May Warren. Gosh, this little novella was an emotional upheaval for me. Don’t get me wrong, it was a sweet, family-oriented holiday story and I enjoyed it, but something about the story of a mom who’s coming to grips with the fact that her kids are grown and Christmas will never quite be the same–I was a mess. Maybe because I know it goes fast. Maybe because my youngest sister is getting married in October and I didn’t realize last Christmas was the last one we’d have before she got married. Maybe because I’m a grown-up girl who understands that there comes a point where the Christmases of our youth end.

But the love never does. And that’s where the weeping comes in.

One part stuck in my mind. The mom’s college-aged son mentions that one of his favorite Christmases was one that was less traditional (I think they took a vacation). He said it made him realize that Christmas “isn’t just one way and one place,” that it could follow them wherever they went. What a great truth.

Christmas is my favorite. It’s awesome. But it looks different for different families. I love the thought of mixing it up, not holding our traditions too tightly, so that traditions become the focus and not Jesus.

Super fun, easy read–but you might be weeping at the end!

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

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eight-hundred-grapesSo Eight Hundred Grapes was my choice for summer book club. I would have enjoyed reading this one even just on my own, but it’s packed with family drama so it’s even better to read with friends and discuss. This was a quick read for me; with every chapter, more kept unfolding and I wanted to know what was going to happen so I found myself reading while standing at the kitchen island while the kids ate lunch, reading just one more chapter at bedtime, and reading while the kids watched Peppa Pig in the afternoon!

The family dynamics were my favorite. There were moments I gasped out loud when things happened with the brothers or with Georgia’s mom. I had a hunch where the author was going with the love interest from pretty early on. And I had very mixed feelings about Ben, Georgia’s fiancé. (No spoilers here.) Overall, I thought it was a really satisfying read. There were parts that stayed in my mind afterward. The family–though crazy complicated!–loves each other fiercely. I love stories with families like that. Because truly, life is complicated, but your family should be there for you no matter what. I thought the book was well paced, it definitely held my attention. I loved the wine/vineyard aspect of the story. I could picture the earthiness of the ground and the grapes and the harvest. It’s definitely good to read this book with a glass of wine nearby (and maybe some lasagna)!

This was an excellent read. Loved it!