Tuesday, September 2, 2014

End-of-Summer Giveaway WINNERS

I'm excited to announce the winners to the End-of-Summer Giveaway! It was a great turnout with almost 200 entries - thanks so much for the amazing turnout ;)

And now, the winners...

Bonnie Roof

Debra Stevens

Bev Wong 

Kay Davis Moorhouse

Deborah DeShields Logan

Yea! Congrats to you all - I'll be sending out an email so we can get your prizes to you! Thank you all for participating. I host giveaways often and provide opportunities for you readers to get to know new authors as well as some of your favorites. I hope to see you back on the blog again soon.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Carrie Fancett Pagels {Writer Wednesday}

No, don't worry - you didn't skip the next few months and find yourself at Christmas time...well, mostly ;) Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Carrie Fancett Pagels! I met her last year at the ACFW writers conference and was able to get to know her a little better during our headshot session! I'm excited to have her on the blog talking about some of her published works - one of which is a Christmas novella! 

Today, she's offering either a paperback or ebook copy of her novel, Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance.  I'll be drawing the winner next Tuesday and announcing on Wednesday September 3 (due to the End-of-Summer Giveaway winners being announced on Tuesday). 

To enter to win this giveaway, leave a comment below for Carrie and/or comment about your plans for Labor Day!

A little bit about Carrie...

Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the author of the short story, Snowed In, published in Guidepost Books’ “A Cup of Christmas Cheer” (October, 2013) which sold through its first printing of 30,000 copies within weeks of release and went into a second printing. Her novella, Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance (Helping Hands Press, 2013), an Amazon Civil War bestseller, remained on the top rated Civil War ebooks for over a year. Carrie also contributed to God’s Provision in Tough Times, by Cynthia Howerter and LaTan Murphy (Lighthouse of the Carolinas, July, 2013) a 2014 Selah finalist. With a Ph.D. in School Psychology, Carrie served as a psychologist for twenty-five years. She has two popular group blogs: Overcoming With God (www.overcomingwithGod.com) and Colonial Quills (www.ColonialQuills.org).
Carrie is the former ACFW Zone Mid-Atlantic Zone Director and Virginia/West Virginia Area Coordinator and continues to serve as co-hostess of the Tidewater Area Christian Writers group. She mentors several beginning Christian writers. Married for 26 years to the love of her life, she resides in Virginia’s historic triangle. She has a 12-year-old son and a 25-year-old daughter.

Her tagline “Hearts Overcoming Through Time” reflects her writing—historical romance with strong elements of overcoming with God’s help.

How to connect with Carrie...

Website www.carriefancettpagels.com
Facebook Author Page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Carrie-Fancett-Pagels/317053071710640?fref=ts
Facebook Personal Page http://www.facebook.com/carriefancettpagels
Twitter https://twitter.com/cfpagels
Pinterest http://pinterest.com/carriefpagels/
GoodReads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7043690.Carrie_Fancett_Pagels
LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=131454255&trk=tab_pro
Author Interview |  Carrie Fancett Pagels

You and Writing

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...Yes, I do. I can’t say the title because it is so specific and it hasn’t been bought yet. But I have a story set in Virginia in 1815, as the War of 1812 is ending, that I love and that was requested by a bunch of the publishing houses but hasn’t yet found a home. I have endorsements from a half dozen published authors who read it and from Beta readers who loved it. I love the heroine and hero because while they have their flaws, they have really risen to the occasion in their life situations. And she has an avocation that is highly unusual, which I think is pretty cool. I had consultations from some top people in their fields when I was working on this manuscript—such a blessing from God. This MS did get through committee at a CBA house and was on its way to the publishing board when that company decided to cease publishing fiction. So I don’t know why God hasn’t found a home for it yet, but this story is really near and dear to my heart.

Your Writing

Do you have a favorite character your current work? If so, why?
...I have a book I’m working on right now where I love the hero. He’s really special to me because he’s such a great guy and has been through so much but he hasn’t let it affect his soul. I was so happy to discover Ben Utecht as someone who resembles my Friedrich. Here’s a link to a great inspiration song for my Friedrich, sung by Ben! http://vimeo.com/42023542 My hero feels this way at the end of the story and so I like to listen to that when I am doing rewrites and edits right now!

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...I’m going to address this one to my published novella. “Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance” is about obedience to God, which really resonates with me. My heroine, Angelina, obeys when God tells her to stay put even though it is at a detriment to herself. I think it is pretty cool that a Civil War book about obedience to Christ stayed on the top rated Civil War books on Amazon for a year and was a best seller for many months, as well. I have to think that the story resonates with readers as well and I’ve been blessed with 61 reviews on Amazon, with an average 4.7 rating out of 5 stars!


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...I get a lot from real life. But not all. And what is “odd” is when I get a character who I discover is very similar to a real person who lived in that time period in that setting! In my 1815 story, I was totally inspired by the story of a real life person who was a hero during the War of 1812. However, the docent who spoke about the situation had some of the information wrong. But that all worked out fine for my story and I believe God intended it to be that way. And I had a heroine inspired by a real life person I know. I named her for a dear friend I’d been seeking to reunite with, for decades. Sadly, as I was finishing up the edits, I discovered my friend’s name online—in an obituary. But I hope to keep her first name in this story.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I wrote about this on Seekerville this past winter. I write Christian fiction and I see no point in writing if I don’t have a Christian theme in my books. I want the reader to take something away that will apply to their everyday spiritual life. I also want the reader to experience the emotions my characters are feeling and to consider the struggles and how they might address a similar situation. So I’m expecting a lot!


What are you currently reading?
...Lisa Norato’s upcoming release and Kristi Cambron’s and Karen Witemeyer’s. Yup, all three at once!

Apparently August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day (who knew). What is your favorite dessert? 
...German sacher torte http://allrecipes.com/recipe/sachertorte/ My recipe is from a recipe book from the 1970’s Supercookery, a European based cookbook given to me by my first fiancé who was from Italy. And I didn’t cook at that time…That relationship didn’t pan out but I do love that dessert, as does my husband!
Thank you so much for stopping by Carrie! I love hearing about the "behind the scenes" of a character's story. I can only assume how much research goes into historical novels and always appreciate that! Contemporary writing takes a lot of research too, but at least those who write it live in the era ;) And that torte sounds amazing....my sweet tooth could easily get away from me if I made that! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Blur by Steven James | RE: View + Winner

When reality becomes unclear, Daniel Byers starts to question everything. Emily Jackson's body was found at Lake Algonquin and something strange started to happen to Daniel when he attended her funeral. He saw her, or a vision of her, and his world began to blur. Now, he's focused on why he saw her and what it may mean. As Daniel and his friends look into Emily's death, they start to believe that it may be more than an accident.

I enjoyed the beginning to this young adult trilogy created from the mind of talented author Steven James. Mystery surrounds the death of the introverted high school student, Emily Jackson, and things become increasingly more unclear as the book progresses and Daniel starts to see things that aren't there. Or are they? 

I like the approach James took to this book and the thought provoking questions he brings up about reality, spirituality, and where they meet. I feel as if James really captured the mind and actions of a teen boy living with his father, going to high school, and hanging out with his friends. 

I will say, however, that I expected...more? More action, more suspense, and more of a cohesiveness to the writing. I love other books I've read by Steven James and this seem to not quite make the bar set by his other books. Some portions felt repetitive and at times I felt the writing was almost too simple. 

That said, I'd still definitely recommend this book to those who enjoy young adult literature. James brings up some amazing points and deals with them in a practical, not-preachy way. It would be a good book for "actual" young adults to read (versus adults who enjoy young adult literature) and could open up doors for great conversation with teens.

Purchase Blur (Blur Trilogy)

Book Description
(from Amazon)
The isolated town of Beldon, Wisconsin, is shocked when a high school freshman’s body is found in Lake Algonquin. Just like everyone in the community, sixteen-year-old Daniel Byers believes that Emily Jackson’s death was accidental. But at her funeral, when he has a terrifying vision of her, his world begins to rip apart at the seams.

Convinced that Emily’s appearance was more than just a mere hallucination, Daniel begins to look carefully into her death, even as he increasingly loses the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality.

What’s real? What’s not? Where does reality end and madness begin?

As Daniel struggles to find the truth, his world begins to crumble around him as he slips further and further into his own private blurred reality.

Full of mind-bending twists and turns, Blur launches a new trilogy of young adult thrillers from Steven James, a master of suspense.
I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own. 

Last week I had the privileged to have author James Burd Brewster on the blog and he was gracious enough to offer up a few giveaways of his children's books! We have two winners today...

Kara Peck and Chickie Brewer

Congrats!!! I'll get in contact with you soon to arrange for you to receive your books! 

And remember readers, I've still got my *BIG* End-of-Summer GIVEAWAY going as well! Check out my Facebook Page or visit this post to entree for a chance to win one of 5 prizes (including signed copies of some of my favorite books from this summer's reading!). 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

James Burd Brewster {Writer Wednesday} + GIVEAWAY

A little bit about James...

James Burd Brewster, a fraternal twin, was raised in Albany, NY with his 5 brothers and sisters. He learned to sail on Lake Champlain, navigated a Polar Icebreaker in the US Coast Guard, and married Katie Spivey from Wilmington, NC. They started their family in Cleveland and moved to Baltimore where Ben and Luke first heard Jim tell the Rocky Hill, Fireman stories. Their family grew to five (Ben, Luke, Rachel, Andrew, Sam) and they settled in Pomfret, MD outside of Washington, DC where Jim finished up a career in the US Coast Guard.

During this time, Katie educated all five children at home which Jim says gave him the motivation to tell the Uncle Rocky, fireman stories to Ben and Luke. Twenty two years later, when Jim and Katie became empty nesters, they took a creative writing course which prompted them to consider converting the Uncle Rocky, Fireman stories into illustrated children’s books. Through the assistance of Yvonne Medley of the Life Journeys Writers Club and advice from James Mascia (author of High School Heroes) Jim was able to find an illustrator and complete four books.

Twenty-three years after the first telling of Uncle Rocky, the first book, Fire!, was published followed by Something’s Missing, Sparky’s Rescue, and Sparky Protects within four months time. One year later The Adventures of Uncle Rocky, Fireman, a chapter book containing 12 episodes written for 3rd and 4th grade readers, was published. Ben and Luke are no longer 6 and 4 1/2. Ben is a Marine, married, and father of 4 and Luke is living in Chicago, IL. Ben now tells Uncle Rocky stories to his sons Levi, Micah, and Judah. “That’s exactly how I always envisioned Uncle Rocky would look,” was Luke’s immediate comment when he first saw the illustrations.

How to Connect with James...

Website: www.GladToDoIt.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unclerockyfireman
Purchase The Adventures of Uncle Rocky, Fireman: A Treasury of Twelve "Uncle Rocky, Fireman" Stories (Volume 1)  

Author Interview | James Burd Brewster

How did you start writing?
...The short answer is “God’s Timing.”

...The long answer goes back 25 years to 1990 when I told the Uncle Rocky, Fireman stories to my two oldest boys (Ben and Luke) as I put them to bed at night... They were 6 and 4 at the time. I had a blast telling them the stories and they had a riot acting them out. I especially enjoyed seeing them mimic Uncle Rocky’s arm motion and hearing them say “Glad to do it” at the end of each story. We thought other parents might like the same experience with their kids. As a result, Katie and I always thought they would do well as illustrated children’s stories. 

...About 15 years ago, the boys and I sat down and wrote down as a many titles and themes as we could remember and I actually wrote out several episodes as complete stories. Fast forward to the fall of 2012 when Katie and I were officially “Empty Nesters,” as the last of our five children was off to college. To celebrate, we enrolled in a creative writing class taught by Wayne Karlin at the College of Southern Maryland. Our writing assignments got me thinking of the Uncle Rocky, Fireman stories and I brought them out of mental and physical storage and actively began to think of a book project. 

...My renewed interest in writing and a Tax refund check made me receptive to a notice I saw on the library bulletin board for the Feb 16, 2013 meeting of the Life Journey’s Writer’s club (LJWC) founded by author Yvonne J. Medley (The Plumb Line). As a note, my stumbling block to starting the Uncle Rocky, Fireman books had been the cost and difficulty of finding an illustrator. I thought the writer’s club might be able to help me, so my daughter, Rachel, and I attend the meeting. Sure enough, at the meeting I met children’s book author Mr. James Mascia (High School Heroes series) and he told me I could find all the affordable illustrators I would ever need at Elance.com. He was correct. Within 24 hours I had contracted with Dayna Barley-Cohrs to illustrate my books and we had the four books printed and published by June 2013. It changed our lives.

What has kept you writing?
...Three things keep me writing: 1) I have a good thing going with Uncle Rocky, having over 50 episodes identified and needing to be written out. On top of that, the success of completing one book gives me the motivation to write others. 2) Since I have “figured out” how to write and illustrate children’s books, I can see other topics or ideas that would be just as fun to do as illustrated story books. 3) I like to help people and I think my books help families, especially fathers and sons, to enjoy each other. So I keep writing because I think it is one of the ways I can be Jesus’ hands and feet.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...My favoritest and first story I ever wrote is “The Lady From East Raymond.” It is the retelling of a limerick and how much fun my parents and I had making it while driving from our home to our summer place on Lake Champlain, NY. I was 14 when it occurred and it was the story I wrote when I submitted my application to the Institute of Children’s Literature.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...The hardest thing about publishing was having the consistent thought that getting published was hard to do. The easiest thing about publishing was the freeing feeling I received when I realized that anyone can get published for only the effort of writing and submitting a book cover and interior file to CreateSpace in the correct format. Once I understood that anyone can get published, the work that became hard for me was the attention to detail required to keep track of different book files and where each book was in the publication process.

...That said, Print on Demand (POD) publishing, is a huge contributor to the Freedom of Press in America. POD makes printing and distributing a book accessible and affordable to any American who wants to publish a book. Christians should take advantage of this accessibility to write and distribute evangelical, spiritual, counseling, and encouraging literature.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it?
...The bulk of my writing for the next couple of years will be in developing the 50 Uncle Rocky episodes I have identified into fully illustrated story books or into 3rd grade level chapter books. At present, I am working on 4 more Uncle Rocky episodes and am publishing Feat of Memories, a book written by Katie, my wife.

#5 - Picnic - Ben and Luke help save two paddlers when their canoe capsizes during a family picnic

#6 - Market Meltdown - Uncle Rocky, Bob, Big Joe, and Sparky help a family out of trouble at the grocery store.

#7 - The Man in the Jacket - Officer Jack and Uncle Rocky top a robbery before things get out of hand.

#8 - Fire Safety - Uncle Rocky has supper with Ben and Luke and teaches them about fire safety.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...I absolutely love Uncle Rocky. He embodies all the character traits we desire our children to adopt and that I wish I could consistently emulate. He is kind, strong, patient, willing to help, encouraging, and humble in the face of praise.
What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...Uncle Rocky is fortunate to be able to rescue from and help people through very dangerous circumstances. Because there are so many things that can go wrong and foil a rescue, he knows that divine guidance and direction is always involved when things work out well. As a result he is humble in the face of praise because he is the hands and feet of the powerful God that is working behind the scenes.
...I try to remember this when complicated and serious things work out well for me.

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...Uncle Rocky is totally made up, except his character reflect very much how I feel we should be towards each other. Uncle Rocky looks for needs in people and then tries to make their life better by meeting that need.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I have two hopes for my books. 1) I want parents and their kids, as a result of the Uncle Rocky stories, to have the same kind of fun, the same kind of bonding experience, and the same kind of shared memories that we had/have with our children. 2) I want kids to learn from the Uncle Rocky stories that it is a wonderful thing to help someone and to be “Glad to do it.” when praised.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...The restrictions to publishing are all gone. Just do it. If you are not that good at it, you can find or hire help to edit your book, draw your illustrations, improve your grammar and deign your cover so that your book will be good. If you need encouragement or have questions you want answered, e-mail me at gladtodoit@gmail.net and I will be glad to tell you everything I know about publishing and writing.


What is your favorite activity during the summer?
...My favoritest activity of all time is to sail on Lake Champlain. My grandparents bought a summer place there the year I was born and I spent at least one week there almost every summer since then. I started with a Sailfish, then a Sunfish, rebuilt a Knockabout with my father and finally thoroughly enjoyed my father’s Tanzer 21. The water is exciting, the wind energizing and the views of the Adirondack (NY) and Green (VT) Mountains are stunning.

What are you currently reading?
...I am reading in print Brennan Manning’s “The Furious Longing of God.” I finished reading in audio James Patterson’s “The 9th Judgment” during my drive to work and am about to start “Between You and Me; A Memoir” by Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes and Gary Paul Gates. I really don’t get much time to read print books, but love audio books. My daily commute can be up to 3 hrs total and you can “read” a lot of audio in that time. I absolutely enjoy the performance put on by the reader as they add character to each character.

Apparently August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day (who knew). What is your favorite dessert?
...Interesting that your question is prompted by Lemon Meringue Pie Day as my favoritest (that word again) desert is Floating Islands which is Egg White Meringue “islands” floating in a bowl of egg yolk custard. My mom showed me how to make it in high school and I loved the process of making the custard in a double boiler and waiting for the sauce to thicken until it “Coated” a spoon. After you get done with enjoying the creative work of making the desert, you get the additional joy of the tastes and textures of the custard and meringue in the same spoonful.
Thank you so much for stopping by the blog today, James. So great to hear how you go into publishing children's books and I love your encouragement to new authors. That dessert sounds pretty amazing too ;)

We've got another GIVEAWAY as well!

James has offered to do 2 separate giveaways: 1)A complete set of 4 Uncle Rocky Fireman books and 2)The adventures of Uncle Rocky! These area amazing gifts for your children, or maybe to win for your friends with kids! Either way, leave a comment below of your "favoritest" summer activity!

PLUS >>> Don't forget my End-of-Summer GIVEAWAY is going until September 1st as well! So many options to win books and fun goodies ;) If this doesn't jumpstart your fall, I don't know what will!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Photos & A Winner

**New Photos**

Many of you know that I am a photographer in addition to be a writer. Today, I had some fun and took new headshots so I could update my business cards for the ACFW Conference. I'll be posting more blogs about prep-ing for the conference in the coming weeks, but I wanted to share the update!

Also, I'm excited to announce a winner of last week's {Writer Wednesday} GIVEAWAY! Congratulations....


You've won Susan Lyttek's book Killer Field Trip! We'll get that out to you soon :) 

For the rest of you - don't forget the End-of-Summer GIVEAWAY going on right now. You can enter via the post here or you can visit my Facebook author page here and there via the giveaway tab. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

End-of-Summer GIVEAWAY

Me in DC!
It's that time again...the end of summer and the start of school. It's hard to believe that Summer 2014 has already come and gone, but lots happened to make it an amazing summer.

In order to properly celebrate the close of summer, my move to Washington, D.C., and the creation of my new author Facebook page, I've decided to host a fun GIVEAWAY!

Below, I've outlined the gifts (straight from my summer reading list and favorite things) and below that, you'll find the Rafflecopter entry form. Some entry opportunities are offered daily so make sure to visit often! The giveaway starts today and ends September 1st. I'll be announcing the 5 winners on September 2nd with much applause.

Oh...and did I mention that these will be *signed* copies!? YES! These authors are the BEST!!! Click on the links to be directed to my reviews for each book.

The Prizes 

Redeeming the Rancher by Deb Kastner 

Deb does it again with a charming romance and handsome cowboy hero that any girl could get hung up on!

Raptor 6 by Ronie Kendig

I loved this book and couldn't put it down! From page one you'll be caught by the action and intrigue that Ronie is known for.

Words of Conviction by Linda J. White

This, aside from being a fantastic read, also celebrates my move to DC! It's set there and you'll feel like you've been to the city after reading Words of Conviction!

$10 Amazon Gift Card

Who can't use more books...or movies...or whatever you want! That's the beauty of Amazon - there's something for everyone.

 $10 Starbucks Gift Card

And the perfect addition to any morning (or afternoon for that matter) is some COFFEE! Those of you who know me know I'm addicted ;)

**Just a note: Prizes can only be shipped within the United States.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Operation Zulu Redemption: Act of Treason - Part 4 | RE:View

Sheesh...Ronie Kendig sure knows how to write the best suspense! For those of you who have been following my progress through this awesome serialization, you'll know that I've been loving everything about it. Well, Part 4 was no different.

As we left off in Part 3 with Teya and The Turk, we catch back up with them for Part 4 to rocket us through to the next level of the plot behind Misrata. I wont give much away here, but take it from me - you will not be able to put this down. The wild twists and turns that Act of Treason takes you on will shock and surprise you, but when the ending comings my bet is that you'd never even guess who was behind it all.

I can sum up my experience with Operation Zulu in 3 little words...(and a few exclamation points)...

I want MORE!!!

For a book lover like me, it was like I was watching a favorite television show but instead I was reading it! It's an experience I'd be happy to enter into again and I hope hope hope Ronie will be doing a Season 2 because, though she wrapped up the ending nicely here, there is so much more to find out.

I give this entire serialization 5 stars and highly recommend it to anyone interested in military fiction/suspense with the perfect amount of romance and a whole lot of amazing plot twists. This will keep you up late at night flying through sections to get to the answers!

Purchase Operation Zulu Redemption: Act of Treason - Part 4
I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.