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One of my favorite places to be is in a book. I read a wide variety. Books are food for the mind and soul, and I cannot seem to restrict myself to one genre.

My novel writing, on the other hand, is focused on young adult contemporary novels and novels for the general market.

Every week I blog about books I’m reading. I usually post an author interview, news from my bookish friends, or writing related updates about once a month.

About My Novel Writing

I tend to write about people who are facing tough times. I’ve written about grief, eating disorders, abandonment, and other difficult issues. There isn’t always a romantic element, but when there is the romances are sweet. Endings aren’t sugar coated, but I always strive to leave my readers with a sense of hope. No graphic language, sex, or violence, just plenty of heart tugging emotion and laughing. My fiction has a slight to rich southern flavor, depending on the book. I have two books featuring a character on the autism spectrum. I am currently seeking representation while I continue to work on my craft.

I spend most of my writing time working on my novels, but I blog here and on my homeschool blog, Undaunted Homeschool.

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 

GIVEAWAY Novel Teas, Book Sleeve, and Bookmark

It has taken me forever to finish this quilt!

To celebrate, I am giving away a quilted book sleeve and book marker to newsletter subscribers, along with a package of NovelTeas. If you’re not already signed up, you can do so here.

Giveaway ends Monday Dec 7th. U.S. entries only, please.

Visit my Instagram for ways to gain extra entries.

 

I posted a story about my quilt on Facebook here.

Happy Reading!

Interview with YA Author Ruth Anne Crews

Can you tell us a little about your story

Rett Johnson’s waited for the right girl. Kate Adams never thought she’d meet someone like him. But will a mysterious past end their relationship before it has a chance to grow?

What made you choose roses as the flowers of special significance to Rett? 

I have been working on this story for thirteen years so I don’t remember the original reason why but roses just feel like a romantic flower. I know in our culture, roses are definitely put up there with some of the romantic things a woman can get from a man. For Rett, the idea didn’t originate with him, it all started with a conversation with his mentor about pursuing a woman’s heart. But in the end, I think it was just that roses are always associated with romance and Rett is a big gesture, romantic kind of guy. 

In the book Kate is from Georgia. Can you give us a hint about something that might surprise us about Kate or that goes against the stereotype readers might have about southerners? 

I don’t know if everyone will understand this or not but Kate is an enneagram 9 which just means that she avoids conflict at all costs. She puts up with a lot more from Rett than I would because she doesn’t want to mess up a good thing. But when she makes up her mind, everyone needs to get out of her way. 

The writing journey can be a long haul for some of us, myself included. What words of encouragement can you offer to folks who are tackling a big project or in the middle of one? 

This has not been a short journey for me, I have been working on this book since I was sixteen, which was thirteen years ago. I would encourage you to keep going, keep writing, even if you have to put it away or switch projects for a little while. Your story deserves to be told and you are the only one who can tell it. I promise, all the hard work is worth it. 

Now for a really important question, what is your favorite Hallmark movie? 

Don’t hate me, but I’m not a Hallmark watcher. It wasn’t something that I grew up watching and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I even began to understand that tons of people watch them. I know it’s not the same thing, but I love all three of the Christmas Prince Netflix movies. I’m working on building traditions for myself and one of mine is watching all three of those movies. 

Find her book on amazon.

Visit Ruth Ann’s website @ ruthannecrews.com

When she’s not reading and writing, Ruth Anne Crews hanging out with middle and high school girls teaching them about God’s love for them. She loves all things pop culture and superheroes. She currently lives in North Carolina but is originally from Albany, Georgia. Follow along with all her adventures on Instagram @ruthannecrews and on her blog, ruthannecrews.com 

~Lisa Samson Talks About Her New Book St. Is~

Y’all, Lisa Samson has a brand new book baby!

St. Is: The First Book

Blurb from Amazon

An ancient donkey and a strong-willed, good-hearted maid, both chosen to carry the Messiah in their own way, lead you through the Christmas story like you’ve never read it before.

Meet Issy the she-donkey, Mary’s beloved companion. Meet Mary of Nazareth, capable and trusting in the Most High despite a family that sometimes makes her life difficult. Meet fiery angels and a just young man named Joe who finds himself dropped in the most extraordinary of circumstances requiring all the faith he has.

St.Is presents time-honored characters in all their humanness, a donkey that represents us all, our wanderings and our ponderings, and invites us to watch in wonder the workings of a God who transcends time and meets us all in the form of a baby born in Bethlehem.

***********

I asked Lisa to talk a bit about her book and Christmas.

Why a Christmas book?

When we decided to start The Salish Sea Press, Leonard Sweet and myself, we knew we wanted to foster the imagination of Jesus followers, give everyone an opportunity to experience the freedom of taking the story of God and Humanity and opening it up for themselves in a way that brings great meaning to them. Starting with the Christmas story was an obvious first choice to model what we are trying to encourage, and are we glad we did it. The story just came alive when we started writing and continued all the way through the process.

 

What was the most fun about writing this book?

For me, working with Len on this was just so much fun. I would write down a scene or two each day and then read aloud the next. Len is a scholar so he would give me things to consider and implement regarding the context of ancient Israel, particularly Nazareth, Mary’s family (who, let’s not forget, ran Jesus out on a rail later in his life), and the deeper meanings of the Jewish faith, traditions and way of life. I learned so much and we laughed a lot, our ideas: his as truly voracious student, teacher and passer-on of “story” and me as someone who has studied almost her entire life on the intricacies, modes, and methods of telling them, came together to form a highly unique telling. That telling, to go back to your question, was not only fun for us to accomplish, but so far, reader feedback is proclaiming it a fun read as well.

 

What was the most challenging?

We honestly didn’t view this as challenging. I had to think about that a moment in answer to your question. This was one of those writing/art projects that flowed from beginning to end. Co-writing is normally a challenge, and while I can’t speak for Len, this project, our inaugural team-writing project was a flowing and satisfying experience. Even formatting the book with our wonderful book formatter, Carmen Barber, was enjoyable. I suppose just putting one foot in front of the other in any project is the challenge, but each step of this creation process was so evident and good to step into. All the hours were definitely worth it!

 

Now for the tough questions.

 

What are your favorite Christmas carols/songs?

Do You Hear What I Hear/I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day/The Christmas Waltz/Some Children See Him.

 

What’s your favorite holiday food/beverage?

Turkey dinner with all the fixins’!

 

And would you rather go ice-skating or have a snowball fight?

Ice-skating and not because I’m good at it!

 

Thank you, Lisa!

Y’all go check out her new book over on Amazon.  

Lisa Samson’s Amazon Author Page

Lisa’s Patreon Page

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

 

“That was the thing. You never got used to it, the idea of someone being gone. Just when you think it’s reconciled, accepted, someone points it out to you, and it just hits you all over again, that shocking.”

The Truth About Forever

Macy recently lost her father and is trying to recover from her loss and the associated trauma. She attempts to do this by controlling her environment. Then she takes a job with a chaotic catering crew and makes new friends.  

What I loved.

❤️

Characters

Macy had my complete sympathy. 

Her new friends with the catering company were so enjoyable to read about, from the bubbly, flamboyant Kristy to the monosyllabic Monica. 

❤️

Storyline

A mix of grief, love, and life lessons. Complex, though the story moved along quickly for me and felt like an easy read. I love books that tackle the emotional journey and end with growth and the characters coming to terms with each other.

❤️

Tone

The sweetness of this story, perfect. 

❤️

Family

The grief the family experiences complicates their relationships, but they love each other. Well developed characters. The way they interacted was realistic, although in one part I got frustrated with the mom. 

❤️

Emotional

A touching story, beautifully done. The development of the romance was slow and perfect for this character. 

❤️

Art!

One of the important characters, Wade, makes sculptures from found materials. He tends toward angels and hands with a heart in the palm, which I would really like to see now.

I love Sara Dressen’s style.

 

Mentions of teenagers using alcohol. A little language. 

☕ Book Break ☕ | A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

In their junior year of high school, Tavia and Effie are best friends. Tavia is a siren and must hide her powers from those who seek to harm her.  Effie is haunted by a childhood tragedy. A mystery surrounds Effie, and she comes to suspect she, too, has magical powers, but isn’t sure what those are. 

Very timely social commentary and all around good read.

If I had a teenager I would have them read this and talk about BLM, the history of the movement, politics, family relationships, societal issues.

The homeschooler in me wants to write a lesson plan.

I was captured by the first part of the book. Around halfway it started dragging a little bit for me, but picked up shortly thereafter and I couldn’t put it down until I finished.

Relevant.

Great characters. 

I like characters I can relate to, and Bethany C. Morrow did a wonderful job creating the characters in this book. Effie has my heart, though.

Loved  the friendship between Tavia and Effie. So nice to see supportive female relationships. Effie has come to stay with Tavia because of complicated family dynamics (ooh boy, talk about complicated—yes, there is some magic involved here) and the girls call each other sister. 

Mostly serious and thought provoking, with a few moments of humor, which is exactly how I like my novels. 

Nice wrap up.

New Post @ Almost an Author: National Book Month

October is National Book Month. Check out my post @ Almost an Author on finding book recs. I included a short list of suggested reading from a few YA authors.

Writers must read to write well. Agree or disagree?

Share in a comment below or on the Almost an Author site by following the link.

 

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Adunni’s mother always stressed education for her daughter, and Adunni loves school. But her mother dies. Her father ignores the promise he made to his wife on her deathbed, the promise to send Adunni to school. Instead, he sells Adunni to be third wife to a man eager for a son.

⭐️

She runs away to the city, only to find herself in servitude, with no rights and no resources. She finds a way to speak not only for herself, but for other girls.

⭐️

The voice of the presentation of the main character story is beautifully done. I don’t think this is a story that could be easily forgotten. So very human and heartbreaking, yet hopeful.I  read this book from cover to cover. It kept me awake at night until I finished it.

⭐️

Y’all know I regularly fall in love with fictional characters, but Adunni has completely stolen a piece of my heart but I don’t think I’m getting back. I will not forget her story.

⭐️

All the stars.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Hopeful.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Inspiring.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Informative.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Beautifully written.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

For those sensitive to language, there are some terms used that could be considered crude language, but they are not used as such. It reads as if this is the everyday language.

Five Tips to Help Break Writers Block @ Almost an Author

I have new post up at Almost an Author about beating writers block.

I’ve never liked the term writer’s block and prefer to call it writer’s exhaustion, but it means the same thing. Hours or days of staring at a blank screen unable to type a word.

Recently, I’ve found myself at the crossroads between emotional exhaustion and distraction…. click here to continue reading.

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

I can’t recommend this historical young adult novel enough.

A 17-year-old Chinese American girl who works as a lady’s maid, moonlights as a columnist, Miss Sweetie, speaking her mind about the issues of the day. I absolutely adored Jo Kuan. She’s a complicated girl living in complicated times. 

The writing is elegant, although the tense and point of view took me a little while to get into.

If you’re looking for historicals to enrich your impressions of American culture, this is one to check out.

All the stars.

Sunflowers on a Windy Day~ Jory Sherman Short Story Contest Honorable Mention

 

Monday morning, early, while he sleeps, I enter the field to cut an armful of sunflowers. The doctors said surround him with familiar things. What could be more familiar? The house with its heavy front door, handmade by my daddy? The cracked linoleum in front of the sink? Me? We were childhood neighbors. He spent more time at our house than his own. For the last five years, since Daddy passed and I came back home, Pierce has been my plus one. Long ago, Daddy nicknamed him P.S. because he hung around so much. A tag along. But his name is Pierson Ansel Stevens the Third. And apparently, last.

I squint into the sky. The misty haze could be predawn, or a harbinger of showers. The forecast is fifty fifty for the morning. He doesn’t do well with storms. The rain would come, but later would be better. My arms ache as I cut the thick stems. I’d forgotten gloves. My fingernails bite the tender stalks’ skin. The sharp green of summer wafts into the new day’s air, mixes with the good dirt smell my clumsy feet stir up. Wind slaps at me. I forgot to tie my hair and it thrashes my cheek, gets stuck in between my squeezed shut eyelids. I bow my head and blink it clear. The hem of the old cotton housecoat I’d thrown on whips around my legs. A gust caught the big sunflower faces, tried to kite them away into the cloud strewn gray expanse. I have to hang on or lose the whole bunch. Contrary, nature stills, pausing in her tirade, and lets me catch my breath.

At least the wind cleaned out any bugs for me.

The kitchen door bangs shut behind me. It settles wonky. The loose hinge needs tightening. I hold the sunflowers close and they scratch the tender skin of my neck. I deposit them on the counter, dig in the cabinet beneath, and fetch out my vases, line them in a row. They’d grown dusty already. Pierce used to bring me flowers, so many they filled the house. He claimed to be making up for lost time. I have a lot of vases.

When he’d first started to forget things, I’d thought he was cheating on me.

 

On laundry day, an orange scrap of paper rested in my hand. I’d fished it out of the pocket of his coveralls.

My ears throbbed with each pulse beat of my heart.

Don’t be stupid. Pierce loves you.

The clink of his tea glass as he set it on the table brought me into the kitchen. “Whose number is this?”

Pierce unlaced his boot, let it drop to the floor. “What number?”

My hands shook the tiniest bit as I handed it to him. Pierce’s face went blank, another indication of guilt, I thought.

He studied the numbers, the small V of an almost scowl marked the space above his eyes. Eyes gone dark-cloudy, he crumpled the paper in his fist. “It’s nothing.”

But it hadn’t been nothing. I was right to be terrified, for he’d been stolen, that was certain.

It shames me now, to think I imagined he’d  go willingly.

 

I focus on the task at hand and rinse the four biggest vases one by one. Water beads on the blue and green and yellow, waiting for my dishtowel to wipe away drops that streak and puddle. The vases don’t match, but that’s all right. Under the tap they go. At the half mark, I stop filling.

My gathering had been messy. The shears neaten raw ends to a forty-five degree angle. The vase sits ready. I divide and arrange the flowers. Perhaps those big cheery faces will push back the gloom settling into the corners of the house like untended dust bunnies left to breed and multiply.

Generous bouquets fill three vases. The fourth waits, empty. There are plenty more blooms in the field, but the sun is coming on soon. It’s always good to leave some for tomorrow. I tip out the forlorn, forsaken receptacle and watch the water swirl down the drain. I dry the outside of the vase and set it back in the cabinet. One arrangement goes on the kitchen table, the second on the top of the old wooden writing desk in the corner and the final in front of the window. After breakfast, I’ll move them to the T.V. room.

A series of thumps from upstairs catches my attention and I hold my breath. No fussing. No calling out. Just him coming down.

Please God, let it be a good day.

I pluck at my collar and dip my face into my cotton blouse, pat my eyes and cheeks.

Pierce comes into the kitchen, his robe tied askew. His hair sticks out like he’d been through a windstorm. I should trim it later if the morning goes well. We would see. After I got him to shave. I bought an electric shaver, but he hates it.

His favorite blue cup hangs on the mug tree and I unhook it, cradle it in my palm. “Would you like coffee?”

He nods and shuffles over to a chair.

Hot, dark liquid from the carafe streams out as I pour, and wisps of fragrant steam fog the air above his cup. I dollop it good with cold milk and a heaping spoonful of sugar. For a second, my hand hesitates near the can of protein powder. Not yet. Wait. Coffee first. If he refuses the drink, he might not take in anything all day.

I set the mug down in front of him. My own cupful had grown tepid, but I pick it up and sit down, scooting over to get closer. In case. Pierce’s coffee was cooled considerably by the milk, but still.

He leans back a little, not so slumped as some days.

Ignoring the cup before him, he reaches out and with one finger traces the bright petals on the smallest flower in the arrangement centered on the table.

His gaze lingers on the yellow bloom. “I went to China for you.”

“You did.”

He did. I’d run away from him and he’d chased me. To China.

“I’d go to China a thousand times for you.”

The dry, empty places in my body and soul rush with blood and water. He takes my hand, turns it palm up, kisses the sweet, tender center. The morning sun slants in. A beam strides boldy across the table, dips into our coffee.

“P.S.” My voice is so calm and regular, part of me marvels. “I love you.” My hand, palm open, waiting to snatch whatever gifts the day gave, stays in his grip.

He smiles at me. “P.S. loves you, too.”

I curl my fingers around his. We drink our cold coffee and watch the sun kiss the faces of the flowers.