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BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 20 June 2017 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – NEW RELEASE EVENT – LOOKING GLASS LIES

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY EVENT – LOOKING GLASS LIES

 

For most of her adult life, Cecily Ross has compared herself to other women—and come up short. After a painful divorce from her emotionally abusive husband, Cecily returns to her hometown of Canyon, Texas, looking to heal.

But coming home isn’t what she expects. In a town as small as Canyon, her pain is difficult to escape—especially with her model-perfect ex–sister-in-law working at the town’s popular coffee-shop hangout. With help from her father, a support group, and an old friend who guides her to see her own strengths, Cecily may have a shot at overcoming her insecurities and learning to love again.

The true test comes when tragedy strikes, opening Cecily’s eyes to the harmfulness of her distorted views on beauty—and giving her the perfect opportunity to find peace at last.

 

I woke up in the middle of the night in our cavernous walk-in closet. Again. For a moment, I enjoyed the wispy memory of a not-yet-forgotten dream, but then I realized the plush carpet had become solid rock while I slept, its gritty fibers pressing against me as though I were wedged into a sandstone crevice instead of willingly tucked against the back wall beneath my hanging clothes.

Pressing my palm against the ivory carpet, I dragged myself out of the corner, sat in front of the mirror, and squared my shoulders as though I no longer needed to hide from reality. As though I’d be all right without Brett. As though his divorce papers fit neatly into my fairy tale.

“You can handle this,” I said to my reflection. In a few short hours, I could start a new day, build a new life, create a new me.

I could go back home and start over. People in my hometown wouldn’t be surprised things hadn’t worked out between Brett and me—they had said as much when we’d started dating in high school. After a while I could settle into the complacent solace of small-town life, lick my wounds, and become invisible among the laid-back community that Brett had always deemed unsophisticated.

“You go, girl.” I lifted my chin, but the girl in the mirror didn’t seem convincing.

No matter. That’s what I would do tomorrow . . . or next week . . . or maybe next month. Okay, so it might take a while, but at least it was a plan. And it was a heck of a lot better than crying in a closet. Like a baby.

 

rem:   Hullo Varina, congratulations on your new book! What a powerful story! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

VARINA:   I’d love to visit Europe around 1800, but only for a day or so. Actually, I’d like to step directly into Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Wouldn’t that be fun? But not for long … no indoor plumbing or central air. 😊

rem:   Right, for all the romance portrayed, some bits were not so lovely… (can I go with you?) Where did you find this story idea?

VARINA:   I’ve struggled with low self-esteem for years, so the idea for Looking Glass Lies came from my own journey. However, the specific details of Cecily’s life are nothing like my own. Instead, her plot is a combination of sad twists that I’ve heard about over the years.

rem:   Then you know why this resonates so with me. Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

VARINA:   Cecily was the easiest because I totally “get” the whole self-esteem thing. Marinda was the most difficult, probably because of my insecurities when I’m around strikingly beautiful people. It took me a while to relate to her.

rem:   See above response… It took me years of progress to reach “low” self-esteem… What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

VARINA:   Granola bars, apples and peanut butter, nuts, sugar-free chocolate

rem:   Oh such discipline! Oh so healthy! What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

VARINA:   I sleep late, catch-up on house cleaning, and redirect my creative energy toward all the Pinterest projects I’ve been putting off while on deadline.

rem:   What lovely recovery treatment! Thank you again, Varina, for visiting my blog—and for writing your wonderful stories.

 

Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. Her award-winning Mended Hearts series, which revolves around church hurt, is a compelling blend of women’s fiction and inspirational romance. Her latest novel, Looking Glass Lies, releases in May. A native Texan, Varina lives near Fort Worth with her husband and five mostly grown children. Connect with Varina on her website or one of the social media hangouts.

 

LGL book trailer: https://youtu.be/L4K-bolCE2k

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  • Not only did I still believe the lies … they consume me, heart and soul. – Cecily Ross
  • The barbed wire tattoo, coiling and circling my arm, was just like his vibrant personality that had tightened around my heart until it drew blood. – Cecily Ross
  • I woke up in the middle of the night in our cavernous walk-in closet again, while my husband slept soundly in our pillow-top king, just on the other side of the closet door. Good grief, I had to stop doing this. – Cecily Ross
  • He pressed his cheek against my forehead. “Your heart is full of love for Nina, and disgust for the people who hurt her, but still … you need to pay attention to what’s happening in there.” He tapped my chest. “Respect your feelings.” – Cecily Ross and Graham Harper
  • I wanted to tell him I was sorry, that I had been a silly fool, that I understood now. But none of that mattered, and for the first time, I could truly say, This is not about me. – Cecily Ross
  • Shanty looked the same, but different. Her creamy brown skin (a mixture she got from her African American father and Asian American mother) was set off by frosted makeup. I had forgotten how pretty she was, but surprisingly, I didn’t find her intimidating. – Cecily Ross
  • I hated that phone. Despised it. It was full of videos Brett didn’t want me to see, websites he claimed he hadn’t visited, pictures he made certain I never had access to. I couldn’t compete with all that. Evidently. – Cecily Ross

 

A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations.

 

Few books have impacted me as deeply as this one. What woman, at some time in her life, has not looked in the mirror and questioned something, everything? And what woman has not believed those lies, at least once…

 

Cecily Ross believed those lies. Not only when she looked in the mirror, but every time her husband looked through her. Every time he looked at “perfect” images online. The scars on her body were not at his hand, but her own.

Through the strength of desperation, Cecily flees her marriage and returns to her home town. But solace eludes her—the lies have followed her and her battle continues.

 

Will the encouragement of her father and an old friend be enough to pull Cecily from the mire of self-hate? Will the support group help her see past the lies to the truth? The truth that all women are beautiful?

 

The story and characters on the pages are fictional but the reality of it is not. Cecily—and Shanty and Nina—could be any woman. The depth of the wounds is very real and this reviewer knows the devastation of self-hate. Ms. Denman has portrayed Cecily’s story in a very real light, the struggle she faces with every thought, the determination to get better—and the hopelessness of the seeming impossible effort.

This reviewer—I have overcome this battle but at random moments those thoughts creep up, trying to take me down again. I am armed with the Word of God—I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and I am His masterpiece, created in His image—in my arsenal. And I take that stand for every woman who has ever looked in the mirror and believed the lies.

 

 

I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, Looking Glass Lies, Varina Denman, #forNina, Shame on Shanty

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BLOGWORDS – Saturday 17 June 2017 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – NEW RELEASE EVENT – SOMEPLACE FAMILIAR BY TERESA TYSINGER

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY EVENT – SOMEPLACE FAMILIAR BY TERESA TYSINGER

 

 

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Someplace Familiar by Teresa Tysinger. I’m posting today about this debut novel, a contemporary southern romance with themes of faith, hope in new love, and grace. It’s the first in a series of books set in Laurel Cove, a fictional town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I’m joining other bloggers this week to tell you a little about the book and spread the news about the giveaway Teresa is hosting! Be sure to enter to win a signed book and more from Teresa at the end of this post. And leave your comments and questions below—Teresa will be stopping by to visit with us!

Artist Livy Johnson needs a fresh start. That’s what a broken heart and forgotten dreams can do to a person. On little more than a whim, she reclaims her grandmother’s old home in quaint Laurel Cove, North Carolina and vows to restore its original charm. When she literally collides with childhood friend, Jack Bowdon, Livy wonders if she’s back for an entirely different reason.

Jack can’t believe his childhood crush is back. As the owner of Bowdon’s Supplies, and once again the town’s most eligible bachelor, he offers to help Livy with repairs. Together they embark on the project—and an undeniable whirlwind romance.

But it’s not all smooth sailing. Can they survive the destructive pain of their pasts to discover God’s grace waiting to renovate their hearts?

 

Not much had changed about Laurel Cove, North Carolina in the ten years since Livy Johnson had last visited. Driving down Main Street, it was every bit as charming and picturesque as she remembered. American flags blew in the breeze in old store fronts. Two old men in overalls leaned lazily on the back end of a rusty pick-up, probably shooting the breeze.

A red traffic light.

Livy’s foot slammed against the brake pad, lurching the car to a stop about a foot into the quiet intersection. The cracking of wood behind her seat could only mean one thing. Her easel had broken. How was she going to get back into painting without the easel she’d used since art school? What a great start to her new beginning.

With no traffic waiting, Livy steered the car left as the light turned. She needed no GPS to find the Laurel Cove Inn, a short, steep climb off Main Street. The car came to a much gentler stop in front of the grand white building sitting at one edge of the town square. Livy’s muscles ached from the five-hour drive from Raleigh as she stepped from the car and stretched her arms toward a cloudless sky. The building was every bit as beautiful as she remembered.

The sight of a man looking down from a second-story window of the inn pricked at her insecurities. A gasp of cold, crisp mountain air stung her throat as her hand rubbed at the heat rising up her neck. Her eyes cut to the hood of her car, its engine still pinging as it cooled. The uneasiness of being watched eclipsed the serenity of her surroundings. She’d come to Laurel Cove to hide from her problems, yet someone had already found her.

Don’t be ridiculous. It wasn’t like she was hiding. Plus, everything, and everyone, she remembered of Laurel Cove was good. Curiosity pulled her eyes back to the window. The man’s tall figure filled most of the space between the frame. Flat palm facing out, he nodded in her direction.

Her heart skipped in her chest. Who was he? A tenant or maybe the owner? And why was he watching her so intently? She returned an awkward wave but not a smile, a tingling electricity traveling from her neck to her fingertips. Apparently satisfied, the man disappeared from the window.

Hiding had been effortless in New York City. Getting lost in a sea of people was as easy as stepping onto a crowded Subway car. Sweet Laurel Cove would be very different. Generations of families filled its church pews, ran its farms, and schooled its children. Anonymity was as rare as lightning bugs in wintertime—as her Gram would say. Being new in town and keeping a low profile might prove tough. Yet, the memory of feeling so safe and loved during summers here with her grandmother made it seem like just the place she was meant to be.

A cool breeze whipped at the few loose strands of hair around Livy’s face and pulled her away from her thoughts. She turned to gather her things from the backseat of the car. The easel fell apart as she removed a suitcase that had been holding it in place behind her seat. Ruined. But no time to dwell on more broken things. She straightened and retrieved the folded paper she’d carried in her purse the past two months, opened it, and scanned the contents. She refolded it with care and slid it back in for safekeeping.

Armed with a few bags and one large rolling suitcase, Livy took in the entirety of the picturesque inn. This would be home—at least for now. With its large pillars, wraparound porch, and grand hanging ferns, it epitomized southern charm. Her eyes wandered along the lines of the white siding, to cornices adorned with carved ornaments, and finally up to a red tin roof. It had been well maintained over the years.

As Livy took the uneven stone walkway toward the front steps, she dared to revisit the window. Empty. The encounter with the man had been harmless, yet something inside her stirred. Would she make friends easily here? Would they treat her differently once they found out she’d been living up north? Southerners may be known for their hospitality, but some could be wary of outsiders. Her future here was anything but clear. Yet she’d made it this far. With a deep breath, Livy opened the door.

 

rem:   Hullo Teresa!! Congrats on your debut novel!! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

TERESA:   Thanks so much for having me! I’d live right now, but in the mountains of North Carolina. Seriously my happy place!

rem:   They are breathtaking aren’t they? Where did you find this story idea?

TERESA:   The plot sort of just came to me as I kept writing. But the setting was inspired by my time spent in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia North Carolina. I knew I wanted to write a story set in these beautiful hills and valleys – in a quaint, quiet Southern town.

rem:   Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

TERESA:   The easiest was Jack Bowdon, our handsome and sweet hero. For some reason, I felt like I just knew Jack before I even knew the story. He’s probably made up of part my own real life leading man with a few tweaks. The most difficult was Claire, Jack’s ex-wife. Even though she’s our typical antagonist in many ways, I knew I wanted her to also be redeemable in a way. That proved tough!

rem:   And I’d say you done good. #nospoilers What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

TERESA:   My favorite is iced coffee. If I have food, I tend to eat mindlessly (which means too much!) so I try not to have snacks out.

rem:   I love iced coffee, used to drink it all the time. What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

TERESA:   Mindless television or movie watching! Best decompressor for me.

rem:   Ah yes, mindless is the way to go! For however long it lasts….

 

Teresa Tysinger is a wife and mother transplanted from North Carolina to North Texas. When not working as the Director of Communications for a large downtown church, she writes charming southern romances inspired by grace. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Religious Communicators’ Council, and the Association for Women in Communications, Teresa has spent over a decade committed to telling stories of faith through written word. She also offers graphic design and marketing services to other authors through her freelance business, Good Day Publishing. She loves coffee, caramel, and stories with happy endings.

 

www.teresatysinger.com

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16536072.Teresa_Tysinger

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  • Hiding had been effortless in New York City. Getting lost in a sea of people was as easy as stepping onto a crowded subway car. Sweet Laurel Cove would be different. Generations of families filled its church pews, ran its farms, and schooled its children. Anonymity was as rare as lightning bugs in wintertime—as her grandmother would say.
  • Their eyes locked. Again, heat rose to Livy’s cheeks. He needed to stop looking at her that way. She never should have noticed the captivating hue of his sky-blue eyes. When was the last time a man flustered her like this?
  • The place reminded her of a refined lady, full of subtle beauty and without any entitlement or pride of position.
  • She looked again to the dilapidated cottage. Her mind’s eye resurrected colorful flowerbeds, musical chimes swaying in the wind, and the vision of Gram standing on the porch in her housecoat waving her white handkerchief and calling Livy go supper. She drew in a deep breath that fanned the ember into a flame of determination. It wasn’t the end, but rather the beginning. It had to be.
  • Jack’s compliments collected inside her like shells in her pocket during a walk on the beach.
  • “He said that the love they shared flooded into the deep cracks of his grief like grains of sand. That it didn’t stitch the cracks closed, just filled in the wounds so that they were bearable.”
  • If a smile had a sound, Jack’s voice delivered it.
  • Relationships were such funny things. Some broke your heart and some healed it.

 

  1. Someplace Familiar was originally titled Good Graces, until a literary agent pointed out that there aren’t really “bad” graces, are there? So, new title! And I love the title I settled on.
  2. I wrote the first (very rough) draft of the book for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer’s Month) in 2013. That’s 50,000 words written in one month. Whew!
  3. Livy’s grandmother’s cottage that she and Jack work to renovate in the book is based heavily on my own memories of my great-grandmother’s little bungalow, though hers was in West Palm Beach, Florida.
  4. The Laurel Cove Inn where Livy stays while working on the cottage is based on the NuWray Inn in Burnsville, North Carolina.
  5. As a graphic designer, I designed the book cover, though it took me over a dozen different designs before deciding on this one. Oh, the choices!
  6. In one scene, Livy mentions tasting “Patti’s peanut butter balls” at a fair. These are real treats that my best friend’s mother (Patti “with an I”) makes and is a favorite of my husband!
  7. Speaking of my best friend, she is the inspiration for Jen Barnett, Jack’s best friend Owen’s wife who befriends Livy. In this instance only, I didn’t even change the name, but decided to honor my friend by keeping the name.
  8. If Someplace Familiar had a theme song, it would be “Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells. I listened to it a lot during final edits and the lyrics speak very well to God’s faithfulness in both good times and bad.
  9. Originally, the opening scene of the book was set in Livy’s New York City apartment after she and Sam break up and he leaves her in an emotional mess. Thanks to help from several experienced authors and editors, I decided to start more in the action as Livy returns to Laurel Cove.
  10. Good Day Publishing, my self-publishing imprint, is based on one of my favorite Bible verses, Psalm 118:24. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.”

 

After ten years in New York City, a failed relationship drives Livy Johnson to the small town where she spent her childhood summers. She has her heart set on restoring the cottage where her grandmother lived, her home away from home that made those early summers so memorable.

 

Enter Jack Bowden, childhood friend and owner of the local supply store. Their friendship revives, and sparks begin to kindle.

But can Livy trust Jack’s kindness after years of debilitating criticism? And can Jack trust another woman after being betrayed by his wife?

 

 

Ms. Tysinger’s story is a portrait of life, the ordeals and the delights, the raw colors on a canvas blending to a final masterpiece. The pain and issues that both Livy and Jack have to contend with are real and cruel, the stuff that can make or break a relationship. The stuff that can make or break a man or woman. The struggle Livy faced with the abusive voice of her past wasn’t pretty; Livy grew as she dealt with it, gaining a confidence she hadn’t known before.

Anger rips through Jack like a knife through a canvas, ugly and unexpected. The wounds he bears are deep, and have not healed. Ms. Tysinger has given her characters depth and authenticity as they fight their pasts, in their failures. And in the triumph of forgiveness, even unexpected, unthinkable forgiveness.

 

 

I purchased this book on Amazon. I offer my review of my own free will, and the opinions expressed in my review are my own honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

 

To win a signed paperback copy of Someplace Familiar, a custom 8×8” canvas painting by artist Cyndi Browning (in honor of the book’s heroine, Livy, who is an artist), and $10 Amazon Gift Card.

 

ENTER HERE

(https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e36c22633/)

 

Winner will be announced on Teresa’s website on June 18 once the tour wraps up. (Open to continental US residents only; sorry international readers!)

 

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, Someplace Familiar, Teresa Tysinger

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BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 13 June 2017 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – NEW RELEASE EVENT – STRONGER THAN MOUNTAINS BY LYNN DEAN

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY EVENT – STRONGER THAN MOUNTAINS BY LYNN DEAN

Millie Morelle married her cowboy, Zeke, expecting only happiness ever after.

She was young and beautiful, he was strong and hard-working. How could their future be anything but wonderful?
Each had dreams to last a lifetime . . . but after fifteen years of heartbreaking disappointments, their goals seem to lie in opposite directions. They may share a home and a passel of kids, but they’re living separate lives, and no one is happy. Why did they ever fall in love in the first place?
Reaching a point of desperation, each makes choices for survival—choices that may destroy the very things they’re trying to save.

Will they be able to salvage, separately, something that can only be built together—a love that is stronger than mountains?

 

Chapter 1

Slim Pickens Ranch,

Moreno Valley, New Mexico

 

Eyes wide, fingers rigid, Millie Pickens clutched the quilt below her chin, listening. The sound that awakened her was now lost on the other side of the boundary between sleep and consciousness. She exhaled soundlessly, her breath forming a cloud in the lean-to.

A faint pink glow tinged the frost on the windowpanes. She lay quiet, listening, drinking in the silence as her heartbeat returned to its normal rhythm. The few precious moments of peace before the late winter sunrise were almost enough to make its bitter cold worth enduring.

Zeke lay still beside her, jaw lax, mouth agape. Millie stretched her toes closer to his sleeping form, soaking in the warmth that radiated from his body. Most days he was up before the sun, but for a few weeks each year before calving season there was a blessed respite. Feathers rustled beneath her ear as she turned her head to study his profile in the pale light.

Despite the stubble he was still a handsome man, though the years had left their mark. His face had lost its boyish eagerness in exchange for a few wrinkles. The creases gave him character, but she missed the lopsided grin he always wore when they were young. One teasing glance—one wink—used to make her knees go wobbly. The twinkle in his eye explained the four young ‘uns asleep in the loft . . . and the four young ‘uns explained her gratitude for this moment of peace.

There should have been two more, but maybe the Lord knew she had all she could handle. The four she had would be up soon enough, clamoring for breakfast. Then their needs along with the duties of home and farm would claim pieces of her all day long until she collapsed onto the straw tick again tonight. She loved them, but mothering was like being nipped to death by tadpoles.

rem:   Hullo Lynn, Congrats on your new book! Love this pic of you! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

LYNN:   Right now! I love history, and I love “time traveling” through reading, but I firmly believe that God placed me right here and right now “for such a time as this.” Besides, in any number of centuries or decades, I’d have long since died of many illnesses or accidents that are now completely preventable or treatable!

rem:   Ooh! One of my foundation Scriptures! Where did you find this story idea?

LYNN:   While I was writing More Precious Than Gold, Millie kept trying to take over! She’s was a giddy, talkative little thing who used to drive the sober-minded, quiet heroine of that first story crazy. But Eliza (the heroine of Book 1) and I both began to see that Millie ran deeper than she appeared at first meeting.

rem:   Millie is kinda that way, ain’t she? Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

LYNN:   Definitely Zeke! I loved him in More Precious Than Gold. He was happy-go-lucky, head-over-heels in love, and easy-to-get-along-with. Then after 15 years of marriage, several babies, and some serious threats to his career he started acting like he couldn’t remember why he ever got married in the first place. It was hard to write the “ugly” side of loveable Zeke and make that part of him believable. To do that, I had to find out why he was so stressed out…what he was afraid of. The result, though, was a very complex and relatable character.

rem:   It was hard to read too, but I appreciate him more for it; he’s more believable. What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

LYNN:   I usually start my writing day over breakfast, which is almost always a cup of cinnamon/raisin granola with yogurt and a cup of coffee. After that, though, I’m pretty much “into it” for the day and often forget to eat anything for lunch.

rem:   So healthy! What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

LYNN:   I celebrate! Make a big announcement on Facebook and then take my family out to dinner. 🙂

rem:  And all of us in FB land are glad you do! Thanks for taking a few minutes to chat with us today, Lynn! (looking forward to yournext book in the Sangre de Cristo series!)

 

Growing up in Texas, I dictated my first stories to my mom before I was old enough to write them down myself. She humored me, for which I am grateful, and I’ve been telling stories in one form or another ever since.

Fast forward more years than I’ll admit to. Children grown. House quiet. Finally more time to get serious about writing for publication, and what an exciting time to write!

I write about the things I know. The things I love. God, family, history, and how those things fit together.

 

The [flood] water was up the shank of Jake’s boots by the time he followed [the horses] out of the barn and into the deep gray light of morning.

An orange glow marked the cabin window. He headed for that.

Across the porch.

Through the front door.

House empty? He poked his head up the ladder. Checked the lean-to. A sick feeling gripped his gut as the dim light of the fire showed him the stacks of furs and smoked meats.

No good to a dead man.

 

Jake felt his heart tear through his chest. He’d lost one son. He was not about to lose another.

 

Specters of all the could go wrong on a trail drive spiraled from the well of her imagination like bats swarming from a dark cave.

 

“Maybe, though often it’s not so much a matter of saying the right thing as it is keeping out of God’s way while He’s whispering to them.”

 

…The mountains speak to me…” He tapped his fist to his chest, over where his heart rested. “…in here, telling me that as grand and impressive as they are, the blessing of God is stronger still.”

 

1 – This book took me a loooong time to write! In some ways, all the “life” that happened between Book 1 and Book 2 in this series became a real-life blooper…but in the end I think it made the story better.

2 – Not a blooper, exactly, but I’m always amazed at the way my characters take on lives of their own during the process of writing. For example, I knew that Zeke and Millie were from the Deep South (East Texas and Louisiana, specifically), but I was surprised to find out that they’d named all their children after Confederate generals. (More about that in the Quotes section.)

3 – On that same note, I had a name in mind for Millie’s “surprise blessing”, but it took a little research to come up with a fifth general whose name would work as a child’s given name. Then, when I was typing up that scene, I was surprised to find out that Millie had actually come up with TWO names for the baby–a first AND a middle name, both Confederate generals.

4 – Millie also “grew up” during the five years it took me to write the story. In her earlier days, she would have torn into Zeke and given him the sharp edge of her tongue, but as the story took shape I was surprised to find she’d mellowed and learned restraint as she began to understand her husband’s “baggage.”

5 – Perhaps the biggest “blooper” was the change of cover. I had a working cover with a model I just loved. She was “Millie” in my mind for all the years I was working on this story. But styles and expectations for Indie covers changed over the years. After much prayer and saving up, I decided to have the covers for all the books in this series updated so they’d look more like a set…and the photos I’d originally loved couldn’t be made to work in the new format. I’ll share it with you here, though, so you can see my beautiful friend, Cassandra, who will always be “Millie” in my mind.

 

  1. Stronger Than Mountains, the sequel to More Precious Than Gold, is the second of three books in the Sangre de Cristo series.
  2. The Sangre de Cristos are a mountain range in northeastern New Mexico.
  3. “Sangre de Cristo” means “blood of Christ”—a very convenient coincidence for an inspirational history series! 🙂
  4. The series is set in and around Elizabethtown, New Mexico–a thriving boom town that sprang up when gold was discovered in the Moreno Valley in 1867.
  5. Author Lynn Dean’s first professional work was a Texas History curriculum, Discover Texas, produced since 1999 for use in private and parochial schools.
  6. Though Stronger Than Mountains takes place entirely in New Mexico, the idea for the series originated with several historical events the author discovered while researching for Discover Texas. These real-life characters and events, which took place shortly after the end of the Civil War, are woven into the experience of a fictional heroine who survived them all and headed West to escape her grief…only to run headlong into the man who caused it!
  7. Like More Precious Than Gold, Stronger Than Mountains incorporates real-life characters and events—namely the Colfax County Land Wars—and a fictional couple who must find a way to survive intact from their struggle.
  8. Life was considerably harder and more risky in 1885! Average life expectancy was 40-47 years.
  9. As many as 1 in 4 women in the 19th century died in childbirth. When you consider that women typically had more children then than now, it puts the risk of motherhood into perspective!
  10. Elizabethtown, New Mexico, is now a ghost town. Little remains besides a few adobe walls, a cemetery, and some artifacts in a museum. My family has skied in nearby Red River for two generations. (Angel Fire and Taos are also close.) I was always fascinated by the ruins of Elizabethtown and the cultural history of this region, and used to imagine what it would have been like to live there in its heyday. These books are, perhaps, my way of bringing the old town back to life.

 

Life has a way of maturing us. Taking the temperament of our youth and turning it into sour grapes—or abiding strength.

 

Millie Morelle was a saucy strong willed girl when she rolled into Zeke Perkins’ life. Pretty thing, too, and she caught his eye.

Zeke was a strapping young cowboy—and fine looking too—who quickly won Millie’s heart. They started their life together full of hope and promises.

 

But life tossed them one hard ball after another and they each fought to survive the best they knew how. Would their differences tear them apart? Or rebuild what they once started and make them stronger?

 

 

Ms. Dean joins fiction and history together to tell a compelling story. Life wasn’t easy in the “wild west,” on the frontier, mountain life harder still. Amenities were scarce if they existed at all and Ms. Dean’s telling of it puts the reader directly in the cold lean-to cabin and the sweltering heat of a summer cattle drive.  I cried, I railed, and I rooted for the characters as life and nature came against them. I held my breath when disaster struck and cheered as they overcame. I truly inspiring story.

 

I purchased this book on Amazon. I offer my review of my own volition, and the opinions expressed in my review are my own honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, Release Day Event, Stronger than Mountains, Lynn Dean, Sangre de Christo Series, More Precious than Gold, Flowing like Rivers

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BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 6 June 2017 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – NEW RELEASE EVENT – BREAD OF ANGELS BY TESSA AFSHAR

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY EVENT – BREAD OF ANGELS BY TESSA AFSHAR

 

Purple. The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men. One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship. And along the way, she changes the world.

But before she was Lydia, the seller of purple, she was simply a merchant’s daughter who loved three things: her father, her ancestral home, and making dye. Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.

With only her father’s secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish her business on her own. Determination and serendipitous acquaintances—along with her father’s precious dye—help her become one of the city’s preeminent merchants. But fear lingers in every shadow, until Lydia meets the apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming his first European convert. Still, Lydia can’t outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruled her life.

 

I have never served as a soldier, yet I have the strange sense that most of my life I have stared down the blade of a sword, the face of my adversary haunting me. General Varus once told me that Roman soldiers prefer to use the singled-edged sword they call the makhaira for the killing stroke: having a short blade forces them to come close, so that as your body gives way to the thrust of that unforgiving edge, all you can see is the face of your assassin. You forget the world, you forget the ones you love, you forget hope and lose your fragile grasp on any remnant of a fight lingering in your heart. You see only the visage of your adversary.

I know what it’s like to have a makhaira at my throat. I know my enemy’s face. I know the scent of his breath, the stinging quality of his speech, the poison of his taunts. He has cut me more than once with his short sword. I know his name.

He is called Fear.

rem:   Hullo Tessa, and congratulations on your new book! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

TESSA:   Any period my hubby was in works for me. It’s the people that make the time, not time the people.

rem:   Best | answer | ever. Where did you find this story idea?

TESSA:   Bread of Angels is based on the story of Lydia, the seller of purple goods from Acts 16. When I thought about Lydia, a woman in a man’s world, a woman bearing the burdens of a lavish business with many dependents, I felt that perhaps more than anything, the weight of responsibility might have pressed her down. She either had to rely on her own gifting and strength, or learn to trust in God’s provision.

 

I liked this concept, because it seems to me that most of us struggle, at least to some degree, with the same choice, especially when it comes to our jobs. The work of our hands has so many complex emotional threads attached to it. We long to be useful. To make a difference. To use our gifting. Add to that the reality that in our world, our stability is attached to work. There are layers of fear running through our jobs. Layers that are, to some degree, beyond our control. We may fail, let others down, not meet expectations, harm someone in the process, and suffer financial loss. Who shall we trust with this overwhelming burden? Our own strength or God’s provision?

 

rem:   Oh my goodness, yes! I can’t tell you how long or how many times I felt that way with my writing! Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

TESSA:  I think I found Paul the easiest. He has left so much of himself in his letters. Lydia was the hardest for me because she was a blank canvas. A paradox of strength and fear.

rem:   And you painted quite the portrait, if I do say so. It’s what I love about Biblical fiction—especially yours! What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

TESSA:   Chocolate. If I am being good, fruit. Then chocolate.

rem:   Chocolate, always go for the chocolate. What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

TESSA:   I usually fall into bed unconscious. It seems with every novel that I am down to the wire and, toward the end, have to write late into the night. When I finish, all I can think of is sleep!

 

Thanks for inviting me to hang out with you and your readers, Robin!

rem:   Your blood, sweat, and tears—and shear exhaustion—pays off, and your readers appreciate every word. Thanks for taking a moment from your next story to chat with me today.

 

Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of historical and biblical fiction. Her novel, Land of Silence was voted by Library Journal as one of five top Christian Fiction titles of 2016, and nominated for the 2016 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for best Inspirational Romance. Harvest of Gold won the prestigious 2014 Christy Award in the Historical Romance category. Her book, Harvest of Rubies was a finalist for the 2013 ECPA Book Award in the fiction category. Her first novel, Pearl in the Sand, won her “New Author of the Year” by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards 2011. Tessa was born in Iran and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She serves on the staff of one of the oldest churches in America. But that has not cured her from being addicted to chocolate. Contact Tessa at tessaafshar.com or on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTessaAfshar/

 

Her father pulled Lydia sideways until she toppled into his arms. “Child, let me tell you the secret to victory in the hard life. Strive valiantly. Dare to try, knowing that you will make mistakes. You will fall short again and again, because there is no effort without error. In the end, you will either know the triumph of high achievement, or if you fail, you will fail while daring greatly. Embrace the knowledge that you will make a mistake sooner or later. Your work will have flaws—some grave, some superficial. Learn to accept this truth, and you will master your art.”

 

“Hope.” Eumenes gave a faint nod. “There is never so much sorrow in a life that it should become devoid of hope. Hope may grow fragile as a thread of silk; it may get stuck inside the box of your misfortunes. But it is there. Don’t misplace your hope, my sweet child, not even when all of Pandora’s monsters chase you. You must hold to that treasure after I am gone.”

 

The prophet’s words carried a weight that even Virgil’s prose lacked, Lydia had to admit. They contained a promise that pierced her heart like a sharpened arrow, for shame and disgrace were her constant companions…

 

Fear. A cruel task master.

 

And fear is Lydia’s constant companion. Crippling fear. Demanding fear. Hounding and haunting voice of fear.

 

For all Lydia’s talent and ability, she constantly dreaded the worst.

 

And yet, she was continually blessed with favor and miracles.

 

As a woman in Biblical times, Lydia’s options were nonexistent; women were totally dependent on men. And yet, her life unfolded and prospered in spite of such restrictions. Born in a pagan society, Lydia was drawn into faith until hope collided with her old nemesis, Fear.

Would faith rise to conquer fear once and for all? Will she grasp at her position of wealth and honor in a male driven society? Will she embrace the sweetness of hope that only faith can bring.

 

 

Bread of Angels is a perfect example of why Biblical Fiction is my favorite genre; characters whose names are etched in faith-memory now have a story, a history. Ms. Afshar writes with precision and skill, dying a story to the perfect hue of the culture of the time. The Bible doesn’t speak to Lydia’s childhood or her struggles as a merchant, but Ms. Afshar has woven a beautiful story that could very well be pages of history.

 

 

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, Release Day Event, Bread of Angels, Tessa Afshar

 

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BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 30 May 2017 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – BOOK REVIEW – PROMISE OF PEPPERMINT BY VALERIE COMER

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – BOOK REVIEW – PROMISE OF PEPPERMINT BY VALERIE COMER

                                                                             

 

Destroying the stranglehold of the past. For some it’s impossible. Will it be impossible for Rebekah Jackson or will she have the strength and courage to free herself? To allow love in her scarred heart? Will she accept Wade back into her life?

 

Rebekah’s rejection crushed Wade Roper four years ago. Now they’re in the same town and his love for her is rekindled. But what can he offer her if she won’t tell him what haunts her?

 

Ms. Comer has taken an horrific and traumatic incident and written a very real story—with her delightful and whimsical story-telling touch. The depth of Rebekah’s wound is in no way downplayed, nor the depth of Wade’s love—or the healing power of Father’s love.

Ms. Comer has a gift for weaving her charming stories with very real and sometimes devastating events of life. She offers a story that resonates with readers, and offers them the hope that is only found in Father’s Word and His Truth. Promise of Peppermint, and all of her stories, are modern day parables.

 

 

I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

Valerie Comer is a USA Today bestselling author and a two-time Word Award winner who writes where food meets faith and fiction. She has been called “a stellar storyteller” as she injects experience laced with humor into her green clean romances.

Valerie’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for her stories of contemporary Christian romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie grows much of her own food and is active in the local foods movement as well as her church. She only hopes her imaginary friends enjoy their happily-ever-afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Join Valerie at http://valeriecomer.com, where you can sign up for her newsletter and follow her on social media. You can also find her blogging at http://inspyromance.com

 

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, Book Review, Promise of Peppermint, Valerie Comer, Urban Farm Fresh Romance, Secrets of Sunbeams, Butterflies on Breezes

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BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 23 May 2017 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY EVENT – THE MEMORY OF YOU BY CATHERINE WEST

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY EVENT – THE MEMORY OF YOU BY CATHERINE WEST

Thirteen years ago, Natalie lost a part of herself when her twin sister died. Will traveling back to the family winery finally put the memory to rest, or will it completely destroy her?

 

When Natalie Mitchell learns her beloved grandfather has had a heart attack, she’s forced to return to their family-owned winery in Sonoma, something she never intended to do. She’s avoided her grandparents’ sprawling home and all its memories since the summer her sister died—the awful summer Natalie’s nightmares began. But the winery is failing, and Natalie’s father wants her to shut it down. As the majority shareholder, she has the power to do so.

 

And Natalie never says no to her father.

 

Tanner Collins, the vintner on Maoilios, is trying to salvage a bad season and put the Mitchell family’s winery back in business. When Natalie Mitchell shows up, Tanner sees his future about to be crushed. Natalie intends to close the gates, unless he can convince her otherwise. But the Natalie he remembers from childhood is long gone, and he’s not so sure he likes the woman she’s become. Still, the haunted look she wears hints at secrets he wants to unearth. He soon discovers that on the night her sister died, the real Natalie died too. And Tanner must do whatever it takes to resurrect her.

 

But finding freedom from the past means facing it.

Nicole’s obsession with Tanner Collins had been the biggest wedge between them. Natalie could put up with her sister’s bossiness, snide remarks, the calculated schemes that left Natalie holding the bag every time, but the final insult was the look on Nic’s face when she’d snuck in late one night, her face flushed, eyes lit with excitement while she eagerly relayed the events of the past few hours.

 

He’s such a good kisser, Nat. Oh my gosh. I’m so in love…”

            “Oh, please. You’re thirteen. What do you know about love?” Natalie rolled over in bed, squeezed her eyes shut. Why had she been so stupid to confide in her sister? To think she could actually trust her. Hot tears trickled down her cheeks.

            Two days ago, after Natalie and Tanner spent the afternoon together, reading and swapping stories, Tanner had done the unexpected. Leaned in, looked her in the eye for a long moment, then kissed her. Short, but oh so sweet. It had taken her breath away. And she’d come home and confessed her undying love for Tanner Collins to her sister.

            “Natty? I know you said you liked him, but… you’re okay with this, right?” Nic crawled onto the bed and rubbed Natalie’s back. “Tanner said he likes you, but only as a friend. He wanted to make sure you wouldn’t be upset.”

            “You told him how I felt?” Natalie sat up and stared at her sister in horror. “Nic!” You promised.”

            “Aw, come on, Nat.” Nic laughed and patted Natalie’s wet cheek. “Everyone knows you’ve had a crush on Tanner Collins for like, forever. But unfortunately, he only likes one of us.”

rem:   Hullo, Catherine, welcome to my blog. If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

CATHERINE:   I’m a huge Downton Abbey fan, so I’d probably pick that time. I’m not sure I’d be a fan of all the dressing up for every meal though. J

rem:   I know right! as I sit here in my lazy day uniform… Where did you find this story idea?

CATHERINE:   My husband and I went to Sonoma, CA to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and I fell in love with that part of the country. As we visited wineries and toured the area, I knew I really wanted to set a story there. The characters and ideas didn’t come until later.

rem:   My sis-in-law is a sommelier so bits of your story resonate with me. Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

CATHERINE:   We’ll start with the most difficult, and that was Natalie. I couldn’t get a handle on her for the longest time. At first she didn’t have a twin sister, just other siblings. I think that was her problem at the beginning. Her loss wasn’t profound enough. Once I settled on her history, her character began to make more sense. The easiest was probably Tanner. I usually have less issues figuring out my male characters and I knew what his story was almost at once. Of course there are always surprises that pop up along the way during the writing stage, and there were a few in this book, but that’s what makes it so much fun!

rem:   Sometimes those deep wounds keep us hidden from those who love us best—both real life and fiction. What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

CATHERINE:  I’m not really a muncher. I try to stick to three meals a day and not much in between but nuts, olives, yogurt and fruit are always good,

rem:   And healthy for you, too. What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

CATHERINE:  Ah, see now I know better. The end is never really the end. J However, finishing a first draft is definitely worth celebrating. If we can, we usually go out for dinner, or just relax at home, watch a movie. I try to let the story sit a few days before going back to it. The real celebration comes when you send back those final proofs to your editor, knowing the next time you see the story it will be in book form!

rem:   Oh, Cathy, how right you are!! No rest for the writer! And no feeling like that new book in your hands! allll-most as sweet as a new baby… wink wink

Catherine West is an award-winning author writing stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Management.
Having previously published three popular romance and women’s fiction titles, Catherine will publish her first novel through Harper Collins Christian Publishing this summer. The Things We Knew, a family drama set on Nantucket, released July 12th, 2016.
Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com

1 – The house now soothed and scared her. Bade her welcome like an old friend, but held a warning like a long forgotten journal, tattered pages filled with too much pain.

2 – Wood polish and the perfume of roses pulled back the curtain of memory again. Nothing was different. But everything had changed. (rem: love the imagery)

3 – Perhaps she could deal with things here. Perhaps she’d found a place to rest. And maybe, to heal.

4 – Sometimes Tanner wished they still did things the old-fashioned way. An hour or two of taking his frustrations out on a bunch of grapes might do wonders for his soul.

5 – Memories of a carefree life surfaced, reminded her that no matter how much she wanted to, she couldn’t go back in time. Couldn’t fix the things that were broken. Couldn’t repair the irreparable.

6 – That was all well and good for people like Laura, people who had nothing to hide. Natalie didn’t need it. Except, maybe she did. But she certainly didn’t deserve it.

7 – “I don’t know what I was thinking, coming back here. Telling myself I could save Maoilios. Thinking my father might actually listen to me for a change.”

8 – “He asked me if I wished I had died that night instead of Nicole.”

 

What happens when tragedy and hope collide?

 

Tragedy struck Natalie Mitchell when she was thirteen years old. After thirteen years living in the shadow of her twin sister, Natalie tries to navigate without that shadow—or her sister.

And thirteen years later, Natalie winds up back in Sonoma Valley where the accident happens.

 

And there’s Tanner Collins, stirring up more than just memories from those childhood summers. Tanner with his own tragedy and secrets.

 

And as the two collide, the tragedies and secrets begin to surface. Can Natalie face her guilt and leave the past behind? Can Tanner? Will they find each other in their search for truth?

 

Sparkling dialogue and vivid imagery! This was my first read by Ms. West and it won’t be my last. I enjoyed getting to know all the characters, and related to Natalie in many ways. Ms. West portrayed her struggle and pain in true-to-life scenarios, with inherent difficulties and complications. The tension between Natalie and her father. The tenderness with Tanner—and her resistance to it. I felt her trepidation as the past began to lose its grip on her, and I felt her angst as she clung tenaciously to what was familiar. I screamed at her not to run away and yet, I felt the need to escape before more damage could be done. I felt I knew Natalie, perhaps a little too well, so thoroughly did Ms. West portray her. I felt I was walking the vineyards with the, so beautifully does Ms. West take her readers there.

 

 

I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own volition, The opinions expressed in my review are my own honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, The Memory of You, Catherine West

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BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 9 May 2017 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY EVENT – WINGS OF THE WIND

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY EVENT – WINGS OF THE WIND

Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting and survival. When her family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.

Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, is shocked to find an unconscious, wounded woman among the Canaanite casualties. Compelled to bring her to a Hebrew healer back at their camp, he is soon confronted with a truth he can’t ignore: the only way to protect this enemy is to marry her.

Unused to being weak and vulnerable, Alanah submits to the marriage–for now. As she comes to know and respect Tobiah and his people, however, she begins to second-guess her plans of escape. But when her past has painfully unanticipated consequences, the tentative peace she’s found with Tobiah, the Hebrews, and Yahweh is shaken to the core. Can Alanah’s fierce heart and strength withstand the ensuing threats to her life and all she’s come to love?

“This one’s alive.” The declaration seemed to come from far away, as if floating high above me,

the familiar language weighted with a foreign accent.

“Finish it,” yelled another disembodied voice. “We are to leave no man breathing.”

My eyes closed and I drew a deep breath, a shuddering inhale that would be my last. The enemy

sword would cleave the last of the life from my body, and I could sleep, fly to the gods, if they

deigned to receive one who had shunned them.

Nothing came. No sword. No end. I opened my eyes and a blood-spattered, bearded face

hovered over me with a confused expression. Soundless words formed on his lips. A woman?

My helmet was gone and my braid free. There was no escaping the fate that would now meet me

on this battlefield. My brothers, unrestrained even around their sister, had drunkenly regaled

me with stories of women in battle camps. Victors plundered women along with weapons and

supplies. Perhaps I would again lose consciousness from the pain of my wound and he would

kill me quickly after he sated his—

“Can you move?” His surprising question scattered my disturbing thoughts. The man thrust his

sword into his scabbard, pushed the dead men off my legs and body, and knelt beside me.

Cinnamon-brown eyes, full of conflict, met mine. A thick ragged beard covered his face and met

long, brown hair streaked with gold from the sun.

In my confusion and haze, I could not answer. Why was he waiting? Was he drawing out the

terror? Even if I could reach the dagger at my belt with my useless arm, there was no strength

left in me to fight.

He looked around, as if searching out someone to aid him. But instead of calling out for another

enemy to help slaughter me, he checked me for weapons and, finding my dagger, relieved me of

my last defense. “Rather not have that jammed between my ribs,” he muttered.

Then, in a baffling move, he slipped a small skin-bag from his shoulder and held it to my

parched lips. An explosion of cool, clean water poured into my mouth. I choked and coughed.

He placed a hand behind my good shoulder and lifted me, guiding me into a sitting position.

“Here, drink.”

With only a brief pause to consider his intentions, I lifted my mouth to the spout and guzzled.

The sweetest mountain-fresh water I had ever tasted doused the burn in my throat, stirring a

spark of life, of unwelcome hope, into my desiccated body.

“That arrow is in deep.” He examined my back but did not touch the wound. “I’ll find a healer.”

Why would this enemy, one whose face was streaked and speckled with the blood of my

countrymen, take me to a healer? He checked my other limbs and, satisfied that I was able,

helped me stand. A spasm of searing pain spiked down my arm and across my chest. The world

swayed and tilted. My knees collapsed. I was locked in his arms for a moment before blackness

engulfed me again.”

rem: Hullo, Conni, and congratulations on your new book! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

CONNILYN: I’d probably be most interested in experiencing the early days of America, to see

the world of our founding fathers and see this beautiful country in its more original, pristine

state. Although I’m perfectly content with my coffee maker, my laptop and my wifi, so I’ll stay

here in 2017.

rem: I hear ya, I’d love to visit all kinds of different times and places—but give me my hear and now for home! Where did you find this story idea?

CONNILYN: I’d been discussing Rahab with my mom, since her bible study was reading

through Joshua and we were tossing around the question of why Rahab would have hidden the

Hebrew spies in spite of the extreme danger. So without giving any spoilers… Wings of the

Wind was born.

rem: And I love your twist on it! Well done! Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

CONNILYN: Alanah was quite easy and very fun since I saw her quite clearly in my mind.

Tobiah was more difficult and I did not fully understand his character until the end of the book

and therefore had to go back to the beginning and tweak/re-write until he came to life more

fully. But I certainly came to love him along the way!

rem: I love them both and identify with Alanah a bit too well… What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

CONNILYN: I don’t really have anything that I habitually munch on during writing, but there

are times when an emergency chocolate run to the store is necessary.

rem: Yes, emergency chocolate is a must have! What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

CONNILYN: Sleep. Lots of sleep. And I read all the books that I possibly can and binge on

Netflix to recharge my brain.

rem:  All the sleep, and all the Netflix! Good options. Congrats again and thanks for popping by! (and keep writing!)

 

Connilyn Cossette is the author of the Out from Egypt Series with Bethany House Publishers. When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kiddos (with a full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn is scribbling notes on scraps of paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure out-of-print history books. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Texas where she loves the people but misses mountains, tall trees and barefoot-soft green grass. There is not much she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible, discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus, and weaving them into fiction. Connect with her at http://www.ConnilynCossette.com

  • “Days of trudging through the desert to meet the army in this valley had wreaked havoc on my body. Wounded skin flamed and throbbed where my sandals had stripped my heels and ankles raw during the long walk across blazing sand and stone. I closed my eyes and breathed steady, imagining the pain lessened with every slow exhale.”
  • “Something raw—an edge I’d never examined—began to throb. The dull ache in my chest dredged up whispers of questions I had never thought to ask, questions born from the sweet breath of mornings as I’d hiked through the fertile valley I loved, from the intricate structure of a purple-fringed passion flower, and from the vibrancy of a varicolored sunrise over the eastern horizon.”
  • “But Tobiah did not look at me the way they had. The way he’d touched me did not make me wish I were invisible, or cause me to curl up inside, wishing for death. Instead, I’d had to close my eyes to restrain the swell of hope that surged upward and clean my fists against the force of desire to make the too-small gap between us vanish.”
  • “Turning my back to the myths of my past, I set a quick pace. I kept the river to the east of us, as far away as possible while still keeping it in sight. Although I had no idea how we would find them, the river was my only guide toward the Hebrews.”
  • “It was our time to walk forward, to break the hold the wilderness had on us. It was time to claim Avraham’s promise.”

 

How many times have we gone against God and He rescued us anyway? How many times have we set our minds on the destruction—or defilement—of what He says is holy, and He saved us anyway?

 

Alanah is a Canaanite and she loathes the Hebrews. When she is rescued on the battleground instead of dying, by a Hebrew no less, her life course is changed.

As Yahweh speaks to her heart through the standard of His law—love—can Alanah shed a lifetime of teachings of Ba’al, shed her every notion of what a man is like and what women are worth? Can Yahweh truly use her for His purpose as He whispered to her that He would? Will Alanah ever accept the word of a man who has vowed to love and protect her and not abuse her?

 

Once again, Ms. Cossette has brought to life the culture of the Hebrews in the wilderness. Through Alanah, the reader is given a glimpse into the ugly and vile standards of pagan gods, and the destruction wreaked on the lives of their followers.

And yet Yahweh’s gentle hand gave wholeness to once-broken Alanah. This reviewer knows the struggle to accept love without condition, and through every page I both chastised Alanah for fleeing and felt her need to escape—felt the fear it would not last. I felt her sense of undeserving and worthlessness, so eloquently portrayed on every page and with every word.

Remarkable Tobiah, who stood by his oath to this enemy of his people, whose heart swelled with love and who refused to deny that love. I applaud Tobiah’s honor, and yearn for a man of such character. I felt the pain as his heart shattered and I walked with him through the emotions of torment, and commitment in spite of it.

Thank you, Ms. Cossette, for another story to cherish, a new depth of understanding of Yahweh’s sovereignty and the force that His Word is.

 

 

This book was given to me as a gift. I offer my review of my own volition, The opinions expressed in my review are my own honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

 

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, Release Day Event, Wings of the Wind, Connilyn Cossette, Out of Egypt, Counted with the Stars, Shadow of the Storm

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