Monday, November 30, 2015

Books I'm Thankful For


Like most other bookworms, great books make their way onto my "things I'm thankful for" list every year. It's hard to choose favorites, but I went ahead and picked five books I read in 2015 and am thankful for.
  1. Ilyon Chronicles, by Jaye L. Knight: I suppose I'm cheating by picking the series instead of just one book, but I can't just say one of them. I love Ilyon because they're more than just fantastic stories with amazing, relatable characters. They're deep, full of allegorical meaning. Basically, Ilyon is to me as a teenager/young adult what Narnia was to me as a child.
  2. Water Princess, Fire Prince, by Kendra E. Ardnek: This is a great story that I really enjoyed, but again, I'm thankful for it for more than just the story contained between the covers. WPFP brought friends together. I knew Kendra somewhat before beta reading this for her, but throughout that process we really started to get to know each other. Then fangirling over it prompted Amanda and me to get to know each other and become really good friends. I can't believe it's only been this year. What was my life like before Kendra and Amanda? Plus WPFP is fantastic on it's own merit.
  3. Bleak House, by Charles Dickens: Last semester in the orchestra, I had to drive 45 minutes both ways, alone, every week. That, as I quickly discovered, was way too much time for my brain to dredge up everything that was wrong in life. Bleak House (unabridged audio book) saved me from an hour and a half a week of my brain tormenting me. Instead, I plunged into intrigue and court cases and a murder mystery, terribly confused (still confused), but loving it just the same. And I got another classic under my belt!
  4. The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orzcy: Part of why I'm thankful for this book is similar to Bleak House. I was doing a lot of sewing, on a very difficult dress, and this book occupied my mind and kept me from going mad with frustration. Also, it's fantastic. But it also made me think. It was a timely read, er, listen. So much wrong can happen because of miscommunication, lack of communication. Communication is so important. Lack of it could cost you everything.
  5. Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins: This is a reread, but I'm going with it anyway, because it always impacts me. It's a difficult book to read, not for reading level, but because of all the death and things worse than death. But know what? That's what makes it so important. So many stories, and I'm guilty of writing them, even, gloss over the effects of war. Ignore the implications of killing people. Forget that it takes ten times longer to put yourself back together than it does to fall apart. Mockingjay doesn't. Yes, war is sometimes necessary, but that still doesn't make it good. Killing costs you everything you are. Morality still matters, even in the midst of war. No, things aren't going to ever be the same, it'll take awhile to rebuild, but things can eventually be better. There is still that dandelion in the spring, reminding you that life can be good again. Even if you do have to make a list of all the good things you've seen people do to be able to bear what you've been through, there are much worse games to play.
I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to another great year of reading! Speaking of more reading, today's the last day of the indie author Black Friday sale! There's literally something for everyone. Every single book listed on Indie Christian Books is on sale in one or more ways. Find discounted paperbacks, dozens of books offered with free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals and more. Even if you have a budget of $0, new reading material awaits you. Don't know what to pick? The fearless Indie Christian Books team created a quiz that will generate a book list perfect for you! Check it out! 

 Book Quiz  

What awesome reads of 2015 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2016?
A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as "Sold Out." This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good for her work organizing this sale, Gloria Repp for completing the time consuming job of uploading book info to the sale website, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Indie Christian Book Sale!


It’s that time of year. The time for buying presents, making wish lists, and planning New Year’s Resolutions. If any of those activities involve books for you, Indie Christian Authors has a perfect event for you. From Nov 27 (that’s today!) through Nov 30th, more than 70 independent Christian books are on sale. You can find free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals, and more! And if your budget is depleted from Christmas shopping, they’ve got you covered with some freebies. Think 70 books is overwhelming? Narrow it down and find the perfect books for you or someone on your Christmas list by using this quiz to generate a customized book list.

Find all my books at discounts and some awesome books by my friends at!

 What awesome reads of 2015 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2016?
A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as “Sold Out.” This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good for her work organizing this sale, Gloria Repp for completing the time consuming job of uploading book info to the sale website, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Christmas Sales!

'Tis the season for buying Christmas presents, which is why I have something special to share with you. All items in my Shire Stitches Etsy shop are 20% off with this coupon code.

I have lots of things for sale there, girls' clothes and historical American Girl doll clothes.

Also, the indie author Black Friday sale is coming up soon! It looks like it's going to be fantastic, so stay tuned for more details. See the list of participating authors here. And you can help spread the word and get 5 free ebooks too!

One last announcement has to do with my website. Last week, I did a complete redesign. You may have noticed that the tabs on my blog are different. That's because I changed them to be exactly the same as the tabs on my blog. I redid the theme to better match the outdoorsy look I love on my blog and added pages about my music and sewing. I also rewrote my "About Me" page. Check it out and tell me what you think!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Greensleeves Review

Reposted from Shire Reviews because I'm a lazy blogger and only wanted to write one post. :P

Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Rating: PG (for romance)

Recommended for: Ages 15 to Adult 

For eighteen-year-old Shannon Lightley, life’s been an endless parade across Europe, following either her actress mother or her renowned journalist father. Paris, Milan, London—Shannon has been everywhere, but somewhere along the way, she realizes she’s really…nowhere.

Having graduated from high school and about to board yet another flight for yet another destination, Shannon is offered an alternative: stay in Portland, Oregon, with her parents’ close friend and help his law firm investigate a group of strangers living near the local university. A will with a substantial inheritance is being contested, and Shannon’s task is to gather information on the unlikely recipients of the money.

Using an assumed name and working as a waitress in a diner, Shannon finds herself entirely on her own for the first time in her life; and as the long summer days go by, she tries to sort out who she really is and what her future holds.

A week ago, I didn't know this book existed. Last Thursday, I came across a link to this review on Twitter. Odd, because I rarely actually scroll through my Twitter feed, and even more rarely click on any links (unless they're behind-the-scenes information on Doctor Who; those I can scarcely resist). I suppose it was the author name that intrigued me: Eloise Jarvis McGraw. Since the review made it sound incredibly interesting, it was $1.99 on kindle, I still have gift card (I tend to hoard it for moments like this), I'd really enjoyed the author's The Golden Goblet and Moccasin Trail and my library doesn't have Greensleeves, I decided on impulse to buy it. It's definitely for a different audience than those books; those are middle grade historical fiction and Newbery Honors. Greensleeves is a 60s teen contemporary novel with a dash of mystery and intrigue and a lot about finding direction in life. 

I rarely read contemporary teen fiction, 50 years old or otherwise. If I read any era of contemporary, it's usually middle grade. As for teen fiction, I have a friend who reads a lot of it and her reviews are usually enough to steel my determination to avoid it. A lot of the teen fiction books I hear about sound wildly inappropriate, my main reason for avoiding them, other than the fact that I generally enjoy adventure the most. Greensleeves certainly isn't. There is kissing in the book, and Shan does analyze how different guys make her feel, but it's rather less than what's in The Hunger Games. (In case you're wondering why I make the comparison, since I also did it in my Cinderella post, THG is basically my as-far-as-I'll-go-on-Content, which I realize isn't incredibly far.)

I have a lot of unread books on my kindle, yes, bought ones as well as free ones. It's mostly typical for me to download a book and let it sit there. However, Saturday came and since I'd spent Friday out in the woods with my sisters and our friend filming an impromptu movie, stayed up past midnight to show her Star Wars, and then gotten up earlier than I would have liked so I'd be up before her parents came to pick her up, following that up with a trip to the post office and several hours editing our movie, and a 45 minute nap (I never take naps) because I was so tired, I really didn't feel like trudging through the really old books that don't get good until halfway through, and I wanted something different. Besides, Greensleeves had intrigued me. So I did little else from that late afternoon until late Sunday afternoon besides read that book. (Of course I didn't read it during church, just to and from church.) 

I really enjoyed it. Shannon is a girl who really doesn't know what she wants out of life. I'm sure everyone's felt that way at some point. And even though I do know what I want from life and I am pursuing some of those things, I still can't help feeling directionless and like I'm waiting for something to happen. Shan goes under cover to help her Uncle Frosty investigate a strange will, but also because she's tired of Shan Lightley and her problems, and just wants to be someone else for awhile. She's trying to find herself. While I don't exactly identify with her struggle for identity, I can understand her fears that people wouldn't like her if they knew the real her. Probably why I liked it, besides the natural intrigue of the peculiar will and the interesting, varied people named in it which is bound to excite me, is because I can understand her struggles. 

I have to say, though, my favorite character is Sherry. Gone are the days when I didn't like guy characters simply because they were guys. Sherry (his full name is George Maynard Sherrill) is an interesting guy. He’s good and smart and intellectual, kind of shy, very perceptive, extremely curious, and he wants to learn just to know things. He studied Greek because he wanted to know how people in Greece sounded. He wanted to learn integral calculus so he would know what people were talking about when they said “integral calculus.” I didn’t like Dave Kulka. He kind of reminded me of Dean Priest from the Emily of New Moon books by L. M. Montgomery, and that’s not exactly a good association. The characters are all very well developed, and so is the little world Shan stepped into when she went to College Street and became Georgetta Einszweiler Smith. It all felt so real. 

Greensleeves is a good book. The ending was slightly unsatisfactory due to being a bit inconclusive, but I guess I can make up my own epilogue. I’d say it’s geared towards older teen girls and that’s probably the best audience for it, but I would recommend it. It gave me a nice weekend and some food for thought.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Kate's Innocence Blog Tour

Today I'm participating in the blog tour for Kate's Innocence by Sarah Holman. I haven't read this yet, but I loved Sarah's Destiny Trilogy and Adventures and Adversities, and since this sounds quite interesting, I'm sure it's fantastic. I get to introduce you to one of the characters today.

Meet Patrick

Today I would like to introduce you to one of the characters my new series, Kate’s Case Files: Patrick Connor. He is an FBI agent who is determined to help Kate prove she is innocent of setting off a bomb on her campus. What more is there to know about him? Here are a few of the highlights:

~ he has black hair and blue eyes
~ he has dimples that show up when he smiles.
~ he has memorized a vast amount of scripture
~ has a very had time trusting God
~ is best friends with Brian Heath (one of the other team members
~ lives in San Antonio, Texas, but is often away on cases.
~ he does not give up easily

Here is a bit of his story:

Patrick stared out the window that overlooked the roof of the hospital. It wasn’t much of a view, but he didn’t see it anyway. All he could see was her face, her eyes, and the frightened look she had given him. He couldn’t get her out of his mind. He wished he knew her name.

She had checked for vital signs like a professional and thrown herself over Kim to protect her from the blast. Yet, afterwards, she had looked so vulnerable. The way she had clung to his arm when the popping started again had made him want to hold her close and whisper that everything would be okay.

He closed his eyes and shook himself, trying to dissolve the images. But the images wouldn’t go away. Even in his line of work, he didn’t often see explosions like that. The horror and chaos of the night was sure to stick with him for a long time. He took a deep breath and pulled out his phone. What he needed was to read some Scripture and maybe have a cup or two of coffee. The words of the Bible always calmed his heart. 

What would you do if you were accused of a crime you didn’t commit?

Kate watched as her campus was torn apart by bombs and now is being accused of perpetrating the crime. As the evidence quickly stacks up against her, she begins to lose hope that the truth will come to light. Even though the handsome FBI Agent, Patrick, has taken up her cause, will they be able to prove her innocence? Will God, who she neglected for so long, listen to her prayers for help?

Patrick is an agent with a very special team of agents. He wants to help Kate prove she is innocent, but as each new piece of evidence is revealed, that goal seems harder. He wonders why he feels so compelled to help her and so sure she is innocent despite the evidence. Will he be willing to put his job on the line to help her? Can he trust in God to make sure the truth will come out in the end?

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Monday, November 9, 2015

What Do You Want From Black Friday?

I'm getting together with some other Christian independent authors to put together some Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales. But we're doing some things different. We want to know what you look for in Black Friday sales so we can tailor ours to your needs. Just fill out the below survey, and stay tuned for details on the sales!

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Bedtime Movie Tag

Since my socks are...used to be...white, I considered myself tagged when I read Ashley's Bedtime Movie Tag post. Tags are fun, I think anyways, so here goes.

"Hey, I didn't want to fall in love with you and I hate your family, but will you marry me?" "Uh, how about no."
1. A movie that kept you up all night
It wasn't quite all night, but the first time I watched Pride and Prejudice (1995), it did take a significant portion of it. All the guys in our circle of friends had gone to camp at a race, so all the girls got together to watch Pride and Prejudice. And the guys all called in the middle of Mr. Darcy's first proposal. So we woke them up when we got to the end. ;)

I blame this guy for that sleeplessness.

2. A movie that made you scared to sleep
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I slept very little after I watched that movie for the first time, and when I did, my dreams were full of blood and ripped out hearts. It was awful. And I made it worse by reading a kids' Star Wars book that took place on a creepy Sith planet. I was also scared to sleep after watching Sherlock, but that was because I was sick and having sick dreams that were basically a black and white BBC logo taunting me all night.

3. A movie that made you go to sleep
I usually only fall asleep during movies if I'm sick. So I've slept through Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and God's Not Dead for sure because of that, and I'm sure others. Aside from that, I slept through a significant portion of Saints and Soldiers. I was tired and I wasn't really following it, so I fell asleep. I did the same with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey this summer too. I guess I was unusually tired this summer.

4. A movie that left you tossing and turning all night in anticipation of its release
You know, I don't think this has ever happened to me. I don't get sleepless excited over movie premieres. I do over Disney trips, though...
The plot twist that sunk OUAT

5. Your dream boyfriend/girlfriend ship of two separate movies
I ship uncanon ships enough without setting myself up for failure this way (can you say Swanfire?), and, well, I don't get shipping characters from separate stories. How are they ever even supposed to meet?

6. A movie that would be your worst nightmare to live in
The obvious choice would be something like The Hunger Games, but you know, I think I could handle fighting against an evil government. I don't think I could handle all the skeletons and snakes and rats and creepy villains and underground places where you could find just about anything that I'd have to encounter in any Indiana Jones movie. I mean, I like Indy and all, though my sisters would have to tell you that I complain about that point when you're still waiting for the climax to happen in the latter half of the movie when I always manage to get bored, but I couldn't handle going on one of his adventures. I'd far rather face off aliens with the Doctor.

7. A movie that reminds you of nighttime
We mostly watch movies at night, but I'm going to say Lord of the Rings because last time we watched FOTR, we turned off all the lights. Not sure it was such a good idea to introduce our friend to LOTR in pitch darkness, but hey, she wanted them off.
This is going to be horrible

8. A movie that has a nightmarish cliffhanger
I'm just going to go with the obvious Mockingjay Part 1 here, because I'm drawing a blank on any others. I honestly thought they'd cut it a few minutes sooner, when Katniss blacked out, but it's still a cliffhanger. I, um, know someone who reacted quite audibly in the theater to it.

9. A movie you actually dreamed about
My official answer is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, since I dreamed I was in it. I was in place of Lucy at Deathwater Island, and Caspian and Edmund forgot to fight. I've also dreamed about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, including being on set, been chased by Darth Vader multiple times and used the Force, seen various Doctors, and seen Spock, ridden horses down the interstate with Jeffrey Jones and Phineas Bogg, and gotten shot by Jack Sparrow. Don't worry, he didn't shoot me with bullets. Ice chips were coming out of his gun.

10. A movie monster you would not want to find under your bed
Sure, these things are technically from a TV show, but close enough. They're the Silence. Super creepy, and you don't even...wait, what was I talking about? I can't remember. Movie monsters? I don't remember picking one...

If you can hear music while you're reading this (siblings practicing their instruments count), consider yourself tagged. Comment with the link to your answers, I'd love to see them!

Monday, November 2, 2015

What Next?

Now that The Crossways is properly out, I thought I'd give a little update on my writing/publishing plans for the near future.

The biggest question you have is probably "When is book 3 coming out?" My plan is next October. "But that's a whole year away!" you might be saying. Yes, it is, but that's because Crannig Castle is not the next book. Espionage is. Espionage is a companion to Time Captives, but I believe it also works well as a stand-alone. It takes place at the same time as the end of The Crossways and the beginning of Crannig Castle, mentions the Time Captives a time or two, and sets up the political climate of the country of Briznom, something quite essential to Crannig Castle. But it's also a self-contained story. I really love this book. My plan is to release it sometime in May. I did something special for the cover a few weeks ago too, and I can't wait to show you.

Those two just need final beta reading and editing to be done, so I have other projects for actual writing. Right now, I'm almost done with a Sleeping Beauty retelling for the Rooglewood Press contest. I'm calling it Twisted Dreams right now, which makes perfect sense when you know what my twist is, but that twist is quite spoilery, so lets just say that it's partially inspired by certain episodes of Doctor Who. I do want to share an excerpt from the dialogue that I like, a funny bit. Liesel is my "Sleeping Beauty," Will is her prince, and Matthew is his younger brother (cast as Matt Smith, you can blame my sisters for that).

     A faint moan escaped his lips. His eyes opened, closed again, opened, focused on Liesel.
     A touch of a smile tinged her lips. “It works both ways.” She took Will’s hand and squeezed it gently. “I love you, Will.”
     “Nobody’s going to say that to me, will they?”
     Liesel glanced at Matthew as she helped Will up into a sitting position. “We do love you, Matthew, just not in that way.”
     “That’s a relief. That could have made things awkward.”

Matthew has to be my favorite. He amuses me. I love Will and Liesel too, though knowing what happens later, it really saddens me to write this period of their lives. 

Once I get Twisted Dreams sufficiently finished, I plan to type the Cassie story, my outer space dystopian and Camp NaNo project, into the computer, which means revising it. I love that story so much and I think it can be fantastic, but it does need a good revision. Once I've got that done, I'll probably write book 2 of the trilogy, which I loved better than book 1 before I'd really started writing book 1. Only I think I need to rework the storyline a bit.

Somewhere in here, I'm counting on my family and certain Espionage beta readers to help me figure out how to overcome the obstacles I'm facing in the sequel. I have point A and point B, but I'm at a loss as to how to get from one to the other. I really want to write it, though. And at some point, I'm hoping the "Storyless Storyboard Story" will finish taking shape in my mind so I can write it properly. I've figured out a lot of it, but I think I need to heed my gut instinct that it needs to simmer in my brain awhile longer before it becomes my primary writing project.

I think that's about all for now. No, I haven't given up on the idea of writing about Hanna and Sam, but it hasn't been on my mind in awhile, so it's not likely to happen any time soon. I've just got so many stories demanding to be written!