Monday, April 29, 2019

On My Nightstand - The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin

The Sky Above Us (Sunrise at Normandy Book #2)

Violet Lindstrom longs to serve as a missionary, but a broken engagement and WWII put a damper on those plans. The closest she can come to her heart's desire is joining the Red Cross. There's no way she will allow a romance to get in the way of her calling.

Adler Paxton, a brash but hurting pilot, vows never to love again after a tragedy took his sweet fiancee, Oralee. His focus is on becoming an ace and helping the Allied forces defeat Hitler. The only thing he didn't factor into his equation was a pretty, blond Red Cross gal and his fighter pilot friend, Nick.

The author's research on WWII is impeccable. I marvel at the detail put into this story. The characters are realistic and their growth and the development of relationships make you forget this is fiction.

The Sky Above Us is Book 2 of the Sunrise at Normandy series. I've read many of Sarah Sundin's books and each one gets better. I'm looking forward to the third book.

5 Stars all the way!

Writers:  Have you considered writing historical fiction? If so, what kind of research will you do or have you already done?

Readers:  What time periods are you drawn to in historical fiction? Why?

Friday, April 26, 2019

Writers Conferences/Story/Heaven/Healing Relationships/Yard Sales

Vintage Books

1.  Does it really pay to go to a writers conference? I can answer that with a resounding, "Yes!" Zoe M. McCarthy gives a detailed rundown of the benefits in her post, "Why Spend Money to Attend Writers Conferences."

2.  Beth K. Vogt posts at The Write Conversation about, "It's Important to Tell Our Readers a Story." Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the mechanics of writing that we forget the bottom line: story.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on a young boy who died three times after being in a horrific traffic accident that killed his father. All three times he went to heaven. He and his mother now share their experiences through GriefShare. We don't have to stay stuck in grief, but we can move forward with our lives.

4.  Michael K. Reynolds writes about "Four Painful Words That Heal Relationships."

5.  It's yard sale season! What are the best and worst items at yard sales? I found this article at Household

Writers:  Have you been to a writers conference? Please share your experience whether positive or negative.

Readers:  I went to GriefShare after my husband died. It was during that time I was able to accept that while I missed him, I was still here and God had a plan for my life. What stood out to you when reading the story at Breaking Christian News?

Photo Credit:  Renaude Hatsedakis

Monday, April 22, 2019

On My Kindle - Hazardous Duty by Christy Barritt

Hazardous Duty: Squeaky Clean Mysteries, Book 1: An Amateur Sleuth Mystery and Suspense Series, Christian Fiction by [Barritt, Christy]

Gabby St. Claire's unique job as a crime scene cleaner stirs her curiosity about the murder of a politician's wife. From there, it's one wild and dangerous ride.

This is the first book in a series, so there's a tantalizing ending in relation to her love interest. Christy Barritt is a new-to-me author, and I'm so glad I picked up this book. Her writing voice and these characters sent me into giggles one minute and heart-stopping suspense the next. It's written in first person, and the author did a great job with it.

I could see this book being a great beach read. It's light enough to read in a day and has enough meat to hold your interest throughout.

5 Stars for this delightful tale. I'll be picking up Book 2 in this squeaky-clean series in the near future.

Writers:  Have you ever written something (fiction or non-fiction) in first person? Please share your struggles/joys with using this tense.

Readers:  Do you like reading books written from a first-person perspective? I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Friday, April 19, 2019


Sandi Patti's early songs touch my heart every time I hear them. This one is my favorite Resurrection Sunday songs.

May this beautiful rendition bless you as you meditate on all Jesus did for you.

Writers and Readers:  What's your favorite Resurrection Sunday song? If you are able, please post a link, so we can enjoy it as well.

Photo Credit:  Steve Cohen

Monday, April 15, 2019

On My Kindle - A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

A Bound Heart by [Frantz, Laura]

This story takes place in Scotland, Virginia, and Jamaica during pre-Revolutionary War times. The heroine, Lark, comes from a high-born Scottish line that's fallen on hard times. Our hero, Magnus MacLeish, grew up and was educated with Lark. Their friendship spanned many years, but their lives took different paths.

I'm not going to give even a little bit of a recap because I don't want to spoil this epic story of hardship, suffering, and great love. The author shared this was the story of her heart since her ancestors came from Scotland.

At first, I was put off by the long glossary of Scottish/Gaelic words, but it worked better than I could have imagined. By the end of the book, I was almost using them myself. :)

5 Stars for this bonny tale.

Writers:  Do you include words/expressions from other languages in your writing? How do you handle this so the reader isn't overwhelmed?

Readers:  How do you feel about a lot of foreign words in a story? Please share.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Internal Editor/Character Insomnia/Downs Syndrome/Cave Writing/Birthday Freebies

Pacific Cave

1.  Do you have a hard time turning off that internal editor? You know, the one that keeps you re-writing a scene in your first draft? Erin Howard shares her experience at the Seriously Write Blog.

2.  Jean Kisacky, at Writer Unboxed, shares what she learned while fighting insomnia. It helped her improve her writing and added layers to her story. "What Keeps Your Characters Up at Night," might help some of us get deeper into our characters' heads.

3.  Ashton Kutcher is known not only for his acting, but also for his stand against human trafficking and pro-life. Recently, he posted a video by a man with Downs Syndrome. Catch this excellent post on Breaking Christian News.

4.  Audrey Frank, at The Write Conversation, talks about, "Writing From The Cave." Those places of suffering can produce great creativity. I was particularly taken with her line, "Tell God first, tell people second."

5.  Do you love Freebies? Hip2Save has a list of 27 Birthday Freebies. I've joined quite a few of them and received a bunch of coupons around my birthday. Have fun!

Writers:  Have you used your places of suffering to enhance your writing? How did you accomplish this?

Readers:  Many blogs, books, and articles focus on the tough times in our lives - those cave months or years. When my husband passed away, I was drawn to a blog for widows. It helped me navigate this new life without him. Have you found comfort in reading the experience of others? Please share.

Photo Credit: Andy Gonsalves

Monday, April 8, 2019

Author Interview with Jeanette Levellie

Let's give Jeanette Levellie a warm Christian Writer/Reader Connection welcome! Her new book, "Hello, Beautiful," released on April 2nd.

1.  Hi, Jen! It's so good to have you with us today. How did you and Beth Gormong come up with the idea for this book?

Jen:  I made some magnets as prizes for a game I led at a weight loss club I attended. They had various encouraging sayings on them. One was, "Hello, Beautiful!" None of the ladies took one! I wondered what was wrng with them that they couldn't say, "You are beautiful" to themselves. Then I noticed I'd not put one up on my own fridge. I realized this was a universal issue, even with Christian women. We have a hard time thinking we are capable, worth of love, and valuable.

2.  How did the two of you meet?

Jen:  We met at a writers critique group and later became prayer partners as well.

3.  After authoring books alone, how did co-writing a book work for you?

Jen:  I loved it! All the pressure and deadlines are shared with another person, and we, of course, prayed for each other and the project throughout the year-long process.

4.  The whole idea of an interactive journal appeals to me. Why did you choose this format?

Jen:  That was Beth's idea. She is 18 years younger than I am, so she's more in touch with what younger women like. She said that journaling is a "thing" now. And everyone loves coloring pages! Beth designed those, by the way.

5.  What other books have you written? Can you share a bit about them?

Jen:  Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top, my best seller, is a humorous devotional focusing on God's bottomless heart of grace. Comical drawings from my son, Ron, accompany nine of the chapters.

The Heart of Humor is the opposite approach to Scoops, containing humor stories with a bit of devotion sprinkled in. It also features articles and lists of how humor helps us stay healthy, and 22 drawings by Ron.

Touchable God has 25 personal stories about how I developed friendship with God through talking to him. The final 20 chapters are actual prayers for friends in crisis.

Here are the links for all of my books:

Sccops of Grace:
The Heart of Humor:
Touchable God:
Hello, Beautiful!:

My website:

6.  How would you describe yourself to someone wo has never met you?

Jen:  I am a spunky, redheaded pastor's wife with 35 years of publishing credits and 20 years' speaking experience. My God-given knack for finding humor in the mundane ad grace in the storms, delights readers and audiences in all walks of life. My hobbies include gardening, reading, watching movies older than me, and spoiling my three grandkids and two cats.

Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Jen. It was fascinating to get a behind-the-scenes view of how, "Hello, Beautiful," was written. May the Lord bless the women who read your book and help them to see how beautiful they are in His eyes.

Friday, April 5, 2019

First Draft/Subtext/Great Awakening/Devo/African Violets

Dummy series

1.  Are you stressing out writing your first draft (either fiction or non-fiction)? Beth Vogt posts encouragement at The Write Conversation.

2.  Sarah (Sally) Hamer posts at The Write Conversation. She teaches online with Margie Lawson. In this post, Sally begins a series on writing subtext, that underlying layer in a story. Great stuff! There are links at the end of the post to Parts 2 and 3.

3. Breaking Christian News reports on Dutch Sheets' hope-filled article which originally appeared in Charisma News. There will be a third Great Awakening in our country, but what will the church do with it?

4.  Michael K. Reynolds asks, "Why Don't I Pray?"

5.  African Violets are so beautiful and come in a wide variety of colors. My mother nurtured them when I was growing up, and I guess it rubbed off on me. Getting the plants to bloom can be tricky. I found this website on Pinterest (A Garden For the House) and plan to use their tips. I thought some of you might like this as well.

Writers:  Which is harder for you - first draft or editing? Please share.

Readers:  Do you like raising houseplants? What are some of your favorites?

Photo Credit:  Niels Timmer

Monday, April 1, 2019

April Fool's Day!

Calendar series 4

On Saturday, I dashed to my favorite store, found exactly what I wanted and was excited because I had two great coupons tucked in my purse. When I got to the cashier, I pulled them out. Uh oh, the one coupon didn't start until April 1. I shook my head and gave the cashier a rueful grin. She responded with, "April Fool, a couple of days early." The information was on the coupon, but I hadn't read it prior to my shopping trip.

Sometimes we head to a writers conference ready to show agents and publishers what great stories we have to share. I remember my first Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. The first editor I saw didn't mince words. "You need to learn how to write fiction." Ouch! Another shot down my devotional book idea saying, "why should I buy a devotional from you when I can go to a packager and get one ready made?" Double ouch!

Lessons learned?

1.  Do my homework. Find out what editors and agents want/require.

2.  Polish those critical first five pages of my manuscript. You get one chance to make a great first impression.

3.  Educate myself about the business. It's extremely rare to get a contract on the first try. Don't get discouraged. Publishing houses make snail mail look like a Nascar race.

4.  Learn the craft. Take advantage of the writing workshops and learn from the experience of both professional writers and fellow pre-published authors.

5.  Do attend Agent and Editor Panel Discussions. It's a great way to pick their brains, as well as get insight into how these individuals work.

Be prepared, and avoid a writer's April Fool's Day. Happily, I eventually signed with a small publisher and landed an agent.

Writers:  Did you know most traditional publishers require you to have an agent? What are some of the things you've learned about publishing that surprised you?

Readers:  You see that book you're devouring? Years of hard work went into its production. You can help encourage authors by posting reviews on Amazon, as well as telling others how much you enjoyed their stories. You, the reader, are our focus. We aim to give you the best reading experience possible. Feel free to share your thoughts.

Photo Credit:  Maxime Perron Caissy