Posts Tagged ‘Giveaway’







Plotting and pantsing are usually presented as an either/or choice. I agree with author T.I. Lowe who posted earlier on this topic, that both are needed. Creating a plot that is clear enough to give your story direction yet free enough to leave room for creativity and insight as you write is the best option. What is more important than plotting or pantsing, is doing pre-writing exercises to get to know your story.

I spend a lot of time on “pre-writing” before I write the first word of a new novel, and that’s what I teach my students. I’ve seen too many new writers start a project with great enthusiasm, believing they have a good grasp of what they want to write, only to have their story dwindle away by the fourth or fifth chapter. Sometimes this happens even if they’ve spent time plotting the action sequences.


Planning a novel involves more than just outlining a plot of the actions that will occur. I use a process I call “downriver writing” which involves a number of exercises meant to explore my idea, theme(s), characters, setting, and yes, the plot of my story. Because before I start writing I need to know what my story is so clearly that writing it is as simple as floating downriver on a raft.


With downriver writing I still have to steer my craft, but I don’t have to fight the current. I don’t have to stop and wonder where my story should go next, or feel like I’ve lost the thread of my story. When I write downriver, the plot flows naturally from the characters’ personalities and choices, so that every twist, surprise, and revelation seems right as it happens, and feels right to my readers.


The exercises I use are a kind of research on my story. I am tapping into my own imagination to chart the course of my story by thinking deeply about my characters, setting, situation, and plot. They help me delve deeper into the possibilities within this story, and the act of writing out my answers helps solidify my creative insights.


The protagonist’s journey begins when some event occurs to irrevocably change the protagonist’s situation. This is called the inciting incident. It forces the hero out of her previous life and starts her on her journey. Everything that happens in your story should flow naturally from that one incident, and from how your characters react to it, which is determined by their personalities and past experiences.  For this to work, you have to know your characters as well as you know yourself; you have to be able to predict what they would do and why, so well that it is unconscious and utterly believable to your readers.


The inciting incident is the only time you, the author, will be able to manipulate the plot. It is the one action that does not naturally flow from the characters’ prior choices and actions, but rather sets them all in motion. It must, however, appear to flow naturally from the setting and situation your characters are in, so you must introduce these in a way that will make the inciting incident unexpected but still believable.


For example, the inciting incident in The Hunger Games is when Katniss’ little sister, Prim, is chosen for the games. In order to fully appreciate this moment, the reader has to know how helpless, innocent and sweet Prim is and how much Katniss loves her. Suspense and tension over the choosing and the games themselves has to have been built up in order to climax in the calling out of Prim’s name. In the introduction leading up to the choosing, we see Katniss’ tension and fear. She’s had to put in extra ballots for herself to keep her family alive, and fears for herself, and for her friend Gale who has even more ballots in his name. The likelihood that Prim, with only one ballot, will be called is so negligible Katniss barely worries about it. The worst thing that could happen, in her mind, is that she will be chosen and her mother and Prim will be left to starve. Then— BOOM—something far worse happens – Prim is chosen.


And we’re off. Everything else that happens in the entire Hunger Games trilogy is a natural consequence of the choices made by the main characters in reaction to what happened before. If you really know your characters and their situation, after the inciting incident it’s all downriver writing.


So what do you have to know about your characters? Basically, each character’s attitudes and reactions will be influenced by four things: his background, his occupation and interests, his mood at the time, and his backstory (BOMB). These four things will affect how each character perceives what is happening, what they notice in a scene, how they interpret it and how they will react to it. For each character, you should know their background (rich/poor, rural/urban, large family/orphan, etc), their occupation and interests (a doctor or nurse will notice the way another character walks or looks and draw conclusions about their health; a fisherman or hunter will notice the sky, the sea, the landscape, and signs of incoming weather; a carpenter or engineer will notice buildings and possible structural problems); their mood (a character’s response depends on whether he/she is feeling depressed/happy, angry/loving, envious/admiring); and their backstory or past experiences.


So no, you don’t have to plot out everything that’s going to happen in your novel. You can pants it. Because if you’ve done your pre-writing exercises and thoroughly explored your story idea, setting, situation and characters, your plot will naturally fall into place.





Jane Ann McLachlan has been teaching writing and working with emerging writers for 16 years across Canada and the US. She has a Masters Degree in English Literature, a certificate in Adult Education, and she was a college professor of Creative and Professional Writing for over a decade. She has 10 published books, both fiction and non-fiction. Half of them are traditionally published, the other half are self-published. She has four award-winning novels and three of her self-published novels have been Number 1 bestsellers on Amazon. She is the author of Downriver Writing: A Five-Step Process for Outlining Your Novel and is currently piloting a mentorship program for new writers.








            this one’s a little bit different…

Jane Ann McLachlan is giving away the first month (October) of her mentorship program for free, plus a detailed critique of the first five pages of your novel, to the first 12 people who buy her writing workbook, Downriver Writing, and can tell her the first sentence on page 60 of the workbook VIA EMAIL at jamclachlan@golden.net

Please DO NOT write the sentence here in the comments (it will be deleted)

Rather, email your answer to her at: jamclachlan@golden.net.




#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post, Jane Ann McLachlan, GIVEAWAY

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Planner vs. Pantser

Mapping out Road trips is a lot like Writing.

I consider myself a rebellious planner, one who plans but is ready to get off course at any moment. I take on writing a new book the same way I take on a road trip. Sure, a trip should have a designated destination from the get-go. That way the traveler won’t end up going the wrong direction, potentially getting lost and losing track of the entire reason for the trip in the first place. Same with a book. The reason/theme for the story needs to be determined before typing the first word. That way I know the direction to head toward.

But… Here’s the exciting part of a road trip as well as writing a book for me. The stops along the way can be more loosely plotted out with lots of wiggle room for spontaneity. I am a foodie and find it fun to research unique places to eat on road trips. No chain restaurants are permitted for my crowd. I think this is a good approach to apply to stories as well. Researching and coming up with unique angles to try out in a story will keep it fresh and interesting. I always have a few options saved in my notes, so I can easily change it up for whatever mood I am in. Again, the same with my stories. Loosely plotting so I’m not so dead-set on a certain chapter subject that I refuse to make adjustments that will improve the story and overall experience of the book for me as well as the reader.

Road trips should be fun and exciting. They shouldn’t be daunting and feel like work. I think strict schedules and plans can stifle the experience. Same with writing. I tell folks that writing is my passion, my hobby. I never want to ruin the fun and creativity of it with planning too strictly. Flexibility is key. Say for example: along the course of a trip, a road may suddenly become blocked due to an accident or for whatever reason. You have to be openminded before leaving your driveway that detours may end up being part of your trip. It can make for miserable traveling when you have an unwilling travel companion who gripes and complains when you have to take a different path than planned. Seriously, there is no fun in that and I’d want to leave them on the side of the road at some point along the way. I can’t help but visualize a reader wanting to do the same thing to a book when it’s clear the author didn’t take a chance in altering the direction of the story or trying out a unique angle simply because it wasn’t in their carefully plotted-out plan for the story.


Road Trip/Writing Tips:


Acknowledge Your Adventure’s Pilot

Seriously, road tripping and writing should be all about the free-spirited experience but with the right guidance. Before pulling out on the road for a trip, my family has prayer, asking God for his guidance and safe traveling mercies. I start each story in the same manner. I don’t want to do either without him or I would surely get off track and make a mess of things.


The Importance of Playlists

Another must for road trips and writing is playlists that help set the mood for the adventure. Gotta have some epic tunes to enjoy along the way. Music is all about experiencing the lyrics and melody. Music is my muse.


Enjoy the Journey

Often times, we can be in such a rush to get to the finish line of a project, a road trip, a novel, etc. that we forget to slow down and just enjoy the experience of it. A while back I found myself in a season of waiting in my writing career, so I took it as an opportunity to slowly write a new book. I savored each chapter without rushing, knowing there was no deadline, no expectation other than to simply enjoy the creative process. I have to admit, it was the most enjoyable book I have ever written. Side note: the novel is complete and just hanging out on my computer with no set plans on publishing. As much as I love sharing my new stories with readers, this has been such a freeing revelation not to have to do anything right away with it. When it’s time to share it, I will, but in the meantime I’m not fretting about it.

If we aren’t careful, life in general can become a burden instead of a blessing. Writing is a gift I have the privilege to do. I never want this to be a burden. My advice: plan loosely and look forward to spontaneity along the way.




Bestselling author T.I. Lowe sees herself as an ordinary country girl who loves to tell extraordinary stories. She knows she’s just getting started and has many more stories to tell. A wife and mother and active in her church community, she resides in coastal South Carolina with her family. For a complete list of Lowe’s published books, biography, upcoming events, and other information, visit tilowe.com and be sure to check out her blog, COFFEE CUP, while you’re there!










T.I. is offering a signed Lulu’s Cafe paperback giveaway. Must be in the U.S.

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway will begin at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 16 September and end at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 23 September. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.




#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post and Giveaway, T.I. Lowe, #GIVEAWAY

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Figurative Language—Words That Paint A Picture in Your Head


Can words literally paint a picture inside your head? Nope. But we use this sort of imagery quite often in both everyday conversation and in our writing. Let’s pause for a minute and think about our daily use of figurative language. And, just so you know, by “a” minute, I don’t literally mean that you should set a timer for “one” minute. It’s all figurative. But you already know that.


Figurative language is defined as a language that uses words or expressions with a meaning that is different from the literal interpretation. Literal language states the facts as they are. “Just the facts, ma’am,” a phrase often associated with Detective Sergeant Joe Friday on Dragnet. Figurative language can transform a dull paragraph into an evocative narrative that helps readers to understand and visualize settings and characters, transforming ordinary writing into full-fledged literature. Some types of figurative language and some of my favorite examples are:


  • Metaphor—a comparison between things which are not alike.

The world is my oyster. You are my sunshine. Metaphors be with you.

  • Simile—similar to a metaphor but uses the words “like” or “as.”

Clean as a whistle. Funny as a barrel of monkeys. He stood out like a sore thumb.

  • Personification—ascribing human qualities to a non-human thing.

The sun spit in my eyes this morning. When opportunity knocks, you should answer.

  • Hyperbole—exaggerating in a humorous way to make a point.

She could start an argument in an empty house. Your snoring is calling the geese.

  • Symbolism—a noun with meaning in itself used to represent something different.

The word “Wuthering” means stormy. Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights” describes the nature of the characters.


You have probably studied various constructions and combinations of literary devices in English classes before, but here’s a refresher:


  • Onomatopoeia—name something by imitating the sound it makes.

The burning wood hissed and crackled.

  • Alliteration—repetition of the first consonant sounds in several words.

Betty bought the butter but the butter was bitter, so Betty bought better butter to make the bitter butter better.

  • Idiom—an expression used by a particular group of people.

He’s as mad as a mule chewing bumblebees.

  • Synecdoche—a figure of speech using words that are a part, to represent a whole.

Bring home the bacon. Boots on the ground.

  • Cliché—a phrase that is often repeated and has become meaningless.

Cat got your tongue?

  • Assonance-repeating a vowel sound in a phrase.

“And stepping softly with her air of blooded ruin about the glade in a frail agony of grace, she trailed her rags through dust and ashes…” ~Cormac McCarthy’s book, Outer Dark

The words, “glade, frail, grace, and trailed” set the mood.

  • Metonymy—a figure of speech where one thing is replaced with a word that is closely associated with it. Crown in place of a royal person. Dish instead of a plate of food.


The subtleties of the English language seem to be inherent to native speakers, but a source of frustration for others who try to find logic or make sense of certain words and phrases. While writers cannot remove those challenges entirely, we can be mindful of our reliance on figurative language. The bottom line, sorry I couldn’t resist, is that figurative language should be used with more care and nuance than it is. Think of a dense, rich chocolate cake. The first few bites are wonderful, but the more you eat, sugar overload sets in and you start to feel a bit sick. Is it easier to proclaim, “You are dead to me!” or have your character say, “I hate you?” If you decide to use literary devices, choose your words carefully. Decide which emotions you want the reader to respond to. Anger? Fear? Love? In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s character Gatsby speaks of the object of his obsession, Daisy, “The exhilarating ripple of her voice was a wild tonic in the rain.” The poet Alfred Lord Tennyson evokes a beautiful metaphor in this excerpt from In Memoriam, “Her eyes are homes of silent prayer.”


When you are “literally” writing your next book, consider bringing vibrance and imagery to your work with the use of figurative language. Be mindful that overuse can be overpowering. Try incorporating the perfect combination of figurative words and phrases to enrich your characters, settings, and storyline. Here’s hoping your next book will be so popular that copies fly off the shelves.



Author of over 28 traditional and indie-published books, Linda Kozar, (www.lindakozar.com) is also a speaker, and podcaster (Along Came A Writer, Chat Noir Mystery and Suspense). Linda and her husband of 29 years, Michael, live in The Woodlands, Texas and enjoy spending time with their two grown daughters, their wonderful son-in-law, and Gypsy, their rascally Jack Russell Terrier.










Calliope Ducharme is as breathtaking as the beautiful women in the portraits she paints. The young woman moves back to post WWII New Orleans shortly before her 21stbirthday to claim her inheritance and pursue studies in Paris. But her aunt dies suddenly, and her remaining guardian, Uncle Bernard delays the proceedings. Frustrated, she hires childhood acquaintance Louis Russo, now a handsome, ambitious attorney to represent her. Together they fight to win her estate and, in the process, unmask dreadful secrets about her uncle, who is poised to ascend to the throne as King of Carnival. Though she resists falling in love with Louis, Calliope’s heart begins to soften. Fragmented memories awaken in Calliope when she moves back into her childhood home, memories that flood her canvases, but she cannot make sense of. And her faith, long-buried with the loss of her beloved parents, springs to life again. But time is running out for Calliope as sinister forces conspire to destroy her reputation and her very life. Will she lose the man she dares to love?

Linda is offering a print copy of Calliope’s Kiss. (U.S. address only)

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway will begin at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 9 September and end at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 16 September. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.





#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post and Giveaway, Linda Kozar, #GIVEAWAY

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You want me to talk about Street Teams?




Because, my team is just super duper and I don’t know what I’d do without them sharing this writing journey with me.


I’ve had people ask me what works, but to be honest, I think the dynamics of each street team is different based on the members and the author. I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all.

I’m a naturally engaged person. I LOVE chatting with my team and sharing information with them. That may sound exhausting for other people, but it’s just how I roll.

So, here are some questions I’ve had asked about street teams and I’ll give MY answers, but remember, those are just one perspective on a varying spectrum of possibilities for a team.


Why a street team?

Street teams, sometimes called influencer teams, are groups of people who help support you and your stories They can be set up as a team for each book OR as a team for you, as the author. Mine is set up more long-term than over each book, though they have to sign up within the team for each book release.


First of all my street team provides a great deal of encouragement to me. That might be the most IMPORTANT personal bonus of a street team – or it is for me, anyway. They are such great people. So kind and fun! And when I share sneek peaks or cover or ask their opinions, they are all so willing to share and celebrate. This writing journey can feel solo lots of the time AND it comes with natural insecurity, so having a team can be a real boost to the heart.


Secondly, and the main reason they were created, is for ‘influence’. Street teams help spread the word about your books. They share on social media, write early reviews, some create fun graphics to share, others offer opportunities to be a part of their blogs. It’s just a great networking opportunity…and did I mention I LOVE MY STREET TEAM!!!


How do I start one?

My street team came about fairly organically, if I remember. I’d been writing and involved in ACFW for a while before my first book debuted, so I had some nice relationships throughout the industry, but when my first book came out, I started paying attention to the bloggers who seemed to like it. Dawn Crandall, Julie Lessman, and Laura Frantz, who all read my first book, quickly spread the word about it. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.


I started a private group on Facebook, and eventually approached bloggers and reviewers who seemed to like my writing style and asked them if they’d like to be on my team. Dawn announced on her team that I was looking, so that brought some too. I had NO script for how it all worked, I just wanted to have some fun sharing stories with people who liked stories…and that began my group. It started with about five people (Carrie Schmidt being one of those early guinea pigs…poor thing. And she still stuck around 😉 We kept things conversational and positive. That’s been my desire ever since.


Since my team has gotten so large, I do have a bit of a vetting process now, but I’m always looking for positive, book savvy people to include on the team.


What do I share?

Lots of things.

I share sneak peeks from my WIPs, graphics (and get their opinions), early book cover ideas, character pic inspiration, setting stuff…oh just lots. I usually ask their opinions on things too.

I love finding out what they’re reading – and sometimes we’ll chat about fictional crushes.

I also share life stuff and ask them life stuff too. Fun memes are always welcome 😉


What makes it work well?

If I had to list three things that seem to work for my team it’s:

  1. Engagement – Since they’re so willing to invest their time/energy into me and my books, I want to invest some of my time into them. Now, there has to be a balance with this, because there are 70-ish of them and only 1 of me, but it’s important to me that they know I’m grateful for them and their involvement in my writing journey. Time shows that, since I usually don’t have as much fun free stuff to send their way (or the $$ to do it). Time, consistency, and gratitude goes a long way, IMO.
  2. Positivity – It’s very important to me to keep the team positive and hopeful. That’s another reason why I make sure the people I invite match that ideal. It creates a much more enjoyable environment when people respect one another, bring joy, and spill that joy out on others around them.
  3. Secrets – I LOVE sharing behind-the-scenes stuff about writing, life, etc, that I don’t regularly share on social media. I can’t tell you more because…well…it’s a secret 😉


There you have it!

Bottom line!

I am SO GRATEFUL for my street team and just love them!

Authors really do appreciate readers! Your words and support matter so much to us!

Thank you for all you do to join us in our journeys and encourage us along the way!!



P.S. Though I’m not accepting new members into my street team at this time, I DO have a Reader’s group on FB called Blame it On A Basham Book Reader’s Group. If you’re interested in learning more about me and my books, this is a great way…and there are some super people involved in this group.




As a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pepper Basham enjoys sprinkling her Appalachian into her fiction writing. She is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and a lover of Jesus and chocolate. She resides in Asheville, North Carolina with her family.











Pepper is offering a print copy of My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge (U.S. address only) OR an e-copy of winner’s choice of Pepper’s books.

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway will begin at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 26 August and end at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 2 September. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.





#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post and Giveaway, Pepper Basham, #GIVEAWAY

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Does Every Writer Need a Street Team?

Authors write books because we have a passion for writing, not because we love marketing. But in today’s publishing world, no matter how talented the author or how large your traditional publisher—an author must learn to market. But who has time for marketing when we’re honing craft, writing books, and—oh yes, seeking first God’s Kingdom (i.e. ministering locally and abroad—Acts 1:8)?


A great STREET TEAM can become a fantastic partner in our writing journey.

What Is a Street Team?

Wiki says a street team is, “a group of people who ‘hit the streets’ promoting an event or a product.” In my experience, a street team is a group of people who love our writing so much that they’re excited to help us share it with as many of their friends as possible—in every way available.”


Street team members are “super fans” who are crazy about our books and don’t mind telling people so. They tell the store clerk, the dental hygienist, and their child’s teacher. When the store clerk, hygienist, and teacher become rabid fans, we can add them to our street team too!


Launch Team vs. Street Team

Launch Team

Though I’ve never heard an “official” distinction, in my experience, a street team is different than a launch team. My publisher gathers a launch team for a period of time to help market the launch of a single book. About three months before each book’s release, my publisher opens their own launch team applications (separate from my BFFs). Launch team members receive an advanced readers’ copy (ARC) of my book in exchange for an honest review on an online retailer of their choice. Since this is all done through the publisher, I often don’t even see the list of If you’d like to apply for a launch for one of Waterbrook Multnomah’s books, CLICK HERE.

Street Team

Distinctly different is my street team, some of whom have been helping me market biblical fiction (mine and others) since we released Love in a Broken Vessel in 2013. Many I’ve never met in person but have become close friends. The team is called, “Mesu’s BFFs”—BFFs short for Biblical Fiction Fans—and we promote the biblical fiction genre all year long.


Some BFFs have stepped off the team, allowing new members to apply and join. We’ll open applications for new members during the month of September 2019, and lock in our new team to begin Isaiah’s Legacy pre-release marketing by mid-October. My street team has been active for more than six years now, and their marketing power has become a crucial part of my marketing plan.

How Do You Build a Street Team?

I’m often asked, “How do you find people to join your street team?” I started with family and friends who loved my books. Then added their family and friends who became super fans too! But the goal is to reach outside our immediate circles of influence, which is the reason we require an application to join the street team. CLICK HERE TO VIEW 2018 BFF APPLICATION. We give existing members a chance to take a break and then fill their spots with new applicants to build a well-rounded team that reaches all four corners of the book-buying market.

  1. Book Bloggers/Reviewers (Individual or team blogs)
  2. Social Media (My main platforms: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube)
  3. Online Book Communities (Goodreads, Litsy, LibraryThing, etc)
  4. Church/Community Influencers (On-site bookclub leaders, Librarians—public and church, Women’s ministry leaders, etc.)


With our balanced team assembled, we start pre-release promotion at least five months before it hits bookstore shelves. Independently (indie) published authors usually begin pre-release promotion much later but should consider assembling their street teams with the same balanced approach.


Since a street team is a group that stays together long-term, personalization and rapport is essential. Each member wants to feel like they know the author personally. A Facebook Group Page is helpful for this kind of team building. Occasional and informal Facebook Lives or Google Hangouts are also fun. Members want more than just a free book. They want the author to know them!


A team member’s goal is to promote a book in all four of the categories. If they don’t have a personal blog or aren’t a member of a book club, ask if they’d consider starting one. Make it a team-only contest and offer a $20 Starbucks gift card if a minimum of five members participate. You’ll build team rapport, and one thriving new book club could pay for that team prize.

How Many People Should Be on My Team?

I’ve heard of street teams with as few as ten members and as many as several hundred. If we’re with a traditional publisher, our team number may be limited by the number of paperback ARCs they’re willing to offer. If, however, the publisher shares ARCs through digital files (NetGalley, Book Funnel, etc.), the number of members is limited only by our time and energy to manage the team. Volunteer coordinators can help select, organize, and brainstorm BFF team selection and activity. I have found two coordinators and fifty-five members are sort of a sweet spot for my teams rapport and efficiency.

When Should I Begin Building a Street Team?

If you dream of publishing a book someday, start building super fans now with family and friends who love your writing!


If you’re seeking an agent or looking for a traditional publisher, build a street team into the marketing section of your book proposal. Your members don’t have to be super organized yet, but this commitment to marketing will make a good impression.


If you’re indie/self-published(ing), build your street team DURING YOUR WRITING AND PUBLISHING PROCESS. Involve potential super fans in choosing character names, settings, and cover options. Notice people who comment most and ask them to join your team!


Those already published with a trad house should ask the marketing department how building a street team might help with the marketing department’s planned campaign. Today’s publishers tend to enter long-term relationships with authors who take marketing seriously. My publisher even mentions my BFFs in my author bio—that’s how much they appreciate my super fans!


And, believe me, I love them even more!

  • A great street team loves your writing so much that they share it with as many friends as possible in every way available. @MesuAndrews #mesusbffs #streetteams #bookmarketing
  • The number of street team members is limited only by your time and energy to manage them. @MesuAndrews #mesusbffs #streetteams #bookmarketing
  • First step to build a street team? Get your family and friends hooked on everything you write. @MesuAndrews #mesusbffs #streetteams #bookmarketing





Mesu Andrews is the Christy Award winning author of Isaiah’s Daughter whose deep understanding of and love for God’s Word brings the biblical world alive for readers. Andrews lives in North Carolina with her husband Roy and enjoys spending time with her growing tribe of grandchildren.












Mesu is offering an e-copy of Isaiah’s Daughter, or a print copy to a U.S. address.

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway will begin at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 19 August and end at 12:00 A.M. on Monday 26 August. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.






#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post and Giveaway, Mesu Andrews

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Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for Across the Bridge by Kristin Neva with JustRead Publicity Tours!



Title: Across the Bridge
Series: Copper Island, Book 3
Author: Kristin Neva
Publisher: The Christmas Tree House
Release Date: November 4, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Fiction from the Ragged Edge of Faith 



When Marcella Seppa meets her new tenant, widower Drew Smith, a spark ignites, but she won’t consider dating him. She doesn’t want his son, AJ, to experience the hurt she felt when her dad remarried shortly after her mom died. Her faith unraveled, and she threw herself into exercise and gardening instead of forming trusting relationships.

When Drew finds out he may not be AJ’s biological father, his first instinct is to leave Copper Island, but he wants to find out the truth. He seeks out Marcella’s support.

Is it possible their friendship could become more? But how would that affect AJ? Could love help make peace with the past?

Love weaves its way through the messiness of life on Copper Island. 

Across the Bridge is part of the Copper Island series, but it can be read as a stand-alone novel.

Across the Bridge will make you laugh and cry. Deep, meaningful themes are woven into a fast-paced storyline.


After Marcella Seppa lost her mother when she was fifteen years old, her father quickly remarried, and her stepmother pushed too hard to foster a relationship with Marcella. Well-meaning people used Christian clichés in an attempt to comfort her, but it resulted in Marcella having a faith crisis. Is love worth the risk of loss, and how can you hold on to faith when questioning the idea of a puppet-master God?

Drew Smith moves to the small town of Quincy so that his in-laws can help raise his son, and he plugs into a local church where the leader of a boys group — and his deceased wife’s high school boyfriend — looks strikingly like his son. Drew fears losing part of his son’s heart to a man who even he admires for his height, charm, and cool job as a State Trooper. What does it mean to be a father, and what is the balance between protecting and preparing your child?

Across the Bridge also contains a theme dealing with ALS, a terminal disease that requires a team of caregivers. Readers who’ve met Grandma Lou in Snow Country will want to be with her again.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | AmazonBook Depository



From Chapter 33, Drew:

“Dad, do you know what pigs and heat are?” Andy fiddled with a piece of paper.

Parenting win, Drew thought. He’d gotten through the sex talk, and now Andy was coming to him with more questions. “Well, when pig farmers are ready to breed more pigs, they need to wait for the sow to be in heat. That means she’s ready to get pregnant, and then they bring in a boy pig. I shouldn’t say boy pig. We talked about that. Wait until you’re a man, and married. But pigs don’t get married, so the farmer selects a man pig. A boar, whatever. Anyhow—”

Andy stared at Drew with a look of befuddlement. “No, Pigs-n-Heat is a hockey game. You know who the pigs are and who the heat are?”

“Oh, the cops and firefighters?”

“Yeah, there’s a game this weekend. Danny’s playing. The kids at school said he’s really good.”

“Of course he is.”

Andy held up a flyer. “Can we go?”

Drew let out a deep breath. “I don’t know.”

Andy crossed his arms. “So, you’re never going to let me see him again?”

“I didn’t say that.” He’d been trying his best to avoid the issue.

“We stopped going to Pinehurst. You won’t let me go to Trailblazers anymore.”

“I’m looking out for your best interests.”

“But you haven’t asked me what I’m interested in. You never asked me. You treat me like a kid.”

“You’re ten.”

“I’m almost eleven.”

“Okay, you’re eleven, but I’m the adult here, and I’m worried about you.”

“You’re worried about me? Or are you worried about you?” Andy stared him down.

“Fine, we can go.”



Kristin Neva grew up in an old farmhouse on Copper Island in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula where the hard-working, rugged residents persevere through harsh winter weather, sustained by friendship and family, surrounded by natural beauty. As an adult, she lived in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas for seventeen years before returning to the her hometown with her husband and two children.

Kristin’s first book, Heavy, co-authored with her husband, Todd, journeys through the first year after Todd’s ALS diagnosis as the Nevas struggle to find meaning, hold on to faith, and discover joy in the midst of pain.

It is this life experience that brings authenticity to Kristin’s fictional works as she explores themes of love, loss, and faith on Copper Island. Her quirky characters are endearing and wholesome. But they are also full of healthy grit, humor, flaws, and appetites.

Learn more about Kristin and explore Copper Island at KristinNeva.com.

CONNECT WITH KRISTIN: Website | Facebook | Twitter




(1) winner will win a Copper Island Gift Pack containing:

  • a Signed Copy of Across the Bridge
  • Scandinavian Dish Towel
  • Garden Note Cards
  • Locally Hand Crafted Bird’s Eye Maple Spatula
  • Rishi Loose Leaf Tea and Tea Ball
  • Keweenaw Mug

Most items are from Copper World, A Copper Island Gift Shop.

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight May 6, 2019 and last through 11:59 pm May 13, 2019. US only. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!


#Blogwords, Wreading Wednesday, Featured Book, Across the Bridge, Kristin Neva, #GIVEAWAY

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“Romancing the West… One lonely cowboy at a time.”


“Endearing and enduring, fiction that talks to the heart… and soul.”


Sometimes those pesky little ducks just won’t line up. And between Ruthy and myself, we missed her giveaway with her interview. So, dear followers, I give you



Ruth is offering a Kindle OR print copy of Refuge of the Heart. (Print copy U.S. address only)

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Sorry, U.S. addresses only.

Giveaway will begin at midnight on Monday 6 May and end at 11:59 on Monday 13 May. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.





Best-selling, multi-published, award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne is the author of nearly fifty novels and novellas through traditional publishers and her own independent works. She loves God, her family, country, coffee, chocolate and dogs, and wishes possums would leave the cat food on the side porch alone. And yet… they don’t. With over a million books in print, Ruthy is living her dream of touching hearts and souls by writing the kind of books she likes to read.

She lives on a pumpkin farm in Western New York where they grow all kinds of cool things for fall from sumptuous squashes and veggies to gorgeous stacking pumpkins. Ruthy’s farm is quickly becoming the place to be every September and October!

She loves chatting with readers through her website blog http://ruthloganherne.com and hanging with readers and writers in Seekerville… http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com where coffee is always hot, fresh and good! She loves playing in the kitchen, too, with a wonderful group of regionally-inspired inspirational authors at the Yankee Belle Cafe http://www.yankeebellecafe.blogspot.com. On Goodreads, she’s (yes, you guessed it!) Ruth Logan Herne, and that’s how to find this prolific author on facebook, too!










“The one thing we can probably all agree on is that things change… and our survival, that of any animal, depends on adaptation and adjustment.   And God gave us amazing brains and abilities, so I believe we’ve got this… eventually… and we’ll adjust and adapt as needed.”




#Blogwords, Chat Thursday Monday Seekerville Blog Blitz, Author Interview, Ruth Logan Herne, Giveaway

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Welcome to the Blog Tour and Giveaway for The Edge of Mercy by Heidi Chiavaroli, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


Title: The Edge of Mercy
Author: Heidi Chiavaroli
Publisher: Hope Creek Publishers
Genre: Split Time/Women’s Fiction
Release Date: April 9, 2019



Two women, three hundred years apart, must face the devastation of all they hold dear…

Suspecting her husband is having an affair, Sarah Rodrigues fights to appear unbroken while attempting to salvage her family. Though distracted by her own troubles, Sarah is summoned to an elderly friend’s deathbed for an unusual request—find a long-lost daughter and relay a centuries-old family story.

Determined not to fail her friend, Sarah pieces together the story of her neighbor’s ancestor, Elizabeth Baker, a young colonist forced into an unwanted betrothal but drawn to a man forbidden by society.

While Sarah’s family teeters on the edge of collapse, her world is further shaken by the interest of a caring doctor and a terrible accident that threatens a life more precious than her own.

Inspired by the unconditional love she uncovers in Elizabeth’s story, Sarah strives to forgive those who’ve wounded her soul. But when light shines on the dark secrets of her neighbor’s past and the full extent of her husband’s sins, will looking to a power greater than herself rekindle lost hope?

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository



March 31, 1675

Whether it be God’s providence or happenstance, I can’t be certain. But I must write about what happened this day. After Papa gave me my morning book lesson and I saw to the dishes and fire, I went for one of my walks. I can’t begin to understand it, particularly at this time of year, but I often feel as if the woods beckon to me. With the faint scent of pine lacing the air, I feel a peace, as if I am one with the trees and the dirt beneath my feet, one with birds the color of sky and fire, with woodland creatures the color of fresh-cut wood.

            Today I sang. And ’twas not a church hymn. I sang The Nightingale, having read the words and music from one of Papa’s imported books. If he knew I acted with such boldness, he’d forbid me ever leave the safety of the chimney seat again. As it is, he is not aware I go so far. He would no doubt fear for me as Mr. Tanner made mention of on his last visit.

            I so enjoyed the upbeat tune and beauty of the morning, I lost track of time. I wandered beneath a tall pine and that was when I saw him.

            He was the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen. His hair was jet black and his skin the color of the warming-pan I use to rid my bed sheets of the chill at night. He wore leather leggings and breeches. I tried to tear my gaze from his shirtless torso, but I’d never seen a man in such a state before and even as my face and neck heated, I could not help but study his well-formed muscles and broad shoulders. I hid behind the base of the tree and watched as he crouched and put a pair of clamshells to his face. I realized then that he was plucking out hairs on his chin.

            I don’t think I breathed in the space of a minute’s time. I tried to remember the greeting used in their language, but it escaped my mind. I saw a bow and arrow at his side and my heart pranced like an untamed horse. Mr. Tanner said to stay away from the natives. This one may take to his weapon when he saw me. He may shoot it and kill me. I imagined myself crawling across the forest floor with an arrow through my body.

            I backed away slowly, but my foot hit a twig. In one smooth motion, the native spun, bow poised in hand, his face concentrated.

            I did not think. I ran.

            He yelled out after me, but I kept running even as his words echoed through the forests.

            Nétop, nétop!

Even as I remembered what the word meant, I did not slow my pace. The foreign expression etched itself in my mind. I will not soon forget his voice.







Heidi Chiavaroli began writing twelve years ago, just after Jesus had grabbed hold of her heart. She used her two small boys’ nap times to pursue what she thought at the time was a foolish dream. Despite a long road to publication, she hasn’t stopped writing since! Heidi won the 2018 ACFW Carol Award for Debut Novel and is a 2018 Christy Finalist. Both her debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, and her sophomore novel, The Hidden Side, are 4½-star Romantic Times Top Picks. Freedom’s Ring was also a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut. Heidi loves exploring places that whisper of historical secrets, especially with her family. She loves running, hiking, baking, and dates with her high-school sweetheart and husband of fifteen years. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.

CONNECT WITH HEIDI: website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram






(1) winner will win this beautiful prize pack from Heidi Chiavaroli, including:

  • Rustic Metal Lantern
  • Bordeaux Journal
  • Country Potholder
  • Colonial-Inspired Hand Glazed Mug
  • Simple Life Notepad
  • Be Still and Know Magnet
  • Plymouth Rock Bookmark
  • Fresh & Clean Goat Milk Soap
  • Handmade Rustic Book Decor
  • Signed Copy of The Edge of Mercy

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight April 9, 2019 and last through 11:59 pm April 16, 2019. US Mailing addresses only, due to shipping costs. Void where prohibited by law. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!


#Blogwords, Wreading Wednesday, Featured Book and Giveaway, The Edge of Mercy, Heidi Chiavaroli

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“Don’t be afraid to strive and sweat and pray and fail and strive and pray some more for the desires of your heart. Because my books and this site are proof that dreams can come true. That with God all things are possible.”


So the real moral to [that] story (and who am I to rewrite Aesop? Because it’s HIS moral) is STEADY wins the race.”


I am pleased to welcome Mary Connealy to my little nest.



Cake or Cookies –  Cookies (yeah, like I’m picky!)

Call or Text – I’m old school, definitely call

Eggs or Pancakes – I’m on a low carb diet. I would KILL for a pancake, but the correct answer here is eggs (darn it!)

Facebook or Twitter – Facebook, I’m doing my Spring Parade of Calves right now! (rem: I love your Spring Parade of Calves!!)

Paperback or Kindle – Paperback, no contest. I need to get with the modern world!

Yoga Pants or Jeans – oh, so totally yoga pants!


rem:  Hullo Mary, and welcome! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

MARY:  I’m a born and raised Nebraska woman! I grew up about ten miles from where I live now. My husband is my high school sweetheart.

rem:  OY! I moved so much, I can only imagine what that must be like!  #weebitjealous… Tell us three random things about yourself no one knows.

MARY:  Wow, I’m such an open book. Umm…

  1. I am from a family of eight brothers and sisters. What can I say…it was the baby boom.
  2. I was so painfully shy as a child I’m sure, now days, they’d put me on medicine.
  3. I taught GED for about ten years after my kids were mostly grown. I can help you so much if you need to multiply fractions!

rem:  I was shy, too, once upon a time! And crippling, overwhelmingly insecure. What is your favourite quotation and why?

MARY:  This is so hard. I go immediately to Bible verses but I have so many of those I love. I’m going to say, “If God is with me, whom shall I fear.” I don’t think that’s even a correct quote from the Bible, there’s more to it than that. But that’s in my head whenever I do something really scary…like give a speech!

rem:  And a grand quote-slash-verse it is, too. Captures so many verses, and the essence of who God is—or rather, who we are in Him. I’ll offer Romans 8:28, “In all things, He works for the good of those who love Him…”  What’s the most random thing in your bag or on your desk?

MARY:  Well, it’s probably random to you, but I have an eyepatch, you know, like a PIRATE, on my bedside table. Ever since I had a retinal detachment follow closely by cataract surgery on my left eye, I can’t read in bed at night using both eyes. Sitting in a chair is okay, but lying down it’s just all wrong…glasses or not. So I use an eye patch. Like a big dork. Arrggg!

rem:  Arrggg, indeed, Matey!! What’s your all-time favorite movie? Favorite TV show?

MARY:  Movie is easy because forever my favorite has been, “While You Were Sleeping.” I consider every moment of that movie just perfect. I’ve watched it a dozen times. It’s when Romantic Comedy was really something great.

TV show? Well, I loved Remington Steele back in the day. (rem: I remember that show!)  What’s that? The eighties? I really don’t watch much TV. If it’s on, I usually have my computer open or a book open. Not much holds my interest.

rem:  Love that movie—one of my fav’s as well. If you could go back in time, what era would you choose and why?

MARY:  Oh, I probably wouldn’t go back. I’m not real interested in a time without air conditioning.

rem:  Right!! Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

MARY:  I went with a Bible verse for the quotation, but I’ll add another. Isaiah 40:31 And he will raise you up on wings like eagles. You will run and not get weary. You will walk and not faint. I just typed that so probably not a perfect quote, but it’s a verse that reminds me of my dad when he was dying of cancer. I said that verse as a prayer for him a thousand times hoping God would heal him. And then, when Dad died, it took me a while, but finally I realized God had done exactly as I asked. Because Dad was so sick and he was a man of strong faith. When he left behind the earthly suffering, God did, indeed lift him up on wings like eagles and carried him to a place where he can run and not get weary. Walk and not faint.

rem:  So sorry for your loss. Precious, though, how Father God wrapped you in His Word.  If you could spend an evening with a fictional character, who would it be and why?

MARY:  These are HARD Questions!!!! (rem: MUWAHAHAH!!!)  I’ll go with the first thought. Sherlock Holmes. I like how his mind works. Of course, that’s Arthur Conan Doyle. He had to be really smart to write such a smart character, so probably better to spend time with Doyle!


rem:  Smart answer! Pick the brain of another author!  What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

MARY:  There’s a line in one of my books that says, “The parson came to live in Mosqueros, Texas as an answer to a prayer Sophie wouldn’t begin praying for five years.”

I feel like I fit that because I began writing for a line of fiction I wouldn’t discover until I’d been writing for a long time. But I refused to write things against my faith. I wanted to write romance and back in the early 90s, romance was starting to have increasingly graphic sex scenes between unmarried characters and also more profanity and just a nice list of things I couldn’t see myself writing. So, I wasn’t getting published and I kept working and writing and pitching books and getting rejected for my sweet little secular romances and all of a sudden I discover Christian fiction. It was like I’d been writing for the Christian publishing world for years without knowing it existed.

rem:  Good on you, Mary, for sticking to your (ahem) guns and writing what Father placed in you and not what the market expected. He has surely rewarded you.  When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

MARY:  I always say, “If they’re sassing each other and running for their lives while they’re falling in love, then I’m happy.” That’s what I want to read and that’s what I write.

Pet Peeve? I suppose reading books with graphic sex scenes between characters who barely know each other. (I read widely in all genres…well, MOST genres) Then they have sex and it’s all like SHAZAM!!! We’re in love. That’s just such a terrible lesson for everyone. That the sex comes first. Terrible lesson.

rem:  Yay for you reading wide, and yes to the need so many authors feel to have such graphic scenes! What would you do if you weren’t writing?

MARY:  Honestly…I’d be writing. I just love it. That’s a bad answer but it’s the truth. I guess, second choice…holding grandbabies!!! I’ve got some little dolls, let me tell you!!!

rem:  Ain’t nothing like holding granbabies!! Only mine ain’t so little anymore! (9 & 13) What are you reading right now?

MARY:  I just got, in the mail, White City by Grace Hitchcock. I have only read the first chapter but it’s about a serial killer at the Chicago World’s Fair. Have you heard of the book Devil in the White City? This is set at the same place. I can’t wait to get back into it.

rem:  Oohhh!!! I keep seeing that one—must needs make room for it in my review queue! What do you munch on while you write?

MARY:  Did you read the part where I’m on a low carb diet? Munching is a big no-no. Currently my ‘munch of choice’ is pecans. Fairly low carb. But I long for Doritoes!!!


rem:  I did, and I offer my sincerest condolences. Must needs, I will make the, uh, sacrifice and eat extra carbs for you… (see what a friend I am?) You were one of the original founding members of Seekerville in 2004. Tell us about the early days. Who first thought up the name?

MARY:  First we were all finalists in a contest together. The contest started an email loop to pass on info about the contest. We had so much fun talking that when the contest was over we didn’t want to stop. So we created a yahoo group and gathered a few other contest divas we’d been running into on the unpublished contest circuit. The word Seekers…it was a combo word about seeking publication and seeking God. Our goal was to pray each other into publication and one by one we got contracts. I think the very first email was sent by Audra Harders and she might have been who created the Yahoo Group. It’s called Seek and Ye Shall Find, and we nicknamed ourselves Seekers. We didn’t start the blog for at least a year after we started talking.

rem:  I love this industry so much for that exact reason!! With but a very few rare exceptions, every other author, and blogger, I’ve connected with has become a friend. (one who can commiserate the struggles of said industry!)  What was your first Seekerville post?

MARY:  That is lost. We updated our blog and I can’t find those old posts anymore. I was probably either whining about something or giving unsolicited advice that later proved to be useless. That’s what my posts usually amount to.

rem:  I have a hard time believing that! Have you tried the recipes on the Yankee Belle Café? What was your favorite?

MARY:  I have actually been on Yankee Belle Café. I’d be on more but I can’t remember to photograph when I’m cooking! (rem: hard remember to do when the food is so enticing… )

My favorite recipe is barbeque chicken recipe fast and delicious.

A crockpot recipe…so fast to prepare but slow to cook.

One bag of frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts

One bottle of your favorite barbeque sauce

One chopped onion

One can of drained pineapple chunks

Throw it together and cook for oh…four hours or so, however long you need to.

Shred the breasts with two forks and serve.


rem:  Ummm… I might need to borrow this for my recipe feature some time.  #winkwink Tell us a little about your writing journey.

MARY:  This is long. Um…struggling to give you a short version. I just love sitting around making stuff up. I had twenty finished books on my computer when I got my first contract. That is probably obsessive compulsive disorder but my husband let me get away with it.

rem:  Stories are always in a writer’s brain!! To infinite and beyond…  What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

MARY:  I write sitting in a recliner in my living room. I write 1000 words a day. Many of them late at night because I’m an insomniac. I’m very low maintenance. No special tea, no particular music needs to play. No scented candle burning. I can get interrupted by a phone call, then jump right back into the book.

rem:  Hey! We be writing sisters! Sorta… What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

MARY:  I love everything about being a writer. I love that blank screen waiting for the first word. I love action. I love revisions. I love holding a new book in my hands.

rem:  Okay, we truly are writing sisters! What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

MARY:  It took forever. I wrote for ten years before I got my first book published. There is no easy part. In fact, if it isn’t getting harder all the time…you’re probably doing it wrong.

rem:  The struggle is real!!!  #somanyplatestojuggle  What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

MARY:  First of all, do what works for you. I’ll give advice but don’t take it if it doesn’t work. The longer I write, the more authors I know, the more ways I find that work for someone.

Here’s my advice…feel free to ignore it.

  1. Write every day. Before I was published I wrote 300 words a day. (it’s 1000 now) I called it a Fast 300. It’s just over one page. I often wrote more but I rarely wrote less.
  2. Writing the first sentence each day is the hardest. Chances are you quit the day before for some reason. Maybe a phone call. Maybe it was supper time. But often you quit because you’re done with a scene and you’re not sure where to go next. That’s why setting a short but strict word count works because if you can just write that first sentence, you can often write much, much more. And the word count makes you get your backside in a chair, get the computer fired up and the word document open.
  3. Don’t let anyone critique your book until the first draft is done. Other people, very well meaning people, can give you advice that leads you astray from the story YOU want to tell. In fact, their advice might be really great and before you know it, you’re off your own track. Finish the book, then let someone critique it.


rem:  Such wisdom there, Mary. You were a stay-at-home mom and a teacher before you were published. Your first contract came on the heels of a let-down. Tell us about that night.

MARY:  Well, Barbour Publishing used to have this wonderful tradition of giving a contract to one unpublished author at the ACFW Conference. I had a book in with them, they’d had me edit it and work on it, so I knew I was a contender and then the moment came………and they called someone else’s name. So I’m sitting there clapping, thinking, “Hey, I’ve been rejected before. I’m used to it.”

And then for the first time ever, I think before or since, they said, “And tonight we’re giving two contracts to first time authors.” And they called my name. (rem: LOVE this story!)

I still get chills when I think of it. I went up there, Tracie Peterson was the presenter, 300 people clapping and people running out of the seats to hug me as I went up. It remains one of the greatest, most wonderful moments of my life.

rem:  You are married to your “own romantic cowboy hero.” Do you draw from him for inspiration in your stories?

MARY:  All the time

rem:  Perfect! Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

MARY:  I have to propose a three book series so I don’t just think of the entire story, I think of three entire stories and try to figure out a book length arc and a series length arc. But, within that, I mainly am a seat-of-the-pants writer. So I am daydreaming the beginning of the first book and I’m thinking of the characters I want and how to group three people together. Friends, brothers, sisters, neighbors…and I know I want happily ever after. In between, one zillion details, I’m making up as I go along.

rem:  OY!! That’s scary to an Indie pantzer such as like myself. LOL What is your current project?

MARY:  I just had a book release called The Unexpected Champion and I just turned in the final edits on book one of a new series called Brides of Hope Mountain. Book #1 is called Aiming for Love.

rem:  Tell us about why you wrote this book.

MARY:  Let’s talk about The Unexpected Champion. I always wanted to set a book around Lake Tahoe. I love the beauty of it and the remoteness. So I’ve got my setting, now I need to figure out a story. And what drew me was the idea of pathfinders. (rem: ooohhh, aaahhh… )

Men who lived in those rugged mountains, found a trail through them, and loved it and survived it. So I began my journey into the wilderness and finally, with Book #3 of the High Sierra Sweethearts series, The Unexpected Champion, came out of the wild, and got my characters fairly safe and happy. (I say ‘fairly’ because come on, there is deep snow and dangerous mountains, packs of wolves and outlaws. And that’s just every day stuff.)

rem:  What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

MARY:  The fun of The Unexpected Champion was trying to set it in Virginia City and also inserting a Pinkerton agent into the book. I really liked doing that. It was a little different for me and I like trying something new.

rem:  That does sound fun—I love the unexpected. Please give us the first page of the book.


MARY:  The Unexpected Champion

Book #3-High Sierra Sweethearts Series

June 1868

Nevada Territory


Chapter One

Dismal, Nevada—Never had a town been named so right.

Penny Scott had been here once before. The land office here was where she and her brother Cam had registered their homesteads last fall.

Dismal had a lawman, but he didn’t pay much mind to the law, which was fair since Dismal didn’t pay much.

Penny, along with her brother-in-law Trace Riley and this stranger, John McCall had come to town to turn in a dead body.

Trace Riley was anxious to get back to his wife.

Penny and John agreed to stay since Trace hadn’t really seen anything. He just knew the lawman in Dismal a little, and when a group rides into town with a man draped over a saddle, a man with three gunshot wounds and a whole passel of teeth marks from a wolf—bringing along a man the sheriff knew and trusted was a mighty good idea.

Now that the howdys were out of the way, and Sheriff Walters didn’t seem to be planning to lock them up, Trace could go on home.

Trace offered to ride the body over to the undertaker. Sheriff Walters told Penny and Scott he had a man half-shaved in his barber chair and he needed them to wait just a few minutes while he finished.

That showed a marked lack of concern on Walters’s part, which Penny took as a good sign. The only possible surprise might be a wanted posted with a hefty reward. Surely a polecat like Raddo Landauer was wanted for something.

Beyond money though, Raddo was dead. Nobody cared. Unless being mighty relieved counted as caring.

Penny decided it didn’t count.

Trace went off with the body.

The sheriff went back to his strop and razor.

Penny looked at John McCall. “Let’s go find a quiet place to talk.”

McCall arched a brow but came along quietly, as if the empty dirt street of Dismal wasn’t quiet enough.

Dismal had two strips of businesses that faced each other like a couple of gunfighters at high noon. A dirt Main Street wide enough for two buckboards to pass. Probably fifteen buildings in all, one ramshackle store after another, bare wood, hand painted signs if the owner was ambitious…and plenty weren’t. Half of them stood empty. Some had space between them, others sharing a wall.

There were a few houses scattered here and there, too, in this wide plain, set slap in the middle of mountains and woods, rocks and a long old stretch of wilderness.

There was wealth to be had a day’s ride from here. In cattle, in timber cut from the dense forests, even in tourist because of the beauty of nearby Lake Tahoe. Add in the heavily traveled California trail that went along the north side of Lake Tahoe and there was money to be made.

There was also the Comstock Lode that’d turned hard working miners into millionaires.

Yep, there was wealth to be had, but somehow Dismal managed to avoid it. Apparently, ambitious folks rode a day away and didn’t come back.

Now, Penny needed to get somewhere so she could yell in private. It was easy to find a quiet spot. The whole town was a quiet spot. Of course, it wouldn’t be quiet once she got there.

“I want to know exactly who you are, mister.” Penny walked fast away from the sheriff’s office. Just as well put some space between her and the law. In case this came to fists.

She didn’t want the sheriff mad at her…in the event she was within a few minutes of committing a crime.

McCall struck her as the type to not punch a woman, so who knew how tough she might be able to get?

He kept up with no trouble. He was a long-legged galoot. Good enough looking, but she spent most of her life surrounded by men, so few of them impressed her much—especially when it came to looks. She’s learned long ago a pretty face didn’t make up for a foul character. And how could this child stealing varmint be anything but?

“Where’d you get the blamed fool notion you’ve got any right to my nephew?” Penny had to admit they’d been busy, but why had no one demanded some answers?

She heard thundering hooves and turned to watch Trace gallop off at top speed on his fleet footed black stallion. He’d gotten shut of their prisoner, what was left of him after he’d been chawed on by a wolf, then shot to death three times.

That left her alone with this low-down coyote.

Penny decided they’d come far enough. Past all but two empty store fronts at the far edge of rough and ready Dismal, Nevada. She stopped between the last buildings, and turned to face him, arms crossed.

“We’re going to clear this up right now. You will never take my nephew.”

“You nephew is the grandson of the people who hired me. They have a solid claim on that little boy.”

“I know the Chiltons. I lived with Abe and Delia for two years, since before Ronnie was born. The Chiltons—”

A gun cocked with an ugly metallic click in the darkened alley between the stores. A second gun jacked a bullet into the barrel. A third. Penny whirled to face three masked gunmen.

The one in the center said, “Not a word out of either of you.”

Penny gasped and stumbled back a step right into McCall. He slid an arm around her and pulled her back, got one shoulder in front of her.

“Freeze.” The middle outlaw extended his gun. “I only need one of you alive.”

McCall stopped. Penny felt him tense with frustration that he hadn’t put himself fully between her and those guns.

“We don’t have much money,” McCall said. “Take it all, we won’t—”

“Shut up!” The gunman cut McCall off. The man was wearing a heavy coat, thin leather gloves. His face was masked with a red bandana, a hat pulled low over eyes that glowed black.

“I have questions and, if I get the answers I want, no harm will come to you. Don’t fight me. I’ll shoot one of you dead and wound the other. One is all I need to get my answers and you’ll talk better if you’re bleedin’, so just shut up.”

They stood, frozen, waiting. Penny hoped for an opening to run or draw her gun and attack. She always carried her pistol. In the bag she wore slung over her neck and under her arm, dangling below her right hand. But it was her left side that McCall shielded. No possible chance to get her gun drawn in time to shoot three cold-eyed men.

“Ask your questions. We’ll tell you whatever you want to know, just don’t harm the woman.” McCall the hero. He was lucky she was too cautious to move or she’d’ve swatted him.

His voice was smooth as water over a stone, too. Calm and cool. Like he’d had so many guns aimed at him he didn’t take much notice anymore.

The cool was fake though. She felt his coiled muscles, knew he was looking for an opening. And, like her, he was well aware these men weren’t about to give them one.

“Walk toward the alley. Side by side, slow. Get outta the street.”

Swallowing hard, no ideas sprang to her mind to save her and McCall, so when he stepped forward, she stayed with him.

The alley swallowed them up. The men, now much closer, wore different color bandanas, different hats and coats, but they were three of a kind.

When they were out of the line of sight of anyone on the street, the man said, “Turn around and put your hands behind your backs.”

McCall turned first and his eyes met hers, his jaw rigid. He glanced at the boardwalk just a step away from the alley entrance. He wanted her to make a run for it. He’d block her, there could be no doubt these outlaws would shoot.

McCall was offering to die for her.

The big gallant idiot.

She stepped aside and took another pace forward out of blocking distance. She wasn’t about to save herself at the cost of his life.

McCall glared, but there was more to it. His brow furrowed. Worry, even maybe grief. He didn’t expect this to end well. And judging by the steady hand on those guns and the short, clear demands, she knew they were dealing with a salty bunch.

Penny suspected he had the right of it, but even if she’d done it, dove away, run, in this mostly deserted town with no witnesses at hand, these men would’ve grabbed her and dragged her back. Done their worst.

She wasn’t going to let McCall die for nothing.

Turning, she put her hands behind her as they’d ordered. A man stepped up. Her hands were wrenched hard. The outlaw enjoyed causing pain. Her stomach twisted with fear of what might come.

rem:  What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

MARY:  Respect. Penny and John learned to respect each other. They are very different but they both realized how strong and decent and capable the other was…in their own way…respecting each other made it so love could grow.

rem:  OY! Such a good lesson, too. Anything you’d like to add?

MARY:  Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys always with a strong suspense thread. She is a two time Carol Award winner, and a Rita, Christy and Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist. She is the bestselling author of over 60 books and novellas.

Her most recent book series are: Garrison’s Law, High Sierra Sweethearts, Cimarron Legacy, Wild at Heart, Trouble in Texas, and Kincaid Bride for Bethany House Publishing. She’s also written four other series for Barbour Publishing and many novellas.

Mary has nearly a million books in print.

rem:  Thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!











Mary’s newest book, The Unexpected Champion, released on 5 March.

City dweller John McCall never expected to be out in the High Sierras of 1868 on a wild-goose chase to find the Chiltons’ supposedly lost grandson. But now that he’s out here, things have gotten even more complicated, mostly due to wildcat Penny Scott. She’s not like any woman he’s ever met–comfortable in the woods, with a horse, and with a gun.

When Penny and John are taken against their will by a shadowy figure looking for evidence they don’t have, both realize they’ve stumbled into something dangerous and complicated. With their friends and family desperately searching for them, Penny and John must make a daring escape.

When they emerge back into the real world, they are confronted with a kidnapper who just won’t stop. They must bring a powerful, ruthless man to justice, even as this city man and country woman fight a very inconvenient attraction to each other.


Authors always have to learn new things to write a book. We study the setting, the grass and trees, the native animals, career skills, clothing styles, we have to set our story in a time and place and to do that we need to learn new things.”



Mary is offering a signed copy of The Unexpected Champion.

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Sorry, U.S. addresses only.

Giveaway will begin at midnight on Thursday 4 April and end at 11:59 on Thursday 11 April. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.






#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview – Seekerville Blog Blitz, Mary Connealy, Giveaway

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I have my eye on the prize- the publication of my very first novel! I’m excited! I’m scared! I’m emotional!”


This is huge for me and I need all the support I can get. So, thank you for reading this. Thank you for your continued support whether it’s a quick simple prayer that I don’t lose my mind or a Facebook note stating, “You got this!” or even a Facebook thumbs up on my posts. I need the encouragement. I didn’t know how excruciating and cut throat this business can be.”


Please join me in giving a feathered welcome to Maria T. Henriksen.



Dogs or Cats  – Dogs

Facebook or Twitter – Facebook

Paperback or Kindle – Paperback


rem:  Hullo Maria! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

MARIA:  I was raised in Delaware County outside of Philadelphia, PA. I live about 45 minutes north of there in Montgomery County.

rem:  Tell us three random things about yourself no one knows.

MARIA:  I’m a terrible typist. Ironic, I know.

I often feel like a teenager. Maybe it’s because I live and breathe teenagers; I teach them, I am a parent to them, I write about them, I’m often mistaken for them. I know that’s hard to believe, but I get that frequently. (rem: you DO look rather like a teen… )

I feel like I have yet to accomplish anything significant in my life and I hope that this novel will put those feelings at ease once it’s published. (P’SHAW!! You’re a teacher—that’s like the most significant thing you can do!)

rem:  What is your favourite quotation and why?

MARIA:  Live, love, laugh. It’s so simple and sums up how we should embrace life.

rem:  So simple, and so profound. What’s the most random thing in your bag or on your desk?

MARIA:  Axio, an energy drink packet. It is also a mood enhancer and provides better mental acuity.

rem:  I’m sure you need it being a teacher! What’s your all-time favorite movie? Favorite TV show?

MARIA:  Cinema Paradiso in Italian with subtitles. I know, you probably never heard of it.

Friends. I could sit all day and watch re-runs. I have to tell my kids to shut it off or I get sucked in its vortex.

rem:  You’re right, I’ve not heard of it—but I’m the same with shows I do watch! Can we say #bingewatching…  If you could go back in time, what era would you choose and why?

MARIA:  Bible times during Jesus’s life to witness the Sermon on the Mount because I truly believe that I would be in awe of His live teachings.

rem:  Amen! Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

MARIA:  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13) I love this verse because it is a reminder to put my faith in Christ and in doing so, I can accomplish anything. It is also my protagonist’s mantra.

rem:  Such a good reminder that what we do is in Him, and not of our own strength! If you could spend an evening with a fictional character, who would it be and why?

MARIA:  Miss Brenda from my novel because she is genuine, caring, selfless, and a prayer warrior with a heart of gold.


rem:  I can’t wait to meet (read) her. What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

MARIA:  I think it is important to make Christ the center of our lives, so by reading about it, He is still the focus. As a reader, you’re not far off in a fantasy world void of our Savior if you are reading content with Christ in it.

I love this next question. Being a novelist has definitely brought me closer to the Lord. I have had to rely on God every step of the way. I have had to pray about what to write, what to edit, what to add, who to trust to help me along the way, what I should spend money on regarding the publication and so much more. My novel was inspired by God. I never knew what He wanted me to write until I sat down to type it. Publishing a novel is the hardest thing I have ever done and I have boy/girl teenage twins!

rem:  For all that it’s true in any calling, there is something about making words to share, that truly draws us in to rely on Him. Literally for every word. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

MARIA:  I don’t like it when stories are long and drawn out with a lot of brooding.

rem:  What would you do if you weren’t writing?

MARIA:  Run. I love running and would love to run a marathon.

rem:  OY! I’ve never been much of a runner but I love to walk. I’d walk a marathon with you. What are you reading right now?

MARIA:  It Doesn’t Hurt Anymore, Release The Past and Embrace Your Future by Dr. Arvis Murrell. It’s Christian nonfiction.

rem:  So hard to do, though, isn’t it—release the past? What do you munch on while you write?

MARIA:  I don’t really munch on anything. I have a water bottle next to me at all times.

rem:  Such discipline! (said the perpetual muncher) Your degree is in communication and journalism. How did that translate into writing a book?

MARIA:  Comm/Journ is basically writing in different forms. I have always enjoyed writing and received excellent grades and praise for my writing. As a major, it’s probably lends itself to writing a novel more than most majors.

rem:  Words is words, after all. You’ve had your hand in a variety of things—graphic arts, wellness, finance, and most recently education. Which was your favorite and why?

MARIA:  I would have to say education, because I am able to interact with students and hopefully make an immediate impact in their lives through helping them learn and discover. In fact, I inspired a student to write a novel.

rem:  I wanted to be a teacher at one point in my life. Will have to settle for living vicariously through my characters. (I have 4 teachers in my new series.) Wee bit off topic, but one of particular interest to me—you are the mom to twins. What’s the best thing about having twins? The hardest?

MARIA:  I joked about having twins earlier, but quite frankly they are a blessing and I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. I actually think it’s easier having twins than having kids of different ages. My kids are at the same stage in their lives which makes it so much easier as a parent. They are very different in looks and personality, so we get variety there. At this point, the hardest thing is teaching them to drive. They both need to get their time in behind the wheel and as a working mom and novelist, I have to defer to my husband to teach them how to drive. Not to mention he is a much better driver than I am. I can teach just about anything, but driving is where I draw the line.

rem:  I’ve always been fascinated with twins and multiples. Wished I was one, wished I had had twins. But, I’ll have to settle for living vicariously… Tell us a little about your writing journey.

MARIA:  I wrote and illustrated books when I was in third grade. I loved it! I dreamed of writing a novel since high school, perhaps even younger, but I was never much of a reader until my thirties. I decided that I needed to read in order to write, so I set out to read as much as possible. I started my novel about ten years ago. It took about six months maximum to write while working during the day. I put it on the proverbial shelf until about two years ago when I finally decided to get it published.

rem:  It is such a daunting process! What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

MARIA: I wrote my novel in my finished basement at my desk on a desktop computer. I started after the kids went to bed and wrote until about 2 am. Since then, I progressed to the modern age and write using a laptop. Now I work anywhere. I especially enjoy writing while sitting on a lounge chair on my patio that my husband built with primitive tools.

rem:  What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

MARIA:  The writing is the easy part. It’s trying to figure out how to promote your book without breaking the bank or having a break down.(rem: no kidding!)  I have also had many technical difficulties with my computer. My formatting was destroyed after spending hours manually formatting it to create certain aesthetics. I took it to the Geek Squad several times and was a wreck. I tried to remain calm to no avail. Instead, I made jokes in an attempt to keep some composure. Ultimately, I would be a complete mess if I didn’t exercise regularly, pray constantly and meditate. Recently, I made getting proper rest a priority because I was only getting a few hours of sleep each night. I was not only irritable, but I was completely unable to function after several nights of insufficient rest. Thus, the Axio energy packet in my bag.

rem:  So sorry about the computer and formatting nightmare. But good on you for treating yourself with TLC. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

MARIA:  The element of surprise. I never know what I am going to write.

rem:  Amen, Sister!! #PantzersUnite  Your debut novel, Not Again, releases soon. Tell us about why you wrote this book.

MARIA:  At first, I wanted to write about what I know, me. Then I realized that my life is boring, so the Lord led me in another direction. In the end, I believe the Lord inspired me to write a story to help teens deal with stress and to deal with the pressures of sex in a more realistic and relatable fashion with some much needed comic relief to compensate for the weighty mature topics.

rem:  Powerful stuff. What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

MARIA:  There have been so many challenges! Technical issues, waiting on people to get back to me for various different reasons, trying to figure out how to navigate the very complicated world of publishing with its acronyms, terminology… In the beginning I never knew what anyone was referring to, so I asked. I still don’t know what people are talking about half the time. If I knew then what I know now in terms of challenges, I may not have written my novel.

Perhaps the easiest for me would be the fun part that feeds my gregarious nature, promoting on social media. I am very active on FB where I have an author FB page, Maria T. Henriksen, author that I write mostly inspirational and scriptural posts. I want my page to be a place where friends/followers/readers can go to be lifted up, to learn and grow. The opportunity to interact with people around the world feeds my soul. I find that part is easy and relaxing as well as inspirational for me. I recently became more active on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest as well and I have a website/blog that helps people to connect with me. Mariathenriksen.com

rem:  How did you choose your characters’ names?

MARIA:  I loved the name Christina since I was a child and I love roses, so I named my protagonist Christina De Rosa. I like the name Avery, but it’s only been the last few years that I heard of it and I wanted a simple generic last name to go with that was close to D for De Rosa in the alphabet, so I chose Evans. I like the names Morgan and Katie, so I named Christina’s best friends those names. Some of the other names I used are from friends and family. If I don’t like a character I might choose a name that I don’t like.

rem:  That’s so fun. Did you think of the entire story before you start writing?

MARIA:  Absolutely not! I didn’t think of much before I started writing.

rem:  What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

MARIA:  I love the characters in my book because they are true to life. In fact, they inspired me to forgive. You should read this book to be lifted up in difficult times. I strongly feel that God inspired me to write this novel to help others cope with trials and tribulations. While I was writing/revising I was going through some challenging stuff (neck surgery) and the Lord helped me through it by providing me with techniques to help me deal with the stress. I, in turn, incorporated them into the story. Furthermore, I think that teens today are so inundated with sex and pressured to have sex outside the marriage bed, so I wanted to create likeable, realistic characters that experience the same pressures but handle it differently than the way society deems acceptable.

rem:  Kudos to you for your efforts!! Please give us the first page of the book.

MARIA:  This is the Prelude:

            NO! NOOO! NO! STOP, PLEASE STOP!” For two  whole  glorious  years,  I  cherished a

little, yappy dog, named Mugsy, from the moment I laid eyes on him in 1977, at the age of nine. Our neighbors from down the street, the Martins, gave us the puppy from their dog’s litter, shortly after my parents, brother, and I moved to our newly constructed house in the sleepy town of Pennsford, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

            The Martins kept one of the puppies, a skinny honey-colored, short-haired, homely looking runt with short pointed ears, a bushy tail, and a short temper. He was named Elvis, as an ode to the recently departed.

            I found the contrast between my Mugsy and Elvis humorous. Mugsy was the cutest mutt. He was a Shih Apso, a combination of a Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu. His fur was sandy brown and soft. His ears were floppy and bounced when he walked. They came from the same litter, yet one looked scrappy like he needed bathing, and the other dog, my canine buddy, was lovable, soft, clean, and ready to be hugged.

            Mugsy and I shared a special relationship in the fleeting time she graced us with her presence. Sometimes I pretended it was Mugsy and I against the world. She was always there for me, ready with licks and cuddles, unconditionally.


rem:  What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

MARIA:  I hope that my readers will become closer in their walk with the Lord; to depend on the Lord for everything; that the Lord will put people in their path to help them during trying times; that the Lord will provide them with coping mechanisms to reduce stress.

rem:  Like puppies. #justkidding sWhat’s next? Is there another book or a sequel?

MARIA:  Yes, I started a sequel. Not Again, the Fallout. The sequel will expound on a theme that was started in book 1 and will introduce another extremely important theme that the readers will greatly appreciate.

rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

MARIA:  My greatest hope is that readers will come to know the Lord through my novel, since that’s the greatest gift anyone can receive.

rem:  Thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!










Maria is giving a $10 Amazon gift card.

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway will begin at 12:00 A.M. on Thursday 21 March and end at 12:00 A.M. on Thursday 28 March. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.






What Do Ya Say?

Hey, hey, hey! What do ya say?

This is my first step to start blogging away.

Let’s write something relevant, something fun

I don’t want this to be one and done

Looking to share life’s wonders

in the midst of life’s blunders

Follow me and you will see

me in you and you in me

I won’t be shy

to share my why

A few keyboard clicks

Reveals what makes me tick

So stick around

for life’s profound



Christina De Rosa has a potentially deadly secret that threatens to get out. As an innocent young teenager, Christina survives a terrifying sexual assault that destroys her self-worth and trust.

In her daily struggle, Christina searches for ways to keep her torment at bay, so she can function as a “normal” teenager. Meanwhile, Christina’s spiritual journey leads her down a path causing conflict within, as she’s riddled with guilt and shame.

A chance encounter with her longtime, hot crush, Avery Evans, sparks a fire in Christina that she can’t  extinguish. As the sweet, loving, knight in shining armor he readily portrays, Avery offers the safety and security that Christina craves.

In her quest for internal peace, Christina must make a decision. Will she give her heart, body and soul to the ever popular, Avery Evans?

Will Christina’s nightmares become all-consuming or will her discoveries lead her to a renewed way of life?

Find out if true love triumphs in this edgy, faith-based young adult page-tuner, set in the 1980s.

*This is NOT your typical Christian coming of age story. Fierce faith doesn’t come without a fight. Prepare for heartache, traumatic events, real romance, and actual scripture in these pages. Bring tissues.









Isn’t it lovely!!


#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Maria Henriksen, Giveaway, Cover Reveal, Not Again

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