Sunday, July 5, 2015

Summer's List by Anita Higman | RE:View

Life isn't going the way Summer Snow had hoped it would. When faced with another disappointment in love and struggles at the children's bookstore she runs, Summer may just have a chance to change the course of her life when presented with a list lovingly composed by her granny.

Along for the ride, Martin Langtree not only gets the opportunity to go on an adventure, but rekindles a long-lost friendship. But could it become more than that?

I had high hopes for Summer's List by Anita Higman. I've enjoyed several of her novels in the past and the premise of this one sounded intriguing. A list to inspire adventure? Yes! A longtime friendship reunited? Yes! Unfortunately though, I was sadly disappointed.

Summer is mostly a loveable character and her relationship with Granny is sweet, but I felt as if the execution of this whole story was just

First, the dialogue throughout the whole book is much too formal. I understand it coming from Martin (an intelligent, geeky guy) but that trickled over into the other characters and created confusion for me. I also missed the sense of feeling and emotion that makes characters (and their relationships) jump off the page. It's the kind of depth that is imbued into a scene by details, descriptions, and thoughts. The chemistry was also mostly lacking between Summer and Martin, but when it was there it was fast, intense, and slightly out of the blue. It was also difficult to connect with the story because the reader was not accurately "dropped" into a characters head. Summer and Martin blurred on the page.

There were some great parts and creative ideas that I did enjoy, but overall I wasn't invested in the story even though I desperately wanted to be. Sad to say, I can't really recommend this, but I know others have read it and enjoyed it.

Rating: 2.8*
(I'm rounding up to 3* for Goodreads, Amazon, etc.)
Purchase: Summer's List

Book Description
(from Anita's website)
A dying wish alters the course of a young woman's life.

Life hadn't been easy for Summer Snow. In acts of selflessness-caring for her ailing parents and running her grandmother's bookstore-she had forfeited her youth and dreams for the needs of others. And the only tries she had at love... didn't turn out. She had the bookstore, she had her beloved granny, but she was missing something-or someone.

Opportunity strikes when Granny sends Summer on an unexpected adventure with one Martin Langtree, a kind but gangly young man from Summer's past. A childhood friendship is rekindled, a romance is sparked, and mysteries are solved in one magical Texas summer. Will Summer strike out on love again, or will things finally go her way?

With lovable characters and surprising twists, Summer's List is a simple delight.
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.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Christine Johnson {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Christine...

Christine Johnson is the author of several books for Love Inspired and has been twice named a finalist for Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart® award. When not writing, she loves to hike and explore God's majestic creation. She and her husband, a Great Lakes ship pilot, split their time between northern Michigan and the Florida Keys.

How to connect with Christine...

Purchase: Love's Rescue: A Novel (Keys of Promise Book 1)

Author Interview | Christine Johnson
E.A. Creative Photography
You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?

...Writing has always been a part of my life. I loved books as a child. My parent's house is filled with books, and my grandparent's house down the street was full of wonderful old books. I could vanish for hours in those stories, so it was only natural that later on I created stories of my own. Some stayed in my head, and some ended up in the margins of school papers and notebooks. In college I took many creative writing classes, but I never considered it a "career" until after many years as a librarian. I wanted to write the books, not just catalog them. I began my first tentative forays into novel writing in the 1990s and was soon discouraged. In 2000, I began again with renewed focus, but life intervened. Finally I set forth on a serious course five years later, taking classes on craft, honing skills and enduring rejection letter after rejection letter until Love Inspired (then Steeple Hill) bought my first book in 2009.

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...The hardest thing was getting published. From first rejection letter until contract offer, it took 15 years and 151 rejections. In retrospect, every bit of it was necessary, and I thank God for His perfect timing. I couldn't exactly call anything about publishing being "easiest," except perhaps working with my wonderful editors. Their insight is such a blessing to me!

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your. Why did you write it?

...Love's Rescue came from characters and a time period I had been contemplating for many years. I love anything nautical—which perhaps fed into my marrying a ship pilot—and the wrecking industry in the Florida Keys is a unique step between the lawless years of piracy and modern shipping with all its aids to navigation. When I saw an online discussion about the appeal of pirates as heroes, I wondered if a pirate could ever be a hero in a Christian historical romance. That pondering led me to develop this story, with a deeply Christian wrecker in the midst of an industry that many claimed was little removed from piracy.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Of course I love the hero, Rourke O'Malley. In the midst of corruption, he insists on a strict code of honor. While he maintains discipline, his heart is huge, for his crew is composed of the broken, the wayward and the snubbed. Under Rourke, they've found work, companionship, and new life in Christ.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...Story inspiration often comes from historical tidbits that ignite my imagination. It might be a true account, an event, or even a single statement. Sometimes these lead to characters, but most often the story comes first for me. Characters appear in my imagination and develop on the page. That's why I do many revision passes for my stories. By the time I've finished the first draft, I have a much better grasp of the characters.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories? 
...I hope that the reader gets so caught up in the story that the outside world disappears. I pray that the Lord will work through the words to touch hearts for His glory.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Never give up! Trust in the Lord's timing and write for His glory. And enjoy that wonderful time learning the craft before you're published. Many authors gave me this advice, and I paid them no attention since I was consumed with the rush to get published. They were so right. Everything changes after publication. Short deadlines and added work promoting and marketing eat away at the time to learn. Enjoy this season of life.


How do(did) you like to celebrate the 4th of July? 
...I often return to my hometown, which is very small. The town puts on a darling parade and a fireworks display, but the best part is visiting with family. Love the family barbeque. Yum! S'mores, anyone?

Do you enjoy hot weather or cold better?
...Hot! Definitely hot, though I have difficulty imagining what life was like for the ladies in 1850 Key West. All those petticoats and voluminous skirts must have been extremely warm in summer heat and humidity. I am so grateful to live in an era with electric fans, air conditioning and ice cubes.

I first met Christine at the ACFW Conference when I did her headshots! She was so sweet and I'm so excited to host her on the blog today as she talks about Love's Rescue! Make sure you leave a comment for her to enter to win a copy!

I had Robin E. Mason on the blog last week and her winner is...

Connie Hendryx

Congrats Connie (aka MOM haha). I'll get in contact with you for Robin's book!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Like A Love Song by Camille Eide | New Novel News

Like A Love Song 
by Camille Eide

Published April 30, 2015
Ashberry Lane Publishing
Purchase: Like A Love Song

When she finally surrenders her heart, will it be too late?

Susan Quinn, a social worker turned surrogate mom to foster teens, fights to save the group home she’s worked hard to build. But now, she faces a dwindling staff, foreclosure, and old heartaches that won't stay buried. Her only hope lies with the last person she’d ever turn to—a brawny handyman with a guitar, a questionable past, and a God he keeps calling Father.

Like a Love Song is a romantic drama about a fiercely loyal woman, some cast-off kids, and finding the courage to believe in a love that never fails.

Get to know Camille...

Which of your characters do you secretly have a crush on? 
Not a crush, but tied by mama-heartstrings: if Jasmine and Chaz, teens in Like a Love Song, were real kids, I’d adopt them in a heartbeat. Actually, I’d take them all!

What's one chore you hate doing? 
Cleaning toilets. ugh. And dusting. And folding laundry. Wait, did you say one?

What’s your favorite book? 
One of several favorites is still W. Dale Cramer’s Summer of Light. Wise & pants-wetting witty story about a frustrated stay-at-home dad.


Make sure you leave a comment to enter to win an eBook copy of Like A Love Song!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Loving When the Going Gets Rough

 My heart is burdened today by the fact that we toss out the word love without truly understanding it. We limit what it looks like, what it can do, and what it should do.

I feel like the definition of love has been changed. It now solely means that a person must accept anything and everything regardless of what they may personally believe or feel convicted about. I'm not going to debate the major issue here because I don't think this is the platform for it, but I do want to shed some light on the idea of love and tolerance and what that really means and looks like.

Tolerance: The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with (source).

What does it mean to tolerate something? I feel as if the definition is clear, but from what I've seen and observed there mere act of "tolerating" something you don't agree with is now not enough.

A slightly silly example:

If I'm out getting dessert with a group of close friends and I say that I tolerate ice cream but I love cookies, my friends will (rightly) infer that I will be getting cookies rather than ice cream. What crosses the line is when a friend steps up and says,"No, you must like ice cream." At that point we would have a conversation about how I don't want ice cream and prefer cookies as a dessert.

What really becomes the issue here is when that same friend cries out to the rest of our group of friends pointing their finger at me and saying, "Can you believe it? She doesn't like ice cream! How can she choose to not like ice cream? I say we kick her out of our group and tell everyone else about how unfair it is that she doesn't like ice cream."

That's ridiculous. And I know that it is an imperfect example, but there are elements of truth there. It is perfectly fine to disagree with someone about...well, anything. The issue becomes when your disagreement (or the fact that you hold to a certain belief system) becomes "hate" or your preference is no longer valid.

I want to express one thought that many have already brought to the table - I'll be white noise at this point - but it's the reality of what marriage is. I personally don't think marriage should ever have been the issue because it's a word. Right now, in lieu of the recent law passing, the definition of marriage is being rewritten.

I am someone who uses words for a living and I have to ask, can we do that? Better yet, can the government do that? Can they pick and choose what words they wish to redefine? If tomorrow I picked up a spoon and said, "This is no longer a spoon, it is a fork" you'd think I was crazy. You would also politely remind me that we already have forks and that I can't just go around making up my mind that something that is established should be changed.

What is marriage? It's a covenant between a man and a woman that is united by and under God. It is an example of Christ and the church.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
- Ephesians 5:22-33
Ok, so things have changed. What is the response then? The response is one of love - but true, Gospel-centered love.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

I understand the desire to fight, bicker, or argue over what is right and wrong. Some could see this post as that, but it's not. In fact, it's my call for us to respond in love even when we are not given the some consideration. It's tempting to want to fight or to point out the disparity between what some are demanding and what is right, just, and fair.

This is our time to show Christ and what true love looks like. It isn't accepting sin, but it's also not condemning (that is God's role). It isn't angry fighting, but it's also not refraining from engaging (all of this covered in a loving response). It's also not the loss of hope, but a call to prayer (there is always hope in every situation because God can--and will--enter in to every area).

Pray for our nation. Respond in love.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Robin E. Mason {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Robin...

I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!

Ms. Mason began writing in 1995, and after a few (dozen) (thousand) hiccups and curve balls, other life projects, including four years of college, she began working on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013. Ms. Mason has written posts as a guest blogger, and has to her credit several dozen poems, several of which are in a recent anthology. “I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me! I mean, even my dollies and Barbies had backstory!”

Ms. Mason started writing as a self-prescribed therapy in 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013. Meanwhile, she cranked out a few dozen poems, and made countless notes for story ideas. Ms. Mason lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; she didn’t want to be who she was and struggled with her own identity. Her characters face many of these same demons.

Ms. Mason has lived in the Upstate of South Carolina since 1988. She lived in Colorado for sixteen years, during which time she: went to high school, got married, had babies, got divorced and went to college. Her “babies” are now grown, two have babies of their own. She currently lives alone, with her five cats.

I write Christian-worldview--in other words, there's no salvation message, but there are plenty of characters who know the Lord and share His perspective with those who are struggling.

How to connect with Robin...

Purchase: Tessa

Author Interview | Robin E. Mason

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I started because the stories fell out of me. I used to have character conversations play out in my head – long before I knew I was a writer. *see bio!! What I began writing 20 years ago was my story, my very unpretty story. It was a form of therapy for a difficult time in my life. I discovered two things: I love writing and I’m pretty good. That difficult season was not brief and I did not pursue writing at the time. Although I’ve had a MYRIAD of story ideas [and most are written in a journal] I still didn’t do anything with it until 2008 when the first words of Tessa came to me as I was going for a walk. I made tentative progress, then started college, and was later diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis; all energy was put toward school. Upon graduation in 2013, I naturally assumed I’d begin a fantastic career in Interior Design; I did not; job offers did not flood my inbox. I turned my attention back to my writing, and finished Tessa by the end of January 2014.
...What had kept me writing is the constant confirmation from Holy Spirit that this is, in fact, what He has for me to do. That and my passion for writing, creating worlds, people, storylines – I love it all!! I can’t imagine not writing now.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...Well, since I’ve the one published, she’s got to be my favorite. Then again, although I had no thought [pro or con] of writing a sequel, let alone a series, and the fact that there are two distinct places in Tessa that lend to the sequel, and then the third and final in the series, I might say the third story, Cissy, will have a favorite spot in my heart.

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...The hardest: keeping my head above water!!! My first blog post last year [drowning, 041114] I talked about ALLLLLLLL the hats we Indies have to wear. A year + later, and I’m still trying to sift through what works best for me!!!
...The easiest: writing. I love it. I get seriously into the story as I go along. [ps, I’m an actress, also, and really really get into character!]

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it?
...As I said, the opening to Tessa came to me and the rest pretty much flowed out. I was naïve about anything beyond telling the story, had no deadline or timeline, no thoughts of how to get published even. Clara Bess the second book in the series, opens with her discovery, at the age of 50, that her mother was, in fact, not her mother. She finds no adoption papers, however, and – after the shock wears off – sets to an investigation to find out about the woman’s name on her birth certificate. The why is because a few people asked if I was planning a sequel to Tessa, and when I looked, I saw the story unfold.

...The series, Unsavory Heritage, digs at the heritage these women share through generations – and what set it into motion to begin with.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...My main characters all have a bit of me in them, some of the struggles, mostly with identity, are some of the things I’ve dealt with. But Tessa’s husband, Howie, was loosely modeled after a friend of mine who passed away last year not long after Tessa was released for Kindle. He’s so laid back, has such an enigmatic and quirky smile, and so intelligent, and confident. If I have to pick a favorite, it’s Howie.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...We all have value. Who we are, in Christ, is where our purpose lies. Tessa is not written as Christian Fiction, although she does become a believer. I wrote without regard to genre, and there are a few PG-13 cuss words – then again, perhaps that’s part of the message. Even with careless words – or an unsavory heritage – we are His, and He can make all things new.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both? ...Combination. I’m totally a Pantzer, with the barest notion of the overall story arc. I sit down to write and the story tells me what’s going on. I can get inspiration from nearly anything – was reading about a gal who is a potter – now I’ve a story brewing with a character, blind no less, who is a potter! Hey, Beethoven was deaf! I can haz a blind potter!

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories? 
...All of the above! I’m an encourager, so I want that to carry over in my stories. I hope to inspire, trigger perhaps some stray thread of hope and faith. I want readers to feel what my characters feel, laughter, pain, despair. I think all good writing is a means of escape.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Write. And balance. There is SOOOOOOO much advice available now, no one writer can possibly do all the “tricks.” It’s trial and error to find what fits, what works for you as an individual. I’ve got a good groove going with my blog, writing reviews and interviews – but I enjoy that; you might not. I love doing my research, tidbits and details that make a story shine. Find your voice, set your routine, what works for you. Attend conferences. Join writer’s groups – there are some good groups online. Follow other writers – Facebook, blog / website, Twitter. Interact, learn, read. Oh, and read some more.


What is one thing you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing?
...I go for walks. My health lately allows only little “walk-lets” but I try to get out 2 or 3 times each day – fresh air is great! Being outdoors is like a cathedral for me, the time communion with Holy Spirit. I love to draw and paint – don’t do much lately… I like to work in the yard when I have the opportunity. And I love spending time with my friends – something my flexible schedule allows more than when I was working a “regular” job. [ps, I’m on Disability for the RA, and my kids are grown so my time is pretty much what I feel like doing!]

...Also, I have five kitty babies: Shadow, Juniper, Jasper, Jake, and Penelope.

What is one thing you are looking forward to for the Summer?
...Getting Clara Bess finished and edited and published!! Also, I’m standing on the Word of God for healing! Looking forward to that any day!!!


Thanks so much for being on the blog Robin! It was great "meeting" you through my NaNoWriMo support group last year and I'm so happy the friendship has continued. And thank you so much for offering a signed copy of Tessa to one lucky U.S. reader AND entering them into a drawing for Clara Bess. Make sure you readers leave a comment for Robin so you can be entered to win a copy. I love how you say, "Who we are, in Christ, is where our purpose lies." Amen sister!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Conferences and Photography: Upcoming Dates and Locations

If you've spent much time on this blog you've probably heard me talk about my business as a photographer (check out my website for funzies: I think one of the *best* things is the fact that I get to combine my love for photography and writing when I attend writing conferences! I get to photograph all the activities and I get to hang out with writers when I take headshots. It's just so much fun!

I'm expanding from the ACFW Conference (September 17-20th) to include a local conference, the ACFW Virginia Writers Conference (July 25th) and the Speculative Fiction conference, Realm Makers (August 7-8th) this year. I'm so excited about this! {If you're attending any of these and are interested in a session, contact me!}

You may be I really need a professional headshot? Well, no need to wonder any longer. I've written on this in the past but soon I'll be posting a 3 part series titled: Headshots and Marketing Photos. I'll be exploring author photos, marketing photos, prices, and some tips and tricks for great photos.

So, if you're out there I need a new headshot? The answer is likely YES, but check back here and hopefully I'll be able to convince you of the necessity before you think I'm just saying that because I'm a photographer ;) Writers honor, I am not.

In the mean time, check out these posts for some reading about headshots: 

What are you saying with your headshot? (Part 1) 
A look at why you need a headshot and why it's a good investment to get a new one! 

What are you saying with your headshot? (Part 2) 
Some practical advice when getting your headshots taken.

What are you saying with your headshot? (Part 3)
Some hard and fast facts about headshots, copyrights and releases.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thursday Book Winners

We have winners! These are always such fun posts!

First off for Battered Justice by Linda J. White our winner is...

Eva Rockman

Congratulations Eva - get in contact with me via the form to the left and we'll get your copy out to you!

And, for Get Real by Jamy Whitaker our winner is...

Caryl Kane

Congrats Caryl! I'll be in contact :)

Thank you everyone who participated. If you didn't win this time don't worry! Stop by Loree Lough's {Writer Wednesday} interview from this week. She's offering up 2 books so there will be 2 more winners! Can you tell I LOVE giving away books :D