Saturday, March 29, 2014

Special Guest: Is It Ever Too Late? by Paula Vince





Have you ever left anything too late to fix? Have you found yourself repeating, ‘If only’?

If only you’d acted differently or spoken up at an appropriate time, you might have prevented something bad from happening, or at least been able to salvage an unfortunate situation. However, now it seems too late. All you can do is live with regret, because stirring up memories may make things worse. Living with an unhealed wound has become a way of life for you, but you’re able to cover it up so that others don’t see it. And for most of the time, you’re able to ignore the pain and carry on.

That’s the position my heroine, Imogen Browne, finds herself in. Regret has been her companion for year after year. She knows she certainly can’t change the situation she was involved in. It’s easy for her to imagine that some people she used to love may hate her memory, if they’re aware of her full story.

One day, she knows she’s had enough. Her secret is tainting every part of her life. She cannot rest until she at least tries to make amends, even though it seems that anything she does will be futile at best, and a ridiculous flop at worst. It also means she must leave her home in America to return all the way to Australia, where the event had taken place.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how other people may treat us when they find out, or how inconvenient returning to the scene may be. Any sacrifices and costs involved are irrelevant, compared with the thought of having a clear conscience at last. Being able to face our reflection in the mirror with respect means everything. But will Imogen ever manage that, no matter how hard she tries?

What does she discover when she makes the move? That’s what my new novel is all about. Imogen is in for some shocks. Others seem to be holding onto secrets of their own, especially Asher, the one person she felt most terrified to face. What if a lengthy lapse of time turns out to be a good thing after all? She never expected to arrive just in time to offer the sort of help nobody else can. Perhaps what she thought was too late turns out to be right on time.



About the Book:



She has given herself a chance to fix her personal history. But will old mistakes bring up new emotions?
Imogen Browne longs to make up for past mistakes before she can move on. She quietly resolves to help the Dorazio family, whose lives she accidentally upset. Her biggest challenge is Asher, the one person who may never forgive her. And he is facing a crisis of his own. Imogen must tread very carefully, as trying to fix things may well make them shatter.
A sensitive story about misplaced loyalty, celebrating life and falling in love. Can family secrets concealed with the best intentions bear the light of day?

a Rafflecopter giveaway About the Author:


Award-winning author, Paula Vince loves to evoke tears and laughter through her novels. A wife and homeschooling mother of three, she resides in the beautiful Adelaide Hills of South Australia. Her youth was brightened by great fiction and she’s on a mission to pay it forward.

Her novel, Picking up the Pieces, won the religious fiction section of the 2011 International Book Awards.
Her novel, Best Forgotten, was winner of the 2011 CALEB Award in the fiction category and also recognized as the best overall entry for the year, chosen over memoirs, devotionals and general non-fiction.

Paula’s books are a skillful blend of drama and romance tied together with elements of mystery and suspense.

Paula is the author of Picking up the Pieces, The Risky Way Home, A Design of Gold and Best Forgotten. Her new novel, Imogen’s Chance, will be published in April, 2014.


Paula is also one of the four authors of The Greenfield Legacy.


Check out Paula's Blog Tour
for more opportunities
to win Imogen's Chance

  




Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Review: Morningshine (Spring Street Quilters) by Karen Gass



The Book:


Morningshine is the story of a group of women. Some live near each other and a few others live hundreds of miles away. These are ordinary women, such as you and I. They do laundry, cook dinner, make quilts, and care for their families. Then, one day, God decides to do a work – using them in His plan. Morningshine proves the point that God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. By being open to what God has shown them, these women make a huge difference in the lives of one of their neighbors, changing both the takers and the givers. Quilting is a large part of this story, as well as getting to know these women – Carrie, Eleanor, Connie, Lydia, Martha, Esther and Gert – intimately. Their struggles, their defeats, their triumphs, all come forward, making them perfect vessels to be used by Him.


The Review:

A delightful story. This book is a true testament to the power and deliverance of the Lord.

God uses a gaggle of friends, some more willing than others, to change the lives of a less than fortunate family within their neighborhood. Each woman has her own perception of the situation leading to conflict within the group. The Lord works through and in the lives of all.

Quilting breathes within the book’s pages. Their beautiful blankets are a centerpiece and fill the reader with wonder. How and why they labor becomes small in comparison to the drama around the exercise.

With the amazing message and powerful individual themes, I give the storyline five stars. However, due to some editing issues within the book that make it difficult to read at times, I give it an overall rating of four stars.


The Author:


Karen Gass was born sewing. She started sewing her own clothes when she was 9 yrs old, and now she’s over 50. Then she started designing, and writing quilt patterns. She’s published one Quilt Book called Log Cabin Quilts: A Brand New Story by Karen Murphy. You can still buy it on Amazon. Yes, Karen Murphy. As soon as it was published, she got married! So much for all that name recognition! She and her husband have (between them) 7 children, 14 grands. They live in Joplin, MO, where thankfully, the tornado of May 2011 missed them. She also has a job (although she still works at home) as Editor of The Quilt Pattern Magazine. It's online (they save trees) and focused on Quilt Patterns! She loves to work, and could happily give up all housecleaning and cooking in order to keep working. Some might say she has. They might be right. But she does try to keep the dust bunnies corralled as best she can.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Coffee Corner with Elizabeth Maddrey

A Touch of Relaxation
It’s coffee time! The Corner welcomes Elizabeth Maddrey. Grab a cup and pull up a chair. Join us while we talk about life, fun, and books including her new release Faith Departed. Let’s dig right in…

Good morning, Elizabeth. Welcome to the Coffee Corner. I’m so glad to have you. You write with such hope about the grace we have in the Lord. How did you discover your gift to put pen to the page?

Thank you! Honestly it kind of snuck up on me. I’ve always written stories—I know all authors seem to have that in their bios, but it really is true for me! Most of the time, though, I either kept them to myself or, for a while, I shared them on my (now defunct) blog. It was there, really, that I started to think more seriously about trying to get published. I had a few friends who were very encouraging and since I wasn’t going to stop writing any time soon, I figured I might as well see about doing something serious with it.


I would say you accomplished that task well! As busy as life can be as a mom and a writer, I can’t imagine what it’s like to add teacher to those duties. What’s it like to home school two rowdy boys?

Well, thankfully right now I’m just schooling the older one. I’m not sure how I’m going to stay sane when the baby is old enough to join in. Honestly, we have a pretty decent schedule – and the key is to just stick to it. Mornings are play time and errands and whatever groups or lessons we’re doing. Then the baby still naps most of the afternoon, so that’s when I do school with my older son. When that’s done, then I try to get some writing (or writing related activities) taken care of while he plays. As far as school itself goes, my son is very kinetic, so I try to make sure that he’s able to bounce or whatever while we’re doing school. At a minimum, he’s often sitting on a yoga ball, but we do math on the trampoline or playing catch or whatever works to keep his body occupied while his mind is working.

Wow, you must be so busy. I admire you. Do you have time for fun? What on earth do you manage to do (if you don’t mind a little noisy inquisition)?

Ask away! First up is reading. I love to read. I devour books – usually running through 120 a year. (And that’s down a bit since I started writing.)

My husband and I just discovered a board game called Pandemic and we love it because it’s collaborative rather than pitting us against one another. We probably play one round every other night (it doesn’t take super long to play – between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on how quickly you lose. Well, sometimes we win. But lately we’ve been losing. A lot.)

I’m also a bit of a nerd, so you have the usual TV that needs to be watched (yes, needs) – Dr. Who, Big Bang Theory, Elementary, and Person of Interest are the top favorites. Sometimes they’ll build up on the DVR for weeks at a time, but we get to them eventually.

Plus, I really enjoy trying out new things in the kitchen. I haven’t had a ton of time for that lately, because I’m really trying to eat healthily and what I love to do is bake, but I can feel the cookbooks singing to me. So I’m going to have to cave soon.

And of course you have to include building forts or running around the back yard with the boys.

I love Big Bang Theory (thanks to my son who has me hooked!) and The Voice. I agree TV is a must as well as my Saturday morning breakfasts with my husband. With our work schedules and writing, we sometimes pass each other in the night. What a crazy world we lead. Speaking of crazy… Self-publishing, e-publishing, serial, series… I think everyone has gone bonkers. How do you stay on top of all the craziness in the writing world today?

There are so many good blogs out there for writers – I have a number of them in my feed reader that I keep up with, if not every day, at least every other day. But I do agree it seems like we’re all going a little nuts! What I love about all the new options though is how it’s opened up the market for new authors. I’ve found so many great new authors who self-published or found a small press who would probably never have gotten a contract with one of the big six, despite having a great story to tell. That said, I also try really hard not to worry about it. I work to just stay focused on telling the stories God is putting in my heart and trusting Him to get them into the hands of the people who need or want them.

You are so right about the changes in publishing. The opportunities open to authors today are amazing. It makes reading that much more exciting! Do you have any advice for the person who buys a book on their Kindle tomorrow?

Really consider leaving a review on Amazon. I don’t think the average reader understands just how much that means to an author. I know I didn’t until I was on the other side of the fence. Even if you can only give it 3 stars, if you write something meaningful to go with it (what you liked, maybe what you felt fell flat – but be kind) it’s a real bright spot in the author’s day.

Well, for me it is at least – I know there are some authors who say they don’t read their reviews. But I cherish mine, even the less than awesome ones, because it means someone felt strongly enough about my story to take the time to respond. That said, if you really hated a book, well, your mom’s advice about not being able to say anything nice? That still applies.

Great advice, Elizabeth! I don’t usually leave reviews. Shame on me. I’ll start doing that. Now that we are talking about reading and books, I hear you have a new book. Can you tell us a little about it?

Love to! FAITH DEPARTED follows twin sisters and close friends June and July as they and their husbands begin to try starting a family. Unlike everything in their life up to this point, however, this doesn’t come easily for either sister. As the two women begin to deal with infertility, their relationship with each other and with their husbands begins to change – not always for the better.

What an interesting story! Do you think we could get a sneak peak?

Sure – here’s a taste from Chapter 1.


“Stop stop stop stop.” June breathed the words as the digital readout on the bathroom scale flickered up. She cringed when the hateful thing finally followed her directions. One forty. One hundred and forty pounds. She stumbled backwards off the scale and dropped onto the cold edge of the bathtub. At five foot two, she was used to numbers much more in the range of one ten. But the last six months had added thirty pounds…that was five pounds a month. She buried her head in her hands. What was going on?
“Morning, baby.” Toby shuffled into the bathroom, rubbing his eyes. He stopped to give her an appreciative look and waggle his eyebrows. “Careful, you’re going to make me late for work.”
She chuckled in spite of herself. “You’re insane.” And blind. There was no point in drawing his attention to her ever expanding girth. She was on her way to being twice the woman he married five years ago. He hadn’t signed on for a two-in-one special.
He grabbed her arm and pulled her close, burying his nose in her neck. “I can’t help it if I have the world’s most enticing wife.”
He couldn’t possibly mean it. Her fat rolls squashed against his still-firm abs as he tightened his embrace. She fought the urge to push away and put on a robe. She forced her tone to be light. “Now, now. Didn’t you say you had a big meeting this morning?”
He pressed a kiss to her head and eased back, eyes still hinting at his interest. “I did…sadly, I did.”
She crossed her arms over her belly as he turned on the shower and tossed his towel over the door.
 “Any news, June?”
 She swallowed the lump in her throat and shook her head.
“We’ll just have to practice more.” He shot her a wicked grin and stepped into the steaming shower.
Nine weeks. She’d gone off her birth control pills nine weeks ago. Shouldn’t something have happened by now? June padded into the walk-in closet and began to dress. Toby wasn’t the only one with a big meeting today. She sucked in her stomach, hooked her favorite black dress pants, and slowly let out her breath. She was going to have to buy bigger clothes if she couldn’t get at least five of these pounds off. Watching herself in the floor-length mirror on the wall, she gingerly lowered into a squat then stood and twisted at the waist. It wasn’t comfortable, but no seams had popped and the fabric didn’t look like it was straining. Grateful that the Weskit was back in fashion, June tugged on a purple silk blouse and snagged the suit’s blazer from its hanger. She slipped her feet into a pair of killer purple leather peep-toe heels and smiled. The right outfit really did lift your spirits.


Oh, Elizabeth, I can’t wait to read this book. I think most women can relate to June. I know I can. Not to sound anxious, but what are you working on now?

I’m working on the next two follow-on books for Faith Departed – the second book, Hope Deferred, comes out in July and Love Defined will be out in December. I also have a more straight-up romance novella banging on the wall of my head trying to get out, a speculative novel whose heroine is beginning to get very impatient with me. And I’m working with a great group of seven other women who have been through infertility to put together a devotional/encouragement type book (non-fiction) on the subject.


You are one busy lady. And a talented one with an awesome heart. Thank you so much for coming to the Corner today. It’s been a true pleasure.


Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! The giveaway for this blog is a paperback edition of Elizabeth Maddrey's Faith Departed! Drawing is at noon on 3/22/14.




a Rafflecopter giveaway
About the Book:

Starting a family was supposed to be easy.

Twin sisters June and July have never encountered an obstacle they couldn’t overcome. Married just after graduating college, the girls and their husbands remained a close-knit group. Now settled and successful, the next logical step is children. 
But as the couples struggle to conceive, each must reconcile the goodness of God with their present suffering. Will their faith be strong enough to triumph in the midst of trial?


About the Author:

Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.
Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey

Social Media:
Twitter: @elizabethmaddre
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ElizabethMaddrey/posts


Lead photo credit: HalasiZsolt via photopin cc

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Guests: Writing Sisters: Face to Face



Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
I Corinthians 13:12

There’s something magical about seeing your work published - and you never know when that moment of joy will come.  You stroll out to your mailbox one day, not expecting anything special; and voilĂ , there it is.  You rip it open and beam with joy.  After all that work, lots of ups and downs, struggles and triumphs, your initial idea has been transformed, and you are face to face with your words in print.
When we first begin a new writing project we are filled with excitement and hope and promise.  We have no idea what the finished product will look like, but we eagerly rewrite, get critiques, rewrite again and again - all the while watching a transformation take place. We eventually pass it on to an editor and illustrator, where more transformation occurs.  Then eventually, it is finished.
The Shepherd’s Song was like this.  When the idea came, we did not know what the final book would look like.  We had to have faith that our work would be shaped and used by God. We got glimpses of the final book along the way.  First the printed pages.  Then the cover art.  The bound galley.  A jacket proof.  Finally face to face we held the book.
Christian life too, is filled with ups and downs, struggles and triumphs, joys and sorrows.  Like a book, our lives are being written, editing and transformed.  We start with great excitement and hope and promise; then transformation begins.  It’s hard work, but slowly we are transformed more and more to the image of Christ. 

Best of all, there is a moment coming when all the work will be done, and we will see our Savior face to face.  It is hard to imagine what such a moment will be like - the magnification of joy and awe and wonder.  

Our experiences in this world teach us about God and transform us more and more into His image. 

Amazing!

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 

Galatians 6:9



♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ GIVEAWAY ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥




The winner receives a signed copy of their book, The Shepherd's Song. Leave a comment about the blog with your email address. In a week, I'll draw for the lucky winner.


About the Book:

Follow the incredible journey of one piece of paper—a copy of Psalm 23—as it travels around the world, linking lives and hearts with its simple but beautiful message.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures…

Shortly before a tragic car accident, Kate McConnell wrote down the powerful words of Psalm 23 on a piece of paper for her wayward son. Just before she loses consciousness, Kate wonders if she’s done enough with her life and prays, “Please, let my life count.”

Unbeknownst to Kate, her handwritten copy of Psalm 23 soon begins a remarkable journey around the world. From a lonely dry cleaning employee to a soldier wounded in Iraq, to a young Kurdish girl fleeing her country, to a Kenyan runner in the Rome Invitational marathon, this humble message forever changes the lives of twelve very different people. Eventually, Kate’s paper makes it back to its starting place, and she discovers the unexpected ways that God changes lives, even through the smallest gestures.

With beautiful prose evocative of master storyteller Andy Andrews’s The Butterfly Effect, this story will touch your heart and remind you of the ways God works through us to reach beyond what we can imagine.

About the Authors:

The Writing Sisters, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers were born into a writing family, and began critiquing manuscripts at an early age for their mother, Newbery winner Betsy Byars.  They went on to become authors of more than thirty-five children’s novels. Their first book for adults is  The Shepherd’s Song,  Howard Books, March 2014.
Links:

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Why Read A Book?




Why not? My son says they put him to sleep. So if you have insomnia, go for it! Pick one up. It could be your new sleep aid. Or you may find yourself hooked. To reading.

What’s the purpose of the written word? For many years of our lives, it’s learning. We attend school and read textbook after textbook. Some even proceed to higher levels of education where they may study the Classics or the Sciences.

Thus we have one purpose for reading: a valuable tool for instruction. But there must be more… Surely boring days bent over a textbook isn’t the only reason to read? Absolutely not.

I mentioned the Classics. What are the Classics, you ask? Have you heard of Homer, or Plato or Sophocles? These works and works like them, written in Greek and Latin, are inspirational in nature. Lyrical or poetic, they moved and motivated their audience the day they were written just as they continue to do today.

Now I’m not saying to learn Greek and Latin. I’m not even telling you to buy a copy of Homer’s Odyssey. But if you need inspiration, read. Go to a bookstore, library, or online. (Even if you swore you’d never set foot in one again after graduation.) Find the Christian section of Inspiration/Devotionals and go for it!

But why else would anyone want to crack a book? I mean, think about it. We have television. I know, I know. It's not all that; with the reality shows and drama. Sorry, I drifted there. Then we have the social media craze. No one’s more than two inches from their phones these days. And games…PS3 million, or whatever model it is now, the virtual game thing's still going strong. So why would anyone read a book?

Fictional stories entertain the reader. I lift the cover on my favorite author's latest release and enter another world. For a little while, I can relax. Whether it’s to the highlands of Scotland or the dusty lands of the wild west, the worries of the world slip away.

Even then, I find another reason to open a Book; guidance. Insecurity, fear, and doubt are my companions in the morning hours. I turn the pages with an old Friend. His arms wrap around me while He shows the solutions and answers my questions, even the ones I never ask.

Why read a book? Knowledge, inspiration, entertainment and above all, guidance may be found within one's pages. Why not? If nothing else, you’ll get a good night’s sleep. ;)




The question of the…blog: Do you like to read or not? And why/what?





Job 19:23-24  “Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! That they were engraved on a rock With an iron pen and lead, forever!”



photo credit: thekellyscope via photopin cc