Posts Tagged ‘#NWNF’


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I am delighted to welcome Maria Henriksen to the blog today, shouting out her new release, Not Again, the Fallout, which releases July 13th.


In celebration of the release of her newest book, Not Again The Fallout (book two of the Not Again young adult romance series), Christian author Maria T. Henriksen is offering multiple amazing opportunities for readers to enjoy!



To celebrate the release of the emotionally and spiritually charged sequel, Not Again The Fallout, Maria is hosting a spectacular multi-prize, multi-author giveaway. Maria partnered with various authors of clean &/or Christian fiction. You will have a chance of winning one of the three incredible prize packs. The Grand Prize Pack includes 30 books and Not Again The Fallout swag. The Platinum Prize Pack includes 10 books and Not Again Fancy Swag. The Gold Prize Pack includes the Not Again Fabulous Swag Pack and a couple books. This is Maria’s biggest promotion to date! Open the link for more information. King Sumo Promo link:




Great news! Not Again The Fallout is on pre-order, and you will receive your choice of swag of either a Not Again The Fallout bookmark or magnet with proof of pre-order purchase! Simply forward the receipt you will receive on release day, July 13 to verify purchase with your choice of swag, your mailing address, and the swag will be mailed after the release date. Contiguous US only.




Maria will be reading from her first book, Not Again, Monday, June 13 through Saturday, June 18 in different Facebook groups. There will be a giveaway at each reading. That’s six more opportunities to win a giveaway!

📖 Day 1) Monday, June 13 @ 8pm EDT

Loves to Read:


📖 Day 2) Tuesday, June 14 @ 8pm EDT

Book Nooks Reviews & Fun:


📖 Day 3) Wednesday, June 15 @ 8pm EDT

Read More Books – Tina Hogan Grant’s Readers’ Group:


📖 Day 4) Thursday, June 16 @ 8pm EDT

Tattered Page:


📖 Day 5) Friday, June 17 @ 8pm EDT

Novels N Latte:


📖 Day 6) Saturday, June 18 @ 2pm EDT

Maria’s Muses: Inspirational, Christian & Close-to-the-Heart



Details subject to change


In the first book of the Not Again series, Christina De Rosa holds 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 super 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.

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

If you haven’t read the first book, Not Again, there’s still time to do that before book two, Not Again The Fallout releases. Maria has been blessed with an overwhelming amount of raving reviews on Amazon. Many readers have reached out to Maria to thank her for the healing that Not Again prompted. One reader wrote, “Not Again put me on a path to wholeness.”



Not Again The Fallout. Book two of the Not Again series. This edgy, faith-based novel continues the life of Christina De Rosa, who experiences the fallout of her past during her college years in the 1980s.

Will Christina be able to open her heart again for a second chance romance?

Is she brave enough to face her worst fears to allow the healing needed to live a productive life? Or did her most recent event cause permanent devastating effects?

Will Christina be crushed once again by a former love?

This book will not only tie up unanswered questions from Not Again book one, but the inspiring messages will have a lasting impact.

Not Again The Fallout is so powerful that it may cause emotional responses, as well as put you on a path of healing. Bring tissues.


817la+qMyaL._SY600_Maria T. Henriksen is a lover of reading, writing, and the arts. She considers it a privilege to be able to pursue her dreams of being a multi-published, multi-genre author.

Helping others in any capacity is what drives Maria. This sequel, Not Again The Fallout, was created to demonstrate that by sharing our burdens, as well as asking for and receiving help, anything can be accomplished. Maria believes that it’s also important to dig deep and to look upward and outward to help those in need. She feels that giving of yourself may lead to your own restoration, in addition to being a blessing to others.

This born-and-raised Philadelphia suburbanite resides with her husband, Dave, of over two decades, along with their amazing college-age twins, Brandon and Kathryn. Maria feels extremely blessed to have such a close family and continues to find each of them as a source of daily inspiration.

Not Again is a realistic coming-of-age Christian duology set in the 1980s where romance collides with conviction and innocence collides with tragedy. Its inspirational messages will transform your life forever.


(To date all reviews are 5 stars!)

“A very captivating and spiritual look at life that gives us all a message to remember. A book that holds your interest to the very last word.”

~ Reviewer

“… this novel should be read, your mind will be open, and some will help heal as well. I will recommend this novel as well as the first one to many friends and readers out there.”

~ Reviewer

“I have REALLY enjoyed this series, and hope there will be a book #3! I wasn’t ready for it to end! Reading Christina and Avery’s story made me cry at times, and laugh at times. If you want to find out what flying Chihuahuas are, read this book. 😁 This story showed how one moment – one decision can change the future of many lives. But God can heal and mend the brokenness.”

~ Reviewer

“I really enjoyed reading this book. When terrible things happen, you have to turn to someone for help. I loved this inspirational story of learning to forgive the ones who have done wrong but also about how to forgive yourself. Trusting in the Lord to guide your decisions and allowing him to heal your body and mind. I also loved that there was scripture to back up the story. I highly recommend reading this book.”

~ Reviewer

“This wonderful book has romance with traumatic events with a strong Christian teaching to help one navigate the trials and tribulations. This book made me delve further into my personal beliefs and the trials I’m personally facing and how some of the scripture applies to my current crisis of faith as my life is quite difficult, much like the characters in the storyline. This story addresses boy/girl dating from high school through college and how their faith keeps them living on the correct path, but not without stumbling a time or two and facing crisis/traumatic events that try to turn them away from their Christian beliefs. Maria’s books always speak to and from the heart. It’s almost as though you are living the lives of the characters so absorbed into the book you become. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and am thankful to have received an ARC of this book to read and review. Thank you Maria.”

~ Reviewer



Maria’s tagline is “Healing Hearts one page at a time.” If you have a heart for helping others draw closer to the Lord, then join Maria in her ministry to help get the word out regarding her Not Again series about restoration and forgiveness. She’s currently looking for reviewers and people to join her Launch Team. Maria will send you a copy of the sequel, Not Again The Fallout. Before book two goes live, you will post honest reviews on social media sites like Goodreads and BookBub. On release day July 13, you’ll post your review on Amazon. You may contact her via email:


Here is Maria’s beautiful, newly redesigned, interactive website. New subscribers to Maria’s newsletter/blog receive a FREE relaxation audio 🧘‍♀️🎧:


You can find all of Maria’s links in one convenient place:


#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post, Maria Henriksen, Not Again the Fallout, #NEWRELEASE, Healing Hearts one page at a time

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Hello! I am so happy to be visiting Robin’s Nest today so that I can share with you five fast facts about engagement rings that I learned or was reminded of while doing research for book two in my Chaparral Hearts series, Sing in the Sunlight. But first, here’s a little bit about the book:



Title: Sing in the Sunlight
Series: Chaparral Hearts
Genre: Historical Christian Romance
Length: 402 pages
Publisher: Wild Heart Books
Release Date: March 2, 2021



Richard Stevens isn’t who he thinks he is. Neither is the woman who now claims his last name.

Disfiguring scars stole Clarinda Humphrey’s singing career, her home, and her family, but she refuses to let her appearance steal her future. While attending The Young Ladies Seminary in 1858 Benicia, California, she finds a man who promises to love and cherish her. Instead he betrays her, leaving her with child, and Clarinda must take drastic measures to ensure her child doesn’t suffer for her foolishness.

Richard Stevens’s life hasn’t turned out as he expected, and when a shocking letter turns even his past into a mystery, he travels to San Francisco in search of guidance. On the way, he encounters a mysterious young woman hiding beneath a veil. That night he experiences a dream that sends him on a quest to find the bride God has chosen for him. He never imagines she’s already told everyone they’re married.

Unwilling to lie, nor accept a marriage of mere convenience, Richard wants the real thing. Yet Clarinda’s not interested in love, only a chance to save her child. Can he help her rise above the pain that runs deeper than her scars to accept a love worth every risk?

https://youtu.be/t8ZqDYJIjDA ]

Preorder your copy today!

Amazon | Apple Books | Barnes & Noble  Books-A-Million | Kobo



Now, without further ado here are five fast facts about the history of engagement rings:

  1. Did you know that rings made of braided reeds were first exchanged by wedded couples in Ancient Egypt as symbols of eternity? They were worn on the third finger of the left hand because of the belief that a vein that runs from that finger directly to the heart (known today as the vena amoris). While there is a vein like this (sort of), it is mirrored by a similar vein in the right hand and isn’t exactly a one lane highway. It branches off like any other vein in our body as part of our intricate and complex network of veins.

British_Museum_Thetford_Hoard_Rings - public domain image

  1. It wasn’t until the second century that Romans introduced the use of betrothal However, their use at the time was less a symbol of promise or love and more a symbol of the groom’s ownership of his intended bride. Or at least, that is what some historians believe. There seems to be some debate over this. Interestingly, Roman women were often given two engagement rings—a gold ring and an iron ring. The gold ring was to be worn in public while the iron ring was to be worn at home.


  1. Some scholars believe engagement rings were used during the Middle Ages to ensure that impending marriages were made public in advance. If you read regency romance novels or watch regency romance movies you’ve probably heard about “the reading of the banns” being required to take place days or weeks prior to a wedding ceremony. It’s thought that this practice developed in parallel with the tradition of engagement rings.


  1. Prior to the twentieth century, engagement rings were not universally expected. It was not at all uncommon for the engagement ring to be skipped and a wedding ring to be the first ring a woman received from her betrothed. This was particularly true the farther down the social ladder a couple found themselves.


  1. While the first documented use of a diamond engagement ring occurred among royalty in 1477, diamonds were considered the status symbol of the well-to-do and didn’t become a popular engagement gem among the masses until the 1940s when Cecil Rhodes (who with investors founded the DeBeers Mining Company in 1880 which soon controlled 90% of the world’s diamonds) created one of the most successful marketing campaigns in history. If you recognize “A diamond is forever,” you can thank Cecil Rhodes.

Clarinda's Belcher Ring Line Drawing

In Sing in the Sunlight, my heroine, Clarinda, is presented with not one, not two, but five rings (one engagement ring and two different sets of engagement and wedding rings) given to her by three different gentlemen. Each ring came with its own history and thus a different design. One ring was an heirloom and its oval-cut ruby surrounded by tiny gold beads reflects the era in which it would originally have been made. Another has prongs that encage its diamond with claws, known as a belcher setting. The design both symbolizes Clarinda’s situation and reflects the changing jewelry fashions. The last engagement ring…well, you’ll just have to read the book to learn more about that particular ring.



Now I want to learn about you! If you’re married, how did your husband propose? If you’re single, have you given any thought to the type of ring you might want someday? Leave your answer in the comments below to be entered for the giveaway.

021521 - kathleen denly - rafflecopter giveaway

For extra entries: I’d love to see pictures of your rings (whether engagement or another kind), so please share a picture on social media and tag me @KathleenDenly on Twitter or Instagram and @KathleenDenly.author on Facebook.

Be sure to record your efforts in the rafflecopter for official entries in my giveaway for one digital copy of book one in the Chaparral Hearts series, Waltz in the Wilderness! (If you already own a copy and you win, you’re welcome to choose a friend or family member to receive your prize.)




SITS Preorder Incentive Square

In celebration of this second book in Kathleen’s Chaparral Hearts series, she’s offering preorder bonuses. These include a set of exclusive coloring pages (hand drawn by Kathleen for this novel), and an MP3 recording of the hymn referenced in the book (God Moves in a Mysterious Way), performed by Kathleen’s wonderful mother.

Anyone who preorders Sing in the Sunlight no later than February 28, 2021 can register to receive their preorder bonuses. To register, email your proof of preorder purchase to kdpreorderbonuses@gmail.com no later than February 28, 2021. A proof of purchase is typically a screenshot of your receipt. Please do not include any personal information such as physical mailing address or account numbers when submitting your proof of purchase. Preorder bonuses will be emailed on the day of the book’s release to all who register.



Author PhotoKathleen Denly writes historical romance stories to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. Award winning author of the Chaparral Hearts series, she also shares history tidbits, thoughts on writing, books reviews and more at KathleenDenly.com.


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#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post, Kathleen Denly, Sing in the Sunlight, Chaparral Hearts 

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In 2016 the idea for a story about Emily and Rachel—strangers drawn together by tragedy and a long-held secret—grew into a full-blown plan to write a series centered in a small town struggling to survive.  From the beginning, I knew the two women had to come from different backgrounds and lifestyles. If Emily was raised by middle-class parents living in a small town, Rachel had to be the daughter of a wealthy big-city business owner.

Because I live in Duluth, Georgia—a metro Atlanta suburb—selecting the city was easy. Not only had I visited Centennial Park and the Georgia Aquarium, my husband and I had dined at the Sun Dial Restaurant atop the circular Peachtree Plaza Hotel. Nearly every Atlanta site referenced in The Secret of Willow Inn exists. Including the high-rise building that houses Streetman Enterprise the fictional real-estate development firm owned by Rachel’s father. Using actual locations has advantages. Especially with the existence of Google Earth. I can’t count the number of times I zoomed in on downtown Atlanta to make sure Rachel could see the Skyview Ferris Wheel from her office window or Fox Theater from her father’s office. Or which direction she turned to walk to the park. Of course, as a writer I was also bound by reality.

When it came time to identify Emily’s hometown, I decided to create a setting I could conform to the story. A town on the brink of failure, populated by a cast of quirky, argumentative, lovable characters.

To get a sense of small-town vibe, my husband and I spent several weekends visiting north Georgia locations; tourist destinations—some dating back to the civil war—and quiet little villages off the beaten path. One of those treks occurred on Labor Day. Once we left Atlanta, we discovered an interesting situation. Small towns take the holiday seriously. Other than a few places to eat, stores were closed. Imagine that. No labor on Labor Day. A fact I used in Willow Falls series book three.

Every town we visited had a place to eat, some sort of general store, and at least one inn. Perfect for my story. Because the characters in my fictional town believed the only way to survive was to entice visitors, it needed a few existing attractions—a fifty-foot waterfall and a hundred-year-old general store. Add a colorful history, revealed in The Trouble in Willow Falls, and the town had a fighting chance to survive.

After mentally creating a fictional setting, I needed a visual to guide my scene descriptions and characters’ movements. So, I created an aerial view on a poster board, using a blue marker to pinpoint key locations; Willow Inn, the abandoned hotel, Hayes General Store, Pepper’s café, and Patsy’s Pastries and Pretties. As the story progressed, I added new sites. Recently I created a more professional looking view.

It’s funny how in time the fictional setting seems as real as the one that physically exists, thanks to readers’ ability to imagine and writers’ capacity to paint mental pictures. In some stories the setting serves as another character. During my research about fictional settings, I discovered Cabot Cove, the setting for the Murder She Wrote television series wasn’t real. Who knew?

As an author I’ve found it beneficial to use both fictional and real settings in the same novel. Real settings, especially those that are well known, give readers a sense of authenticity. Atlanta is a southern hub for ground and air travel. I can only guess how many millions have flown over the city or driven on the downtown connector as they pass through to their destinations. At the very least folks might have wondered what lay beyond the skyline.

On the other hand, a fictional setting gives writers tremendous latitude and readers’ the opportunity to let their imaginations soar. By the way, I prefer not to have characters’ faces on my covers, because I don’t want to limit readers imagination to picture the characters the way they want. The same can be said for setting.



Pat Nichols is proving it’s never too late to follow your dreams. She draws on a twenty-seven-year corporate career working with amazing women from all walks of life to write emotionally charged stories about women who face tension-laced challenges and heart-warming triumphs as they pursue their dreams. The Secret of Willow Inn introduces readers to Willow Falls, a small southern town on the brink of failure, populated by an opinionated, quirky, lovable, cast of characters. The Willow Falls series will appeal to Debbie Macomber, Ane Mulligan, and Jan Karon fans.

She was born in Illinois, grew up in Orlando and has called Georgia home since the eighties. Pat and Tim reside in Duluth and are active members of Gwinnett Church, a Northpoint Ministries Campus. Although they love dogs, especially black labs, their pets now consist of squirrels scampering across their deck and deer traipsing through their back yard. She is a member of ACFW and Word Weavers International. She was featured on WATC Television Atlanta Alive and in Voyager Magazine http://voyageatl.com/interview/meet-pat-nichols-author-duluth/

Come on over for a visit on her website: www.patnicholsauthor.blog  or Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram





#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post, Pat Nichols

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Once upon a time in a land far, far away …

How many times as readers have we been swept away to places new or familiar by this timeless phrase and descriptions of palm trees, drafty castles, or moon dusted planets? Setting is an instrumental component in storytelling. It sets the tone, character background and expectations, and in some cases directs the narrative (where would The Little Mermaid be if she wasn’t under the sea?). Imagine some of the most distinctive stories you know: Robinson Crusoe, Braveheart, Lord of the Rings, or Alice in Wonderland. These stories would not be what they are without their unique settings. For them, setting is king.

How does a writer go about choosing the setting? In some instances, there is no choosing as it can only be one place. William Wallace does not exist outside Scotland, nor could Frodo make his epic journey through New Jersey. It had to be Middle Earth. In other cases, a story can be set just about anywhere the author prefers. Not being a fantasy writer myself, I can’t expound much on fantastical settings so for the sake of credibility we’ll stick to real locations that may or may not have fictional elements (spoiler: they usually do, otherwise it wouldn’t be fiction).

Ok. We’ve got our setting. Now what? Research! Remember how setting is king? Well, research is the shining crown that makes it so. Research must be conducted to know the lay of the land, to understand the weather, to see the rolling hills or crashing waves. A reader wants to walk the cobblestone streets of a French village with the characters. A reader wants to see the rusting colors of a sun setting over the mountains of Colorado. These emotions and experiences can only be evoked with proper research; otherwise literary pandemonium will break out as rooftops in Germany will suddenly be green (they’re terra cotta) and deserts will spring up in Iceland (hardly, as it’s known as the land of fire and ice). Take for example my recent novella set in Scotland. The country has a very distinct look, landscape, and feel. I wanted readers to shiver at the chilled winds sweeping off the granite crags, sway with the heather flowers thick as carpet across the moors, dive into the deep blue lochs, and stare in awe at the ancient stone castles home to the clans. Without including these key elements the story would fall flat and the characters would not have an authentic setting in which to act and react to. At some point, research isn’t enough. At some point, the story needs to start adding its own elements to the setting.

In real settings, fictional elements must be introduced in order to keep the story moving. It’s impossible to keep every detail accurate, otherwise you venture into non-fiction territory. Details must be added for characters to play off and live within that can’t be found in the real world. Looking again at my novella, Night Fox, I researched everything I could about the area in which the story is set and realized I needed to give the hero a home. Yes, there is a real place called Scotland with clan lairds who lived in castles during the eighteenth century, but there was never an estate called Strathmoore on McLendon lands. At least to my knowledge, because I made it up. Likewise there isn’t a village called Druimbeath, but I needed a place for my heroine and hero to interact (when one of them isn’t out committing highway robbery). These places may have sprung from my imagination, but the details about them are true to what existed in eighteenth century Scotland that I had compiled through extensive research. In other words, though my village and castle are made up they could easily be mistaken for real. But that’s also because I’m a stickler for details J

Which brings me to a final point that is hotly debated among readers. Detail accuracy. Does the writer keep the details as authentically accurate as possible for the setting/time period/nationality/etc. or do they keep things accurate-ish while liberally sprinkling in their own ideas of what things should look or sound like? As a historical writer this hits home for me because there is a high standard for keeping historicals as authentic as possible to the era presented, and while this is a noble endeavor, it’s not always possible when information becomes lost over the centuries. I believe in not placing so much importance on accuracy that enjoyment of the crafted story gets lost. Research what needs to be researched, but at the end of the day it’s called fiction for a reason and I for one will never mind a few make believe castles.



Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days writing heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle.


Just for Fun …

  • My name is pronounced Juh-nell Suh-sell-ski
  • I’m not a fan of cooking, but I love baking. Probably because I can lick the bowl of cake batter
  • My heart belongs to no other dog than a beagle. I mean, c’mon. Have you ever seen a beagle puppy and not squealed?
  • I was married at Disney World
  • My favorite TV channel is TCM








Available 15 November


#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post, J’nell Ciesielski

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Ever have an imaginary friend when you were a child? If you’re a writer, I’m guessing you probably did. Confession time . . . I had one too.

Pee Wee lived in our bathroom, and we had great conversations every day. He never failed to give me a laugh and help me with my problems.

Today, our imaginary friends are called characters. We knew it would pay off one day. What I love about these friends is we can craft them anyway we want—their physical traits, profession, who they fall in love with, etc. Creating characters is fun, but can also be frustrating and time-consuming.

But it’s worth every minute.


The more you know your character, the more they jump off the page and into your readers’ hearts.

Here are some tips on how to do make our imaginary friends real.


Visualize them. I’m a visual person and find it easier to give descriptions if I can see something in front of me. For my characters, I pick a person from my favorite TV show or movie and use them as a basis for my hero and heroine. I find a picture and post it on my board within Scrivener. Instant visual! However, be careful not to describe too much. You want readers to form their own image. This just helps me know my imaginary friends better.

Do a background check. Get out your FBI credentials and research your friend’s past. Where were they born? What were they like as a child? Teenager? Young adult? What’s their profession? Nothing is off limits. There are no sealed files in your investigation. Cross-examine and get out the lie detector. Know them inside and out.

Give them a quirk. Your main character needs a habit or trait that makes them distinct. It could be a phrase they repeat, an action they do when nervous or excited, or even an OCD characteristic. Perhaps your antagonist leaves the body in perfect form, ready for burial—hair combed, make-up done, arms crossed and in a prayer position. Whatever it is, make it unique.

Talk to them. It’s okay. Your family understands when you talk to your imaginary friends now. You’re a writer. It’s allowed. Sometimes when I talk out loud, it clears my head and gives my characters more depth. Try it.

Give them a secret. Shhhh…don’t tell it to anyone. Yet. Your friend needs something from their past, helping or hindering them. It forms an arc every character requires, so your readers will cheer them on. But tell their secret at the right time and place in your story.

Make them vulnerable and let them love. Everyone wants to love and be loved, which means our characters need to be vulnerable. Our characters can be stubborn, but at some point they need to open up and take a risk. Give them the chance!


Getting to know our characters intimately will allow our imaginary friends to become real to our readers.

And captivate their hearts.


What tips have helped you in developing your characters?





Darlene L. Turner is an award-winning author and lives with her husband, Jeff in Ontario, Canada. Her love of suspense began when she read her first Nancy Drew book. She’s turned that passion into her writing and believes readers will be captured by her plots, inspired by her strong characters, and moved by her inspirational message. Her debut novel, Border Breach with Love Inspired Suspense, releases in April, 2020. You can connect with Darlene at http://www.darlenelturner.com where there’s suspense beyond borders.




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#Blogwords, New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post, Darlene Turner

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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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